Early heat!

Yep — it’s already 35° C here in Posadas (Cordova) and some of us are already feeling the heat!

 “How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven.” — Robert A. Heinlein US (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988)

 Robert A. Heinlein was an American science fiction author, aeronautical engineer and naval officer. Known as the ‘dean of science fiction writers’, he, together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the “Big Three” of English-language science fiction authors.

He obviously had a higher understanding of cats too!

Take care — bye for now! xxx

The poppies are out and about here in the countryside of Posadas (Cordova)

“…But pleasures are like poppies spread,

You seize the flower, it’s bloom is shed;

Or, like the snow-fall in the river,

A moment white, then melts forever;”

~ Robert Burns

The above quote is taken from Robert Burns‘ epic poem Tam o’ Shanter (7th stanza). ‘It is a wonderful poem in which Burns paints a vivid picture of the drinking classes in the old Scotch town of Ayr in the late 18th century.’

These very descriptive lines of Burns are flavoured with evocativeness, poignancy, wistfulness, doom, fright, macabre, warning and even a slight sense of humour — they are definitely worth a read!

A little bit about the man: Robert Burns was born in Ayrshire in Scotland on the 25th of January, 1759.  He was also known as Rabbie Burns (as well as other names such as the Bard of Ayrshire). He was a Scottish poet, (belonging to the Romantic Movement) and was also a lyricist, farmer and exciseman. He was considered the national poet of Scotland and wrote both in the Scots language and its dialect, as well as in English (where his comments were often the most blunt). He also travelled around collecting folk music from Scotland and wrote the lyrics for Auld Lang Syne, (meaning ‘old long since’ / ‘long, long ago’ / ‘days gone by’…) which is typically sung at Hogmanay. For his full, interesting biography see here.

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) (Wiki)

And as for the meaning of poppies…

It is thought that the word ‘poppy’ is derived from the Old English popig, which is a Medieval Latin alteration of the Latin word papaver, meaning ‘to swell’. It could also stem from the Latin word for milk, pappa, perhaps because of the milky sap that oozes from its stem when the flower is cut.  

The symbolism of the poppy is quite wide-ranging, depending on the colour of the poppy and the country where it grows. For example, the red poppy can symbolise peace, death and sleep, which explains why, in western countries, it is usually used in commemoration of the soldiers fallen in the war.

In contrast, in Eastern countries red poppies usually symbolize love and success, whereas white poppies usually stand for remembrance and peaceful rest and are often tied to funerals and memorial ceremonies.

In Japanese and Chinese cultures the red poppy represents passionate love in a couple.

Apart from these meanings, poppies can also symbolise imagination, messages delivered in dreams, beauty, luxury and extravagance.

Finally and interestingly enough, the Californian poppy is the national flower of California and the red poppy is the national flower of Albania

Thank you for reading. I hope you can enjoy your wild flowers wherever you are.

Bye for now — take care! xxx

Bunnies and springtime flowers galore!

Hi folks — I hope that you’re all well.

Just to say that I wasn’t able to write a usual mid-week blog because apart from my online teaching and writing work, I’ve been quite busy trying to prepare a few items for my online Etsy shop.

I have been inspired by the sudden explosion of springtime flowers here in Posadas (in the province of Cordova) which has happened a little earlier than usual.

There has also been a return of many species of birds, including my usual visitors, the hoopoe, blue tit and partridges (which will feature in my next blog…), as well as loads of bunnies and hares, little lambs and baby goats (already smelling of acidy milk!).

The things I don’t approve of (that is until they have reached their beautiful butterfly stage) are the caterpillars — we have been inundated with them! They have drilled into my iris flower buds, chomped their way steadily through my broad bean plantlets and are causing havoc to any budding grape vines which haven’t been previously sprayed. Now I don’t like to use pesticides or chemicals, so it is quite a normal sight for me to go rushing out into my garden and vegetable patch first thing in the morning (usually still in my fluffy pyjamas and mules) and run up and down the rows of plants, flicking off these furry creatures.

