Thursday, 28 February 2013

The white stuff

Woke this morning to drizzle,  but by 9am this

was coming down thick and fast,  about 3cms so far.   At times  there is a complete white-out with clouds drifting past the window,  then it lifts and we can see the snow covered Contraviesa.  The snow line is supposed to be down as far as 600metres,  we are at 850m  but on one of the forums people are saying they have snow down at Frigiliana (320m)  and at Torrox which is near the coast.

And they say it doesn't snow in Southern Spain!  

Luckily it is a holiday today,  Día de Andalucía,  no reason to go out and anyway most,  if not all places are closed.   Tomorrow is a Friday and it's probably going to be a 'bridge' day to the weekend.  

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Understanding each other.

On my walks in the morning and the afternoon,  I often come across an elderly Spanish gentleman who for the last 9 years has been  saying  'Are you the English lady ?'  to which I obviously reply yes  and  try to chat further.   Sometimes we get some understanding of each other,  other times not.

Recently there has been more recognition -  'Ah, you're the English lady,  where are you going today?'   And today I got a bit more out of him and thought, finally!  A break through! 

Until this afternoon that is,  when I saw him picking olives (and I mean picking, by hand, into a little wicker basket)  First he recognised me by saying 'you're walking again with your dogs'  then...

'Are these for eating or oil?  I asked.  

'For both' he answered. 

'But this year...'  I started to say that there hadn't been so many olives but he turned away and said   'I'm not saying anything more,  you don't speak Spanish and I'm busy now'    

Just when I thought we'd begun to understand each other....or not.  Maybe mornings are better for him than afternoons.  Time - or tomorrow morning - will tell.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

What a view!

Yesterday morning's walk was a bit shorter than our usual round trip to Yegen,   cold wind and cold showers,   started off alright but the further we went the more the wind blew the drizzle under my hood and when it started to drip off onto my nose I decided enough was enough.  It's alright for dogs,  they seem to get wet, shake every 100 metres or so,  but don't get any wetter.   Whereas I just wasn't enjoying myself.   Early morning walks are lovely,  and usually a good way to wake up and enjoy the start of the day.

Today however was back to normal.  Clear skies and sunshine and although only 4° on the terrace,  when there isn't any wind you don't notice the chill so much.

This is the view looking back towards some of the cortijos of Montenegro on the right,  with the Contraviesa in the distance,  taken at 8.23 this morning. 

The flower pictures from the other day........been looking in my books and then online and found this one is a freesia.  It's not totally wild,  you can see the irrigation pipe,  it's growing in the flower beds outside the cemetery at Yegen,  or was.  Most of them this morning have gone,  cut off,  probably  for flower arrangements on a grave.  Still lots of buds left though for others to enjoy when they bloom again.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Spring rain and flowers.

We've had 2 days now of on-and-off gentle showers which has been much needed especially for the garden,  both vegetable and flower gardens.  It hasn't been so wet that we've not felt like going out walking,  we've still done our morning round trip to Yegen cemetery and for 2 afternoons I've also done been up to the fuente and back with the dogs.  Yesterday we re-homed some small rosemary plants and thyme - much easier to do when the ground is damp, and today I noticed that  the springtime wild flowers are starting to bloom. 

Not sure what they all are but.......
A tiny poppy, and the 'money' plant

Any ideas???

And this?

Giant or hyacinth orchid

Dutchman's pipe


White snapdragon

Giant euphorbia
Slightly smaller euphorbia



Tiny euphorbia flowers
Any ideas???

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Want to buy a pig?

We were both indoors this afternoon  (grey, cloudy, cool and definitely not like yesterday)  when there came a raised voice from outside and the sound of a vehicle.  John went out to see who it was and what he wanted but it wasn't anyone he knew or understood.  Some of these old boys are very difficult to make sense of,  even those we have been  trying to talk to for the past few years. 

I put my slippers on and went out too,  by which time John had gone out of the gate to chat and see what was wanted.  A very down on it's axles car was outside,  the boot was open and inside was a large box of piglets.

¿Quieres comprar un cerdo?  he said.  Not quite what we'd expected to be asked,  and no thanks.  'Paco up the road has pigs,'  we said.    'Ah, yes.  Paco's my friend'  he replied,  which made a change as normally round here, everyone is everyone's cousin! 

He shut the boot,  jumped in the car and with a belch of blue smoke headed off down the pista towards Yátor.  

Friday, 15 February 2013

San Valentin.

