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Archive for August, 2015

My Garden In A Nutshell

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Well the weather has cooled down a tad so I have been trying to play catch up in the garden. If you remember ‘Stalker Sam’ the little black redstart, you will know I have decided to dedicate the tree garden to my little helper. So I will start with ‘Sams’ garden.  Having cleared away the weeds and dug up the intrusive bulbs I found some crocus which were having a hard time growing through the leaves of the ‘intruders’  plus one or two Lilly’s still growing there. This made for drastic action on my part, a lot of soil sifting but at last the bulbs were out. I then re-planted the crocus at the front edge, looked for the mini Iris and Tulips and added them.  The bulbs in there are now small and will be left to spread, they will remind me of him and his little ways, I still turn to see if he’s watching me from round one of the trunks.  Mulch is provided by the olive leaves which the worms seem to like, and I have started a ‘weed liquid’ in a plastic bucket to provide nourishment.

The Wild Bulbs and Plants

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Most of what grows up here are bulbs, because they don’t need so much water. Therefore I have planted up quite a lot of the wild lilies we found when we moved here, and have since added Freesias, Tulips – green and black – Anemone  and Gladioli.  I have also moved into various beds Wild Gladioli, Grape Hyacinths, tiny Daffodils which were growing in the forest when we were clearing a fire break, along with the Iris, Lavender, Honeysuckle and Jasmine to name but a few.  I am only just coming to terms with the Asphodelus which grows all over the place like the lavender and rosemary, which at certain times of the year scent the evening air with their perfume. The oddest one so far is the one I have named ‘Carrot’ plant because its leaves are like the leaves of the carrot.

There are still a lot of plants out there that I have not got to yet but I’m a lady on a mission. So above are a few of the various plants and bulbs that I have found on the finca hope you enjoy.

My Robin

 

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Last but not least, people in the gardening club have been showing off their Robins, so I thought I’d introduce you to Bobbin.  This picture was taken whilst we were sat having coffee one year he was right under the table by my feet.  Through the years he, Boris Black Bird, Dangerous Dan the crested Tit and others have given us many a laugh with their antics. I think gardening is a good way to see nature, and here the garden is always evolving.  Plans that are made and often started in summer when its far too hot to work outside, are finalised or finished through autumn, winter and spring.   I have a lot of half done things and plans for others so from September onwards it will be all go.

(c) C A Bosc

 

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This week has seen us wandering around various places and being dirty stop outs. Take Friday for instance. Because of the heat weekday games don’t start until the evening around 6pm. Off we trotted to the club for a few games of Petanca, finished around 8pm then headed for the coast.  The idea was that we had a wander round, go for dinner then home. Nothing difficult there you think, weeellll, with us there is.

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We arrived to find Hospitalet in fiesta mode,  street races for kids on small motor bikes – all well organised with a solid wall of parents, family and onlookers to mark the boundaries –  three stages, two with groups tuning up and one with a dance school performing. We stopped and watched this for a while before wandering off towards the marina and restaurants.

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On the way there was a small market set up near the night club, from where we could hear jazz music coming. Ah now that sounds interesting we thought, so we wandered round the back of the market towards the club which had tables and chairs  set out and a jazz quartet playing. We sat down ordered a drink and began to listen to the music. They would have been rather good if they had shot the piano player, who when they got going, would stop playing, make comments then start-up again, they never actually finished anything let alone started, still we enjoyed it.

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We then decided it was time to wander down to the restaurants by the marina and what a surprise we had.  All along the road, which was closed off, was a fun fair.  Children and youngsters on various rides squealing with delight and generally enjoying themselves, whilst their parents looked on and took photographs.  Eventually we arrived at the restaurants only to find them full to over flowing. There was only one thing for it, walk back along the sea-shore and head for the ‘Black Pearl’….  No Jack wasn’t there, but we did have a really good meal.

We eventually arrived back home around 2am tired but happy.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Water, Water Yuk.

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Petanca Mora D’Ebre

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Well not fire but certainly ‘Smoking’….  We were on form yesterday but then came the last game and we somehow lost the rhythm, bit like Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. The result was we came second in our group winning wine and a dried sausage, so I was quite happy.  As usual it was nice to meet our friends, most of whom, like ourselves,  had belonged to this club, but moved on when numbers dwindled.  We still like to play there and are more than pleased to see old friends and I think that is the problem, old being the operative word. I am in my 70’s and some of my friends are older, we are gradually becoming the fewer of the few. But we are not sitting waiting for anybody, the competition is fierce and I was geared up for the battle.

