Thursday, 31 May 2012

Water works

While we were in Paris, the Comunidad de Regantes de Montenegro (basically our water company owned by the residents of Montenegro)  had a meeting to sort out if, when and how the fuente, deposito and acequias should be repaired.  The fuente runs via an open acequia into the deposito, and although it's very nice to see the running water, there is a lot of leakage and subsequently lots of soggy ground - and mint beds!  But not efficient use of water.  The deposito leaks as well and recently it has been overflowing  onto the GR7 footpath.   It used to fill up overnight so you always had a full deposito of water on your watering day but not recently.  Also some of the acequia tubos are cracked and leak.......

With a lack of winter rain down here and I assume a similar lack of snow up high,  it's likely that we'll have less running water in the summer months so the decision was taken to get on with the repairs asap.  

Land has been cleared of brambles,  overhanging branches cut back, the fuente has a new concrete base, acequias have been dug out and tubos laid in the channels,  the running water has been diverted so the deposito can dry out and - well, that's next weeks job. 

The weather is in one way I suppose ideal for working in - sunshine all day - but it's been in the high 20's and this afternoon it hit 30.5 on our terrace.  End of May / beginning of June also sees the horseflies coming out and they love the dampness of the fuente and deposito.  I really don't envy the 2 guys who are up there doing this work at this time of the year.  I know they are getting paid but still, it can't be pleasant. 

Down here in the garden we are starting early and finishing late.  This morning I planted out some sprouting potatoes that were lurking in the kitchen, and also some calabaza - like orange marrows - in the space left in the cucumber bed.  John started some outside things but as we got towards 11am and 27° he decided to finish off later on - like now.  8.30pm and 27 again, but this time the sun has gone behind the hill so it's getting cooler - slowly. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Nice to be back... it's been ages since I last wrote anything.  John has done all the hard work recently, downloading photos, editing video footage and uploading lots and lots.  Just looked back and I haven't put pen to paper - or the equivalent of it nowadays - since May 7th. 

We got back from wedding number 2 last Monday afternoon after a very long drive - 1130 miles each way, Montenegro to Paris.  The nice thing about driving is that you are in control, no baggage allowance, no suitcase sizes to worry about,  cool box of water and fruit juice for when you get thirsty, no hanging around waiting in the airport.  It was a long drive, we took longer going up so as not to arrive tired, stopped over in 3 places and got to each stopover early enough to see a bit of the town but did the drive home over 2 days. 

When we left home it was sunny and 29°,  Monty and Pip just lounge around in the shade when it's like that but the weather changed soon after we left and it got very windy - just like it did when we went to Japan!   Pip gets very frightened when it's windy, she prefers to hide under the bed but couldn't get in so somehow managed to get out through the fence and run to the neighbours.  Not for long, as our dog-sitting friends were here early in the morning and brought her back home.  Because it was so hot,  I'd left the windows open to let the breeze in as I didn't fancy coming home to a hot, stuffy house.   Lovely and cool but very, very dusty.  I spent most of the first day back cleaning. 

Since then,  we've watered and weeded, planted out runner beans which we started off in yoghurt pots, tied up and staked the tomato plants,  the chilli seedlings need to be pricked out and potted up soon,  the coriander and lettuces are still ok, although the coriander is starting to go feathery and there are flowers coming  which will be next years seeds.  The cucumber bed is ready for them to be planted out so that's a job for next week but a late evening thing when the sun's gone behind the almond and shaded the bed.

Yesterday we had four friends pop in on their way home from an early morning walk to Yegen,  they went up about 9ish, but it was almost lunchtime when they came back down. We were about to make a tortilla for lunch so made 2 large ones to share with them.  Followed by a cold drink - water actually at that time - another tapas, another cold drink, maybe by then a beer or two, surprising how time flies!  Suddenly it was 4 o'clock and another couple who are over in Yator at their house rang....could they come up?  Of course, the more the merrier.  More tapas, good job there are things in the freezer and plenty of eggs and potatoes!     Said goodnight to the last ones at 12.30 this morning,  surprising lack of dishes, pots and pans.  Somehow I managed to wash up and we  reused the same  plates as fast as John prepared food. Normally we wake up to a kitchen full of saucepans, plates and  every glass we possess needing to be washed.  

