Miles walked: 33.3 Miles to go: 466.7
After a few days away on business in France, it was good to leave the chaos of holiday traffic behind and get back to the peace of mountain living.
With Roger busy grappling with the unpredictable behaviour of several different types of plaster (yeso) on the kitchen walls and ceiling, I have been free to spend all my time outside. There is much harvesting to be done. The French beans and courgettes just keep coming, the cucumbers are beyond belief.
Peas are the only vegetable we freeze and picking and podding is a (very pleasant) daily task.
Picking the ‘Blue Lake’ and ‘Violet Podded’climbing beans is proving a tad tricky, especially as ladders and slopes don’t work!
The greatest luxury for us at the moment is the abundance of peaches. They are so fragrant, the whole garden is perfumed by them and their flavour is like nothing else – so far removed from any shop-bought peach I’ve ever tasted. We are eating them straight from the tree, sun-warmed and velvety, so juicy they are as good as a drink. We have frozen some and given others away. Roger has been making a gorgeous peach crumble with a topping of mainly oats and walnuts (we still have sacks of those . . .) which he cooks first on a tray and then on the fruit so it’s like a crunchy flapjack (thanks to our son-in-law Gwyn for that idea!). Truly scrumptious.
I’ve started to restore the flower borders along the side of the lane. This might sound like a genteel activity but so far it seems to have involved hauling trugs of rocks (las piedras – my word of the day as taught by a neighbour passing through with her dog) and rubble out and then replacing them with equally heavy trugs of well-rotted manure (the hill where I’m working is too steep for a wheelbarrow). At one time, this has been a pretty stretch but in recent times seems to have been used as a general dumping ground for building rubble. There are a few plants worth saving but most have had their day so it’s time for a clear out, ready to plant in the autumn. Then there’s the other (much longer) side to tackle and hopefully next summer it will be a riot of colour.
Speaking of which, I love the Spanish love of colour. The local houses and gardens are so bright and cheerful: there is such a sense of fun and joie de vivre about them, they make me smile (even the acid green farmhouse which almost requires dark glasses to view). One of our projects here is to seriously ‘de-brownify’ – there is a LOT of brown and while it has its place at times, that place is not here. We also want to minimise the impact of the concrete, there’s a lot of that, too. We can’t get rid of it so ways to hide or soften it are top of the agenda. I started this week by tackling a dull corner which is opposite the house and in front of the barn. It’s the spot that catches the first rays of sunshine as they come up over the top of the mountain so a lovely place for breakfast or a cuppa but just so grey and uninspiring. We’ve had a garden bench there for a while but that was also in serious need of a facelift. Time to swap my spade for a paintbrush and get busy.
Pelargoniums (which I still think of as geraniums even though I know that’s wrong) are going to be a major source of colour next year. They are the perfect plant for the climate and the job and it will make a welcome change not to have to worry about keeping them warm over winter. I’m growing some from seed and others from cuttings, all doing well so far.
Isn’t it funny how strong personal tastes and preferences can be? I think agapanthus are beautiful things and I’m pleased to see them growing and thriving everywhere here. Ours are a variety called ‘Northern Star’ and they have been fantastic this year. We were given them five years ago on Sam’s 18th birthday as a ‘well done on raising all your children to adulthood’ gift (what a lovely gesture) and were one of the few pots of plants we brought here with us. I split them soon after we arrived and they have never looked back.
They have been flowering for weeks and at the moment are making a colourful splash together with a bright red dahlia which was already here.
Something else which was already here is a gladiolus. Now I mean no offence to Morrisey or Dame Edna but I really, truly can’t bear the things: they are just too brash and spiky and upright for my liking. What’s worse, instead of a vibrant colour like the rich magenta in our neighbours’ garden, the flowers were an insipid yellow, lasted all of three days and the leaves were covered in rust. Nope, sorry – they just had to go.
Sticking with the theme of colours, there are little splashes everywhere in the veg patch.
I love it when, just occasionally, something totally unexpected and wonderful in nature happens. I was stomping and grumbling up and down the bean row having found yet another plant sawn off at ground level overnight (cutworms, I think – they are wreaking havoc with my late plantings of dwarf French and canellini beans)
when I suddenly realised the air around me was full of sound and movement. I’m not sure why, but it seemed like the whole village population of swallows and house martins had decided to bring their young up the hill to visit. I counted over 70 babies, sitting on the power cables and in the peach trees, chattering away and feeling their wings while their parents swooped acrobatically through the yard and up and down the lane. They weren’t remotely bothered by my presence, and several families lingered all day.
My grumbles dissolved into smiles: what an absolutely magical sight. Come again any time, little ones. 🙂