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Posts Tagged ‘olives’

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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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 –

 

 

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A Gentle Ramble Through My Life

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Well yes the sun is shining but there is also a cold wind which means the beaches are either sand blasting places or sun traps, either way the sea is still cold and when we have been to the coast recently the beaches were not exactly crowded. Which is a shame as we have some of the best beaches along our stretch of coastline, besides the main sandy stretches there are little coves dotted around which makes discovering them interesting.  Places to fish from or topless sunbathing or just a quiet secluded beach for romance.

It’s also where I get some inspiration for my books. The sea is a wonderful conflicting place calm one moment a raging tempest the next and just sometimes something in between. A walk along an empty beach or sitting with a rod waiting for a fish to take the bait these are moments when stories find me. Whilst looking out to sea I am joined by characters new and old all jostling for attention linked by a love of seafaring and somewhere in there is always a new story.

PETANCA

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For those of you not familiar with our life these are our Petanca friends whom Michael plays in the competitions with.  He was at Fraga a while ago and won wine and a round of goats cheese which we have literally just finished. Then last weekend the club had a paella and Petanca day on Sunday (blog to follow) and I and my partner were top in our group so we played the top team in the other group to see who was top over all. We came second, wine and olives were our prizes and very welcome to.  The paella was a sea food one with salad, dried meats, crisps and olives to whet our appetites. Only when we felt the first spots of rain were we convinced it was time to go home. Mind you we had been there since 8.30am and by the time the rain appeared it was close to 3.30pm.

 

Doctors

Right so What’s Up Doc? well when you get older things begin to squeak and rattle (mostly from the pills) and that is a question I could have asked three times this last week.  The medical staff is very good here, go for any test and they not only tell you the results but give you a printout so you can see how you’re doing, no secret squirrels here.  Well where to start, a visit to my dr found that I was doing well so she thought she would try to lessen the tablets I take “we will try leaving off the aspirin for a month.” Ok sounded good to me but after a couple of weeks I began to get headaches and stuff so I made another appointment with her to let her know things were not going well, and went back on the aspirin. Headaches disappeared and felt better so when I told her about it she asked how long I had been on them 8 years I said oh my god, quick as a flash she had written me a prescription for some other tablets which help to safeguard the stomach so now back to normal. Then I got a phone call from the hospital, need to see the anaesthetist as they are going to operate on my hand next month this entails two visits and an ECG before they will confirm a date.  Looking forward to this as hopefully my little finger will finally be straight and I will have to be chauffeured around meaning I can look at the country side and spot the birds.

 

The Boys

IMG_0052 (640x480) This is where their cage sits during the night and on windy days with the nest box facing the other way for protection. During the day they are at the other end of the FFZ enjoying the sun and shouting at the birds.  But as all kids do when we go shopping and return home first thing they do is to stand on their perches and shout until one of us appears and gives them a treat.  Or if Michael is at his desk working with the window open they shout and holler till he either speaks to them or I go and sit in the FFZ with them taking my laptop/tablet with me. Yep I know it’s confusing but sometimes we both contribute to these blogs just for the hell of it.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Spring Flowers

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These are the wild daffodils that grow in the forest.  When the track was being re-done I rescued some of the bulbs that were in danger of being destroyed then my wife planted them in different parts of the garden. These have taken in the side garden by the house and are looking good.  When we go walking around the finca we find quite a few so there is always a small vase of them indoors and their perfume is strong for such dainty little things.

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If you add to these the violets that are putting on such a show this winter (only pic I have at moment) then each room in the house has a different perfume.  When the lilies eventually get to flower their perfume can be overpowering, but even I have to admit the kitchen smells wonderful, as you can tell my wife likes her cut flowers.

