An update on my vegetable patch (in the countryside of Cordova, Andalusia)

Hi folks! I’m back again, writing from my sunny, sweltering and steadily-desertifing home in the countryside of Posadas (a village of about 7.350 inhabitants, lying about 35 km / 22 mi west of the renowned Cordova, Andalusia). Temperature today is 41° C = 105.8° F, but going up to 44° = 112.2 F on Sunday. Yipee!!!

View from my house, looking north towards the Sierra Morena Hills

(For more information on tourism in Posadas and the many interesting cultural, historical and nature-based places to visit in the surrounding areas of this Guadalquivir Valley and Sierra Morena range, you can see the council’s link at: https://www.posadas.es/turismo)

Anyway, I realised that I hadn’t kept my promise that I made in my earlier blog, My vegetable patch and the mines of Peñarroya – Pueblonuevo, north of Cordova, Andalusia (28-01-2020) of keeping you updated as to the progress of my vegetable patch. I posted the first photos in January when the plants were just wee little things. Now six months on they have matured a lot and are all producing fruit, even if they look a bit higgledy-piggledy and worse for wear.

Looks cuddly — but beware!
One of the locals — also prone to gate-crashing my veg patch!

This isn’t actually my fault, but that of the wild boar, who, a few moonlit nights ago decided to make a bee-line for my green ‘oasis’ — (last year it was a stray cow that gate-crashed, eating all the vegetables, save for the chilli peppers — smart lass was she!).

The wild boar forced his way under the chicken wire, levering it up with his plough-shaped head and powerful neck, then trotted his barrel-shaped body down the lines of maturing courgettes, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes, spinach, Swiss chard and potatoes. He sniffed with delight the freshly-applied manure before then steadily hoofing around each plant while nuzzling away in search for roots and mushrooms.

Very powerful neck and head — good leverage, contrasting with the delicate feet!

He uplifted and neatly pushed aside each and every plant with his delicate paws, as well as the supporting canes. I must admit though, he did work methodically and meticulously in an organised sort of way.

 However, when I went down in the morning to water, I was met with catastrophe! It took a while to assimilate what had happened — but then I quickly set to. I feverishly started to restraighten and replug everything back in, recovering the exposed roots with the upturned earth — (while just clad in my pyjama shorts, skimpy top and flip-flops) — until I eventually brought some sort of normality back to my vegetable patch.

It took quite a bit of effort, but things haven’t quite returned to what they were beforehand, hence the unprofessional look. Also, the downside to me gardening in my summer pjs was that I got five nasty bites on my legs which swelled into big blisters and lasted about a week! I still have the marks now. (Must’ve been a horsefly or tiger mosquito.)

Mind you, it could’ve been worse, what with those amber-coloured scorpions and millipedes who are my regularly-visiting neighbours.

Yuck!
Double yuck!

My dogs, Zeus and Dingo, did try to ward off the boar by barking from afar. Here is a photo of the heroes. You can see that although they have their own cool, covered area, somehow they always decide to dig a hole in my border, pushing my watering pipe aside to then fall asleep on the freshly-watered earth.

My brave heroes — Dingo and Zeus

Oh for the joys of living in the Andalusian countryside!

So here are some recent photos (including the view looking south over the guadalquivir Valley, in the direction of the Sierra of Malaga, which lies at about 160 km / 95 mi away) :-

Thank you for reading — see you soon — hope you’re all well! xxx

(PS. If you’d like to know more about where I live — Posadas and previously, Cordova town — and what I’m up to, then you can take a peek at my blog: From Richmond Park to the historic town of Cordovahttps://anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/2019/12/19/from-richmond-park-to-the-historic-town-of-cordova/. )

WARNING: it is a long one, but does have many pictures, so just looking at these will give you a good idea of both these places!

The Sierrezuela revisited (Posadas, Cordova)

Hi folks — I’m back again! This time on the same line as my previous post about the Sierrezuela Hills that lie just on the outskirts of Posadas village (40 miles from Córdoba, forming part of Hornachuelos National Park).

