Daylight saving has begun, it’s lovely to have light a bit longer in the evenings. might even be able to start to use the BBQ again for our evening meals! The plant on the featured image at the top is an Abutilon. Never seen one before, it is now planted in a large pot in a sunny corner with some trellis to train it to, more photos below.

Ice plant flower

Before I get started, a word or three about the photos. In my previous blog and others I follow, it is possible to click on a photo and then you are able to see the whole photo gallery in a slideshow at greater magnification. I cannot find out how to do this on wordpress. If anyone can enlighten me please do! Also, this time, I compiled the bare bones of the blog using my phone snaps and then asked Nigel if he had any photos he wanted to add. Consequently his photos are tagged on to the end rather than me having to reconfigure the whole thing. (Apart from this lizard one which I decided to pop in here!)

This month has seen quite a few changes in the way of home improvements at Los Albaniles. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we are still waiting for our new reclining sofas. Allegedly they will be arriving in Valencia on 11th April and thence forwarded to us. We will not hold our breath!

4 different sized pottery butterflies have arrived to keep the smiley faced sun company in the courtyard

We have had three air con units fitted to make life more comfortable in the future, one in the lounge, one in the bedroom and one in the en suite. They all provide heat as well in the winter, electricity is expensive here but in extreme weather it will be good to have an extra source of heat as well as the wood fire. That is mainly what the one in the bathroom is for as well as its dehumidifying function. No doubt on hot nights we will be very glad of the bedroom one, we had it in our cabin on Liberté, our Dutch barge and it was blissful to be able to get to sleep in a cool room. The only downside is of course the not very pretty units on the outside of the property but we will soon get used to them.

Air con arrives and coincides with the weather changing from very miserable to blue sky and sunshine

The other big change is to our waste water. We had an inadequate septic tank which filled too quickly and needed emptying too frequently. We knew about this when we bought the house but having lived here six months using water extremely frugally and taking bowls and buckets of used water from hand washing, vegetable preparation etc. etc. outside constantly to water the garden, we realized we needed to do something about it to be comfortable and worry free. And certainly before we have people to stay. It is not simply a matter of replacing like for like (but bigger) any more as we had hoped, as environmental regulations have tightened and new septic tanks are now no longer legal. So we’ve had a mini sewage plant installed which treats the waste biologically and aerobically and produces treated clean water which can be used for irrigation.

Digger arrives
New equipment being installed
Lunch break!
Completed job apart from levelling, burying rubber hoses and new gravel to spread

This was all done in a day, a week ago, a looooong day. The digger arrived at 8am. One very large hole later and three other workmen working till 6.30 and it was finished. Nigel has quite a bit of “tittivating” to do to get the irrigation part of it up and running. We also need to replace the gravel that has been lost when the hole was dug. However, we got the diggerman to use the spoil to fill our disused well which we can now use as another planting area.

Well, well, well, what a good idea !(Thanks Drew for the witty caption!)

Whilst this was going on and we were outside a lot Nigel noticed a “man up a pole” next door at our Spanish neighbours. Talking to José, he found out that Movistar were doing a special deal to install fibre optics to the door for free and with a very reasonable monthly tariff, similar to what we were paying already for Wimax, long range wifi. So we signed up for that and it arrived last Thursday. Surprise, surprise, the engineer couldn’t find our house so I got a phone call from an English speaking lady at a bar in the village, where he had stopped for advice, and went to meet him at the local petrol station. When he arrived and got out of his car we realized he was the same engineer who “did” next door. So why he could find their house three days before and not ours is another perplexing Spanish mystery!! Anyway, job done, all working and internet speedier, no buffering iPlayer and safe from the vagaries of the weather. It also comes with a free to use landline but we don’t need that.

Travel restrictions are still in place, not as strict as they have been at times but we are still not allowed to cross the Murcian border. There is a fear that a lot of movement over the Easter holidays will trigger another wave of the virus, so people with second homes on the coast are not allowed to visit them. There is every likelihood that many will flout the rules however. We are way behind the UK in the vaccination rollout and still have no idea when we will be called for ours. No news either on the residency or driving licence application. We can’t dwell on any of these issues as that way lies depression and madness! So we are keeping positive by enjoying the here and now and fixating on the future.

