Monday, 29 August 2011

Almonds in August?

Over the past couple of days the almonds on one of our trees have been opening and I have started to pick them.  It's a tiny tree, more of a bush than a tree, about 1.5 metres max, but is absolutely laden with almonds.  We don't remember ever having almonds ready to pick quite so early - sometimes there's a tree with almonds that start to split  in  early September but August?? 

Once upon a time this particular bush-tree was a proper tree, tall and leggy, but totally unproductive and prone to greenfly and nasty sticky stuff all summer.  So late one autumn a few years ago, it was cut down to the base, and a very large base it was.  Took ages to cut through it, even longer to cut the trunk into chunks and longer still to log the chunks.  But it made wonderful firewood!  The next year nothing much happened apart from some new growth but this year all that new growth flowered beautifully and each flower made an almond and now we are picking them. 

The end result from today's picking was one bucket of almonds and two buckets of husks, the husks will be dried and kept for the wood burner.  When the almonds have dried out and have been shelled, the shells also go in the wood burner.

Outside now there is thunder rumbling away down south and lightning flashing - lighting up the garden.  Not enough clouds for rain and nothing is forecast but we quite often get this happening in late summer.  Maybe a build up of pressure?  Rain would be quite nice, not had any since the first week in June when there were a couple of showers. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A few more fiesta photos

The most enormous paella!

After lunch, waiting for the foam. Me, talking to son.

Bubble girl, Airi.

John and Mat with womble feet!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Outdoor living.

One thing neither of us really enjoy doing in this hot weather is cooking indoors.  The kitchen gets hot, we get hot and it's not nice.  But earlier this year some friends who were redoing their kitchen offered us their cooker and sink unit - if we could find a use for them.  'An outside cooking area'  we thought and put the cooker  in the shade of the olive tree out by the pool.  It's a 5 burner gas cooker and as gas is bottled here the cooker can live anywhere, doesn't need fitting near a socket.   I made it a cover for when it's not used and to keep the winter rains off it, John made a frame to fit the sink unit into and we started to cook out there.

We prepare food in the kitchen,  then bring it up to cook.  There is a spare set of china, cutlery and assorted other things stored in the caravan - salt and pepper, olive oil, glasses and such like.   The sink can only be described as functional - it's obviously not plumbed in as it's outside the caravan on a frame, so after washing up when you pull the plug out you must make sure there's a bucket underneath to catch the water otherwise you get splashed.  Then the water goes onto the plants, it's not wasted.

Made a wonderful pizza for lunch last week, well 2 actually as there were 4 of us,  and the oven needed to be very hot to get a crispy base - the thought of that indoors didn't bear thinking about but outside in the shade was fine.

So, a panorama of photos from around the pool.  

First is the drier for fruit and vegetables,  a kindling store,

a sunny sunbed, shaded seating area, shady sunbed

shady cooking area and caravan with sink outside.

Monday, 22 August 2011


Just a photo of this mornings sunrise as we went out for a pre-breakfast walk... not as early as it looks, this was taken at  7.39.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A rat run.

A little light pruning this morning to stop the rat run.  Yes, even this far up off the beaten track we have a rat run, but with a difference as this is a real rat which has decided to do it's daily commute via our palm trees, olive tree, terrace roof, grape vines and across the top of the garden gate.

The day before yesterday we heard it pattering over the terrace roof, presumably it had come from Carmen's, up the wall and over our house roof first, then it went down a palm branch, along the ivy-clad fence - but very cleverly the outside so although Pip tried her hardest she couldn't get it - then over the gate and via the olive tree onto the far fence and away.  

In the evening it came back along the fence, up the olive tree, jumped onto the grape vines, down a palm branch and back along the ivy-clad fence.  Chased all the way by the dogs but again it was outside so they could only bark and scrabble at the fence.  Don't know where it's going to - we did see a rat going up into the mulberry tree when that was full of fruit back in June, maybe it's eating the figs now.

So we took the loppers to every palm branch that came anywhere near touching the olive, grapes and house in the hope that it can't jump the gaps and will find a new route home - hopefully further away. 

Unfortunately  Pip, in her desperate attempt to get at the rat, has scratched her eyelid on a bush and  it's all swollen and she can't see from that eye.  The good thing for her though is that it's her bad eye and we're not sure how much vision there usually is in that one,  and she can still see with her good eye.  Has it slowed her down?  Not at all, still careering around before collapsing in the shade.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Mat and Airi's visit

We've had a busy week and I haven't been anywhere near the computer since Mat and Airi arrived last Saturday.  They flew into Granada at lunchtime and we came straight home as it was a fiesta weekend in Yator.  We missed the lunch but the plaza and the bar were still busy with people talking and drinking so we stopped in the village for a cold drink or two and had some huge plates of tapas.

The afternoon was spent showing her around the house, garden and pool area then they went  down to our bottom land - or tried to, it's a bit overgrown so they didn't get very far down.  A quick trip around the vegetable areas, picked some strawberries and then it was time for a swim.  They have been in the pool every morning and afternoon and Airi even managed to have a fairly dry float just before leaving yesterday.  How she didn't fall in I don't know, she was balanced on a tiny lilo.

