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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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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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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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Weather Report and Christmas!

gardens-2392Well as you can see we were in Grey Land for a time, well actually weeks.  All we had were cold, damp misty mornings with no sun and if the sun did come out it was literally just before it set!  So when Michael finds himself wondering why he has another really bad cold……

My friend has told me that the hospital was going full-out with people who had the ‘Gripe (flu) from children through to us oldies.  Then it rained which made it damper but finally the sun came out.  Then of course it was cold at night as well as in the day and one evening Michael sneezed……..

Pleased to say he is on the mend sitting in the kitchen where the fire is and its warmest working for the first time in weeks sitting at the table and on the lemon and honey with the odd Lemsip and Frenadol to help beat this lurgy.

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So how was your Christmas? we spent a quiet day at home and on Boxing day we went to dinner with our friends to Carpe Diem as we did last year.  The decor had changed but the ambience hadn’t it was classic, slightly opulent and cosy all at the same time.  The food was excellent and served with an easy that comes from good staff in an excellent restaurant. And as usual we took a look at the birds and animals as we left, our friend fed the swan and parrots and how could we not say hello to the Big White Mouse……

Grey Land and Radar Traps

Right New Year – Happy Belated New Year to everybody – For years every new years day we have driven to the coast this year was no exception. So we headed for the pass in the hope of leaving grey Land behind us and we did.  However, those sneaky Mossos had put radar traps every so often up and into the pass all we knew was that at the beginning of the run up they put up a warning and you saw the first one very clearly, after that if you were a speed merchant the new year was going to cost.   We were driving in thick mist and sometimes could not see very far in front so it was a good job that in these conditions we drove under the speed limit as every so often I would spot a camera.  If you could see the accidents that happened over the holidays you would have crawled up and over that pass.  Anyway, once over it we found the sun, beautiful warm glowing sun.

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We drove into Tarragona and stopped near the beaches before finding a typical Catalan restaurant where we had lunch.  Now they have done some sand sculptures and people were milling round taking photos and generally admiring them.  Unfortunately some were slightly damaged by the rough weather that had gone through but as you can see they were still works of art.

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Then we drove home back to Grey Land and if you think I am kidding THIS is the entrance to it…. That cloud that the road disappears into is the start of the other pass and as we climbed it got really foggy again it’s what you get for living in mountain ranges and valleys.

A Brief Round Up Of Other Events

You know I am always telling you about the pigs, well we were coming home one night and as we turned into the track there was a WARTHOG!  Now we could not believe it either but after Googling it we were right.  Description: lower back legs, mane of hair, little sticky up tail and went like the clappers when it saw the car.  I have often said we don’t know what we share the forest with and I am now convinced this is the little sod that has been after the saffron bulbs.  Good news the Robins are back, now the boys have someone else to shout at when the robins aren’t having a go at the redstarts or blackbirds. So that’s it really not a lot happened but the year is young.  When it gets a little warmer I shall be out sorting the garden and finishing the wheelbarrow tub bulbs and geraniums in there.

Oh and the other thing Michael has done is put an add out for Clearing In The Forest by M D Bosc if you see it click and take a look won’t cost you anything and who knows you might like the story…..

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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Our Visitor and the Boys

I have often told you about the birds and animals that appear from time to time and the wild boar and goats that are around.  Well this one may not be wild (it has a tag in its ear) but it seems to have attached itself to us.  We were coming home the other evening and saw at the side of the track what looked like a baby deer. We stopped then saw it was a young goat.  Knowing better than to interfere with it  we carefully drove past and came home.  So imagine how surprised we were when this young male goat turned up. It wandered about so we thought the goat-herd was around but no, so we put a bowl of water out for it and it settled under the olive tree. After a while Bazz (yep he’s been named) got up and wandered off, so we returned to our various activities Michael writing, me doing bits and pieces on line and our daughter and the Boys sitting in the FFZ.  Next thing I hear is ‘Oi don’t eat the strawberries, leave the roses alone then get out of the tree’.  Although Bazz wasn’t exactly  scared of us he was skittish but he decided to take a look round and do goatish things, and yes they do climb trees.

The only photos I could get were through the double layer of netting as if I tried to get a clear photo Bazz was off, camera shy me thinks.  Now the Boys are very good ‘alarms’ (think they don’t like competition for our attention) so every time Bazz turned up they were shouting and hollering, and when I took his photos they made such a clamor that I had to  take one with them in.  By evening they had calmed down and Bazz had found a corner by the little house where he could hunker down for the night.  We think that he mother must have found him during the night as he wasn’t around this morning either that or he found the herd again, either way life has returned to normal until the next visitor wanders in.

