Saturday, 31 January 2015

Hold on to your hats!

Thursday morning while drinking my breakfast coffee,  I checked email,  headlines in the papers and then the weather forecast for Yátor.  There were 87 weather warnings across Spain,  81 of which were for high winds, the other 6 for snow.  And sure enough, during the morning 'space-ship' clouds starting forming to the north - west of us.

But very strangely the wind - more of a gentle breeze than anything - was quite warm and the afternoon reached 17.5°.   Warm enough to go for a walk in a sleeveless t-shirt.  Odd. 

Needless to say it didn't last,  and by the evening we had strong gusts of wind and there were leaves and almond blossom hurtling past the lounge window.   As the sun set, though,  we had the most colourful sky...

taken at 18.50 - not a river below us but the pista to Yator.

at 18.52
at 18.54

at 18.57

Friday morning there were 124 weather warnings,  only  a dozen or so for snow, the rest for high winds again.  Another breezy but warm day until sunset when the winds really picked up speed.  And then blew all night,  so noisy,  it howled round the house,  moved the dog kennel which is tucked in the corner of the garden under the olive tree, (no dogs inside,  it probably wouldn't have moved with their weight in as well!!)    plant pots blown over,  dust and grit and leaves covering the terrace....a couple of brief power cuts late in the evening, just off long enough to light candles and then back on again.

This morning we woke after a very disturbed nights sleep to drizzle in the wind,  but going horizontally so not pleasant and we only had a very short walk.  Enough for dogs to do what they need in the morning...

But there was a nice rainbow

Yes, the streetlight is leaning, not me!    It's loose at the base.

And this mornings weather?  175 warnings :O  across Spain.  Oh my!  Gusts predicted to reach 90km/hr here,  so no clearing up outside until this is all over.  As I write this,  we think the worst is over as although it's gusty it's not too strong and we've been for a nice walk in the sunshine.  Still surprisingly warm too,  I took a fleece but didn't need to wear it.

Maybe I should have checked before saying 'we think it's all over'  because the warning for Nevada y Alpujarras is gusts up to 130km/h - maybe tomorrow will be calmer.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Fiesta de San Sebastián Yátor

Another fiesta,  another round of fireworks,  music and late nights.  (I heard a car creep past at 4am on Sunday morning,  and one of the many Marie-Carmens told me she was dancing till 5am on Sunday - she looked fine on Sunday lunchtime though).   Friday evening is usually quite low-key although we think something different happened this year,  someone mentioned 'theatre' but  conversations wander and we never did find out what it was.

Saturday morning we heard the band playing,  heard rockets and saw puffs of smoke in the sky,  again at about 2pm more rockets were set off - probably the end of the church service and to let you know lunch is served.  Just as the sun was setting there were the start of evening rockets,  the puffs of smoke now pink tinged.

We went down on Sunday,  first to the bar for a glass of wine and to watch the procession as it went past,  the statue of San Sebastián was carried up to the chapel,  la ermita de San Sebastián,   where it stays.   Another huge volley of fireworks was set off from close to the ermita,  before everyone made their way back down to the square.

Lunch was being cooked in an enormous pan outside the salon,  food and drinks laid out inside.  Take one pan about 5 foot diameter, and add 160 kilos of pork,  herbs,  spices etc and   yes, I asked and double checked I'd heard right.

Lunch eaten,  another drink or two - note the 0% beer for the duty driver, me this year although I did manage to have a glass or two of red wine as well.  1 euro a drink,  helps keep things simple especially on a busy day like yesterday.  A can of beer is around 25 cents in the shops,  but you don't get a glass and tapas with it there!

Lots of - for want of a better word -  stalls - selling things again,  cakes and pastries, mostly covered with chocolate and some had chocolate in the middle too,  (yes we bought a large cone shaped, chocolate covered pastry and found it full of sticky chocolate and I was so busy eating mine that I forgot a photo)  also  turrón and sticky sweet things (photo on a blog post in January on Ugijar market day)   more toy stalls than there were children,  plus a bouncy castle.

And then it was time for the horse racing.  As last year,  a string was strung across the road with curled ribbons attached to it.  As the horse and rider trot underneath they have to try and catch the loop that the ribbon is attached too,  they seem to use a small stick to do this and it doesn't appear to be easy!

One of the highlights amongst the horses was this little one,  the horse bends its  knees and sits down on the road so the little boy can get on and off.  The string of ribbons was pulled down low so he had a chance of winning a ribbon too.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Snow and wind now.

And again!  More snow this morning above Mecina Bombaron,  down to el Golco,  and covering the Contraviesa to the south as well and snow in the air here.  Although I think the snow that was blowing around here was coming down from the north with the wind.

the Contraviesa this morning

towards Mecina

and el Golco

Wow,  is it chilly!   Northerly winds blowing with  40 kph  gusts,  according to the weather forecast,  but it seems pretty constant to us.  Looking out the window it is a lovely sunny clear day but a different story when you go out.  Hood up,  gloves on,  sunglasses as it's so bright,  walk fast to keep warm.

Mecina Bombaron is about 1100 metres above sea level whereas we at Montenegro are 890 m,  so this is the best the snow could do here...

More like a touch of frost than snow!

