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Where Have The Years Gone

                          

The Prolog
These photographs say a lot. When we first put the FFZ (fly free zone) up we planted a walnut tree, I do like walnuts, along with a vine our friends gave us.  Now as we cannot have a permanent construction with out planning permission we built as you can see 4 pillars then I added some support beams (cut when making a fire break) added a wooden roof then covered the whole thing with very large olive nest.  I then constructed a metal door and frame attached these to the house and covered like the rest of the ffz,  making the complete ffz you can see here.
As you can see it did not take long for either to grow but there were consequences.  The vine grew like billio and the tree just tore away upwards.  So I had to curtail that and keep it at a reasonable height.  But it was the vine that went mad.  It clambered up and over the roof and around the netting (second pic) but in doing so it became heavy and began to destroy the netting (we realised this when we found a snake in the ffz).  So what to do? well I simply trimmed and moved the vine to in front of the little house so it can climb over the frame of the gazebo.  Then I looked at the roof and decided that it was necessary to replace it which I did with corrugated effect roofing, that was a laugh putting that up believe me a broom comes in very handy at those times.  Then I bought some new netting which my wife duly put up and also sealed any gaps she found whilst doing so.  I then sealed the edges where the roof butted up against the walls and using the old roofing covered the entrance in front of the door now we could sit out without being bitten and in the shade whilst enjoying the heat.  Then we got the boys……
The Gardens – Sam’s Garden
                   
 Now my wife loves her flowers and when she decided that the olive tree by the house stayed she decided to make a garden out of it well I should have known.  After filling in the centre and planting bulbs, She then built  a semicircle garden in front of it.  Into this went more bulbs (about the only thing that can survive the hot summers remembering we have very little water up here) the result being that I laid a small patio down so we could sit out and enjoy this garden. As you can see when in flower it’s rather attractive, the bulbs have multiplied over the years and every now and then my wife digs them up and plants the young bulbs in other parts of the garden. After the pigs attack on her saffron I think it’s a good idea.
Meet Bobbin Robbin and his  main man Boris Blackbird
 
Yes his name is spelt like that he told me so after introducing Boris. Now a robin talking to me? I should have known (this will be my theme statement). We were sat having coffee one morning when this little chappy turned up. Not content with getting up close and personal with the wife he had demands.  He hopped under the table and pecked her foot then said you’ve got a drink what about us?  and there you have it I was sent off to find an old dish whilst they sat discussing (yes she can and does talk to the birds and they tweet back) how to set up what was to become known as ‘The Water Bar’ (you can find it on https://asoldierswind.wordpress.com). The fact that my wife could understand what he and the others say makes me wonder…….
So there it is life on the finca past part 1.  Nothing really changes, the redstarts are still with us, but its been a long long dry summer and the garden has taken a bashing. So there really is a lot of work to do, where we start depends on my wife but I have a feeling the beds will be first followed by the pots and tubs then the rest of the garden and something done about that Saffron bed and the birds are returning they sit in the now  – of course I could be wrong……..
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – author

 

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The Course and The Club  

Once again its race time on the river at Club Nautique.  As you can see its a long way to the bridge where they round the central pillar then row back.  The downward journey is not too bad as they are racing with the flow of the river (about 6knts), however, on the way back it against the flow and a really hard pull. An awful lot of strength is required for this as pulling against a 6knt flow in a large rowing boat with only oars to get you where you want to be is no mean feat. Not here your Oxford or Cambridge boats these are sturdy river boats that have been used on the river for a long time.

              

As you can see from this photo there are safety boats out as well as canoes, plenty of assistance if needed.  So this people, is what these youngsters do every night of the summer for fun. Out in his boat are Pep and Chris two of the people who are always there for the club, today they started the races.  This is an annual event which we try very hard not to miss.

   

The club is always well attended and this year was no exception. As you can see it was very busy, but they have a good system for the food and drinks area.  You went to the two people sitting at the table who were issuing tickets for drinks and food, paid for what you wanted took your ticket to either the bar or BBQ on the other side of the bar – which was doing a roaring trade with kebabs – and collected your fare.

So to the Races

There are such a lot of pictures for the actual races that I shall just post them hope you enjoy.  Starting with the competitors:

The competitors,line up,the off finish and prize giving enjoy

   

   

 

 

And this young lady won a cup because she SWAM across the river  beating the only other competitor a young man by yards.

