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Being Good For Big Sis

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This is our big sister she brings us presses

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These are the presses: palm balls to chew and a wooden rope ladder to play on

So earlier this year we had a visit from Michelle (Big Sis) to us. She spent most of her time here relaxing in the FFZ (Fly Free Zone) with us either reading or on her computer, either way we had a great time.  She would talk to us and tell mum when she thought we wanted more seed or another piece of millet or a honey stick – we put on quite a bit of weight hehehe.  But it was the afternoons when mum and dad went to petanca or school we had most fun.

img_20160623_090606You can see from this picture that we were in the sunshine with a table placed in front of our cage (dads idea) to stop us being blown from one side of the ffz to the other, think it was our cries of wheeeee that did it. Anyway when they weren’t around and the wind was blowing she would remove the table drag us across to the other side and laugh as we rolled by even joining in with the wheeeee’s.  Never told mum and dad though, mind you, we nearly got caught we were having so much fun one day we nearly didn’t hear the car coming up the track…

 When I Upset The Wife

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Then I went and upset the wife. She had been busy making a nice warm nest for her and the eggs I know I was watching her.  But I thought well she’s going to be in there for a while I know I’ll get some clean bedding, so whilst she was busy eating I threw out some of the old stuff and put some clean fresh stuff in there, thought she would be pleased. Boy you should have heard her, she squawked on and on for ages we weren’t speaking at one time sat back to back but hey we soon made up.

Dads Hand and Cricket

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Then dad had something called an operation on his hand. Came back one morning with this thick material stuff on it, showed it to us but can’t understand why he wouldn’t let us out we could have saved him all those visits to that hospital we would have removed that and things called stitches for him there and then.  Still he used to sit in the ffz with us and listen to something called cricket on his lap top. That was really cool especially when a man he called Tuffers was on, we liked him we talked to him all the time.

Sticks and Palm Trees

img_0637-640x480 img_0669-640x480 img_0668-640x480 img_0670-640x480 img_0671-640x480One day dad decided that we needed a nice clean bit of wood to chew so he found this long piece that we couldn’t pull through the bars and said “there you go try chewing through that”.  Well a challenge is a challenge so we did only in the middle and one day it broke in half, can’t think why. Dad then moved the two bits around so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves and left us to our chewing, no fun any more. Then last week we had a nice surprise, it rained..  Not that we were in any danger of getting wet but those two decided to go to the SEASIDE I ask you in the RAIN????  but when they returned they had a piece of a palm tree with them wow.  So mum got some wire took the two palm ball links (including the bells) cut two pieces of the palm threaded the wife through them plus a bell joined it all up and hung it up for us.  You should have heard the wife when she saw it, talk about squawking she turned out some old bedding and I have been busy getting new stuff.

So that was our summer. We enjoyed it looking forward to next year, but first comes the lights on the Walnut tree – that’s mums idea.  Tweety Christmas Everyone.

(c) Bluebottle and Eccles The Boys

Bright Ideas!

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So it’s raining! squalls coming and going thunder rumbling can’t work in the garden or on the finca, and looking out of the window does not help. All is grey and – if you can see anything – it’s even grayer, and we are getting bored what do we do????  Go to the SEASIDE of course. Well usually its go shopping in the hypermarkets where you can wander round looking at things and be warm and dry all at the same time, well that’s the theory but Michael says we tend to spend money on things we don’t really want but think are a good idea at the time – we have a few of those purchases knocking around.

So with the shops in mind I did not take my camera, tablet or phone, as who wants to take photos of shops??  So off we set in weather that by rights should not be allowed, and headed up out of the valley towards the mountains and the pass to the coast. We had not been going long before the rain came in again window-wipers going fast we began catching up on others heading the same way, then we found we had a convoy with a lorry in the lead.  Nothing we could safely do so we sat in the convoy as we weaved our way towards the mountains.  Then the rain lifted and we could see a clear stretch of road overtaking was on.  Three of us managed to get past the lorry before a car without lights on came hurtling along the road towards us, (obviously some people like dicing with death). Every car on the road was lit up like a christmas tree but not this one, he was almost up to us before we saw him and the cars colour made him almost invisible. But we didn’t have time to ponder on his stupidity, the rain came down again so holding onto the tail lights of the car in front we drove on.

