We have just had our first heavy rain since last year, although
Joaquin spent a week last year repairing the roof we still had several
leaks, although the really heavy rain only lasted an hour the pool
filled up a couple of inches, so i had to pump some of the water away,
the good thing is the ground has had a thorough saturation which will
really plump up the olives and lemons ready for a good crop in November.
Last week signs went up on the road into Blanca as there is a real subsidence at the riverside by the old wash house, this is just as you go into Blanca there are big cracks in the road and Mary always asks me to drive fast over it. i should not think this rain will do it any good and the town hall will need to dig deep to find funds for what looks like a costly repair job. Apparently the rains caused a large rock slide above the town but no people were hurt or property damaged.
The two new footbridges over the river are still not finished, they have been constructing them since spring and now they are putting the wood on them, i have heard they cost 250,000 euros.
Friday, September 28, 2012
We have just had our first heavy rain since last year, although
Joaquin spent a week last year repairing the roof we still had several
leaks, although the really heavy rain only lasted an hour the pool
filled up a couple of inches, so i had to pump some of the water away,
the good thing is the ground has had a thorough saturation which will
really plump up the olives and lemons ready for a good crop in November.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Another thing you find is that you don't want to be eating large or heavy meals, It is the norm to eat very late at night, though when its humid its still to hot to eat much. Lovely, interesting salad with exciting dressings go down well. We did have a curry yesterday though. I made meatballs flavoured with ground coriander and cumin seeds and a chickpea curry which we ate with turkish flat bread that I had made earlier in the day. I love a mango chutney with my curry and as an experiment I made some mango chutney with plums as we had so many. If I say so myself its really good and I will be making more with the next glut of plums. We love flat breads and its so easy to make, requires no kneading and can be flavored with whatever you fancy. Most often I use sunflower seeds on top but John wants me to try using some of my homemade chilli paste, I have two varieties hot and, well, dam hot. Great in curries and chillies and far more body than anything i have found to buy. I know that curry is said to cool you down, because it makes you perspire but if its humid it doesn't work that way so you need plenty to drink to counteract possible dehydration. Would never waste a bottle of wine on a curry meal, far better to have water, beer or lassi ( traditional Indian yogurt drink). Talking of wine Lidl they have some wonder wines on sale at the moment in Cieza. A fairly local one, from Jumilla, Cinglano Jovan, a surprisingly full bodied red with lots of fruit taste. I find it hard to believe its only 1.11 euros a bottle.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Over the last few years we have heard very many British immigrants and holiday home owners utter the words, "I am going to hand the keys in". What they were saying in essence was that they intended to walk away from the debt they owned a Spanish Bank. We found this incredible when we first heard it and so much more so now.
In our experience quiet a lot of people, prior to the current world economic crisis, came to Spain and took on mortgages that where ambitious to say the least. We personally have meet large numbers of our fellow countrymen who had a mortgage in UK and took on another here for a holiday home. Then there are those who had no income here, often just vague ideas of running a business that would serve fellow Brits. The problem is just how many property management companies and the like were needed. Also how did you compete with those who worked illegally- and incidentally using an unregistered management company can invalidate your house insurance.
Well given the problems of earning a living here, paying two mortgages the current crisis you can see that cracks would appear in some peoples dreams. Ask yourself this though, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING.
We are not being smug just count ourselves lucky we have leaned from our lives and our mistakes. You know what they say if you have never made a mistake you have never made anything. But really would you go to a new country, possibly unable to speak the language, without the were with all to live at least for the first year. Whats more would you take on a second mortgage in the hope that you will let the place for some of the time to pay it and that your job was secure. Secure jobs didn't they die out in 1969?
Following on from the stories of people losing there homes, handing back the keys as many have, we have seen endless media stories about "hard done too" Brits. Some people it seems think its OK to up and walk away from their debt because it is in another country. But think about this for a moment Banks in Spain have 155.84bn euros of loans at risk of not being repaid. That is 9% of all loans.
Of course we are not saying that's all immigrants walking away for a mortgage debt. However consider the up roar there would be if it was happening in UK., this handing in the keys business and running off home.
We have listened to the argument that the Banks are at fault and of course their easy mortgage policy has been a contributory factor. But did all the people who took 100 and even 110 percent mortgages do so with a loaded gun at there head, I think not. If large amounts of individuals are aloud to ignore their debt to Spain it will be very unfair indeed.
