Category Archives: Writing

100 Days almost of Blogger’s block!

April is here in Navasola and the warblers have arrived and in full song. There seems to have been so much happening that I have lost the routine of blogging but have often taken photos and thought of posts I could write! So here are some images of my nature journey at Navasola and nearby over the past three months. There have been other journeys and certainly there is a lot to think about in the world today and particularly for the environmental health of the planet we and so many other species depend on. But for now this is about the beauty of nature and perhaps this is a way for me to do some ‘warm up’ writing Continue reading 100 Days almost of Blogger’s block!

A Butterfly and a Flower for a Birthday. And final celebrations on the birth of Jesus. Los Reyes Magos: The Night of the Visit of the Three Kings. 

Red Admiral on footpath to Galaroza, Vanessa Atlanta
Red Admiral on footpath to Galaroza, Vanessa Atlanta

This post is for my daughter Theodora. I cannot be with her on her birthday but can send this beautiful flower and a butterfly photo  from Southern Spain. So far the sun has shone and the red admiral came out of its hideaway and posed for us. I also bought this gazania to brighten up the rock garden and on looking up its name found it was named after Theodorus Gaza, in the 15 th Century.( On Wikipedia, and he translated Theophrastus on plants)

A popular garden flower; a gazania
A popular garden flower; a gazania

On one of those pregnant impulses I had decided to name my baby after the Saints day she or he would be born on. Luckily she decided against Jan 6 th and Epiphany and came on the day of St Theodosius. And are those days so long ago that we didn’t know or need to know the gender. So Theo sounded like a great idea at the time! But I was pushed to make it more feminine.

For the past two years I have missed her birthday as I had never been able to see the celebrations in Spain for the feast of the Kings. ( Joy of being a teacher and the Return to School) It all happens on the eve of Jan 6 th. Last year a friend came to stay and we visited the ‘big’ one in Higuera de la Sierra.  More in last year’s post. Los Reyes Magos in the Sierra Aracena. Feast of the Kings Processions.

Mary's mother waiting.
Mary’s mother waiting.

This year we went to Linares on the south side of the Sierra Aracena. Here they create scenes from the nativity story in their houses and gardens. Linares is a special village with cobblestone art work on the ground in front of many of the houses. This event is also very special and different from the processions.

I loved seeing inside some of the houses and also small stores, naves where animals would and still might be kept. It was very reminiscent of the closeness of village life over the centuries and miles to Bethlehem. Most of all I loved being able to see into the gardens and orchards. I am a little jealous because they can grow oranges on that side of the Sierra and we have to cope with chestnuts!

After this it was back to see our village procession. Although there may be many tourists here for the Los Reyes processions it is truly a local event. All the children of a village receive presents from the Three Wise Kings. First there is the procession led by the star. She must be the one who gets cold! She is followed by a variety of floats with different scenes, some biblical, some original. These may vary each year. The richness of the scenes shown really tell so many aspects of the Nativity.  The final three floats are for the three wise kings who bring gifts. Balls and sweets were thrown to the crowds watching and following.The irony of the sweets were ‘love bites’ made in Hyderabad, India, where we lived some years ago. Just for trade wars, there were also some made in Córdoba, Spain.

Here in our village it was charming and very much all the local people involved with small tractors pulling brightly decorated carts.

One thing that stood out were the smiles on everyone’s faces: children and adults.
Wishing Theo and everyone who reads my blog a very happy and peaceful 2017. And in 2018 and future years Theo, Josie, family and friends can visit the Sierra to see the wise men, women and children who create this event.

Wishing all the creatures of this world a successful 2017! Grey seal conservation success along Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, UK.

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A baby seal born in November and quite well fed by its mother.
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A good kind of fence ensuring the mother seals are not disturbed and the humans don’t get bitten by Mum.
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The mature seals blend in well and are very laid back.
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This is Ropeneck and her young pup. Ropeneck was rescued from some plastic strangling her neck. She made a full recovery and comes to the same place by the fence every year.
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Extraordinary mammals. The mother seals give birth to their young here and remain for two months without food. They suckle their young and fatten them up for the trip back into the sea in January.

This was a wonderful experience that lifted my spirits. Donna Nook is a wide mud and sand beach south of Cleethorpes where my mother’s family came from. It was named Donna after a Spanish Armada ship went aground here in the 1500s.

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Sunset over the flat rich lands of Lincolnshire.

I had never visited here but Trevor had with his son many years ago.  There was no fence then. But this fence is one of those good fences which help make good neighbours ( Robert Frost). Now humans can enjoy watching these wild animals close up and the fence prevents the seals from biting us! The mother seals are not too interested in the humans behind the fence. There are now many more seals here and it is a conservation success.Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the RAF, who have an artillery range here, and support from the EU and others have all contributed to the increase in numbers giving birth here.
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Wishing you all a happy and positive 2017 and hope we can continue to create success stories for the natural world.

Foraging for food. Menu del dia. Fried green tomatoes and gallipiernas

I thought I would write a post about waiting for the rain to come. It has come with its usual torrential downpours through the night and the day. After some frantic wood pile sorting it paid off as we had our first fire. But now it is warm again and the sun is shining with that particular brightness of Anda Lucia. Land of light.

My attempt at a winter veg garden might just work. There is now so much moisture in the air. It seems Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and onions are good, and of course there’s time to grow some more lettuce. I’ve also tried some beetroot. My once hated vegetable from memories of a cold vinegary slice for school dinners. Now I like it in soups thanks to a friend’s recipes. However I am going to have to find ways of using the green tomatoes. It is too late now for this batch to ripen and the rain affects them badly. Fried green tomatoes was suggested. That was such a good film. 


