Colours

We’ve been to the beach.

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Well actually, we went to the supermarket, which neither of us enjoys; we go as seldom as possible and try to lighten the day a little by doing something else – in this case, exploring the coastline to the west of us. This is Playa de Peñarronda and it is stunningly, stunningly beautiful.

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I can imagine how busy it must be in August but on a quiet Wednesday morning in March, we pretty much had it to ourselves. The blues and golds of sea, beach and sky were gorgeous.

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It’s right on the Camino and there was a pair of young pilgrims taking a break on the sand and soaking up the sun.

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I must admit we felt a bit overdressed: it was certainly warm enough for swimmers and sandals. Next time we’ll be more organised – but then we were supposed to be shopping, after all!

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On the upside of shopping, wherever we go we are close to a working fishing port and there is always an abundance of fresh fish and seafood to enjoy; they form a large part of our diet here. Catch of the day this time was definitely mackerel so we marinaded a couple in spices and cooked them over eucalyptus wood: with a crisp salad (lots of fresh herbs and flowers from the garden), an artisan barra de pan and bottle of Rioja, it was a perfect al fresco dinner – and the fish was utterly scrumptious!

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It’s good to have the warmth and sunshine back again. The white stuff has gone from the mountains (well, here anyway) and the landscape is all intense blues and greens once again.

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Like a drift of scented snow, the pear blossom is at its absolute best. It’s incredible how these trees have recovered after almost being swept away in a flood last year; they are full of bees and the promise of another good crop of fruit in the autumn.

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It’s been lovely to spend our days outside again. I’ve hoed the main veg patch – kidding myself I can keep on top of the weeds this year – so it’s all ready for planting.

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There’s still some work to be done but looking back on this time last year, we’ve come a long way.

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The veg patch last March!

Roger has been busy creating terraces above the potato patch which will be a perfect home for squashes this year, I shall plant them in muck-rich mounds and they can tumble and trail away down the mountainside to their hearts’ content.

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He is also clearing the former kiwi prison camp patch in readiness for a little polytunnel. It’s really hard going as the ground is full of stone (a broken garden fork is testament to that!) and for every load of stone removed, in goes a pile of soil and muck to improve it. Thankfully, there’s no rush as we’re not planning to put the tunnel up until autumn.

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The outdoor nursery of young plants grows bigger by the day. I love to see all the promise in those little plants!

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One of the reasons I love gardening is that it teaches us so many things, including how to cope with frustration and disappointment. Take a look at this.

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I grew four globe artichokes from seed last year; they have been in the ground for several months now and had really started to romp away in the last couple of weeks. Sadly, something decided to do for two of them this week. I’m not sure what to blame – the stems appeared to have been gnawed and the roots had been dug up and eaten, although there were no obvious signs of animal activity – but it just seems like mindless destruction to me. I mean, if you’re going to kill a plant then at least eat all of it. Even worse, I have no more seed so can’t replant in a hurry. Needless to say, I’m guarding the remaining two plants with my life!

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Still, looking on the bright side, there are plenty of things around to make me smile.

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It’s funny how one small job can become something much bigger. I’ve had several pots of geraniums, grown from seed last year, overwintering happily beneath the horreo. The terracotta pots had done that yukky green thing they do in winter and had also been blasted with sawdust during logging sessions, so I decided it was time to grab a bucket of water, give them a spring clean then decide where to put them. I’ve said before that one of the things I loved about this house when I first saw it was the flight of stairs up to the door; admittedly, a strange thing to like but there we are. In my mind’s eye, I’d imagined them decorated with pots of colourful geraniums so that seemed the obvious place to put my pots . . . except that, really and truly, the steps needed painting first.

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So .  .  . several days later, I finally got round to washing and placing my pots. They should make a lovely colourful show once they’re flowering, the only thing is I’m starting to think all that terracotta is a little dull and maybe I should paint the pots, too?

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Now for something completely different. Last year, as part of my attempt to be ‘Fit at Fifty’, I vowed to run a half marathon; I’m still committed to that promise and I have my eyes on one in September. Since December I’ve been trying to run fairly regularly but it’s been a bit – no, a lot –  stop-start for several reasons, not least my lack of discipline when it comes to pulling on my running shoes and getting out there. Keeping an exercise log on Running 4 Women has been a great help and I’ve taken part in a couple of their monthly challenges, too – anything to prod me into action. When we were in the UK last month, Roger signed up to run in the Rhayader Round The Lakes 5 mile race; he usually does the 20-miler but having struggled with fitness through injury, decided not to risk it this time. The races take place in the beautiful Elan Valley, quite spectacular at this time of year with the water flowing over the dams.

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To show my commitment to the cause I agreed to run the race with Roger. Now when I say ‘with’ of course I don’t actually mean with as such, since all I saw of Roger after the start was the bright streak of his fluorescent yellow Maldwyn Harriers vest haring off down the road while I plodded along in my tortoise-like way near the back of the pack. Unlike Aesop’s famous fable, the hare in this case led from the front to win the race in 28:47 minutes and became the proud owner of a Welsh crystal trifle bowl to add to his collection of trophies. I had set myself the goal of finishing in around 50 minutes, so was pleased to come in at 50:49 and receive my finisher’s medal. It’s a start.

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Back home and down to some serious training. The big change now is to switch more to road running rather than the lanes and trails I prefer. So it’s out with my trusty old trail shoes (note I haven’t even got round to removing the race timing chip yet) . . .

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. . . and in with some colourful new roadsters.

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It’s taking me a while to get used to them, they feel like huge clodhoppers in comparison to my trail shoes and my ankles are complaining a bit but, to be fair, they are very comfy and feel like running on air. I’m running new routes which is interesting, although there is no way I can run up the steep hill home; it’s a sort of masochistic ‘cool down’ (ha ha, anything but!) and boy, am I glad to see that seat at the top!

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I’ve never run further than 12k (7.5 miles) in my life, and that was on the flat in lovely weather on a very good day when I was feeling fit and the planets were probably in some once-in-a-lifetime alignment. The idea of running 21k (13.2 miles) seems an impossible dream (or maybe nightmare?) at the moment, but then I never thought I’d ever run 5k or 10k . . . and what is life without a challenge? Why get older if you don’t get dafter? Please wish me luck – I need it in buckets! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Colours

  1. It’s all looking great, love all the colourful pot plants. Odd about the globe artichokes, but hopefully you can split the remaining plants next spring. By the way, I got myself a cardoon! Good luck with the running, though a walk on those beaches seems infinitely more tempting.

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  2. . . . and there I was hoping for a beautiful patch of artichokes like yours! There’s something trashing the peas every night, too – we’ve no idea what but it / they just pull them out of the ground, roots, shoots and all but there’s no attempt to eat them. We’ve had crows pull red lettuce plants out before now but this is all very strange. I bet your cardoon will go well, they are such architectural plants and the flowers are lovely.

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    • The pea thing sounds like blackbirds to me. We always net over our young pea shoots until they’ve reached critical mass. Maybe you need to net over your remaining artichokes, too! Did you eat the stems of the cardoon as well?

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  3. Yes, blackbirds are on the list of possible culprits, the garden is full of them. Netting sounds like a good plan, I think that could be a job for this afternoon. We didn’t eat the cardoons, I just grew them as ornamentals really, but I believe they make good eating and are are less wasteful than artichokes.

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