Pine trees in the Sierrezuela. You can just make out the high-level rope walkway stretching across the trees in the background.

In this blog, I would just like to mention — for those of you who are animal and plant enthusiasts — some of the different types of the fauna and flora that can be found here. (Please refer to http://turismoposadas.es/wp-content/uploads/guia-educacion-ambiental-sierrezuela.pdf for a fuller version accompanied by photos — also great if you want to practise your Spanish!)

Little palmito dwarf palms. Thier dates are used for medicinal purposes
Cistus or rock rose – ‘jara’

You can find a variety of fragrant shrubs growing at ground-level, ranging from bitter asparagus, dwarf palm, thyme and rosemary that grow in close juxtaposition with resinous-scented mastic and rockrose bushes.

Overhead, a variety of trees tower and sway. These include: the Aleppo and stone pines, holm and gall oaks, wild olive trees, hawthorns, elms and poplars — just to name a few.

Lofty pines providing shade for the stone benches and barbecues in the numerous picnic spots.
Looking northwards towards the hills of the Sierra Morena.
Treecreeper -‘agateadores’
Kingfisher – ‘Martín pescador’

These trees are inhabited by a diverse range of birds, such as: the booted eagle, peregrine falcon, thrush, woodcock, white wagtail, quail, white stork, hoopoe, partridge, Sardinian warbler, cattle egret, black stork, buzzard, short-toed eagle, kestrel, sparrow hawk, Bonelli’s eagle, golden eagle, black vulture, griffon vulture, black kite, red partridge, lapwing, stone curlew, cuckoo, barn owl, horned owl, nightjar, kingfisher, bee-eater, wryneck, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, woodlark, great grey shrike, wren, stonechat, wheateater, blue rock thrush, redstart, Robin redbreast, blackbird, blue-tit, coal-tit, linnet, nuthatch, treecreeper, hawfinch, chaffinch, golden oriole and jay.

Oriolus oriolus Ayodar 2.jpg
Golden oriole – ‘oropéndola’ (female)

 (Phew! What a long list! I didn’t know so many birds existed in this neck of the woods!)

Wild boar – ‘jabalí’
Resultado de imagen para marten lower classifications
Family of martens – ‘marta /garduña’

And as for the animals that hide in the shrubbery and trees (dare I list them?!). Well, here are some of them: foxes, rabbits, hares, polecats, genets, wild cats, hedgehogs, wild boar, badgers, martens, weasels, shrew, moles and various species of bats.

Mustelaputoriusaureola.png
Pole cat – ‘turón’
Genetta genetta felina (Wroclaw zoo).JPG
Genet – ‘gineta’
Rabbits and hares – ‘conejos y liebres’
Deer – ‘ciervo’

Guided wild mushroom walks — (that sounds funny, doesn’t it?) — take place in the autumn and can be found out from the council’s (ayuntamiento’) main webpage. This was last December’s walk: https://www.posadas.es/contenido/jornadas-micologicas-sierra-de-posadas-diciembre

Saffron milkcaps – ‘níscalo’
Boletus (I think!), though not too convinced now because of it spongy underside which bruises when prodded.

