Miles walked: 302.5 Miles left to go: 10 (almost there!)
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day . . . and nothing in the village changed. Our neighbours went about their business as usual: pegging out washing, chopping logs, scything grass, digging vegetable patches, walking the lanes and sitting on the bench outside the bar chatting in the sunshine. Not a hint of tinsel or turkey anywhere.
This, of course, suited us just fine. Having chatted to our little grandchildren and shared in their festive excitement, we headed outside. Roger spent Christmas Eve hauling several trailer loads of logs out of the wood, ready to split, stack and season.
It seems a bit mad logging when the weather is like this but the evenings are cool enough to light the stove for cooking, and these are our logs of the future, anyway – they need time to season before we can burn them. It’s a standing joke with us (and sadly true) that as soon as we have a shed full of seasoned logs, we move house. Hopefully not this time. We might even stay long enough to burn them ourselves!
I turned my attention to the new planting space contained by the Great Wall, turning it over, picking out weeds and stones and forking in piles of muck Ah, my fingers are itching to get planting in there.
As it was Christmas Eve we decided to stop in time to enjoy a glass of refreshment before the sun went down in a blaze of colour. ¡Salud!
On Christmas morning, the valley was full of cloud but the mountain tops were already bathed in sunshine.
This is the mountain we look across to: our plan was a five-mile walk along the ridge.
Roger has run it many times but I’d never walked the whole length, so after a cooked breakfast (not very Spanish, I know) we set off. From the other side of that mountain, you can see the sea. This always comes as a huge surprise to me; we are so settled in our green mountain stronghold here that it’s all too easy to forget we are literally a stone’s throw from the coast.
The path along the ridge is a mix of open spaces where trees have been cleared and replanted, mature woodland and pasture. The views are sweeping and stunning.
Blindfolded, it would have been hard to guess the season. The birds – great tits and warblers in particular – were shouting raucously in the woods; the air was full of pollen. The hillsides are alight with gorse at the moment and its coconut scent mingled with the soft spice of sun-warmed pine and eucalyptus.
There were bees and butterflies everywhere and in a ditch at the side of the path, frogspawn and tadpoles at varying stages of development.
For me, cow bells are the sound of Asturias. Musical, haunting, evocative . . . they are like nothing else.
Eventually, we reached the point where we could look across the valley and see our house – you can just about make it out in the middle of the photo, a white house with a triangular terracotta roof.
Panning out, you can see the scale of the mountain behind the house, and the road clinging to the edge that I walk up to reach the village in the ‘saddle’ at the top. It’s a climb of 320 metres, no wonder it feels like a decent hike!
Back to our walk and it was soon time to turn round and head back to the picnic site at the start. This is a beautiful spot, so peaceful next to a little chapel under the trees and well-equipped with barbecue pits and fresh water. Just right for a mug of coffee and a mince pie.
Unusually for us, we carried on with the sitting-in-the-sun theme once we were home, Roger with a book and me with my lacy knitting. Well, why not? Everyone needs time as human beings rather than human doings now and again. The seat is one Roger has stripped down and revamped, we’re not sure where its final resting place will be but for the time being, in front of the barn door is a great suntrap. Note the little pile of kiwis on the end of the seat: they are Roger’s snack ready for when he gets back from his next run. As for me . . . er, yes, I believe that is another glass of wine but hey, it’s Christmas.
As we headed towards another blazing sunset we decided perhaps it was time to go in and cook Christmas dinner, probably the latest we have ever eaten on Christmas Day; luckily we’d chosen beef so it didn’t need hours in the oven. Just the veg to dig before going in . . . although where the parsnips are concerned, it’s more a case of ‘mining’ these days. Compare the size of that one with a size 10 welly – it’s too big to fit in my trug.
Still, it was tender and sweet and roasted beautifully. A delicious end to a wonderful day. 🙂