Olive picking here in Posadas! (Cordova, Spain)

Hi folks! Hope you’re keeping fine…

Well, it’s that time of year again! And when I say ‘That time’, I mean olive picking time!

My son has been busy: firstly he and his friend picked some of the trees on the flatter ground around our house. The trees are old and beautiful, what with their greyish, twisted, gnarling trunks — each one different, individual, possessing its own character and personality.

The trees are ‘secano meaning dry, not irrigated and are also grown ecologically (no chemicals, pesticides etc.) The variety of olive is ‘lechin — this is an ovoidal and slightly asymmetric olive and the leaves are elliptical, short and of medium width. It is considered a variety of rustic olive, with cold tolerance, very good adaptation to limestone soils and very high resistance to drought.

As you can see from the photos, these were picked by hand. The branches were vigorously beaten with long, light and very strong fibreglass poles. The olives fell onto the large nets which were spread around the base of the tree and then these were gathered up and tipped straight into a trailer.

Meanwhile, I looked on eagerly…

The boys worked from 8:30 am to about 5 pm, (stopping to have a hearty lunch of green pepper, onion and nutty macaroni cheese, with homemade chips cooked Italian-style in olive oil and butter and seasoned with plenty of salt, garlic and rosemary; this was followed by a generous chunk of my homemade apple cake, the recipe of which I have included below).

Not many chips on this plate because it was for me and I’m watching my weight a bit! (Shame!) The dark ‘slop’ was actually a very delicious black bean stew.

The lunch certainly recharged their batteries, and by the time they finished work, they had picked 550 kilos!!! The following day they drove the olives to the local press in Posadas and the fruit was converted to olive oil — thick, greeny-gold and strong-smelling, still with bits of olive debris floating about which eventually settles to the bottom (i.e. unrefined, first-pressing, virginal and in all its purity — like I used to be!). The booty was equally divided between the two boys, so now we have about 10 x 5-litre bottles of gorgeous oil, which should keep us going for a while!

Last weekend there was more olive picking in my son’s finca (located on the foothills of the Sierrezuela), but this time, because the olive trees are still fairly small, being only three years old and planted as semi-intensive, the tractor was called in to pick them. This was fascinating for me because I have never seen one of these 3 &1/2 m tall giants at work. It passes over the trees and vibrates them with it ‘jaws’ while at the same time, guzzles up all the olives. No wonder these tractors are so expensive — this one’s price was 250.000 € (about £210.000!).

When the deposit is full of olives, it then spews out its contents into the hungry truck that awaits close by.

The work commenced at 8am and by 3 p.m. they finished (just as well, since the tractor charges a hefty price per hour!). Mind you, this will only be the method for the next year or two, while the olive trees can fit under the tractor. The idea is to let these grow tall and big so that they can be picked by hand when they are more mature. I think that the olives weighed in at a handsome 5000, more or less and will also be used for oil. The variety of olive is arberquina, a smaller, rounder olive that produces a sweet oil with no bitter aftertaste and gives fruity aromas, like banana and apple. It has a soft, sweet aroma.

So we had some enjoyable and profitable days! But not so fast — it’ll be my turn for action soon, once I have picked some olives that have turned from green to black. I will prepare them Greek style, that is by first preserving them under salt for about three weeks (after having previously put a cut in each one), and when they have dried and become all wrinkly, I will wash all the salt away, dry them thoroughly, then pack them into jars and perhaps top with some oil and maybe flavour with oregano. They are delicious! See this link for photos of the process.

Anyway, I think I’ve gone on for long enough for now!

Thank you for visiting! Your comments and/or questions are always welcome…

Until next time — take care! xxx

Watermelons, sheep and cows, here in Posadas (province of Cordova)

Hi folks! I hope that this finds you well despite the difficult times we are all experiencing, one way or another…

I just wanted to share a couple of photos with you (well, three actually!) which prove that it’s not just us here in Posadas who keep cool and hydrated with WATERMELONS

…but the sheep and cows too!

So if you don’t believe me, below is the proof!

The above farm is situated on the footslopes of the Sierrezuela Park which forms part of the large Nature Reserve of Hornachuelos, which is an ecological haven boasting a wide variety of fauna and flora. There are also great walks/hikes/running circuits/adventure park, and you can also appreciate the ancient history via its Stone Age dolmens (as well as enjoy the bar, restaurant or do-it-yourself picnic/BBQ area). To view more about this area you can visit my previous blogs, here and here.