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This is not the worst weather we have been in, I remember the journey home from St.Marlow one winters night. We had returned from one of Michael’s medical trips and I had driven down France in torrential rain with thunder and lightning (of which I am terrified) going off. We finally made it to the Pyrenees then it began to snow!!! So Michael took over the driving and the higher we went towards the pass and tunnel the harder it snowed.  When we reached the pass we found it was blocked there had been an avalanche but there was a hotel….  We stopped took a good look and both thought of the ‘Bates Motel’ then turned round and with another car who’s occupants had the same thoughts returned to the town and spent the night there – but I digress.  As we approached the uphill climb to the pass there was a 40fter in front so we were all thankful for the crawler lane and sped past him once in the pass we were back in a convoy with a 40fter in front and behind and 6 cars in the middle.  It was when we arrived at the tunnels we saw the snow…..

The Seaside!

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No this is not where we went but its a better picture than we saw that day. SO, on the way into Tarragona Michael said you know I’ve always wanted to see the beaches the other side of the city and the Roman ruins, we can shop later..  With that in mind we headed off towards the north side. Now we thought that the squalls over the mountains were bad enough but boy you should have seen the ones that came rolling in from the Med.  By this time we wanted a cup of coffee and found this beachside café/restaurant open with a covered in area. There was a good surf running but no takers we soon found out why proving that not all surfers are daft. So as it was lunchtime and wet we decided to hell with it we would eat there and watch the seagulls and the surf. The food was really good we had a cheese and jamon pizza with a seafood salad followed by the most delicious cheesecake. Whilst eating we were treated to a grandstand view of the squalls speeding in. There were large ships anchored outside the port and one minuet you could see them then a squall hit and they vanished whilst the rain shook the covered area as it beat against the windows.   So that was our day out.

 

DSCF2434 (640x480)[1]There was some more good news the robins are back. we thought we had lost them as we didn’t see one last year but this week we saw two.   Oh and don’t forget Clearing in the Forest by M D Bosc –  a book for Christmas.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

Fighting Goats!

Well it rained (stop laughing) so we went shopping rather later than usual, didn’t rush and got back just as the sun came out (briefly). After unloading the car I went to look at the cisterna to see if we how the water level was going. However I didn’t get there as rounding the corner of the house I heard this THUMP CRASH! I wasn’t sure what it was it sounded a bit like a gun going off but the hunters weren’t out. Then it came again only this time it was louder and more defined.  Looking up at the masa I first saw two eagles circling then I  saw the cause of the crashes, there were two large goats fighting it out on the edge of the masa with one using a boulder to gain height over his opponent.  I called to Carol and she came out with the camera so up to the terrace we went and these were the shots we got. the story went something like this:

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So you want to be leader do you well lets fight it out. Winner is leader of the herd looser goes over the side ok? Ok except I’m not going over the side. CHARGE!!!

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Stop pushing and get off that rock that’s cheating! No it’s not I’m king of the masa you’re the one I chase sir..

dsc00068-640x480Owww that hurts mind where you put your horns and stop pushing me towards the edge, fight fair.

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Ok that’s enough time to go home. Did you see them down there with the camera? think they have any good shots? No humans are all the same they see us and the cameras come out and they start trying to get closer. Either way we will finish this later on.  Then all was quiet on the masa front.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

Christmas is coming winter is already here turn off the i-pads, phones and laptops shut the doors turn off the tv, and gather the children around your knee. Take up a Kindle or open the book and be…

Source: A Book For Christmas

Updates

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Since writing the last blog we now have 3 bottles of olive oil, not bad going for a heath robinson operation.  It really is surprising what you can achieve with a little thought and ingenuity.  Part of my kitchen looks like a small factory but its well worth it for 7 bottles of our own olive oil especially as we never thought we would get any this year.