A lazy day today, it is Sunday after all.  Brunch at lunchtime,  a swim this afternoon, caught up with some reading,  chilli roast chicken for dinner tonight and now we are just back from a late dog walk.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Paris - the movie

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Paris wedding

Here are some photos from Mat and Airi's wedding in Paris last Saturday:

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Montenegro's Fiesta

Thursday, 10 May 2012

First swim of the year

29 in the shade and water temperature of 22 - not bad for early May:

Meanwhile,  the Golden Oriole is still working on his nest.  Hopefully he's got a female lined up and ready to move in when it's completed.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Montenegro this morning

On next door's TV aerial - a greenfinch? - or maybe a goldfinch, that's what we usually see here.
Stripey lizard near the veg patch:

A male oriole working on his nest:

Monday, 7 May 2012

Nearly full.

Almost 2 weeks now since we emptied the pool and began to clean it out.  Then we had a grotty weather weekend - quite cool, definitely damp and windy.  Not the time to be working in the pool, but since May day on the 1st, it's been sunny.  So after sanding and rinsing and waiting for it to dry out again, we have painted the entire pool.   We did half on Thursday morning - the shady half, a bit more late in the afternoon as the sun moved round and finished it early evening. Yesterday was our watering day so we used it to fill the pool.  The water runs down from the main deposito into a small tank, when it's running clear (we are the 'end of the line' from the deposito so there are always lots of leaves and stuff to run through before it comes clear)  then we pump it into our pool, that way we can see that it's running clean.  The overflow goes on down to our bottom land and waters the olives down there.  If anyone further upstream decided to use our water on our day - and they do even though they shouldn't - changing the acequia gates muddies  the water but at least we can see it's happened and stop the pump.

But yesterday was a rarity in that we had all our acequia water for all our hours completely uninterrupted.  I can't think the last time that happened,  we nearly always get a reduced flow as someone takes some of the water and a fortnight ago the water completely stopped and when I went  to see why,  I found the main deposito tap had been closed. 

But by 6pm last night we had nearly filled the pool,  and with the trickle of running water that came overnight via the hosepipe,   this morning it was nearly at the top.  According to the thermometer in the float, the water temperature is 22°.  The temperature today started at 18° at 8.30 when we had our breakfast coffee in the garden,  don't know what the high was this afternoon but the pool water is normally about the same as the maximum air temperature. 

So who will be the first one in the pool?   It may say 22° but it feels cooler - and that's just paddling,  not going right in and swimming!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

What a star!

Or a few  stars really;  firstly the unknown flower is called Star of Bethlehem,  or to give it it's official name   Ornithogalum arabicum.   Second star goes to Penelope, who is - if I've got this right  - my mother-in-laws cousin,  and she knows everything horticultural.  Any unknown plants I send a photo to Penelope and back comes the name,  usually with some other information as well, such as the black bits of this flower are it's ovaries and that  "the  fresh plant is toxic particularly to grazing animals but allegedly the dry bulb is OK to eat - but I wouldn't recommend it."

Also I think a star goes to Fernando who last week managed to get  his dumper bogged down in the only squidgy bit of land in Montenegro, where one of the acequia gates leaks into a field.  He was walking down to Yator to get his tractor to pull out the dumper when we saw him, so John went up in the car with him, they borrowed a cable from Paco and John (or our car) pulled Fernando's dumper out.   The next day there came a knock on the gate and he had brought us 2 litres of olive oil and a jar of local honey to say thankyou.

Despite being stuck in the mud and facing a walk down to get the tractor, and then a walk back up later on -  he'd have to take the tractor back down after rescuing himself - he always has a big smile on his face.  Not for nothing is he known as 'happy Fernando'.  The other Fernando's aren't  miserable,  but there are so many they need a nickname so we know who we're talking about.  

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Any ideas?

A couple of days ago I saw what I assumed was a wild garlic blooming outside the house,  just near the roses and geraniums that grow  near where we park the cars.  It didn't occur to me to look again until I was cutting roses for a vase and that's when I realised it wasn't a garlic at all.  But I'm not sure what it is.....first thought was some kind of a lily, but it's only about  8 or 9 inches high and the leaves are already dying back.  It's not in the wild flowers of southern spain book that we have, but does have individual blooms similar to some of the plants in there, such as the squills. 

only 5 or 6 leaves, and they are nearly dead.....

lovely dark middles to the flowers....

Anyone have any idea what it is?   When it's finished flowering I'm going to dig it up and put it in a pot so I know where and - hopefully -  what it is for next year.