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Mind you, on reflection there is hope as you can see from this picture of a young man who could bowl with an accuracy that we all envied, but was far to young to play. One day he will be collecting his own prizes as his proud dad looks on.

The Sunday Morning Game

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We played on dappled courts under shade giving trees, whilst a gentle breeze kept us cool as the morning wore on.  There are 10 courts in all but as there were more teams than could fit on them, they laid out one more at the end by the car park. Playing is intense and you will often find teams playing tactically for that vital point.  Sometimes there is a game which is almost snail pace because they are playing for first or second place, that is when things get interesting and take a while to resolve.  For me this is the attraction of the game. You can have a laugh and a joke whilst playing, but always there is the serious business of winning.  Tactics to be discussed, whether to pica or not, how many points do you need to win and how to get them.

I Spy..

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As you will have gathered by now, my wife takes the pictures and has been the unofficial photographer for the club for almost two years.  Now a sense of humour is always necessary in competitions, and today was no exception. The guy in the picture is Louise, and neither he nor my wife could help themselves from playing ‘I Spy’, whilst the rest of us waited for the prize giving.

Prize Giving

This is purely a picture story so I have started with the overall winners with their hams then everyone else follows on in no particular odrder:

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Rainer and Eunesio

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Last but not least I must thank Rainer for putting on a good show and making everyone welcome.   He and Eunesio did a sterling job, the prizes were wonderful and much appreciated.  It takes a lot of hard work to run a Petanca club, not just in time and effort but organising competitions and other events, I couldn’t do it so my hat goes off to these two outstanding friends.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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Here he comes wobbling across the sky not sure where he’s going but he’s definitely high.  “Hic! who’s there? oh its you. I suppose you’re going to tell everyone I’ve been partying again, hic! Well, I don’t care!!!!”

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 He lurched, became round again for a moment then wobbled on his way.  As I said, I don’t know where he’s going but I do know where he’s ‘bean’!

Party Time

It’s that time of year again and the village is in party mood.  Tonight is the villages big correfoc which is followed by dancing and music until dawn.  Yep they certainly know how to party here even the moon gets in on it as you can see from the pictures.  This being the second year I have noticed this event I am quite convinced that no matter what NASA says, this moon is most definitely a party animal.

The Garden

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My wife has actually finished one of her projects in the garden, the bulb tyre.   This old tyre has been here for years and she had filled it with earth then planted up some bulbs.  This year it looked very tatty so she dug up the bulbs, putting aside the small ones for planting elsewhere, sifted the earth, then in-filled the rim with stones to strengthen it. Now I don’t know about you, but to my wife plain black tyres are not appealing in a garden, so the next job was the painting.  Two cans of yellow were needed for the top to give it a ‘weathered’ look but because of the effect she wanted it only needed one can of green. Allowing the tread to show here and there gave it a mottled look which I think works well.  All that was left was to replace the earth, plant the bulbs then top it off with compost. However, with Puddytat and the piggy wigs rooting around, she felt it needed something else. So this morning she collected small stones and scattered them over the surface. End result a smart-looking garden tyre.

Work In Progress

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This is a project that is part of  a bigger on going garden thing…   It was here that I planted a bay tree that my sister gave my wife and here is where the grubs of black beetles killed it by eating the roots.  So after killing them and cleaning the ground I went to check and re-pot an off shoot I had taken, leaving my wife standing looking at it wondering what to do.

Well she has come up with a good solution.  First she cleaned what was left of the ground then we went to a farming centre and bought stuff to protect roots from these things.  Next stop one of the gardening shops in town for bulbs Gladioli and Anemones, plus more compost.  Once home she mixed the granules into the earth to discourage the beetles, planted the bulbs, topped off with compost leaving about 2-3 inches below the rim to protect the flowers from the wind.

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Now I am sure you know this character, he is the cause of the stones on top of the compost, using the hexagon garden as a toilet was not a good idea matey.  All that’s left of the planting is for flowering cacti to be  planted in the holes and it is finished. However, that is her job as I have managed to get an infection in a cyst on my hand. So its off to the doctor’s again this week to see what he is going to do.  As I say it’s all go up here.

And other Things

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I am hoping to have a few more pictures of the wild boar next time, they have been making a ‘pond’ on the lower level so I have set a camera up down there. This time I have cut away the leaves, so there won’t be the 600 photos like last time because the honeysuckle was whipping around.

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This is the honeysuckle’s new home in the new wall garden.  We did not plant this it appeared on year in front of one of the olive trees so we left it to grow.  But because it’s in the direct line of a camera I decided to move it here, so it can clamber up into the olive tree and play.  Oh and I all most forgot,  the new bird bath is being engineered, yes I did say engineered….

