Tag Archives: cars

February Fun, Fotos, and Short Walks.

It has been a busy February and so I am glad of the extra day in the shortest month when winter can turn to spring here in Andalucia. The photos below are from our short local walk with Lotti the tibetan terrier. This joins the main sendero/footpath from Castano del Robleda to La Pena and Alajar. At the beginning of the month it is very wintry and all those autumn leaves featured in my Autumn walks post have blown onto the red sandy ground. But it is now so much wetter and the green moss is alive and well after its summer’s rest. Nature is resilient and adapts to many changes and with so many problems facing our planet I would like to focus on that determination to keep on trying and surviving.





We have also enjoyed more walks around our own little valley but with a caveat to avoid falling into badger holes. We have discovered quite a few and also their very clearly marked latrines, carefully excavated to fit their poo. Sorry, I missed taking a picture of that.


Winter is also the time for visitors. Some who want to get in from the cold. Our dear old car is a favourite habitat for wood mice nests. We were waiting for the mother to return to rescue her naked, fairly new born babies before we could go shopping. They may even have been with us on previous trips.


Other visitors came and not expecting warmth as we have a much colder climate than their home in Portugal. We went to discover our frontier town which we have only ever driven through on the road to and from Seville. However, our day walking around the town of Higuera was full of welcome sunshine and blue skies. There were also lots of storks nesting too and of course the ones with the highest status on the church steeple. Higuera would have been full of people on the 5th of January for their most famous processions for the Three Kings celebrations. Hence the statues and a lovely avenue of orange trees. Higuera is 200m lower than where we are in Fuenteheridos. It was warmer and the Viburnums tinus and carpenters bees were out and about. See featured image.

Another favourite short walk is by the now closed Aracena campsite and source of the great river Odiel. We went on a Sunday when all the families were out for picnics but the walk by the river and  old cork trees was fairly quiet and full of birds but all quite artful and not easy to identify. The rocks by the stream were quite amazing in the sunlight and the old tree with some life at the top.

We have also visited Donana again and I will devote a whole post to that but it was again a marvellous day full of storks, flamingos, a very large flock of coots and some spoonbills that I finally managed to photograph.

The last day of February, when it is the 28th is a holiday for all in Andalucia. It becomes a long weekend a puente, bridge. Our local town was full of visitors and some posh cars. This seemed to be an attraction for photographs too. So there is one of me with my favourite car, Jud, now 24 years old and still going strong over our rough rocky track.

I think I might have to take the view that the old car has done much better on carbon emissions than these new ones. We didn’t stay too long to check whether these were electric but they were certainly worth a lot of money and on show. We bought our local bread and went back to our quiet woodland.

Near the town of Cortelezor there is a very rough road and we didn’t see many cars along this one. We wanted to find the river valley where we had walked along some years ago.In a very small area just by this picnic place we discovered some botanical wonders.

The tiny wild daffodil tops the bill among the heathers. But the rock formations were astounding in the background. There was a thorny acacia, a narrow leaved ash, the stripy leaves of thistles to be and a flower we have yet to fully identify. PS And now we have! Anchusa undulata.

And below the wild hoop daffodils; Narcissus triandrus and this mediterranean mystery. We have scoured the book but no match yet. Yes, Anchusa undulata, alkanet is Anchusa azurea.



And for extra measure and for the extra day we have been to the Cheese Festival in Portugal, about an hour or so from the Sierra. We missed the rain here and my vegan attempts were sorely tested. However, there is an important rural economy here based on quality produced cheeses and I do think there needs to be a focus on supporting small farmers, traditional food and farming. Here is a photo of one of the local Alentejo choirs which UNESCO recognise as part of our world heritage. The singing was deep and powerful from the male choirs but there are mixed voice choirs and female ones too.


Isle De France rare breed.

I hope this post brings you some of the vitality of nature and rural life here in this part of Andalucia and the Alentejo and can help revive and restore us as we go through tough times.

For the love of the motor car: For the love of the planet! Solar Cars needed Now!