 

So there you are our day at the races in photographs, friends and life just get better.   Looking forward to next year boys and girls

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cambrils

Cambrils is set on the coast between Hospitalet d’la Infant and Salou. The coastal road passes through Cambrils flanked on one side by a marina and bar/restaurants on the other. It may only be for a short distance but at this time of the year it is heaving. After the terrorist attack in Barcelona and then the 5 terrorists all wearing bomb vests being shot dead in Cambrils, plus having friends living there we decided to visit and see everyone was ok, Boy what a miskaea to makea.

Explanation

We are often driving through here during the winter stopping off at a little bar in one of the plazas behind the sea front. But last winter we discovered that the bar is closed on Sundays, why? well our theory is that when we went for coffee Valencia was often playing football and they would lose, and when they found out that we were at the bar on those days they asked the bar to close and Valencia began to win. Thing is Valencia are not Barca or Spurs you see…. but I digress.

Cambrils Spirit

                                          

Because this is holiday time and parking is always difficult I decided to approach Cambrils from the Tarragona side. I was right about doing this all the car parks were full, cars were parked on cars in some places, even parked well back from the lovely sandy beaches, all this helped to give out a feeling of safety. As always the police were in full view even some on bikes, this was not a town cowering this was humanity at its best. However, more importantly our friends were safe, luckily none of their families had been injured. People were very shaken but the spirit of Cambrils was not broken.

So we left them to enjoy the sun and headed back to town for a meal in Bar Turo which we haven’t done for a long time. Sitting there reminded me that we needed to sit outside with a pizza and good wine whilst watching the world pass by. Yep normality has returned.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In The Beginning

 

This is what we fell in love with all those years ago (I installed the water header tank).

Well I think by now most people who follow my blogs know that one of my favourite topic is rain (or the lack of to be precise), but that’s what you get when looking for your perfect location to live and write then find it in the middle of nowhere in a forest halfway up a small valley in the mountains, fall in love with it and buy it…

                  

       

These are photos of the track to give you an idea of how steep it is where it looks flat it’s not your still climbing.

These photos of the farm looking back towards the masa show how close the forest is and we own most of what you can see.

Now when you think of a forest you probably think of leafy glades, flat forest floor and pathways or tracks that are level and when it rains get a little muddy, no?? well that’s what my wife thought of when I brought her here, didn’t last long though.  On the drive up here she was very silent and holding onto the handle of the car door.  We had a 4×4 then and it looked wider than the track, however, once she saw our ‘home’ she was smitten but even quieter on the drive to the hotel.  If you don’t like it we can go somewhere else I said,  No I love it came the reply but I really need to know we can get a small lorry up there for building materials or we have a problem, but we found we could and the rest as they say is history.  Once the bungalow was built and I had – with the help of my (wife) builders mate – sorted out the water, electrics (solar), gas (bottled) and sewage (tank) we were all set. So now to the water – or lack there of.

Water!!

   

This is how we had our house water delivered when we only had the small cisterna (water tank) Manell is a friend and our ‘go to’ person when we need something done.  He gives advice and help, and is always smiling. Every so often we would buy 5,000 ltrs  of potable (drinking) water to keep us going if it didn’t rain. I soon realised that although the original cisterna was just big enough for the house, in times of drought it was not enough. So we built, with the help of Manell and his digger, a new cisterna which would ensure that we had enough house water and, please god we never have to use it like this, water to fight a fire because if a forest fire came through here we would have to climb inside one of them to survive that’s how far we are into the forest.

As for the garden well I bought some cubes placed one by the bathroom wall and the other at the side of the Fly Free Zone (FFZ) these work very well taking the run off from the roof as long as we get some rain.

This is how we used to collect river water for the cubes before getting things sorted.

So back to the garden water.  The two cubes are sufficient as the garden is either set out with bulbs, cacti, drought loving plants (lavenders etc.,) or tubs.  Watering them every two days helps, and the very few plants we have that are normal are planted in places where I know there is moisture in the ground most of the year (ie., near the concrete of the patios).  So when it does rain we get all excited like Christmas, but a thunderstorm during the daytime is a little bit scary I watch the skies for smoke but I can tell you from experience that you hear the fire before you see it. This time of year has Carol making a plastic bag for ‘important’ things which she can quickly fill.

