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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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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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Last Saturday there was a Clotcha (breakfast) at the club and we joined our friends for petanca and food.  Now the weather people said it would RAIN, well it did Friday night so the phone was on the bedside just in case things were rained off.  But as luck would have it the day started fine if a little chilly and we arrived to find lots of people there, friends from our old club and various villages/towns around. The Alcalde was also there with members of the Adjuntamente, they are great supporters of the club which is really nice.

The Clotcha consists of half a small round loaf which you take the middle out of then you fill it with the following bbq’d things:- garlic, onion, tomatoes and either a sardine or sausage depending on your preference, a good helping of olive oil then you toast the piece of bread you took from the middle push it back in and enjoy!!!!  Yes you get messy but that’s part of a Clotcha, and it was washed down with some very nice red wine.   Next we cleared away had our AGM the played petanca, I was with Jordi and Ramon bless them two very good players landed with me who on a good day can knock spots off balls on a bad day well I should have stayed in bed.  But Saturday was a good day we actually beat every team we played.  Michael was with Delores and they did the same so it ended up with Michael and Delores being first and Jordi, Ramon and I second  wine, olives, crisps and dried sausage came home with us  wonderful day.  Oh and the weather? well it held until the prizes were given out that was done in the rain – see Sods Law happens lol.

Well Jason D’ebre has finished his second children’s book, if you thought that was easy think again.  The book might be finished but now begin the rounds of proof reading, editing, description building, re-reading/proofing/tweaking and lots and lots of grrrrrrrs along with the odd ‘did I really write that’ plus the need to get up and wander off.  Believe me, whoever said writing was easy was wrong, they probably have no idea what an author goes through.  The idea of a story might be easy to put together – provided you have your facts/dates etc., (there are plenty of people out there who just love to pull you to pieces even if the subject is pure fiction. They profess to be ‘experts’ on the subject and know more about it than anybody – and as I said that’s ) but putting it into a story with beginning middle and end is not as easy as it sounds. So from quite early this morning Jason has been reading, checking, ooopsing the book  then its my turn. I have to read it make notes of anything I find does not make sense or sound right then back he goes to put things right and so it goes on until we both feel its ok.  BUT as anybody will tell you SODS LAW is a writers bane  there is  ALWAYS something you missed….. so after publishing you sometimes have to go back correct then publish again.   With out the army of people a publisher provides to do it for you, this is what a Kindle author/publisher has to do.

Jason tells a good story, he checks his facts and knows his history.  That’s why the stories  he writes are not only readable but interesting. He checks everything but its hard work believe me.   Those who just fill pages with words then publish aren’t really authors, they don’t know the first rule of writing  THERE HAS TO BE A STORY, without a story line running through it the pages might just as well be blank.

Well that’s what has been happening these past few weeks now it’s getting near to my reading the book, so someone is up as head cook and bottle washer as once I start reading I cannot stop.  If I have to stop reading and return to reality I lose the times and sense of being there, I tend to emerse myself in the story.  This is how I read, it helps me to make the notes for both Michael and Jason.  I am very proud to say that because of this I am actually learning a lot of history. At school all we got was battle of Hastings 1066 and all that, but there is so much more to English history as I am learning from Jason’s writing.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

(c) Jason D’ebre

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In the Beginning

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As you can see from this photograph this was how the back-garden looked a few years ago.  We were just getting sorted out and when it rained the earth would wash up against the wall making it damp. So we laid a path and patio and stood the water cubes there to catch the rain water.  It worked well for a while but when the drought set in and the forest nearly caught fire I decided that we needed a larger cisterna.  Now we couldn’t go up so we went down to bedrock and started from there.  The poles you see here determined the construction as one windy day the whole lot blew down falling on Carol’s roses and taking the ‘false apple’ vine with it.  So after tidying things up and replanting the roses – unfortunately we lost one or two – I got busy.

Got a digger to dig out the hole then had steel delivered along with gravel/sand and cement and off we went. I laid the floor first then started on the sides.  I did the mixing and the wife was down the hole building up the walls.  It took us a few weeks to do as we had to go slow but eventually we were at the top and ready for the beagers and pots.  Once delivered and in place a last few mixes of concrete and job done.  To get someone to do exactly the same thing would have been around 10,000 Euros.

Washing Line and Garden

 

When I started this blog it was into winter and neither of us were fit enough to finish it. HOWEVER, it’s now March sun’s out forest and garden are looking good and we are feeling very get up and go up here.  So after looking at the damage the winter had done to certain plants Carol went plant shopping.  We now have two new lavenders and the lavender patch is beginning to look as it should.  The weeds took over during the winter when we could not get out, so the past few days have been weeding and tidying up days.  The feel of the sun on our backs is doing us the world of good.  I have taken some photographs of before and after, not all the beds have been finished but we are in no rush.

This is the side walled garden before and after. It was full of weeds and dead plants that the frost had damaged, so Carol weeded then planted some violets at this end where the dead plant was, but before that she covered and dug in some of the olive mush and ash mixture to give the ground some goodness.

The next one was end bed in front of the shed facing the house. As you can see it was really bad but after some diligent weeding and another good dose of the mix the red-hot pokers and lavender now have space to grow.

