At last we seem to be getting towards the end of the wettest March/April period ever recorded for this area. And it has been so cool, we have certainly made much use of the pellet burner this spring. It’s only the last 3 nights that we have not needed to light it and much of March and early April we needed it on all day. We have been very glad we had it fitted as it is so much easier than the log burner to control and look after.

So, what have we been up to this month? Nigel has put some more pictures up in the lounge, we got them framed to match the “Galgo Love” mosaic as they are on the same wall.

We’ve had more overnight visitors and two short trips away in the camper, planned and ordered a new kitchen from Ikea which will be fitted early next month, had a grand clean up outside from the Saharan Sand episode, arranged a house/pet sitter for our trip to Sweden in late June and done a 1000 piece jigsaw,

Our visitors were Pamela and David Ross, boating friends who live on board their boat Lea Crest, during the spring, summer and early autumn in France and spend their winters in Torrevieja, just over an hour north of us. So as restrictions on travel were now well and truly behind us, they took us up on our offer of coming to see our new home. They just stayed one night but it was a pleasant 24 hours with good food and wine and much laughter. Poco was delighted to have another lap to sit on!

David and Pamela…they had picked up this wheelchair for a friend on the way over and were testing they had put it together correctly!
Pamela got us off to a cracking start with the jigsaw that had been waiting to be started since last October!

The following weekend we had another short trip in the camper, just two nights this time. We headed first to Lorca to visit the castle then onto Ojós where we had been before to sample the delights of the tapas bar which was closed last time and also in the hope of hearing nightingales which breed on the banks of the Segura river. Success on both counts.

En route to Lorca, snow on the Sierra Espuna
Nigel’s meal at the tapas bar
And mine
Walk along the Segura River accompanied by nightingale song

Unfortunately we had a very bad second night as two car loads of local youths arrived and set up with beers (and a Rottweiler) on the picnic tables directly behind us much to Poco’s annoyance. They arrived about 9pm just as it was turning dark and it was too late really to pack up and move elsewhere. I kept thinking, they’ll go soon but they didn’t leave till 3.30am! They didn’t bother us in any way apart from the noisy conversations and laughter and the occasional bark but it was not a restful night. Hey ho, such is life and we got to listen to nightingales two days running! Didn’t see any though, they are very elusive.

Our overnight spot at Ojós, you can see the picnic tables at each side of the camper.

After our trip to Ojós, although still cool the rain seemed to be abating so it was time to tackle the very dirty pool.

From this…….
To this, after much hard work!

Of course, all this bad weather was inconvenient and at worst a nuisance for us but it has had devastating effects on agriculture in the area. I have read in the local press that over 30% of crops of broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce have been ruined and that many of this years growing almonds have been badly affected by staining from the Saharan sand rendering them worthless. Also there have been many landslides and road collapses due to the sheer volume of rain resulting in repair bills estimated at millions of euros. I have also just read that yesterday’s extremely heavy hailstorms have decimated in some cases 100% of peach, nectarine and pear orchards, causing recently formed fruit to be broken off. and trees damaged. Although the sector is covered by insurance for the damage this still leaves the farmers with no revenue for this year’s harvest. This on top of the Covid pandemic has had an increasingly disastrous effect on the economy. And don’t mention the pot holes!!

One of the ramblas spewing mud into the Mediterranean last time we went to the beach at Bolnuevo

Our new kitchen is ordered and paid for, it will be delivered on 2nd May, the old one disassembled and taken away on the 3rd (Happy Birthday to me!) and the new one assembled on 4th. Apparently we have 144 boxes coming from Barcelona and 21 from Murcia in two different vans. Each parcel’s serial number must be checked against our invoice by us and we need to ensure none of the packages are damaged or opened before we sign the delivery note. Simples!!!!! We were very lucky to have an excellent English speaking employee to help arrange all of this. Pictures of new kitchen next month.

Our lemon tree is producing more and better lemons this year, we think we have got the watering regime more to its liking (or maybe it’s the rain) so a few days ago I made some lemon curd and very nice it is too. However I didn’t use the triffid below!!!

