Day 81 of Lock down
It has been a beautiful day. We took Flamenca and Picasso for a ride but it wasn’t such a great idea as they both wanted to be in the lead . Flamenca was more tolerant than Picasso, he really threw his toys out of the pram if she took the lead, shaking his head and trotting forward. If he could have stamped his foot he would have, like a toddler having a tantrum, he really is a silly boy, I need to do some more work with him . Leo managed to lose his fly hood overnight, it is a waste of time with the boys, they always get them off. They are looking lovely and shiny though with their summer coats. The poplar trees at the bottom of the horses field looked really pretty with the breeze turning their leaves so that the silver underside was showing, the photo doesn’t do it justice. The pool was too inviting to ignore today too, so I did treat myself to a bit of time out after finishing the painting and cleaning the El Jaral apartment. Our jungle area at the bottom of the pool patio is looking lovely, we plant things that like water, such as the umbrella plants, Arum lily and Acanthus, as when the pool is backwashed it gets flooded there. The storm drain that runs through the village is looking very green and pretty too. It’s hard to imagine that on a couple of occasions the water has been so deep it has flooded the nearby houses after Autumn storms.
Day 82 of lock down
We took Flamenca and Sierra up to the pines for a longer ride. Flamenca was perfect, really calm. The sky was very grey but we didn’t get rained on. There are still lots of wild flowers around, including these gorgeous chicory flowers which bloom all summer, despite the heat. We got back to find a hay delivery, luckily we had some plastic to cover it before the rain came. It will be wrapped in plastic once it is completely dry. Sierra had a flirty session with the boys , her little mouth was moving up and down, she looked so cute. Scarlett is still rubbing herself under her tail and is looking sore again so I phoned the vet and she is now on some cortisone tablets to hopefully stop the itching, poor girl. Clive found this lovely Great Capricorn beetle, we do get a great selection of beetles here. This time last year we were saying goodbye to our son Harry and family, I really hope it isn’t too much longer before we can see family again
Day 83 of lock down
We took Scarlett and Twiggy for an early morning ride and came across a magical new woodland track leading to the Cien caños water source . Scarlett very bravely led through the shady, jungle like track, despite never seeing it before. Twiggy took it all in her stride. Clive collected his and Minna’s pottery and was really upset to find that a problem in the kiln meant that the glaze from some of the pots had somehow exploded, leaving a horrible rough surface on the lovely mugs they made and coating Clive’s model of the farmhouse in some of the dark glaze. He was so disappointed that he didn’t take enough care putting it in the car, and to add to the problem, he broke a corner of the house off 😔. I managed to persuade him that he could fix it and it looks fine now after a bit of gluing and filling, though only if it is positioned the wrong way round, like a mirror image, so that the stained roof can’t be seen. Such a shame as it is really lovely. Clive’s hay-fever is a lot better now so we dragged him out this evening with the dogs to show him our new track. It comes out in the picnic area which I have to admit is not looking too bad now that all the lovely weeping willows have grown though I still don’t understand why anyone would want to picnic in regimented rows. The blackberry bushes along the hedgerows are in bloom and the gorgeous yellow broom is still in flower, everywhere smells so lovely. It has been a lovely day, made all the better by a donation and a holiday deposit pledge on fundraiser – we only need 50 pounds to reach our initial target (oh, and we are going into phase 3 of lock down on Monday!