The saffron milkcap mushrooms are very expensive, and I remember that when we first moved here to our country abode close to Posadas and the Sierrezuela, our friends presented us with a crateful of these fungi. (We were very lucky, and it was easy to make friends here, as the locals, or Malenans as they are known, are open, friendly and generous. Not only were we presented with a crateful of mushrooms, but over the years also the following: sacks of oranges and potatoes; bags of Italian peppers; heaps of fresh horse manure and earth; piles of pebbles and stones; palettes of antique bricks; old wooden shutters from demolished houses; lucky horse hooves; handfuls of marigold seeds; a homemade, knitted patchwork blanket; a macramé plant holder; second-hand clothes and shoes for the children; and various pets including puppies, kittens, owls, bunny rabbits, three sheep and a caiman from Juan. This crocodile look-alike we refused, so he kept it all day in a large ‘bath’ of water whilst working with us, until he was about to leave — and that’s when he realised that it had escaped! We couldn’t find it in our stream at the bottom of the hill, and by evening, two Civil Guards appeared at our door to interrogate us about the illegal and missing creature. Luckily a cup of Tetley’s and a slice of homemade Battenburg pacified them and they became as mild as lambs, waving energetically as we said our goodbyes. We never did find out what happened to the beast, but rumour has it that there’s a crocodile that prowls the waters of the Breña lake, posing a serious hazard to any potential and illegal bathers.)

(To read more about this story and other such adventures of mine, please take a look at my book An English Lady in Cordova, on the following link: https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect

The Arquito shrine with statues of Our Lady – for devotees

Anyway, leaving plants and animals behind one sec., if you are a basket-weaving enthusiast, then do visit the ethnological museum/building which houses some fine examples. Young, tender olive shoots, called ‘varetas’ are used for the basket work. You can buy a variety of baskety things from this building, when it is open, and also in the tourist office in the old part of Posadas village. This office lies next to the old Arquito (little archway/shrine) on a site where the former castle once stood. (More about all the miracles, legends and history of Posadas in later blogs.)

Close-up of the above – the wall on the right hand side marks the boundary wall and eastern door of a former castle.

You can also visit the Malenanbasket-weaving association at this link: https://es-es.facebook.com/pages/category/Community-Organization/Asociacion-de-cesteros-tradicionales-de-cordoba-439756533086358/

And while on the subject of craftwork, the following link will introduce you to the crochet, fruit sculpting, ceramic groups and work that is carried out here in Posadas. (The village is very active with some very talented people and a lot of interesting goings-on!) http://turismoposadas.es/vida/artesania-y-gastronomia/

More about the village in future blogs.

For now, to wind things to a close… a quick comment on the progress of my vegetable patch. We’ve had a spell of unusually warm weather here, with temperatures reaching 22 degrees, so things have started to get a move on, horticulturally-speaking. My spinach and Swiss chard seeds have finally begun to make a show (despite the soggy, smelly manure that they’re nestling in). As they gain strength I will weed around them, bit by bit. My courgette seeds are also pushing up from their improvised seed trays. As you can see, I had to cover these trays with some clippings of my thorny rambling rose branches to ward off the cats (they like to roll and revel in every available bit of earth!), or use it as their toilet!

Well, that’s it for me now — back soon!

The Sierrezuela, Posadas, Córdoba (Spain)

As I mentioned earlier in my first blog and also in my book An English Lady in Cordova – the Alternative Guide (https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect), after having lived quite a few years in Cordova, I soon hungered after the open green spaces. I was used to the greenness of Richmond Park — going on long walks and collecting chestnuts and Boletus mushrooms in autumn, and pressing the curling fronds of fern leaves of different hues as each colour marked a different point in the year: fresh springtime green, summer yellow, autumnal burnished orange, golden and bronze… I was sure that the deer and squirrels were my friends, and I even had names for those regular stalkers. And if it weren’t the verdant sylvan palette of Charles I’s 17th century deer park that I loved, what with its characterful lodges, nature reserves and ponds, then it was the leafy greenness, grassiness and flourishing multicolours of our family garden that was the pride and joy of my parents, and one I used to revel in. So perhaps you can understand why the confines of those dim, narrow, winding cobbled streets of the old Judería Jewish Quarters and the typical patios of Moorish design, suffocated me.

So off we went, with babes in tow, to the patchwork arable pastures, olive plantations and orange groves 25 miles further west along the Guadalquivir Valley plains, at the footslopes of the undulating Sierra Morena. We set up home atop one of these hills, not far from the historic village of Posadas (del Rey) and the castled village of Almodóvar del Río, both situated on the old Camino Califal (the Route of the Caliphs), subsequently called Camino Real (the Royal Road, travelled by King Alfonso XIII) that linked Cordova with Seville.