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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A Little History 

This photograph shows all that is left of the railway bridge which like others was destroyed during the civil war. This part of the Ebro valley, like Mora d’Ebre and Gandesa, was also in the thick of the battle for the River Ebre and every year it holds a commerative day depicting the battle, with vehicles, authentic uniforms and enactments. During the Battle of the Ebre some of the bloodiest battles were fought about 8km north of Fayon.  In July of 1938 on the 25th the 42nd division of the Republican Army crossed the river in this area, but were then surrounded and massacred in the hills by the Franco’s army.

Fayon was part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lleida, but in 1955 Fayon along with Mequinensa was segregated from Lleida and merged with the Archdiocese of Zaragoza.

The original village is now beneath the waters of the dam and the present village of Fayon was built by ENHER the state-owned company who built the dam.  Like so many of these mountain villages Fayon was originally a mining community here it was coal.  But after the mines closed the village lost 50% of its population.

A Little Fishing

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These days it is better known for its fishing, and in the café where we had a coffee these were displayed on the wall advertising the fishing potential of the river.  As you can see catfish are a bit big and these well known fighters can and do give anglers a run for their money and quite a bit of excitement.  Some of these catfish can be as big or bigger than some of the boats, I remember watching an angler on his own,  trying to get on into his inflatable dingy. After I had watched his struggle for a while and seen him get half of this fish in the dingy I carried on into to town.  I later learnt that he didn’t manage it but at least he got his hook back, the next time I saw him he had a solid boat and companion.

Coffee Before The Event

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We arrived early and went for a coffee. We found the café overlooking the swimming pool that every town has regardless of size and enjoyed the view before we left for the courts.  What I did not know was this little ‘cafe’ is actually a very well known fish restaurant.  Its menu is varied with high quality recipes and good value for money, which explains why as we were leaving Fayon we noticed quite a few people heading for it.  We would have done the same, except I did not know then what I know now, it must be the best kept secret in Fayon.

Petanca

The Petanca competition is held on the local football ground with courts laid out.  Once again there seemed to be fewer teams playing which is a shame as it is one game that the youngsters would enjoy. The Café had wifi which pleased my wife as she had somewhere to work whilst I played, so once the competition had started off she trotted to return just at the right time.

The Prizes

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As you can see there were some very good prizes to play for.  Hams, olive oil and wine for the winning team, a selection of dried sausage, wine and olive oil for the runners up, followed by olive oil and cheese for the winners of groups and finally olive oil for those who came second.  So here in no particular order after the winners are the photos  our club last.  Hope you enjoy:-

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(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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I have been chasing these little devils around my finca for ages.  No matter where I placed the cameras they avoided them like the plague.  Then one morning I was on the lower level and noticed that the ground had been disturbed and there were piggy prints all over the place.  So I went and had a cuppa and a council of war with the wife.  “Well” she said “there are several trees down there why not place a camera on one of them. Just one camera they won’t be looking for one”.  Poor soul she thinks the pigs can count….    Ummm now after this I am not so sure she isn’t right.  Anyway, I did as she suggested and these are the first pictures of the pigs and what’s more there’s a baby in there.

Oh Happy Days…..

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Ok so which is my best side??

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At long last we are at one with the forest.  The pigs are back now all we need to see are the goats to make it perfect. Oh dear here we go again, guess who’s just come in singing, we can’t get that dam song out of our heads. So all together now…”and there in the wood a piggy wig stood with a ring in the end of its nose, its nose, its nose, with a ring in the end of its nose”….  Happy Days…….

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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There Be Dragons

This is the time of year when the Correfoc’s take place. These are the traditional pageants to drive the devil out of the village or town and bring good harvests and luck.  So as always we try to go to the one in Tivissa and Rasquera. So around 9pm on Saturday night we set off arriving just as they had begun to move off.

 

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In Rasquera I counted about 6 teams who gather in the square some with their dragons others just fire dancers, waiting to be told to go.  All the people dancing with the fireworks are clothed in fireproof suits with various designs on them and the reason for staggering the start is because each team has a ‘trolley’ with their fireworks in and this follows behind the drums which accompanies each team. Noisy eh? wonderful…

The Fun Begins

 

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Then  come the dragons whirling and twirling around covered in fireworks and thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Youngsters are seated on fathers shoulders to watch all this whilst some of the older people and teenagers  dressed in old clothes with scarves round their faces bandit style and hats to cover their hair soak themselves with water and join the dancers under the fireworks.  One year in our village when I was younger, I was given the top half of a dancer’s costume and joined in the dancing believe me to do this you need to be fit plus it gets very hot wearing the protective clothing and I only had the jacket on.  We never intended to take pictures but wife+ phone produced these  hope you enjoy:-

Dancing

 

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There Be Dragons Dancing

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Having Fun

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Happy Fiesta People…

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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Alternative? Energy?? Cheap???.

