My Life in the Alpujarras 2008 to 2015

The Alpujarras Feb 06, 2015

This is a rather large post. It is made up of all sorts of micro blogs and thoughts that I had mainly between 2008-2015 during my early years here in the Alpujarras. It forms a good record of my early life here.

Contents and original posting dates

  • In the Wars, 2008-05-24
  • Irrigating the land - Camposinos or Muppets?, 2008-05-27
  • Under attack, 2008-07-02
  • Carrots - where did it all go wrong!, 2008-07-03
  • Garlic, 2008-07-03
  • Cucumber, 2008-07-03
  • Jigdrel - Leaving Fear Behind, 2008-08-09
  • Tomatoes, 2008-08-14
  • China, 2008-08-24
  • Veggie News, 2008-08-24
  • What to do with tomatoes and Millett, 2008-09-05
  • Romantic meal, 2008-09-13
  • The tale of 2 cars, 2008-10-15
  • My first day skiing, 2008-11-01
  • Pumpkins and Squash, 2008-11-01
  • The weather on one day in September 2007, 2008-11-04
  • All in 4 hours - Snow to coast, 2008-11-08
  • Latest on the finger, 2008-11-24
  • Skijoring with Khumbu, 2008-11-27
  • The Aga, 2008-11-28
  • China flexing its muscles with Europe, 2008-11-28
  • Feliz Fiestas, 2009-01-01
  • The Veggie Garden Expands, 2009-03-08
  • Trip back to the UK, 2009-03-08
  • Veggie News - White Broccoli, 2009-03-17
  • China - Dictators to the World, 2009-04-03
  • Working hard in the campo, 2009-05-03
  • Cerro de Caballo Valleys in full bloom, 2009-07-04
  • The tree that never dies., 2009-07-11
  • Bob, 2009-09-03
  • Almonds, 2009-09-07
  • Squash anyone!, 2009-10-12
  • Whats with the weather in Andalucia?, 2009-12-23
  • After the rain comes more rain, 2009-12-30
  • New Years Day – An attempt on a day in the Sierra Nevada mountains, 2010-01-03
  • Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, 2010-01-24
  • A few photos, 2010-02-11
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 2010-02-16
  • Never ending rain and a blocked drive, 2010-02-18
  • We got chickens!, 2010-04-04
  • A new oven, how hard can it be?, 2010-04-05
  • An update on the chickens, 2010-06-07
  • A day out with mum & dad, 2010-06-08
  • Snow climbing in June in the Sierra Nevada, 2010-07-03
  • Solar cooker, 2010-07-16
  • His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama celebrates his 75th Birthday, 2010-07-17
  • 4 of what I think are my best recent photos, 2010-07-27
  • Gota Fria arrived again, 2010-09-18
  • A weekend trip to London, 2010-09-26
  • A holiday in Mallorca 2010, 2010-10-06
  • Sierra Cazorla for my 40th Birthday, 2010-10-10
  • A wildfire at the end of the season, 2010-10-30
  • Patagonia 2010 has arrived, 2010-11-13
  • Two contrasting videos from our trip to Patagonia!, 2010-12-03
  • Tibet – Murder in the snow – Video, 2011-01-20
  • 2005 Fire above Lanjaron, 2011-02-02
  • Golden Wedding Anniversary, 2012-03-31
  • Vegetable garden is up and running, 2013-07-28
  • Sunset - the ever changing colours of the sky over Lanjaron, 2015-03-23
  • How fragile life is, 2015-04-04
  • Ice Ice Baby, 2021-01-04

In the Wars, 2008-05-24

Ok so living in sunny Southern Spain and living the life in the town with the longest longevity in Europe due to its water, eating the healthy Mediterranean diet doesn't always keep you healthy!! There are many things out here that are trying to get you, bite you, sting you, maybe even kill you, scorpion, snakes, centipedes even plants!!!

On the 15th May I became ill, fever, chills, achy bones, painful muscles, cramps in tummy, headaches, rash on arm. . . FLU I hear you shout, but oh no not so simple. There is a debate in the local bars on my recent health, the good old gossip mungers are going for pregnancy, strange pregnancies they must have had, but the more serious are hedging their bets on tick fever or euphorbia poisoning.

Tick fever being the obvious as after all we have plenty of ticks around here in the campo but the new one to me was the Euphorbia plant. How could a plant in Spain make you so ill?? It turns out that this plant is world wide in various disguises and can cause some nasty reactions to the unsuspecting passerby. The rash (I use that word lightly) apparently is a sure sign of contact with this plant and ive been assured that it will scar my arm. Now if this plant is ingested all hell lets loose, there is a possibility that I did ingest a little of this stuff mixed with our home grown spinach, because all hell did let loose in my digestive system! So feeling a little better I ventured out into our veggie plot and pottered about, weeding and planting things, when I noticed a spot of blood on my arm. Didn't think too much about it until my elbow looked like a golf ball was stuck inside it and felt very bruised a day later. Now it turns out I have a same bite on my lower leg which now looks like an elephants leg! The search is on to find out what beast decided to feast on me. So do beware of the insects, reptiles, creepy crawlies, fungi and plants when visiting Southern Spain.

Irrigating the land - Camposinos or Muppets?, 2008-05-27

It's that time of year again. The waters from the snowmelt of the high Sierra Nevada are flowing strongly. Soon this will end, and from mid-June to October or November we can expect little irrigation water. So the time is ripe for all good "camposinos" (country workers) to water their lands before the summer droughts.

Now this may seem a great idea at first glance, but putting it into practice is not as easy as it would seem. For a start we have a 5 min drive to a high "gate" to start the waterflow down towards my land. We then have to dam up a series of small streams, thus eventually getting water flowing through our land.

Eventually is the right wording, as it can take up to 2 hours before all the little nooks and crannies further up the hill have filled with water. So, like all good camposinos, we have a glass or six of vino tinto while we wait. By the time the water arrives we are rather worse for wear and not in a great state for the trials and tribulations to come.

This involves flooding the land by opening the acequia (irrigation channel) gate. The water flows over the land in a haphazard fashion and we have to take our spades (dont remember the correct word for them) and dig channels for the water to slowly creep across the land.

Some 5 hours later and we are covered in mud and have had to indulge in another bottle of vino. Such is life in the fast lane! All I can say is........What a pair of "Muppets"!

Under attack, 2008-07-02

I had the fright of my life today, I was checking on the veg, arrived at the courgettes pondering 'should I pick any' when with my next footfall a 2meter long as thick as your fist brown snake shot out and took off up and away from me (thank god). Unfortunately it moved so fast, and I didnt recover quick enough from the shock, that I didnt get time to identify it and I didnt have my camera to take any pics!!! But I promise you ive seen enough snakes now to cope with them but this was the biggest ive ever seen and it scared the life nearly out of me. I shall not be going out there again unless im wearing full battle armour!

Also whilst out on the veggie check ive noticed our sweet corn is coming under attack from something, only 2 days ago Richard and I were smuggly talking about how well the sweet corn was doing and no rats had eaten it as its nearly ready for picking, but oh how you get brought back to earth with a bump. The picture shows what we believe is having a feast on our cobs, along with the birds!!! So the race is on, can we get the sweet corn to rippen before all the beasts of the Alpujarra have eaten them? Dosnt seem fair as ive nutured them from seed, transplanted the little seedlings into the ground, fed them water, for them now to get over 6ft tall to be eaten by others.

Carrots - where did it all go wrong!, 2008-07-03

Today I decided to dig up the carrots and see what was happening to them! Wish I hadnt bothered. I think it all went wrong when I didnt thin them out as seedlings which has produced strange shaped carrots. Lots of stones in soil didnt help, even the ants had moved into them!

This is the best of the bunch which we will be eating over the next couple of days. Im told tonight we are having "honey glazed baby carrots" mmmm look forward to it.

Garlic, 2008-07-03

Today I pulled all of our garlic and now its drying on the roof terrace, not bad considering ive no idea what im really doing. I think there is going to be alot of garlic eaten in the next few months! We may smell awful but it will keep the flys away!

Cucumber, 2008-07-03

Yes for those who know me know that I love cucumber and living in this part of Andalucia means you very rarely get the cucumbers that we are used to in the UK, so I decided to try and grow some! hmmmm this is what was found amongst the leaves this morning, my very first home grown cucumber, now it may look strange but it tastes ok and I look forward to more. At least my strange looking cucumber has not been grown in artificial circumstances like the ones brought from the big supermarkets in the UK! They use plastic houses here in Andalucia, use cheap Morroccan labour to work in these hell holes, just so straight cucumbers can be grown, perfect red tomatoes etc. These plastic houses have wrecked the landscape on the coast of Andalucia and can be seen from space!!!

Jigdrel - Leaving Fear Behind, 2008-08-09

I came upon these headlines today "Tibetan filmmaker's documentary lands him in Chinese prison", and so read a little further and this is what I found out.

