Busy gardening and writing here in my country abode of Posadas (Cordova) — part 2 with limited photos!

Hello again!

Yesterday I explained the slight hitch that I was experiencing with putting up photos and my lack of sufficient space in my WordPress blog ‘multimedia’. I accidentally deleted all the photos from my last six blogs. I will soon arrive at the solution for this because I do like to illustrate my blogs and I love to write. So for now, and after having ‘slept on it’, I have decided to continue — see Lisa Featherstone’s interesting and enlightening article Highlights and Reflections about stepping away from a problem for a while in order to find the solution and where you ‘allow your own subconscious to work things out’. Therefore, I am posting the article that I had prepared for yesterday even though the number of photos has been curtailed. So here goes:

I just wanted to say that my posts have been a little less regular these days. This is due to three reasons really:

Firstly, because the garden and surrounding land has needed quite a bit of attention i.e. lopping, pruning and spraying with copper sulphate (see the photos). I’ve also been busy clearing my vegetable patch — pulling out the old plants of aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. Now I’ve just got the weeding left (quite a massive project!) so that I can soon sow the broad beans and later the French beans (which will be around February). The Swiss chard and spinach are flourishing amongst the weeds though, and the miniature roses need to be potted too!

The nesper tree, pruned and sprayed with copper sulphate. Next to it is a bay tree and on the far left, a pear tree which I shall attack today before the rain arrives!
The first fragrant flowers of the nesper
The fig tree pruned
The lemon trees sprayed — they are growing next to the false pepper tree
The lemon tree in bud
The lower shoots on the olive trees need to be pruned soon
My vegetable patch needs some attention too!!!
My untiring helpers!
The miniature roses need transplanting as well…
The wood for the fireplace needs covering before the rain — and there is another of my little helpers too!

Secondly, I have also been busy trying to finish illustrating a book that I wrote earlier. It’s a fantasy/fiction aimed at kids, and I thought it would be more fun with pictures. Though I love drawing, I’m not doing the illustrations myself because that would probably take me a lifetime! Instead, I am using the free images provided by Canva. I hope to put the book up with Amazon (that is, if I can actually understand the instructions of how to convert a Word doc. into the file that they ask for… Computing technology is usually quite mind-boggling for me, but luckily I have a twenty-five-year-old son who regularly comes to my rescue!).

Below is a draft for the front and back covers, and for my next blog I was thinking of including the two-page introduction since I value any comments or suggestions that you might have… (Mind you, if I haven’t upgraded my WordPress plan by then, I won’t actually be able to include any photos…)

The proposed front and back covers of the book I am illustrating…

And last but not least, I also try and go for a weekly walk in our beautiful local hills of the Sierrezuela which, as you can see, are becoming cloaked in green (and already the wild asparagus is growing — see here for my recipe…)

Well, thank you for visiting and I hope to be back soon (with or without photos!)

Take care — and as usual, comments and questions are always welcome, I love to interact with you! xxx

Comfy cats!

Hello all! I hope that your New Year is going well so far!

Firstly, sorry to say that the photos in this post and the last 3 posts have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)

This afternoon I sat outside to soak in a bit of the Cordobese sunshine after the cold, frosty -2° C start. And as you can see from the photo, I was soon accompanied by three of my ten cats who, one by one, gingerly climbed up onto my lap.

Nice ‘n’ comfy ‘n’ warm on my lap!

Here is a quote from Bill Dana (comedian, actor, and screenwriter, who lived from October 5, 1924 – June 15, 2017). These words rang true for me!

“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.”

The cats also reminded me of a poem written by one of my favourite poets, John Keats, who unfortunately had a very short life, dying from tuberculosis when he was only 25.

(Wikipedia)

To Mrs Reynold’s Cat (A love sonnet to a feline acquaintance)John Keats (born London, England October 31, 1795, died February 23, 1821 in Rome)

Cat! who hast past thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroy’d?—how many tit bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green and prick
Those velvet ears—but pr’ythee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me—and upraise
Thy gentle mew—and tell me all thy frays
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists—
For all the wheezy asthma,—and for all
Thy tail’s tip is nicked off—and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is that fur as soft as when the lists
In youth thou enter’dst on glass-bottled wall.

That’s all for now. I hope this you well.