(I don’t know what our neighbour must think when he spies me from afar with his extra-strong binoculars, which I know he does because he did openly admit it one day when we were sat together having a leche manchada — milky coffee: his excuse is that he likes to invigilate our house as well as his for security reasons, as we do live out in the sticks a bit and we only have mastiffs and an adopted mongrel as alarms.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, here are a couple of photos explaining what I’ve been up to since last we met…

Acrylic paint on linen… I WILL be buying a fabric medium to use with acrylic paint for other future fabric work…
Painted with acrylic paints and acrylic pens

And here is a merry little poem about spring (yes, I know I’m being a bit premature, but try telling that to the Cordobese flowers and bunnies!)

Spring by William Blake — (London 1757–1827) ‘Poet, painter, engraver, and visionary… considered one of the leading lights of English poetry’ — The Poetry Foundation.

Wikipedia’s first two paras also give a succinct, interesting summary on Blake.

SPRING

Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Bird’s delight,
Day and night,
Nightingale,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,–
Merrily,
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Thank you for visting — take care! xxx

Self-service or à la carte?

Gobble on!!!

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.” — Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949, Hampshire England – 15 December 2011).

Christopher Hitchens was certainly a very colourful man, as far as thinking, reasoning, debating and philosophy is concerned.

He was ‘an English intellectual, polemicist, and socio-political critic who expressed himself as an author, orator, essayist, journalist, and columnist. He was the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays on culture, politics, and literature.’ (Wikipedia).

He was an anti-theist and his dictum, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” is now known as Hitchen’s Razor.

In short, he was quite a character and as you can see from the above quote, he even went as far as discussing and concluding the differences between cats and dogs!

Thank you for reading. I hope this finds you well — take care!xxx

Copper sulphate, Cicero and Aunt Marjorie in the countryside of Posadas (Cordova)

Hi folks, I hope that you are all well.

Firstly, sorry to say that the photos in this post and the last 5 posts have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)

Yes, more days than usual have passed since my last blog, but that’s because we’ve been quite caught up with the olives — trees that is.

It’s time for a good dose of copper sulphate, and as you can see from the photos, my son adapted the trailer and 1000-litre tank with tubes and jets (where the spray comes out of and which look like megaphones) and an inline generator that starts the spraying action as he drives the old Surf along the lanes of trees.

This copper sulphate treatment has to be repeated twice a year, with the next time probably being in November depending on what the weather’s been like. (Luckily there was enough of the solution left over for me to spray my medlar, fig, almond and citrus trees, so now I’ll be busy treating those in my spare time.)

The work was supervised by others, as well as us:

It did involve a lot of walking too, so half way, I decided to survey the operation from a convenient lookout in one of the shrubbier areas:

As we all know, farmers work hard, and thanks to them we are well-supplied with food. I like Cicero’s saying about agriculture:

For of all gainful professions, nothing is better, nothing more pleasing, nothing more delightful, nothing better becomes a well-bred man than agricultureMarcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC ­— 43 BC).

Bust of Cicero in the Capitoline Museum, Rome (Wikipedia)

Cicero — ‘Roman statesman, scholar, and writer, known as the greatest Roman orator, and upholding republican principles in the final civil wars that destroyed the Roman Republic’ (Britannica).

And here is the first verse of a poem about agriculture, written by Margaret E. Sangster (Pen name, Aunt Marjorie 1838 – June 3, 1912). She was ‘an American poet, author, and editor. Her poetry was inspired by family and church themes, and included hymns and sacred texts’. (Wiki)

a "Woman of the Century"
M.E. Sangster ‘a woman of the century’ (Wiki)

The Farmer

The dawn is here! I climb the hill;
     The earth is young and strangely still;
A tender green is showing where
     But yesterday my fields were bare . . .
I climb and, as I climb, I sing;
     The dawn is here, and with it – spring!

When we did eventually get home, our old faithful was there to welcome us:

Dingo, our adopted dog that appeared sheepishly one day at our door, scared and just skin and bones. Now she’s much healthier and is another member of the family.