Spain has 1 in 4 unemployed and By 2010, one in four Spaniards were at risk of poverty
or social exclusion. We would say to all the defaulters if you think you are badly off living back in UK think again. For many life is hard now in Spain and I am not talking about not being able to go out for a meal so often I am talking about not being able to eat.We hope the banks will use the international laws now in place that enable them to pursue these debts across borders.
For all this Spain remains the place we want to call home and a country that we love.Here in Blanca despite the hard times local people remain cheerful, helpful and generous. Property prices are continuing to fall and we hope attracting people who can afford to live the dream. that people will cut there cloth to match there purse. In our area alone there are many amazing bargains that with a little work will become perfect family or holiday homes. The banks are getting their acts together, the rubbish agents whose advice was always to buy big or buy two, we know we met them, have all but gone. The established local companies continue to match, people with houses that suit not only the buyers taste but also their pockets.
What we try to do is on a daily basis is rejoice is the good things whilst hoping for a change for the better,recognizing that no one country is to blame and that individuals contribute to any problem you care to mention, but, we can and should seek solutions that are within our power.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The budget airline has had a number of mentions in the media here since July 26 when three of the planes were diverted from Madrid to Valencia because of storms over the capital.
it is alleged that lack of fuel was the issue also that the three pilots issued ‘Mayday’ calls, All the pilots managed to land safely on Runway 12 at Manises Airport in Valencia. Ryan Air said that it had activated the alert when there was enough fuel left for 30 minutes. The planes had to wait in a queue before they could land. The company claims that the three planes were flying in the stack over Valencia for 50, 68 and 69 minutes. Should the Airline be found culpable they could be be banned from landing in Spain for up to three years.
We await the outcome with interest.
Photo: The Plane, The Plane.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Suzi was not happy with the heat and tried several of her regular siesta places. One fav usually wins and that’s the bottom shelf of the book case, the next shelf up comes a close second. The shelves are made from terracotta bricks and have the same tiles as the floor so I guess they are pretty cool. If there was A bit, quiet a bit, more room I would be tempted to try it myself.
Its so important to be aware of food safety in this hot climate. We test the fridge temperature on a regular basis.
A refrigerator temperature of 37°F and a freezer temperature of 0°F will keep your food from spoiling, without causing you to spend unnecessarily (usually the middle setting on the temperature knob).
To test the temperature of your refrigerator, place a thermometer in a glass of water, and check it the next day (or after the fridge has been closed for eight hours). To test the temperature of your freezer, place a thermometer between two frozen foods; then, check it after eight hours.
It has cooled down a little over the weekend and is mid 30s again today. You really need to get any jobs done in the morning though. Yesterday did manage to clean through the house, the hot Sahara winds bring plenty of dust. John gave the pool a clean too as always its looking fantastic under his care, John is known to keep the best pool in Blanca. One thing he cannot prevent though and can only remove are the tarantulas who decide to take a dip. It was not until our daughter spotted one that John admitted he had been removing quite a few. Now I knew this was quite common when you live on the campo but was, until know at least, kidding myself it was not happening. Its a quick check of the pool every time I take a dip from now on.
More fires around Spain again this week. In the Alicante region two brave men lost there lives fighting a fire. In the Canary Islands around 4000 people have had to leave there homes. It goes without saying that the greatest care should be taken to avoid further tragedy.
Due to the hot weather progress on the building in the huerta has slowed, its still looking good though, well done you men!
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Last weekend Spain saw the frightening spectra of forest fires taking lives, severely injuring people, destroying homes and devastating countryside and wildlife. It is now clear, beyond doubt, that the two fires that raged were started by carelessly discarded cigarette ends.
We have just had the driest winter in living memory, the hottest June, the temperatures are soaring. You only have to look around you to see how tinder dry the countryside is and some thoughtless fool casually throws a cigarette out of their vehicle. Lord above it just makes you despair does it not.
If you have ever seen a place that has been razed to the ground by a wild fire you will never forget it. We were profoundly affect by the sites we saw in parts of the Australia state of Victoria that suffered on Black saturday 7 February 2009. Areas we knew well, and had visited only months before the fires stood like barren moonscapes, stark reminders of that dreadful day.