 

This small walled bed forms the other wall of the rose garden and is just waiting for its ‘mix’ to be added.  This is the first year the Hyacinth’ s have been in their own bed although small they all flowered and for a few days the perfume was wonderful. This is the sight I look at from my desk, and the washing line of course.

 

Next was the small patio in front of the bedroom  as you can see it was a bit of a mess but after a good sweep and re positioning of the stones replacing some gravel all is back to normal  –  except that the wind blew just as this photo was being taken  can’t tell you what a certain lady said…..

So this is  just a few photos of where we are with the garden.  However Carol has told me about your photos this spring and how it is difficult to explain the variety of wild ones we have so in ‘Part Two’ of this blog I am posting just photos of them.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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I love this sculpture says it all

 

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Humour is a necessity when you are not feeling on top of the world. The ability to laugh is, to us, a must when we are not werry well.  So after a horrendous night I sort of plodded through to the kitchen where I could hear the fire being lit and the kettle on  Michael was making breakfast.  As the morning wore on I began feeling better got up, dressed, and wandered to the desk.  After the ‘hows yous’ we were laughing at the thought of us, many years ago, out in a rain storm searching for roof tiles then fixing a leaky roof. We couldn’t do that now we said staring out of the kitchen window lost in memories, and for a few moments we were back in adventure land being silly billies then I coughed….

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The one thing about our life here is that we have had to source everything we need including those roofing tiles, but at least there were some spare to hand.  So what other daft things have we done? Well although you can’t see the roof very well, but halfway along the wall was an open chimney which would let rain and other things in, so Michael dismantled it covered the hole and replaced the tiles.  So imagine a really wet day rain coming down in stair-rods, and a leaking roof right where the old chimney had been.  We could not let it go as water was beginning to form a damp patch on the floor. so out we went thick coats on Michael got a ladder and found the tiles were loose in fact one or two were missing. so we had to go tile hunting.  Once they were found it was a case of placing them over the gaps weighting them down with a stone or two (yep the wind is that strong up here) at the end of which two soaking wet people went in and got warm and dry (we had a gas fire). Next day we mixed some cement and Michael made sure every gap was sealed. Memories…..

Christmas Fairs and Me and Barcelona

20161210_165638-640x480-480x560In early December we went to the Christmas fair in Tivissa, and guess what I found so I just HAD to have my photo taken with them (can’t get anything like this with Spurs).   After this we went on wandering round looking at the various stalls until we met one of our Petanca friends who directed us to the church.  Not sure what we would find we went in and joined parents and other towns folk who were there to hear the choir and orchestra perform Christmas songs and carols – we spent a wonderful 2 hrs there.

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Then on the Saturday we went to Mora La’Nova  where we saw the children giving the their letters to the king and his helpers,  (their version of Santa) and having their photo’s taken.  The que to do this ran halfway round the hall.

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The Moors were in this part of Spain for ages until El Cid drove them out but their influence remains and so do the fiestas.  Not only do we celebrate the 25th December but the festivities go on till the 6th January.  Christmas day is the religious festival but on the night of the 5th that’s when presents are given as that is the time when the three Kings visited Jesus.  Now this means we get two Christmases with New Year in the middle  NOW HOW COOL IS THAT????

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

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WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

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A Catch up from December 18th 2016

Yesterday saw us celebrating our 51st year of marriage, a long time these days.  Unfortunately what with our colds back again and very dodgy weather forecast we didn’t get to have a meal out as planned, but we did get to the seaside and have coffee and cheesecake after a walk along the beach watching the surf being pushed in and admiring the sand sculptures before they were damaged by the weather.

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Our pressies to each other were our normal style  Michael bought me an artisan necklace in a amber colour (that’s it gift wrapped)  He wanted a new torch and stuff which I bought him a few days ago, so we were well chuffed with ourselves. Oh and when we were in Tarragona yesterday Bauhouse was open and as is our want we went in and guess what we treated ourselves to as a Christmas pressie???  A WHEELBARROW!! just what we needed.. So here’s how our weekend went:-

Weather and Worthogs!!

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We have seen a lot of really bad weather down south and just above us but according to the weather men it was our turn for some on Monday.  Now we had a small dilemma, should we go to dinner in the evening at the coast or go shopping thus ensuring we were indoors on Monday.   Logic and shopping won so Saturday saw us in town at the supermarket getting our usual Monday stuff so that IF the rain that was promised arrived it could do its worst and we would not need to go out.  We were also kind of whacked plus neither of us wanted to drive across the mountains not be able to have a drink then drive back again.  So we headed for home and just as we were turning into the forest we saw him.  A WARTHOG!!!!!  short body slightly lower at the back-end with a shaggy mane and boy did he go.  Now I know there are lots of animals up here we have not seen but he was a real surprise, could be the little sod that been digging my bulbs up.

Christmas came and went we spent boxingday with friends as normal. The meal was well cooked and the decor was plush.

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Then new year saw us in with colds – again –  hence the late publishing but we are now on the mend and will be heading out again looking for that dam Hog….  Oh and it didn’t rain….

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

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