Comments and questions always welcome.

Take care xxx

The Boxing Day Chestnut Tree

Hello everyone — I hope you are all well and have managed to have a good Christmas / Boxing Day / holiday.

Firstly, sorry to say that the photos in this post and the last post have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)

I would just like to share a couple of my Boxing Day photos with you:

A HUGE chestnut tree and my son working up his hunger for his Boxing Day meal!
The Boxing Day meal with his VEGETARIAN plate in the foreground (veggie sausages, roast potatoes, braised celery with peas, caramelised carrots in sweet wine, cabbage ‘agrodolce’, apple sauce and bread sauce). This was followed by mince pies and custard that he managed to buy from Iceland in Fuengirola on his way back home to our country abode in Posadas (Cordova province). It was a special meal because of the (partial) family get together.

And to finish with, here’s a poem about a chestnut tree written by a contemporary poet:

Beneath The Chestnut Tree Andrew Blakemore (1966)

Beneath the chestnut tree I lie
And gaze into the summer sky
And watch the clouds go floating by
Within the sea of blue.

Here I came at break of dawn
And I’ve remained throughout the morn
Feeling lonely and forlorn
With nothing else to do.

Resting in its leafy shade
Upon the firm and grassy glade
The afternoon and evening fade
And disappear from view.

I see the sunset then unfold
The skies of amber turn to gold
The passion that I couldn’t hold
No love could be more true.

I remain as darkness falls
When echoes of my heartache calls
The sadness that I feel appals
If only I had you.

Thank you for visiting — comments and questions are always welcome.

Bye for now — take care! xxx

It’s that time of year again!

Hello folks! I hope that you’re keeping well.

Firstly, sorry to say that some of the photos in this post have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)

Well, as the title suggests, it is definitely that time of year again! And I would like to share a few festive photos and a poem with you.

So here they are:

Our very homely-looking Christmas tree. Although it’s alive, it’s not actually a fir or spruce but a very large branch pruned from one of our wild Pistacia lentiscus bushes. It makes the house smell so resiny.
The Nativity scene. We have oxen, camels, sheep and homemade pigs, ducks and geese. Unfortunately the 3 Kings haven’t arrived yet, because although I’ve been seriously rummaging around the baubles and tinsel, I just haven’t been able to find them yet. (Must’ve gone trotting off somewhere…)
Every year we add bits to it. This year it’s the baker / cook working away in his corner in front of the stone oven and balancing a basket of goods on his head — right-hand side. (And I really must repair Jesus’s hand this year, because he had a bit of a mishap a while ago so He’s missing a little corner of it! Out will come the plaster of Paris…)
A bit of a close-up, and yes, I’ll have to mend Mary’s hand too. (We have had these figurines for a long time now, since the kids were born, so that makes 25 years more or less!)
One of the Christmas candle holders

Apart from the tree and Nativity scene, we’ve also put loads of tinsel, baubles, stockings, hanging pine cones etc. around the house. The decorations reflect the light and bring a glowing cheer to the dark evenings.

Meanwhile, in Cordova, the central square Plaza Tendillas has been dressed in thousands of lights, as so too the tall palm trees:

And back in my local village of Posadas, apart from all the streets, gardens and trees being lit up, they are usually decorated by the ladies from the crochet group too. However, since social gatherings are not permitted, nothing as yet has been displayed, so I am including their work from last Christmas. (I included other of their photos in a previous blog of mine.)

They made an extensive Nativity scene totally from crochet (except for the cork which was used for huts)

And there were also life-sized statues in one of the main streets — as you can see they were all robed in crochet garments

The street Nativity scene came with a well and fire too…
… and a flying angel announcing the Good News!

Well, to end this Christmassy blog I’d like to finish with a seasonal poem:

Christmas Eve 1893 Christina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)

Christmas has a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas has a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas has a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven has answering music
For all angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Thank you all for visiting — I hope that you are able to enjoy this special time.

Take care! xxx

Your comments and questions are always welcome — it is nice to hear from you!

