Monday, 29 August 2011

Do You Know Where We're Heading.....

Looks like Autumn's on its way: thick, woolly cloud lying across the valley floor this morning at 08:00, when our newcomer, Harry, woke me with a yelp.  It took a few hours to dissipate, though the sun came out before then and the heat began its inexorable climb into the usual double-figure twenties.

We've had Grandsprog Hamish with us over the past week, so J has been out with him every day, taking in beaches, bars and swimming pool, swimming pool and......swimming pool. The latter, as you can probably guess, proved to be a particular hit, his preferred option on virtually a daily basis:

 Slowly gaining confidence, getting the hang of it!

He has returned to West Wales, as school term is about to restart. J is back in London for about 12 days or so, leaving me here with Jack, Charlie & Harry. 

Harry is a Spanish street dog, but unfortunately no millionaire!  He was living wild in the village, spending most of his time scrounging from visitors to a local bar, where he also over-nighted under tables on the terrace. Until, of course, we - daft, soft Brits - turned up and took pity on him. About 6 months old (we think) he is quite bright, a mongrel with obvious local hunting dog in there somewhere, odd partly blue eyes, a piercing yelp and a liking for chewing things - especially Jack's ears!  He was Frontlined immediately on arrival, wormed and now will have a visit to the Vet for all the normal vaccinations, and the Rabies stuff!  Jack seems to quite enjoy his company - so far!!!! - although Charlie still appears to have his doubts:

Harry having a nap at the bar

My, those ears sure are tasty!

Hamish named him 'Harry' and decided he would be his dog here in Spain. A suitable compromise because our daughter, LVP, had been thinking about getting him a puppy!  Hamish seems perfectly happy with the whole idea. And so are we!

On the hill above and skirting the village are a network of water channels for irrigation purposes. Known as Acequias, these are popular with less-strenuous walkers/hikers and make for a pleasant trek around the place with some passable views at times over the surrounding countryside. They are largely over-looked by numerous Chestnut trees, which also provide a source of food for the locals and must once have played an important part in the local diet, as it traditionally did in the French Cevannes:

Jack always enjoys a paddle!

And Harry looks interested too

But one grubby, wet dog is enough for one day!

En route for the beach, we passed this marvellous pair of over-loaded, working Mules:

Down at the coast, there was a fairly noticeable warm, wind blowing in from Africa, creating surf and even waves. Hamish was not too sure about going in, and there was a red flag aloft, but  he was game to try a paddle with J:

Driving home, Hamish insisted that we stop and take a piccy of this beautiful Bougainvillea for his mother, LVP:

This seems to grow like wild and in great profusion hereabouts. 'Tis very pretty. J is interested in getting some - maybe we should have tried  purloining a few cuttings, though who knows whether it would work that way - might be too precious for such common treatment! We shall see!

I'm glad to report that we again have a resident lizard, a small/medium-sized Gecko: perfect for getting rid of flies in an environmentally friendly way:

Gordon the Gecko - who else!

Odd to say, I'm becoming used to things here in Spain again. It was never a favourite of mine but in general things seem to have improved significantly. Everything from food to the availability of fresh milk etc., make life better than we expected.  And it's still significantly cheaper than Sweden (where is not?), France and the UK! 'Tis, however, a pity that their wine is pretty ropey stuff when compared with its Froggo cousin across the border to the North. Ah, least the Gin is still plentiful and cheap!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Up The West End, That's The Best End.....

Another hot, sweaty week. Temps running in the mid 40s mostly - seems 47 degrees is the norm in early/mid afternoon. It is August, of course, the hottest month here in Andalucia, so no great surprise!  It's interesting to think that we've gone from temps of minus 41 in Sweden to plus 47 here in the space of a few months.  A spread in excess of 80 degrees!  Difficult to say which is best. A happy medium will probably win out - eventually!

Sad to say, when I set off to Malaga Airport to collect J on the 16th, the car began playing up quite significantly. Although it had been checked over a few weeks ago by a local mechanic, who could find no reason for the apparent overheating problem, it began climbing into the red region while still on the downhill sections of the road just outside the the local town of Cadiar. I managed to coax it along to the airport, with a brief pit-stop at a Spanish supermarket, Eroski, about 30 Kms East of Malaga, to stock up on essentials, including fresh milk.

Fresh milk used to be virtually impossible to find in Spain. UHT ruled the roost, and still does in outlying areas, small towns and villages. It reminds me a bit of our early years living on Skye, where, again, UHT was about the only available option. Nowadays, especially down on the Costas, fresh milk is widely sold together with decent bread - rather than that Spanish standard, old Gum-Cruncher! So the Brits have done something for the area!

