This month’s featured image is a close up of Plumbago Capensis which grows around our front gate.

Highlight for July ….. my plugging away at the Covid helpline paid off, on 9th July I got a phone call for us to attend our local vaccination centre in Cartagena for our first vaccine on 13th at 1pm. It coincided with the first few days of a heatwave where temperatures reached into the forties and going outside the house felt like entering a furnace. So we set off with plenty of water, sun umbrellas, fans and hats in case there was a queue. But it was a pleasant surprise and relief to find that the centre was very spacious and reasonably cool, with no queues either outside or in, covered parking, very well organised and apart from a slight delay when the computer said “NO” to our details, we were found on the system and both “Pfizered” with the minimum of delay. We were given a slip of paper to return on 3rd August at the same time for our second dose. Neither of us had any side effects apart from sore arms the day after.

However, the euphoria that we felt did not last long as the very next day we found out that our applications for residencia, submitted last December have not been successful. To date we are still waiting for the letter to arrive with the reason for this decision before we can start the appeal process. All very worrying and stressful.

Phew, it was a scorcher! This was in the shade.
Reminder to self….must put the butter back in the fridge after lunch!

We did at least have something to take our minds off the anxiety (a bit) as this news coincided with the middle of Le Tour De France, of which we are both fans. Living on boats during the last 11 summers with no TV, we had to make do with reading about each stage online the day after but this time we were able to watch ITV 4’s coverage when we wanted to, enjoying France TV’s amazing aerial photography of the beautiful countryside and picking out places we have visited as well as the excitement of the racing and the dulcet tones of our favourite sports commentators. We were delighted with Mark Cavendish’s success and we were reminded of the time we were watching a stage in the Alps in 2009 where I inadvertently left a letter out of his name while chalking on the road!!! It rained soon after so my faux pas was washed away by the time the peloton arrived. The Vuelta a España comes very close to home next month, we might try and go to a mountain stage but it very much depends on the temperature.

While it’s been so hot, we have certainly been making the most of cooling off in the pool and the dogs are enjoying it too, we at last got Ditto to come in of his own accord though he lacks the poise and grace that Belle shows with her swimming technique and we have both been on the receiving end of tramlines down our backs from his floundering paws as he splashes about.

One man and his umbrella!!! Pass the fig leaf!

Click the link below to see “Swimming with whippets”. Best with sound off or down , they yap excitedly!!

Nigel examining his war wounds after being in the pool with Ditto

Ditto says, “When it’s hot, let it all hang out!”

Some of the garden plants are not enjoying the heat, namely, the potted begonia which was absolutely splendid, the sweet peas and nasturtiums have all but given up the ghost and my herbs are suffering too, only the mint, thyme and oregano seem to be coping with the heat. We have reluctantly had to remove the lovely lantana bushes. The dogs suddenly started showing great interest in them and were munching on the leaves and berries. As fast as we shooed them away from one bush, they would leg it to the next one for a chomp. (We had three in different places.) They are highly toxic if ingested to the point of being fatal so we decided they had to go. They’ve all started to spring up again so keep being chopped at till they decide not to sprout any more. Sadly, the grapes which were flourishing last month are also turning black, we don’t think they are going to be edible. Whether this is the heat, too much water, too little water, some other disease we don’t know. So the learning curve continues!! Oranges (still very green) are getting bigger though, as are the olives.

Poor nasturtiums, they tried but it’s just too hot!
Sweet peas, nice while they lasted, we got some darker purple ones after these.
Lantana before
There it was gone!
Lantana, determined to keep trying after being hacked right down.

A little sour yet I imagine.
Mirabilis longiflora, common name 4 o’clock plant.
as the flowers only open in the afternoon. Growing in the campo, not our garden.

A few days ago we took delivery of four cubic metres of gravel ….. during the hottest month, a back and shoulder breaking exercise at the best of times, I think it will be a while before it is all spread but we have been waiting and checking for a few months at a local builders’ merchant for them to have the right size and colour in stock which we noticed they had last week. The rejuvenation of the cast iron tables and benches is now on hold as by the time they were ready to paint, the temperature exceeded the maximum heat recommendation on the tin. We got the leaf blower back eventually, not mended, as the fault was deemed to be “misuse!” (PAH!!!) but with a bit of jiggery pokery it’s still useable, so the mountains of bougainvillea bracts are now diminishing.

Gravel delivery, mostly for around the water treatment plant but other areas of the garden are very sparse so will be supplemented with what’s left.

We’re still seeing and hearing owls and stone curlews every evening. The latest bird species we have recorded is black wheatear. Joining the cacophany of noises at all times of the day and evening now (which I imagine is a bit like having tinnitus, lovely when it stops) are extremely loud crickets and grasshoppers. We’ve also had a few more visits from chameleons which, when they are seen low down on the gravel within dogs’ reach are swiftly removed to higher, safer ground. When we put them into a tree they very soon disappear into their surroundings and become impossible to find, living up to their reputation.

This skinny chap was just at the back gate when I opened it, good job I went out first rather than a whippet.
This was a much plumper one and he/she was put into one of the oleander bushes after giving Nigel a nip!

There follow some random photos of this and that, you will see we are keeping hydrated unlike this 11 month old banana!!!!

This was found in the back of a motorhome cupboard recently! Milkshake anyone?
A blood lily in full glory. We planted 3 bulbs in the same tub, only this one has bloomed so far, the other two are just peeping through the surface. They would have looked splendid all together. Maybe they will co-operate next year.
Home grown ginger plant is doing well. From a tiny nub off a supermarket stem .
Occasional Sunday morning treat for Sir Crompton, he cooks it for himself! Not very Spanish for sure!
Gut rot at just €1! We won’t be repeating the purchase having tried it, used most of it for cooking.
Lidl specials, strike while the iron’s hot!
Ginger beer, I didn’t like it, all the more for HIM!

Our nieces wedding in Cambridge, Friday of next week, 6th August, is going to be streamed so fingers crossed we’ll be able to see the proceedings without actually being there which I was hoping to be. She has told me that this is because although restrictions in the UK were lifted on 19th July, the registry office has again imposed a limit of 11 guests at the ceremony, so for those that can’t attend, they will be able to watch online. We wish them a very happy, memorable time on this, their “third time lucky” wedding date and I’m sure my sister’s three grandchildren will be the stars of the show.

And speaking of families, facebook has a certain knack of twisting the knife a bit sometimes when it throws up memories, doesn’t it, lovely though they may be. It told me recently that it was 10 years ago that I took these photos …. Our boys and their lovely partners when they came to visit us on our barge in Burgundy …… happy days but now a whole year has passed since we have seen them. Little did we realise this would be the case when we set off last year for our new home in the sun! And just look at Dash ……. nearly two years since he left us.

Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before Richard and Aoife are able to fly out to see us for a long weekend, they are talking about October…YAY! Not so easy for Drew and Alana and the children but hopefully not as long again till we see them too, one way or another. In the meantime I get WhatsApp photos of the grandchildren from time to time to keep me going.

Younger son Drew and Alana
Older son Richard and Aoife.

Book ends, lying on our bed under the fan! Still much too hot for anything but an early morning on lead walk.

Hasta el mes que viene, adiós