Our Garden In April

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A view of the house and garden

Here are some photos taken of my garden yesterday.

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Pots in front of the house

When we moved here last summer the house already had a lovely garden but it had been a little neglected. Over the last few months we have been trimming the shrubs and roses, making new arrangements and sowing seeds in the greenhouse to transplant into pots for summer colour.

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This rose is heavily scented

We have an abundance of rose bushes. We severely pruned these in the winter and now they are full of bud. Next month they will all be in flower and will make a spectacular show but even now we have a few blooms. This is my favourite.

DSC04417aW.jpgHere is an arrangement of weathered bricks, collected from the riverbed, and terracotta pots which I assembled to display my cacti and succulents.

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Cacti and geraniums

I like this display of geraniums, cacti and miniature roses.

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Cement mixer

This is a old cement mixer bucket which I have planted with a climbing snail vine and trailing flowers. It should make a nice feature when the plants are in flower.

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In front of the house

Climbing roses and wistaria decorate the pergola leading into the house. We have collection of pots containing lavender, cosmos daisies, calendulas, geraniums and many others in front.

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Dappled sunlight

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Shade under the trees

Trees provide shade and the dappled sunlight shining through the leaves creates some lovely shadows. The trees attract nesting birds and there is always birdsong to enjoy, including the nightingales along the river below the house.

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Another aspect

Next month we will post some more photos of our garden which will be a blaze of colour then.

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Swimming pool

We have also cleaned the swimming pool this week. It looks tempting but the water is still a little cold for swimming.

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Habas, olive trees and the Sierra de Gador

On the land the vegetable patches are going well.  This is the optimum time of year for habas (broad beans) and we also have cauliflower, broccoli, chard, spinach, onions, garlic, radishes, beetroot and lettuce. We have planted tomatoes, peppers and aubergines for the summer.

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Orange and blossom

The orange trees are full of blossom but still have some fruit left. We have been enjoying our own freshly squeezed orange juice for five months now and have enough fruit to keep us going until the end of May.

 

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Shiba and Bobby

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Shiba with Bobby

The puppy we found abandoned in the River Andarax last week is doing well.

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A helping hand

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She is now eating special puppy food as well as taking her milk formula which she is now able to lap. Her eyes are beginning to open so she must be two weeks old now which means she was barely a week old when she was dumped in the river. We have called her Shiba.

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Shiba and Bobby

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Having her face cleaned

Bobby loves her and is very good at topping and tailing so she is always clean. He keeps dropping his toys into her basket and does not understand that she is too young to play.

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Together in the basket

According to our vet, Mari Carmen, she is a Mastín Español. This is a very large, ancient breed of dog originally used as a herding dog and for protecting flocks from predators such as wolves. We have come across several on cortijos where they are kept as guard dogs although they seem quite soft by nature and are good family dogs. Their size is intimidating though.

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Mastín Español

Here are some photos of Shiba and Bobby taken this morning and above a photo from the internet of an adult of her breed.

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Left to die in the river

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The puppy needs feeding about every three hours

Friday afternoon, while we were walking with our two dogs, Bobby and Blanquita, alongside the Rio Andarax from our home, we heard the plaintive cry of an animal. We thought it was a cat in distress but we could see nothing so we sent Bobby to investigate the sound. He found a small bundle of sodden brown fur lying on its back in the river shallows crying loudly and shivering with cold. It was a puppy, not much more than a week old, that had clearly been abandoned there to die.

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The Rio Andarax where the puppy was found

Normally there is very little water flowing in this stretch of the Rio Andarax but in spring the melt snow from the Sierra Nevada creates fast flowing streams of freezing cold water. There are no roads or houses beside the river here so we think the puppy may have been dumped from one of the surrounding fincas. Perhaps a farmer’s dog had a litter and she was excess to requirements, possibly because she is a bitch.

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Keeping warm by the fire

We took her home, dried and warmed her, and then to the vet in Alhama de Almeria when the surgery opened at 1730. Mari Carmen, the vet, gave the little bitch some specially formulated milk for puppies. She said the puppy had to be kept warm so we lit a fire last night. We have to feed her every three to four hours and wipe her bottom regularly. The vet commented that the puppy was very strong to survive the river and had suffered no ill effects. She will be a large dog and will win no beauty contests. Judging from images we have looked at on google, we think she is a Rottweiler cross. We will attempt to raise her until a suitable home can be found. 

