Friday, July 24, 2009


Yesterday was officially the hottest day since 1998. We recorded a mere 42º in the shade, while just inland from us they had 45-46º! It was very windy but standing outside was like standing in the path of a strong hair-dryer. It was a hot wind straight across the sea from Africa and carried lots of orange sand/dust, so the hills were obscured as though there was an orange mist.
Of course we did what had to be done and then retreated indoors. With most of the shutters closed and the ceiling fans on, it wasn't too bad in doors. but in the afternoon Jonathan and I ventured out and discovered a real gem. Most villages out here have some sort of swimming pool which only opens for July and August. Mostly they are a splash pool for the children. We knew our village had one, and we read somewhere that it was a new one, but we were never sure quite where it was. Then a couple of nights ago, when they went out for a bike ride, Chris and Jonathan discovered it, in a hollow below the sports centre. (An obvious place to put it really I suppose). It was all closed for the night and they couldn't find any information, so yesterday afternoon, Chris stayed at home and brought the dogs indoors with him, and Jonathan and I hopped in the car and drove up to the pool. It was beautiful. There were only a handful of people there. The main pool we reckoned to be about 30 x 15 metres, and it was very deep. There was a second pool about 10 x 6 meters which was a shallower for children.I t was all laid out with AstroTurf surrounds, and there were clean and tidy toilets, showers and changing rooms. It cost us €2 for as long as we liked. When we arrived the main pool was out of use while the auto-hoover travelled up and down cleaning the bottom of it. Apparently this happens every day from 2-4 o'clock, when most sensible people are having a siesta! (That's why it is empty in my photo). We arrived at 3.00 so we joined the others in the smaller pool until the big one opened. Then we got in there and swam lengths for an hour. I'm no match for Jonathan but I plodded on and did quite a few laps with rests in between. Although the water was warm, it was still a lovely cool place to be on such a hot afternoon. We will be going up there quite often now for the remaining month that it is open.
When we got home we found our own pool was covered in debris brought down by the wind, so Jonathan helped Dad to clean it. They skimmed the top, cleaned the filters and hooved the bottom, so it is beautiful and inviting again. In fact, after taking the dogs for their last walk of the night, we had a midnight swim in it to cool us down before going to bed.
While in the village pool we were talking with another swimmer about the haze of dust between us and the mountains when we spotted what looked like a thin plume of smoke rising up. And sadly it was another small fire starting up. The winds were still strong and it was almost inevitable that it would spread. The helicopters responded in minutes but by nightfall the hills were ablaze again. This time it travelled very fast up to the ridge and down the other side towards the coast. Mojacar was evacuated, but the roads were soon grid-locked and they told everyone to head for the beach. It must have been awful down there. The pretty little white village of Mojacar Pueblo suffered damage and in one of the villages the school was burned out. It also came down the mountain towards us, (but not as far as us), and early reports said that cortijos on the edge of Turre were burned. Turre town hall evacuated all the area between the town centre and Mojacar. This photo taken from the road at the bottom of Los Gallardos, shows how it was alight down near us, but the red glow suggests it was worse on the other side of the mountain. I feel so sad for all the folk who spent last week cleaning their houses after the first fire, and now they will have to start again. It is too early for there to be much news yet today, but so far we have not heard of anyone getting hurt, though many properties are damaged. The fire-fighters are very brave. The flames looked huge from where we are, so up close they must have been very scary. I am glad to say that it looks as though most of it is out this morning. There is just one lot of smoke spiralling up from the other side of the mountain, and so far there is no wind to start it off again.
As you can imaging, cooking in this heat is not a lot of fun. We eat quite late, but my kitchen, that is relatively cool for most of the year, now gets the late afternoon sun, so although I close the shutters for the afternoon, it is like a furnace by the evening. Mostly we put something on the barbecue, or else I use the remoska, which at least means that I don't have to put the oven on. Sadly the remoska is wearing out, though I can't complain as it has served us well for a long time. We thought about renewing it, but on the web we read several comparisons between remoskas and the new halogen ovens, and we decided to give one of these a try instead. So here is my new toy! It is more versatile than the remoska as I can set the required temperature, and a timer switches it off automatically. It has a huge bowl so I could cook a big casserole in it, or put smaller quantities into containers in there. There are two shelves so more things can be cooked at one time. So far I am very pleased with it. It is quite big but I have found a space for it to live in, and while it is on, it does get quite hot. But it is very low on energy consumption and everything cooks approximately 40% faster than in a conventional oven. So I put our tea in it and walk away until it is ready which means I only spend minimum time in my hot kitchen.
I had a nice night out on Tuesday this week. I went with my friend Sylvia to an open air concert by the Gloucester cathedral youth choir. It was in the grounds of bit hotel/club down in Mojacar. The choir sang a mixture of church music and folk songs, and it was very enjoyable. They let themselves down a bit on appearance because they had arrived prepared to wear their choir robes. But at their 6.00 practice they realised this would just be too hot so as most of them had their tour tee-shirts with them, they wore those instead but they had to make do with whatever shorts or skirts they had worn that day, so the overall effect was a bit messy. but they sang very well and I think everyone enjoyed it. (Incidently, the conductor's wife had 'The real boss' on her tee-shirt!) There was a good crowd there, and we all took a picnic and sat around chatting while we ate, before the concert started. It reminded me of when Jim and Michael did a tour of Switzerland with their choir, many moons ago.
The last citrus fruit season is more or less over now though we can still buy a few oranges (Valencia lates) in the market, and I have been buying nice grapefruit which Jonathan likes to juice every day. But last week I was given lovely lemons from both the old and the new season. A couple brought a huge sack of big ripe lemons from their garden to church, and told us all to help ourselves, so I had a couple of them. Then, when we were up at Sylvia's house, she cut this lovely bunch of the new season's fruit for me. Although they are still green they are full of juice, and it tastes far better than anything I ever bought in a plastic lemon at home!
I seem to have rambled on about a lot of different things today so I had better stop for now. But I'll be back !!

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