Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Market day

Tuesday is market day in Los Gallardos. Doesn't my fruit bowl look lovely? I can't resist a bit of everything that's available. Right now that is plums and grapes, enormous apples and pears, and the first of the new season oranges and tangerines. Their skins are still a bit green but the fruit is sweet and juicy. This week I also bought bananas, which are fairly low on my list of likes, but I am told they are full of potassium and will help prevent the cramps in my legs and feet that asail me most nights. I shall chop them up on my cereal. Today I bought another new fruit. I knew what it was but had never tasted one until a couple of weeks ago when I first saw them in the market. The big shiny fruit on top of the bowl is a persimmon. I have a little pot of craft paint which is labelled persimmon and it is exactly that bright not quite red, not quite orange, colour. Here is a cross section of one. They have very little core and no obvious seeds, but there is a star shape area of firm jelly, which I discard as I don't like the texture. The fruit needs to be really ripe, and it is sweet, not very juicy, quite pleasant and apparently full of all sorts of 'goodness'. They are not something I would get too excited about, but they make an attractive addition to various dishes. On the net, they are mostly used either sliced or purreed, set in gelatine with other pieces of salad vegetables, and served on a bed of lettuce. Apparently they are a true 'berry' and are also known as date-plums.
It was quite an adventure getting to the market today. The workmen, who are getting to know us quite well, decided that today was the day to remove the entire surface of the road, just outside our house. This was the view from our gate, and I was glad we weren't intending to take the dogs for their walk today. They are all recovering from the nuetering operations yesterday, but are still a bit dozy and feeling rather sorry for themselves, so a long walk wasn't on the agenda. However, I did need to get to into the village to buy bread, and visit the market. In this picture you can just get a glimpse of our green wall between the posts. I gingerly picked my way along the filled in mud trench by the wall, until I could get onto the bit of road they haven't reached yet. Now the digger is shovelling the broken tarmac onto a lorry to take it away so it will be a bit clearer by the time I go out for my Spanish lesson at tea-time. Needless to say, the car is temporarily parked on the other side of the village! The noise is dreadful. It sounds as though they are bull-dozing the house. And we have had to close all the windows on the front of the house because of the dust. At least it sould stay dry until they have finished this bit and hopefully resurfaced it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A very special lemon

This is a very special lemonI I can tell you're not convinced. It is small, a bit speckly, but it's my lemon; my harvest. Yes this lemon grew on the tiny tree in my garden. It was an ailing tree in a pot until a year ago, when the previous owners took up a small square of the crazy paving by the back door, so they could plant it in the ground. That was just before we moved in. It had never had fruit on, but I fed and watered it, talked to it every day, and in the spring it produced a few flowers. Just a handful of these set tiny fruit, but one by one I watched them fall off. (As for most fruit trees, this is normal for all citrus trees.) All but one that is. Every day I checked and this little lemon hung on in there, so today I have my own little harvest. I shall make a lemon meringue pie with it for our 'harvest supper'! I read that citrus trees take at least four years to begin fruiting, so who knows, maybe I will have more lemons next year. I think the baby mandarin tree we planted in the front garden, may have a few years to go yet before it produces anything.
We had a surprise when we were walking the dogs last week. They are free to run around but they never stray far from us, but the other morning they shot off up the hill and totally ignored us when we called them back. Then we saw it; a fox, racing up the hill ahead of them. It was not like a British fox. It was much larger, grey/fawn rather than red, with a huge bushy tail. I saw immediately why people think our Foxy is half fox. It looked just like her. It easily outran the dogs and they came back to us quite happy after their chase. It looked fit and healthy. There are certainly plenty of rabbits in the campo so he shouldn't go hungry.
I haven't taken any sky pictures for a while. they are not as beautiful or as dramatic here as the ones we had on the coast when we were in our flat. But last night we had this 'flying saucer' of a cloud, floating over the green area behind us, and I managed to capture it on camera. The red sky signalled another lovely day, and it has certainly dawned clear and sunny.
