Monday, 15 May 2017

The Identity Parade

It has been a pleasure to have friends and family members over during the spring, and we have been nicely distracted from working on the land. But not too distracted! I am pleased to say (BIG tick) that the lining of the alberca is complete. There is still a bit of finishing off to do around it which will have to wait until the weather gets cooler later in the year or be reserved for early morning tasks. The new alberca is not as pretty as the original, natural one and the finishing off will involve making it look more aesthetically pleasing. However, we have a lined water deposit that doesn't lose water and doesn't flood the terraces below. Now, the watering of our land is getting closer to what we had dreamt of: less effort and greater control! What a good investment! It has also been good to get to know our neighbours better through this joint project.

With the completion of the alberca lining, we were able to get the fishes from our plunge pool and return them. It is just as well that Mark brought some fishing equipment over when we came out here and the landing net proved to be very useful. As for the turtle we had caught - we took it up to our neighbour's natural alberca and discovered a whole family of turtles up there!
Some of the fishes being transported back to the alberca - we caught 30 originally and returned 29 - not bad!

Mark is returning the fish to their home

There have been a few adjustments to make here and there. One day, the new pipe attachment into the alberca came loose due to the force of the water. It needed to be glued from below. Thankfully, I had brought a cut-off wetsuit over and was able to get in and push it back on. 

Returning from a bit of alberca maintenance - the water temperature was quite comfortable

Once we had the plunge pool back to ourselves, it was time to wash it down and repaint it ready for the summer.

Having somewhere around 150 thousand litres of irrigation water has also meant that we can get our fruit and vegetable plants in: courgettes, pumpkins and squashes, red and green peppers, chillies, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, melons, strawberries, aubergines, onions, runner beans, yard-long beans. We have also added a couple of new trees. We planted a chirimoyo (custard apple), which grows well on the coast - it may survive our winters, fingers crossed! We also planted a cherry - it may not get cold enough here for the tree to produce cherries but those of you who know me well will also know that I am an optimist! And finally, we managed to get a much sought-after mulberry tree - the climate should be just right here for the mulberry.
The mulberry. Here's the little fellow, waiting to be sent to his home on one of the terraces.

And we have already had our first vegetable harvest - habas (broad beans) of course!

In addition to eating the broad beans, we have been introduced to fried broad bean pods (young broad bean pods emptied of their beans, dipped in thick batter and fried in olive oil). Fab-u-lous!!

Some of our recent annual seasonal maintenance has involved cleaning out the water deposits, upgrading parts of the irrigation, strimming and fertilising. And to keep us company, there has been an explosion of wildflowers - more spectacular than the previous two years as we have had slightly more rain. Nearer the house, we have put up a second pergola - on the upstairs balcony - and we are enjoying the benefits of both. Now we can sit in shade on the balcony or patio at midday and feel the cooling breeze whilst enjoying the magnificent views and the unusually green countryside.
Upstairs balcony with shade-giving pergola above. 
The balcony is beautifully enclosed by grapevines.

We had a bit of excitement one night when returning home. It was late, about midnight, as we were bringing our son back from Malaga Airport to stay with us. On the track only a couple of hundred yards from our house we saw our first jabali (wild boar) - a young one, I think, but nevertheless not much smaller than a full-sized pig would be. It scuttled off as our car approached but we got a good look!

As it is now almost two years since we moved out here, I have decided that I will not be posting as frequently in this blog. The reason is mainly that, having gone through two annual cycles, I do not have as many new things to report. I can only post so many photos of courgettes and lettuces! However, I will still continue to post occasionally, particularly if there is a significant event (I hope that will include getting some honey at some time in the future). I also intend to post a collection of photos with explanatory captions on a monthly basis so that I have an organised record of what we have been up to. I have started a new blog called 'Farmhouse Cooking in las Alpujarras'. The blog address is   - there's nothing on there yet but there will be soon! My intention is to share a recipe made from seasonal produce in each post. I may still wax lyrical about the land and the plants and even the odd kitty picture will appear from time to time. However, I need a new idea to keep my motivation and having all my tried-and-tested recipes in one location will provide that very motivation.

In honour of all the wildflowers that have kept us company for the past couple of months, here is the line up to the identity parade. I will edit this post and give them their botanical and common names eventually - we have very good Mediterranean and Alpujarran floras in the house and my husband is a botanist. However, but I am a busy woman, I consider perfectionism to be a weakness (not a strength), and if I leave publishing this post until all the plants are named, it never will get published!  



4. Vetch



7. Euphorbia


9. Papaver  - poppy

10.  Papaver



13. Alyssum

14. Wild rocket

15. Echium


17. Dutchman's pipe - Aesclepia


19. Artichoke


21. Orange blossom


23. Convolvulus


25. Borage

26. Oxalis



29. Mallow - Lavatera


31. Digitalis - foxglove