Look Who’s Back

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Walking out towards the little house yesterday I came upon Puddytat sleeping on a pile of weeds that my wife had left out. It was nice to see he didn’t dash away when I passed but slowly got up stretched then wandered off as if to say ‘can’t a cat sleep in peace?’.  Not seen him around the ffz whilst the boys are in there but expect he will peer in through the netting at some time. Then the other morning there he was, looking well strolling around like he owned the place – well cats do don’t they –  he is one chunky healthy wild cat, so the wife grabbed her camera and wandered round the garden and got these shots of him:-  Finding the sunny spot,  having a clean up, off to find a spot in the sun and finally take a nap:-

 

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An Update On Big Momma X

 

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Talking of whom Big Momma X is still sitting on her eggs. Apparently it takes 20 days before anything hatches and as these are a young breeding pair they might not come to anything but as the Cooler King is helping with the hatching I think we have a good chance of a squawk or to two. They are very good at the nesting and if you peek inside the box from the front  you will see both of them sitting side by side, there is no touching the box or they will destroy the eggs/chicks so it’s a peek through the ’round window’.  However when she comes out to stretch her wings, feed or drink if he thinks she is taking too long boy does he shout. They have begun to practice feeding so we have hopes yet.  Going to cost me though, will need to go buy a bigger cage ah well they are worth it, will keep you up dated.

Us Oldies

Ok that’s it for now wife’s back in bed that nasty cough returned and she has been ill for a few days. Problem is she wont rest. Take Wednesday she woke up feeling in her words “miles better”, so we went to the market to collect some feeders from the bird man.  The ride in the car a short walk to the stall and back and she went from feeling ‘miles better to feeling knackered’! Wednesday night she was really really ill no sleep and where she had been coughing everything hurt. So yesterday morning what do I find she’s outside weeding, grrrrrr  that did it she went to see the dr yesterday afternoon and he gave her some dissoluble tablets to bring up the muck one at night and she has another appointment in a weeks time to see how she doing. Me? well I went to see the nurse and I have another round of tests to be done and I see the doctor in May so between the two of us we going great lol.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Usual Stuff

 

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These past weeks have seen some spectacular skies what with the moon turning red and the end of the world predicted.  We even had a partial rainbow but, of course, no rain. So these spectacular skies, the moon (and no we didn’t stay up) and the rainbow are our only reward. Then I discovered my camera wont work so now I can’t use it so have to rely on my phone and the tablet not good….

Olive Oil…

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Right as you will have gathered by now we own a small olive farm and over the years we have not had the time to tend it properly.  Most of the trees here are 100’s of years old some – so we are told – being  1000 years old, which I can believe as the trunks are like small oak trees. To get the trees to produce fruit they need to be pruned which means taking all the branches that are growing up right out leaving the centre clear with plenty of light, removing all the dead wood, which encourages new growth which in turn produces the fruit.  However, because over the years we have had to travel to back and forth to Michael’s doctor it became a bit difficult.  So this year after little rain we expected to be pruning but not pressing the olives  WRONG!!!! On inspection I discovered the trees were covered in fruit, not much rain at all here so yes Sods Law is alive and kicking…..

Normally picking olives and taking them to the commercial press is done sometime in the first two weeks of November with pruning in early spring.  However this year everything seems to be early and if we left them till then the olives would all have fallen and been no good,  so it was off to visit Keka (think that’s how his name is spelt) to purchase a small press.  Now we could get going.  We started on the first tree of the left side of the fields then moved to the small ones on the first level. Lots of pruning and picking later we had our first pressing, so Michael got his trusty pulper going and before long the first batch was ready for the press.

Because of his hand I won’t let him use a chain saw up and down ladders with that in hand is not good, so until his hand’s sorted out it’s literally hand pruning. There is a lot of dead wood up there so we find it easier to using the hand saw. It is rather nice working away in the early morning suns just getting warm, birds are shouting and hollering at our two, conversation is good and when he’s cut enough branches we sit go and pick the olive together. We are obviously not the only ones who work like this, when we were out yesterday we passed another couple doing exactly the same.