We are just off to the vet now with Chico, Miki and Paco who are all going to be neutered today. They don't love us at the minute because they don't understand why they haven't had their breakfast! Destino should have gone as well but she has had an upset tummy and the vet wants to wait another week to do her. So we have a quiet day today with just Foxy and Destino for company.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October visitors

It is a while since I managed to write my blog, but it has been a busy month so I have plenty to share with you all. Our first visitors arrived on 9th October. Our son Tom and his girl friend Jessie flew to Murcia and drove down to us, arriving at teatime on the Thuirsday. They were with us for a week, and were blessed with superb weather the whole time. Unfortunately Tom arrived with the flu type virus that is doing the rounds, so he had one day of feeling pretty rough, and the next day Jessie was the same. But after the one really bad day they both felt a lot better but continued to have colds and hacking coughs all week. But they didn't let it spoil their holiday and Tom was in our pool most days while Jessie soaked up the sun. On a couple of occasions we all joined him, and although it is a bit cooler to get into now, once in, it was still quite warm. On the Sunday we all drove back to the bit of coast where the flat we stayed in last year, was. We walked along and paddled in the sea, and it was so nice that we decided to go on to San Juan where Tom had a swim. The sea actually felt even warmer than the pool. If I had taken my costume I would have joined him.
The day before they left to return home, my sister Jean and her husband arrived, so we were quite a houseful for one night. The next day (Thursday) was Chris' birthday, but by then he too had succumbed to the virus and he ended up spending most of the day in bed! Fortunately niether Jean or Ron, or myself, have got it so far.
On the Friday I drove Jean and Ron up to Mojacar Pueblo, the little white village perched on the hill that overlooks Mojacar Playa, our local beach. It is a lovely place with steep narrow streets and interesting shops to poke around in. Jean and I both bought a dress at less than half price, from a shop that was obviously going to close for the winter at the end of the month. There is not sufficient tourist trade these days to warrant staying open out of season. 90% of the buildings in the Pueblo are painted white, and suddenly they are all covered with flowers again. I had to take pictures of them all. There is the pale blue plumbago, the vivid orange and red of the lantana and everywhere, the deep reds and mauves of the bourganvillia. This house was covered with a morning glory vine that threaded its way up through the red bourganvillia above it. The other flower that is in bloom everywhere right now is this lovely pink one. As far as I can tell from my internet browsing, it is called incarvillia, also known as Hardy gloxinia or Chinese trumpet flower. It isn't actually realated to gloxinias though it's flower looks like one. It is really part of the trumpet vine family. All the English sites say it grows to around two foot high, but here it twists along fences and wires and we saw it tumbling at least twenty foot down the side of a hill in Mojacar. There is one in the garden next door to us and it has woven its way through all our little trees. When we got to the top of the Pueblo, there was a lovely clear view out to sea one way, and up the mountains in the other direction. It is a lovely place and I am sure I still haven't seen all of it.
We had arranged to go out for a meal that night, at the local bar, where they have a 'live music' night every Friday. Jean and I wore our new dresses. The singer was very good and he sang all the old songs that we all knew. Chris managed to come to that and enjoyed himself. The owner of the bar made us each a special drink and Tony sang Happy Birthday to us. My birthday was, of course, the next day (Saturday). After I had opened my post (A big 'Thank you' to everyone who sent us cards), and done the essential shopping for the weekend, Chris went back to bed, Ron worked on a very difficult puzzle that I have promised to send him a photo of when I have finished it, (Don't hold your breath waiting Ron. I did a bit today and it is very hard!), and Jean and I pottered around in my craft room.
I have a friend at church who makes little dolls built around tiny wooden flower-pots. I think they are lovely, and for ages we have been trying to arrange a time for me to go to her house to make one, in return for me teaching her to crochet. But we have both been busy all summer with visitors and haven't been free at the same time. So on Sunday, she knew I had my 'crafty' sister visiting me, and she brought a box of materials for me with enough pieces for us both to make one, using one of hers as a guide. So after lunch, Jean and I sat out on the patio and made them. They were quite fiddly, but we both managed it. Neither of our dolls are perfect but they are not bad for a first attempt. What do you think? I like mine anyway (the lighter one on the left), and I will find her a home in my bedroom. It was nice of Angie to do it for us, and now I must find time to go over and give her a crochet lesson!
