It’s almost mid November and I’m writing this with all the doors open. sitting in a sleeveless dress and still sweating cobs …. oops sorry, I’m a LADY so of course I’m gently perspiring! Few signs of proper Autumn weather yet, the only one in the house being the addition of a 4 tog quilt on the bed for extremely mild night times which to be honest, I spend most of the night on top of with the window open and the fan on! We are able to spend more time outside now though during the day without frazzling so things are moving on in the garden.

I actually started writing this blog post a few weeks ago…….for one reason and several others I have been delayed in posting it and in the last couple of weeks we have noticed a change to cooler evenings, even had to get the fleece blankets out last night to snuggle under while watching TV! And rain is forecast for the next few days! I decided to leave it as it was so you can see how long our very warm summer went on for!

Our last olive harvest, all picked in one day, 37 kilograms in total.

We’ve just completed our third and final olive harvest, taking our pickings to the co-operative the week before last and exchanging them for 5 litres of gorgeous dark green virgin olive oil which we pay a nominal small fee for. We bought another 5 litres at full price and we still have a little of last year’s 10 litres left to see us through the next twelve months.

Last little drop of last year’s oil on the right, it was the same colour as the new bottle when we brought it home last year!

We have discovered that the light distorts the colour, changing it to golden yellow, so the bottles will be kept in a darker place this time to try and retain the colour. I have some green olives processing in one jar and some black in another (they can’t be eaten straight from the tree and need different curing techniques for the different colours.)

Green olives being brined

Why is it our last harvest I hear you ask??? Well we are both over 70 now and although it’s not too much of a back breaking exercise and we love the oil, it’s very intense and has to be done quickly and driven quite a way away to be processed. We decided we wouldn’t want to keep doing it for very much longer, so Nigel has pruned the trees severely and we are going to keep them as ornamental. We have seen many “pom pom” olive trees for sale in garden centres and they look stunning so hopefully ours will in time resemble something interesting too.

Extreme pruning session!

At the end of September’s blogpost, we were waiting for Poco to have his stitches out after his operation in Galicia and then head off in the direction of Gibraltar in the motorhome for the bird migration ….. Well this didn’t happen, we did go away to Andalucia but time was limited as his wound took longer to heal than was expected and by the time we could get away the peak of the migration was over. So we went to the very interesting area of Antequera instead, where we spent an enjoyable few days exploring and then returned to get ready for an intense three weeks of visitors.

Our first overnight stop was at the small village of Nijar where we visited a cactus specialist and also a butterfly farm which was very interesting. They have weekly deliveries of pupae from all over the world and we were lucky enough to see one emerging as we arrived.

New Life before our eyes

The sizes, colours and movement were captivating and we spent a long time just gazing about. Some of the brightest and fastest were impossible to photograph, they were a vivid turquoise blue and bigger than the palm of my hand but they didn’t stop moving, even a video clip proved very difficult to acquire though I did try!

Huge moth, about ten centimetres wingspan
I succumbed to the gift shop and bought myself a pair of Monarch butterfly earrings and a pretty little bracelet for Hattie next time I see her.

Next stop was Antequera with a bustling town centre where I walked to get a pizza on arrival, then we headed up to near the Alcazaba, the citadel where we found a quiet and peaceful overnight spot and would you believe, met a couple from Oldham in their motorhome, who may be calling on us later this month as their 90 days come to an end and they are making their way home.

Alcazaba de Antequera
Interesting artefacts in the chapel next to the citadel., this is Terasca, half serpent, half lady, she used to be paraded around the streets in the Corpus Christi procession.
Chapel ceiling, very ornate carving.

The view from our overnight spot. We climbed to the bell tower on the left and were there for the midday chimes, deafening!
The chief photographer looking out over the town.
He counted 17 church towers of different shapes and heights

We also visited the Dolmens here at Antequera….

A dwelling place for people, their prisoners and their animals
Inside the dolmen above
Perfectly aligned for the solstices
This well is 20 metres deep and perfectly spherical. Hard to believe it was dug 6000 years ago!

Next day we drove up to EL Torcal National Nature reserve. We weren’t allowed to park up there overnight but we had a splendid, if challenging (for me) walk with Poco and Ditto accompanying us. I was very glad I had my walking pole as it was very rocky and uneven under foot and quite steep and loose in places. More details in the link if interested.

A very smooth bit of path!
Praying Mantis hitching a ride!

All too soon it was time to head back home in order to get ready for our visitors.

First to arrive was my friend Jean who I met at Teacher Training college in 1969! We’ve kept in touch and seen each other many times over the last 53 years but this was her first visit to our Spanish home.

Giggly girls as ever!

I think she enjoyed it! As well as visiting Cartagena and Mazarron and the tiny local beach of El Portus, we took part in a mosaic day run by a local artist who I’ve mentioned before and produced our own masterpieces, the Owl and the Hare! A lovely memento for us of our time together and who knows what we will make next time she visits.

