Friday, 28 September 2012

Rain in Spain

Yes, it's here as well.  Flash floods, houses under water, cars washed away.....

El País newspaper has more on the story....

We haven't been out today so don't know what the river is like down in Yátor.

The only flooding we've seen has been our pool which has overflowed but is designed to overflow into the acequia.

Last winter was the driest for 60 or so years,  this summer has been extremely long and hot, the ground is very hard and dry and I don't think much of this rain will have soaked in.  Hence the flooding.  I suppose the next lot of rain will have a better chance as the ground should be more absorbent.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

At last!

At last we've got some rain,  it's been forecast - along with high winds which we did get -  for the past few days but nothing came.  John said I missed yesterday's rain drops - think I blinked or something there were so few of them!  But today was another overcast start to the day and so when I went out this morning I made sure I had an umbrella with me.  Sure enough the minute I got out of the car the rain started, only drizzle but enough to need the umbrella.    It did get heavier but not for long.

However there  is more rain due this afternoon  - the clouds are way down low over the Contraviesa and above Mecina Bombaron and the forecast for tomorrow is wet too.  September is normally the start of the winter rains, although other years we haven't had any until October. 

And the latest rash news - it's gone!   3 days of twice daily Betnovate cream, 1 antihistamine and no dairy products,  no fish, no chocolate and no tomatoes has done the trick although I'm not sure which bit of that list has had the most impact.  I guess it's the Betnovate as I was taking the antihistamines anyway.  But it might have been kick-started by the injection as I felt a lot more myself by Monday evening.  Up till then I'd felt uncomfortable, like my skin was too small for me.  I don't know what was in the injection as I couldn't read the Doctors handwriting.  Nothing new there, then.  Probably the same where ever you live.

Monday, 24 September 2012

The land of no milk or honey :(

A quick and useful trip to the doctors this morning because the rash was no better,  in fact probably blotchier than ever around my neck and very tender feeling.  9.30 I arrived at the reception and asked to see a doctor.   The man - possibly a nurse or doctor from the urgencias - gave me an appointment for 1.15 this afternoon.   "Oh,  4 hours time"   thinking that's not too bad at least it's today and I've time to go home and do some stuff  before coming back.   "No,"   he said   "just go down to room 15 and he'll see you now."

Someone was in with the doctor,  another couple then went in,  and then another lady.  Thought to myself, this isn't quite 'he'll see you now' so when that lady came out up I jumped,  went into his office and said  "the man at reception said you'd see me straight away because of this......lifted my hair up away from my neck so he could see the full extent of the redness.

Out he went, sorry Paco, wait a few minutes more, I need to see to this lady.

So I got checked from head to toe,  he listened to my chest and back,  asked general health questions, including do I dye my hair :0  -  what?  no, never, it's naturally blonde -  he looked at the rash with a magnifying glass!  and said it's not a heat rash it's an allergy.

First - an injection to alleviate the discomfort,  more anti-histamines and  cortisone cream twice daily.

Second - diet.  For five days no milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt or cream.  No chocolate.  No fish or shellfish.  No tomatoes.  No honey.

Then I went back to reception for an appointment for the injection from the nurse.  Same as before, but a time of 12.15 but don't worry about that, just go down and she'll see you now.
Actually he came down with me and spoke to the nurse but even so 2 or 3 people went in before me.  And so like the first time, I jumped up a bit quicker that the next lady, said to the nurse that I needed an injection.....ah yes, come in.  Won't be a minute - to everyone still outside.

I was a bit longer than a minute, but that was because she looked at what I'd been prescribed and at my rash and chatted.  I didn't realise how much medical Spanish I knew!

Then down to the farmacia to collect the tablets and cream.  Back home at 11am.

So the next 5 days or so will be interesting.  If it is an allergy, why now after 55 years?  If everything clears up I'll have to start introducing things back into my diet slowly,  1 thing for a couple of days, then something else. Milk will be first, I do enjoy my large milky breakfast coffee.  Or maybe buy some soya milk, as that isn't dairy.  Chocolate I can live without, but the amount of tomatoes we get through in a week!  Pizza sauce, spaghetti bolognaise, chillis,  in sandwiches, on salads......Planning meals will be a bit more of a challenge.

 I've got my fingers crossed that this week will see some improvement.  Actually I'm hoping it will all clear up and leave me as I was.  And at least I can go back out in the sun as I've been avoiding it now for a couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hungry caterpillars.

On the footpath that goes to the fuente and deposito, there are two ash trees that the path goes in between.   This week the trees have been buzzing with bees or wasps,  not too certain which and I try not to get that close to them as I react very badly to wasp stings.

Yesterday morning I noticed that there were also lots - and I mean lots - of caterpillars munching their way through the leaves.  Some were dangling down on threads and I had to look really carefully where I was going to avoid getting them  in my hair.

This morning I took the camera to get some photos of them - of course today there was no sun, it was very cloudy  (and still is actually,  although it's almost  30°)  so the flash came on automatically.   Not the best photos but they do show the dangling threads and the remains of the leaves.

Bear in mind that these trees are about 4 metres high - that's an awful lot of caterpillars!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Sun tan part 2

I went back to the farmacia and bought the sun lotion - it's still  hot and sunny and even though autumn should be coming soon,  we will still have sunny days and it's always t-shirt weather even in November and December for at least a few hours a day.  I really don't want another rash, that means 2 to 3 weeks avoiding the sun, whereas if I use sunoil I can just get on as usual.