But enough of my nostalgic ramblings for now (you can read more of this in my book mentioned above) and back to the matter in hand — the Sierrezuela.

This peri-urban park — which has been classed as a Protected Natural Area of Andalusia and also a Site of Community Interest — lies in the hills just above my village of Posadas. The park forms part of the extensive Natural Park and Nature Reserve of Hornachuelos.  It is worthy of mention not only because of the richness of fauna and flora, but also because of its historical and ethnological background. Examples of this include the Roman mines, quarries, watering holes, canals, stretches of paved roads, as well as the ancient dolmens pertaining to the Metal Age. There are also great routes for hiking, running and mountain biking and there is a high zip line and adventure zone that stretches from one lofty pine to another. There is an information centre where one can attend talks, go on mushroom, plant and bird-spotting guided walks, and on sultry summer nights, learn all about the constellations. There is also a basket weaving classroom and museum with handmade artisan objects on display (and for sale!). The two bars and restaurant serve great food and there is also an extensive barbeque area with stone benches if you want to go it alone (although you won’t be alone because the locals are a friendly, open, fun-loving gregarious lot!). You can also camp there. But below is a fuller description (for those non-Spanish speakers), borrowed and translated from the council’s pamphlet. (For more information (in Spanish) on the Sierrezuela and Posadas, please go to this link: https://www.posadas.es/ilmo_ayuntamiento/informacion_municipal/medio_ambiente/areas_interes/enp/parque_periurbano_la_sierrezuela_2

POSADAS

A millennial history…

… A tradition of hospitality

The Sierrezuela looking north towards the Sierra Morena

The Sierrezuela Periurban Park lies within the municipal finca of La Sierrezuela, situated to the north of Posadas village. It is easily accessed via the A-431 main road and Posadas train station and coach stops. The park is of great ecological importance and is included in the Network of Nature Protection Areas of Andalusia as well as the Natura 2000 Network (European Network of Special Areas of Conservation). The Sierrezuela is located in the Sierra Morena hills, also spilling over into the Guadalquivir Valley and agricultural lowlands – La Vega del Guadalquivir. This beautiful nature reserve is prized for its environmental, historical, cultural and ethnological richness.

Pine ‘piñonera’ trees form part of the ‘monte mediterraneo’ flora. Watch out for the processionary caterpillars though!

The park has a total of 378 hectares of which a small part has been developed for touristic, educational and recreational activity. The main area has been equipped with parking lots and a restaurant/bar with a terrace offering panoramic views. There are also showers, toilets, an equestrian area, fountains and picnic areas with stone barbeques, tables and benches. Close by is an Interpretation and Environmental Education Centre (Centro de Interpretación y Educación Ambiental)which includes an exhibition of traditional wickerwork pieces made from olive branches. Close to this centre is an excellent adventure park which spreads over more than 15,000 m2. There are 70 high-level challenges, tall totem poles and platforms in lofty trees, circuits of varying difficulty, a giant, double zip-line of over 240 metres and a Chill Out zone.

WALKING ROUTES IN THE Sierrezuela

The SierrezuelaPark and surrounding areas offer the perfect location for leisure, sport activities and outdoor fun. The visitor can appreciate and learn about the environment and discover the history of this privileged, natural area. The variety of walking routes allows us to travel back to prehistory, to visit one of the best Roman quarries of Andalusia, to walk through one of the largest, natural palm groves within Cordova province and to trek along the international Route GR-48De Sierra Morena’ that stretches from the Portuguese border to Jaen.

