Sunday, 21 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

Christmas is nearly here,  our decorations are up,  we've done another final shop - this time for fresh fruit and vegetables.   The local markets are fortnightly,  in Cádiar on the 3rd and 18th of the month,  Ugíjar  market is on the 5th and the 20th so we went into Ugíjar yesterday. 

Glacé fruits and turrón by the ton!   Turrón is a bit like nougat,  can be soft or hard or chewy.  This is from Wikipedia...   Turrón, torró, torrone, turrone, torrão, turon or nougat is a confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake...

 More pots and pans and kitchen gadgets than you'll  ever need.

Chickens cooking on a rotisserie,  we call them yellow chickens as they are soaked in mild spices.  Next to the chicken man is Lorenzo, who has a churros and chocolate stall.  And yes,  we did stop for some.

Surprisingly not overly sweet but very rich chocolate for dunking your churros in.  Yum.
( A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, is a fried-dough pastry—predominantly choux—based snack. Churros are popular in Spain, France, the Philippines, Portugal, Ibero-America and the United States - from Wikipedia again)  

More doughnut than choux we think,  sometimes sugary as well.  This is not the time to worry about your waistline!

Ugíjar church....
 Sweets anyone??
 Dried figs,  walnuts and glacé fruits.

 Anyone like olives?  Great assortment here plus pickled gherkins and garlic.

At the front,  bacalao - salt cod - and sardines.  And to the left, are sacks and sacks of dried beans and flours.

 Round the corner to the flower seller, 

 The square facing 'chickens and churros' is undergoing a mega makeover,  new lighting, paving, flower beds and such like. 

 Ugíjar church again...
 Fancy street light on the way down to the newly built Ayuntamiento (town hall)

 The window on the back wall of the Ayuntamiento.

 Love them or hate them,  caquis are everywhere at the moment.  Probably best known as Persimmon or Sharon fruit.  We tried them - once - when we first came here but I found them too gloopy in texture and sweet.  Antonio just cut  the top off the caqui and gave it to us  with a teaspoon to eat direct from the fruit,  that's how soft they were. 

Christmas decorations on our terrace with sunset in the background.  

 A pine-branch arch is opposite the front door,  and white lights hanging from the grape vine go  to the gate.

  Santa hats  hanging from the rejas or window bars.

And that's it for now,  ¡Feliz Navidad!  to you all.  I may be back before the end of the year,  but  if not,  then  ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!  as well.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Red hot chillis.

Although their leaves are yellowing and starting to drop,  the chilli plants still have chillis on them,  smaller than they were during the main growing season but more than enough  for us.  We pick regularly and if we don't need them fresh,  some get frozen whole and some I string up.  Actually I cotton up but that doesn't sound right!  Needle and strong cotton sewn through the stalk end,  knotted so the chilli doesn't slip down,  and when there is a good long string of them we hang them up to dry.  Sometimes in the dining room window,  south-facing but in the summer the sun is so high they don't catch the sun,  just the heat and any breeze.  The rest we hang on the terrace and they  catch any breeze and dry out slowly. 

Saturday morning I picked a couple of dozen more fresh ones,  took down all the dry ones and cut them off their cotton.  Then into the liquidiser for chopping.  More than chopping,  down to a fine powder so it can be sprinkled onto food or stirred in easily. 

 Fresh ones in the bowl ready for using  and dried ones ready for de-stringing and chopping.

In the liquidiser ready.....

And ground down - it always surprises me how small a jar we end up with.  These only filled a mint-jelly sized jar.  But it's extremely hot and  a little goes a long way!

 Oh, don't forget!   Do not breathe in while you're taking a picture especially if you've only just whizzed the chillis as the powder is still in the air!!  Deep breath,  lid off,  quick photo,  lid on,  breathe again.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sun, snow and frost.

A day out yesterday,  it was the annual test time for the car when we take it to the ITV testing station and then go shopping to stock up.  There are a few choices of ITV centres within an hour or so of our house, we used to go down to Motril  but a couple of years ago one opened just outside Orgiva,  45 minutes from here.   Pleased to say that the car sailed through it's tests and we have the 2015 sticker on the windscreen so that's it for another year.  There was a 10% discount  of €3 plus a few cents  on the base price,   ie before IVA (VAT in the UK)  but an increase of €4 too so the end result was the almost the same.  €38 plus a few cents in total.