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Santa Cruz de Marchena – Flora and Geology

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Santa Cruz de Marchena

Yesterday, on a beautiful spring morning, we took a circular walk around the hills behind the village of Santa Cruz de Marchena.

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Looking down on the rambla where the walk begins

We started the walk along the rambla at the far edge of the village and followed the track that leads up into the hills.

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Towards the Sierra Nevada

From here there are spectacular views looking north over the valley to the Sierra Nevada ….

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The Valley of the Nacimiento and Sierra de Gador

…. and also across to the Sierra de Gador to the west.

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Wild flowers and lichen

Compared to the Sierra de Gador opposite, these hills are quite barren but there was a profusion of wild flowers. Clumps of this yellow flower were commonplace. Lichen covered the rocks.

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Rock

The geology was also fascinating and we saw gypsum and thick bands of red iron oxide.

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Flora and geology

This photo describes an interesting combination of flora and rocks…

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The narrow path

The narrow path hugs the hillsides and is winding and undulating. It is quite steep in places so care has to be taken.

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Abandoned terraces

We found evidence of former agriculture like these abandoned terraces. Poor irrigation and access plus their small size make it no longer viable to farm these terraces.

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Blanquita, Margaret and eucalyptus tree

The landscape here is virtually without trees but we did walk by this lone eucalyptus. You can see old Blanquita in the photo above. She is now 13 but can manage a long walk at her own pace.

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Bobby found plenty to interest him

Young Bobby is far more active and loved this walk because he could run off searching for rabbits, looking for partridge to put up and chase lizards into bushes.

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Descending back down into the valley

The path descends to the old road to Santa Cruz and you can follow this back to the village and enjoy some refreshment at the friendly bar there. This walk took us about 2 hours but we walked slowly taking our time.

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El Pequeño Gabriel

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Poppies at Las Hortichuelas

Both Las Negras, where we used to live, and the nearby, tiny village of Las Hortichuelas, which we know well, are in a state of shock and dismay following the discovery of the body of Gabriel, aged just eight, in the car boot of the woman who allegedly murdered him. He disappeared after leaving his grandparents’ house in Las Hortichuelas to go to his cousins’ house just a short distance away. For nearly two weeks, hundreds of people had been involved in combing the area for clues as to his whereabouts and there was a manifestation of 18000 people in the city of Almeria to show solidarity on behalf of the distraught parents. The entire country is in official mourning for the little chap and in our village, Alhabia, at 11am, we had a two minutes’ silence for him, officiated by the Mayor.
Our thoughts are with all those who have been personally affected by this tragedy and, in memory, here is a watercolour of Gabriel’s village, Las Hortichuelas, which I painted a few years ago.

Here is a link from todays El Pais with the full story – https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/03/12/inenglish/1520840910_348403.html

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Dia De Andalucia – Migas En La Plaza

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The square in Alhabia

Today, while most of Europe and some of Spain are suffering from the freezing weather of The Beast From The East, in Southern Spain we are celebrating a public holiday, Dia de Andalucia, in temperatures of 20C+.

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Migas

In our village, Alhabia, the local women were cooking migas in the square and handing out free plates of this traditional dish to the community, together with a free glass of beer or wine.

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On the steps of the church

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Beneath the Castaña de India

Villagers sat on the steps of the church or under the huge tree, Castaña de India, in the square to enjoy their migas.

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Migas with jury, morcilla, salchichas and pimiento verde

In Almeria, migas is similar to couscous, using flour and water with fish and/or meat added.

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The ladies with migas extras

Today, the ladies enhanced the migas with jurel (fish), morcilla (black pudding), salchichas (sausages) and pimientos verde (green peppers).

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La Fiesta de Naranja, Gador

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The Town Hall of Gador yesterday

Yesterday the nearby town of Gador held its annual fiesta of the orange. Crowds turned up to drink fresh orange juice, eat orange fritters and stock up with oranges. We did not stay too long as we have so many oranges from our own orchard that despite getting through 12 a day ourselves and giving large bags of oranges to friends who visit we are not making much inroads into our crop. Unless produced on a large scale, oranges, unlike olives, are not a viable commercial crop.

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Oranges on the steps of the Town Hall

Still it was quite jolly at Gador. The town hall was bedecked with orange decorations with baskets of oranges in front.

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El Naranjero de Gador

The statue of the orange picker in the square was also adorned with oranges.

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Girls of Gador

Digby took these photos and decided that he would give these local girls dressed in traditional costumes an orange background too.

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