Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Butt Out

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

Crafting in Spain

It is strange but I often find that having mentioned something on the blog I then see its being done or in the pipeline. I was only saying this area has so much to offer and then I find a neighbour has been thinking along the same lines! Whats more along with all the natural assets of the area they have talents galore to share. So if you are looking for a nice break with lots of interesting ways to pass the time look no further. Do give Yvonne a call, she can organize your stay for you. We can almost certainly  throw in some sunshine too!

Crafting In The Ricote Valley, Murcia Spain

Card Crafting - 10 euros 1st hour (6e per hour thereafter) take what you make.
Jewellery Classes - *from 10 euros per hour take what you make.
All inclusive 2 day craft course
All materials, light lunch & refreshments both days, 3 course evening meal with wine or beer. 1 night stay at my bungalow with breakfast 110e per person for card crafting or130e jewellery making. Crafting from 10.30 am -1 pm and 4 pm – 6.30pm both days or 1 morning seeing the sights, its up to you.
* (additional fee charged to work with semi-precious stones or Swarovski Crystal. To be specified when booking)

Take a day or two away from the crowds at the beach. Blanca is a typical Spanish town surrounded by mountains and lemon trees. You can walk along the meandering river into town(perhaps stopping for a drink at the riverside bar) where you will often see people picnicking, fishing, swimming and canoeing, carry on out of town to the lake or take the mountain walking trails with fabulous views. There is a municipal park where the townsfolk play bowls, tennis courts, basketball and football courts. Indoor & outdoor swimming pools. Canoeing (water rafting can be arranged).

Spanish cafe bars offering tapas, an Al A Carte Restaurant, shops, supermarkets and banks. The Theatre has occasional Spanish dancing & orchestral music. We must not forget the now famous Pedro Cano Foundation Art Centre and the Light & Water Museum. Local market on Thursdays. All this is a two minute drive or 10 minute walk of the bungalow. Sunday Artisan craft markets, restaurants, architectural and cultural interests can be found in towns within a 15 minute drive. Just a twenty minute drive to the Spa hotels and pools of Archena.

Blanca is just 1 hour drive from Alicante Airport and Murcia (San Javier) Airport and the coast.
Menu of the day can be arranged (to be specified when booking).

Call me, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised
Yvonne 625997049

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Easy like Sunday morning"

Sunday again, they keep coming around. The day here started overcast and indeed so black was the sky at one point we thought it might actually rain, sadly not so the garden gets grey water again. The olive tree will get fresh water and my how big the olives are this year. We did harvest a crop last year, you can read all about this in an earlier blog. Because of the pruning and extra watering the olives this year are looking bigger and fatter so we eagerly anticipate a better yield of oil.

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

Fruit and Veg

What a wonderful time of year for shopping on the local street markets. This morning I bought aubergines that are nothing short of beautiful, fresh runner beans and glorious on the vine tomatoes amongst other things. The stalls were full of locally grown fruit and veg, Ricote peaches at one euro a kilo, cherries at under two euros, plums, of which we have many on our own trees, were also a euro.

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

sizzle sizzle

                                        The Giant Strimmer

 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

Olympic free zone

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!