But coming back to the watermelons… they might seem just simply watery, juicy and refreshing, but actually they’re packed full with goodness. Here are some of their plus points:

1) They keep you hydrated due to their high water content.They contain nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.

2) One cup (154 grams) of watermelon has many nutrients, including these vitamins and minerals:—

Vitamin C: 21% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)

Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI

Potassium: 5% of the RDI

Magnesium: 4% of the RDI

Vitamins B1, B5 and B6: 3% of
the RDI

3) Watermelons contain compounds that may help prevent cancer, such as cucurbitacin E and lycopene (though study results are mixed).

4) They may improve heart health as they contain several heart-healthy components, including lycopene, amino acid citrulline and other vitamins and minerals.

5) They can lower inflammation and oxidative stress because lycopene and vitamin C are anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases.

6) They may help prevent macular degeneration also due to their lycopene content.

7) Watermelons may help relieve muscle soreness — the amino acid citrulline may be partially responsible for its effect of easing this tenderness.

8) They are good for skin and hair because they contain vitamins A and C.

9) They can improve digestion as they are fibre-rich, and last (but not least),

10) being rich in lycopene, your body’s arginine levels are increased, which helps up the body’s fat-burning potential. At the same time the juicy red fruit helps the body burn fat, it also builds lean muscle. Just 1 cup a day does the trick.

CONCLUSION: it’s no wonder they feed watermelons to the sheep and cattle!!!

But now I’d like to finish off with a photo that has absolutely nothing at all to do with watermelons… my new kitten (one of four, but fifteen cats in total!).

Here kitty kitty!!!! (Come and have some watermelon!!)

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

Bye for now — take care xxx     

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

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

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!

My morning walk and a few of my neighbours (in the countryside of Posadas, Cordova — Andalusia)

Hi folks! It’s another hot day with temperatures now at the 45 °C = 113 °F mark.

This is what the banks of our local reservoir, La Breña, look like! (Courtesy of Canva — not mine of course!)

However, I did actually manage to brave the day by forcing my weary, hardly-no-sleep-at-night body out of bed, into the shower and then into my car (after having had cornflakes with wheatgerm, raisins and banana for an energising breakfast, accompanied by a mug of strong Tetley’s (tea, not beer) brewed with cloves, ginger and cinnamon to help combat the high temperatures. I then feed the twelve cats and watered my vegetable patch which hasn’t been attacked by the wild boars or stray cow since the last event.

So then, as I said before, I got in my old, second-hand, light-grey Peugeot (308, is it?), which is more like reddish-brown due to the dust of the dried earth having formed a cloak over it. (No point washing it because it just takes one trip down the 4 km country track to be all earth-smutten again…)

I then drove ten minutes to the Sierrezuela Periurban Park where I went for a vigorous, 9 o’ clock, uphill hike, taking advantage of the temperature at that time being only 25 °C = 77 °F.

I did wear trousers this time, avoiding any nasty bites from the horsefly, tiger mosquitos, spiders (and snakes perhaps).

Apart from the fact that these creatures lurk about, I love to walk here because the shade and scent of the lofty pines and the sound of the breeze swaying in their branches reminds me of the many happy holidays I enjoyed in Bournemouth with my parents and brother. We used to go there every summer, spending the whole day on the beach, then walking on the pine-covered cliff tops in the evenings, or in the Winter Gardens all lit by fairy lights and candles — that was after we would eat out in the ‘Caribbean’, finishing the meal with a huge knickerboker glory!

It was all a long time ago — about thirty five years — but the happy memories are still fresh in my mind… I thank my parents for those lovely holidays…

But that’s enough of reminiscing for now — I was just explaining why I like going to the Sierrezuela so much.

(By the way, you can read a brief description of this park in three of my earlier blogs if you like, listed below. The Sierrezuela forms part of the extensive, well-known Hornachuelos Natural Park which is rich in faunal and floral diversity, including loads of different types of eagles, and lots of routes to hike and lakes to fish in or canoe on. See this link for more — https://www.andalucia.org/en/natural-spaces-sierra-de-hornachuelos — includes a slide show and photos far better than mine!)

So I got back to car (temperatures were an acceptable 29 °C), but I was grateful for the flask of cold water I had brought along and the wet wipes. I quenched my thirst and mopped my sweating brow (and armpits!). I then got back in the car, drove down the hills, then along the country plains, where I then parked between the fields and walked a bit more, this time to look for flat, round stones (the reason is given below). It was getting hot by the time I had finished (34 °C at 11 o’ clock, not too bad), so I decided to head home.

