Who’s the nosier?

After an intensive day of rain and computer I decided to go for a brief walk around my country abode here in Posadas (Cordova, Spain. See this link for photos and also the explanation as to why and how I ended up here!).

Of course I did not go on my walk alone, but was accompanied by the usual moggies, as you shall see…

Firstly I stopped to admire the lantern-like flowers that were already out on the strawberry tree (Arbutus).

There was just one arbutus berry left because the birds had got at them already (especially the stonechats which are noisily prevalent these days!).

The sky started to clear somewhat, letting down a few illuminating rays onto the distant Sierrezuela Hills

Then it cleared even more…

…and as I was looking skywards, I had the curious sensation that I was being watched…

First there was one…

…then there were two…

…and another made three.

I don’t think they were so interested in me after all…

…but rather in Little Strawberry and Santiago.

Come back!!!!

Though who was the nosier I just can’t tell…

Which brings me to the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894, Edinburgh, Scotland)

The Cow

The friendly cow all red and white, 
I love with all my heart: 
She gives me cream with all her might, 
To eat with apple-tart. 

She wanders lowing here and there, 
And yet she cannot stray, 
All in the pleasant open air, 
The pleasant light of day; 

And blown by all the winds that pass 
And wet with all the showers, 
She walks among the meadow grass 
And eats the meadow flowers. 

Thank you for visiting —hope you are all 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

My 40-minute stretch after editing all day, here in the countryside of Posadas (Cordova)!

Hi folks — I hope you are all well and managing okay in these difficult times.

I just wanted to share with you a few photos of how I restraightened my back, neck and legs after sitting all day cooped up in front of the computer editing and illustrating my book

Firstly I decided to go and visit those cows down there in yonder field (after all, socialising is pretty limited these days in Cordova, especially with the 6 o’ clock curfew!)
I was careful not to tread on those pretty ‘snowflake’ flowers that herald the coming of spring. (I mentioned them in a previous post.)
As you can see they are growing under the ‘encina’ holly oak tree (a protected species here in this neck of the woods)
Needless to say, I was well accompanied (though only two of my ten cats came — the others were lazing around in the sun!)
The toadstools are also just beginning to poke their heads above the fallen leaves and twigs of the olive trees…
and the geraniums are still flourishing in between the olives
I was waylaid by the vegetable patch and stopped to collect a few tomatoes which I conveniently collected in my cap!
Some creatures waited patiently for me…
…while others rolled around in the weedy manure heap!
Furry Zeus looked on from a distance making me feel that I was hindering the ‘walkies’ process
Then I got further distracted by checking how many ‘arberquina’ olives had been picked so far and deposited in the trailer
Then I noticed that the sun was already dipping low and I wouldn’t be able to make it to the cows and back before it got dark nor before the wild boars come out to play…
So unfortunately I had to beat a hasty retreat back up the hill as it soon started to get dark. Dingo, my other dog, wasn’t all happy about that!

Tomorrow we’ll start our back-stretching, leg-flexing, cow-visiting earlier!

And thank you for visiting me. As usual, comments and questions always welcome…

Take care!  xxx

My photo-guided, very rainy walk to the Roman quarry in Posadas (Cordova)

Hi folks! I hope you’re all keeping well.

As you might already know from my last blog, the weather here in Cordova has done a turn. From the 38° C hot, desert-like conditions to today’s 23° C thunder and rain.

The rain has been very heavy, so I did the thing that seemed most logical to me, which was to go for a walk. You know — ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’ sort of thing. (Or in my case, ‘mad dogs and Englishwomen’.) But at least I went armed with an undersized, telescopic umbrella the diameter of which wouldn’t even span my shoulders — and clad in a skimpy muscle tee-shirt despite the gale-force winds.

It had been a long time since I visited the Roman quarry, Cantera Honda, and being a former geologist, I was dying to delve back in the past. A past where after the sea receded from this part of the land in Cretaceous times, the ancient civilisations moved in: Stone Age man, the Celtiberians, Phoenicians, Romans, Moors etc. They left their mark upon the land — higher up on the ridge of the hills there are Stone Age dolmens, while lower down, the Romans quarried the land for stone from which they hewed out pillars that were then used in many of their palaces, temples and buildings. The pillars were rolled down the hill, carted by donkeys and loaded onto boats that then navigated their way along the Guadaquivir River eastwards to Cordova or westwards to Seville. (There are also many other mines in the vicinity of Roman, Moorish and modern age. More about that in another blog.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, being an enthusiast of geology, culture and history, I thought I would mosey on down there, take some unprofessional, blurry photos in the rain which I could then share with you. I hope you enjoy my ‘walk’!

