Sunday, 27 December 2015

Happy New Year.

We are nearly at the end of December and another year of intermittent writing from me,  thanks for reading! 

Just looking back at my most recent photos and there seem to be a lot of blue skies and wonderful sunrises and sunsets.  It has been a gloriously hot summer - the longest heatwave ever recorded although the max temperatures have been higher in other years.

This is taken from El País - the English version:

This year will go down as one of Spain’s hottest in history. According to figures compiled by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), the annual average temperature in the country up until November 30 was 16.5ºC – about 0.8ºC higher than the average between 1981 and 2010.
Aemet states that 2015 is the fourth hottest year on record in Spain – only last year, 2006 and 2011 saw higher average temperatures.
This summer was also the country’s second-hottest since 1961 and included the longest heatwave ever recorded.

Spaniards are also experiencing one of the driest periods on record, Aemet said in a report released Thursday.
Between December 1 and 14, average rainfall was 485 millimeters – around 20 percent lower than average. The dry period has been blamed on a lack of rain during the second half of spring and during November.
This fall has been particularly dry, with 18 percent less rainfall than other years. Aemet said the autumn of 2015 has been the fifth driest on record after those of 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2013.

That explains the blue skies and lack of snow on the mountains.  We were in Berja on December 15th for some shopping and took a quick pic of their Christmas tree as we drove through town,  John driving very slowly, then a quick stop for this picture before the man behind beeped at us.  It's probably very pretty when it's lit up at night.

On the way home along the A348 and just before we turned off towards Cherín and then Ugíjar,   I took a photo through the windscreen,  of the very un-snowy hills ahead of us.  Normally those hills would be snow-capped.

Up on the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada,  well it doesn't look too snowy there either.  Webcam links are here. 

Only 6 out of 21 ski lifts open,  only 8 out of 124 pistas,  visibility is clear,  and  the temperatures way up there - from 2100m to about 2625m which is maybe 9000 feet high - are between  2 and 11 degrees.  And there is a lot of green to be seen. 

I leave you with a final sunrise,  yes another one, sorry!  But the mornings are so colourful I can't resist taking a picture.

And finally,  the pine arch on our terrace.

Whereas Christmas Eve - Nochebuena - is traditionally a quiet one spent indoors with family,  New Years Eve - Nochevieja - is an occasion for going out.  At midnight as the chimes of the Puerta del Sol clock in Madrid strike, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime.  A custom known as las uvas de la suerte or las doce uvas.  Small tins of peeled grapes are in the shops,  unfortunately we don't have any - will sultanas do instead?

Happy New Year to everyone,  lets hope it's a good one.  Enjoy New Years Eve or Nochevieja - let's eat, drink and be merry!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Cucumber crisis!

Well, this is a strange one!  I know that if you grow crops you can easily have a glut but never thought about the weather affecting the crops grown around this region in the invernaderos  - plastic greenhouses - which cover a vast area of Southern Spain.

I have posted links to The Seaside Gazette before,  and read these articles today,  not sure a glut is quite the word for the humungous number of kilos they have!

MOT Cucum 07Great weather for tourists, but just the right conditions to cause havoc to the cucumber crops under plastic.
The atypical weather is causing the cucumber plants to go berserk and flood the sector, causing many producers to sell at below-production prices.
When the season began in September – it finishes in July – prices stood at 60 cents a kilo, which was pretty good and they would have remained that way had the production rhythm not thrown a wobbly causing one crop to overlap the next.
The cold which should have slowed production never came so that in the first three months the market has been swamped and prices have fallen to 25 cents a kilo. Trouble is, it costs 35 cents a kilo to grow them.
November saw a 20% over production with Granada throwing 18-million kilos of cucumbers at the international market a week.
There are two solutions; grin and bear the lapse until the arrival of the cold or start dumping.
Be prepared to share the beach again with mounds of cucumbers!

ECO Pepino PlightThe sector is considering dumping one million kilos a day until the price recovers – we’re talking about 40% of the production. And that’s not including Almería’s production; just Granada’s.For this to work, everybody would have to agree and be in on it, but unlike the previous cucumber crisis, when the Carchuna beach at the western end had mountains of cucumbers along it, there is no consensus. Consequently, farmers are afraid to take the first step.
After all, if you dump all your crop then your neighbour sneakily sells his, not only will the erratic dumping not bring the prices up, but you will also end up in prison after murdering your neighbour.
Despite huge and repetitive donations to local food banks and charities in general, it only accounts for an insignificant percentage of the over production – in other words, simply giving it away instead of sending it to the rubbish tip doesn’t work because there is a limit to how many cucumbers that the needy can munch through.
And you can’t give them away further afield because you start incurring in transport costs.
Only one thing can save the sector…. bring on the winter cold!