But that apart we are content. I knew what we were getting into when I bought the farm and neither of us would change it.  We have adventurous spirits like the challenge of solving things and love nature.  The things we have seen since we have been here and the adventures we have had are what we love about our home.  We were here before they made it a Park Natural because of the Golden Eagles, and often see them flying over the masa. The birds, animals and others make this a perfect place to write, live and relax.  Waking to the song of Boris blackbird, listening to the thrushes, lark and others during the early morning or late evening, all of this is our life.  Yes the piggy wigs are naughty sometimes and make my wife cry when they dig her bulbs up but we would not have it any other way.  As I write we have another mysterious creature up here.  We think it’s a bird wife says an owl me am not sure but we have been woken by what sounded like a female voice in the early morning twice now but neither seen nor heard anything human.  Nothing on the cameras (cards back in) so we don’t know, but will keep you posted.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  (author)

 

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Well Me For Starters!

Oi!  and little me don’t forget me!!!!

Ok Thing how could I forget you, I will start again.  Well there’s me and Thing (that ok Thing?) Yes, but I need a hug….  No way, your spikes are dangerous you hug those two.   WHAT!!!! hug those two demolition monsters no way. Look at what they have/are doing to this fly free zone, I mean just look at the floor.  No wonder the boss gets cross with them, plus its a wonder they didn’t eat your dinner yesterday, I saw them eyeing up the plate. You are too soft with them its a good job you placed those two long pieces of wood hard up against these planks or they would have been out and off…..don’t suppose you could???no, stupid of me to suggest.  But they are, oh look there goes another wedge.  Look I’ll do a deal. I wont moan about them anymore IF you replace the wedges so that the rain water runs on me (when it rains) my beard gets just a little dry.  Ok Thing it’s a deal.

Back where they belong haha

Suppose I had better explain to the peeps about things.   I built a temporary anti bugly structure, to provide both shade – which we lack up here – and keep the nasty biting insects and wasps away. The area outside the front door is double planked overlaid plus everything is double netted and sealed. However, I placed two boards right up against the wood basically closing off that section so nothing can get between the planks, (for wife’s peace of mind) then to keep the inside ends up level with the roof I placed wedges between the wooden beam and planks. Then I let the ‘boys’ out!!!!  oh boy, well I suppose Thing has a point. They run up and down the channels between planks and roof, play hide and seek, shout at the other birds, run along the beams sit on top of the pillars and generally enjoy themselves.  However, as you can see from these photos they can move things that are well tapped in and as big if not bigger than they are. So rule No: 1  if all is quiet out there THEY ARE UP TO SOMETHING!! but they are great fun and keep me on my toes.

This is Sam he was her gardening companion

They also tease my wife (the boss) by either bouncing on the branches of her Bottlebrush tree or sitting on the edge of the flower pots and flicking the compost all over the floor.  But like me she loves them, I can tell by the way she greets them ‘little sods what are you up to now?’ just like she talked to the little Redstart Sam.

Anyway they are playing hide and seek again whilst I am working and keeping an eye on them.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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Looks peaceful doesn’t it, bulls grazing their way across a clearing, sun lighting the clearing casting shadows here and there, the idyllic forest scene.  Ummm well think again!  Every scene they say tells a story, this is about three children in the middle ages full of adventure and history. With magic, battles between good and evil giants and English history it goes along at a good pace.  However,  the one I am about to tell you is of crafty, naughty, greedy piggy wigs who could well end up as saffron flavoured bacon.

Once upon a time in a forest lived a writer and his wife.  Now when they retired they bought this little olive farm in the mountains because it was quiet and just right for the author to write.  Here he could sit at his desk and look out of the window watching and listening to the birds singing whilst he wrote away.   His wife a poetess also had a desk but it was in the kitchen so she could scribble away whilst pottering around without disturbing her husband.  She liked her gardening and built various flower beds to define where the house area and the farm/forest divided.  Over the years she planted various plants but only the drought hardy ones could survive the hot summers, so she decided that bulbs were the answer.

 Tulips, daffs, iris, and such were duly planted out in beds and over the years the little saffron bed she had created flourished lots of flowers providing lots of saffron.  Then one morning………disaster!

They were going into town and as the author went to get the car out he noticed the saffron bed had been dug up. Not only that but the bulbs his wife had planted down the side of the steps leading up onto the cacti garden were gone as well.  Now he knew this would upset his wife so he got the car out then went to tell her.  Boy was she mad…….so shopping that day consisted of more bulbs, but there was more to come.  As they drove out of the drive they noticed the corner of a terrace wall was completely destroyed.  This was not good, as two days later after sneaking off to inspect the finca in between writing the author did his back in.  Berated by his wife he had to own up to trying to rebuild the wall but the stones were so large and heavy he had lifted too much.  So the wall would have to stay down till later on.