Yesterday as well as being San Valentin,  was also the day that our Polo was due for it's annual ITV inspection - like the MOT but instead of leaving it for some unnamed mechanic to look at,   you drive it yourself through the testing station while the tester tells you what to do.  First is the emissions test,  then amongst others...  indicators left then right.  Engage reverse gear so she can check the lights,  she also got into the car to check the horn, wipers, seatbelts, mileage etc  then you drive onto the rolling road for foot and hand brake tests,  then over an inspection hatch when she disappears down the stairs and from under the car can see whatever it is she needs to see.  It involves lots of turning the steering wheel left and right and left again.

Normally we go down to the testing station at Motril, then out for lunch, pick a bit of shopping from Al Campo or Lidl and home.  But  a new centre has opened just outside Orgiva,  much closer to home so we booked to go there.  Arrived early but called at the right time - 11.02 - and were all done by 11.30, and most importantly with the sticker for the windscreen giving us a further year.  Just over 33 euros.

Then up to Granada.  Unfortunately the printer copier scanner has just this week died a death and won't do anything.  Horrible graunching noise from inside,  the scanner won't scan and  so it shuts down and won't let us copy or print either.  John took it apart,  found a 'mend my' website with similar problems but no answers.   It's 2 1/2 years old,  doesn't seem long enough to be obsolete but hey ho,  off for a new one.

But we decided to get a laser printer instead,  the last printer we had was also a scanner/copier/printer and a similar thing happened to that.  Also we seem to waste lots of ink cleaning the inkjets before printing and a laser printer wasn't any more expensive but works in a different way so fingers crossed it'll last much longer.  Haven't bought a scanner yet,  will see if we really need one. 

We also had lunch out at Pan and Co,  I had a very tasty baguette filled with tuna, mayo, tomato, red peppers and green olives.  And chips.  And a coke.  John had something called a beef stick, looked like a rectangular burger  to me, but he said it was tasty.  And chips.  And coke.  A quick trip into Carrefour to buy some steaks for dinner then we set off for home.

The view of the Sierra Nevada from the autovia coming out of Granada was spectacular,  it had been a beautiful sunny day,  temperature of 18°  - same again today - so I tried to get some pictures - most have cars on them,  or streetlights, or crash barriers, but this isn't too bad.

Coming through Torvizcon we had to slow for the pastor taking his flock across the road,  


Arrived home in plenty of time for a glass of wine in the evening sunshine, followed by a dinner of prawns, salad, steak and vegetables.  And a nice bottle of red wine.                  

Glorious day again today,  just off to enjoy the last of the sun before it goes down behind the hill - another hour or so I think.                                                                                                 



Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A light snowfall.

The little bit of snow in the air yesterday afternoon turned into a complete white-out for half an hour or so later on.  It must have snowed more in the night as this morning there was a pretty looking Mecina Bombaron.......

and snow at the sides of the road,  on the olive terraces and stuck to the 'Yegen this way'  signpost.

It's been bright and sunny and much calmer today,  better for walking and less scary for Pip.   Still too gusty for the washing though,   I got a sheet pegged out but within seconds it had tangled up around itself.  Thankfully we have a drier,  although with blue sky and sunshine it seems a shame to use it.  If only the wind would go completely!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Something in the air.

For the past  2 weeks the dogs and I have been doing an early morning round trip up to Yegen cemetery and back,  returning for breakfast,  or more often just a large mug of coffee.  Takes about 50 minutes or so, depending on how long we have to wait for Monty to sniff all the bushes on the way.  Must be part of a male dog's life,  Pip doesn't do it. 

But last night, yet again,  there were high winds and the noise of the wind howling round the house woke us all up.  Pip finally got so worried that she curled up on our bed in between us for comfort and this morning didn't even poke her nose out of the door before going back to bed.   I did manage to get her out for a walk but it was a very strong,  bitingly cold wind and we only went as far as the big fig for them to stretch their legs and do what dogs need to do first thing.   Not just coffee after that but a big bowl of porridge with honey too.

It was calmer after lunch so we've been out and around the fuente and deposito - no swimmers today - but now there is snow in the air and over Mecina it looks like low cloud but I have a feeling it's snow blowing down from the Sierras.

It's not cloudy enough to snow properly but who knows what will blow down with this wind.  The forecast has the wind decreasing but still not back to nice calm days for another day or so.

But it is winter,   it is unpredictable during the first few months of the year,  and at least it's not pouring with rain as well.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Walking up river.

Last week's long morning walk was down the river to Yátor,  starting from here,  going towards El Golco  and then down the valley.   Today we did it the other way round,  I went down to Yátor to meet Gordon and say a quick hello to Jennifer then we set off up the footpath.