Worthy of a caption competition I think!
Enjoying the sunshine when it returned, looks like he needs some sunglasses!
“Murray Mound” in full bloom. We recently had to chase Poco over here as he had run off with a pot of creme fraiche out of my shopping bag, He had eaten a third of it before we got it back!
Finished jigsaw
DItto recently hurt himself chasing a rabbit and was lame and very sorry for himself for a couple of days.
His pal Poco looked after him!

We have been watching and listening to the stone curlews, we have a mating pair about 50 metres from the house down the olive grove sitting on an egg, we think. Obviously we haven’t been down to peer in it but watch with binoculars from the garden but one or other of the pair has been sitting in the scrape all day and evening for about a week now so we are assuming they are incubating. I have read that they only lay one or two eggs. Until we see some activity from little ones we won’t know how many there are. We do hope they will be successful. We’ve also been pleased to hear and see bee eaters back from their winter migration over the last couple of weeks and of course swifts, swallows and martins.

This is a pic Nigel took last year, bird is slightly right of centre. They are in almost the same spot this year so maybe they bred here last year too but we didn’t notice.

Last week, April 20th marked the end of compulsory mask wearing in Spain after more than 2 years. They are still required in certain circumstances, public transport, health and medical centres, social service centres ( for the elderly) but no longer for shops and supermarkets and out and about in towns. We will still remain cautious and always carry some with us but it feels like a real step forward and it will be nice to see people’s faces and smiles again!

We’re just back from another short trek in the motorhome, that’s two this month. This time we went in the direction of Valencia to return the drone belonging to our March house sitters and friends, Jill and Graham which they had left behind by accident. We met half way between us and them at a little town called Sax in an area where there are many hilltop castles to which Nigel and I are rather partial. It was a nice few days and not too far to travel. We love being able to pack up the van and go without all the hassle of getting it out of storage and just loading it with a few essentials for a couple of days. If we forget things, well it doesn’t matter as we are only away for a short while. Good to spend more time with Graham and Jill and the dogs certainly enjoyed seeing them.

The town of Biar where we spent two nights
Overnight spot
Looking down from Biar castle. If you feel so inclined you can zoom in and see the motorhome parked at the near end of the curved track slightly right of mid centre
El Acueducto Ojival 
It’s mediaeval!
Biar Town Hall
In the museum, converted from a private house, all the exhibits are donations from local families
Busman’s holiday for me, I felt quite at home here in this early 19th century schoolroom
Rather surprised to see this Singer treadle sewing machine.
This is Atalaya Castle in Villena which we visited the next day in the pouring rain and with a cold wind blowing.At least I didn’t worry about the dogs overheating in the van!
Rather unsympathetic restoration techniques!
Graffiti in the prison cells
Prisoners of war found ways to pass the time…..
Looking down on the motorhome again
Very steep steps!
Cold and wet!

Time to move on from Biar and Villena, we headed next to Sax to meet our friends for Castle number three.

Sax Castle where we met the Budds. Unfortunately it was not open the day we were there so we had a walk in the campo and a lazy lunch instead.

Graham and Poco
Not sure who enjoyed their cuddle more, Jill or the dog!
Sax Castle at night after we had had a curry and a few drinks! Amazingly the small van to our left belonged to a young Swedish couple from Gothenburg. They had a dog and a cat with them.
Poco the parrot
Doggy paradise. Our last night at Xorret del Cati nature reserve. We had this all to ourselves so the dogs “played out” till dusk and then again next morning. Even Belle ran about with the others and chased a ball.
Not a bad view to wake up to!
Our last day before the journey home, Petrer Castle
We looked down upon this roof from Petrer castle ramparts
This was displayed on the wall inside one of the restored castle rooms. Couldn’t understand the description of it, who designed it etc but I liked it!
Our knees had a very good workout in these hilltop towns, steep streets and castle steps
Someone in Petrer has been very busy painting stones, aren’t they fabulous?
And back at home our bottle brush plant is finally doing well after we thought we’d killed it last year.
I think it has enjoyed all this rain.
Likewise this Lotus Berthelotii plant, now spreading like wildfire

Back home it’s cool and wet again and had been very windy while we’d been away as some branches had broken off our pepper trees. Happen it’ll brighten up soon!

And that’s it for this month, folks. Hasta Luego.