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Since writing the last blog we now have 3 bottles of olive oil, not bad going for a heath robinson operation.  It really is surprising what you can achieve with a little thought and ingenuity.  Part of my kitchen looks like a small factory but its well worth it for 7 bottles of our own olive oil especially as we never thought we would get any this year.

 

IMG_0019 (640x480)As for the saffron well I have planted the bulbs I rescued in the flower pots in the ffz they are shooting so I am hopeful.  But it is the from the small walled garden that I got my biggest surprise, saffron!  I had forgotten I had planted some there, the bulbs have multiplied and provided me with saffron, not as much as the main bed but certainly enough for a couple of paella’s. Then Michael began to find the odd bulb here and there so I am getting a fair bit which is more than I anticipated.  It seems that in my usual way of digging things up separating them and re-planting I have spread the saffron all over – wow!!

Cough Cough!

Well winter is here and as usual we are coughing. Poor old Michael has been quite rough but, I am glad to say, is now on the mend, I was a little worried for a while. When we were both really really ill we didn’t get any work done either on the computer or the farm and the olive oil had to wait.  But after a bit of a spell in doors, lots of lemon and honey with lemsip before bedtime, we not only felt a little better but began to get twitchy, the need to be active was very strong. So weather permitting we were wrapped up and out side fiddling around then as the sun began to return ( In the mornings it is so misty, damp and nasty) we started picking the olives again.  This time  mostly from off the ground as the wind had been playing knock the olives from the trees.  After two days of gentle picking and creaky knees despite kneeling pads, there are enough olives in the crusher/mixer to prepare another pressing.

 

Green Living???

Now I have heard loads about ‘Green Living’ and seen the tv programmes most of which show the latest technology but also have the benefits of mains water, electricity etc., on stand by – just in case and this is called green living???  yeh well we live the real green living life!  We chose this farm because its away from the town in the mountains in the middle of a forest (now a National Park) halfway up a valley and its tranquil.  We have learnt to live with the birds and animals ok and snakes, without a mains anything.  WE WENT GREEN – big time!!!

Over the years we have installed a solar system which works well with a generator as back up for when the sun does not shine. This system runs the fridge, freezer, computers and tv, now that is being green.  The water system is simple: it rains the rain water runs into the cisternas then as needed its pumped to a header tank to give pressure and is fine.  I have a washing machine, shower, and hot water via the gas water heater (if it does not rain and we are low on water we have to buy it in) and NO this is not mains this is bottled gas.  Michael had to build a gas shed to keep them in and it was inspected and ok’d. then I had to get certificates for each gas bottle, there is no way you can get round it legally, the new gas bottle (which you can then replace when empty) comes from a registered supplier so as long as you obey the rules you are fine. The gas also runs the cooker and when we first came here the fridge/freezer, but once Michael had the solar system fully up and running we exchanged it for a small fridge and freezer – you need somewhere to keep the ice in summer.

We are not the only people who have done this but most of them have access to agricultural water we don’t.  But hey that’s how we roll up here and we love it.  Some nights we stand and look at the stars they are wonderful we are also looking for the mother ship!!!!!!!  Oh come on, what humans in their right mind would live in the mountains, in the middle of a forest halfway up a valley with no amenities, wild birds (Owls, Eagles, and a large range of smaller  bossy birds) wild boar, (all of who have names) and Sid the snake??????

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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This is a mixed news letter, firstly I’ll deal with us.  We have the flu!  Not such a big deal you might think but when I literally cannot stop sneezing and have pulled my ribs doing so it is not good.  So my wife went into town two days ago and got some antibiotics for me and some cough medicine for herself.  It has been two old sods shuffling around looking after each other living off cups of tea, as neither of us were hungry.   Today we are feeling a little better and that’s all I’ll say about that.  So to the real news.

 

 

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Well I know that summer is officially over. The other morning we were woken by the “where’s our water”tweeting of the blue tits who have just returned.   Peace up here is no more. So it was no surprise when we were having coffee to see a bird hovering over the water bar before flying into the tree.  He did this several times before actually landing and taking a bath.  It was then I saw the crest Dangerous Dan had returned as bossy as ever now the only one missing is Bobbin Robin. Boris never left us but in the summer when the weather is really hot he along with most of the others take to the shade of the forest.  They are not currying favours with my wife just now as she was sitting outside in the ff zone listening to the olives dropping off the tree onto her garden, when I heard a shout of “Oi you little sods stop that!”  I went to investigate and she said that Dan along with Elsie and the others were picking the olives off the tree and dropping them on her garden. Well, how I stopped from laughing I don’t’ know, but as I watched they continued to do it.  Now we are picking the olives out of the garden and putting them aside for the birds in winter.

 

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The butterflies are out and some are really large, brownish in colour with striking markings they flutter by potted plants next to the fly free zone (FFZ) looking for water whilst on the netting of the FFZ preying mantis and large grasshoppers lurk it is becoming a regular little restaurant for them.