Oh and as I write we have found out where Bazz is  in our shed…..

 

(c)  M.D. Bosc  Author

 

 

animals, wild boar, wild cats, goats,

 

 

 

 

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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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Well 2015 is closing fast only a few hours to go then a new year begins, strange how it happens every 12 months….  But seriously I would like to wish everyone a Healthy, Peaceful and Happy New Year. 

Christmas in the Forest

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Ok now for some serious stuff.  This little chap as you will know is a white Wallaby and looking cold even though he’s been around for several years. “been around” brings me to the Big Cat…. IT’s BACK!!!!  not our small wild one but, we think the Lynx.  We heard it last night when we were turning off the generator, Michael thought it was a large Boar out there but boars don’t make deep growly grumbling noises.  So this morning we got the camera in and took a look but all it had on it was the car going and coming and an old boy walking up the drive.

Up here at night you develop a sense of something being around be it humans or wildlife, and for the past few nights we have felt a ‘presence’ now we know what it is. So I no longer have to creep forward towards the generator shed torch in hand in the hope of seeing the wild boar, they’re not here and we now know why.

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This cat arrives every so often when weather conditions are strange he didn’t come last year but it has been so dry this year  (we have had one real storm). It is possible that the river has become a watering hole and possible hunting ground, and could explain why we haven’t seen any boar  around recently just foot prints on the track, but if we are lucky 2016 could give us a sighting –  the hunt is on!

The Weather

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Well what can I say, last spring it was sort of wet but nothing like normal. The summer was very hot with no storms,  and now it’s foggy, damp and misty.  This is a picture of the valley around midday, if the sun comes out its only for a short while but you have to admit it turns the landscape into a Japanese look a like.  This is not normal though, there has been a lot of mist along the Ebro Valley which runs from up near Santander right down to the Med. We have also seen tremendous flooding and wild fires along its route which is not comforting.  Even now there are wild fires up north, but we think they have been started deliberately.

The Boys

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Another addition to the farm are these two ‘erberts.  They are a constant source of amusement and provide a calming effect after a stressful day (which can and does happen on a farm).  They are still squabbling over bits of wood, paper and anything else that one has and the other one wants.  Even after buying them a larger cage which can be wheeled about they have escaped and are currently trying to dig a hole in their nesting box.  As I told them you do that and you will fall through the floor, waste of time one just looks at me while the other keeps pecking at the wood.  Some people keep cats or dogs, us we keep a pair of noisy escapees.

The Garden

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Well this is an ever-changing environment.  Ideas come and go – mostly go – because I start off with wanting to put something in one place then when Michael and I start it evolves into either something different but almost what we planned or we don’t like the look of it and start over again.  So a very brief update.  The tyre garden has been finished and planted up with bulbs,  what was going to be a new bird bath is now a new bulb planter (the gang and Michael didn’t like the look of it) so change of plans.  Round behind the house we have started landscaping a small area making stone beds planting bulbs (because they don’t need much water in summer)  and paving the washing line area.  Walls are being built to stop the water – when it rains – from washing earth down onto the patio and the garden away.  The tree garden is still being done having trouble with the water tank for the bird bath but that’s nothing.  most everything else is normal winter work.  I shall be posting a proper garden blog when and as things are finished.

ME!

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Its been a bit of a roller coaster year with my health. I can say that the medical people over here are looking after me very well.  My Blood Pressure still goes up and down but I am being monitored regularly.  They are keeping a watch on the prostrate and kidney, but apart from getting a little tired now and then I am fine.  Our first holiday in years set me up for the year and was a real treat, something I had always wanted to do see the Comarque and the white horses.  A drive round the corner into the South of France and there they were. Nothing stressful, no airports, ques, trains, strange hotels and the other stuff that went with my twice yearly medical’s before.  We could stop as and when we wanted and my wife shared the driving as usual.   I still play petanca though not as much and have not been in as many competitions, but I still enjoy my afternoons.

I am now learning Spanish at school twice a week, which helps me and keeps the old brain ticking over.  Still writing, I’m on my latest novel set in the middle ages so it’s a lot of interesting research keeps me occupied for a while.

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Well that’s about it for 2015,  we are meeting friends for drinks tonight but not going for a meal this year.   Keep safe everybody  see you in the New Year   Bon Fiestas.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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