Then we have a choice - onto the autovia and either down to Motril or up to Granada.  We went up to Granada yesterday with blue skies and sunshine and wonderful snowy mountains to the right.

Coming home later in the afternoon,  we took these photos just after passing Orgiva.

 Not sure which village this is,  but it's nestled just below the snow line.

The afternoon sun shining onto Orgiva.

We've had a few frosty mornings just recently,  we woke up on Monday morning  to a gorgeous sunrise  shining through the arch of the terrace and the branches of the mulberry.

And frosty fig leaves at the side of the pista.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The beginning of December.

December's skies have been gorgeous so far,  a real deep blue and although we've had cloud too,  mostly it's been white and puffy and in the distance.

Monday 1st:  forecast partly cloudy.  This must be the cloud then...

After lunch I took the dogs along the GR7 in the direction of el Golco,  we didn't get all the way to the river as the path,  which is narrow at the best of times,  was non-existent at the final stretch downhill to the river.  It curves round a ridge of loose shingley shale type of rock,  and after the heavy showers of the previous weekend the path was not that obvious so we turned back.

Looking down towards the river,  golden poplar trees line the river bed,  el Golco to the left and Mecina Bombaron to the right.

Standards of living vary round here, not every one has a solid roof,  electricity or even running water.  But if you've lived like that all your life then you don't miss what you've never had.  This is a cortijo near us... belongs to 3 different members of one family and one end is still lived in by an elderly man.  His roof is leaking and he has been cutting down trees,  stripping off the bark and somehow dragging the trunks up to try and repair his roof.  Wooden beams first,  then canes and flat stones,  plastic next and launa which is clay,  on top.  The launa dries out and becomes a waterproof barrier.  

No running water at the house,  no problem,  do your washing at the fuente and  drape your shirts on the fence...

A couple of days later the forecast was cloudy with a bit of sun,  although the clouds were black and threatening.   I took my umbrella out on our afternoon walk just in case,  sunglasses as well because the sun is low and bright in my eyes,  I  ended up carrying my sweatshirt as it was so warm.

                             Now that's a cloud!   I was going to call this 'black and blue'

                                               Pomegranates against a blue sky.

                                         And our neighbour's yuccas in full bloom.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

An occasional update.

So first I must  explain where we've been,  which is absolutely nowhere!    I just felt the need to take a break from writing,  I seemed to be going round in circles,  looking back over the previous 624 posts over 6 years   each month was becoming a re-write of the previous year albeit with different photos.  I got to the point where I thought   'it's been a week/2 weeks.... I really must write something...don't know what to write....look back at last year....
No,  it's time for a break'

But  I have noticed that because I haven't written,  I also haven't been taking as many photos and I've missed getting my thoughts down on paper - well, not on paper obviously but on here.  I'll probably make this a monthly thing from now on,  unless something really exciting happens.....

Last November we bought a kilo of Jerusalem Artichokes for 1€ in the local market,  peeled and roasted a couple of chunks,  peeled and mashed another,  put 7 into dry compost for the winter and then started to water them in early spring before planting out.  They grew wonderfully tall,  somewhere on here is a photo of them in full bloom.  Now they've died off and I've cut the stems down, and  this morning I dug up the roots from the tallest plant and wow!  A huge bunch of tubers,  16 big enough to eat,  4 I've put into dry compost to keep,  the 16 weigh a kilo so we've got our money's worth already and 6 more plants to dig up yet.

So,  out and about  taking photos over the last couple of weeks,  the trees are the most amazing colours still,  although we've had some very heavy showers during the last few days and most of the leaves are now on the ground.

The hugest pomegranates that we've had so far I think,  they just about sit in the palm of my hand.

Gorgeous colour leaves  on the pear tree.

 This fig tree shows up well in front of the yucca which is now in full bloom,  not ours but our neighbours.

Rows of grape vines belonging to another neighbour,  one of the many Paco's here.

And lastly,  some bright colours from our garden.