If you drive along the Spanish motorways you cannot fail to see the flashing signs. You do not need to speak the language to know a triangle ( warning) sign with a cigarette crossed through is not telling you smoking is banned on the motorway. It IS telling you to be extra careful what you do with the butt. So lets hope and pray all smokers will take heed and that we will have no more tragedies this summer.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
As I say it was cloudy first thing but still warm enough for our pre breakfast swim. The pool gives us a good all around view of the sky and hills and its not uncommon for us to spot something interesting whilst swimming. We have a routine going for if one of us is outside and spots something worth sharing. Not wanting to shouting or run around and scare off whatever we have spied we whistle to get attention. Today was a cracker as John noticed an eagle flying quite close by. We never cease to be astounded by the variety of bird life here. Whilst watching the eagle we could hear Golden orioles nearby as well as Bee eaters. What I cannot understand is why the Ricote area is not inundated with twitchers from all around the world.
We now have our river view and John is clearly going to enjoy living here even more. Fishing on the door step without needing to get the car out. It seems that new trees will be planted along side the river too. We do wonder how the reeds will be keep down though as they have already started to sprout only days after being cut back to the ground.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Its so inspiring for a cook to get such fresh ingredients, I like to slice the aubergines not to thickly length was brush with olive oil, I always use extra virgin, sprinkle with crushed garlic and grated cheese then bake in the oven. Great hot or cold.
The runner beans with be served with bacon stir fried together after the beans have been lightly steamed.
I bought fresh beetroot to and that will be served raw, grated with a dash a of lemon juice and black pepper.
In fact all this talk of food is making me hungry, I am off to the kitchen right now!
Friday, July 13, 2012
Hate to tell you, especially you guys in UK, but its boiling hot again today. Temperature is hovering around 40 degrees. Order of the day then is water water and more water. Thank goodness the water supply problem we had earlier in the week seems to sorted. We had not water for a whole day, really makes you realize what some people have to put up with in some parts of the world, so as ever the tap may be ready to flow but we will treat this precious resource with respect.
Order of the day is keep the shutters closed and if you have to get something done do it early in the day. We do have air-con in some parts of the house but again for environmental reasons we rarely use them. We do use a fan at night in front of the open window.
As I said yesterday lots of work going on in the campo. this year they are cutting the reeds along the river. This was a job that used to be done every year but due to the shortage of money its been left for a couple of years. Its must be hellish hard work down at the bottom of the valley along the river. It does look like we will have a view of running water from the garden pretty soon though, so its thank you to those people getting the work done despite the heat.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Well we are lax this year aren't we, I already said sorry for the lack of posting (to our loyal readers!) so will nor labour the point just crack on with a bit of news etc.
Some time has been taken up with hospital visits and tests, pleased to say everything has turned out well. The local hospital is excellent and the consultant I saw very helpful and caring. Health care for everyone not just we immigrants has been a hot topic all year here. Spain, like many many other countries, particularly in the euro zone, has been making some difficult decisions with regards provision of care. When the dust settles the changes will hopefully enable those who need care to receive it. One thing I read that astonished me what the amount the UK pays to Spain for its Pensioners care, 3.500 euros is the figure I saw quoted. This seems so low when you consider the growing needs of older people. In fact I have contacted the UK Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley to raise the matter. I await his reply with interest.
We are having some exceptionally warm weather so the pool is getting lots of use. We stopped putting on the solar cover some weeks ago. If the water gets to hot, as it would do if we continued to use the cover, it could damage the filter pump.
Lots going on in the area, numerous land plots getting a make over and being planted, some with apricots and the lovely plate peaches and some with olives. The little house below us that was in a state of disrepair is now being reformed. This is excellent news for the adjoining property as it was a threat to the stability of the building. Here in Spain the local council can oblige a property owner to repair a property that threats another.
Property prices are still falling so its a good time to grab a bargain, we cannot resist looking in Real Homes in Spain window to see whats happening. Always a cheering welcome there and the promise of ongoing advice holds true. Its good to have local people to assist even when there are fluent Spanish speakers in the family.
lots of other stuff going on so watch this space I will be back and sooner rather than later and lets just say plums may well feature!
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
When we came to Villa Alba the front of the house had a very ailing grape vine growing, or rather not growing across the front of the house. On close inspection we decided that years of neglect had sadly finished off the vine. The pots the grape vines were in however were well worth reusing. They are yellow and blue glazed with a bold pattern, very large too. What to plant in them though. We brought with us two Plumbagos, a particular favorite because of the wonderful blue flowers they produce. I always think they are the colour of bluebells in a cornish evening light. So we planted them up and wished them luck, and they seem to have taken the good wishes to heart because they are growing well with lots of flower heads. John cut some bamboo to make a framework for them today and I have tied them onto this with bread packet ties, we always save them for this sort of Job.