WARNING: There are quite a lot of photos, and they are rather grey because of the grey weather!   

I left home when there seemed to be a ceasefire from the heavy showers
I parked alongside my son’s olive grove, but by this time it had already started spitting. The earth was red from the earlier rain
The path passed by mature olive trees, soon to be harvested…
…and by the many dwarf palms that populate these lower footslopes of the Sierrezuela. (You can eat their berries)
The colours became deeper as the sky gradually became more overcast.
This was the sky that was behind me, but steadily moving in my direction…
…but ahead of me, towards the ‘finca’ planted with new olive trees, things looked clearer.
I passed by loads of giant fennel which smelled so fennelly and aromatic after the rain
And there are wild fig trees growing straight out of cracks in the bedrock
I continued to walk westwards along this path, though the light became dimmer
I passed the bordering palm trees
I paused to look backwards over my shoulder, and I saw how the thunder clouds were quickly catching up with me. There was just one single beam of angelic light that was focusing down onto the village of Posadas in the distance
Onwards I pressed. I reached the sign directing me right to ‘Cantera Honda
and then a few steps ahead I came to the first ancient Roman column that had, with time, become half-buried in earth
And then there was a second just lying under a large pistacia bush
This poster told me I was now close to the quarry Cantera Honda (which is located on the local footpath of the Roman Paterna route)
I reached the entrance of the quarry, and yes, it was raining quite heavily now! (Nothing like taking photos in the rain!!)
Old columns and pillars hewn out from the quarry walls and shaped in rounded form by the Romans were strewn everywhere. (And now it was pouring — you can see the lines of rain if you look at the fig tree in the centre back)
More broken cylindrical rock up the side of the quarry (and more rain too, also noticeable !)
Above the quarry, broken columns just scattered the place, carelessly abandoned as if the Romans (or their slaves rather) had just upped it and left
and more broken columns…
…and yet more
and even more…still having kept their recognisable form after 2000-odd years. (If only stone could talk!)
I was up at the top of the quarry (being careful not to slip — there is no fence) — and by now it was pelting (as you can see in the photo)
I was thoroughly drenched by now despite my measly umbrella, and my photos were becoming increasingly blurry, so I decided that it was time to turn around and leg it back…
I pussyfooted over the squidgy puddles and fast-running rivulets
..and with every footstep I became increasingly wetter — and so did my fox!
The fields took on another semblance than that of before — new rivulets, and the higher fields awash with water: (talk about soil erosion!)
I headed back as fast as I could under the rumbling, menacing sky
…until soon I reached my haven. (At least the rains had washed it clean — about the first good wash it’s had all summer — I hate washing cars!!!)
I thought of taking my wet, muddy trousers off, but then again I thought, ‘Better not in case the ‘trafico’ road police are there doing spot checks on the cars. Could be embarrassing… but then I could always reply in my Englishy accent: “¡Oh, lo siento! No sé…” — pronounced, “Oh, low sientow! Know say”, meaning “Oh, I’m sorry! I don’t know…”
And just as I started to drive off, the skies started clearing. Sod’s law!

However, it was an enjoyable morning when all said and done, and I’ve been able to share my experience and photos with you, which I hope you’ve enjoyed.

If something can be learned from my little escapade it’s this: have a nice mug of steaming Tetley’s as soon as you get back indoors (the tea that is, not the beer!).

Well, at least I won’t be needing a shower tonight!

Thank you for visiting. If you like what you have read, then you might want to read some more. My book An English Lady in Cordova – the Alternative Guide is available from here. (I’ve finally learnt how to do the ‘Here’ thing!)

I welcome your comments and questions.

Take care and bye for now! xxx

What I’ve been up to these days (in and around my country abode of Posadas in Cordova)

Hi folks! Firstly, I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits — these are difficult and testing times that we are living. We all have to get on as best we can and keep our spirits up, not just for ourselves, but those around us. After all, we are all brothers and sisters, aren’t we?