Now one evening when they were driving home they surprised a warthog – yes I know warthogs don’t live in Spain, – but this one did and his name was Wally Warthog.  They could not believe their own eyes and as soon as they arrived home looked him up on Google.  Sure enough it said that warthogs were root and insect eaters and unlike the wild boar who would turn and fight  they would run away, just like Wally did.  Wally had obviously been abandoned so now they had another neighbour and felt sure they knew who was responsible for all the damage. Ummm no they didn’t they were wrong as events will prove.

Things went on a little bit quieter, she was able to tidy and repair the garden walls whilst he helped tidy up here and there, then the garden was dug up again. So it was time to reposition one of the night cameras as they really wanted to have a photo of Wally being very naughty. So a few night came and went with nothing happening and with Easter upon them they forgot all about it.  So it was quite a shock to the authors wife when she found her one and only tyre planter almost destroyed.  Years ago they had been given an old lorry tyre to make a planter with.  It was duly positioned at the top of the drive painted yellow and green and planted with Iris, Black Tulips and Snowdrops, and over the years it had filled out but this morning the bulbs were dug up and the tulip bulbs were gone. The wife  looked at her planter then sat on the edge and cried.  Then she went indoors and told the author who immediately jumped up and fetched the memory card from the camera, loaded it on to his laptop and said ” I think we owe poor Wally an apology look….” and this is what they saw:-

No Wally but these naught not so little piggy wigs rooting for bulbs and such.  So a lesson was learnt, do not blame someone for something unless you are very very certain they did it or you have proof.  SORRY WALLY ALL IS FORGIVEN…….

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc –  Author

 

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Well as you may have seen a while ago up here we have a huge variety of plants some which you will recognize from your own gardens and some which might be new to you.  Whichever way you go please remember these are growing wild like weeds here, and no we don’t use weed killer on them too many birds, anyway a diluted wash of Fairy Liquid does just as well.

Now before I get started there are a few things you should know.

1) gardening up here is totally different from the type of gardening you do round your house.  There you have ample water and boundaries.  Here we have a shortage of water with only 2,000 ltrs of water (2 cubes) to see the garden through the summer (unless we are lucky and get a storm).

2) So this means I garden in a slightly different way.  Most of my garden is down to bulbs so once the hot weather comes only the roses,   pots and an odd drought resistant plant need watering.  But there are also some  really lovely wild plants, with various differences  and

3) Please don’t expect their Latin names as I have no idea what they are. I garden for fun and the love of nature and nothing else. If I see a plant that I like and it is drought tolerant I will buy it, but I have to admit that it’s mostly bulbs.  So here are the pictures of the plants and grasses we live with, grab a cuppa and hope you enjoy them.

                                                

There are several varieties of this plant around some with tiny heads, larger ones and one or two with a pinkish centre, all wild and abundant in the forest.  The herbs well there is rosemary, thyme, aniseed, asparagus and fennel the asparagus grows around the base of the olive trees makes lovely omelet’s the local people can be seen at this time of year gathering it from the hedgerows.  As for rosemary that’s everywhere and the thyme I have planted in the back garden to hopefully form a hedge around the lavender garden.  The wild fennel is nothing like the bulb type it’s the feathery leaves we use and I collect the seed heads, this is not easy as it grows during the hot period in the lower field and as is one day the seeds are green then a day later I go to collect and they are gone so this year I shall tie bags around the heads and catch them that way.

The Strawberry Tree and its fruit we have a few growing in another part of our land very sweet but a bit pippy. We also have Carib trees on the farm but I leave these for the animals, the local farmers gather them for their goats and donkeys.

Also the various cacti are beginning to do well Michael made a Cacti Garden on the flat and after a few years it is starting to come together. Even cacti like a little bit of water more often than we get but after experimenting I have moved several of the species that do well in any condition into the garden along with a few my friend has given me.  Although the winter can and unfortunately does take a few the garden is looking well.

 

These are a few poppy photos I have counted 6 different natural varieties my favourite  one is the day poppy that looks like a tulip. (first one up)

  

 

 

 

Ok that’s some of the photos of the wild flowers that abound here.  I am always discovering new ones although I don’t know their name.  But my garden has taken a hammering recently and the culprits have finally been caught on camera…….

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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