Sitting in our kitchen/diner is the first container of oil which is resting to allow the water to settle on the bottom. Once this happens I will syphon it off then leave it to settle again before straining it several times into clean fresh containers.

Autumn Hunters

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October brings a new sound to the forest, the sound of dogs, bells and guns, the hunters are back.  The season is from October to March and only on two days a week last year it was Thursday and Sunday, not sure which days this year. I have to say that until the guns go off we don’t always know they are here and they do not hunt near the house.  Hunting is a subject that is full of holes, sometimes it is necessary to cull the wild boar because this is farming country and they do do a fair bit of damage to crops. However, being a National Park they have to get permission to hunt and the wild boar have not suffered, in fact they are beginning to thrive again.

New Additions

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This is Bluebottle. We were out shopping in the market last week and as always stopped to look at the birds.  Michael was particularly taken with a parakeet very pretty with a blue bum, so he’s called Bluebottle.  Twice he went back to look at him then I said “if you really like him get him and a cage” .  Next thing I knew bird in cage in front of car me sitting in back and sir having a conversation with a passenger who didn’t talk back…..  Well he seemed a little lonely so today we went back and bought another one a Grey this time named Eccles what else…..  Now I am not casting nasturtiums (I know what I wrote) but it has to be a male.  The chap put the bird in a box with air-holes and we started for home, calling into the supermarket on the way.  We opened the boot and loaded the shopping opened doors and got in. Drove along then all of a sudden Eccles was flying around in the car – good job the aircon was on –  Eccles had chewed his way out of the bird box so we stopped the car and when he landed on Michaels knee he caught him, replaced him in the box and with me holding the lid on and covering the hole Eccles had made drove home.  Once home Michael took him into the livingroom  opened the cage door placed the box against it and waited… and waited…. and oh you get the idea.  The result was that he had to up-end the box to get him into the cage.

Job sorted you might think but oh no!  They spent the next hour shouting at one another and every time Eccles went to feed Bluebottle chased him away. Same thing with the swing to the point where Bluebottle dislodged his swing then tried to commandeer Eccles, so Michael went out got some wire and sorted this out. Then I had to lay the law down to the pair of them.  Know what? it worked!  I re-hung the swing they had knocked down then we watched as they both sat on it, no squabbling no noise and when Eccles went to eat Bluebottle sat and watched.  Michael has made a hanging place for them in the fly free zone where they can sit and shout at the ‘gang’ who come sit in the olive tree and tweet, shout and screech back at them.  Believe it or not they are now under their cover cuddled up and QUIET!!!!!

Petanca Birthday Party

Last Saturday we had a really lovely day.  Now this weekend here it’s a bank holiday so we wont be petancing and next weekend is a competition so last weekend was the only one free. We bought the wine and our friends did the rest we played a small competition Michael won Beer and Olives and I won wine and crisps.   Then we went and sat down to  pernil, pan tomate, olives, crisps, several different meats with wine, beer, small alcohol wine (4%) Pepsi, lemonade and water.  This was followed by melon, then sweet cakes served with the coffee and either brandy or whisky.  I didn’t drink so drove home Michael just had a really relaxing good time.

Michael also had some good news about his operation on his hand.  He has a cyst growing on the tendon of his hand and it became infected so his doctor sent him to see a specialist who said they would operate but there is a two month waiting list so in December along with his scan it will be sorted. And no he can’t type very well at the moment.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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Well it has been a long long time since I last wrote quite bit to catch up on so here goes with the first instalment. First though  HAPPY NEW YEAR PEEPS.

2014 had been a scrappy year what with one thing and another and my major visit to the doctor in the UK looked like finishing it off in the same style.  However I have a good doctor and when he told me I had diabetes 2 he suggested that all the travelling stressed me out and affected everything and that it might be better to find a doctor over here.  So after Xmas I visited the pharmacy over here (they are trained doctors) had a diabetic test and everything was ok  NO DIABETES 2!!!!    So that was the first thing to please me.