Next to arrive was another long time friend, Mary who first came out last November. Mary specifically told us when she arrived not to ferry her here there and everywhere so we enjoyed a quiet and pleasant time together, combining a few day trips with eating out, dog walks and quiet days reading and relaxing at home.

Left to right, Philippa, Mary, Nigel

Our third and final second time visitor who left on 22nd October was Philippa, from Cockermouth. She has just retired and was combining her visit here with spending a few days in Mojacar an hour or so down the coast in Andalucia where she was “inspecting” a close friend’s newly (ish) acquired holiday apartment. Her friend Sharon was having to return to the UK before Mary was due to fly home, so we all met up in Mazarron, had a brief look round the artisan market that was on, had a Chinese meal together and then came here for a couple of hours before Sharon left to drive to Alicante for her flight home. That meant that Mary and Philippa overlapped for two nights but all worked out well and we all enjoyed each other’s company.

The conversation (and wine and gin) flowed as you can probably imagine. Amongst all this excitement, Poco was beside himself with so many adoring laps to sit on. Good job all of our guests love dogs. Even Jean, who said she doesn’t like small dogs, was trying to fit him in her hand luggage when it was time to leave!

Jean and Poco
Mary and Poco
Philippa and Poco

Each of our guests enjoyed a dip or two in the pool which stays warmer now we have the cover on. The only problem with the daytime warmer weather that shows little sign of abating, is the number of flies and wasps which really are a nuisance. Also annoying as all of our guests found are the bitey insects……Nigel and I seem to have become somewhat immune but be aware, if you want to come to Casa Crompton please bring Piriton Tablets and anthisan cream with you! I made some more aloe vera gel to keep in the fridge and it is very soothing but the effect doesn’t last too long.

After we took Mary to the airport, Philippa, Nigel and I carried on to Murcia city where we have never been as tourists…Nigel and I have been to government offices for official appointments (and to Ikea) but never to look around the centre. We eventually found the Cathedral though it was closed so we couldn’t go in and had a walk along the river Segura to see the “famous” Sardine sculpture. After a bite to eat and drink we came home to excited dogs, there was no room in the car with 4 of us plus luggage and anyway it would have been too hot to leave them.

Murcia Cathedral
Let me in!!!!
Sardine Sculpture in the Segura river

Just in case you wondered, Nigel is checking his camera setting in this clip!
Philippa on the beach at San Pedro del Pinatar
Same beach, Torrevieja in the distance
A rare photo of us two together at Calblanque and the whippets, no Poco in shot!
Fort Jorel
Bateria de Jorel, a great place to take visitors though Philippa was a delicate
shade of green by the time we got there!
On a walk up to the guns at Cabo Tinoso, early evening, quite high up and still very warm.
Making Pizzas after our afternoon out at the guns. How we laughed!

What’s next for us? Well we want to get another short trip away in the camper while we can, before the weather changes too drastically: just a few things to get finished in the house and garden before we take off again. And as soon as it rains again and then clears we can have another bonfire to get rid of all the olive wood. It’s much too dry again at the moment to be starting fires although we did have a couple earlier in the month after a little rain and between visitors.

Smoked figs, anyone??
Nigel discovered this very small horseshoe whip snake in a plant pot recently. It soon scurried off to find another hiding place.
No thicker than a bic biro and the blue eye colour signifies that it is ready to shed its skin.

A couple of weeks ago, it was our 48th Wedding anniversary and at the end of October it was our eldest’s 40th birthday (which he spent running around the Langdale fells in a mountain marathon race) …. how on earth all that happened and we got this old I’ll never understand!

We were both feeling a little flat after the last of our visitors left, Nigel has been getting on with projects in the garden, one of which is to brighten up the corner of the courtyard with a home made terrace of potted succulents. We still need to spray paint the breeze blocks but it’s looking good so far. Pictures next time when it’s established. Also we have bought another pot plant to try and keep alive! This is our latest acquisition….

A Bird of Paradise plant, it has two more flower stalks that are not quite ready to open.

The road beyond our gate was very degraded due to past rains and has now at last been concreted over and is much smoother to drive along! We got a note pinned to the gate a couple of weeks ago saying we would not be able to go out the day it was done which was no problem at all!

Before, looking down towards our house
Before…from the opposite direction. There was a deep hole on the right of the picture as it crosses the rambla, full of garden waste but dangerous if you didn’t know it was there.

And after, hole now filled with concrete
All done!
Local feral cat left his/her signature!

Meanwhile I have chivvied myself along by booking a trip back to the UK to see the grandchildren (and Drew and Alana I suppose!) I asked when it would be convenient and they suggested the weekend of Percy’s 5th birthday so I’ve booked flights and accommodation for 9th to 12th December. (No room at the inn at their house!). Then Alana surprised me by suggesting we go to see the Christmas lights at RHS Bridgewater on the Saturday evening and she has now booked that too. Just 4 weeks to wait!

That’s about it for this time. Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll get back into the routine of one post a month again soon!

Lithops…living stones

Hasta luego todos