Day 84 of lock down
Another amazing ride this morning with Flamenca and Sierra,( I could get used to riding Sierra, she is so lovely, shame she doesn’t lead) trying them out with our new jungle path route, they were so calm! Flamenca does get a bit nervous when vehicles pass close though so it was good practice today, meeting a tractor with trailer and a van, plus, being the weekend a few people walking and cycling. Minna has moved her van into the sand arena and plans to practice taking Flamenca past it. While out I got a lovely photo of an oak tree and a different type of vetch that I haven’t seen before. Our Agave cactus spear is now very close to flowering too. We had the round bales wrapped which is great as we have possible light rain forecast over night. Let’s hope it works out, it is a learning curve for us and our hay supplier but he did a great job wrapping and stacking it neatly for us. Our fundraiser reached its first target today, great news 😀, we have taken the option to extend it as we have a huge hay bill to pay as well as all the usual expenses and no sign of any new holiday bookings for the foreseeable future ( though we did get a tentative enquiry today so hopefully it won’t be too long before things start to pick up 😊
Day 85 of lock down
We tried Flamenca out this morning with Leo and she was very happy to go out with him. She was a bit less forward going on the harder surfaces so we are going to try her in boots tomorrow. It was another challenging ride as we went past several chained dogs, barking ferociously and lunging at their chains and also had to walk over a narrow concrete bridge over a ditch . Minna did have to get off and lead her over but then she was fine. It was good to see that she was happy to be led, after Minna has worked on her pulling back against pressure problems. We went through the new jungle track again , a first for Leo but he took everything in his stride. We tried Flamenca to see if she would go through water but she wasn’t too keen so we didn’t push it today. I am so enjoying having the chance to ride horses such as Leo and Sierra , they don’t like to lead so I don’t normally ride them but with Minna here it is great 😀, especially as Clive is trying not to be outside if he doesn’t have to , due to his hayfever. I gave the tack room a thorough clean out and we cleaned some tack. I also cut Clive’s hair and got him to trim a bit off of mine, just off the length at the back, wasn’t ready to risk more than that 😊. I found some more fresh alfalfa for Minty, he does love it. We have a peach colour oliander in flower, very pretty but it doesn’t flower all summer like the traditional pink and white ones do. I also noticed that we have little pomegranates growing. Minna took this lovely photo of Bonnie last night, she is a beautiful girl. Tomorrow we move into phase 3 of lock down and are allowed to drive anywhere within Andalucia. Not sure we really want to go anywhere, maybe a trip to a lake for a picnic would be nice
Day 86 of lock down
Clive found this beautiful Monarch butterfly, not so common here, it’s the first time we’ve seen one. We took Flamenca and Sierra for a ride, Flamenca was still a bit hesitant at times on the way out so we know it has nothing to do with which horse is behind her, she’s just a little reluctant to leave home, she is fine on the way home, I think she’s realised that the first ride out wasn’t a one off 😊. We plan to try her with Scarlett tomorrow, 2 blondes, should be fun 😀. We passed a very pretty treacle toffee coloured horse on our ride, it gave Flamenca and Sierra something to flirt with 🥰The daisies in the pots are looking gorgeous, I hope the cooler than usual early summer will mean that the pots will still be looking good if and when we get guests. While doing the horses this afternoon, Milly, kaino and Chaos looked so cute, laying in the shade together. Milly also had a sunbathing session with Buffy and then Peanut had a turn. There were some very pretty puffy clouds today, and a slightly cooling breeze, it was lovely. Cheeky Flamenca looked like she wanted to get in Minna’s van and Bonnie and Twiggy,( mother and daughter, always side by side,) looked lovely in the evening sun.
Day 87 of lock down
Clive finished sorting out his pottery farmhouse after the kiln explosion! It looks lovely 😊. We took Flamenca and Scarlett up to the poppy field for a photo shoot. It was lovely to see that they were very happy to go out together and we swapped positions to try Flamenca at the back for a change, which she was fine with. Scarlett was also happy to be in 2nd place , it slowed her down 😀. We were very proud of Flamenca when we were walking along right next to a noisy tractor in the olives and then to add to it, on the other side a 4 x 4 squeezed past us and she didn’t even blink! Clive trimmed Spirit and Flamenca’s feet and I made a start on the external painting – there is a lot to do! After lunch I thought I would read for a bit and Peanut wasn’t taking no for an answer, he was determined to have a cuddle 😊
Day 88 of lock down
We decided to take Bonnie and Twiggy along the river route and then up into the olives. It was the first time they had been that way so they were both a bit nervous. They didn’t do anything silly at all but they were reluctant to go forward at times, making funny little snorting noises 😀. We need to take them again with Scarlett in the lead to give them confidence. We then took a drive to the neighbouring village of Villanueva del Rosario as Clive wanted to buy a book from their town hall that shows all the walking and climbing routes with so many photos and maps, amazing value at 5 euros! We parked outside the church which looks very pretty. We then drove out of the back of the village and into the mountains for a bit of an adventure. It was so beautiful, with endless tracks to try, stunning scenery and nature and an abundance of wild flowers, including orchids. We can’t wait to go back and do more walks. It would be amazing to ride there but it would be a long ride!