A quick trip to the compost heaps this morning followed by a quick look at what is left of the vegetables and fruits - the broad beans are ok despite the wind,  some of the leaves of the early potatoes have caught the frost,  the stems of the Jerusalem artichokes are cut right down so no worries there,  surprisingly though there were some strawberries for picking and lots of flowers,  also lots of cape gooseberries too.  Only 3 ripe enough to pick as the casing has to be brown and papery but a couple of dozen more ripening.  The strawberries may be very small but are very tasty.

Monday, 19 January 2015

All white!

After  our wonderful start to the year,  winter seems to be creeping up on us,  the weather forecast for yesterday was rain and/or sleet and/or snow,  with temperatures ranging from a 'high' of 5° to lows of -3°.    It hasn't been that cold here although we've woken to a low of 4° and it struggled up to 7 yesterday afternoon.  

There was sleet in the air when we went out yesterday morning but no more than that,  during the day it drizzled and then rained more heavily and at times the rain was more white and lumpy than rain should be - but no snow.

Until we went out this morning and saw that  last nights rain had fallen as snow above us,  especially above Mecina Bombaron....

although by this afternoon it was melting...

Looking towards Sierra Gádor to the east,  there was a dusting of snow and clouds all around.....

But by this afternoon's walk, Sierra Gádor was pretty much hidden in the cloud

Despite the chill,  spring flowers are springing open,  gorse bushes and broom are bright and  beautiful yellow splashes of colour.  The rosemary bushes are in full flower too everywhere,  our narcissi are in bloom although a bit heavy headed today after the rain.  Waiting for some sunshine are our almond trees,  some are beginning to bloom but ours are still in bud.  If they open in this cold weather I'm not sure we'd get many almonds in the autumn as the blossom might get damaged. 

And here is the tiniest of tiny bridges over a narrow water channel,  it's no more than a foot high and the stream is only about 6 inches or so wide.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The first of the year.

 A belated happy new year to all,  I did say that this might not be a regular blog,  and it's now 5 days into the new year and first post. 
And what  wonderful weather this year has started with,  cold nights and some frost because the sky is clear and blue and sunny all day,  reaching 18 in the shade yesterday although a bit cooler today.  I know people like to think that Southern Spain is always hot and sunny and we are very lucky with our weather but nights are cold,  wood burner lit about 5.30 every day from early November through till March,  plus sometimes we have it alight during the day during February and March which is really our winter. 

Sunrise yesterday as the sun caught the rocks by the fuente....

and today shining through the olive trees....

A quiet Christmas here,  just the two of us,  New Years Eve we joined friends in Yator for food and drinks,  very quiet there as well,  the bar was shut when we down at 7.30 and still shut when we left at 1.15 so I doubt it opened at all.  But tonight is 3 Kings,  El Día de los Reyes   and much more of a celebration that either Christmas or New Year,  in fact there are fireworks going off as I write this. 

(from wikipedia - quicker than me writing it!)

"In Spain and some Latin American countries, Epiphany day is called El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings), i.e., the day when a group of Kings or Magi arrived to worship and bring three gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the heavens. This day is sometimes known as the Día de los Tres Reyes Magos  (The day of the Three Royal Magi)  In Spanish tradition on January 6, three of the Kings: Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, representing Arabia, the Orient, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Children (and many adults) polish and leave their shoes ready for the Kings' presents before they go to bed on the eve of January 6. The next morning presents will appear under their shoes, or if the children are deemed to have misbehaved during the year, coal (usually a lump of hard sugar candy dyed black, called Carbón Dulce). Most towns in Spain arrange colorful parades representing the arrival of the Reyes Magos to town so children can see them in their camels or carriages before they go to bed. In Spain, children typically receive presents on this day, rather than on Christmas, though this tradition has changed lately, and children now receive presents on both days."

 Just before Christmas our neighbours had 15 of their olive trees pruned as they needed firewood for their village house.   When I say pruned,  don't think tiny little branches cut out but imagine the centre of the trees,  trunks really and all large branches.  We don't think they really appreciated just how much ground would be covered with cut stuff and the firewood was mostly underneath the greenery.  Some of the chunks,  too big to be called logs,  were about 18 inches diameter and the same in length,  too big to burn without cutting up and probably very heavy.  They came on Friday morning and spent quite a while having what we imagine to be an 'oh deary me' moment.  2.30 saw them going off for lunch,  back here at 5pm to start again,  moving branches,  finding firewood,  moving it and stacking it.  John realised they didn't have a log splitter

this is it,  the log splitter and the man himself! Or part of him :)

 only a small hand axe so he took his log splitter round for Miguel to borrow.  Marie was a terrace lower down,  she called me and said 'can you use any of this?'  This being quite large branches,  bigger than kindling and very good as a fire starter when dried out.  So that's what we've been doing for an hour or two every day,  cutting down branches,  stacking in our wood store,  and gradually working from pile to pile.  To be honest I don't think we've made any sort of impression at all! 

 Excitement this morning - well for Monty and Pip at least.  I was indoors,  heard barking,  John heard what he thought was someone or more than one person running past in heavy boots,  actually it was 2 horses but no-one with them.   From our lounge window -  we have a much bigger view now the trees are pruned - we saw the horses going down the pista.  I went out shopping soon after but no sign of horses,  when I was on my way up the pista almost 2 hours later I pulled over to let a car come down and the guy asked me if I'd seen his horses!  Well yes,  and told him when  and where,  so he carried on down to Yator.  Has he found them?  No idea, but we hope so.