Sunday was another fiesta day - we walked down at 1pm for a pre-lunch drink, paella was served later plus plates of salamis, cheeses, chorizo, crisps, bread.....jugs of beer, bottles of wine, bottles of lemonade and coke, and later on we slices of a kind of creamy swiss roll for dessert with a glass of sparkling red wine.  All very filling.  And all the time there was music playing, a brass band played jazzy stuff -   we have some video of it from Airi which will be added later.

About 4 o'clock ish the foam man set up and we had bubbles and buckets of water going everywhere.  No point in trying to stay dry or hide in the bar as there was no safe place.  Eventually the bar door was shut while they mopped up a bit but it didn't stay shut for long, or dry for that matter.  Pictures and video to come soon.  I didn't take my camera as Airi has a waterproof one which we used.  All we had during the foam party was some money in a sealed bag to pay the bar bill with at the end.  Everything else was safely dry at a friends house.  Some friends gave us a lift home and as if we weren't wet enough, we all went  in the pool.  Actually, I went to get wine and glasses from the kitchen and wondered where everyone was when I came out,  then heard laughing and splashing and they'd all  jumped straight in the water,  fully dressed. 

Most mornings Mat and Airi went out walking before it got too hot, up to Yegen one day, across to the river below El Golco, and round to the fuente.  In the afternoons they had language practice, he's learning Japanese and she's learning French.  Or so they said, he was fast asleep on the sunbed and although she was sitting on a chair, her book fell onto the ground and I suspect she was sleeping too.   Off to Ugijar one morning so they could buy gifts for friends and some things for their apartment plus we stopped for churros and chocolate as a mid-morning break.  Then all too soon their time here was over and we did a trip up to Granada yesterday morning to drop them off.

Loads of photos to sort through, some to be added here when we have time.  And the videos need shrinking down before uploading so it may be a few days yet.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Painting and decorating.

In the corner of our dining room is an open fireplace where Marie used to have a fire and sometimes cook over the open fire.  Consequently, the surrounding bricks were blackened by soot and cooking.  There is also a brick arch which used to be the entrance to the bread oven which was in the bodega - now our kitchen.  When we bought the house we thought the oven took up a lot of valuable space so knocked it out.  It was over a metre square - if a domed oven can be a square - of floor space and although the room measures  3.5m by 4m, it seemed to take an awfully large chunk out.  Plus it was almost as high as me so maybe that's why it seemed a bit overwhelming.

For a long time, I've wanted to have a go at the blackened bricks and try to get them clean, also the wall above was black, and would look much nicer white like the rest of the room.  So part of this weeks decorating involved lots of elbow grease, scourers, hot soapy water, degreasing spray and muttering from me.  Not easy working in a corner, tucked in the side of the woodburner which we have put in the  open fireplace, in the heat of August.  Even though the dining room is one of the coolest rooms, I was dripping.

But at last the bricks are as good as new, the wall has been wire brushed back from black, sooty paint to just dirty paint and after 3 - or possibly more -  coats of paint,  is now gleaming like the rest of the room.  Table and sideboard freshly waxed and polished,  new pictures on the walls and we're ready.

At least decorating doesn't involve lots of complicated paint charts, carpet and wallpaper samples. The  tiled floors don't need covering,  we moved the furniture from one side, prepared the walls, painted, moved it back,  did the same with the other half  and cleaned  the floors afterwards.   Sounds quick, but it took 4 days as there are still all the other things to do here involving the vegetable plots, so it wasn't only decorating, all day every day.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

August already.

Just because I don't write regularly doesn't mean nothing is happening or that we've given up on life, but it's because there's so much to do that I don't start to think  "I really should write something"  until about this time of night - nearly 10pm now.  And by then I've will have had a long day and am only ready for vegetating, not writing.

However, I'm sitting here with a large glass of wine - local (ours) of course and ready to write.

Every morning the sun pops up and shines all day - blue skies, sometimes a few clouds too but nothing much.   The fruits and vegetables are being watered, picked, frozen/dried/eaten depending on what it is and how much there is.  The lettuces - all 120 of them - have suddenly bolted over the last week and most of them are in flower.  Very pretty and should produce seeds for next year but not edible any more.  At least we've  had more than enough to eat for the past few months.  Next year I think we'll look for a later variety as well to last through these hot months.  If any one knows of a lettuce that'll grow in August and later, do let us know.  Contact details on here.......

Another paper work day this week which involved a day on the coast, somewhere different for us and what a place!  Parked in an ordinary car park, nothing fancy, but there were Lambourghinis, Porsche 4x4's and sport versions, a wonderful historic red E-type Jaguar,  a Hummer (not the prettiest thing around) a Maserati and I can't remember what else.  I know this is a small village, but our GTi is a bit flash for here,  but we were so insignificant compared to what we saw there!  Can't imagine going shopping in a Maserati but if that's all you've got.....!  We did notice the driver of the Lambourghini had problems paying at the cash desk to get out of the car park, not sure why!

Last but not least, Mat and his girlfriend Airi are coming down from Paris next weekend to stay.  Having someone to stay concentrates the mind wonderfully and makes you get on with all those small jobs that you know about but don't notice enough to spend time on.  And some things you don't notice after a while ... so we have started some decorating today.  Wire brushing loose paint, repainting, cleaning, tidying, some tiles to replace too.  I just hope we can find  things that we've moved when we put the rooms back as they were!