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A while ago I wrote about the water situation here, but there was one thing I forgot to mention FIRE!

We were first aware of the situation when collecting water around 7am Thursday morning.

We could hear then we saw the firefighting helicopters with their buckets hanging down, Then this morning we could hear the float planes so we knew it was not over.

Normally it rains in April and May so there is no problem, but for the past 3-4 years it has been getting drier and drier and this year is no exception.  So far we have seen two huge fires one of which is still burning in the Monsant wine region.  I have spoken to a friend there and they are worried because a few vineyards have already gone.  In May there was a large fire which took out 18000 acres of both forest and vineyard.

What causes them? Well like the huge wild-fire in the Rockies, they can be started by lightning. It is unfortunate here but people seem to be the cause of these fires.  Then there is another bit of nature to contend with.  From around 10.30am the wind gets up and blows down our valley, strong enough to drive our wind generator.  If this is happening across the river in those vallies then they have a real problem and I think this must be happening as the smoke from the fire looks like a misty foggy haze.

What we really need are some summer storms or heavy prolonged rain.  It has been 37c here today and that was at 7.30pm, as I sit here I am sweating but all the windows are open there is a slight breeze but no respite.

I am so very very glad the bombers and Forestals are experts, at the moment of writing my wife has all my writing materials packed ready, just in case…..

(c) Michael Bosc

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This is what we should have seen

So today we were supposed to have snow, did we? Well let me tell you what happened.

This all started around Friday. We had been looking at the weather chart for our area and getting rather excited because according to the predictions we should have been in for some rain then snow.  Oh we fall for it every time.  Friday arrived bright and sunny if a little cold, so we decided to get some wood and even sat outside drinking coffee in relative comfort. However as the afternoon drew in we had 6 flakes of snow.  The nights here have been really cold and on Friday morning I found a bucket of water was literally a lump of ice.

On Saturday it was a sports day Rugby 6 Nations on the tv so I made my mind up it was to be a jimjam day in front of the fire. But again the weather was sunny so we went wooding again. In the forest further up from us are 4 very large pine trees which were blown over about a year ago, this meant they were just right for burning, so along with the chainsaw my wife and I set to work. Now you would think that two humans and a very noisy chainsaw would frighten the birds, don’t believe it. As fast as I was sawing and my wife taking the wood to the road this big fat Robin with a brightly coloured chest was bossing his way around the area, looking for whatever he could find.  I had left my wife searching for small bits of wood while I took a load of wood home and on my return I was surprised to see not one but several Robins busy sifting through the sawdust and discarded tree bark for tasty morsels.

Well with wood stored and firewood in house I reverted to my original idea and settled in front of the fire and tv to see both games and of course England win the Calcutta Cup. The night got really really cold another look at the weather chart suggested that sometime during the night we might get snow.

This morning however we woke to a rather watery sky and the cold, made a cup of tea, lit the fire and returned to bed where it was warmer. Then the hunters arrived bringing with them a grey sky and lo it RAINED! Needless to say two very upset and bedraggled hunters returned to their car bemoaning the weather man.  My wife dashed to the weather chart and it showed rain which SHOULD have been around the 2mm mark and there were also lots of large snowflakes showing. Oh won’t we ever learn? It must have rained for about 20mins, we got all excited brought extra wood in got the camera ready and waited….  Suns out and yep you’ve guessed it we are still waiting, but one day………..

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It is that time of year again when I have to go for my medical, blood pressure is a real bind.  It normally falls around olive picking time, but this year we have had so little rain that the trees have not produced much of a crop and what olives there are are so small I decided not to bother.  My wife said lets go early so we can be back for the local show at the end of October.  Sounded a good idea, so flights booked, car parking sorted, hire car booked and Dr’s appointment sorted we were ready.  It was an early start around 6.30am Barcelona is around 2hrs away, but I do not like to rush, so with change for the toll’s we set off.  On arrival at the airport I settled down for a spot of work, some coffee and lost myself in writing.

Once in England I drove to my mother-in-laws where we were to stay for a few days before visiting my sister in London.  Next morning I had my blood test so now I was free to enjoy the next few days.  On the Tuesday I visited Wickham Vineyard about which I wrote an article http://bit.ly/rFj3Z9 for my wine book.  Over the next few days I pottered around the house, did a couple of odd jobs then travelled to London to see the family.  We always enjoy our visits here, seeing the nieces and catching up on news and events.

