The Botanists are here

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Botanists in the rambla

The professors and students from Kew Gardens, London, are here in Las Negras at the moment enjoying their annual field trip. This is the 27th consecutive year the group has come here in the spring to study the flora.

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Studying flora in the rambla

On their first day, last Friday, they walked from Las Negras to Las Hortichuelas via the rambla that passes below our house.

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Caralluma Europaea

Here, the students were able to see rarities such as a pink dianthus, exclusive to the Cabo de Gata, and Caralluma europaea, the latter somewhat shrivelled because of the drought. There is also an attractive white daisy, which is uncommon, found here.

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Rambla Aires de Las Negras

In 1988, Professor Jim Ross from the Department of Botany at the University of Reading, was on holiday in Las Negras. We took him on this walk and he was so impressed with the flora that he decided to bring his students here the following year for their annual field trip which we organized for them. The department of Botany at Reading University closed a few years ago when the professors, Jim Ross and Stephen Jury, retired but the group from Kew Gardens, who joined the Reading group in the early years, continue to come here.

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On the cliff path

On Saturday and Monday the group visited Sorbas and Las Filabres but we caught up with them again yesterday when they walked the cliff path from Las Negras to El Playazo. This route is rich in flora, especially maritime species, and there was much to study.

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On the cliffs

I showed the professors photos of the yellow-wort found in Rambla de Las Negras on Sunday (see previous blog) and was pleased when they confirmed that the flower has not been recorded here before.

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Convolvulus

The students were excited to find an example of a pretty convolvulus which is not uncommon in the Cabo de Gata but, because of the dry winter, is scarce this spring.

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El Playazo

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Beach below the castle

El Playazo and the small beach below the castle looked beautiful yesterday in the dazzling spring sunshine. Here are some photos.

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Rambla de Las Negras

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Walking up the rambla alongside a trickling stream

Yesterday morning we walked up the Rambla de Las Negras, known locally as Los Barrancos, in the Spring sunshine. This rambla leads off the Rambla de Las Aguillas at the edge of the village inland towards the mountains and is the only one in Las Negras which always has water trickling down it all year.

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Yellow – wort

We were looking at the wild flowers and came across a drift of yellow-wort, a plant we haven’t encountered before in the Cabo de Gata.

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Swallowtail on limonium

We mentioned the abundance of butterflies this spring. Here is a swallowtail on a flowering limonium.

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Manfred’d cottage

Eventually the rambla opens out into a beautiful valley hidden by mountains. Here our friend Manfred lives in this little stone casita. The yellow flowers of the aloe vera surround his house.

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Looking back down the rambla

The views are magnificent looking back down the rambla.

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Abandoned cortijo

This abandoned little cortijo would make a great project to restore. Unfortunately, the only access is by a narrow footpath and it is over half-an-hours walk from the edge of the village.

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Daisy in a rock pool

When we walked back down it became quite hot but the dogs were able to cool down in the rock pools.

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After Easter

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Remaing visors enjoying Las Negras

Thanks to the sunny, warm weather, last week our little corner of Andalucia was packed with visitors for Semana Santa. The whole of Spain must have headed south to enjoy the spring sunshine. At last the crowds have gone but the fine weather continues.

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Boats on the beach

Here are some photos taken in Las Negras yesterday morning.

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Las Negras yesterday morning

The remaining visitors have been able to enjoy it here at its tranquil best.

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San Pedro with bananas

This morning we walked to San Pedro which, as always, was idyllic.

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Aloe and fig tree

The yellow flowers of the aloe vera and the fresh, green leaves of the fig trees make a striking contrast against the blues of the sky and sea.

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San Pedro beach and castle

The beach was virtually deserted although there were a few swimmers and sunbathers.

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Hippy shack

The colourful, hippy shacks behind the beach looked very attractive today.

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Clear waters of San Pedro

The water here is crystal clear and the sandy beach is very different from Las Negras, which is mostly pebbles at the moment.

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Spanish Festoon butterfly

The lack of rain means that the botanists from Kew Gardens, who arrive next week for their annual field trip to Las Negras ,will be disappointed with the lack for flora. There are many spectacular butterflies about though. Here is a Spanish Festoon.

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From the beach at San Pedro

A final photo from San Pedro

 

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House with pool for sale in Las Negras

House and pool

House and pool

We have decided to put our house in Las Negras up for sale. Although it is an excellent and comfortable property it is too large for us and we would like to downsize to reduce our overheads and domestic chores and are looking for a smaller property here. Our villa is one of 15 modern houses at the end of a cul de sac on the edge of the Las Negras. This is a quiet and sunny location about 15 minutes walk to the village centre and beach. Above and beyond the houses are the hills and mountains of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata and below is the rambla, Aires de Las Negras, up which you can walk to the next village inland, Las Hortichuelas.