LEAVING FEAR BEHIND - 5 minute > you tube version Produced by Filming for Tibet

Leaving Fear Behind (in Tibetan, Jigdrel) is a heroic film shot by Tibetans from inside Tibet, who longed to bring Tibetan voices to the Beijing Olympic Games. With the global spotlight on China as it rises to host the XXIX Olympics, Tibetans wish to tell the world of their plight and their heartfelt grievances against Chinese rule. The footage was smuggled out of Tibet under extraordinary circumstances. The filmmakers were detained soon after sending their tapes out, and remain in detention today. In a remarkable coincidence, filming concluded in early March 2008 on the eve of the eruption of unprecedented mass Tibetan protests across the Tibetan plateau. Shot primarily in the eastern provinces of Tibet, the film provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people and their longstanding resentment of Chinese policies in Tibet. The filmmakers traversed thousands of miles, asking ordinary Tibetans what they really feel about the Dalai Lama, China, and the Olympic Games. The filmmakers gave their subjects the option of covering their faces, but almost all of the 108 people interviewed agreed to have their faces shown on film, so strong was their desire to express themselves to the world. Excerpts from twenty of the interviews, including a self-recorded interview of the filmmaker himself, are included in the 25 minute film. The footage reveals with stark clarity that Tibetans are frustrated and embittered by the deterioration and marginalization of Tibetan language and culture; the destruction of the lifestyle of Tibetan nomads through Chinese forced settlement policies; the lack of religious freedom and the vilification of the Dalai Lama; and the broken promises made by the Chinese government to improve conditions in Tibet in the run up to the Olympic games. All are united in their reverence for the Dalai Lama and long for him to return, and as some even dream, to attend the Olympic Games. Quotes from interviewees: _“Actually we would be happy about the Games but much is being misrepresented. China was awarded the Games on the condition that the situation in China and Tibet would improve.” “...outsiders may think that the Tibetans are treated very well and that they are happy. But the truth is that Tibetans are not free to speak of their suffering.” 2 of 2 “For every Tibetan, there are ten to fifteen Chinese. The Chinese are everywhere in these Tibetan areas.” “Even if I had to sacrifice my life for this message to be seen by the Dalai Lama, I agree and welcome this chance.” All twenty of the people who appear in the film agreed to have their faces shown on film–at great personal risk. Wangchen reveals that some interviewees “said that we absolutely had to show their faces, otherwise it wasn’t worth speaking to them,” so strong was their desire to counter Beijing’s narrative on Tibet. _ During the precarious filming Dhondup Wangchen worked under the code name Jigme (“Fearless” in Tibetan). His code name, and the bravery of all those associated with this project, inspired the film’s name Jigdrel, which translates to Leaving Fear Behind. Soon after sending out their tapes on March 10, 2008, Dhondup Wangchen and Golog Jigme were arrested. They remain in detention today. Dhondup Wangchen was last seen in detention in Guangsheng Binguan in Xining (Qinghai). Golog Jigme was last seen in a detention center in the town of Lingxia (Gansu). Their tapes were transported to Switzerland, where the final cut was put together by Wangchen’s cousin, Gyaljong Tsetrin. Gyalijong Tsetrin, who escaped from Tibet in 2002, founded Filming For Tibet to produce this film. Im not able to get the link on their website to work to view the documentry but I have managed to find this 5 minute clip on you tube > **leaving fear behind**, it makes interesting viewing. If anyone should find the full version please do contact me.

Tomatoes, 2008-08-14

Here is a sample of our tomatoes. We have 2 types this year, the Cherry tomatoes and some big variety. The Cherry's are a little disappointing flavour wise, the ones last year were great. The big ones however are fantastic. We picked over 200 the other day, so you can probably imagine we are eating alot of tomatos at the moment, scrambled egg and fresh tomatoes, tomatoes on toast, pured tomatoes. Weve even frozen some! A little news on the cauliflower is that its not cauliflower its cabbage!!! How does that happen when the packed of seeds has a picture of a cauliflower on front? Makes me wonder if our parsnips are parsnips as they look like celery ha ha. Oh the joys of living in Spain.

China, 2008-08-24

Just another little dig here at China! Before the olympic games protesters were asked to apply for permits to allow them to protest, it turns out that you still get arrested and jailed even if you have a permit!! China eh, what on earth is the prime minister of the UK doing to help the human rights abuse issues going on in Tibet/China, even the American president is starting to shout about things and thats amazing. Has anybody heard on the news about the latest killings of Tibetans by chinese soldiers?? No I thought not. To win the right to host these Games, China promised to honor the Olympic ideals of nonviolence, openness to the world and individual expression. Those promises were systematically broken, starting with this spring’s brutal repression in Tibet and continuing on to the ugly farce of inviting its citizens to apply for legal protest permits and then arresting them if they actually tried to do so. _Along the way, government critics were pre-emptively rounded up and jailed, domestic news outlets tightly controlled, foreign journalists denied full access to the Internet and thousands of Beijing’s least telegenic residents were evicted from their homes and out of camera range.

On Friday, the Chinese police confirmed that six Americans protesting China’s rule in Tibet had been sentenced to 10 days of detention along with a British woman._ Surely one of the signature events of these Games was the sentencing of two women in their late 70s to “re-education through labor.” Their crime? Applying for permission to protest the inadequate compensation they felt they had received when the government seized their homes years ago for urban redevelopment. For more information the on TRUE happenings visit > **Phayul.com **and just think, this could be happening to our country one day soon! Come on people dont turn a blind eye and think its not going to happen in our country because if these people get round to being the "super power" what do you think is going to happen to your lovely little sheltered lives, its time to wake up!

Veggie News, 2008-08-24

So it turns out the cauliflower is not cauliflower and is cabbage, I've taken a picture to show you the seed packet and the resulting veg! I was a little worried about the parsnip because someone said it looked like celery, and after the fun with the cabbage I decided today to pull up a plant and see what it was, and it is parsnip, so tonight Richard (I don't like parsnip) is having baby parsnip for dinner. The aubergines here are a little different to the ones you are used to in the UK, here they are purple and white stripy things but taste the same. There is a chilli pepper here know by us as the russian roulette chilli but locally its known as "pimientos del pardon". Basically this plant grows the chilli peppers and when you eat them you have no idea if you are getting a hot or normal one as they seem to grow to whatever heat they fancy. Ive picked our first one this morning and we shall have a try of it later on. If you are unlucky enough to pick a hot one be prepared for the consequences! Ive picked our marrow ready to make the marrow rum, keep watching this space to find out how it does.

Cabbage

Aubergine and Parsnip

Pimientos del padron

Marrow ready for marrow rum

What to do with tomatoes and Millett, 2008-09-05

Cooking the tomato sauce

So we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Weve eaten them with most meals for the last month, made gallons of Tomato Frito (Puree) and still have left overs. Those remaining are getting very soft and ripe. We need to do something quick! So Richard decided to make his own derivative to Heinz Tomato Sauce. David and Aspen gave us their receipe which is here for you all to try. Last night we had egg, chips and beans so that we could use the source and I have to say it is very close to the Hienz tomato sauce and we ate lots of it. Thanks to Aspen for letting us reproduce her recipe here.

  • 2 kg very ripe tomatoes, chopped and put in a non-aluminium pan (aluminium leaches into food and with an acid ‘fruit’ like this you are likely to get double doses … not good news, as it is a toxic heavy metal)
  • 3 teaspoons of whole allspice (not sure you will get it here so try a combination of spices you like)
  • 2 tablespoons whole mustard seed
  • Tie both the above spices into a small cloth, so that you can hang it into the ketchup to give flavour, rather than a chewy product!  Cook up with the tomatoes until thickened and reduced, about 30 mins
  • I full cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons fresh basil - finely chopped, 1 tablespoons fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon thyme (if you have an English thyme that is great, but if it’s the local wild thyme, reduce the quantity), 2 cups of cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • Add all the above to the tomatoes and simmer until it reches the consistency you like.  I would keep tasting it as you add the ingredients, so you get a product you will enjoy.  If you have any Worcestershire sauce, you could add that.  Remove the bag of whole spices, and put into sterilised ‘bottles’
  • Sterilisation - boil the bottles in water for 10 mins … I use the small juice bottles that have a lid that will seal again.  Line the bottles up on a wooden surface to ensure that there is no possibility of cracking, and ladle in the sauce.  Seal straight away … as they cool you can sometimes here the lids ‘popping’.  If you press the lids when cool, you will know those that have succeeded.  Any that haven’t you can keep in the fridge, although with that much vinegar in them, they are unlikely to go off.

Millet before the seeds have been separated

We were given some millet seeds some time ago by our friends David and Aspen. Not really knowing what we were doing we did the sensible thing, shoved them in a free part of the “campo” and made sure they were regularly watered. Now they have grown strong and healthy. We have harvested them today as they are showing some signs of bird attack, buggies love this stuff. We seperated the seed from the kernals and used a fan to seperate the chaff from the seeds and now we have lots of clean seed. It seems you treat it like rice, 40 mins of boiling and you have a fluffy grain that is the most nutritional grain about or you can use it for thickening stews etc.

Romantic meal!, 2008-09-13

Richard decided to cook a romantic meal yesterday and this is what he produced. He was actually having a dig at Nouveaux Cuisine wondering why we have to pay more for less food and there are more obese people in the world than ever?! Anyway it made us both laugh but I have to say the food was delicious, stuffed red pepper, buttered leeks, steamed carrots and avocado and peach salad. I made some shortbread and custard for pudding and we both ended up with indigestion ha ha.

The tale of 2 cars, 2008-10-15

Ive recently purchased a new car, only my 3rd one ever!! I brought a sensible car, good on fuel, good price, lots of space, yep you guessed it I brought a Skoda, not just a Skoda but a Fabia Combi 1.9TDI, the people in the know say that it is a better and you get more car than any VW in its class at a much nicer price.

Skoda

And do you know what, some idiot of a so called driver has driven into it after it being with us for only a week!! Parked on our land, miles away from the road, impossible for anything to hit it, not that there's any traffic around here as there is only one other house above ours, but no someone came on our land and hit the car!