We were also pleased to see that the jasmine has now got flowers coming, well the main one that was here, the cutting we got going is making lots of growth but no flowers as yet. Its a labour of love to garden in Spain, we use grey water to keep it going, we would feel really guilty if we were pouring fresh water onto the beds and pots.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Work has moved forward on our Los Tollos plot with the granting of the project licence, the three "boys" worked together to dig out the footings on friday, the mammoth task of building steps is almost finished through Jude's hard work. Picture will be posted of the progress as it happens.
We have had some changeable weather with a little more much needed rain and the garden continues to grow. The pansies we planted be last year continue to flourish and we plan to have lots more in the main flower bed this time. The rose bush that was here when we bought, and survived the mayhem of the pool build, is now blooming in pretty pink, the miniature rose bought from Lidl is still covered with flowers as is the white carnation bought for us by my brother and sister-in-law. We will however have to move the plum tree that was a christmas present from daughter and son-in-law, it really does not like the position its in so fingers crossed that a move will save it.
Lots going on with the in Spain with changes in rules and stronger reinforcement of existing ones with regards health care. Despite the dramatic coverage in some of the English language media it is not solely aimed at Brits in fact they need only worry if they have been getting access to health care illegally.
Today is Mothers day here in Spain, everyone is here and son-in-law has a paella on the go. Its a traditional rabbit one, rabbit courteously of our neighbour. There a story behind that........
Last week John and i where have having our morning coffee at the far end of the garden when we saw a cat run up the large pine in front of us. We thought it would have a look around and come down and were more concerned about the Collared Doves nest than the cat. little did we know what a saga it would turn into. During the next few hours the cat stayed resolutely in the tree it did not seem bothered with the birds nest. By late afternoon we were convinced it was afraid to climb or jump down. We try to persuade it with friendly calls but as it was a feral campo cat it pretty much ignored us. Ah well we surmised it must be waiting for cover of darkness. It was not. Next morning it had climbed higher, silly animal if it could go up why not come down. By the afternoon of the second day John and our son had placed a plank "bridge" to aid the cats descent. Did it come down, did it heck! Food was placed on the bridge, the cat meowed, we stressed. The men in our house are most decidedly not tall tree climbers, nor is the woman for that matter!! To cut a long story short we try all sorts and then Son-in-law Joaquin came to the rescue. Despite our misgiving, its a tall tree, he made a rapid ascent, so that the cat had no time to go higher which was its modus operandi, grappled the moggy and had to more or less toss it onto the highest part of the bank. It would have been impossible to carry it down as not only where all hands and feet required to make a way safely down the darn thing was intent on injuring the hero who had saved it.
So where does the rabbit fit in? Well he owners of the place next door feed all the feral cats and also breed rabbits for meat. They where so pleased with Joaquin for getting the cat down they gave him a rabbit as a reward.
The cat can be seen about the place none the worse for its ordeal and its my guess it wont be climbing trees any time soon. Sadly we fear it may have dined on eggs fresh from the Collared Doves nest whilst aloft.
The River at Blanca by Jude
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
We have been a little busy to say the least since we moved but once he got a spare moment first thing to do was to get a licence sorted. Whilst I sat and had a little chat with Jan in the Real Homes in Spain office John set about the task with determination. We were somewhat amused to see John pass the office on several occasions, he seemed to be going for a real ground-hog day!
So a little run down on what was happening:
Visit to Town hall to get licencia de pesca
Trip to bank to pay fee of 6.61 for licencia
Return to Town hall with proof of payment
Informed of need for insurance
Off to insurance company to get compulsory policy*
Back to Town hall with proof policy
Licence is issued
Trip to bar for well earned drink
*The Insurance company used was Mapfre in the Gran Via Blanca. The cost for 6 months was 16.80 euro, which is automatically renewed by direct debit until you choose to cancel.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Looking back, a bit of a serious week on the Blog. A sign of the times I suppose, the "crisis", as its always referred to here, means more than even the decisions of Government really do have an instant impact on our everyday lives. However we have so much here that remains beyond the grasp of even the most determined Politicians. Whats more if you take a little time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life the real moments of joy are free.Many wonderful "in the moment" experiences for us are when we connect with the magnificent natural surrounding we are lucky to live in.