Fron garden and door

Front garden

The property, which is semi-detached, is situated in a fenced plot of 500 square metres.

Front garden and Daisy

Front garden and Daisy

To the front of the property which faces south east is a cactus garden, parking space and porch.

Swimming pool in back garden

Swimming pool in back garden

A narrow garden runs down the side to the back of the house were there is a swimming pool and a sun terrace below.

Sun terrace

Sun terrace

This part of the garden faces south west, affords a good deal of privacy and shelter, and is perfect for taking the afternoon sun. It is warm enough to sunbathe here throughout the year.

Living area

Living area

The house itself is over 270 square metres. On the ground floor is a large, open plan living dining area, modern fitted kitchen and cloakroom.

Kitchen

Kitchen

To the rear of the kitchen is an internal patio and patio doors also lead from the kitchen to the back garden and pool. The living area has a large picture window with views over the pool to the mountains.

Corner of the living room

Corner of the living room

In a corner of the living area is a wood burning stove.

Main Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Upstairs are three large bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Master bedroom and terrace

Master bedroom and terrace

The master bedroom at the front of the house has an en suite bathroom and patio doors to a terrace which receives the first rays of sunlight in the morning.

Second bedroom

Second bedroom

To the back of the house are two more double bedrooms, one of which has a terrace with mountain views and another bathroom.

Third bedroom

Third bedroom

Stairs from the ground floor read down to a huge basement. We use this for storage and office space but it could be used as a games room, gymnasium or guest apartment.

The property is for sale for 275,000 euros. For further information please contact digmerry@gmail.com

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Save the Pitas

Bea Eaters

Bee Eaters

We understand that the authorities want to destroy the agaves (pitas) in the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata where I live because they regard them as an invasive species not indigenous to the area. Our local paper has an article about this today.
Opponents of this, including myself, see the agave as a symbol of the Parque Natural and Almeria. Also, I have observed that they play an important role in supporting local birdlife. When the stems of the pitas shoot up from their spiky leaves, they produce clusters of vivid yellow-green flowers. These attract hosts of insects which, in turn, attract birds. Even when the plants have died, the woody stems offer perches for birds in what is a semi-arid and mostly treeless zone. Birds which I have seen in agaves include bee eaters, little owls, shrikes, hoopoes and great spotted cuckoos.
My pastel painting of bee eaters perched on an agave in the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata illustrates my point.

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Rat band at the rastrillo

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Market in the square of Fernán Pérez

This morning, we went to the monthly Sunday rastrillo at Fernán Pérez, a neighbouring village just a few minutes drive inland from Las Negras. It was similar to the monthly Sunday market in Las Negras but we felt the ambience was better as all the stalls were crammed into the village square and we saw many familiar faces.

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Rats in the street

At about midday a troupe of street entertainers in rat costumes appeared from a house nearby.

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Rat music

They entered the square and entertained the crowd with music and theatre.

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Margaret ratted

A couple of them took a breather and squeezed in either side of Margaret on a bench.

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Dancing with rats

The group engaged with the crowd, encouraging people to join them in dance and —

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Ratting on children

— involved the children as well.

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Chasing tails

The public appreciated the show.

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The rat show

The rats are apparently German. Last month they were chickens! We will go again next month (first Sunday of each month) to see what form their next appearance will take.

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Reyes Pandora, in the spirit of Julio

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Reyes Pandora on the bar at El Brindi Negro

 

One of the iconic bars of Las Negras is El Brindi Negro. It has been popular not only for the delicious and creative raciones and tapas produced by Miguel but also for its inspirational and way out decor designed by his partner Julio.

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The restaurant in El Brindi Negro

 

After Julio passed away last autumn we wondered whether the ambience of the bar would fade away and who would step up to refresh the decor and redress the mannequins.

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Reyes Pandora

Reyes Pandora, a frequent visitor to Las Negras from Madrid, has taken up the challenge and, every time she comes to our village, reclothes the mannequins and refreshes the decor of the bar.

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Reyes with one of her mannequins —

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— and another

This morning I asked her to pose with some of her creations.

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Reyes and friend by the window

I have always enjoyed taking photos inside El Brindi Negro and I think you will find from these images that the ambience of the bar has not changed and the spirit of Julio lives on thanks to Reyes Pandora.

Photos by Digby Merry

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