Early flowers

Feeling restless after having been stuck in all day because of work on the computer, I decided to give vent to my feelings and go for a walk around my wild finca in the drizzle and mist. I was surprised to see the following flowers already out…

The rock rose or cistus is already putting out some flowers way ahead of normal time
and the broom too (Genisteae) — probably because of the mild weather here in Cordova
The wild narcissi are on cue…
and so are the delicate snowflakes (Leucojum)
I love the red berries on the wild asparagus bushes, they look so Christmassy. The bitter, wild asparagus spears grow in spring. For my recipe of wild asparagus in spicy tomato sauce, see here
And there are mushrooms everywhere

The photo of the narcissus flowers brings to mind the Latin tale of Narcissus and Echo from Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

Echo, a nymph who cannot speak except to repeat the last few words she has heard falls desperately in love with the beautiful and conceited Narcissus, who is in love with himself. He rejects her and she withers away, eventually turning into stone, and leaving only her voice behind which echoes around the world.

Echo and Narcissus— John William Waterhouse the pre-Raphaelite artist (1903 oil on canvas, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Fred Chappell (author and poet, born 1936, N. Carolina) wrote a poem of the same name.

(The italics in the following poem represent the voice of Echo.)

Narcissus and Echo

Shall the water not remember   Ember

my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above   of

its mirror my half-imaginary   airy

portrait? My only belonging   longing,

is my beauty, which I take   ache

away and then return as love   of

of teasing playfully the one being   unbeing.

whose gratitude I treasure   Is your

moves me. I live apart   heart

from myself, yet cannot   not

live apart. In the water’s tone,   stone?

that shining silence, a flower   Hour,

whispers my name with such slight   light:

moment, it seems filament of air,   fare

the world become clouds well.   well.

Thank you for visiting — I hope this finds you well! xxx

Preserved, salted olives (take two)

Hello all! I hope that you are keeping well.

A few blogs ago I wrote about my recipe for pickled olives. I mentioned in it that I would also be trying out a recipe for dried, salted olives. Well, I have performed that experiment and although it’s not completed, I wanted to share my progress with you so far. (The olives probably have about another few days or a week to sit in the salt…)

Anyway, here are some photos:

Firstly, I always like to work with a cup of strong tea close at hand — and as you can see, I’m not the only one who appreciates a cuppa! (You can just spy an olive tree towards the left.)
I washed a load of black olives that I had previously picked and made sure they were free from any bugs (or cat hairs). I then pricked each one with a sharp knife, careful to avoid pricking my thumb as I gained momentum…
(The perpetual onlooker)
Once done, I took them inside and placed them in an earthenware crock (which I bought years ago from the nearby village of La Rambla, famous for its ceramics and pottery, exporting worldwide). I first lined the base with some salt
I covered the olives with more salt, then another layer of olives and continued like this until all the olives had been used up…
finishing with a layer of salt.

The olives should remain under salt for about three weeks until they are nice and wrinkly. You should stir the olives, or shake the pot every day. The salt becomes damp as it absorbs their bitter juice. I needed to add more salt at regular intervals. I think I have used about 5 bags of half a kilo so far, which although it sounds a lot is well worth it because it costs me only 34 céntimos per bag — and the olives were free.

Here is the result after 2 & 1/2 weeks. The salt appears coarser due to the dampness — it also smells nice ‘n’ olivey. I have just tried one of the olives and they are definitely getting there, tasting good already. However, I will leave them under salt for at least another week until every taste of bitterness has gone (and until I’ve gone to Posadas to buy loads of jars to put the olives in!)
…and here’s a close-up of the little fellas

When they are ready, I can either shake or wash all the salt off, then tightly pack the dried olives into sterilised jars, filling and covering with a layer of oil to form an airproof seal.

I will include photos and comments on the finished result in a further blog.

Well, that’s all for now. Thank you for visiting — take care! xxx

P.S. Comments and questions always welcome

The sun makes its exit!

‘Your light is more magnificent than sunrise or sunset…Its the Light that outshines all’

Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (Balkh 1207-1273) the greatest Sufi mystic and poet in the Persian language

And here is yesterday’s sunset…

Going…
…going…
gone!

Take care! xxx

Another beautiful sunrise!

Hello all! I hope you are keeping well in these difficult times…

As you can see, this morning I was met with a beautiful sunrise!