Skoda bump

I travelled a long way to get this car, in fact the whole journey took 8.5hours in some of the most horrendous weather Spain has seen for a while, all the way to Alicante and beyond, so I feel rather attached to this car and was upset that someone could just roll up, damage your car, drive away and not think anymore about it, not even a note to say sorry!! For years the white van has been parked in the same place and nobody has touched it. Do you think that possibly the green eyed monster has been out??

Nissan

So now onto the other purchase, a lovely Nissan Navarra. The complete opposite to the Skoda, not good with fuel, not a nice price, but I guess it does have shed loads of space. It came from Granada so at least it was closer to pick up, excuse the pun! We have taken it out on a few runs, with clients and with dogs! How great is it that the dogs have their very own area with windows and don't have to mess up the cab for all us humans who travel in it. I think you will see from the pictures that the dogs approve of their new transport.

My first day skiing, 2008-11-01

Now ive learnt how to convert the videos here is my first day skiing in 2006!! Promise not to laugh.

Pumpkins and Squash, 2008-11-01

Ive started to harvest our pumpkins and squash. Here is a selection of 2 types.

The weather on one day in September 2007, 2008-11-04

Last year on my birthday in September we had a freak storm here in Lanjaron. The sky went green, the wind went wild, the rain lashed and then the hail came!  We had to take shelter in the house and the noise of the hail on the house frightened the dogs. To us it seemed like we were in the middle of a hurricane. After the storm there was ice everywhere, unheard of in Southern Spain in September. All of our plants and vegetables were ruined for that year, they looked like someone had taken a machine gun to them, the fruit that did manage to stay on the trees grew with lots of bruising . We took a short video of the goings on. Guess what happened this year on my birthday in September - it poured down with rain again!!! No freaky storm this year though but be warned if your thinking of coming to Spain around the middle of September make sure you bring some wet weather gear!!

All in 4 hours - Snow to coast, 2008-11-08

Spanish Highs had 4 clients on Wednesday and having had lots of snow they were split into two groups, 3 for > winter skills/alpine introduction with Mike and 1 for > ski mountaineering with Richard. We thought it would be a good idea to take Khumbu and Bruno along as well, with me on snow shoes, and see if we could get day one of Khumbu's skijoring career underway. Because it wasn’t the best of days in Lanjaron, ie raining, we umm’d and arr’d about taking the dogs but decided we would as I could always bring them back on my snow shoes. So in 2 cars we drove an hour or so up to the > ski centre in the Sierra Nevada. We were unable to get to our usual start point of 2500m due to snow still being on the road, so the un-open ski centre (now due to open 15th November) would have to do.

We started to unload the gear and get ourselves ready for a cold day in the snow. It’s unusual not to have the sun here as it’s known as the sunniest ski resort in the Northern Hemisphere. I got Khumbu out of the car, got him in his harness, he had a little scoot around in the snow and then sat by me waiting for the off. I took advantage of this calm behaviour and opened the car door to get my sunglasses out (just in case) and before I knew it Khumbu had run round the door taking my hand with him and trapping my finger against the open car door. For me the rest is a little blurred - apparently Mike says he heard a small scream and came round the corner to see me not knowing whether to sit or stand, he thought I was going to pass out.

When I first looked at my finger I thought, "Oh, God, I’ve severed it," the cut was so deep. Then the blood arrived!! And it wouldn’t stop! Mike was telling me to take deep breaths and Richard was telling me to put my hand in the snow, and I was saying, "I think I need to go to hospital." After what seemed like 5 minutes it was decided I would have to go to hospital. Somewhere during this time I had also decided my finger was either broken or dislocated, no idea why except I seem to remember it looking rather odd! The dogs were put back in the car and the ski mountaineering client was handed over to Mike. My hand was packed with snow, a mitten placed on top taped with gaffer tape and a buff wrapped around to keep it all tight. A sock was placed around the bottom of this home-made bandage to mop up the blood that was leaking out. We said our goodbyes and left the ski centre car park looking as though a murder had taken place and headed off to the hospital in Granada.

I had my arm above my head but was still leaking blood all over the new car and Richard was saying, "Don’t worry, you have plenty more". We eventually got to the hospital, joined a queue and realised quite quickly that we were going to be there a very long time. Whilst we were waiting we read the notices saying that you need to have your ID. Here in Spain you have to have your ID card (for us foreigners a residencia card and passport) with you at all times. Now, like an idiot I had none of the required ID on me. The bleeding had stopped so we decided we would drive back to Lanjaron, drop the dogs off at home, get my passport and residencia and drive to the hospital in Motril on the coast. We picked up Emma and Jorge in case there were any problems with translation.

paciente

So, we get to the hospital, Richard goes off to find somewhere to park, and the 3 of us head into a very modern hospital, so efficient. I was asked for my paperwork and given a sticker to place on me that said ‘Patient’ and Emma was given one saying she was accompanying me. Richard arrived just as we were being ushered through. The boys decided they would wait for us in a bar nearby, expecting not to see us for an hour or two, so Emma and I went through the doors not knowing where to go. We heard a shout from a lady so we entered her room where she took some more details and then took us to another room.

A doctor appeared, I took the home-made bandage off and immediately it started to bleed again. The doctor had a quick look then ran out of the room leaving us wondering what was wrong. He appeared with another doctor and between them they pulled and squeezed my injury, gave it a clean, then started telling me to do various things with my fingers. I was told it was very important to push strongly, one doctor had my hand and the other had my finger (apparently they were putting my finger back where it belonged). Then they cleaned the wound again and applied 5 butterfly stitches and a dressing and taped my fingers together. I was told to sit up and put my arm up against my chest and the doctors left. Whilst all this was going on other doctors kept popping in for a look. The doctor returned and in ‘Spanglish’ told me what to do with my hand and gave me some very strong pain killers.

Poorly finger

It took about 20 minutes from entering the hospital to being let out again. How fantastic is that? You don’t get that back in the UK.

Latest on the finger, 2008-11-24

Well this is the latest and last bit about my finger!! We were out in the mountains when the last stitch fell off my finger and showed me exactly what id done. As you can see from the picture it doesn't look much for all the fuss that it caused, how can so much blood come form that cut? Ok so there was a dislocation too. Ok thats it, its fine and virtually mended and nearly has full movement back.

Skijoring with Khumbu, 2008-11-27

Well the training has begun again on teaching Khumbu the art of Skijoring in the Sierra Nevada! Our attempts last winter were not good, he was too young. This winter however it turns out he is a natural so far on the flat snow. For those who dont know what Skijoring is, its using a dog to assist a cross country skier, one to three dogs can be used, so all I have to do is prove we can do this then maybe I can get a few more Siberian Huskys!!

Richard and Khumbu Skijoring

Now our thoughts on it are we could use him to assist us in going up hill in ski mountaineering or ski touring. My biggest problem is what do you do with him once you get to the top of a mountain? As everyone knows you are not supposed to let Huskys off the lead, so how can we get to ski down the mountain making sure he comes with us, but not attached to us, rather than taking off on his own adventure!? If anyone reads this and has any ideas then please leave a comment, all help will be greatly appreciated.

This video shows the training, don't laugh it was our first attempt!

This video shows ideally what I would like to achieve with a husky on a decent, great video and worth a watch.

The Aga, 2008-11-28

Ok so today we are living in windy Lanjaron in sunny southern Spain and its due to get very cold this weekend and even windier!!! Our temperamental aga is being put to the test today for the first time this winter as it is windy.

On a non-windy day the aga smokes us out of our house, but on a windy day it performs perfectly heating up the 2 radiators in the house just enough so we don't have to wear woolly hats. Whilst rescuing the Hibiscus tree and fetching some fire wood I managed to reopen my cut again which is now plastered together, but on a good note Richard has been making a pumpkin (as we do seem to have rather a lot of these) soup on the aga, we have opened a bottle of wine and have taken our woolly hats off.

China flexing its muscles with Europe, 2008-11-28

China feels much more powerful than before and wants to impose its rules on the rest of the world. China has postponed a summit with the EU because several European countries are hosting the Dali Lama. China has warned the French president that his country risks losing "hard-won" gains in ties with Beijing if he meets the Dalai Lama! Speaking to reporters in Beijing on Tuesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang reportedly said "we oppose any foreign leaders having any contact” with the Dalai Lama. More than a simple diplomatic signal, some analysts said this could be a deliberate attempt by China to try and split nations within the EU.

"There are internal divisions among the EU powers, and this is a squeeze to try and see who will stick to their principles and who believes they mustn't upset China... it's a high-stakes game". Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from China, which sent military troops to occupy the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan country in 1949, and has routinely protested against countries that agree to visits by him. The Dalai Lama remains deeply revered among Tibetans in exile as well as those in Tibet despite Beijing's relentless attempts to vilify him. His Holiness the Dalai Lama topped the list of most respected world leaders among Western Europeans and Americans, a poll showed Friday.

For the latest stories on news from Tibet visit > Phayul.com

dalai-lama

Feliz Fiestas, 2009-01-01

A Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog of mine and I hope you like the new look of it. Christmas was a quiet affair here at our cortijo in Lanjaron, but we did manage to cook ourselves a proper Christmas dinner which was great. The dogs had the chicken that Richard didn't manage to eat so they were very happy. I grew parsnips for Christmas and New Year, I'm not keen on parsnips but I have to admit they do have a better taste about them when taken straight from the garden and into the oven. According to Richard, Emma and Jorge they all agreed they were the best they had ever tasted. As for the brussel sprouts, well they maybe ready for next year??!!! For new years eve, we went to Emma and Jorges for lunch. We had decided to try the Spanish way of celebrating and so didn't go out until 11pm. We went to one of our local bars called El Volante, this is typically a Spanish bar but was strangely full of British?