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De Vine & Nut Tree 

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As those of you who follow me will know I have built us a “fly free zone”(FFZ for short) where we can sit without being mullered by wasps or black biting flies. It also provides a certain amount of camouflage for bird watching, especially now I have loped the olive tree.

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Two years ago I planted a very small  cutting of a grape-vine which we have watched grow slowly, and I do mean slowly, until last year.  Since then it has been a competition between the Walnut tree and the Vine to see who can grow the tallest and longest.  The Walnut tree was winning last year as it shot up putting out two new branches so not wanting it to become a giant I pinched out the tips – I had already cut out the central growing bit – of the tallest branches and waited for the others to catch up. As for the vine well, although it spread around the FFZ, it did not bear any fruit and behaved itself until now that is!  You can see from the ‘before and after’ photos that they both did very well. I pinched out the tips of the other two branches on the Walnut tree no problem there however, on further inspection I found the vine had taken a liking to the tree and was wending its way up into it.  So I got the secateurs cut that branch away then after checking  found there were several bunches of grapes on the main stem hidden by loads of leaves. Then my wife asked if I was going to sort out the bit which was trying its hardest to grow across the FFZ door. But the thing that finally drove me into action were the hornets.  Where the vine had latched onto the netting it’s weight has torn a small hole which allowed the hornets to get in so with staple gun in one hand and secateurs in the other I repaired the hole and began the job of drastic pruning.  Now only the fruit bearing branches are left the grapes are filling out and we can see the garden more clearly.  It may not be the correct way of doing things but up here it works.

Weather Gardening

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As you may or not know it has been very very hot, too hot to work outdoors and only just bearable indoors. So when Thursday broke cool and grey a cuppa appeared by my bed accompanied by “I’m in the garden whilst the weathers like this” and she was sorting out the tyre garden before I had drunk it.   Now this tyre was left here by the delivery guy many moons ago and put to use as a bulb garden at the top of the drive.  Two years ago she planted some of the lilies in there along with the other bulbs but they took over and stifled the Irises and Tulips.,So out came all the bulbs carefully sorted  then began the work of filling in under the rim of the tyre with stones.  (Please note the lesser spotted Michael plant is not for this planter it’s too big.)

This done the earth was spread around again and a coffee appeared should have known, out came the plant books and we sat pouring over them and discussing what would go well where.  “Right then, fancy lunch I’m buying.” that meant one thing garden shopping!  Well I did want a few thing so we got ready then headed for Reus and the big stores and lunch in the Chinese.

Weather Weather Come Our Way

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When we left there were dark clouds everywhere but NO RAIN……  As we neared the pass it began to rain but as we were driving through clouds I suppose it should have.  Up and over the mountains we went down towards the coast with lighter sky’s but still no sun or rain.  The return journey along the coast was no different and I was feeling a little let down all these dark clouds but no rain and we really needed it.  Friday came in cool and grey, but at least we could get out and do thing. One important job was getting the petrol for the generator if it was going to be overcast for a few days we would need to run it for a while to top up the batteries, so under darkening sky’s we went shopping.

 

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Returning home we filled up the generator,  I looked at the sky and grrrrr’d at it then went to continue writing.  But hey guess what we got our rain at last in the shape of a promised thunder-storm.  The first we knew about it approach was the wind getting up and blowing a hooly, bit like the approach of a squall at seq.  It got darker and I heard a distant rumbling as well as seeing the odd flash streak across the sky.  I then noticed my wife sitting in her chair concentrating on her laptop “did you hear that?” I asked “shut up I am ignoring it” was the reply and she did.  Even when it was over head and the rain came very brave.  Normally I would find her hidden away where she cannot see the flashes, a while later she even stood and watch the light show nature put on over the town the sky was lit up in a most spectacular way.  Eventually I asked if she was watching the tv as I was going to turn off the generator as she wasn’t I trotted outside to the shed turned it off then went to the battery house flicked the switch and got soaked, but know what? it was really refreshing.

This morning I woke to find the clouds still there but the sun could be seen peering under the cloud further down the valley and the black biting flies were out in force of well the respite be it ever so small was most welcome.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

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