Thursday, 16 June 2016

Figs at breakfast

This last week it has turned HOT, the warmest so far this year. A couple of days ago the temperature reached 33 C in the shade at our house and yes....... we are starting to get a few figs to put on our breakfast or eat with cheese at lunchtime. 

At the end of May there was a fiesta at a little chapel on our part of the mountain. The timing was perfect: just after a bit of heavy rain and just before the heatwave. We knew there was going to be a fiesta in May as a neighbour had told us about it when we were over visiting a couple of years ago - but we had never been. Thankfully, another neighbour reminded us one Friday that the fiesta was to be the next day. So, on the Saturday just after mid-day, we set off walking up the hill to the church where the fiesta was to be held.  

The setting was beautiful......

and Our Lady was carried from the church and carefully placed in the shade, adorned by flowers......

A giant paella was being prepared for all to share. Once the gentleman had cooked the paella, he played the accordian and sang whilst people danced in front of the church. 

And there was a free bar. All day!!!!!

After paella and dancing, the priest arrived and gave mass (it would have been rude not to have stayed). An altar was set up in front of Our Lady. The gentleman switched his accordion music from dance tunes to religious songs. A few cars arrived on the track and a party of cyclists, surprised by the fact that a religious service was blocking the track. They were welcomed to the bar.

After mass and after some of the people had taken communion, the priest came into the congregation and attempted to shake everyones' hand. Then Our Lady was carried for a way down the track whilst we followed in procession.

 And then the party turned round and carried her back.....
 After mass there was 'una merienda' (a snack): a chorizo roll, and many more trips to the bar!!

We obviously had a chat to our neighbours during the afternoon, but we were new faces to many people on the mountainside. We also got chatting to an English WOOFER (a volunteer worker) who works for one of our neighbours and we acknowledged with him that this fiesta was so uniquely Spanish and unlike anything we had ever encountered in the UK! What a lovely carefree day!

* * * * *

We have continued to turn more of the cut timber into useable logs. Mark has been very nifty cutting them and I have been making the log piles.  And we are even doing a line in garden tables and chairs!!!
I call this area in our garden 'teddybears' picnic'. I wonder why?
Of course, it may get re-named 'ants in yer pants' at some time in the future.

 It took quite an effort getting these logs into position as benches. Rolling them wasn't too much of a problem, but swivelling them was heavy work. 

An olive trunk flower pot!

 During the hot afternoons, I have been indoors making fitted jackets to cover our water deposits and protect the plastic sides from the ultraviolet rays.

A the family of jabali (wild boar) have been in the vicinity recently. One night there was a right kerfuffle. Our neighbour's dogs were barking and growling for a long time. Finally, there was gunshot at 4 am and all went quiet. We passed by his house the next day and he confirmed that there had been a family of four which he had scared off. They come onto the land to take the crops. The next night the heat woke me up. I lay awake in bed considering going down to cool off in the alberca. Then I heard the neighbour's dogs starting off their barking again and I decided to stay indoors as the thought of meeting a jabali in the dark was not very enticing! 

About a week ago Mark had a  mishap working on the land and has broken the tip of his right index finger, probably the worst place you can break a digit. I drove him to our local health centre where they have an 'urgencias' department and they took an x-ray to confirm it was broken (we knew that anyway judging by the way it veered off at an angle). The doctor sent us to the University Hospital in Granada where it was stitched, splinted and dressed. This evening we went for a follow up appointment with a traumatologist at another hospital in Granada. The bandage and splint have been removed, making Mark feel rather vulnerable. We have had to use our medical insurance for this follow up appointment as it is not urgent and therefore not covered by the EHIC card. Thankfully we have a comprehensive insurance policy! So, for the last week Mark has not been in a good place due to a combination of pain, swelling, taking antibiotics and frustration.

So we have had to take a bit of step back from doing some of the tasks that were on our list. Things will just take a bit longer to get done. Last weekend, it was time to prune the Philadelphus as it had just finished flowering. As Mark was out of action I got to prune it myself. Suffice to say that if I were a hairdresser there would be a few disgruntled clients!

And of course, the garden keeps on growing and the plants don't go 'on hold'. They look glorious and seeing the 'fruits of our labour' gives us immense pleasure.....
These are not giant sunflowers, they are intended as cut flowers - put I couldn't possibly cut them., they are too beautiful just growing there!

Grapes are developing (not my best photo!)

Decorative rockery area

Fruit setting on olives - we will definitely have some to take to the mill this winter. 

One of the pistachios (the male)

Pomegranate in flower

Orange fruits setting for later in the year
A few fruits have set on the recently planted kiwi

The lawn is coming on a treat!

The strawberries like their new home and are starting to produce reasonable fruits

I grew these onions from seed

The leaves of these pumpkin plants are beautiful

Pepper in flower

Pepper in fruit

There were about 50 little peaches on our peach tree but they have all dropped off. It's a very young tree and looks otherwise healthy. Maybe next year we'll get our own peaches.

Aubergines (now in flower)

Young figs

A baby melon

Baby butternut squash

Baby avocado

 We are doing a three sisters planting. This is a method used by Native American Indians and it sustained them nutritionally and spiritually. Firstly, sweetcorn are sown. Once they reach about 20 cm, French beans are sown at the base of the sweetcorn and will wind up their stems. Finally, squashes will be sown around the beds. The squashes will scramble over the ground, reduce weeds, conserve moisture and, as the theory goes, the racoons of North America find the squashes prickly to walk over. However, I can't imagine they would deter a jabali! 
Three sisters planting (just sweetcorn at this point).

 As well as the plant life, we are finding some lovely fauna: birds, butterflies, insects. One afternoon we went up to our irrigation alberca and there in the heat of the afternoon were dragonflies flying over the water, two snakes enjoying a swim, fishes and tadpoles.

Beautiful wild flower: flor de la viuda

Talking of wildlife, I have been seeing a few lizards around without a tail. A friend informed me that they have the ability to detach the tail from their body as a last resort to get away from their prey, and the tail which has detached keeps on wriggling to distract the prey from pursuing them. It is a procedure known as autotopia. That will explain why I saw a wriggling tail disappearing into Bobby's mouth. I thought for a moment he had swallowed something head first. Apparently, the lizard has the ability to regrow the tail. 

Oh Bobby, what have you got now? You clever boy!
Our growing of vegetables is a little held back at the moment by the lack of organic material we can incorporate. We have compost, but never enough. You can buy rotted goat poo locally but I really would rather not have to pay out money for a pile of shit! And we are not going to get our chickens until next Spring as we ran out of time to build their house. So there's no poultry manure to be had. However, we have had a couple of leads for some horse manure - gratis - and, as it's heavy work to shovel, we'll be picking up the scent of the trail again, so to speak, once Mr Sparrow's finger is on the mend.