Our feathered friends top the list this week. We were thrilled to see the most colourful of summer visitors in Europe the Bee Eater arrive from its African winter one morning this week. Our daughter was also lucky to spot a short toed eagle over near our Los Tollos plot. Very much smaller but extremely pretty Green Finches have delighted us as we had our first coffee of the day at the far end of the garden. We have eagerly watched for mr and mrs Collared Dove in their nest in the large pine tree too.
Nature may be red in tooth and claw but as ever its a welcome distraction from the battle field of everyday life.
Friday, April 20, 2012
A touch of deja vu as the week progresses. Feeling like I am back in the Thatcherite 80s with talk of education cuts, more police powers and changes to health services.
We can only hope the end results are an improvement on the infamous Iron Lady's policies.
Rumblings all over the EU with regards the Schengen agreement*. Interior Ministers in France and Germany have signed a joint letter in which they call for the reform of, and ‘temporary suspension’ of the Schengen agreement which allows for the free movement between most member states of the EU.
the reasons stated for such a move are stated as the need to "control the massive flow of immigrants’. The call comes just ahead of the 25th anniversary of the treaty this coming Monday, although many countries signed up in March 1995.
France and Germany believe that a ‘temporary suspension’ is needed during the present crisis, both Paris and Berlin speak of ‘provisional’ closure of frontiers, and only when a country in the Schengen space cannot control the flow of immigrants. They say they will give the details to their European partners at the next conference.
Spain has announced the suspension of the Schengen Treaty and the re-establishing of frontier controls with France ahead of the European Central Bank meeting which is to be held in Barcelona on May 3.
Spain has not yet said how long the border restriction will remain in place, they say it will allow the authorities to act if there is ‘a serious threat to public order or interior security’.
The measure will only affect the frontiers between Spain and France from the Basque Country to Cataluña. Reports indicate that it was the Catalan Government to step up the controls in the face of possible disturbances and the arrival of protesters from other countries in Europe.
So as I say its just like the 80s, we even have an argument with Argentina going on, all we need now is a poll tax!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The old name, first given to the Spanish Costa's in the popular press in the 70s I believe, seems to have taken on a new meaning in recent days. First we had the Government here raising the issue of illegal use of the Spanish NHS now the British Government is pledged to catch those defrauding their system for a large proportion of the 43 million pound they pay out every year to fraudulent claimants living abroad.
In such difficult economic times no Government can afford to ignore the blatant misuse of its limited funds and I am sure a lot of the perpetrators of such frauds will now be caught and brought to justice. For some it will mean a double whammy as being in reciept of some UK benefits will have given them access to the Spanish health care system. I can only imagine that once caught for claiming long term disability or sickness benefit for example whilst able to work, often working on the black here, they will be on interest to both governments.
The small Pension, Benefit & Health care team based in Spain provide support to the estimated 1million Britons living there. They work with the Spanish Authorities on behalf of the DWP and Department of Health to prevent and detect benefit fraud, ensure correct access to the Spanish health care system, and combat misuse of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
What is termed abroad fraud involves a range of scams such as people on means-tested benefits going abroad but failing to declare their absence, undeclared property abroad, and individuals working while claiming sickness benefits. Here in Spain claims for Income Support or Pension Credit are the most frequently investigated for fraud.
It has puzzled us in the past when we have heard people who are below state pension retirement age talk about getting a a"winter fuel payment". Understandable if they suffered from ill health and received a disability pension but confusing when we saw they working or running a business here. What goes around comes around as they say and I am guessing they will very soon being feeling pretty sick indeed, when they are found out.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
A couple of items caught my eye in the news this week so thought I would share them here.
It seems the King, Juan Carlos, is in a bit of bother all round lately. Whilst on Holiday he had a fall and broke his hip, a common peril of old age! However his troubles did not end there as reports of the accident drew attention to the fact that he was on holiday in Botswana and had taken part in an Elephant hunt. As King Juan Carlos is an honorary member of the World Wildlife Fund it has not gone down to well with members and activist alike. There have been small demonstrations outside the hospital where the King has been treated. The governing board of WWF España held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday ‘and have agreed unanimously to start the necessary process to modify article 6 of the statues, in relation to the honorable figures of the organisation’.
The environmental organisation also wrote to the King two days earlier they ask for a meeting to express the discomfort generated among the WWF members about the news that he had been hunting elephants in Botswana. I must say the Photograph I saw of the King standing with a gun next to a dead elephant was most distressing. A real lack of judgment here fro a Royal who usually displays such good sense.
