On the car radio this week, I heard the weather girl say thet the UV reading was 6, and once it goes over 5 you know that summer is on the way. That was good news after a week of chilly winds, grey skys and sudden downpours. We had thunder storms one night and had to bring the dogs in to sleep. (They look big and fearless but they are absolute wimps when there is any loud noise!). When we got up it was very wet underfoot but everything was sparkling and clean. A couple of days later we had more storms that left everything with a coating of brown sand. I got the hose out and washed all the patio furniture today, as it was warm enough to sit outside to eat lunch again. My sister Jean is due to arrive for a week on Tuesday, so I am glad to report that the forecast for the week is mostly for sun.
Of course, tonight our clocks spring forward an hour which is bad timing for me as I am off to a lace day in Cartagena and have to be down at Garrucha port for the coach at 8.15. I will have to get myself to bed a bit earlier than usual.
Last Tuesday we had a mid-week meeting at church, primarily to learn some new hymns and widen our repertoire. This was followed by a fellowship lunch to which I took a rather nice, rich chocolate cake, and my friend took an equally good marmalade-ginger teabread with a layer of lemon curd through the middle. Both were well received, and as I have some visitors coming I asked Jane for her recipe. My own marmalade teabread is a much denser, more solid cake, and I preferred hers. As it turns out, her recipe is quite different so I look forward to making it on Monday. But first I decided to have a go at making some lemon curd. It is years since I did this and I no longer have the double saucepan I used to use for it. But I went on the internet and found several recipes, and I kind of did a mix-and-match of these and came up with what I needed. It was fairly expensive to make, compared with marmalade or jam anyway, but I only wanted a very small quantity. Unopened it will keep for about six weeks in the fridge, but once opened it really only lasts for a week or two. So I used two lemons, two eggs and two egg yolks, a little butter and rather a lot of sugar. I followed a tip in one of the recipes whereby you start by creaming the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs followed by the lemon, and then cook it. It said this would prevent the mixture splitting and the egg white cooking as sometimes happens, and it certaily worked for me. It did say you could cook it in a pan but the calor gas I use for my hob is quite fierce, and I have trouble turning it down low enough to simmer, so I put the bowl I had mixed it in, over a pan of boiling water and within twenty minutes I had two small jars of delicious lemon curd. It was so quick and easy that I will happily repeat the exercise next time I want a change of spreads. Let's hope I get an equally successful teabread to spread it in. (The photo was taken after the event for this blog, and one jar is half empty already because we ate it for tea last night!)
This morning I decided to do bit of work in the garden. It is all coming to life and beginning to look very pretty. I have now taken one of the white flowering shrubs I showed last time, and planted it in our tiny square of garden at the back. I am hoping that with its roots in deeper soil, it will start to bush out a bit. I have also planted the second honeysuckle in there and we will train it to grow up and over the pool pump house. The first honesuckle, that I took as a cutting when I saw a nice plant in the grounds of the communal pool on Sylvia's urbanisation last autumn, is growing really well. I have got it climbing up the rejas (metal grill) on the sitting room window, and a second stem is going to be tied to some cable clips that go up the corner join of the walls. In place of the white flower that was in the same pot, I have now properly planted the succulent cuttings that Jane gave me. When we had lunch at her house last month she gave me another plant that at the time was several groups of glossy green leaves. From the centre of one of these, there is now a head of deep blue flowers emerging. It's common name is Madiera squill, and I am really looking forward to seeing it out fully. There is a second bud just showing in a another clump of the leaves.
Along with the other plants that I took from Sylvia's garden when she moved, was a tiny little crown of thorns. These often have red flowers, but this one is a pretty peachy pink, and it is now quite a good size plant and is covered in flowers. Her lavendar is doing well in a window box, and I have just revamped all the boxes with new geraniums and violas. There are some very vivid, almost garish colours in the flowers, but somehow, in nature, they never clash.
A few weeks back Chris cut down the pink jasmine so he could paint the wall behind it, and renew the rotting lattice that it climbs on. It is growing well again now and has lots of buds on it. We are taining the end branch to trail along the front railings and it seems to have got the idea now.
Arwen seems to enjoy looking at the garden. Today I have opened the windows in my room, and when I do that, the cats have learned to pull the mosquito nets aside to get in and out. This means that most windows now have a hole in the corner of the nets, rendering them less than useless! To stop it getting any worse, in the day time I also raise my net a foot or so, so the cats can get in and out easily, but Arwen choses to stay in my room. All day she has sat on the windowsill looking out, or curled up on it for a doze. Her hair is growing and she is still fairly ameniable. Unfortunately she is not too well at the minute. She has a long term urinary tract disorder so each morning and evening I have to give her an anti-inflamatory tablet (a risky business), and she has a special diet which hopefully will cure her in four to six weeks.
I have taken quite a few photos in the garden this month so I can compare the plants next year, with this year and see how much progress they have made. So I am making a folder in my gallery called 'An Andalucian garden in spring' which you can see by clicking here.