It's not something I have regularly used, at least not this brand, the one I had this summer felt really light and not sticky and I wasn't really aware of it on my skin.  (Only factor 12 - maybe that's why I got the heat rash!?)    But this one, (factor 50 for children and problem skin)   although I'm sure it's doing what it says on the label,  is 'thick' feeling and after a few hours I just feel really sticky and gloopy and go indoors to wash it off.  I think I'd rather be in the shade more often and feel comfortable than sticky and safe.

So I've been  hanging out the washing before the sun gets onto the washing line, doing any housework and indoor stuff later on when the sun is fully in the garden,  watering the vegetables after the sun has gone and generally avoiding going out in it.  Not quite what I want to do as I do enjoy a little bit of sun now and then.  Maybe when it's less hot and intense I'll try again.  And look for a different factor 50 that's not so sticky.  Unless of course they are supposed to be like that, a coating on your skin so the sun can't get through?  Surely not everyone is happy with sticky skin?

Any thoughts or recommendations from anyone?

Friday, 14 September 2012

El crisis.

This is the time of the year that we receive our annual 'rates' bill from the council.  Here it is called   'el Impuesto de Bienes Inmuebles'  - a big title but a much smaller price than we ever paid back in England.

We usually joke when the bill comes that we'll have to watch what we spend this month - a bit tongue in cheek when the amount has been around 16 euros - yes, for the year.  OK, no streetlights as far as our house yet,  we have to take the rubbish to the bins when we go out but so does everyone, although we have slightly further to go.  But at  least the bins are emptied alternate days unlike some places!

But this year,  due to el crisis,  everyone is suffering and the  ayuntamientos  are having to find extra cash  from people and places so the IBI has gone up.  According to their website the increase would be up to 26%,  the first  revisión  for 10 years,  but when the bill came it was 100%  increase.  Yup, 32.84 this year.  Definitely a belt tightening month.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The price of a suntan

One of the side effects of  living in the sun is heat rash.   I've never had heat rash ever,  and even when we used to go for the 2 weeks in the sun and get as brown as we can type of holiday,  I've never suffered.  I do have sun lotion, not a factor 40 or anything like that but also I tan really easily and always use lots of moisturiser.

However this summer has been different.  It's been extremely hot for many many weeks - even months.   In the middle of July I broke out in a rash on the tops of my feet, no problem, different sandals that didn't rub, but then it appeared on the tops of my legs, then my wrists and backs of hands, then my arms, neck and chest.  Only bumps under the skin that I could feel but weren't really visible.  I kept out of the sun, while we wondered if I'd pruned a plant that I was allergic to, or eaten or drunk something different.  The rash that came slowly finally went and after 3 weeks I was back to normal, although with some dry patches that I only rubbed olive oil into.  Most moisturisers have lots of strange ingredients in them, who needs perfume?  or alcohol?  Surely they dry the skin, not moisturise it?

The weather has got cooler,  I've been back out in the sun, not sunbathing - who needs to when there is so much sun?  but doing things without thinking about the need for sun lotion protection.  And yes, the rash has come back.  Started last Saturday on my wrists and backs of hands,  crept up my arms, round my neck but more visible this time.  Red and blotchy would be a good description! 

So off this morning to talk to Sylvia at the Farmacia.  She took one look and said 'have you been to the beach?'  No, only normal outside life, working and walking.  And yes, it's a heat rash - she says that as you get older, your skin loses elasticity and gets thinner and is more
likely to react to the heat.  Factor 50 is a must apparently    and I came away with a bag of goodies and a very empty purse.  Special shower gel that cleans but without additives, body lotion without additives and lots of anti-histamines.  The first thing I did when I got home was shower and moisturise with the new products and - it maybe my imagination - but I feel less red and lumpy than this morning.

The worst thing about the rash has been the healing as my skin has felt 2 sizes too small for me,  really tight and tender.  But this new magic moisturiser seems to be working wonders.  Now  I will have to look at different factor 50 sun creams.  She sells one in the farmacia that is fragrance etc free and probably will suit a price!  

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Autumn is coming

The scorching summer has finally begun to calm down - over the weekend we had cloudy days and although it's now blue again the mid 30's are  down to mid 20's.  It makes it pleasant enough to think about the autumn seed planting.  Not cool enough to make me want to go off digging veg plots, but seeds in pots ready for planting out in a month or so.  So a large pot of parsley seeds,  25 coriander seeds in yoghurt pots, a row directly into the raised bed along side the tomato plants which - if it gets windy - should protect the coriander plants from breaking,  dwarf beans are in too, the summer crop was disappointing to say the least but we usually get a second chance in the warmth of October, 16 chilli plants finally planted out in the raised bed too.  They were too small to go out in May, then although they were big and strong by July,  I thought they'd struggle with the heat so left them in the potting shed where it's shady.

We are picking chillis as needed, and leaving others to go red and will eventually dry some.  Just recently the drier has been full of figs, both black and white, ready for winter puddings.  Today I've had branches of sage in there drying - just over 2 hours and they were done.  More to do tomorrow, so long as it doesn't rain overnight that is.  The leaves have to be dry before drying - if that makes sense!

There are clouds looming up from the south and the forecast shows storms out to sea, not sure if any of it will get this far inland though.

Some of the leaves on the fig tree are beginning to turn yellow, so much so that I thought I saw a golden oriole in the tree this morning but it turned out to be a figleaf. 

It is an anniversary week for us - the 3rd was the day 9 years ago that we left England for a different life,  we arrived here on  the 7th having had a few days break en route.   And the 3rd was also our own anniversary -  all 35 years of them!  Well done us.