It was to early for the Spanish, they come out to play after midnight! As midnight approached Jose, dished out the party bags and handed plates out which contained 12 grapes each. It is tradition here in Spain to eat 1 grape with each chime at midnight for luck or something like that, one problem is that they have seeds in them. At the end of the chimes I still had 5 grapes on my plate, not sure what that means, but keep reading over the year and I'm sure it will become apparent or not. Anyway after the chimes are done everyone is milling around wishing happy new year but all with mouths full of grapes and seeds so its a bit of a messy affair! Jose then got the bottles of Cava and gave them to everyone. At 4.30am we crawled our way back home. I'm too old for this late night stuff, its going to take a long time to recover.

The Veggie Garden Expands, 2009-03-08

Yes its that time of year again and the veg are being planted and this year we have decided to expand, so we had another terrace rotervated. Emma and Jorge are helping out when they can, so we all get some food, well it all helps in a "crisis"! There is a lot of work to do after all the rain we have had, the weeds have grown nearly as tall as me and so the boys had to strim, which has taken a couple of days. This picture is of me weeding amongst some onions and yes I am wearing shorts as the temperature was in the 20s.

Working the land

This picture shows how the Habas (Broad Bean) are growing well, they will eventually be replaced by Tomatoes and beyond them will be Sweet Corn for corn on the cobs, yum yum. The fruit tree to the left of the picture does not look to healthy. Oh and at the end of the garden amongst the weeds you can just see me and Emma.

Habas or Broad Bean

This photo shows the new terrace that has been rotervated. We now have potatoes, more onions and habas planted in the raised areas.

The new terrace for planting

This is the same terrace just a different end, in the fore ground we have 50 very small cauliflower plantlets.

Cauliflower

The Gardeners - Emma Hartley and Kiersten Rowland

Trip back to the UK, 2009-03-08

We popped back to the UK for 5 days recently as we managed to get some cheap flights for a total bill for the 2 of us of €40. We caught up with friends and family and it was great to see them. I would like to thank everyone for coming to visit us and for making us feel like we had never been away, big thanks to Helen, Jenny, Andy, Emily, Joe, Claire, Sharon and Gill for being in the pub! Whilst we were over we also got to see some live rugby league, Richard thought it would be a good idea for me to see a live game, so off we went to see Leeds Rhinos V Manley Sea Eagles of Australia. These teams are the best of their respective hemispheres. Unfortunately the Rhinos lost to the Sea Eagles but it was a fab game and some fantastic fights broke out amongst the players right in front of us. These men really are huge in real life. We also got a visit from Jenny on her Harley Davidson.

Jenny Belcher on her Harley Davidson

Something strange happened to Richard and his dad Duncan

Veggie News - White Broccoli, 2009-03-17

Today whilst out weeding, seeding and digging I wondered over to my failure of Broccoli plants only to discover that I have a white broccoli head appearing. I was given these plants from our friends > David and Aspen, I lost most the plants to some disease but the surviving plants have now produced for me. Ive no idea how long I leave it on the plant for, I shall have to do some asking. The two pictures below show you the whole plant (huge) and the head.

Big Broccoli Plant

White Broccoli head

Comments

admin: I know it looks like that to me to but I was told the plants would produce white broccoli. David is going to pop in and have a look to properly identify it next time he is passing. I have had cabbage from cauliflower seeds before so who knows :-)

Mum: Surely that's a cauliflower, isn't it?

admin: It has now been confirmed that the plants are broccoli and are the white sprouting peranial veraity. And I can eat some now!

Linda: I have a packet of seeds Yates Broccoli Late white hearting, beutifull taste not strong tast like cauliflower. I Live in New Zealand.

Claudia: Hi, I ended up with some white broccoli too, do you harvest it the same as green, before the florets space apart? and cook it the same? Thanks!

Kiersten: Hi yes harvest it the same as green broccoli I left mine too long and it went a strange shape and then got attacked by aphids. Hope you have better luck than I did.

Alison: I am glad I have found others with this variant of broccoli, mine sprouted from my compost. I also have turnips growing from the compost, although I have never grown them before, they must be a throwback, produced from radishes or rocket which I let go to seed. It's such fun to get these unexpected surprises growing in the veggie patch.

China - Dictators to the World, 2009-04-03

How is it the Chinese Government is able to dictate to other country's whether to allow the Dalai Lama  to speak in their country? Recently he applied for a visa to travel to South Africa to visit the Nobel laureates peace conference but the South African government refused his visa application as they didn't want to "disrupt relations with China".

He has applied for a New Zealand visa to speak at the Vector Arena in Auckland on 6 December but this was under question after the United Chinese Association wrote to Parliament to have his New Zealand visa cancelled, but the New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys has pre-emptively approved the visa.

And according to Radio New Zealand, the Government has confirmed his New Zealand visa application would be processed in the usual way, and that he would have no troubles having his New Zealand visa granted. Surely the South Africans should take a look at their history before they refuse a visa to a Nobel Peace prize winner? Why do so many governments across the world have no back bone?

Why is it that China is so affraid of one man - > His Holiness the Dalai Lama?

dalai-lama

Working hard in the campo, 2009-05-03

Well since the winter season officially ended for > **Spanish Highs **on Thursday evening I have been busy in the campo catching up with work that has been neglected for many months. All weeds are now under control and the veggies can now breath and start growing again, although my poor back will take a while longer to straighten itself again.

I have dug an area for the tomato seeds to go in, the ground is so hard it has taken 2 days to dig this area but today the seeds went in. They are a bit late in being planted compared to the past years but this year I had habas (broad beans) growing in their area so had to wait for them to mature and to be harvested, which I have also done these past few days. I have blanched and frozen them in batch's.

Habas - broad bean

All the leeks have now been harvested as they were going to seed. I have collected more white sprouting broccoli and have dug up the kale cabbage as this had gone to seed and I couldn't stop it. The plants this year seem to be struggling and taking a long time to get to a good size, I'm assuming its because of the colder weather we have had, although things are hotting up now, so much so ive been in the garden in shorts and t'shirt and have planted the fussy telegraph cucumber seeds. I have 3 types of squash growing this year, 2 seem to be doing ok but the Spaguetti type seem to be struggling after a good start! Next on the list is to harvest the onions, build up little walls around the cauliflower to keep the water in, a little more weeding among the aubergines and black brussel sprouts, get 20 more aubergine and 5 more courgette plants, once the onions are harvested weed and dig up that areas ready for the next crop, theres no rest for the wicked. Khumbu now sits in the campo with me off the lead, he finds himself a patch of shade and is happy to just watch me potter about, should I go to far away he will wander along with me, fingers crossed he wont try to do a runner!

The dogs had been kept entertained for a short while by a rabbit. Our Spanish neighbour decided he had no use for this rabbit anymore (I'm guessing it was too old to eat) so he threw it over the fence and it took home by our cars. It was a big grey rabbit, rather friendly and was enjoying its self eating all that it could find . We planned to build it a shelter but unfortunately before we could do this on day 3 of its freedom we found it dead without a mark on it! We were rather sad as we had got used to its being around and it kept the dogs entertained for hours running along the wall to see where it was now. We happened to have a client out who was a vet and she told us that lots of things can kill rabbits and probably what got it was either eating too much or eating something bad.

Khumbu & Tapa watching the rabbit

Cerro de Caballo Valleys in full bloom, 2009-07-04

Whilst driving to the Ventura trailhead above Lanjaron at 2200m in the Sierra Nevada, we rounded the corner and were met by beautiful these sights.

Ive never seen this before so it can only be the due to the fantastic winter that we have had. Normally this time of year the mountains are a dry and dusty scene of browns and greys but this year the valleys are yellow and green and the mountains still have snow on them.

beautiful sight of the Cerro de Caballo valleys in full bloom

beautiful sights of the Cerro de Caballo valleys in full bloom

Comments

The Thundering Herd: Gorgeous pictures!

The tree that never dies., 2009-07-11

At last it looks like the tree that never dies is at last on its way out! Simple solution - Dog pee!

Bob, 2009-09-03

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I have to write this post, my good friend Bob Redwood passed away on 31st August 2009 after suffering with brain tumours for 2.5 years.

I had the pleasure of knowing Bob for 10 years and had many happy and eventful trips into the mountains with him. My last trip with him in the UK was just before I moved over here to Spain and we did the Snowdon Horseshoe and tackled Crib Goch.

Bob was looking forward to early retirement and was going to be coming over to Spain to help run the ski mountaineering trips for Spanish Highs Mountain Guides when they had clients, amongst many other ideas he had.

When Richard and I visited the UK in June of this year we were grateful to have had the opportunity to visit Bob and his wife Mo, not realising that this would be the last time we would see him. Together with our friends Wael and Orla, Richard and I are heading off to Bolivia in June 2010 with the aim of attempting to climb some high peaks.

We are doing this for the Brain Tumour Research Campaign to help raise awareness and money for this worthy charity. I am shocked to find out that there is a lack of funding into brain tumour research, maybe becuase of its complexity due to its connection to the brain, compared to most other forms of cancer!

Help us reach our target by donating to the > **Just Giving** page we have set up.

Bob & me at the start of Crib Goch

Bob Redwood

Almonds, 2009-09-07

So the veggies are not doing great this year, its not just us but most people in town, no idea why, maybe a bad moon???!!!

But i've been and picked a bag full of almonds this morning, they are lovely and plenty more to come yet. Hmmm now what can you do with almonds.

Squash anyone!, 2009-10-12

Yesterday I started to collect some of our squash in from the campo. We grew 3 different types this year, Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash and ive no idea of the name of the other but I call it Orange Squash.