Anyway, I haven’t written for a while because I have fallen in love…

… fallen in love with these acrylic paint pens that I bought a little time ago and I just can’t be parted from them…

They are waterproof and non-toxic

So I wanted to share with you some of the things that I’ve painted since last I wrote…

Some of the smaller ‘golden’ stones with the flower motifs would be good as mosaic pieces, while the larger ones could serve as paperweights. I have written a description of where I got the stone from on the back, as a memento:–

Though the paint is water-resistant, I will be varnishing them before I then put them up for sale on my online shop and also a tourist shop in the Judería (Old Jewish Quarters) in Cordova town — that is, when the shop reopens again. Fingers crossed! (If you’re interested in any, then do let me know!)

We had a couple of promising cooler days last week where the temperatures only reached 33° C (= 91.4° F) so I painted outside in my D-garden. As you can see, I had some help (?) from my faithful friends, Sebastian and Little Grey.

However, temperatures have since risen to the 38° C mark (104° F), so I paint upstairs in my craft room, surrounded by heaps of inspiration, even if it is a little noisy due to the whirring and whining of the two inverters that have just been screwed to the wall and coupled up with the solar panels we have. (The price of electricity is EXORBITANT in Spain, notably so if you have 3-phase agricultural supply like we have. Our socialist president, Pedro Sanchez, really should do something about it, especially if he wants to win the next elections, which might be sooner than he thinks due to his handling of the Covid situation.)

Anyway, since painting stones has also involved quite a bit of sitting down, I decided that it was high time I went for a brisk walk, heat or no heat. So being a Sunday, I got up quite late, at around 8. (Also I slept late not only because of the evening heat that lingers, but because these days I usually end up doing some time of night-time vigil, watching over my vegetable patch as the wild boars still loom large. I usually hear the familiar grunts, but luckily the vegetables have remained unscathed. Fingers crossed again!)

And the aubergine’s steadily and safely growing, away from the boars’ tusks (even if a little out of focus!)

So I just thought I’d share with you a couple of photos from my dry, dusty walk in the neighbouring hills of the Sierrezuela. (If you’d like to know more about this area or see more photos, then you can check out some of my earlier blogs with Sierrezuela in the title. Sorry, still haven’t worked out how to put ‘Here’ to direct you straight to the link, unlike the many other of you who have managed to work it out…)

Last but not least, here are a couple of photos of last evening’s sunset.

Well, I think that’s all for now. Thank you for reading and as usual I welcome any of your comments or questions.

Bye for now — take care! xxx

Goats, goats and yet more goats! (My country abode in Posadas, Cordova)

Who needs a lawnmower when you live in the country?…

Watch out for those olives on the trees! These animals will stop at nothing!

And make sure you leave in plenty of time in case you get held up by a tribe of goats crossing your path!

Thank you for visiting. Hope this finds you in good health and spirits!

A beautiful surise over the olive trees! (Posadas, Cordova)

A beautiful sunrise! (Photo: Talib Mir)

Hi folks — hope this finds you all well!

I couldn’t resist posting this photo of the early sunrise. It was taken at a low level from between some olive trees.

Needless to say that I didn’t take the photo, but it was shot by my son from his olive grove, using his Samsung Galaxy A51 .

He went there early in the morning because he had to run nitric acid through all the watering system which cleans out any lime deposits that can block the watering holes. The finca is quite large, about 6 hectares and supports a few thousand olive trees (the alberquina variety, which is used for making olive oil). They are planted in long rows which were dug out by the tractor, using its GPS so that they came out dead straight and symmetrical.

The land being ploughed a couple of years ago with the irrigation pipes being laid (via GPS). Rich red, silty earth. The pine trees in the background form part of the Sierrezuela and the National Park of Hornachuelos

The trees are only two and a half years old (ahhh — sweet!), but already have quite a few olives, perhaps about 5 kilos worth per tree. (A mature tree can produce about 40 to 50 kilos). This year they’ll have to be pruned with all the side branches cut away, just leaving two or three main branches. The finca is watered via a well, and the pump uses electricity supplied by solar panels — six of them, though one was stolen!

Looking down from the footslopes of the Sierrezuela hills towards the young olive grove in the background and across to the plains of the Guadalquivir Valley

It is in a pretty location, just on the lower footslopes Sierrezuela hills which form part of the vast National Park of Hornachuelos, overlooking the plains of the Guadalquivir Valley. (To read more about the Sierrezuela you can see my earlier blogs, eg. https://anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/2020/02/05/the-sierrezuela-posadas-cordoba-spain/)

The young olive trees are in the background. Photo taken in early spring when the almonds were in flower. There are dwarf palms growing in the foreground

As you probably know already Andalusia is full of olive trees, many of them ancient, dating a thousand years old and going back to Roman and Phoenician times — and since these early times, oil has been referred to as ‘golden liquid’.

