In the words of the 1985 novel by Jeanette Winterson but it sure feels like it at the moment! They started to ripen and fall from the trees just before Christmas and though we are having freshly squeezed juice every morning we are not keeping pace with them.

I made some marmalade a few weeks ago. It looked lovely in the jars when I first made it but when we tried it the next morning it hadn’t set at all so I reboiled it but then managed to just about burn the sugar. We have kept one jar, it has an unusually unique flavour and may or may not get used, we’ll see. Meanwhile, orange drizzle cake has overtaken lemon as firm favourite!

Since Christmas and my last post not a great deal has changed. We rushed about trying to get all our paperwork and driving licence applications in before the 31st December deadline. That was stressful, you can’t apply for this until you do that but you can’t do that unless you have an appointment. You can’t get an appointment online without a digital signature which you are not able to apply for unless you have residencia so you have to phone. We tried turning up on doorsteps but got sent away. I am learning Spanish but even with the help of google translate it is so difficult especially on the phone to ask or understand what is being said and a couple of times I’ve had the phone put down on me. I am not complaining, it is our shortfall to not know the language, however it is so frustrating and worrying when such important deadlines are involved. However once the date had passed and we had done all we could we did a big collective sigh of relief and are now in limbo waiting to hear about our residencia application.

The bird feeding and watering station is up and running and we have regular daily visits from many birds, I think I listed them last time. We have 5 black redstarts roosting in our summer kitchen, an open fronted room at the back of the house which overlooks the pool and whilst they are very welcome it means we can’t use this room in the evening after dusk without disturbing them. So no chips for tea for the foreseeable until it stays light till 8ish. We bought a deep fat fryer shortly after we moved here as Mr. C was having chip withdrawal symptoms and we are nowhere near a takeaway!! We don’t want it in the main kitchen because of the smell. The breadmaker was also in the same room so as not to heat up the kitchen too much but that has come in now until our visitors move on. We both enjoy waking up to the smell of fresh bread in the morning but not stale chips!

Talking of warming up the kitchen my goodness, we had a character building cold spell in early January! You may have seen on the news the footage of Madrid under heavy snowfall which was unprecedented in recent memory. Living in an uninsulated, single glazed house with no central heating was challenging. We do have a wood burner and remember we were waiting for a delivery of logs in November, well this was the second of two deliveries of a tonne each.

Now the stock has shrunk considerably as for about three weeks we needed a fire from getting up to going to bed. Even so the kitchen remained extremely cold all day long so we were very glad that we had installed a dishwasher just before Christmas which cut down on the time we needed to stand shivering at the sink.

Even the olive oil came out in sympathy and turned solid in the very cold snap

We did save on shower gel, I’m not going to admit how long we lasted between showers, it was just so cold we immediately pulled on multi layers when we got up in the mornings and stayed snuggled up till bedtime! Amazingly, on cold but sunny days it was warmer outside than in so we sometimes could be seen snuggled up in a sun trapped corner of the garden with our kindles! We also had a wet spell during this time with 48 hours of non stop rain but no snow this far south. We could see it on the distant hills when we went shopping though. It was miserable for a while not being able to get outside in the garden while the weather was so bad. But right now we are having a very warm spell which my Spanish neighbours assure me is very unusual for January and is going to end soon. And we are clean and fresh again!!!

Local artichoke crop ready to harvest
Flotsam rolling about after a windy day
The very busy (not) AP7 motorway! Sea fret rolling in from the Med

We are still in semi lockdown, confined to our municipality which is Cartagena. We mostly only go out for shopping but last weekend we did venture out for a dog walk in the hills above the city, there were quite a few folk doing the same but it certainly wasn’t crowded. It was refreshing to walk a bit further and get a change of scenery on a lovely if rather windy day. Meanwhile Nigel has resumed his local cycle trips, not every day but a few times a week.

A walk on the cliffs above Cartagena

Work and maintenance continue in the garden, as well as the bird feeding and watering station, there are now nesting boxes and a bat box installed and we hope they will get used soon. Maybe next time I can report that we have residents.

Ditto was 2 a few days ago and although he’s bigger, little Belle is still the boss. She will take as much room as she wants!

And just before I sign off…..

Belle takes her first dip of 2021
And Ditto just has a dabble!

Spring is on its way! Hooray.

Hasta Luego, todos. Más el próximo mes.