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Archive for July, 2013

DSCF4146Our new septic tank was delivered this week and got me thinking about how far we have come since we moved here 10 years ago.

We have all read the articles or seen the programmes on tv about ‘being green’, but unless you actually have to do it – and I do not mean installing solar panels & supplying the National Grid with surplus energy, or being near a water supply just incase the reed beds don’t work –  you really do not know what it entails or the cost, we had to learn.

When we retired I decided it was time to move somewhere warm. So we looked at various places, saw our finca fell in love with it and moved here.  What we did not know untill I came to see it, was there was no running water, or electricity or sewage. Water for the house is a cisterna with the header tank I installed which are either filled by rain water or spring water brought in by our friend Manell the Tractorista, which is roughly twice a year and of course we have to pay for.

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Despite all this my wife and I decided to take the plunge and we have not regretted it. Since that time we have been in a state of evolution, always looking at improving our systems.  When you read the “about Michael” on my pages it says we live ‘in the middle of a forest halfway up a mountain on a little olive farm’, and that is exactly it.  Our families thought we were mad but we knew what we were doing.  The getting where we are today has been a journey of innovation, bright ideas, trial and error plus watching the pennies.  We did not have vast amounts of money and have had to save for things before me moved on to the next stage in our ‘green’ evolution. On the whole it has been fun sometimes it has been ‘what the hell are we doing here?’  however, today we have all the mod cons, and with a little Heath Robinson innovation a bit more. So I thought I would put fingers to key board and give you a little insight into what it has meant to really go green. I will start with the sewage as with the arrival of the septic tank the system is finally finished.

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A little info to start: I bought a small generator out from England and for a while this little Briggs & Stratton along with candles was our only supply of electricity whilst we waited for our permissions to build a new casa came through. This is the original Casa de Campo (country house) in which we lived for those months, and the white dome is the access to the cisterna. This typical tiny farmhouse had one window, a fire-place, a mezzanine for sleeping and that literally was it. So what about the loo and sewage system?

We had brought a camping gaz toilet with us from the UK, this was a square two sectioned loo which when flushed meant you had to empty the bottom half. So every so often I had to traipse up to the middle field where I dug deep trenches into which I emptied it then washed it out before re-assembling, mind you the flowers in that part of the field are wonderful….

This little ceremony went on for several months untill the new house and our ‘shit pit’ were built, what a relief not having to do the poo run. I had looked at the various green ways of disposing the waste as at the time of building we could not afford a septic tank.  So the builder dug a large hole in the ground filled it with rocks and boulders to ensure the bacteria had a large biological surface to work on, then it was covered with concrete. This ‘Bacterial Bio Concept’ or (BBC) for short became known as the ‘shit pit’, and untill last week has served us very well.  The concrete cover of the old pit is the base for the septic tank, and as no chemicals will be used it should work perfectly well. The other thing is as we have to conserve our water, we do not flush the loo every time we go only when we poo, and it amazing how much water you can save by just that little action. Something to think on, and no the bathroom does not smell that’s because of the lemons and vinegar.

The one thing my wife had to get used to was NO chemical cleaners or the bacteria would be killed off, the pit would not work properly and it would smell.  We are lucky to have some good friends who are green, and they passed on cleaning and other tips to my wife.  In these days of austerity they are really handy as well as natural, green and eco-friendly. She cleans the toilet with soapy water from the washing up and to get rid of any stains uses white wine vinegar, this also prevents a build up of limescale and helps to keep the toilet shiny white so she is happy.  We have also learnt that lemons which we can pick off the tree do the same job with their natural acid. So there is no need for expensive eco damaging products.  We do not use chemicals on the olive trees because of the birds so why use them anywhere else.  Sorry Harpic and Dettol no go here.

We (well my wife) have learnt how to get the same results but using natural grown things, and are so used to it we do not even think about it unless we have family for a holiday. Then a little info sheet appears and I feel like Sheldon.

A small tip: cut a lemon in half squeeze the juice into the loo after the last flush at night, drop the half in as well and leave till morning, it cleans while you sleep.

This is our life. In the next article I will deal with the water situation.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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Retirement Eyes.