RUTA DE LOS DÓLMENESDOLMEN ROUTE

There are numerous poters explaining the history of this area

This route starts from the parking lot in the Sierrezuela Park and leads towards the north. The outcrop of dolmens consists of two megalithic graves of prehistoric age made up of large, flat stones. Human remains accompanied by funerary artefacts of at least 4500 years old have been found there, dating the site to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Age. This is the oldest site closest to Cordova and the only dolmen outcrop within the province of Cordova at such close proximity to the Guadalquivir River.

Nothing like a few skulls
lying here and there!

Distance: 2.2 km – 1.4 miles (return)

RUTA DE LA SIERREZUELA – SIERREZUELA ROUTE

Along this track one can observe the great biodiversity that exists in the monte mediterráneo (Mediterranean hills), not only in the way of faunal species — represented by the variety of birds, or the footprints, tracks and traces left by mammals — but also by the richness in flora and fungi. This route is also a sports circuit: there are six workout apparatus (pull-up, push-up bars, inclined ramps) and twenty stops, all signalled and marked on a board indicating the type of exercise that can be carried out, with three levels of difficulty.

Distance: 4 km – 2.5 miles (circular walk)

RUTA DE PATERNAPATERNA ROUTE

A Roman pillar, one of many,
just lies there

The Ruta de Paterna (Monumental Route)is a historical route and passes by important, ancient monuments. This track, which is close to Posadas, stretches from the Sierra Morena to the Guadalquivir Valley and lies on the west flank of the Sierrezuela. The route starts at the crossroads of Camino Bajo and Camino de Paterna in Hornachuelos. Along the route there is the water source, Pilar dePaterna, which serves as a fountain and water hole, and also a stone quarry, Cantera Honda. The Pilar de Paternais one of the most valuable fountains in the province,forming an important part of the area’s rich, historical heritage. It was catalogued in the Inventario de Fuentes de la Provincia de Córdoba (Inventory of Fountains of Cordova Province). The construction of the fountain dates back to probably the Late Middle Ages. The quarry, Cantera Honda, appeared in an article published in 1928 by Antonio Carbonell Trillo-Figueroa and was possibly associated with the oil industry that was predominant in the Guadalquivir Valley from 1AD to 3 AD, during which time the oil was exported to different locations within the Roman Empire.

Distance: 4.86 km – 3 miles (linear walk)

SENDERO GR-48 FOOTPATH GR-48 The GR-48 Sendero de Sierra Morena(Sierra Morena Footpath) spans the provinces of Huelva, Seville, Cordova and Jaen, starting in the locality of Barrancos in Portugal. This track consists of thirty sections, covers a total of 590 km (367 miles) with more than 180 km (112 miles) in Cordova province and also enters the locality of Hornachuelos. The footpath crosses Posadas at two stages (the 14th and 15th), passing the first via the southern skirt of the municipal fincas, Rozas del Pozuelo and Sierrezuela.

USEFUL INFORMATION / TELEPHONE NUMBERS: Town hall: 957 63 00 13 ; Tourist office: 957 63 0378

And here are some photos…

And last but not least — my vegetable patch. So far there doesn’t seem to be too much action from the peas, runner beans spinach and Swiss chard seeds, but it does seem like the weeds are fast gaining ground…. Will keep you updated!

My Experiences in Cordova

It is almost thirty years now that I have been living in Cordova, Andalusia. It certainly wasn’t easy at first — it was difficult to adapt to such a different culture, a mix ‘n’ match of warm-blooded, Latin-Moorish people, and a hard climate where summer temperatures soared to the 122 degrees farenheit mark. It was a shock to the system — hard to adapt at first, and I made some real cock-ups where the language and culture are concerned!

But if you would like to know why I came here, or would like to accompany me and experience my journey, laughing at my many faux-pas while learning about Cordova and the surrounding villages — the people, their culture, customs and very rich history (all illustrated!) — then you are welcome to follow me and embark on my journey. Let me introduce you to my life and those special people and places around me — and oh, of course, that’s not forgetting the Celtiberian, Phoenician and Roman-Moorish ghosts of the past …