 

 

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This is the garden wall that the pigs knocked over one night.  The bit in front of the water bottles is made up of heavy stones, well rocks actually, so it was no mean feat to knock it over.  We never heard a thing so I MUST GET A CAMERA….   It is made from the same stone my wife used to build the wall of the tree garden which looks really good.   Yes that is an old loo sitting on the end  she planted a lemon scented geranium in it to turn it into an unusual planter.   The roses in the photograph are looking a little rough but most of this is due to the wasps who have been munching on the leaves to make their nests. Although she has sprayed them nothing seems to work  has anybody any ideas?   The bush in front is dead, I think, and she would like a few more in there so come December I shall be rose hunting nice xmas pressie.

 

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This is our Fly Free Zone nothing elaborate just a simple covered place we can sit away from the biting flies which can give you a nasty bite.   It is also the place where I write and we sit in the evenings watching the birds and animals that come by. Because the netting is dark they cannot see us here as long as we are still.  The other week we were watching and a small rat wandered by.  Not one of the large town ones but just as scary.  Every farm has one or two and now we know we have one as well, mind you how long it lasts up here will depend on how fast it can run.  Birds of prey and snakes are its biggest problem.

 

Ok that’s it for now, more news next week.

 

(C) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the rock rose that my wife saved years ago. She was so fascinated by the bush and the fact that its flowers are almost like paper, that instead of disposing of the plant when we were clearing the area for our house she planted it out of the way at the edge of the BBQ area. And here it has stayed and grown flowering every year.  At the time we did not know what it was then one Christmas my sister gave my wife a book of Mediterranean plants. In there are lots of bulbs and plants that in the UK cost a fortune in the garden centres but here are simply growing wild so the book has now become one of her ´garden bibles´.

She was so happy yesterday morning, her gum was getting better –  lots of toofy pecks –  plus we had been sitting in the FF zone, chatting away whilst on the computers not a care in the world.  So I suggested we went to town me to play petanca and she could go to the wi-fi café, it would be a break so off we went.

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After petanca we had a beer at Ramon’s watched the world go by did some shopping then came home. Now normally what happens is I park the car hand my wife the door keys so she can get in whilst I bring in the shopping. However, when we arrived home for some reason unlike normal I took the house keys and with one bag in hand went to open the door whilst my wife followed with rest of the shopping.  I headed for the FF zone when “Mike STOP”!!!! came the shout ‘SNAKE’!!!!!  I stopped looked around but could not see it then I looked in the FF Zone and there was Sid  slithering towards the front door step.  There was no way he could get into the house as there is a screen door to prevent that, but still not a good move on his part. Anyway I put down the bag fetched the bamboo pole and went to “say hello”, but Sid decided he would rather be off and in doing so kindly showed me where he had managed to get in.  Needless to say that is no longer and option for him.  So sometime over the weekend we are off shopping for various bits and pieces to make VERY certain he can’t get in again.

As I said to my wife – who for some reason did not seem to appreciate it – look at it from his point of view, in here he is safe from the eagles and others who consider him food, plus the concrete is warm and a nice place to sunbathe.  I have noticed that the bamboo pole is now inside the front door……..

I also reminded her that he has provided her with poetry material.  Her reply? ‘well let him bite you then”.  So what started as a happy content day saw my wife checking the FF zone every now and then and a little apprehensive.  But this morning she was fighting fit again and back gardening.

 

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was rather a naughty boy at school, never in the running to be a prefect or monitor.

My first job was in a stockbrokers earning £3.00 a week. Perhaps there was a chance to extend myself and become a ‘Gecko’ in the financial markets, but I could not drop my tail or hang upside down from the ceiling. I was more of a plodder, not quick or flash and no long tongue flicking in and out. What I did enjoy though, were some pears, usually Bartlet, however Bosc pears were better especially cooked in red wine.

I have continued to plod steadily through life although not always sure. Perhaps I should have been a Monitor after all, with the right crop report, I could have traded places with President Bartlet…  Or perhaps made a few films?

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Izzy is back.  The other night I nearly trod on him, he tends to get under your feet and unless you’re aware of him its difficult. Anyway, after a little persuasion he posed for these photos, however I am not sure whether he was still miffed with me or playing ‘I’m standing still so you can’t see me’.

 

The other day when we were tidying the garden, my wife was trimming round the olive tree when she noticed a lizard hunting around in the trimmings. She was quite taken with it as it was not bothered by a couple of humans moving around, rather WE had to watch where we put our feet. I could hear her talking to IZZY (yes she named it) and as she would normally run a mile at the sight of a reptile, I was amazed that she was in fact quite taken with Izzy. He was a brownish colour with a reddish/brown section on his sides.

Anyway after a while we stopped gardening to have some lunch and get ready for Petanca. As my wife was returning from the garden she noticed that Izzy had taken up a position by the walnut tree, from where he could look for food. At last his waiting and searching paid off, a grasshopper landed near him and whoosh he was out grabbed his lunch then sat by the step munching.  I have said before that at times this forest shows a little bit of its magic.

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