Thank you for reading. As usual, comments and questions are always welcome.

Take care! 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 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

Cork!

‘From little acorns, mighty oaks do grow’ — English proverb

Hello again — I hope you are all well.

This morning I went for a walk along my local country track here in Posadas (Cordova) and this is what I scavenged…

Cork — (the front side which I will paint)
The cork had fallen off the back of the truck which had been filled with the freshly-stripped cork from a nearby finca. (The more weathered, exposed side of the cork I will seal with shellac once washed and dried)
The neighbouring finca where the cork oak trees are stripped of their bark which is then used for making… corks! Also, the black-hooved pigs are often kept in these fincas so they can eat the acorns which produce a high quality ham (‘jamón de pata negra’ in Spanish)
The stripped trunks of the cork oak trees are even more red after the rain. It’s an impressive sight to see. These trees grow in the nearby finca of Calamon which once used to have an English-owned mine that worked til the beginning of the 20th century. I have written about this and other local mines in an earlier blog.

Those green-robed senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir…– John Keats
, Hyperion, Book I

As usual, I always have my little helper to lend a hand — or paw, rather!

If you’d like to know why and how I came to live in Cordova, then a fully-illustrated description is given in my earlier post: From Richmond Park to the historic town of Cordova

Thank you for visiting — as usual, comments and questions are always welcome

Take care! xxx

Cats, crochet and the Ermita de Jesús in Posadas (Cordova, Spain)

“In a cat’s eye, all things belong to cats.” Unknown

Hi folks! I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits.

It became a little cooler last week, so after working hard all day, what with giving my online English conversation classes and working on my next art & craft project, I thought I’d take an evening break and indulge in another one of my favourite pastimes. Crochet!!

Just as well I only thought about it, because as you can see from the following photos, my progress was soon hindered…

Little Grey jumps onto the swinging chair and manoeuvres herself into a comfortable position next to me and my crochet pattern
Then she gradually sidles her way closer until she is right on top of the instructions and looks up at me seeking my approval — or rather, disapproval!
Then she makes a bold move, taking advantage of me having put down my bit of crocheted sleeve when I reach for my mug of Tetley’s (the tea, not the beer variety)…
…and tries her hand (or paw!) at crochet. Is that a guilty look in her innocent-looking eyes I spy? And did I get far with my crochet that evening?

Well, that’s how my crocheting usually goes. I wonder if I’ll ever finish my cardi on time for this winter, especially since I’ve had to do one of the sleeves twice — the first time it looked more like a mutton leg!

Anyway, while on the subject of crochet, I just couldn’t resist showing you the following photos of a little bit of the work that the local crochet group do, here in my neighbouring village of Posadas (Cordova). (I will be posting much more of their work as Christmas approaches, as they do up the whole village in crochet, from Christmas trees with baubles and buntings, to the Nativity Scene, the Holy family and baby Jesus, a village scene of Jerusalem etc., etc., etc. But that’s all to come later.)

The ladies have crocheted a big ‘banner’ that has been hung on the façade of the chapel ‘La Ermita de Jesús’ which lies at the end of the ‘Paseo de Pedro Vargas’ walkway and gardens. (Read on for the history and legends of this little church)
And further down the gardens they have covered the base of the trunks of tall palm trees with their colourful work.
Here’s another, this time on the trunk of a Melia (Pride of Persia tree)…
…and yet another on a similar tree. You can tell we’re in autumn! (In the background you can see a palm tree which is so typical of Andalusia)

But coming back to the 18th century Ermita de Jesús — the little church in the first photo: I would just like to give it a mention as it has an interesting background:

Firstly, the belfry is not the original, but substitutes an earlier one which was situated adjacently, on the former Camino Real (The Royal Road). This route linked Cordova with Seville, and during the Moorish occupation of al-Andalus it formed part of the extensive Ruta Califal. Subsequently, after the reconquest of Spain, this was the route used by catholic monarchy, such as King Alfonso X ‘El Sabio(‘The Wise’) in 1262, or more recently by King Alfonso XIII (who reigned from 1902 till 1931). King Alfonso X was not the only monarch to travel along this Royal Road and lodge in Posadas del Rey: it is recorded that in 1438 Queen Juana stayed there prior to her marriage with Henry IV. Hence the name for the village, Posadas del Rey, which literally means Posadas of the King.

