Wednesday, 7 October 2015

First snow

Last week we set off to sell our surplus almonds in Torvizcon. The town is on the other side of the valley, across the river. It had rained during the previous night and the first snow could be seen on the Sierra Nevada mountains up above. We had 70 Kgs of surplus almonds for which we received about 90 Euros in total. It's not a way to getting rich! I had heard rumours last year that some of Spain's almond harvest was being shipped to California, where the harvests have suffered due to the collapse of honeybee colonies. The bag that the nut weigher put the almonds in had 'California nut company' written on the side. I asked him if any of the nuts were bound for the United States but he said 'No'. We bought a special nut harvesting pole whilst at the nut-dealers. We wanted to buy a 3 metre carbon fibre one but it wouldn't fit in the car so we had to settle for one a bit shorter!
It is starting to get chillier in the evenings, as was evident from the first snow, so we have moved over to using propane gas at our house, which has a lower boiling point than butane, and therefore makes a better winter heating fuel, for our hot water and cooking.
We have been absorbed this last week with getting mosquitero up in one of the rooms of the house, but not before rubbing down and painting the windows. Now it looks right smart. I have made a bed head in one of the rooms using a wooden curtain rail and draping traditional Alpujarran curtain fabric over it. We also have curtains from similar traditional fabric in our living room. The curtains cover a doorway rather than a window. The windows have wooden shutters that open inwards, so it is not usual to hand curtains inside.
I find the traditional Alpujarran designs very pleasing indeed. I have had a request for a poncho made from the fabric. Who knows? Maybe I'll get my finger out and make one some time!
Our living room curtains made from very pleasing tradtional Alpujarran fabric.
We have also spent some time this last week rubbing down and repainting the beams in our kitchen to restore them to form.
The highlight of the weekend, which actually begun on Thursday - 4 days in total, was the Fiesta de Orgiva. We spent all day in town on Saturday. My favourite part was watching the 'carrera de cintas a caballo'. This was a contest where horsemen and one horsewoman, rode under a wire, whilst trying to 'hook' and unravel one of many ribbons on reels threaded through the wire using a stick held in their hand. If they were successful, the ribbon, which was about 2 metres long, unwound as they rode past.
True to form, the contest started about 45 minutes late, but that really didn't matter because there was a great atmosphere. One of the horseman was a young teenager and was smaller than the others, as was his horse. He could hardly reach the ribbons, but the crowd loved him and he had a friendly smiling face which charmed the spectators further. When only 4 or 5 ribbons remained, the horsemen were allowed to remove them manually, which didn't appear to be much easier than using a stick. At the end, the competitors received 10 Euros for each of the ribbons they had unwound and there were trophies for first second and third.
I have seen a similar contest to this at a Fiesta in Tenerife almost 40 years ago but the competitors were on bicycles, not horses.  

A bit of a meeting to go over the rules. Why not?

Here is the wire with the ribbons on reels threaded onto it

Some of the crew are ready to begin but one of them is phoning his mates who are also competing to see where they have got to.
The contest is underway. One by one they ride in turn, until all the ribbons have been 'speared' and unravelled
He's got one!
And so has he!
Trophies for first, second and third, and lots of banter.

After the contest, we wandered into town to take in the atmosphere, whilst a number of the horseman  proudly cantered in. Many of them wore traditional Andaluz trousers and hats.
On the way into town we saw a tree which we had not noticed before. It was in full bloom: a Ceiba, I have been informed. It has a prickly bark and beautiful flowers.

In town traditional fried eggs were being handed out. This was to be the first of may snacks which we grazed on throughout the day.

I'm glad to see that the dodgems stage has been securely supported.
Later that afternoon, we went to another horsie event, the Espectaculo a Caballo, held in the (temporary) bullring at the outskirts of town. The horses and their riders performed to music. By the time we walked back up to town it was getting dark. We visited a few of the bars and filled up on tapas with our beers.


The vegetables in the garden are doing well.  A few of the oranges are just starting to turn from green to pale yellow. They are probably still more than two months off being ripe. I have staked the French beans, which was a bit of crisis management as I expected them to be standard plants, not climbers. And I didn't expect them to grow taller than me so the canes I have used are too short. They are in flower and there are some very small beans, approx. 2cms long, starting to form. It seems very strange growing plants when the days are getting shorter and cooler, that I would have grown in England when the days were getting longer and warmer. Today I sowed lettuce, beetroot, spinach, radish, peas, mangetout peas and fennel. I have also re-sown the failed carrots with a vow to water them at least twice daily. I collected some manzanilla table olives from one of the trees on the land a few days ago. There are not many olives on the tree this year but they were ready to be picked. They are now soaking as part of the preparation process prior to bottling. We have made some pomegranate juice. It was a labour-intensive process. The amount of work that goes into growing and preparing food for consumption makes me appreciate all the more what goes onto my plate!
It is a busy time of year for sure, but we can relax a bit more now that the almonds are safely dried and in storage, waiting to be turned into something delicious and nutritious.
The magnificent nut-cracker

No comments:

Post a Comment