Some of the plants are still alive and producing squash so I shall leave them until the plants die off. The Spaghetti squash were a success as always, the Butternut are small and the orange squash are a mixed bunch. I planted these with the help of my mum and dad whilst they were here on holiday in May.

Whats with the weather in Andalucia?, 2009-12-23

Having basked in temperatures of 18C for the first 15 days of December and having a never ending summer, its now been raining here in Andalucia since the 16th December! To start with we in Lanjaron thought great, the long awaited rain has arrived, time to get the land rotivatord, crops planted, snow will arrive in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in time for the winter season. Everyone was happy, now 7 days later, enough is enough, we cant do anything, land is flooded, landslips everywhere, houses are flooded, in the Sierra Nevada today there were winds of 150kph and tomorrow its worse!!!!!!!! Ski centre has been shut for 3 days, 15 cars are under water in Motril, sand has disappeared from beaches, trees have been blown over, roads have collapsed and houses are full of water.

This prolonged rain is not normal for this part of the world, 3 days a month in winter is what you can expect, we saw light at the end of the tunnel with a fine spell forecast for 27th December, now it turns out we will get 2 dry days before the return of the rain and wind. Ive walked the dogs every day in this weather, have tried different coats but no matter what I put on, I look just as wet as the dogs when I get back. I guess on the bright side we should have plenty of water for summer and a great year in the snow once it has consolidated, it will be very dangerous in the mountains until then, but knowing where the avalanche black spots are makes things safer. Snowshoes are going to be a must if your going to want to get anywhere.

The weather forecast

The weather forecast

They say the British talk about the weather all the time but I can tell you, the Spanish are just as bad as us. For those heading to the Sierra Nevada make sure you check out the latest forecast which can be found on the Spanish Highs Mountain Guides site. Today I managed to take some photos during a break in the rain, quite atmospheric I thought. Go on I dare you to click on the weather forecasts, have a good look at them, you wont believe the amount of rain we have had, we are supposed to be turning back to desert!!

A wet, muddy, contented Khumbu

After the rain comes more rain, 2009-12-30

My last post about the weather here in Andalucia "Whats with the weather in Andalucia" was written before the great deluge that arrived on our town of Lanjaron on 24th December, yes Christmas Eve. We recorded a massive 81mm of rain on that day!

Needless to say there has been damage in Lanjaron with our house included. Nothing major luckily just more jobs to add to the list of things to do. Our house sprung a weeping wall in our bedroom at 2am, the spare bedroom had leaks, the lounge had seepage through our nice newly plastered wall and the bathroom wall just seemed to soak up the wet from outside. There was a landslip into the acequia above our house which made all the water gushing down the acequia run down the side of our house, hence the weeping bedroom wall. A terrace has collapsed on our land taking out the kiwi vine and trying to bury a lemon tree.

The gentle Rio Lanjaron became a raging torrent and has made itself wider, taking potatoes, trees and goodness knows what else with it. The look out over the river has been closed off as the river is trying to take that with it too. Newly tarmac roads up the mountain have been cut off due to landslides, trees, and rocks. On one of the new roads the tarmac has bent over the edge of the mountain and is starting to break up. The school was struck by lightning, a terrace collapsed on to a car, many houses have been flooded. The well trodden path to the Poqueria Hut is no more, landslides, bridges washed away and flooded areas have made access via the Poqueria Gorge an adventure.

Today we have had clients abandon what is normally a gentle walk along the GR7 because the paths have been taken away by landslides and made route finding impossible. So whats the forecast for the next week? Guess what more rain! 1st and 2nd January 2010 are due to be dry, lets hope so. This picture shows our attempts at making our house water tight. Also shows the new extended chimney for the aga.

Our roof

This picture shows our collapsed terrace, with the kiwi vine gone and the lemon tree just about holding on, we removed a big rock that was against the trunk.

Collapsed terrace

This picture shows where the landslip into our acequia happened, the rocks removed and my attempt at a barrier with sand to make the water run down the road rather than our house.

Our acequia

This picture was taken from our house on 24th December as the Rio Lanjaron started flooding, you will notice the difference 4 days later on the pictures below. The Rio became a great source of entertainment to the locals as they had not seen the river like this for many many years. Notice the position of the white trailer.

Rio Lanjaron

These last 2 pictures show the damage caused by the Rio Lanjaron. The white trailer you can see is now only a few meters from the edge of the river. On the 2nd picture you can see the view point being washed away, the nice building behind is the water museum!

Rio Lanjaron

Rio Lanjaron

Comments

mike shannon: Unreal!!! Was anyone hurt? I will be moving to the Lanjaron area June 2010. Opening a Backpacker retreat...hopefully get some land not so prone to mudslides.(Any ideas?) Cheers Mike Shannon

New Years Day – An attempt on a day in the Sierra Nevada mountains, 2010-01-03

We stayed in on New Years eve so we could wake up fresh for our early start on New Years day. The plan was to go to Puente Palo and climb to the 3005m summit of Cerrillo Redondo in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

Our good friends Wael and Orla also joined in. The 6 of us met on time, no hangovers in sight and away we went driving to the start point at Puente Palo. We started walking up the forest track and quickly wished we had not left the snow shoes in the car!

But we had a lovely walk through the forest for an hour and half even if the snow was deep in places. We stepped out of the forest at 2100m and got hit by spindrift, gale force winds and no view.  After half an hour of not getting very far, group decision was to abandon and head back down to Lanjaron.

At a height of 1700m us girls were kicked out the car and I walked the 4 of us back down to Lanjaron via the Rio Lanjaron following the Camino de la Sierra. At first we were hit by winds that knocked us backwards but as we dropped lower we left the strong winds and snow behind us and basked in the warm temperatures and sun.

Progress was slow as we were wearing our winter mountaineering boots which are not designed for the terrain we were walking through. 2 hours later we met Richard and Wael in one of the bars. Nobody in the bars had any idea of the severity of the weather just a 1000m above town! Dont forget to click on the image for a bigger version.

Walking through the forest at Puente Palo

Me & Orla

Me following the retreat back to the forest

Heading back down the forest track at Puente Palo

Happy to be back to the relative safety of the car

Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, 2010-01-24

Chickens, Mules and two old fools is the title of a book I recommend you to read. The book was written by Victoria Twead and was awarded the HarperCollins Authonomy ‘Gold Star’. It is an interesting and hilarious read about life here in rural Spain. It seems every rural town/village has its characters, I know ours does, they are part of what makes these places special.

This book will entertain you enormously. You can purchase the book in many different places like Amazon and you can even get the book signed by Victoria herself with a personal message and a handmade, feathery bookmark.

This is what is written on the back cover:

Perhaps if Joe and Vicky had known what relocating to a tiny village tucked in the Alpujarra mountains would really be like, they might have hesitated... They have no idea of the culture shock in store. No idea they will become reluctant chicken farmers and own the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. No idea they will be befriended by an 85 year old spliff-smoking sex-kitten orrescued by a mule.

Life is never dull as they embark on their Five Year Plan. At the end of five years they must decide. Will they stay or return to the relative sanity of England? Vicky and Joe’s story is packed with irreverent humour, animals, eccentric characters and sunshine.

Chickens, Mules and two old fools

Comments

Victoria Twead: Thanks so much for this! I really appreciate it. We are so lucky to live in the Alpujarras, aren't we? Writing 'Chickens' was a real pleasure because I laughed all the time I was writing, and the fact that it was all true made it even better... Victoria

A few photos, 2010-02-11

Here are a few photo's ive taken recently, as always click on them for a larger view.

Sunset taken from our house above Lanjaron

A bee on its way to the palm tree

Rainbow over Lanjaron taken from our house

A Sparrow hawk flying over the house in Lanjaron

Comments

Victoria Twead: They are brilliant photos! I don't think I could choose which is my favourite. Victoria

Pepe: Buenas fotos!

Charlotte: Sunset's my fav! Gorgeous pics.

Extra virgin olive oil, 2010-02-16

So there we are in the kitchen, Richard is asking if we have a smaller jug to put the olive oil in, the 5 litre bottle is no that easy to manoeuvre oil into yorkshire pudding trays, so I bend down, open the cupboard to look for a smaller jug, next thing I hear is Richard swearing and a thud, I then feel liquid land on my head run down my face and onto my clothes.

Yes you got it, he dropped the olive oil bottle, which hit the work top and tipped the oil onto me! Although olive oil maybe good for the skin & hair it is not good for the eyes, it stings them and your vision gets blurred. Laugh we laughed so much it hurt.

Me covered in extra virgin olive oil

Never ending rain and a blocked drive, 2010-02-18

Yesterday we ventured out in between the rain to go buy some plastic to try and stop the leaks in the house. It is then that we noticed our neighbours land was on the move and was partially blocking our drive.

Neighbours land on the move

When we came back from Lanjaron we decided to move the cars lower down the drive because it was inevitable that the land was going to keep on coming down and block our drive. Are we glad we did that, we sure are because over night it came down and blocked the drive completely and is still coming down now.

The blocked drive

Spain is getting so much rain this winter and we are not the worst hit, some areas, land and property are standing 2m deep in water! On the Andalucian news last night it showed a sheep farm where nearly 1000 sheep had drowned. Sadly animals seem to be the worst affected with horses, foals, donkeys, dogs, chickens etc drowning because they are all penned in.

Our house sprung leaks again, we have a weeping bedroom wall, the bathroom ceiling is dripping and our spare room has 13 buckets  collecting water! Good job this weather is not normal, mind you if it was then house's would be built water tight.

