What I’ve been up to this week in my country abode of Posadas (Cordova)

Hi folks! Firstly, I hope this find you all in good health and spirits.

Secondly — what I’ve been up to. Well, I’ve had a bit of a busy week what with teaching, writing and doing some of my craftwork — as well as a) straightening out my vegetable patch after the wild boar broke in again, and b) preparing the olives for marinating that I am picking from our trees. And so I would just like to share with you some photos of my progress. Starting with a):-

Here he is, the ‘little’ blighter, sniffing around for acorns and roots! (Canva)
I had to straighten the pepper plants after ‘he’ had a go at them (but ‘he’ avoided the chilli peppers this time!)
That’s me hard at work with the roll of black string, tying up the tomato plants that have got taller than me. I tied them to the arched ribs that once used to support plastic sheeting when this used to be a greenhouse, but temperatures soared too high in the summer so I had to do away with it. Note the very blue Andalusian skies!
Old olive trees grow all around. I will be picking some of these too for my marinated olives — the manzanilla and gordal variety for pickling

The first step in preparing the olives is to cut each one of them (you can also lightly crush them, or not cut them at all but place them in caustic soda for a while. I have never yet tried these last two methods.) As you can see, I had a little bit of help…

Bag of small alberquina olives from a 2 and a 1/2 year old tree
Curious kitten wondering about the small alberquina olives from a 2 and a 1/2 year old tree
Curious kitten getting all anxious to lend a helping paw with the small alberquina olives from a 2 and a 1/2 year old tree
But I take command of the knife with which I make a sharp cut in the small alberquina olives from a 2 and a 1/2 year old tree! (And my fingers get oilier, greener and purply by the minute!)

The olives in the photos were picked from my son’s young olive grove…

This grove lies just by the old cattle track, Cañada Real Soriana that skirts the foothills of the Sierrezuela de Guadalbaida, and the Roman quarry, Cantera Honda.  It stretches approx. 500 miles, originating in Soria, NE of Madrid, then across the Sierra Morena continuing west to Seville, passing close to the Guadalquivir River and the Puente Romano (Roman bridge) in Cordova on the way.

The Cañada Real Soriana cattle track is number 7 on the Wiki map. (You might need your magnifying glass to spot it!)

And now to the first theme: my craftwork. Well, I have just finished making my angels (or fairies, call them what you want!) — and they are available to the public. So here are the little‘uns:-

Well, that’s all for this week. Thank you for reading — comments and questions always welcome.

Take care! xxx

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.

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!

What I’ve been up to these days of ‘Stay at home!’…

Hello again to all of you. I hope this blog finds you well — and hopeful too (we must always strive to stay hopeful, especially in these worrying times)…

Anyway, I haven’t been out much, save for the permitted one hour of exercise which has to be performed during 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., or in the evening between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., (although the timetable has become freer from last Monday as we leave Phase 0 and enter Phase 1). I have been at home a lot, painting, tending (unprofessionally) to my garden and vegetable patch — as the photos below will show. In the last few days I have also been out walking along the foothills of the local Sierrezuela that form part of the vast Natural Park of Hornachuelos (see my blogs: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/484; https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/548; and https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/605 for photos and a brief history of this area).

It was really an excuse to take my 22-year-old daughter out a bit, as she is missing her usual student life in Córdoba, her friends and also more importantly, her lovely boyfriend. Although Córdoba is just a bus and train ride away and it is permitted to travel (clad in masks and observing the safety rules), we think it is a bit premature to go rushing headlong into things — better to be patient, go slowly but to get there safely, rather than being impatient and perhaps undoing what has been achieved over these weeks of confinement.