The strange thing is that we very rarely see these long cucumbers in our local shops,  only the small pepinos - they have thicker slightly prickly skins - we'd rather have the 'glut' version,  usually sold here as Dutch or Holland cucs.  When you can find them that is!   

Friday, 11 December 2015

A surprising day.

It's that time of year again,  and I don't just mean that Christmas is around the corner,  but it is testing time for our Hyundai.  As in previous years we booked it in to the ITV testing station near Orgiva and as in previous years we drove there yesterday in sunshine with blue sky above.  But unlike other years,  the mountains of the Sierra Nevada were absolutely snow-free.  In fact I was so surprised that I forgot to take a photo to compare it with!

       December 10th 2014.

Imagine that picture without any snow and that's what we saw yesterday.  So surprising.  But we have - so far anyway - had a very dry and warm winter.  I'm sure it'll rain here and snow up there some time soon,  we generally reckon on it being colder and wetter around February and March time.

That wasn't the only surprising thing that happened yesterday though.  Our Hyundai is now 12 years old, although with low mileage and it hasn't had any problems.  New tyres due to wear and tear on the pista but still with the original battery etc.  The beginning of the test are oil check,   exhaust emissions, seat belts and tyres and things,  engine on, engine off, lights on, mainbeam, indicators etc.  Then on to the rolling road for the front brake test.  So far so good.  Move forward please for the rear brakes,  John started the engine - no.  Dead.  Tried again, it turned over but wouldn't start.  "Don't worry"  she said and called for 2 colleagues who pushed the car forward sufficiently for the rear brake test,  then pushed again  till we were over the inspection pit where they check the suspension (I think). 

With one final big push we were out into the car park and had sufficient movement for John to pop the clutch and the car started!  I went back in to collect the paperwork,  didn't really believe that we could have passed but we know that if  you fail,  then you have to wait at the end of the test run while they tell you what is wrong. 

"Here's your 2016 sticker, and your paperwork,  and I think you need a new battery."

Understatement of the year! 

Stopped at the mechanic on the way into Cadiar,  he had a battery but the terminals needed changing over to fit our car so we agreed to return this morning. Then he found the battery was a little bigger in size so had to adjust the mounting plate.  But we didn't have to wait long, maybe 20 minutes or so,  paid the €93,  and that should do us for another 12 years!

A quick look out the window just this moment at the sunset... some gorgeous colours.

Monday, 7 December 2015

¡Feliz puente!

A long weekend for some people - yesterday was Día de la Constitución and a national public holiday.

Tomorrow is Inmaculada Concepción,  the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and another holiday.

Because Sunday is day off work anyway today then becomes a bridge between the two holidays and most people seem to have the day off.  On Rafael's facebook page about the Alpujarras he says  ¡Feliz puente!  which if you do a translate actually means 'happy bridge' but you know what he means!  Happy long weekend!

I opened the front door this morning to see the most glorious deep orangey red sky with the leafless mulberry tree framed in front of it.

Can you see the birds nest still hanging on tight?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Early this morning..

It probably isn't  early for some people,  but going out for a walk with Monty and Pip at about 8am, means we see the sun rise over Sierra Gador.  This morning the hills and sunrise seemed to be floating in a misty valley.

Later on this morning we went into Cadiar to get some shopping - there are a few small supermarkets plus 2 butchers and 2 bakeries but now one of the supermarkets has moved into bigger premises and is a Carrefour Express.  Big, shiny,  with a huge range of products compared to what has been available in Cadiar.   Until now the closest Carrefour has been El Ejido which is an hour away,  or in Granada about 1 hour 30.  In Ugijar there is a supermarket called Dia which is also part of the Carrefour group.  Not that it's obvious, because  the products are Dia branded not Carrefour branded,  but the Carrefour website  has lots of information!

Ok,  so the upstairs isn't finished, rumour has it that it is/was going to be apartments.  And the car park to the side is a bit rough - anyone got any tarmac?!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

What's happening?

Waiting for Monty while he pottered and sniffed this morning as dogs do,  up on the hill above us were 2 mountain goats watching us.

I took one more picture but they were gone.

Last post I added some local facebook links,  here are some more....

Firstly a new page Cadiar in English..

Also information on Spanish facebook pages....

Happy reading....