Developing solar cars by Ford.
Chinese Solar car.

image image image imageSaying goodbye to an old and faithful friend was hard but the decision had been in the making as the expense of owning, insuring and maintaining 3 old motor cars did not add up. Living in the countryside we are dependent on a car working so that we can get into the nearby market town of Aracena. With work on the house more or less our job at present we also have to go into the builders merchants and other DIY stores for this and that. It is true that we could get most provisions from the village and we have at times done that. It is a one kilometre walk and would need to be done early in the morning in the heat we are having now. The last few days the car had been cleared and was probably feeling more looked after than ever with no general clutter. However it was given a couple of final jobs to do. One was clearing all the metal fencing and rusty barrels from my Huerta. For this we packed the car with as much of the fencing and metal scaps as we could and drove off to find the escombrera or dump. We had been told that it was up the road from the supermarket about a kilometre. We were then lucky to see the sign but then found ourselves on a long, dusty and rutted track. We were relieved when we saw a small lorry coming down and also that it was Manolo of the builders we had had last year, Garcia Romero de Oso. We spoke with him and he looked at the back of our car and said it was a bit further on but wait as there was a big lorry coming. And indeed one did. Am not sure what all the builders make of us as we try to do so much ourself. And when will we finally finish. Similar to when we finally bought the house maybe there will be smoke signals over Aracena. We carried on along this dusty track,mast some real farming of animals with major sheds and at one point a beautiful view down the valley towards Aracena and a view of the castle. The old car valiantly made its way along until we found the top of a hill with lots of rubble. This was no recycling dump known to me, but this was where landfill really happens. We looked around but could not find any area for metals. There was some rubble with metal piled up so we ended up leaving it there. Still no one in sight. The car bravely returned along the bumpy track with its engine getting a little hot in the 30 degrees heat. But not quite its last On Friday morning with the car all clear we headed for the Desguace. The car was finally going ‘bajo’ or under. It seems to the Underworld rather than the high heavens for cars. I drove the other car.  As we drove in I had expected to see compacted bricks of metal cars but instead there was a large parking area and office for parts and beyond a high fence and gates, the old cars were on trailers, stacked up almost 10 by 10. Is this what it is like in limbo and without limbs. All the cars were tyreless, and a little torn apart, probably even more with their vital organs taken first. The reception area was staffed by a pretty spanish lady amid a majority of mechanico men. She had to send out an intercom message to the man responsible as she was not sure about our forms. At this point we wondered if the car had been saved but no its demise was near. With a bit more discussion and stamping it was all agreed; a paltry 50 euros, but we were not keen to bargain, and we kept the battery, we departed in one old green car, leaving our old white one to its recycled fate. Have tried to capture the information about how much of each car is recycled by the desguace branch of Melli. Big car dealers in the town. For the love of the motor car we had a wake in Aracena with tinto verano and cerveza sin  and I researched the Internet on how much progress was being made with solar cars. Cars the sacred cow of the West and now the East. But it seems China has started to produce solar charging cars. And about time too. From Naomi Klein’s research for her book it seems to me now that the western world is hanging on to fossil fuels when it is no longer necessary. She reports how companies like Shell have divested from renewable research and development and as we all know headed out to get more oil from the Arctic. Have the Chinese regained an ancient wisdom through suffering Dickensian pollution from dear old carbon? I think I could afford one of their solar cars. It would be ideal for our life here in the country and not keep costing the Earth. It is also much needed in rural economies like ours that seem so dependent now on the motor car. Without vehicles the economy of this region would grind to a halt. The building vans, trucks, delivery vehicles, market town services, pharmacies, tourism, car repair garages and sales; so much now depending on the combustion engine and not the donkey cart. In the past many people here lived a very poor life: Subsisting off the land and with a lot of inequality. Now in Spain there is still the effects of the crisis and youth unemployment and a lot of campaigning against the Austerity economics and policies in place. How will ordinary folk be affected if the power needed to drive the economies we know isn’t replaced with renewables? How long can we all afford to live off fossil fuels ? And if we do how much infrastructure breakdown will happen because of climate extremes and disasters? How will the Spanish pueblo survive? Can we put into action NOW all that we can do to keep our planet a safe place for all creatures. For the love of the planet let’s move on from the motor car.  Roll on Solar and maybe save a little fossil fuel for the classic cars to have a summer outing. ( Coming in another post : the classic cars and motorbike of the Sierra Aracena Classic car society )