Anyway, enough of the waffle for now, and here are those promised photos…

As you can see my vegetable patch is very ecological — no herbicides nor pesticides, just pure elbow grease and some lovely weeds growing complementary to the veg. Here you can see peppers on the right, then potatoes and courgettes working leftways. The potatoes are flowering — wonder when I should pull them out…
The first plum tomatoes are making their appearance… Many of these plants I rescued as seedlings that were growing up from last year’s compost heap (that is, what remains of it after the wild boars have had their fill!)
The first green pepper… Italian I think — great for peperonata! (Do look at my future blogs which will include unprofessional and natural photos of some of my homely recipes…)
You can’t quite appreciate the size of these white courgettes, but they are growing rather monstruous! I made a courgette bake with a cheesey bechemel/souffle topping yesterday in my new oven — great for my son who’s a vegetarian. My maternal grandmother who was from north Italy (Alessandria province in the Piedmont region) used to stuff the yellow flowers, then roll them in egg and breadcrumbs before frying them. (No, I won’t be showing you any photos of me attempting this!)
Here they are again. Although the soil quality has a tendency to be poor (we are on top of a hill so all the topsoil has washed down, leaving the schisty rock exposed), I have heaped on loads of horse manure that one of our friends kindly gave us. (There’s nothing like manure, or seeds or cuttings or paintbrushes or oil paints or canvas that makes an ideal present for me!)
The potatoes are flowering. I’m waiting for the growing potatoes to start showing above the earth before I can then heap up more earth over them, just as I have seen in a gardening programme on television. I hope the slugs won’t get them, but I am collectiong egg shells to crush and scatter around the plants. The yuccas at the back will hopefully make a hedge, deterring any invasion from wild boars or the neighbours straying cows, who did trample down the wire fence last year and ate all the vegetables from every single plant except for the chilli peppers!
And here’s a Spanish cucumber (short variety). I am training them up and along the wire fence so that they won’t trail on the ground. They’re delicious — I didn’t realise until recently just how good cucumbers are for you: not just hydrating (and we need it, today is already 33 degrees celsius, going up to 38 on Friday, that is 100.4 F!) — but also packed full of minerals. (I am in Posadas, Cordova, inland Andalusia. Hot!)
My faithful helper. I have five cats and seven kittens (no problem with rats or mice, but I do feel sorry for the lizards and geckoes though! However, they’re not too partial to the dreaded amber-coloured scorpions or millipedes, but they do have fun with the snakes…).
And there’s Stawberry, another of my helpers walking between the rows of courgette and aubergine plants.

Apart from gardening and using the fruits of my labour in the kitchen, I have also been painting. (Oil on canvas. This painting and my others are for sale by the way: some are advertised on this link, as so is my humorous, fully-illustrated book An English Lady in Cordova — the Alternative Guide. https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect Well, here are a few self-explanatory photos:

I hope you enjoyed this blog — thank you for visiting and look forward to writing again soon. Take good care of yourselves. Bye for now!

The hope that nature brings

Hi folks, I’m back — but as you know, travel now has been severely curtailed here due to this devastating virus, so apart from this having had the effect of numbing my inspiration for writing, my outings and amateurish photography have been limited to my country (which is a privilege in itself). I am observing the quarantine as are the Malenans (inhabitants of Posadas), who have been also shown such solidarity, by, for example, volunteering to disinfect the streets and buildings and also to make face masks, which, in the space of a couple of days, they have managed to sew 1000 of them! I take my hat off to these volunteers and to all the other helpers, such as the doctors, nurses, carers, police, firemen/women, cleaners, transport service, people who are collaborating from home by putting up videos helping us employ our time constructively and many others — these, along with the people who are strictly observing quarantine at home are the true heroes. We have to fight this thing together, with unity and solidarity.

I am lucky to live in the country and have some freedom of movement, so I have been tending my weed-filled vegetable patch (aided by my daughter and also the cats and two dogs when they manage to wriggle under the wire fence — the animals, that is!) and I have also been doing a little photography of the flowers and trees that are steadily unfurling their leaves and coming into colourful, delicate bloom. So for this post, I would just like to share some of these photos with you all — nature is an inspiration in itself!

But to kick off, here is a photo of my wild asparagus cooked in spicy, herby tomato sauce, the recipe of which I wrote in my last blog (but unfortunately at that time, didn’t have a picture of!).

My cat Strawberry isn't much help with weeding the parsley and spinach patch in the garden
For the recipe of this wild asparagus dish, see my last blog. (The croutons are missing here, because I didn’t have any spare old bread — the dogs had first choice!)
The apricot tree is leafing after having flowered. Looking forward to making pots of jam and chutney — they make great presents!

I hope you have enjoyed the pictures, and thanks for visiting my blog!