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Well as I was saying Petanca season has begun and this Sunday we were at Asco. Asco? well Asco is the home of one of the two nuclear power stations in Catalonia, and sits on the river Ebro. Like most places on the Ebro, Asco has its castle where the Knights Templer used to watch over their valley and river for invaders and collected taxes from the bargees.

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So off we set this morning under an uncertain sky, into town to pick up a club member, crossed the bridge – looks familiar? (ah well this bridge was here long long before a certain food company was formed the original was distroyed during the Spanish Civil War) turned inland and headed for the pass.  The road through this pass wends and winds it’s way along side the Ebre, which glides by towards the sea on its way from Asco.  This is a pleasant journey although short through the mountains, the green of shrub and trees covering one side contrasting with the bare rock on the other. This is a National Park area so there might be the chance to glimpse an Eagle or mountain Goat. What you do see is the river running quietly past gravel islands exposed reflecting the blue of the sky – well this morning it was a sort of greyish blue – then as it curves inland there are olive, fruit and  almond groves which stay with you until you cross the river again at the entrance to Asco.

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Now I have often mentioned the Petanca Breakfast. No? well this is it:  you have a bocadillo -a baguette with tomato rubbed into it then filled with Hammon (air-dried ham) plus olives accompanied by water and local red wine. Believe me it is something we all relish, a little something to wake you up and get you playing. This is the Tivissa group enjoying theirs, then comes the competition it’s self.

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Petanca is taken quite seriously here, and the local television station turns up to film the event. When it comes to prize giving they are there showing everyone receiving their prizes then interviewing the winners and secondplace teams.  As you can see from this picture there are Mora trees (the fruit is a cross between a blackberry and raspberry very tasty)  and the shade was certainly needed yesterday as it was in the 30 dgs range.

Well we started around 9am and the final was around 2pm with a Tivissa team coming second overall winning hams.  Third places won a large round goats cheese plus a large dried sausage then the rest of us won three bottles of Corbera d’Ebre young wines very nice too. This is a wine called Mas Del Tio which I am rather partial to, a very sippable wine so I was more than happy, and if you would like to know more this is the link http://bit.ly/qvGwGd.  So here are our clubs with our prizes, first Mora d’Ebre only two teams won:

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Then Tivissa, the individual and group photos:

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Yes this is an enjoyable game and also lots of fun. As the competitions are played on Sundays when everyone has a day off, they are definitely Fun In The Sun Sundays!

©    Michael Douglas Bosc

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An Amazon’s Revolt

An Amazon’s Revolt.

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For a week now in the early morning I have been taking singing lessons ( well whistling lessons actually).  Singing lessons? I hear you say, early morning??? well yes.  Take a good look at this little fella this is my Singing Teacher.

It all started about a week ago around 6am just as it was getting light.  From somewhere in the big olive tree outside the bedroom this bird started singing.  Now what you have to remember is the tree literally is right outside our window which in the summer we leave open at night (there is an anti bug and Sid screen built into the window if it was not there my wife would not sleep).

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Waking up to birds singing is quite normal, Boris gives forth as soon as its daylight.  This little chap starts around 6am, like Boris his voice is clear, strong and musical, but there is a distinct call to it.

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Anyway I got up and went to see if I could see him, but he had flown off into one of the other trees.  Next day was the same so by the 3rd day I decided I would join in, well as I was up it seemed natural. So there he sat in the tree trilling with me whistling back, got quite good at it actually.  But we still could not get his photo, until, that is, this morning.

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It happened that last night was really hot so my wife was up around 5.30am making a cuppa when she heard him singing.  Looking out of the kitchen window there he was sitting on the roof of the little house happy as larry.  Well she knew where he was so she backed away and went to fetch her camera.  This might seem strange but we have learnt with this lot, we can be sat outside or working in the garden and up they pop.  Get the camera and whoosh they are nowhere to be seen, how she got Bobbin to stay still for his I don’t know.  Still it is nice to know they are coming back.  We were a little worried as when we returned home after our visit to the UK at Christmas there were no birds at all, not even Bobbin or Boris.  It took around a month for them to start returning, but I am pleased to say they are nearly all home again.

But there is one thing I do not know  who is he? any ideas peeps?  it would be lovely to know the name of my singing teacher……

©   Michael Douglas Bosc

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