 

IMG_0019 (640x480)As for the saffron well I have planted the bulbs I rescued in the flower pots in the ffz they are shooting so I am hopeful.  But it is the from the small walled garden that I got my biggest surprise, saffron!  I had forgotten I had planted some there, the bulbs have multiplied and provided me with saffron, not as much as the main bed but certainly enough for a couple of paella’s. Then Michael began to find the odd bulb here and there so I am getting a fair bit which is more than I anticipated.  It seems that in my usual way of digging things up separating them and re-planting I have spread the saffron all over – wow!!

Cough Cough!

Well winter is here and as usual we are coughing. Poor old Michael has been quite rough but, I am glad to say, is now on the mend, I was a little worried for a while. When we were both really really ill we didn’t get any work done either on the computer or the farm and the olive oil had to wait.  But after a bit of a spell in doors, lots of lemon and honey with lemsip before bedtime, we not only felt a little better but began to get twitchy, the need to be active was very strong. So weather permitting we were wrapped up and out side fiddling around then as the sun began to return ( In the mornings it is so misty, damp and nasty) we started picking the olives again.  This time  mostly from off the ground as the wind had been playing knock the olives from the trees.  After two days of gentle picking and creaky knees despite kneeling pads, there are enough olives in the crusher/mixer to prepare another pressing.

 

Green Living???

Now I have heard loads about ‘Green Living’ and seen the tv programmes most of which show the latest technology but also have the benefits of mains water, electricity etc., on stand by – just in case and this is called green living???  yeh well we live the real green living life!  We chose this farm because its away from the town in the mountains in the middle of a forest (now a National Park) halfway up a valley and its tranquil.  We have learnt to live with the birds and animals ok and snakes, without a mains anything.  WE WENT GREEN – big time!!!

Over the years we have installed a solar system which works well with a generator as back up for when the sun does not shine. This system runs the fridge, freezer, computers and tv, now that is being green.  The water system is simple: it rains the rain water runs into the cisternas then as needed its pumped to a header tank to give pressure and is fine.  I have a washing machine, shower, and hot water via the gas water heater (if it does not rain and we are low on water we have to buy it in) and NO this is not mains this is bottled gas.  Michael had to build a gas shed to keep them in and it was inspected and ok’d. then I had to get certificates for each gas bottle, there is no way you can get round it legally, the new gas bottle (which you can then replace when empty) comes from a registered supplier so as long as you obey the rules you are fine. The gas also runs the cooker and when we first came here the fridge/freezer, but once Michael had the solar system fully up and running we exchanged it for a small fridge and freezer – you need somewhere to keep the ice in summer.

We are not the only people who have done this but most of them have access to agricultural water we don’t.  But hey that’s how we roll up here and we love it.  Some nights we stand and look at the stars they are wonderful we are also looking for the mother ship!!!!!!!  Oh come on, what humans in their right mind would live in the mountains, in the middle of a forest halfway up a valley with no amenities, wild birds (Owls, Eagles, and a large range of smaller  bossy birds) wild boar, (all of who have names) and Sid the snake??????

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

Making Our Olive Oil

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This is our first bottle of home-grown olive oil from this years crop. We did not think we had enough olives to press but then it rained! not a lot but enough to fill them out a little.  Now we could pick the olives and take them to the local commercial press but there is a snag.  The presses are still making wine and our olives are turning black so by the time the second week of November comes round we would have no olives.  You can’t pick and save them for nearly a month because by that time they will have shrivelled up and gone like stones, so on the basis of that last year we decided to do it ourselves. Along with a little ‘heath robinson’ approach a dash invention and a good dollop of *&$%£ing we ended up with 6x1lts of our own oil.

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When we decided to pick this year, the trees looked like they had black leaves so we started with the tree in front of the house. So we spread a large net under the tree, Michael got the step-ladder and small saw I got my ‘picking chair’ and we were off.  All the olives that fell to the ground – and missed the net – were picked up and placed into the old cement mixer which is our crusher. Large stones were added and it was turned on and left to do its job.