Inquisitive…
Greedy — eating the olives off the lower branches

I drove the 4 km of tarmac road back, passing Posadas village before reaching my stony, desert-like, car-suspension-breaking, uphill track. On my way, I passed some of my favourite neighbours:

And definitely nosey!

There was also the pig that had strayed from its farm…

The escapee!

And one of the many hoopoes that frequent the area…

At first, I thought the hoopoe was a woodpecker.

And as I reached home I was greeted by part of my brood who always give me a good welcome.

Just a few of my cats and animals

(But more about my animals in later blogs.)

Well, that’s all for now — thank you for reading. Your comments or questions are always welcome.

Here are the Sierrezuela links I mentioned earlier — (please excuse the quality of my photos — I was just starting out!)

I hope this finds you in good health and spirits!

PS. What I’m making: I’m about to start my new art/craft project using my new acrylic paints and paint pens, which will include painted stones, cork, terracotta tiles, wood and other locally-sourced stuff to form ‘The Wild Garden Collection’.

What I’m thinking: ‘Will I ever be able to sell any of my art things or books online — or will I always be poor?’

What I’m liking: The air conditioning — though this is limited to up until 6 p.m. due to the limited electricity supply which comes via solar panels only!

What I’m not liking: The modern-day use of the present continuous i.e. ‘I’m liking / I’m not liking’ instead of ‘I like / I don’t like’ — but then that’s just me being old-fashioned and out of date!

xxx

A photo-guided walk through the Sierrezuela (it’s beginning to bloom!) — and a recipe for wild asparagus in tomato

Hi folks! I’m back again — but this time with less waffle and more photos. After all, a picture’s worth a hundred words, isn’t it?

The topic’s the same as last time — the beautiful Sierrezuela of Posadas which forms part of the vast Natural Park of Hornachuelos. View on (and please consult the following links for more… https://www.posadas.es/turismo/patrimonio_natural/parque_periurbano_la_sierrezuela and http://turismoposadas.es/wp-content/uploads/guia-educacion-ambiental-sierrezuela.pdf — both great for your Spanish!! Also, not forgetting my illustrated book An English Lady in Cordova, available from me and also from here https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect. View for more descriptions of this neck of the woods and to learn of my humorous adventures!)

Recipe for wild asparagus in a rich tomatoey sauce (my way)

Ingredients

A bunch of wild asparagus

Olive oil

Some tomato concentrate (‘tomate frito’ if you are in Spain – about 220 g) and a couple of chopped tomatoes if you have them

A fat onion, chopped

A couple of cloves of garlic, squashed

2 cloves

Cumin powder and smoked sweet paprika – a tsp of each

Small glass of red wine or ‘fino’ or ordinary white, if that’s what you happen to have

Salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste

Croutons fried in olive oil (don’t let the oil smoke!)

Method

Cut the tender top parts of the asparagus into 1 cm pieces (or to your liking). In a pan, fry the chopped onion in a generous amount of olive oil, on medium fire. Add the garlic after about a couple of minutes, when the onion is translucent. Cook for a further minute. Now add the cumin and paprika powders and the cloves. Stir-fry a bit longer, then chuck in your asparagus bits. Increase the fire and throw in the booze. Let it bubble away so that most of it evaporates, then add your tomatoes and puree. (If you don’t have chopped tomatoes, don’t worry, add more puree. You’re aiming for a rich tomato gravy.) When it starts bubbling a lot, add your salt, pepper and about a teaspoon of sugar (wild asparagus can be quite bitter). Let it simmer with lid half on until the asparagus is tender and a rich, tomatoey gravy has formed. Check for seasoning. You can always add more cumin and smoked sweet paprika if you like. In a separate frying pan, cook your croutons in olive oil, then add to the cooked asparagus dish.

And Bob’s your uncle — ready to eat!

PS. If you don’t want to waste the woody, prickly stalk of the asparagus, you can simmer these together with other vegetables, to make a stock. Might have to add a pinch of sugar or extra carrots to balance out the bitterness though.

And as for my vegetable patch — no photos this time because it is looking pretty much the same — except it now has the addition of a worrying amount of furry caterpillars that are steadily and stealthily invading the whole of the countryside! Let’s see if my Swiss chard and spinach seedlings escape their voracious jaws…

That’s all for now — thanks for reading — back soon!

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!