Next came the new car.  We have had our old one for years and the rattles were getting louder and louder so that you heard us coming before you saw us.  The trip to the UK was the last she made we treated ourselves to a new one – which was on the cards for our 50th anniversary in December this year – an year early anniversary/xmas pressie.  Its warm, quiet and more importantly comfy for us oldies (as well as being mas baratt) lol.

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I don’t suppose you remember the time we won the Christmas Raffle, but ever since we have been here Ramon has made us welcome and we look on him and Eleanor as our friends who we share our petanca triumphs and where we go to enjoy typical Catalan food.   Normally we do not do anything for new years eve but this year we decided to join Ramon and others for just that.  The food was excellent, company was great and we were having so much fun making noise and laughing that the clock had chimed three times before we realised the new year was upon us.   Then being the only English there we sang old Lang sign then listened as it was sung in Catalan a wonderful end to an excellent evening.

 

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Then yesterday I had a nice surprise my books are selling in Germany, if the year keeps this up it should be a good one.

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One of the things that has been over looked is the olive harvest.  They do not start pressing the olives until the second week of November and that is usually when we are travelling so I have started on the pruning of the trees to bring them back on line for this autumn in the hope that we can pick the olives and have our own oil again.  Some of the trees are over 700 years old and one or two – so we are told – are 1000 years old.

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Talking of which the annual Olive Oil fira in Mora l’Nova is on soon so that’s one breakfast we will be going to. The olive oil on sale is something else, really nice for the table.

Ok that’s the first one done. Lots more to tell you but that will come later with – I hope – the picture of the flat bott badger……..

©  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our daughter has been over for two weeks holiday so we eventually got to the seaside book and all.  Writing put away for a short while just relaxing eating out and generally enjoying ourselves.

The past week had been eventful, her birthday, a meal out with a friend and my wife getting stung.  In between this there was Petanca plus a club meal, then we had Sunday lunch at the beach, returned there for an afternoon and got rained on by a small cloud in full sunlight lol.

So on the last day of her visit  we went to the seaside again for lunch and a swim.  Now I know most parents show photos of their offspring or tell tales of ‘when she/he was small’….  Here’s a story.

Our daughter has always been an avid reader so it is no surprise to us that a book goes with her.  Whilst here she has been reading my books on the computer (including the ones in progress).  A long long time ago in a country far far away we took her sailing.  Unfortunately on our way out of the Medina on the Isle of Wight the propeller became dislodged.  ‘Over the side’ I said, she looked at me then her mother stood firm and said ‘I’ve read Jaws you go!’.  After some coaxing she went over and pushed the prop back, she has not let me forget it either lol.  So when we decided to go to the little seaside town my wife and I stayed at when we first arrived here, she donned her cossi grinned and said ‘don’t get any ideas this is for sun bathing, remember, I’ve read the book’.

We arrived at the coast on a sunny day found a good restaurant and sat down.  Muscels followed by paella, washed down with white wine, plus fresh bread green olives then ice cream and coffee. This was our choice of menu of the day eaten whilst looking out on the harbour. Well my wife and I were, you know who had her nose in a book.

From where we were sitting we had a good view of the harbour which is also a thriving fish port, Whilst we were lunching the Tuna trip boat arrived. This boat takes people out to the fish farms where red tuna is farmed and you can, if you so wish, swim with them.

On the beach I decided to brave the water it had turned a little chilly.  After a paddle I was joined by daughter, who stood looking left and right. ‘What you looking for?’ as if I did not know.  ‘Nothing just checking’ was the reply.

So we stood for a while letting the water surge round our feet.  It was then I noticed a swimmer coming along in front of us  ‘Jaws’ I said.  Well she decided retreat was the better part of valour then saw ‘Jaws’.  Well getting my own back now and then is quite fair. This was her last full day and we all enjoyed it very much.  Mum drove us home and to the airport the next morning.

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