I was concerned that while I'd made it to the airport, the return leg home might be a tad more challenging!  In this I was right:

Heading for the hills on the coast road:

We managed to reach the pretty town of Salobrena, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Med and turned in towards the home-stretch before the car gave up the ghost:

 It took us about five hours just to reach the dam - Presa de Rules - which I think of as being at the foot of the mountains/hills, just before the turn-off to Granada on the coastal plain:

Just before the climb to the dam itself, is this bar where we normally stop for much-needed refreshment. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we pressed on uphill, after topping up the car with water.

As we drove past the visitors car park to the dam, there was a loud popping noise, as a hose exploded under the bonnet:

It was the first and only time since buying these yellow hi-vis jackets years ago in Sweden, that they've had to be worn in desperation/irritation, if not in actual anger!:

We found ourselves pretty hot and bothered, about 30 miles from home with a car that could go no further.  Having considered the options, we have decided to scrap it and have bought another, which J will bring out later by ferry from Portsmouth/Santander or Bilbao and down.  Needless to say, trying to ensure that both the Swedish and Spanish authorities are content with the disposal arrangements has been a linguistic nightmare!

A friend drove down to collect us and the shopping etc., and run us home. In all, it was almost exactly 12 hours from leaving home to returning! Normally a 5.5/6 hour run at most!  J was exhausted, as she'd been working a night duty at the Maternity unit in London on the night before, had travelled straight from there to Gatwick then a flight out to the baking heat of Malaga! Following that with a terrible, fraught and slow journey was the last thing she needed! She was still tired when she returned, by bus from the village, via Granada, at 06:15 yesterday morning! Hardly surprising in the heat here, which is draining and enervating most of the time. But at least we discovered it is possible to do the airport run by public transport with relative ease.

Last time I was on here I mentioned the noise, numbers of hombres etc that were parading around the place. All of which had me baffled. I now know that it was a Fiesta weekend: the Assumption, with churchy things on the Sunday, and a public holiday on the Monday - only discovered after a long, hot, tiring walk to a village shop which was of course closed!  It was also the occasion of the local hunters annual BBQ and party thingy. Not something I'm enamoured with generally, but which I'm pretty inured to after years of living in the country in various countries:

It certainly brought out the locals and their families in some numbers, causing traffic-jams and parking problems for many, including those who attended on horseback, a more traditional and acceptable form of transport in these narrow lanes:

Jack tried to slumber through the entire thing, despite the sweltering heat:

Car-drivers had greater problems with which to contend:

And the Fuente was much admired, photographed and visited throughout the day:

On the Sunday evening, following the cacophony of a battery playing outside the church, the Spanish exuberance was manifest with a startling - for Charlie, at least - rumble of explosive sounds followed by the residual smoke drifting across the village:

J returns on Tuesday again for about a week. She is looking forward to this break in particular because she is bringing out the Grandsprog, Hamish, on holiday. He is just recovering from Chickenpox, so hopefully the heat won't cause him too much discomfort or problems.  If so, there is always that old traditional Spanish method of dealing with the heat. We were down at one of the local bars a few days ago for lunch when we came across a family group enjoying themselves. The matriarch - who seemed a bit hippyish for the rest of the crew - certainly had flair and a way of coping that was admirable for my money:

Not the best pic, but my usual standard nonetheless!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday is.....

Late last night, approaching midnight, a small truck trundled along the Calle behind the house loaded with straw. Reaching the Lavadero/fountain, it discovered it was unable to proceed further and then had to attempt a very tight, difficult about-turn before again negotiating its way back along the Calle.  Even in a car this is a tight, fraught journey. God knows what it must have been like in the truck. To make a turn it had to be reversed downhill in darkness, on fairly steep incline. I could hear its tyres slipping, failing to grip the concrete surface. Needless to say, its load then slipped back and partly fell from the thing into the street. It provided many of the locals with an interesting diversion from dreadful, Friday night telly! (Although, having said that, I did watch an excellent and  fascinating programe about Black Bears on BBC2 yesterday evening, myself - I'm interested in Bears generally after our time living in bear-country in northern Sweden):

Not very useful (but up to my normal photographic standards, I feel) pic of the turning place and the labouring truck

Passing the house, along Calle, with only half a load remaining on its back

From the racket made on its return leg, it took about 30 to 40 minutes to get clear of the street and out of earshot!  Must have been a bit of a relief for the driver when he reached the old square/Plaza Viecha at the end of the Calle.