Whilst there ‘Crafty Squirrel’ performed but as you will see he was not happy.  My sister and BJ usually chase him and he treats it as a good game, but because we were there he was not the centre of attention and I think his stance says it all. Any way by way of an update I wrote a poem about him.  There were a pair of jays, the male had a really good mohawk hair do  but the female was calmer and more pigeon like, still very colourful, but I could not get a clear picture of the male only his backside!!

The flowers in the garden are just coming to an end but they are beautiful, telling their own story in stunning colours and delicate blooms. It is very strange how visiting English gardens and seeing some of the flowers growing there seems endearing.  I suppose it’s because we have the wild versions of some in our ‘Garden’.

Whilst in London we visited the largest shopping mall in Europe just down the road in Stratford.  There are stunning views of the Olympic village and stadiums from John Lewis, and the shops are, according to my wife, ‘wonderful!’ I am so glad I did not drive over as I am sure the car would not have made it back….

Then it was back to the Doctors for my appointment which, I am glad to say, was really better than I expected, although there was a small funny here.  I am officially an OAP so I get the flu jab. I also asked about having a tetanus jab, which the Dr. thought a good idea.  He made the appointment with the nurse, who said ‘you want a tetanus jab’ ‘yes I said’ then she realised she had given me another flu jab said it was ok then gave me my tetanus.  So my arm was rather sore for a couple of days, but here is the strange part, I get the jab and my wife gets the cold?  ummmm.

Whilst we were away I heard from friends on Facebook that it had finally rained after 6 months of drought.  Great I thought the cisterna should be full, hey ho I really should have know better, but that is to come.

At last came the day to go home.  I must admit it had been raining for two days in the UK and at night as well, still,  it had rained at home, hadn’t it???

The flight took off late afternoon with the pilot saying it might be a bit bumpy.  Looking out of the window I could see we were between two layers of clouds, which stretched away into the west where there was a golden glow and the clouds made strange shapes.  The lower level of clouds looked like another world, with soft downy ridges and valley’s almost like a dream where you feel you could walk, roll, or sink into soft cotton wool comfort…..then we hit the edge of a jet stream…. the plane shook, my wife saw the wing bounce……ohhhhh.

The pilot was very good he explained about the jet streams which helped understand the situation.  Mind you, if you have ever flown into Beruit this was nothing, there the whole plane shakes, ugh nasty.

When we landed at Barcelona it was 17c and raining!  full on, lightening included.  I drove through three heavy rain storms arriving home to find that although it had rained the cisterna was not even a quarter full, we should have known, hey ho  such is life.   But it is so good to be home I don’t really care. However, there was compensation of sorts, it has rained since yesterday and the cisterna is quarter full with the garden cube holding 200ltrs.  Not a lot you might think but we have waited 6 months.

WATER!!!  It rained last night quite a lot and it is raining with hail as I write, wonderful,  wonderful, and for once my wife is not hiding away from the thunder and lightening.  The Gods are kind….

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It really rained last night in fact it was quite a storm.  Thunder crashing over head, lightening flashing lighting up the night sky, and rain? not a lot, it rained hard for a few minutes put 500ltrs into the garden cube. So this morning when we eventually woke up, it was cooler smelt fresher and the oppressive feeling had gone.  During the storm you could feel the charge so intense was the atmosphere.

So the garden.  The vegetables looked really well, there are cobs forming on the corn, beans appearing on the stems and the squashes, cucumbers, and melons spreading out over the ground.  For those of you who did not know, I decided to try the American Indian way of growing food.  They planted corn then grew beans up them and covered the ground with squash which kept the moisture in.  Know what, it works here as well.

As for the tomatoes, well they are beginning to turn red.  We grow these in potato bags, and they are really going strong, there are also radish in plant troughs with rhubarb doing its thing behind the poo patch.  The poo patch I hasten to explain is a trench which we filled with a mix of chicken and goat poo – good for rhubarb.

Potatoes!  Well I planted some in the ground intending to make a patch of them, however when digging them up I discovered not a lot.  A small boiling nothing else.  So, because the heat during the next two months would cook them in the ground, we are going to plant them in a couple of bins which have had the bottom cut off in the hope of new potatoes for Christmas.

I have come to the conclusion that, as we do not use pesticides or chemicals growing needs to be done in tubs etc.,  Roll on dinner.

It is now August and next week will be September, over a month since I began to write this, and not a drop of rain.  The only things to survive have been the tomatoes and cuecumbers in the pots.  The rhubard is ok but everything else has suffered from the heat.  The water was used up last month so I am now considering a system for the garden, albeit late.  We usually get a storm or two in August but nothing this year, still life is a learning curve and I am still learning, even the birds water evaporated.

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