Roadside verges, just beautiful

Outside in the campo, the fields and roadside verges are ablaze with colour and fragrance. Wild fennel abounds and also garden rocket carpets the field at the back of our house. Remember the almond blossom that I waxed lyrical about last time? Well, in what seems like only a few short weeks, those tiny new almonds now look like this. We’ve had a couple of spells of heavy rain earlier this month so we suspect that has contributed to them becoming so plump so quickly.

From blossom to plump almonds in just a few short weeks

Our garden still gives us plenty to do and much to enjoy. We’ve been to a few different garden centres and bought more plants, some of which are potted up and some planted direct into the ground. The cull of the yuccas has continued and we had to quite severely cut back some of the Californian pepper trees for digger access. We are still awaiting the jacaranda blossom which I understand is quite stunning when it arrives but is very brief. Maybe next time. The ice plants on the spoil heap are blooming, a few more each day, looking very pretty.

We have several Hibiscus bushes of differing colours, I think this is my favourite!

The fig trees which were completely bare not long ago are now dressed in vibrant green new leaves, very pretty but making it hard to identify the birds again! (You can see them behind Nigel’s head in the well picture.) My herb planter is a success so far, just hoping they will survive the hot temperatures to come. The whole thing is mounted on a little trolley so it can easily be pushed into or out of the sun and swivelled to get even access to the light. I have planted 2 types of parsley, thyme, rosemary, coriander, basil, mint and chives. What I assumed to be sage turns out to be lavender, a different type to the big bushes we already have. I am going to plant some rocket seeds in the top to keep us in salad leaves during the summer.

We bought this planter for herbs but decided it was too small. These are campion
Strawberry planter for my herbs.

Nigel has many little (and not so little) projects on the go, one of which is creating a solar powered pool heater. to extend the season when the pool is warm enough to use. We had a very frustrating month waiting for the wood for the base, which was too big to fit in the car, to be delivered from Leroy Merlin, again the courier couldn’t find our house. Eventually after many emails, unintelligible phone calls and whatsapp messages, I drove up to the campsite on a whim to meet the courier and guide him here. What part of, “Don’t put the campsite into your sat nav as it is a no through road,” they don’t understand when translated into Spanish we can’t work out!

Our next job, for which we are awaiting permission from the town hall is to put glazed doors on our outside room. ( Behind the herb planter). We’ve had the quote for these and know what we want doing but we have to wait for the all clear first before going ahead. When it’s done, our existing sofas will transfer to outside when the new ones come and this will become our spring/summer/autumn lounge and dining room. Too cold to use in the winter months and it gets very dirty being open to the elements. I’m looking forward to giving it a good clean and tidy. Our winter lodgers (the black redstarts) have moved on now and we’re back to counting geckos out there, there are usually a few on the rafters in the late evening. We’ve also started to see little green lizards on the gravel quite frequently now that it’s warming up.

This one was in the courtyard last night, just on his way into the sun room

As you have probably gathered, we are in a rather remote place and that next to us is a rural camper park, mainly used by “swallows”, people from the UK and European countries who escape their colder climates for autumn and winter months, returning north when the weather improves (just like we used to do). Well, they have a twice weekly mobile shop and this is handy on occasions like Saturday when I had run out of vegetables. The campsite owner has given us permission to use the gate next to ours, just on foot which leads directly up to the park. I got all this for just €5.29! The pork chops were cooked in the slow cooker earlier and will be crisped up later for our evening meal. What a bargain!

Photos that Nigel has taken appear below and as you will see he was quick enough to photograph a lizard

Large Psammodromus , the most common lizard in Iberia
String of pearls plant
Garden Rocket

Oxalis, pretty but invasive
And apparently has other uses!!
Out and about, beautiful colours
Orange blossom, heavenly scent all around the trees
Olive blossom
Flowering cactus, still many buds to open, this one has been flowering a few weeks,
Silene,, common name pink campion
One of many flowering succulents, don’t know its name, sorry
Cactus with babies!
Verbena in a lovely pot we found in the “seconds”corner and got for a couple of euros.
View from our back gate, the white flowers are garden rocket
The Abutilon in situ
Wild Fennel, growing everywhere

Well, no Crompton blog would be complete without some doggy (not dodgy!) input so here are the intrepid duo conked out after a day mooching around the garden!! We think they are happy with their new lifestyle!

Hasta Luego, todos!