Buckets collecting the dripping water

It seems we are getting what would normally be the UK's winter weather ie rain and the UK is getting cold weather. We normally only get maybe 3 days of bad weather a month during the winter, not this year though. Landslides are a problem at the moment because the land that the locals have with olive trees is stripped of weeds, these weeds are what holds the earth together.

So when it does rain, the land gets washed away. It is easier for them to collect the olives when there are no weeds but its this action that causes landslides.  All they need to do is strim the weeds and keep the roots to bind the earth together. I guess its all part of the fun of living here in this beautiful part of  Andalucia, warts an all.

We got chickens!, 2010-04-04

We have discussed getting chickens for a good year now, first of all we decided we were not responsible enough to have some, then a couple of months ago we decided we were. We settled on 3 to start with to see how we got on.

The ark and run

Our good friend David gave us a spare A-frame pen, known as an Ark and Run. We built this on the top terrace where the dogs are not allowed and foxes cant get in! We mentioned it to our Spanish neighbour who then, a couple of days later, turned up with a bag! Inside the bag were 4 chickens. Hmmm 4, the pen is really only suitable for 3 but us being polite British we accepted the gift from our neighbour. The dogs were very interested, especially Khumbu. They managed to scale the vertical swimming pool terrace and would not leave them alone. Unfortunately within 24 hours, we had 1 escape and Khumbu caught it, needless to say we now have 3 chickens! We have erected more fencing to stop the dogs from annoying the chickens.

Khumbu wondering how to get through this fence

They are a strange looking bunch but rather sweet, they have odd little habits and make rather cute noises. We get 1 egg most days, I think its the white hen who is laying as ive caught her in the act!

The nest box that Richard built

Richard built them a nesting box to encourage the other 2 into laying but so far, still just the 1 egg. Words will have to be had soon with the other 2.

The brown girls seem huge compared to the white one

The white hen

The giant one

I did name them before we got them, Aspen, Vicky and Ann! But im beginning to have a re think, maybe Blanca, Giant and scardy pants might have been better?? I would like to thank Victoria Twead (author of Chickens, Mules and two old fools) for her help and advice on the chickens, she has had to put up with me emailing her with ridiculous questions.

Comments

Victoria Twead: Awww, they're lovely! Naughty Khumbu, but the remaining 3 seem settled. When the younger ones start laying, you'll get an egg 6 out of 7 days a week from each. (Well, we all need a day off, don't we?) And your questions weren't ridiculous. We knew NOTHING about chickens when we first got ours. Victoria PS Never had a chicken called after me before - very proud!

A new oven, how hard can it be?, 2010-04-05

We had to buy a new oven! Our old one, which was only a year old, was way past its sell buy date.

The old oven. How can it get in such a state?

We do not have space in the kitchen for a normal oven so we have to buy worktop ovens. Now you would have thought it was a simple job to replace the old one. Not so!  Every shop we went into had ovens the size of microwaves! The most important thing for us to cook in the oven is Yorkshire puddings. None of these silly little ovens were big enough to take the pudding tray. How come a year before it was a simple task in buying an oven and this year everything has shrunk. Our good friends David and Anna, happened to be visiting and mentioned a shop in Granada that sells commercial kitchen stuff and they were sure they had seen an oven that would do the job for us. So off went me and Richard, found the shop, looked around, could not see the oven they mentioned but we did find another one. So we brought it.

The new oven

We are then told it will go next door to the workshop to be checked over, turns out we have brought a 2nd hand one. Only in Spain can you buy an oven for it then to be sent next door to get it working! So after an hours wait, men prodding and probing the oven, we finally got the all clear to take it home. Its not until we got it home we realised the kw are too much for the house. We have to be careful of what electric we have on whilst cooking with the oven. When we stood it next to the old oven we realised how big the new one was. But it cooks food great, we can cook lots of things together rather than one at a time. So we are quite happy with our new monstrosity of an oven.

The new and old ovens. How BIG?

An update on the chickens, 2010-06-07

As you are aware we got chickens a few months ago so I thought I would give you an update on how they are getting along.  We now only have 2 left. No 3 died, not sure what of, but she is no longer with us even though I tried to nurse her she was too weak.

Bully

Once again they have been re-named from Blanca and Giant to Blanca and Bully! Why Bully, obviously by her name it's quite self explanatory.

Bully and Blanca

We are rather fond of Blanca and Bully, they provide us with 2 eggs most days and are very easy to look after. We let them out on the evenings, when we are at home, to have a mooch about, whilst we sit on the roof terrace making sure the dogs dont try to barge the fencing.

Funnily enough when they are out it is Blanca who makes the decisions on where they go, and when she calls, Bully goes running to her! They even put themselves to bed when it starts to get dark, all I have to do then is go and lock them away just in case any of the dogs or a fox manage to get in the outside fencing.

Blanca

We think we could  have the strangest looking chicken going, Blanca.  We were unsure if she is self harming or if Bully was pulling her feathers out. But I have seen Bully in action, hence the name change. Well thats about it from the chicken run, lets hope they continue to do well and we dont have any more mishaps.

Bully and Blanca enjoying their time out

Bully and Blanca having a dust bath

Comments

Victoria Twead: Poor old Blanca. She probably won't win any beauty contests. :( Our girls have bald moments too, but it soon grows back. Victoria

A day out with mum & dad, 2010-06-08

Mum and dad came for a weeks holiday just recently, this a report of one of our days out. Don't forget to click on the images to enlarge them to get a better view. The plan was to drive to the village of Riofrio, walk to the birth place of the rio and have lunch.

Then we would drive on to Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra. Drive on to Antequera to the wolf park and then on to El Torcal nature reserve. Rio Frio is a famous for its trout, you can tickle the trout as you walk up the river in the "no fishing" zone, before heading up to one of the many resturants that serve this fish.

We have a particular resturant which we like, but cant remember the name of. After you park walk following the river up the road, the first resturant on the left you come to beyond the river is it. Our good friends Dora and Dexter from the Isle of Man introduced us to this place on a recent trip over. You can get a smoked trout and salad for €6 here. Me being a veggie obviously eat something else. You can also walk a short way to the birth place of the Rio Frio which I suggest you do as it is located in a beautiful place, the river comes straight out of the rocks!!

The Rio Frio

On the way to the birth place of the Rio Frio

So after the walk and lunch we drove on to Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra to see the Flamingos who call this place home. It is an amazing sight to see so many flamingos in this lake. Unfortunately our tight time schedule allowed for 10 minutes here, but I managed to snap some shots of the flamingos and other residents and mum and dad got to see the flamingos.

One Flamingo out of many thousand

We had to be at the Lobo Park (Wolf Park) just outside Antequera for the 3.30pm tour, we managed it by 5 minutes. Another amazing place, they look after 4 types of wolf, the Timber, Alaska Tundra, European and Iberian, yes there are wolves in Spain. The wolves are so well cared for here, they are not like caged animals in zoo's where the animals pace all the time, they are relaxed and calm. If you are in the area I can recommend a visit to this place.

Alaska Tundra Wolf

Iberian Wolf

After our tour around the wolves, we drove on to the El Torcal nature reserve.

This place is stunning and has to be seen to be appreciated. It is known for it's unusual limestone rock formations and has resident Griffon Vultures, so a perfect opportunity for another chance to get up close and personal. We walked out to the viewing platform at the visitors centre when Richard came up with an idea to climb up to the ridge and hide amongst the rocks directly below the vultures flight path. Mum and dad stayed in the valley wondering what us idiots were up to now, nothing surprises them anymore. Well it paid off, I got some great photos of the Vultures flying overhead.

The strange limestone rock formations

Mum and Dad waiting for us to come back from the ridge

So after a full on day, we returned home to Lanjaron, had a few drinks on the roof terrace before heading to bed.  This is a long day out but if planned well you can fit it all in. Each place is worth a visit.

Snow climbing in June in the Sierra Nevada, 2010-07-03

Yes this has been an exceptional year in this part of the world weather wise. All the rain we had during the winter has given us plenty of snow this year. So last week we decided to go snow climbing above Lanjaron near Cerro de Caballo.

We started very early in the morning along the 4wd track. We walked for a couple of hours until we reached the area we were interested in. Ive never done snow climbing before and was looking forward to having a go.

My first tentative steps at snow climbing

Richard belaying me

Arriving at the top. Perfect conditions, snow and blue sky

Cerro de Caballo in the back ground as Clive belays me

Moving in to a different area, we climbed on these big snow walls

Errrr this part was vertical. I struggled to get foot placements as the snow was turning a little soft

But I got over it eventually

Even if I had to use my knees. Richard laughing as I appear over the top

Richard having a rest

Clive having a rest and thinking its a long way up

Its a long way up

Luckily the cloud came in, its hard work doing this snow climbing

Comments

Lisa: Would love to try something like that someday! Lisa

Solar cooker, 2010-07-16

Harness the power of the sun, so we did, we brought a solar cooker! Its called a Sun Oven and was purchased from these people who run a very efficient site.

It arrived late Wednesday evening and by the end of Thursday we had cooked Patatas a la Pobre and a whole chicken. The Patatas a la Pobre took around 2hours to cook (maybe less but we were had gone out) and they actually cooked better than either of us can cook them ourselves. Usually our attempts turn into mush! The chicken cooked in around 3hours and the meat apprently was lovely and was moist.

The Sun Oven - Our solar cooker, with Patatas a la Pobre cooking away

The good thing about this cooker is 1) its free, no electricity, 2) it does not warm the house up on top of the natural heat of the day because it sits out in the garden 3) you can not burn food in it, 4) you can not over cook the food. Its like a slow cooker and has no intense heat underneath the pot, the heat is all around it. Today we have chilli!