First the path is to the right hand side of the river, past various cortijos and a new fuente with seats for the weary,

then a bit further on after walking on a stony and bouldery section that was probably the river bed when it flooded a few years back,  we crossed the river.  We found a narrow section and jumped, then up the river bank,  over what I thought was an old bridge but appeared to be a wall - maybe a dam for some reason at one point?  It had a deliberate square hole at the base almost as if to let water through.

Any way, over that and then we followed the path up.  Lots of flat green areas by the side of the river, quite a few collapsed bridges, one ruined cortijo,  and  some  olive and almond  terraces  with dry stone walls in  surprisingly good condition.

Round a corner,  another ruin,  too small to have been lived in I think but maybe it was an animal shelter or somewhere to store tools and have lunch while out working on the land.

The path levels out now and you get the first good sighting of the church at El Golco and the village of Mecina Bombaron

A few hundred metres more brings you out onto the concrete road going down from El Golco to the river,
For those going the other way,  there is a yellow 'turn left' arrow on the rocks,  more obvious when you come up from the river.

 and then it's the more familiar path - for me anyway - that leads back to Montenegro.  Door to door,  about 1 hour 40 minutes.

PS:   although it is sunny and with blue skies,  there are cool winds!  Lovely walking in the sun but not sitting out weather today. 

PPS:  yesterday afternoon  the dogs and I went for a short walk to the fuente and deposito and came across some English visitors to the area,  2 of whom went in for a swim. Yes really.  In February.  Like I said, lovely in the sun but to swim???  

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Instant weight loss!

Poor Monty,  there we were comparing him to a large style 35 kg bag of cement  and talking about how much less food he was going to get.....hope he wasn't listening because it wasn't right.   I got on the scales this morning to check my weight then picked up Monty.  That should have been the first clue because if he'd been 35 kgs like the vet said I couldn't have done that.  But I can lift the new style 25 kg bags and that's exactly what he is.  Not saying that he's slim but then aren't  labradors  usually chubby,  especially as they get older?

Still a few kilos less won't hurt him so we will check how much food he should have compared to what he does have and also check for Pip.  She is a podenco - type of Spanish hunting dog - sort of greyhound shape - and although she eats almost as much as Monty, she does run around a lot more,  usually going from front garden through to the side to watch passing cars or walkers.  And to bark at them.

Anyway for Monty,  good news,  and an almost instant 10 kilo weight loss. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Another week....

Another week and back to normal weather, if there is such a thing at this time of the year.  Our winter is later than some places,  we reckon on the coldest time being February and March but that isn't set in stone.  Last week was hot, then it got windy,  now sunny and ok in the sun in a t-shirt but  definitely chilly first thing with frost on the exposed areas of the pista.

All in all, variable weather.   But still no rain.

We've been finishing off things recently,  still had small branches from the olive tree to cut down and de-green - trimmings for the wood burner and starter sticks for drying for next year's fire.  The permissions to burn on campo which were issued in November were only until the end of January and as there hasn't been any rainfall,  no more permissions have been issued.  Having said that,  we saw 2 fires above a village today,  too big and remote to be house fires......if you don't have a licence in burning season no-one will know unless you lose control and call in the bomberos but to have a fire when there are no permissions is surely very silly.  And potentially very expensive.

Monty has been to the vet for his annual vaccinations - and has been told he needs to diet as he is  overweight.  About 5 kilos overweight.   Walking more is not the answer apparently as that will put strain on his heart,  less food is the answer.  So we'll have to be more careful when feeding him - and her - and start weighing out the food so we know what they've been given.  Tomorrow we are going to try and get Monty on the scales, not easy with 4 legs to balance but hopefully if I get on, and I know what I weigh,  then John can get Monty into my arms  to get a total.   A sack of cement here used to weigh 35 kilos before health and safety dropped it down to 25,  but if J can lift  one of them, then he can lift Monty.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

There's a train coming again!

The train now arriving in Montenegro.......yes, the cold north wind is back, straight down from the snowy Sierras and although not nearly as strong as we had recently it's still pretty nippy out.

There is a dull roar up in the mountains and it does sound like a train coming from some long way off,   if either of us hears it we just have to say  'the train's out there again'  to know that it's time to stack away chairs - yet again.  We can't remember a winter before when there have been so many windy days,  used to be an overnight thing if we were lucky or maybe a day and a night but not this year.  Don't tell me it's climate change or global warming or due to the economy or the recession or whatever is the latest thinking on this.  Just one of those things.

Here is a nice clear sunrise, with an early morning flight just visible over Sierra Gador.  It's looking down towards Berja and then on to Adra on the coast.