The other item worth noting is that prescription charges may shortly be levied here, you do pay a small amount at present if you are not retired but the Government wants to charge 50% for every one not except pensioners who would pay 10%. I can see where they are coming from as the economic crisis is hitting hard here but do hope they will make provision for those on low income especially those with families. The health service is very good here and I would hate to the comparatively wealthy Brits complaining and this I. If it does happen I hope they will pay up with good humor.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
This week we are moving a lot of things which we have bought from friends who are selling up, loads of things that are very very useful for our building project on the campo plot. Sad to see some one going but everyone has to do whats best for themselves after all. We only meet them since moving to Blanca but we soon became firm friends. When we first met I recognised there accent as they come from our home town, This meant we had lots in common a shared history so to speak. It also means if we are back in UK we will be able to catch up, they have a house very near my sisters place as it happens.
One thing that will not be going to the campo is a fabulous statue of a lion that we have also been given. It is now standing by the lemon tree, wonder what Suzi the cat will make of that!
Saturday, April 07, 2012
This week has been amazing for bird and plant sightings. We now have swallows, swifts and martins wheeling overhead as well as our friends the collared doves building a nest in the pine tree at the far end of the garden. So many small birds tweeting around its hard to keep track of what they are, crested and long tailed tits, yellowhammers and another small very yellow bird we have not yet got a definite identification on. Mr and Mrs. Blackbird are busy on the Campo and in the Garden and Mr. Hoopoe is to be seen calling away in a large pine two gardens away. Then we have the Herons that fly over on a daily basis no doubt following the river looking for a tasty meal. The cormorants of course I have mentioned before and its nice to see the egrets morning and evening. We enjoy starting the day when we can with a pot of coffee and a little birdwatching from the end of the garden. This gives us a view of a wide range of habit that attracts different species. Water, open ground, reed beds, trees and bushes as well has the hills where we sometimes see Raptors.
We have also been very lucky to find two rare plants whilst walking this week. The first was close to the river in a old olive grove, the striking Yellow Broom rape, The second was in a boggy dip in a little valley up the hill, the Gladiolus Illyricus. John spotted this beautiful flower in the shelter of an ancient olive. We have photographed both plants but are keeping quiet about their exact location. The countryside is awash with wild flowers after the recent rains and is a sight to behold. Its such a treat to live once again in an area that really does have seasons. We intend to enjoy every minute of it.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
latest news is that the opening of Corvera Airport in Murcia has been
delayed until Summer 2013 at the earliest, The president of the
Murcian government said a thousand technical requirements and
approval of the equipment used still has to be carried out,
Monday, April 02, 2012
The collared dove has spread its wings through Europe and beyond since it was recorded in Hungary in the 1930s. This amazing example of the rapid expansion of a species saw them colonise most of the UK by the end of the 1960s,we had many in all our UK gardens. They are now wide spread in Spain and you will see them in pairs, like ours, or small flocks.
It is 34 cm (13 inches) in size. Its plumage is predominantly pale brown. There is a black stripe on the neck that looks like a collar. The belly is whitish. On the tip of the wins there is a white stripe. Its amazing this bird has done so well as it normally only lays two eggs. One things for sure it will find plenty of food to its liking around here, it likes to feed on seeds and plants. We just hope our herbaceous border does not prove to tempting.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
In the main though using the WWW has had so many benefits for all the family. We can book, buy, research. We get almost instant answers to queries that pop up on a daily basis. These range from who's that actor and what else have they been in through recipe ideas, practical advice from building to bee stings. In fact the PC helps us remain curious about life, an essential factor in enriching the process of living. We have found Jobs and homes through this media too. There is also the communication factor. This Blog is one example, enabling us to share our lives with people from many countries as well as our own family and friends. Used properly the WWW is a marvelous tool that helps break down barriers between peoples of different countries, as we tell each other about our interests our communities, share views on life. True there is a lot of rubbish on the web but its like any other medium its up to the individual to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Yesterday was a day of general strike here in Spain. Although we did not see demonstrations in Blanca and most things seemed to be functioning as normal the Post office was closed. We respect any workers right to withdraw there labour although it is always sad when demonstrations become violent. This did happen in some cities and has lead to arrests. In Barcelona 74 people where arrested and tear gas was used for the first time in 16 years.