Its going to be a big help to us when we have had a long day in the mountains, our dinner will be ready for us when we return. Its a great purchase if you live in a sunny climate.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama celebrates his 75th Birthday, 2010-07-17

On July 6th the Dalai Lama celebrated his 75th birthday.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

This is a section taken from his website in the "A Brief Biography", the website is very informative and interesting, well worth a visit. _His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet.

He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.  At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.

The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet.  Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

Long live the Dalai Lama and lets hope one day the Chinese government hand back Tibet to the Tibetan people.

4 of what I think are my best recent photos, 2010-07-27

Not alot to say about these as they are self explanatory. Hope you like them. Whilst taking photos from the roof terrace of Bee Eaters all hell started in the olive tree next to me, there was thud, flapping of wings and birds scattering all over the place. I noticed a bird jump out of the tree, I jumped up on the wall just in time to capture this photo of a Sparrow Hawk flying away from the scene empty handed.

Sparrow Hawk

Whilst visiting some friends on the other mountain above Lanjaron to pick up a herb window box, Bee Eaters were flying around and this one flew directly over our heads.

Bee Eater

Whilst mum and dad were over on holiday recently we took them on a whirl wind tour and one of the places we visited was El Torcal. Richard and I climbed up onto the ridge under the flight path of the Griffon Vultures and I managed to snap this picture before the Vultures got wise to us being there.

Griffon Vulture

Once again whilst on a recent visit to El Torcal this beautiful Swallowtail butterfly sat still long enough for me to put the camera into manual focus and snap this picture.

Swallowtail Butterfly

Comments

Richard: Nice photos. You should be proud of them!

Dena Rowlands: 4 great captures Kiersten. Impressive! Ones to be proud of as RIchard said.

Chiz: Nice ones - particularly like the way the feathers of the bee eater are backlit, and the light under the wings of the griffon vulture - well done! Captured the "missile on a mission" look of the sparrow hawk really well too! Butterfly nicely composed (and well done for getting that close!!), but I suspect could possibly do with being a tad lighter (not much though!) - but a bit hard to tell on laptop screen! Good ones - you should be proud of them!

FiveSibesMom: The Griffin is an awesome photo!

Gota Fria arrived again, 2010-09-18

Remember this? My birthday in September 2007

A Gota Fria is :- _Gota Fria or ‘Cold Drop’ occurs when warm air saturated with water vapour rises and meets a much colder layer high up in the atmosphere. The sudden change in air temperature causes the water vapour saturated air to cool quickly and as a result the water vapour coalesces and falls as extremely heavy intense rainfall. The conditions necessary for a Gota Fria to form are often found in the autumn when the sea temperature is still high but upper airstreams are much cooler. A Gota Fria is usually very localised and can be accompanied by high winds, hail and lightning.

The phenomenon is particular common in the western Mediterranean but not limited to this area often occurring on the Atlantic coast in the summer months. The term has passed into popular language and is often used to describe heavy spells of rain even when these are not true Gota Frias. The power and intensity of a Gota Fria can be severe causing widespread damage and even deaths. Like a hurricane the Gota Fria depends on the sea to gain energy and so easterly (Levante) winds which are the commonest winds in the Valencian region blowing along the length of the Mediterranean can increase the risks of Gota Fria. Also like hurricanes the effects of Gota Frias are usually most intensely felt on or close to the coast.

Winds have been known to gust up to 140 kilometres per hours, strong enough to uproot trees and lift roofs but are usually short lived._ There are many examples over the years of particularly powerful and devastating Gota Frias. Some of the most famous are the 1891 Gota Fria in Almeria which caused widespread flooding throughout the province with rivers overflowing their banks and many deaths; the flooding on Alicante in 1982 and again in 1997 also resulting in loss of life; closer to the present day Almunecar and Nerja in 2007 and Alcalá de Guaraíra also in 2007.

gotafria

Well its that time of year for a gota fria to happen. I had taken 3 clients on the GR7 walk from Soportujar to Lanjaron via Canar. We woke up to a storm, then when Richard dropped us off in Soportujar another storm arrived, so me and the 3 clients headed straight to a bar and waited out the storm. The locals were telling us not to go, but the sun eventually came out again so we headed off. A few more landslips have happened again along that section. We got to Canar just in time as the rain arrived so we took shelter in the church doorway.

When it stopped we headed out of town onto the next section of the walk to Lanjaron. 5 mins into the walk it was obvious another storm was blowing in, we made a hasty retreat to the only open bar in town. After that storm we headed out again, 20 mins out of town this time, a storm arrived right over our heads, no warning no nothing. Quick discussion, we headed back to town, phoned Richard and called it a day, enough was enough with rain and storms. Whilst we waited for Richard to pick us up we watched another storm roll in, we were enveloped in cloud, booming thunder, heavy rain. Good decision.

Glad we did call it a day here is a video of what blew in later on.

A weekend trip to London, 2010-09-26

At the end of August we decided to go to Wembley to watch the rugby league Challenge Cup because Leeds Rhinos had got through to the final. We arrived in London early on Friday morning and spent the day sight seeing and visiting the outdoor shops. Believe it or not we even saw Sam Pepper from Big Brother 11. At one point we ended up in the Westminster financial area of London and were suprised by all the negative symbolism, everywhere was gold on black, Barclays bank and even McDonalds had changed their sign colours to fit in with the area. We spent the night in a 5* hotel for 90 pounds, wow how the other half live!

Me with Queen Victoria and Buckingham Palace behind

Sam Pepper from Big Brother 11

Why such big doors?? Richard stood showing the size of some doors at St Pauls Cathedral

The McDonalds sign showing gold on black rather than the normal sign

On Saturday we met up with Richards brother in a pub, who had also come down to watch Leeds Rhinos at Wembley. After numerous drinks were consumed we all headed off to Wembley. What a fantastic place the new Wembley is. Very easy access, very easy entry to the grounds, plenty of services. Sadly Leeds lost, in fact Leeds got stuffed.

Wembley

Leeds Rhinos team warming up before the game

The final score

This picture of Ronnie the Rhino sums up how everyone was feeling

After the game we headed into the china town area to get something to eat and then headed back to Gatwick airport. Some friends, David and Anna, had mentioned to us that there is a hotel within the airport where you can pay by the hour for a room. The Yotel is an excellent idea and it enabled us to have a few hours sleep before our flight back home to Spain.

Our single cabin in the Yotel

A holiday in Mallorca 2010, 2010-10-06

Had a weeks birding and walking holiday in Mallorca at the beginining of September. Claire and my nephews were also on holiday and were leaving the day we landed. We tried to meet up in the airport but turned out an impossible task. Shame as it would have been great to see them all even if only for a few minutes.

This time a couple of friends, Dora and Dexter from the Isle of Man, joined us. A lesson learnt very quickly - Do not go to Mallorca for mountain and scrambling during the 1st week in September as its still too hot do much after 10am!!

Our first trip out to do the Cavall Bernat ridge scramble had to be aborted because a) we didnt get up early enough and b) it got to hot and we didnt have enough water!! So our holiday turned into not much of a holiday as we were up most days before it was light to get out and get the up hill parts of our walks done in the cool. But still we all had a great time.

In between and during mountain days I managed to snap a few bird shots. Richard has put together a video of us doing the scary Cavall Bernat ridge. No doubt we will be back in Mallorca again sometime soon.

A strange looking one this. Its a Purple Swamp-hen

Nice Greenshank

An Eleonora's Falcon on the island of Dragonera

One of the many hundreds of endemic Lilford's Wall Lizards on Dragonera

Didnt get treated to close up views of the Black Vultures this time but did see them getting chased away by some Ravens!

Sierra Cazorla for my 40th Birthday, 2010-10-10

My 40th birthday approached and I did not want to go out to a bar and drink too much and wake up the next day feeling rough, so we decided to go away for a couple of days instead. We ended up in Cazorla staying at Cortijo Los Abedules a lovely group of cortijos run by Roger and Diana, highly recommend if your in the area to stay there.

The Cortijo is located at the foot of the Cazorla Natural Park which is very handy for what we had in mind for our trip. The town of Cazorla was very Spanish we enjoyed a few drinks and good food over the couple of days. Lots of walking in the area  and the birdlife is incredible. We spent a long time with Griffon Vultures, watching them come home for the night on to the cliff ledges. I really enjoyed my birthday, nice to get away from home and see somewhere we had never been before, we shall certainly be returning. Thanks to everyone for their birthday cards & pressies & birthday wishes.

Yes I know another picture of a Griffon Vulture but I love these birds

Me wondering if pretending to be dead would get the vultures closer!

Griffon Vulture coming in to land

Me with a mouth full of food celebrating my 40th birthday

The town of Cazorla at night

Comments

jordi: Sierra de Cazorla is a good place for a birthday... congratulations. great pictures!!

A wildfire at the end of the season, 2010-10-30

Today we have had our first and only major wildfire this summer. We nearly made it to the end of summer without one. I grabbed the point and press camera before taking the dogs out this morning, quite a normal thing for me to do. Whilst walking I thought I could smell smoke, I looked around and to my amazement the hillside opposite Lanjaron (Sierra de los Guájares) was in flames with smoke billowing out. How I had not seen that before ive no idea, must have been sleepy still.