It’s a shame that the US importation tariffs on oil from Spain (and not Italy) are so high — this has really hit hard the olive farmers who live and serve others through this hard work…

And here are some of the olive trees that grow on our land. They are as old as the hills…

(Photo from Canva)

Well, that’s all for today. Thank you for reading! As usual, comments and questions are always welcome. x

Yesterday’s deluge here in the province of Cordova (Posadas)

Hi Folks! Writing this while sipping my mug of Tetley’s (tea, not beer) and still dressed in my PJs and dressing gown.

Dressing gown because, can you believe it, there has been a marked drop in temperatures after the heavy storms that we, here in Cordova province (and the rest of Spain) experienced yesterday. So now 21 °C (69.8 °F) at 8 a.m. feels cool! (Don’t worry, next week we’ll be up around the 45 °C mark again = 113 °F !)

It really chucked it down! Just a few kilometres to the north of where I live (the countryside of Posadas), in the Sierra Morena Range the hailstones were as big as walnuts, while in the south, in the plains of the Guadalquivir River, the towns and villages suffered a real deluge. One village in particular, Ecija (which is about forty minute’s drive south from my house) was a real washout. Here is a short video, you need to click on the link (good practise for your Spanish too!):- https://cadenaser.com/emisora/2020/08/11/radio_sevilla/1597164448_152224.html

Imágenes que circulan en las redes sociales de las calles de Estepa/SUR
A car being washed away by the torrential rain in Ecija yesterday

And Ecija, lying at about forty minutes’ drive from my house and actually in the province of Seville, is one of the hottest places in the Guadalquivir Valley, so much so that it is known as the ‘frying pan of Andalusia’! It is also known for its numerous church towers and steeples.

You can see the following link for some photos and also a brief overview of this historical and pretty town. There are loads of places to visit, ranging from the many churches, convents, manors, museums and archaeological sites. This link also includes an audio / video guide of some of the main places: http://www.turismoecija.com/en/

Church of la Limpia Concepción de Nuestra Señora
Hermitage of Virgen de la Valle

Stately home of the Granados family
Stately home of the Palmas family

Anyway, the storm once it passed, also left behind an impressive sky:

(In the above photos, you can see the hilliness of the land around my home and also the castle of Almodóvar del Río in the far distance. See my earlier blog for the history and legends of this castle — https://anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/2020/07/14/the-legend-of-the-enchanted-castle-of-almodovar-del-rio-province-of-cordova-andalusia/ — sorry, as yet I haven’t learnt how to put ‘HERE’ which will direct you straight to the link…)

Castillo de Almodóvar del Río 2009.jpg
The medieval castle of Almodóvar del Río

And apart from the castle, I can also see from my bedroom bay window (where I am now sitting) the manure heap next to my vegetable patch. (What a lovely sight!) This is a very useful view because I can tell first thing in the morning whether there has been any wild boar activity at night (they are nocturnal creatures!). Just two nights ago I spotted him at about three in the morning, snorting and hoofing this manure pile and he was just inches away from the chicken wire that encircles my vegetable garden. I had to shout out loudly in order to scare him away — this also woke up Zeus and Dingo who started barking madly at him (from a distance, so luckily he wasn’t able to gatecrash my aubergine, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, chard and wilting spinach — the temperatures have been hot!).

Anyway, this morning it was my intention to write a humorous article about some of my first teaching experiences in Cordova (awful), but I think I’d better leave that for another day. For now, I will go for a cold shower (cold because it’s cloudy and there hasn’t been enough electricity generated by the solar panels to heat the water nor work the hairdryer, though we do have forty-five panels, eight huge batteries and two very noisy converters!). So after my cold shower I will go for a walk to the Sierrezuela Hills (you can read about this if you like in my earlier blogs entitled the Sierrezuela…. https://anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/2020/02/05/the-sierrezuela-posadas-cordoba-spain/), and there I will collect some flat, round stones to paint. (English classes in serious dwindle due to Covid.)

A walk under the pines in the Sierrezuela Periurban Park (which forms part of Hornachuelos National Park)

So I shall leave off for now, hoping this finds you all in good health and spirits.

Thank you for visiting me, and as usual, I am always welcome to any comments and questions.

Bye for now!