A month on and time for another blogpost. Today is the first anniversary of Ditto joining our family. Who knew that a year after arriving in Bolton, he’d be living in Spain. I’m sure Los Albañiles would have passed the home check as well as our bungalow did! It is just great to be able to have the doors open so that he and Belle can wander in and out all day in safety to their hearts’ content. Speaking of doors, we have very clever multi functioning back and front doors, never seen them before so thought them worth a mention here.

As I’m on internal photos here, I promised some of the interior of our house when we got straight. We still have lots of pictures to mount on walls but here are a few photos to be going on with. Boating friends may notice two canvasses, the one by the door (slightly skew whiffed) was taken one autumn by Nigel on the River Saone and the one under the lamp is a montage of photos of our Dutch barge Libertė. The large canvas to the left of the door was a gift from our son Richard, a print from a photo of fireworks. Very effective.

Our cosy little lounge
From the other direction

Last time I wrote I was just starting to pick olives. As it was our first time we were reliant on our neighbours to tell us when to get started. Over the course of just over a week we picked 44 and a half kilos which we took to a co-operative and exchanged for oil. It wasn’t exactly hard work, just rather tedious and time consuming. And puzzling….do we just pick the black ones, both the green and black ones, the little ones as well, do we keep the two different trees’ olives apart as they are a different shape so therefore must be two varieties???? Apparently the harvest this year generally is well down on last year because of the weather. Also it was a month or so earlier than normal which as it turns out was good because now we are confined to our province again and there isn’t a press in our locality so they would have had to be thrown away. We got 6 litres of oil at the exchange rate of 95 cents per litre but I bought some more to make it up to 10 litres. We’ve not started to use it yet because the previous owner left us a couple of litres from last year’s harvest. One of the very busy men working at the co-operative could speak good English and gave me some very useful hints and tips for getting a better yield next year. How to tell when to start picking, how to store the picked olives and most important the need to get them to the press within a day or two of picking. Very helpful and I e-mailed to thank him.

Our bounty

There is an olive grove adjacent to us and as I type the trees are being heavily pruned. I sit typing to the accompaniment of several chainsaws. There doesn’t seem to be any finesse involved so I think we’ll be alright tackling ours with pruning shears.

Meanwhile the fig trees are the gift that still keeps on giving. We’ve had kilos of them, I’ve made more jam and chutney and my cakes these days always contain figs. I’ve dried some successfully for our porridge over the winter and have quite a lot in the freezer. We’re still picking them up off the ground every day and raking up leaves trying to keep on top of it. The small birds love the figs, I’ve spent many an hour watching them flit about gorging on the ripe fruit, we had two pairs of blackcaps feeding at the same time one day, plus sparrows, corn buntings, siskins and other little warblers that I can’t identify. Where is Nigel Genn when you need him??

Also in the garden, Nigel has been busy pruning yuccas. Many were leaning precariously on the fence and causing it to distort. So we now have a mountain of half dead yuccas to get rid of.

Our very own yucca mountain

New Lavender flowers, a pleasant surprise

I’m glad I dead headed the lavender a few weeks ago as two of the three bushes have burst back into life. I didn’t expect any new growth now until the spring. The third is just beginning to show a few new buds. And the roses seem to be enjoying the extra water from the showers we had a few days ago. Our oranges have now turned orange, they were green when we arrived in September but are as hard as bullets yet. I don’t think they will be ripe enough to eat till January.

During the middle of last week we had some heavy(ish) rain laden with Saharan dust. Everything turned brown outside, especially our white car and then we had many, many flying ants committing suicide in the pool. That kept us busy for a few days. On one of the days it was raining we had to go into Cartagena for an appointment to be added to the Padron, the electoral roll here in Spain. It was another of the , “Thank Heavens for Google translate,” moments! We have to go back in a fortnight to collect our documents.

As I mentioned earlier, we are now confined to our local region of Murcia and are not allowed to drive into the next area. Yesterday it was announced that this has been extended for another two weeks. It means that we can’t go to our favourite shopping outlet which is in Mazarron but it’s no big deal. As you can no doubt gather there is plenty to keep us busy in the house and garden, we walk the dogs locally every day so we don’t need to be out and about far and afield in the car. We will of course be glad when we can safely explore the area more but that time will surely come. At the back of my mind I keep the nugget of hope that one day in the not too distant, we will be able to welcome family and friends to share our new home.

Our neighbours’ dogs, gentle giant Bebe and young boxer, Nano. Nano uses Bebe as a cushion!!

What’s next on the agenda? Soon be time to light the wood burning stove in the evening. Our Spanish neighbour is going to order us some firewood when he orders his. We don’t know when yet so it might be fleece blanket time soon as we only have a little to be going on with. I’m sure we’ll discover for ourselves as Barney did in Stig of the Dump that “wood warms you twice,” once when you stack it and once when you burn it!

Hasta Luego xxx