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After a while we had a pulp which Michael then wrapped in cloth and placed in the press, then the real work begins. The press is turned until the oil starts to run then every few hours till eventually no more oil is left.  Then the container is brought into the kitchen where it is filtered several times until we have a clear oil.  This takes a few days but is worth it. The oil when it comes from the press is a combination of black sludge a little water and the oil itself.  To separate the oil and water its left to stand until there is a visible layer of oil of the top then it’s passed into one of three lemonade bottles to begin the filtering.  When you are trying to filter the oil some of the black sludge gets in there so the first filter takes that out, the second takes out any cloudy residue and the third and final filter is to make sure the other two have done their job then it’s poured into 1ltr bottles before being capped and stored.

 

Black Redstarts and Bloody Pigs

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I like to think this is one of Sam’s brood. For those of you who haven’t met Sam before he was a little Black Redstart who became my gardening friend.  When I was digging he would be there to see if there were any grubs/insects he could eat. Michael thought he was funny and we were heart broken when we came home one day to find him dead in front of the house, so in his memory I called the tree garden ‘Sam’s Garden’ and things in it have done very well.  We got the boys last year and yesterday we heard this bird calling to them.  Then this morning there was the Redstart sitting first on the tv areal then flying down to see what I was doing in the saffron garden.

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This is what the saffron garden SHOULD look like! below is how it looks after the piggy wigs have been there!!!

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What was I doing there??  trying to find any saffron bulbs that the wild boar hadn’t eaten!!!!  I had over 40 bulbs in that garden I have exactly 15 left, so I am planting them in a tub so at least I shall get a few bits of saffron this year.  But I did have a nice surprise I found one crocus open in the small walled garden with others on the way I just hope the boar don’t find them or there could be saffron flavoured pork on the menu…

Well there you have it, do it yourself olive oil making and gardening forest style.

(c) M D Bosc  – Author –

 

 

Well now we have another one, Heathrow was in use as an airfield during the 20s 30s, during the war and in 1946 became the official London Airport because the rich people of south Croydon didn’t like the idea of having London Airport in their back yards. So Heathrow was in existence long before most of the houses in west London were built. Of course all the rich friends of Mr Goldsmith do not want aircraft flying over their homes except, that is, when they want to get out of the country quickly and jet off to tax havens of which they have many. Why can’t they build an Airport where poor people live, because it’s LONDON dummy, only rich people can afford to live there!

Everyone wants all the benefits of modern living but it has to be environmentally friendly. You cannot have nuclear power or oil-fired or natural gas now all that CO2 coal use has been killed off completely. Lets build lots of wind turbines but not in Surrey or Kent or anywhere that rich people live so that their view isn’t spoilt. Why isn’t there a nuclear power station in the City of London? it’s very safe and that is where they need all the electricity for their air-conditioned offices.

Why aren’t there rows of nodding donkeys all over Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey? after all that is where the oil is. Why is fracking stopped in the home counties but allowed in Lancashire and Yorkshire? simple, not enough rich people live there, you would know there is true democracy if there was fracking in the middle of Oxfordshire. All the infrastructure is designed for just that – big cities convenience – but any further west and you enter the dark ages with single line railways and the most atrocious road network in the UK.

We really need another railway line going north and south? but decent railway lines going east and west that is never going to happen. However to keep the rich and famous happy HS2 and HS3 will end up as a giant metro system with a tunnel running from Folkestone to Newcastle after all it would be the simplest solution. Of course it would be slightly more expensive, but hey, it comes from the taxpayer and as we know he has very deep pockets.

So where, I wonder, are you going to get your oil and gas so you do not spoil your green and pleasant land? As a modern society needs vast amounts of energy to run all their new and fancy gadgets how, I wonder, can you have your virtual reality if you cannot handle the real reality. Everything comes with a cost and if you dump the cost on another country the pollution does not diminish, if anything it gets ten times worse. Take a good look at the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and the pollution they churn out because they do not have our technology or regulations they make the World a complete disaster zone.

When London is under water perhaps then the NIMBY’S will be prepared to share the load, but I doubt it. They want it all, as long as its somewhere else and they don’t have to pay for it. Perhaps its about time they left ‘cloud cuckoo land’ got real and joined the rest of society.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

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