An impressive daybreak looking eastwards beyond the haunted castle of Almodóvar del Río towards Cordova

I would also like to take this opportunity of introducing to you one of my favourite blogs that I follow, written by a talented lady who lives in beautiful Yorkshire: https://lisafeatherstone.co.uk/ .

The posts are very articulate, well-written and enlightening, with topics ranging from hand-knit designs, birds, books, plants and thoughts (wellbeing, drawing and accessibility). There’s also a quiz on Fridays which not only serves as a mental gymnasium but is sure to test and increase your general knowledge too.  In short, there is something there for everyone!

Oh — and if you wish to view Lisa’s hand-crafted delights on Etsy, you can see them here: https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/LisaFeatherDesign.  You can also follow Lisa on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lisa.featherstone

Happy interesting reading!

But to finish with, I’d like to include a poem that celebrates the early morning:

DAWN by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919, Wisconsin, America)

Day’s sweetest moments are at dawn;
Refreshed by his long sleep, the Light
Kisses the languid lips of Night,
Ere she can rise and hasten on.
All glowing from his dreamless rest
He holds her closely to his breast,
Warm lip to lip and limb to limb,
Until she dies for love of him.

Thank you for visiting — stay well! xxx

A golden sunrise!

This morning’s sunrise over the medieval castle of Almodóvar del Río (province of Cordova, Spain)

Full many a glorious morning have I seen — William Shakespeare (1564-1616, Stratford-Upon-Avon)

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth.

Thank you for visiting — take care! xxx

A misty walk and things were out…

Hello all — I hope you are keeping well.

This morning was very misty and damp, just the right weather to go for a walk especially after having sat all day yesterday hunched up at the computer, teaching then illustrating my book.

The damp and humidity always remind me of Richmond Park, the area near where I grew up before moving to Cordova in southern Spain. (Why and how I made this move is explained in this illustrated summary!)

A misty day by Adams Pond in Richmond Park near the Sheen Gates entrance. This was taken in November last year when I was there visiting my mother and brother and I am longing to return as soon as this Covid rubbish is beaten! There are some lovely photos of the park in their Facebook page
Anyway, the morning here in the countryside of Posadas (Cordova) was fresh, dewy and the mist was out
as was the verdigris lichen
and dew on the prickly, wild asparagus bush.
The cows were also out, some sheltering under the olive trees…
…and the flowers on the wild rosemary that was growing between the cracks in the schist were also out
…as were the small, wild ‘acebuche’ olives…
…and myrtle berries…
…on their fragrant bushes.
The coppers were out too…
…and the humble acorns on the holly oaks.
The wild boar’s out as well and the earth next to my vegetable patch is all hoofed up again! And not too far away, as the mist lifts…
…the lads are out picking the young arbequina olives by hand (‘milking’ the trees)

So these were some of the things that were out early this morning, as well as me!

But to end on a literary note, and with reference to the myrtle in the above photos, I’ve included a poem about this bush. It was written by Mary Robinson, a very fascinating lady.

To the Myrtle by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800, England)

UNFADING branch of verdant hue,
In modest sweetness drest,
Shake off thy pearly tears of dew,
And decorate my breast.

Dear emblem of the constant mind,
Truth’s consecrated tree,
Still shall thy trembling blossoms find
A faithful friend in me.

Nor chilling breeze, nor drizzling rain
Thy glossy leaves can spoil,
Their sober beauties fresh remain
In every varying soil.

If e’er this aching heart of mine
A wand’ring thought should prove;
O, let thy branches round it twine,
And bind it fast to Love.

For ah ! the little fluttering thing,
Amidst LIFE’S tempest rude;
Has felt Affliction’s sharpest sting,
YET TRIUMPHS UNSUBDUED.

Like THEE it braves the wintry wind,
And mocks the storm’s fierce pow’r,
Tho’ from its HOPES the blast unkind,
Has torn each promis’d flow’r.

Tho’ round its fibres barb’rous fate
Has twin’d an icy spell;
Still in its central fires elate,
The purest passions dwell.

When LIFE’S disast’rous scene is fled,
This humble boon I crave;
Oh! bind your branches round my head,
AND BLOSSOM ON MY GRAVE.

Well, that’s all for now — thank you for visiting me. As usual I welcome any comments of questions.

Take care! xxx

And to finish with, last year’s misty, autumnal trees in Richmond Park