The action even managed to get Charlie up on his haunches, and interested/curious:

As it's holiday-time/August, the Brits are here in some numbers: most evenings as I sit on the roof terrace I hear them wittering to themselves as they pass below clutching their state-of-the-art,  digi-cameras.  Why is it that Brits always seem to stick-out from the crowd?  Even when they are roaming with lots of local Spaniards around, they are still almost immediately recognisable.  Maybe it's the shorts or som'at. I, too, am no doubt branded in the same way, but now known to the immediate locals as a sort of resident.  In the old days one of the identifying features was the love of the Panama hat: now, however, many locals have similar headgear. The GP/Medico must have warned them all about sunstroke/melanomas or the likes, cos most wear straw hats when out and about:

This lot arrived at the Fuente while typing this. Almost all hatted.

I have a suspicion it must be a fete day in the village, something that has totally passed me by. I can now hear the church bells banging and clanging, and there are hordes of Spanish family groups wandering around taking pix and gabbling noisily as they promenade past the house heading for the campo/hills! There's also lots of cars appearing and optimistically looking for parking space around and about!  May be a good day to keep the head down with a book, although August is the main month for Fiestas here and so it might pay off to visit the village centre instead.

I'll let you know........

Wasn't that a great kids (!??) prog?  Never bettered.....never missed it when LVP was a young'un!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon.....

J returned to England this afternoon, flying with the truly appalling Ryanair shower to Stansted from our nearest local airport, Almeria.  When I left her at the airport, the flight was already scheduled as likely to be about 30 minutes late. So, hopefully, it went okay, when it went!

I struggled back along the coast and up into the hills in high August temps. It was reading about 30 degrees in the shade when I got back to the house about 15:00. Only now is it beginning to cool a bit, with a light refreshing breeze from time to time. Thankfully.

Beginning to get used to the heat here but it's still overpowering at times. We think we must have some air conditioning installed just so we can sleep easier at night.

Jack has been to the hairdresser again. Only 20 Euros for a good, fast all-over cut. It must be so much better for him. He was panting a bit and finding it tiresome, I'm sure:

The dog-groomer keeps horses and has recently lost her own dog, which took off with a pack of wandering hounds a few weeks ago and hasn't been seen since. Sadly, she doesn't expect to see it again.

From her home, a rambling old farmhouse accesssed at the end of a long, twisty dusty track, there were good views of the highest peak in mainland Spain, Mulhacen. Even now, with months of frying temps behind us and more to come, there are pockets of snow on its flanks:

She also has fine general views across to one of the nearby towns, Cadiar, which used to be much loved by visiting Brits due to it having a few decentish bars, banks and builders merchants:

Those bloody Olive trees are ubiquitous hereabouts, though she also had wonderfully fragrant, Pepper trees growing around the house. It's the first time I've come across these and they really are lovely. A local author, Chris Stewart, wrote a book a few years ago which referred to these things and still I hadn't taken on board the fact that they grow abundantly locally:

I was out on foot a few days ago, heading down to the village centre then back up - wearily in the heat - to the house. Each time I go on foot, I use a different route, set of pitched lanes. It's a good way to get to know the place again. As I laboured up this lane:

past this unusual, semi-demolished building:

And this strange Brit-owned confection, where the garage has been turned into a pool of sorts (discoloured, a tad, I'd say):

I was attacked and bitten on the right elbow by a sodding horsefly, one of my least favourite of God's creatures. I am sort of allergic to these things and normally a bite causes the area concerned to swell to at least double size, turn red/purple and ache very badly. It also generally makes me nauseous and I retire to bed for a few days till it settles down. This time, however, I was close to home and able to get some Anthistan on the puncture site very quickly, so the inconvenience was more an itchy dull ache that lasted a few days and meant I didn't have to do the Sleeping Beauty bit at all! Something of a first for me. It must be a degree of immunity that I've built up from Sweden where these horrid things were numerous and ferocious. 

Each evening, J and I ate out on one of the terraces and these lovely, delicate Moths arrived, attracted by the lighting, in great numbers:

I don't know yet quite what it is, but I will keep searching for information.  I checked out some stuff on 't'internet and discovered to my horror that Black Widow Spiders are present around here, so although I generally quite like Spiders, I'll be aiming to give those a positive miss!

J is back on Tuesday afternoon for a few short days, then back to UK followed by a return, flying from Bristol, with the Grandsprog, Hamish. She's really looking forward to his visit and has spent much of her recent break planning days out with the lad. There is a local, outdoor  swimming pool and bar area just outside the village, so that is on the cards along with some trips down to the coast:

And finally, my new mug arrived in one piece. Most welcome it is. I'm very pleased with it. 'Tis excellent. Thanks again to Gwynneth:

It's perfect, especially for my morning hot chocolate!