The first time I noticed the fire which had been going since 1.30am

I took photos with the little camera and even a short video and when I got home I got the big camera out and recorded the days events, which sadly I have to say are still going on. The fire is now well under control but as I type this at 6.30pm there are still 5 helicopters and 2 planes trying their best to get it out before the sun sets and then its over to the ground crew for the night, who I assume will stay over night to make sure it dosnt start again. Very high winds are due tomorrow so fingers crossed its all safely out by then. Click the link for more information on wildfires. Having just seen an on line paper it looks like the fire was arson, at the moment the paper reports that over 200 hectares of forest has been burned, 12 helicopters, 3 planes, 152 specialists, 20 environmental agents, fire engines and 6 other vehicles have been in action all day. Apparently it started at 1.30am!!

One of the many helicopters helping to extinguish the fire

How the emergency services co-ordinate something like this is beyond me. With 15 airborne devices and a huge amount of ground crew, how do you make sure that everyone is where they are supposed to be so they dont get drenched or retardant soaked, or how helicopters and planes dont fly into one another. All credit to these people for they do an amazing job. An interesting blog I came across a few years back was this one named Wildland Firefighter written by a firefighter from Granada, well worth a look even if its just at the photos and videos.

4 helicopters in one shot

2 of the aeroplanes on the scene

The fire is well under control now, 1 helicopter empties his water whilst the other goes off for a refill

An aeroplane lets its chemical retardant out

A helicopter and aeroplane hard at work

Another aeroplane drop

A big bucket load of water being dropped by one of the 12 helicopters

As daylight fades the air crew put in their last efforts

A helicopter silhouette as dusk sets in

The last photo I took as the light fades

Patagonia 2010 has arrived, 2010-11-13

Well the day has nearly arrived for us to leave to one of the windyest wildest places on earth, yes Patagonia. But it is one of the most beautiful places on this planet ive ever seen, it is worth the hardship you endure to be there. This year we have dehydrated our own food, rather than make the mistake of last time (soya mince, packet soup, & pasta for 7 days, no variation of this boring food).

10 days worth of food for 2 people!

The photo above shows the food we are taking on the icecap for 10 days. That amount of food will feed the 2 of us! Dosnt look alot does it. We do have a few more bits to add to it like dried fruit and nuts. This time we have bulghar wheat chilli, north african stew, curry, rice, pasta, couscous, and mashpotato. If you want to follow us and find out more information about what we are doing you can do so at the link below, Richard has set up a webpage with lots of information on it, even photos from our last trip there in 2006 and an interactive map. So all that is left to say is wish us a safe journey.

Comments

Dena Rowlands: Wow! I think you are very adventurous! It sounds fabulous! Hope you have a wonderful time and please keep safe! Very impressed that you've made your own dried food! How do you do it? take care x

Kiersten: Hi Dena Thanks for your comment, I dont get many on here at all ha ha. Re the dried food we brought a dehydrator machine so we make a meal, make to much of it and dehydrate the rest. Once it is done we have vaccume seal the bags so it can last a long time. Its a great way to get the meals you like and they are very lightweight. If you want more info, let me know when I get back x

Two contrasting videos from our trip to Patagonia!, 2010-12-03

Blizzards, snowdrifts, gales, frostbite, snowblindness, buried tents, floods, hardship, cold, sleepless nights. It must be summer then in deepest Patagonia.

What better way to celebrate a return from the mountains than with bottles of Malbec and a rendition of "Alouette" with a load of drunken frenchmen! Filmed at "Como Vaca" steakhouse, EL Chalten, Argentina.

Comments

Marie: Welcome back you mad women !!!!!!!! glad to hear you are safe and sound back from Patagonia, Buliva, Begonia or where ever in the world you have just been....... playing in the ice fields you should have come back to Brum we have had our own ice fields to contend with......... have just watched your two videos I cannot believe you are still in one piece and not some frozen statue still in your sleeping bags in your tent (although it looked more like a large sock !!!!!) the second video looks like much more fun and seeing as you were in tee shirts a heck of a lot warmer..... I expect the alcohol helps to warm the inside so I hope you drank copious amounts of it to thaw yourselves out. Anyway glad you are back safe and sound. Love from a very warm person in her centrally heated bungalow watching the Birmingham ice fields rapidly melting and after watching your video trying for the life of me to understand why you would ever want to go to some giant ice cube with gale force winds in the middle of nowwhere.................................... Love Marie x

Tibet – Murder in the snow – Video, 2011-01-20

At the moment I'm reading a book called Murder in the High Himalaya by Jonathan Green. Its about a group of Tibetan refugees trying to cross the border into Nepal over the Nangpa la in 2006 and how the Chinese border guards shoot and kill. Many mountaineers were climbing on Cho Oyu preparing for summit day when the soldiers opened fired on the Tibetans. Most of the mountaineers kept quiet about the incident but luckily some risked everything in reporting this story.

Murder in the High Himalaya

I remember reading on a website in 2006 about this incident and was shocked and sickened at the report. But as time has gone by and more atrocities are happening across the world i'd forgotten about it. Reading this book has prompted me to write this piece and help raise awareness. Whilst searching on the internet I came across this video below. Murder in the snow is a 1 hour documentary, in 6 parts 10 minutes each, do watch it and read the book. If you are able to please pass it on to your friends, it is something that should never be forgotten. The Chinese government thinks it is above the laws of the rest of the world and human rights do not exist. Kelsang Namtso (the 17 year old nun who was killed) body has never been returned to her family but what the chinese did manage to do was send a picture of her naked bloodied body! If you want to find out more about Tibet then visit the website of International Campaign for Tibet. I guess I will never be allowed a climbing permit for the Chinese controlled Himalaya, but then again what do I care, why would I want to give my money to the Chinese so they can continue to slaughter the Tibetan people! Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

2005 Fire above Lanjaron, 2011-02-02

I got this video from Pepe's blog. It shows the devastation to the Sierra Nevada from the fire above Lanjaron in 2005

Golden Wedding Anniversary, 2012-03-31

50 years ago today my parents were married. Today is their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Next week we shall join them in the UK with friends and family to celebrate this mile stone. Happy anniversary mum and dad x

Mum and Dad wedding day

Comments

FiveSibesMom: I'm not late or anything...what beautiful folks your parents are! Many (belated) congratulations!

Vegetable garden is up and running, 2013-07-28

Well the veggie garden is up and running again. We don't have a huge selection of veggies growing, we have to keep it on a small scale because we don't have the time needed to look after them, but what we do grow is pretty good at looking after it'self most the time. We are lucky that Pepe comes and helps us flood the land every couple of weeks, then it's up to us to water and weed the rest of the time when needed.

We grew a never ending supply of Habas during the winter/spring

Onions were also grown through out winter / spring which we are still eating. We were too late in planting for summer so missed out there

This is what the pumpkin and squash looked like on June 21st

This is what the pumpkin and squash look like July 28th. The dogs own supply, they love the stuff!

The courgettes are doing great as always

Guess what we are going to be eating for the next few months

We think we brought red bell peppers but I guess time will tell

Always amazes me how we get fruit and veg from flowers! Tomatoes in the making

Young tomatoes. Think we went a little over the top on the tomato plants. Send your tomato recipes

Earlier in the year Pepe gave us some baby walnut trees, look how well this one is doing. Look forward to when it is old enough to give nuts

Sunset - the ever changing colours of the sky over Lanjaron, 2015-03-23

As you know living here in the Alpujarras, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, we are often treated to spectacular sunsets over Lanjaron (the gateway to the Alpujarras).

March 8th was one of those evenings that didn't disappoint. I took so many photos I thought I would share some of the forever changing colours. I have collected photos of the skies here for quite a number of years.

I even took a short video.

Why not come and see for yourself and maybe take a walk. Spring is the perfect time to visit the area, the temperatures not too hot or cold, wild flowers are blooming, many of our wonderful birds have arrived back from Africa. There is always plenty to see and do.

How fragile life is, 2015-04-04

A poppy seems, to me, a good example of how fragile life is. I photographed these beautiful poppies in the morning, a few hours later they were gone, gone for good.

On Wednesday we were out in the eastern Sierra Nevada, as I slogged my way up a very wet and hot scree slope to the top I wondered why on earth I was doing this. I had to take a selfie on the summit of the mountain as Richard and Dexter had gone another route climbing up a snow gully and were not at the top when I got there.

Poppy

selfie

I had two missed calls on my phone, I tried to phone my friend back, but with no luck, so I took a 360 video from the top. As you can see it was beautiful and worth the hard work of getting there. I met up with Richard and Dexter about 20 minutes later and was told the devastating news about the sudden death of a close friend. How can that be, he was having breakfast with us watching the early Malaysian F1 GP on Sunday. It's wrong, I am angry, incredibly sad for his family and myself, he was taken far to young. It is important that we live our life to the full as much as possible, our time on this planet can be far to short.

poppy

Goodbye my friend I shall miss you very much.

Ice Ice Baby, 2021-01-04

I'm back, and I'm bringing my blog back to life! Why? Because I've lost too many years to Facebook and it's time I had a memory of my silly ramblings and pictures rather than them. I have a lot of catching up to do, some pretty major events in my life happened while I've not been blogging. Oh and the dogs blog Tails from the Pack will be getting updated too.

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For now, until I catch up, here's one from a rather icy day in Lanjaron recently. It's not often we get below zero and certainly not often that it happens for a prolonged period of time. It was good to see and made for some nice pictures of ice sculputres.

![](https://res.cloudinary.com/krowland/image/upload/w_1000/kr/2021/01/IMG_20210104_115643-02.jpg"%}

![](https://res.cloudinary.com/krowland/image/upload/w_1000/kr/2021/01/IMG_20210104_115128-01.jpg"%}

A short slowmo of the icy water

Tags

Kiersten

I came out to the Alpujarra to live in 2005. I love nature, my dogs and my life here in the foothills of Spain's Sierra Nevada. I'm also a bit of an orchid fanatic!