Now everyone has gone home, and we are back to our quiet routine. I have got some of the washing done but the weather is a bit unsettled so it has taken a couple of days to get it dry. Last night was very windy and we woke up to hear all sorts of things flying around outside. It has been overcast today but the threatened rain didn't come. It is still lovely and warm all day but the nights are cooler, which I prefer. We still have muddy trenches down both sides and the middle of our street! I am just hoping it is finished before the winter weather really sets in.
As you can see, I have squeezed quite a lot of photos into this blog but I still had to leave some out, so I will make a folder for my gallery with them all in.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A morning of memories.

As family members will know, today would have been Mum's 105th birthday, so I guess she would have been in my mind particularly today anyway, but, as it happened, I was doing something that brought her to my side anyway. I always loved nuts, especially the ones in shells that we had at home especially for Christmas. I was always nagging to be allowed to use the nut-crackers, and was so pleased when I was deemed old enough to handle them. Mum always used to say, "Leave the almonds for dad to do. They are too hard for you". Well almonds grow in abundance around here, as you may remember from my photos of all the lovely blossom earlier this year. Yesterday a lady at church brought in lots of bags of almonds from her garden and gave them out to anyone who wanted them, so I brought some home. This morning I looked at yet another new layer of dust from the roadworks, that had settled around the sitting room and I thought, 'No. It's too nice for that', so I picked up my almonds, a couple of plastic containers and the nutcrackers which , although they have lain unused at the bottom of my cutlery drawer for years, I not only decided to bring out here with me, but I actually knew where to look for them, and I went out to a shady spot on our swing seat, and set about shelling them. Mum was right, they are too hard, but with a little bit of effort and a lot of determination I manage to shell them all. I also managed to break a lump of metal off the nutcrackers, so that the ratchet is 'wonky' now, but fortunately I have a second pair in the drawer! Then I decided to blanch them, and that's what really started the memories flowing. Skinning blanched almonds was always a job given to Jean and I when mum was busy preparing for her Christmas baking (after they had cooled down of course), and those bubbly brown skins and slippery nuts popping out of them, brought me straight back the kitchen of our childhood. It's funny what little things can evoke such vivid memories. Anyway, I now have a little box of blanched almonds all ready for my Christmas baking. Sadly my poor old teeth don't cope with raw nuts like they used to so I use them more in cooking these days. As you can see from my photo, I had my hair cut this week. It was a bit of a drastic short back and sides, but it is much cooler off my face, and will soon grow again!
I don't always shun the housework in favour of more enjoyable pastimes, and this weekend I gave the kitchen and larder an unseasonal 'spring clean'. I started by putting away everything that shouldn't be there, and cleaned all the kitchen surfaces and then turned my attention to the larder. Up 'til now the microwave has lived in there on special wall brackets. It was there when we moved in so I left it, but I have never liked it in there. For one thing it means the larder door is open letting all the hot air in when I am cooking dinner, and it also made the larder warmer than it needs to be and often made it smell of cooked food. Because I have limited cupboard space, all the bottles and cans of drink were on the larder floor hindering access to the microwave, so all in all it wasn't very satisfactory. So I have now moved the microwave into the kitchen. It sits on top of the freezer with the toaster and electric knife up on top of it. The brackets in the larder now hold a wide shelf for all the drinks, and everything is much tidier. I also took out all my containers, sorted their contents, and labelled them all on the side and on the lid, so I can find what I want more easily. So it was a weekend well spent. I then rewarded myself with a couple of afternoons doing some creative craft, making die-cuts, and rubber stamps for pages of Ben's scrapbook, which is almost finished now.
Because of the torrential rain last week, we have not done our usual walk with the dogs in the mornings, as there was too much mud. So when we went back that way this week I was anxious to see whether my fairy flower (see last month's blog) had survived. I was surprised to see it is still there, but it has grown to a good 18 inches high. It has a long bare stem but not a leaf anywhere. The flowers are so pretty. It is a shame that they don't all come out at once, but flowers don't last out here and the lower ones are dying off long before the top ones are ready to open. I can't believe it has survived the storms, and all the animals that pass that way, not to mention the careless feet of dog-walkers etc. It is the only one of it's kind in the area.
Well I am off to do a bit more of my scrapbook now. I don't know whether I shall blog again for a while as I have two lots of visitors coming, so I'll see how the time goes. but I will be back eventually!