|Beautiful Taha Valley villages from the opposite side of the river|
|Busquistar, one of the Taha Valley villages|
Whilst walking, we spotted some lovely plants growing in amongst the rocks, ? maybe Arisaema ?
|Arisaema .... maybe...|
It has not rained for a while and there is no guarantee that it will rain in the immediate future. Our alberca (irrigation water deposit) is currently very low and we are recycling domestic waste water to hydrate our precious plants.
Because it is cooler at night, there is some amount of dew that also provides moisture for the plants. This, and probably the cooler conditions, has resulted in a wave of weeds germinating. I love weeds and unless I can think of something better to grow in a space I am quite happy for weeds to fill the corners of the garden. At the moment, I am making a batch of nettle tea which will I will give as a treat to the cultivated plants in the next month or so.
|Homegrown, organic and delicious!|
Today, we planted a lime tree which was an early Christmas gift from our son when he was over. We have chosen the sunniest and most sheltered spot we can think of for it, as limes are more tender than oranges and lemons. One of our 3 piles of compost is ripe and ready so a bucketful was put to good use around the lime.
We live across the valley from the forestal defence helipad which deals with forest fires and there are restrictions on having a bonfire on your land to safeguard the countryside. If you want to have a bonfire here, it is only allowed between November and March and you must get a permit from the Town Hall, something which we have recently done. Now, in the mornings, rising plumes of smoke can be seen across the valley, both nearby and in the distance. We may add to the smoke signals in the next week or so.
Mark has started an intensive Spanish course which is 3 mornings a week, so I have had lots of time on my own in which to get up to mischief. A couple of weeks ago I went with one of our visitors into a grocer's in one of the back streets in town to enquire about the walnuts that were for sale, as some of the ones in the shops are from California. The lady said they were from her land, which turned out to be the area where we also live. In the conversation that followed, it transpired that she had previously owned our house and land before selling it to the person we bought it from! She still has a parcel of land higher above us which she visits at weekends. Her produce looked lovely so I expect to be making frequent trips back to her shop, particularly if she has grown some of it herself. The walnuts were delicious and truly the biggest I have ever seen. Talking of Spanish lessons, I am currently having weekly one to one lessons but I am shortly to join a group which will focus on learning about aspects of Spanish culture. That will allow Mark some mischief time!
The Christmas cake ingredients have been weighed up and it will be baked tomorrow. This year we have sourced some of the ingredients very locally: the orange and lemon rind are our own; the walnuts come from the woman's land above us; the eggs are from the hens of another woman who runs the fish shop; the marzipan will be made from our own almonds and either our neighbour's honey or our English honey from last year which we brought out here; the brandy will be Spanish, naturally. We would have had our own sultanas but I put them in an apple cake! We stopped at a house by the roadside today and bought a 'cabello de angel' (angels' hair) pumpkin. These pumpkins are used as cake ingredients to add moisture and texture. As the Christmas cake will take about 4 hours in the oven, we'll have some angels' hair cake cooking simultaneously!
|Cabello de angel (angels' hair) pumpkin|
Last Sunday morning we went to the car boot sale in town, which is held at a respectable 10 am to 2 pm (unlike the ridiculous 8 - 12 in the UK). There was a woman there selling alpaca cardigans from Peru and Mark has bought me one which he has put away for my Christmas present. But to top our preparations for Christmas, I have been to town and purchased a 'caganer'. Now I am not a religious person, but I do find the story of Christmas and the wider interpretation meaningful. The Spanish tend to have a Nativity scene rather than a Christmas tree, and in amongst the nativity characters it is traditional to have a caganer. He or she might well be round the back of the stable, but you never know, they might be right inside. You have to look and find them. And don't be fooled into thinking that the intent look on their face is one of reverence or that their lowly posture is in honour of Jesus, because the caganer is actually a person taking a dump. The figurine I bought came in a box which said 'pastor cagando', which means 'shitting shepherd'. It gives the Nativity scene a whole new edge! (I realise I have started my Christmas buying a little early but I was concerned the caganer would sell out!)
|Here is the caganer. The photo is deliberately blurred (!) so you cannot recognise the culprit that is responsible for what has been left in the corner of the stable!|
Our little cat Pepper is now fully recovered from the abscess, which initially made a hole in her skin about one centimetre across. True to what Manolo the vet said, it healed from the inside to the outside, and the hole has closed fully. Now the cone of shame is off and she has got her attitude back again!
There are forecasts of the temperatures dropping over the next few days. Right now, although it is windy, it is fairly warm and I cannot imagine scraping the ice off the car. Should it become overcast for a few days so that the solar energy store drops, we have had our generator serviced and it is fully firing and at the ready if needed! We have lots of firewood and this evening we lit up one of the woodburners for the first time since last January. It was a magnet to our four cats!
|At the remains of the Panjuila baths|