I think it is worth noting that 4 of those arrested were below 18 and another 8 where non Spanish. We spoke to our local post master today about the strike and what he said was interesting. Although he upheld the strike all the other staff, the postpersons, went into work. He is a quite unassuming man who felt it was necessary to make a statement about the plight of the workers. He did not appear to hold any resentment towards his staff but found it ironic that as the "boss" he was the striker.As he said the postal workers are in a worse position than him as they are lower paid. Trouble times all over Europe, I wonder how many people feel as I do that they would like to take part in a peaceful demonstration but fear that violence might break out. Whilst I cannot see the workers of the Ricote taking to the streets any time soon I feel sure we have not seen the last of these displays of dissatisfaction with the economic situation and Government policies.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The evocotive sound of the cuckoo in spring however is very welcome as it heralds a new season, it is the male who has the familar cuckoo cuckoo call.
An old British saying goes:
In April I open my bill
In May I sing night and day
In June I change my tune
In July far far I fly
In August away I must
It seems here in Spain for April we should read March.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
We had our first trip back down to Costa Blanca for quite some time last week. We treated ourselves and stayed at the Guardamar Hotel, it backs on to Calle Argentina where we lived for a time. The hotel is very pleasant, very clean , rooms not luxury but well maintained and some recent up-dating has taken place. Continental breakfast was included, lots of choice and the dinning room is light and airy. It was great to catch up with friends, we went out for fish and chips with our mate Lil and Mary and Bill. Its a treat to have traditional fried fish and chips with mushy peas of course and in such good company it was even more enjoyable. Also managed to fit in a Chinese meal at our favorite restaurant in Guardamar. It was especially nice to catch up on what's been happening in the lives of the very friendly staff there. Same goes for the Hoops bar which was really buzzing as it was a "match" night.
All in all we enjoyed our visit but oh my it felt like we were in another country in contrast to where we live now. We are so glad we live in the Ricote area now. The Costa Blanca really is little Britain and despite our wonderful friends there its not a place we want to live now. having gone to all the upheaval of moving to a new country we at least want to feel we are actually in Spain. Viva Blanca!
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Water costs money and although it may seem cheap if you only want to water a few terraces like us if you have to work it into the cost of growing commercially it looks like many are just not able to afford the price. We are hoping the rain does come in reality, our leisure activities can hold fire, It is so much more important that the local market gardeners get that free water before the summer. They may not sell the lemons this year but the trees need to be taken care of for the coming ones. So fingers crossed for a bit of drip drip drop little April showers and maybe the reverse of the old saying, March having come in like a lamb will go out like a lion.
Photo taken from Villa Alba yesterday.
I wrote this post last night - then it started raining and its not stopped since!
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Another tub of compost was added to the garden today. Its taken a liitle longer to process during the colder months but still light years ahead of the time it took to get compost from waste in Scotland. We are adding quite a lot of lemon skins now, our soil is very alkaline so we are trying to even things out. If you pop some soil in a jar with vinegar you just about get an explosion as the alkali material reacts with the acid of the vinegar. Our flower bed in the back garden is really starting to look good. Much of this thanks to Johns hardwork, I am more of an "artistic director" dont you know. Hey they also serve who only stand and wait!
Our next door neighbour was fascinated by our compost making system, sounds posh, in fact its two black dustbins that have holes drilled in them. Serefino was throwing vegetable waste on his garden one day so John showed him what we do. Its really necessary to try to improve our soil as it is poor and does not hold moisture well. Its also means we recycle all the kitchen waste, less for land fill too. We had also been putting some of the wood ash from the stove on but now know this is not advisable with our soil as it can raise the PH and prevent the plants from taking in any nutrients that are available. The other great thing about making your own compost is that it comes free and is not damaging the natural landscape elsewhere.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
We have an example of such areas consisting of just a few square metres on our Los Tollos plot with some trees being in full leave and some still in full blossom
Well thats the technical bit the result is a sight for sore eyes from the front of the house.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Growers were so reluctant to throw away their bulbs they threw them, with some soil, into the surrounding hedges.
This is why you see so many in hedgerows during the spring down in Cornwall.
We planted many many bulbs when we lived in Scotland and I like to believe they are still welcoming the spring there.
