Showing posts from June, 2014

A Dangerous Life!

I often get envious reactions from friends and family when we talk about what we have been doing during the day.  We like to think that we work here, we are not on a permanent holiday, but our work is very enjoyable... most of the time. The job of the moment is clearing beneath the fig trees and taking off the suckers that grow from ground level. Here we have left some of the suckers in place so that they will grow a new branch to fill a gap. The figs are growing well and in another month we shall be eating fresh ones and when we have had enough of them the rest will be left to dry on the tree or to fall beneath and come September the remaining dried figs on the branches will be shaken loose and the whole lot gathered up into bags and taken to the co-op. The gathering up of the fallen figs is so much easier if the ground beneath is bare.  So a little hard work right now will make life easier for us in September.  Clipping off the suckers with secateurs and scraping th

Why Didn't I Think of That Before?

Until I started really thinking about how much electricity we use I had never considered an alternative wash programme on my washing machine. I think I was simply stuck in a groove.  I use the wool wash for my jumpers and the sports wash for Steve's cycling gear and then the cottons wash for my sheets and the mixed load for general clothes.  The quickest of these is the wool wash at 40m minutes.  The sheets would take more than an hour.  Its simply that I just thought my clothes needed this amount of washing... or perhaps I just didn't think at all because actually they don't. Today I changed all that.  I have a programme on the machine that says Super Quick.  It is a fifteen minute wash.  Since most of my clothes are only a little sweaty not actually dirty then surely fifteen minutes would be enough? I did three loads of washing in 45 minutes - including towels which I normally would bung in with the sheets for a long wash.  Blimey I've saved a lot of elect

Summer Projects - sewing

During the height of summer - still to come - the weather gets so hot we are unable to do any work outside after lunch until about 8 or 9 o'clock at night.  What to do during the hottest part of the day?  Last year we watched a lot of tv and recorded films and caught up with reading.  This year I am determined to get some sewing projects done. Firstly I have gifts to make.  So.... today I am going to show you a book I made. The fabric cover is the ultimate in recycling.  You know all those teeny tiny scraps of fabric that get cut off the edges of things while you are making them?  Oh yes and the threads that generally go to waste.  Well I save all of them.  I keep a plastic bag attached to the sewing table.  I used to selotape it to the edge of the table in front of the sewing machine and I would simply drop all the scraps into it.  I used to throw these away until I discovered that I could re-use even the tiniest bit of waste thread. I cannot claim to have invented thi

The Trouble with Sunshine is...

Image is too blasted hot!  On my allotments in the UK I had a lot less sunshine and a major problem growing some things due to  the damp and wet, tomatoes and potatoes with blight (year after year), the voracious slugs and on one allotment... deer jumping the fence to nibble the lettuce.  The weeds grew rampant and you had to really keep on top of them or your veggies would be swamped in a matter of days.  I used to dream of a perfect summer, more sunshine for sure.  'What couldn't I grow if we just had more sunshine?' Well I got what I wished for... but of course its not all plain sailing.  I have simply swapped one set of niggles for another.  We have very sandy soil that doesn't seem to hold any moisture at all but luckily the weeds do not take hold so fast, those that do have shallow roots and pull out very easily. The soil needs improving and that is going to take me a few years of adding compost, there is no quick fix for this... just continuing to add n

All Good Things...

...must come to an end and so it is that our American volunteers left this morning for Madrid and the rest of their holiday, leaving the finca strangely quiet, apart from the sound of the washing machine that is... isn't it always the way after you have visitors?  We really are very grateful for all their hard work.  Our water meadow has been cut, phew, what a job that was and one that we really couldn't get to grips with.  At the start of the week they thought it would only take them a day to cut it... Well we knew different.  Its more weeds than grass here and its very tough, but they were so enthusiastic we didn't want to burst the bubble.  In the end it took the three of them nearly a week to do it. Working hard in the heat, good for the muscles - better than a workout in the gym!  But also getting hayfever and stung by wasps and friction burns from wearing inappropriate clothing for work (jeans!) and numerous other bites from unseen and perhaps unknown bugs a

The Castle at Trujillo

Trujillo is one of our most favourite towns in Extremadura.  We decided to take our American visitors for a day trip out to experience some Spanish history.  We don't as a rule take our volunteers on sight seeing trips.  There is a good reason for this.  We are usually working very hard while they are here and on our day off we simply want to chill and prefer to let them have some time to themselves. But we sometimes make an exception when our volunteers are especially hard working and as pleasant company as these three are. On previous visits to Trujillo we haven't been into the castle at the top of the town.  This time we did and it was stupendous. The view from the top is breathtaking. I don't do heights too well especially since there were no safety railings or hand holds.  In spite of the vertigo it is refreshing to be able to visit an Ancient monument, take the dog in with us, and not have signs saying 'no entry' across intriguing doorways

Fresh Eyes

When new Volunteers arrive we are reminded of how special this place is and how lucky we are to live here all the time.  Kjell, Marco and Graham arrived on Monday evening.  They are from the USA, have just finished college and thought they would take a different type of vacation.  It isn't an easy thing to decide to travel half way around the world to a remote area in a country you are not familiar with and only speak a little of the language, to work for people you have never met and not knowing exactly where you will sleep or what you will be eating. It takes a sense of adventure to turn browsing the internet into negotiating the bus ride from Madrid airport to the train station, purchasing of tickets to a city you can't even pronounce and then four hours of watching the countryside pass by... hoping that the people you emailed will be there to meet you when you arrive.  Thank goodness for those with a sense of adventure, or we would never get any Volunteers at all.