Below the chapel’s floor there are remains of Roman thermal springs, brick canals and cisterns with brick vaults, roofs and walls of mortar. The medicinal water from these springs was exploited at a later date. There were also remains of the walls of a pottery workshop that were constructed from rows of stone, brick, and finished with mortar edges.

It is thought that the Ermita de Jesús dates back to the 15th or 16th century, when it was probably called San Sebastian. During the early 17th century it fell into ruin, but was reopened soon after. However, in 1755, the great Lisbon earthquake seriously destroyed the belfry and roof, and so in 1786 (during the baroque period) the chapel was totally rebuilt. This was not the only damage the chapel suffered: during the Civil War, various religious icons and works of art were destroyed; however, these have since been replaced by new replicas.

The Ermita de Jesús is not without its legends. There is the story that recounts that in 1658, a donkey carrying the statue of La Virgen (The Virgin Mother) was led from Granada towards a certain destination. However, on crossing Posadas the donkey suddenly fell ill and died. The locals (Malenos) interpreted this as a sign from the Virgen Mary that the donkey and the icon of Our Blessed Virgin should stay in the village, and as a consequence they were placed in the chapel. At that time, the population of Posadas was in serious decline because of an outbreak of the plague, but after the arrival of the donkey and the statue of Our Lady, there was widespread recovery and so they named the statue, La Virgen de la Salud (where ‘salud’ means health). From then on, La Virgen de la Salud became the patron saint of Posadas.

Another miracle that has been passed down the generations is that which occurred in 1755, again the result of the Lisbon earthquake. The story goes that when the ground shook violently, the belfry was torn apart and fell heavily onto the adjacent kitchen of the church custodian’s house. His daughter was playing with an acorn in the kitchen at the time, but miraculously, she escaped unharmed, as he pulled her by the hand to safety.

But more about my local village of Posadas, its history, culture, legends, sights to see — and crochet! — in future blogs…

If you’d like to see and read more about this village, then you can have a look at the council’s webpage which also has an English translation.

And if you’d like to read more about my life here in this neck of the woods, then why not take a look at my humorous, illustrated book ‘An English Lady in Cordova — the Alternative Guide.

Thank you for visiting me — take good care of yourselves! x

When is a donkey not a donkey?

As I was driving down my stony, dusty country lane on my way to Posadas (Cordova), I passed one of my neighbours:—

Poor guy — there’s not much forage after this hot summer… I’ll have to sling him a bale of hay next time I pass..

And I was immediately reminded of this quote of Idries Shah:

‘A donkey eats a melon, it remains a donkey’ (from The Commanding Self — I think…)

 

 Now I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was dim, because I do hold a higher degree in geology after all and would’ve finished my doctorate had it not been for my unforeseen relocation to Cordova  — but the words in that quote got me wondering a bit…

Does the quote imply that a donkey will stay a donkey even if it eats what humans eat? I.e. you can’t humanise a donkey and some things just won’t change because they are so set in their ways.

Or have I just got the wrong end of the stick?

But if my interpretation’s right, then I beg to differ.

I think donkeys (and other animals and humans) can change and adapt and humanise, and so in this case, though the donkey is still a donkey on the outside, how can we assess his progression, level and consciousness on the inside? Perhaps on the inside he has surpassed being a donkey after all…

(Courtesy of Canva)

Well, it’s all very mind-boggling! All I know is that donkeys do love melons and watermelons just as much as our neighbouring sheep go crazy for oranges!

Anyway, if any of you could shed some light on this matter I’d be very interested in hearing your explanations…

Thank you for visiting me — stay safe and well! x