Meanwhile back to Blanca, its a small start but we hope rather like little acorns and mighty oaks we will end up with a mighty host of these delightful flowers.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Hotels in Spain have been pretty bang to
rights with online descriptions and if you google map the address and
but the wee man on the map you can also see exactly what the local
area is like. That can be very helpful when you are arriving too as
you have a clear picture of what the place looks like from the
outside. Whether we are looking for a simple hostel or a little bit
of luxury we have always found it via an online search. We also look
at places to eat near the hotel and places of interest in the town we
are going to stay in. Often hotels will serve good food too and not
to over the top on price either. So excuse me the sun is shining and
I think I will just do a bit of surfing, the web that is.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Quite a week for the F words, John and Jude were planning a fire up on our plot, there a good fire pit enclosed with corrugated sheets. You have to be careful though. Any fire in a dry country needs constant watching to keep it under control. Where we lived before here a guy burned his neighbours' house down when he had a garden bonfire, garage with cars and all. The other big risk factor, aside for the dry conditions, is the materials being burned. Olive and citrus trimming are very flammable, rather like eucalypts in Australia they have an high oil content and go up with a whoosh.
Well we were aware that care was needed but we did not realize you need a licence from the local counsel before you have a fire, judging by the number of fires we see here some one must have a full time job issuing the paperwork. By change on his way to the plot John had to call at the Real Homes office to collect paperwork and just as well he did as it turned out. Whilst he was there he heard another person asking about lighting a fire and it transpired that the afore mentioned licence was needed. This it not a case of rules and paperwork for there own sake it a safety thing. Because of the danger of fire the council like to know where a fire will be in case it does get out of control. this aids in sending out the Bombas (fire brigade) ensuring they go straight to the correct part of the campo. Oh yes and its free, jolly good.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Monday, March 05, 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012
This may well change though as we have been looking at taking a trip Andalucia where there are some beautiful rural retreats that would be nice to try out, the town of Iznajar near Antequera particularly caught our eye where there are some nice casetas for rent. Staying in this area would give us the opportunity to explore some of Spain that is new to us.
Monday really was a day for throwing open the windows and letting in the spring air. That same air is warm and there's a gentle perfume in the it that gives you a Spring rush, time to shake the rugs and wash the floors. Well we do that all the time actually, we would be knee deep in dust if we didn't. I can fully understand why Spanish houses have tiles not carpets, not only cooler but so easy to keep clean. Quick sweep and then mop using one of the dozens of floor cleaners available and well Manuel's your uncle so to speak. The type of tiles we have are more rustic, no elaborate designs but not the high gloss type used in new build properties so often in recent years. Those high gloss ones need a purpose made dry mopping to keep them looking good so quite glad we have the stone look rustic type, to our mind they are also more appropriate in a country house. We liked the modern ones in our apartment in Formentera because it was just that a modern apartment
When we were looking for our new home here in Murcia we did view a variety of types of property both town and country. Many where very old and had wonderful floor tiles which sadly are often destined to be removed or covered, I suspect this place had a dirt floor till it was reformed a number of years ago. Thank goodness the then owners had the good taste not to use the shiny single coloured tiles so common theses days.
Spain had quite an influence on tiles through history and this was greatly effected by the dominance of the Arab culture which followed the invasion of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century.
Following the Arabs invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, (modern day Spain), ceramic-making technology was available to artisans .This gave them different techniques to utilise importantly it was this glaze that also provided the basis for decoration and colouring of tiles. The glaze used on top consisted of green lead and it was decorated on white with a transparent glaze along with highlights of metallic hues. It is amazing when you consider that the wonderful tiles we can still see today at places like the Alhambra in Granada were made so many centuries ago. Somehow I cannot see modern ones lasting so long!
Sunday, February 26, 2012
After much deliberation we have finally lashed out and had a Solar water heater installed, It is the evacuated tube type with a 150 litre tank that sits above it, and pressurised from the cold water system, we had the system installed by Solardirecta of Caravaca, they arrived as promised at 10.00 on Tuesday, and the heater was completely installed by 18.00 that night.
Previously we were useing the gas boiler for hot water and the hot water pressure was not that great but now the pressure is brilliant, and the water piping hot, we have a valve fitted at the tank that mixes cold water into the outflow for a maximum temperature of 60 degrees C, (adjustable) which is a safeguard against turning the hot tap on and getting scolded. Within 24 hours the digital water control was telling is we had 150 litres of water at 80 degrees C, and is building up as we are not useing all the hot water each day.
Should we have several days of cloudy weather, there is a heater built into the tank that can be turned on from the controller either manually or automatically.So after the initial expence, we now have plenty of hot water provided by the sun.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
man it will soon be summer.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
We think that now is a good time to look at your own household water footprint and if you can change your habits to reduce the amount all to the good. Now if you´ll excuse me I must go and greywater the garden.
footnote: It rained last night!