Today has been the first sun after the rain and I have gone out to check on everything, especially the chestnuts. Some have fallen but although it had been dry I have been able to collect some good sized ones from the ground. I have a love hate relationship with chestnuts but at first it is fun to find the bright brown shiny shapes. However I will be lucky to get a euro for a kg even though they can sell at 6 euros or more. I bought some small cooked Chinese chestnuts in the supermarket the other week; a case of coals to Newcastle or chestnuts to the Sierra Aracena. Unfortunately the phrase doesn’t work too well for Newcastle as coal there has become a product of the past.



Sometimes the joy of picking up chestnuts is the fragile Autumn crocus shining from the ground. The damp ground has also produced a lot of mushrooms. This is the time when folk come foraging for the famous wild mushroom varieties of the Sierra. These are the gallipierna, with their beautiful parasols.


So for our meal this evening I will perhaps have the following.

Menu del dia

Primera plato Fried green tomatoes and gallipierna

Segunda plato. Chestnut loaf and salad 

Postre.  Quince tart

All in a days foraging!

Bob Dylan tribute. Dverse Poetry Prompt. To an Artist

This post is a poem in response to the prompt by Dverse poets to celebrate Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Dverse poets.com is the link to find a range of ideas about writing poetry, with good poems to read and stimulating prompts.

A very good friend of ours had some of the lyrics below on a t shirt. We knew it was from a Bob Dylan song but which one. So we went back to our Bob Dylan lyrics book and found it. Bob Dylan’s words and music are truly everywhere even up in our Spanish Sierra on a tee shirt!
‘She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back
She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back
She can take the dark out of the nighttime
And paint the daytime black’.       Bob Dylan

 

The poem I’ve written is about a very special woman; an artist, woodworker, seeker and above all friend who I have been so fortunate to meet in my life in the Sierra.

Thanks to Dverse and Bob Dylan for inspiring me to put these words together ( and perhaps the t shirt that didn’t acknowledge Bob’s words!)

Painting our lives with the colours of light

Light plays with the trees at the dawn of dusk
She plays with the light in the colours she sees
Sepia wizened trunks with wise worn faces
She’s an artist

Touch of colour at the tip of a brush blends the years
Into the tones of the falling leaves she sees
Wise eyes lighten the cares and fears.
She don’t look back.

A garden of brightness, an orchard of fruit fallness,
A home all in one and a bed built up high,
To rise up through the darkness with a calm wry smile.
She’s got everything she needs.
She’s an artist, she don’t look back.

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Warbler of some kind by Ruth Konigsberger
Warbler of some kind by Ruth Konigsberger

 

The photographs are some of her work.

Peep through my inner trunk, all hollowed out with age Adorned with velvet
Peep through my inner
trunk, all hollowed out with age
Adorned with velvet

The other side of life: Pleasances and unpleasaunces or what the blogger doesn’t tell!

I have just had a welcome break from both the pleasant and less pleasant side of staying on our finca Navasola. It is not all sitting back in the sunshine and looking at the butterflies! I was struck by the writer and blogger at the greenwriting room Hilary on the idea of ‘pleasaunces and unpleasaunces ‘ in our gardens and perhaps in our blogs. There was also a challenge by another blogger to write about the ‘stuff’ we don’t always wish to mention.

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So sitting out in the sun in July and August is not one of my priorities. Avoiding it is! At temperatures over 30 and the need to water regularly the glorious sunshine loses some of its glory. But not all. The mornings and the evenings into late nights are wonderful.There is also the reminder to get the wood pile sorted and get more wood in. From November we will need a fire until April. The Sierra Aracena climate varies but we are high up above sea level.

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I have not blogged much about the building work. Perhaps I try and avoid the fact that we have spent almost 3 years with the house being a building site. The end is in sight but also seems far off. There are also some chores or maintenance work. If getting on the roof and hosing down the dusty solar panels seems like a chore. And there is a lot of house painting, inner and outer to do. But the wasps have set up their homes too.

I am trying to create some garden areas, vegetable and flowers but the conditions sometimes thwart me. It can be too hot and too cold and rain a lot for weeks and then not rain at all for months. My triangle outside the house is the living space between the building materials still needed.

Butterfly on marigold
Butterfly on marigold

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I always wish to go and visit family in the UK so keeping animals seems impossible at present. I was happy to have my friend’s dog, the lovely Lotti for a week. That was my dog retreat week. I was on my own with a tibetan terrier for company, and some spiders, our giant moths and one night a gigantic cricket. Lots of walks and at least a dog to talk to. But I will need to keep the burrs and seeds at bay if I am to have a dog. I remember from when my golden retriever came on holiday with us here some years back. Burrs galore and constantly having to check paws and get rid of such a variety of ways of distributing seeds. The lovely Daucus Carota or wild carrot might need to be kept in check. A fellow blogger warned me of these being near the washing. Or a dog! They will stick onto almost anything. Splendid in a photograph though.

Seed pod of Daucus Carota, wild carrot
Seed pod of Daucus Carota, wild carrot

 

Daucus carota= wild carrot thrives in July and August
Daucus carota= wild carrot thrives in July and August

And then we’ve had another holiday. It really has been a break from the heat and the ‘pressures’ of work. Time to reflect in a very beautiful spot. We had decided to revisit the Azores as it was so rainy and cloudy in January. This time to another island; Horta on Faial. More on that later.

Oh No! Back to Work! What work when its a labour of love?
Oh No! Back to Work! What work when its a labour of love?

It’s now back to work time. Finish off more on the building and DIY, hide away some of those unpleasaunces. Another growing season to get ready and more revising and editing of the novel.