Day 89 of lock down
We took Flamenca and Fern out for a ride along the river route and back home past a field full of men harvesting the crop, plus a noisy tractor. When we arrived home Clive was strimming the grass verge right by the gate. Flamenca just peacefully grazed, taking no notice of the terrible noise. When we put Flamenca back in the field we took Sierra out, leaving Flamenca in fat camp with Bracken as she really needs to lose some weight. Hopefully all the riding will help too. Sierra was very happy to have the sand arena and Irene’s night time stable to herself all day, she had a lovely sleep in the sand and a flirting session with the boys over the fence. Scarlett spends the days out on the grass with Irene so it means that we can cut Flamenca and Bracken’s food down in the daytime and they can all be back together at night. After the ride Minna helped me paint the front of the house. We had to scrape the weird yellow lichen off the walls first which was annoying as I like to just get on with the job, I hate the preparation 😀. It was incredibly satisfying though, seeing the contrast between the new and old paint. Milly and Chaos supervised, in case we missed a bit. 😀. This evening we took the dogs on a very long walk, checking out new riding routes, it was beautiful 😊
Day 90 of lock down
Woke up to dark cloud and drizzle, that was a shock! We decided to ride anyway and took Flamenca and Sierra up to the pines. It was nice to ride in the cool for a change. I took advantage of the dull weather to catch up with paperwork and re paint all the stencilled signs. Clive made a start on fixing the big wooden table. The sun came out in the evening and I loved the light coming through our little bedroom window 😊
Day 91 of lock down
Another lovely ride this morning. We took Flamenca and Scarlett on a new route, along the river then up into the olives. They were perfect. Fern managed to get her lunchtime hay over her head, silly girl 😊. I finished all the driftwood signs and put them back out. Later on, Finn helped me do some ironing 😂. We ended the day with a G n T, well we had to as it is national Gin day today apparently. Cheers !
Day 92 of lock down
I persuaded Clive to come for a ride with me this morning. He rode Twiggy and I took Picasso. Scarlett was waiting near the gate on our return, it doesn’t matter how early we ride, the horses think it is lunch time when we get back 🙂 . After the ride I managed to paint 2 of the 3 stable doors. I couldn’t do the 3rd as the sun was already on it and it would have been too hot, it’s frustrating when you can’t finish a job, especially as I hate washing brushes so I would rather keep painting!. Flamenca stood next to me the whole time, hoping for an udder scratch 😊. It is that difficult time of year now where we have so many jobs we want to do but we are constantly trying to beat the sun. Once we get back from a ride we are already out of time really. This is why Clive is always reluctant to come riding as it uses up valuable cool time. Having said that, so far this summer we have had cooler than usual temperatures, around mid twenties most days which is lovely and does give us a little bit more time in the mornings. Clive was staining window frames under the shade of the grape vine and took this photo of a carpenter bee burrowing into one of the beams to lay its grub. Clive put up the last of my newly stencilled signs too, apart from the horse names on stables as I want to give the walls a quick coat of paint first. I made some tofu nuggets for dinner which turned out really well. I had water melon for dessert, so had to put up with scrounging Peanut as usual 😀
Day 93 of lock down
We started the day with a ride up to the pines on Bonnie and Picasso. Picasso was perfect, Bonnie always is of course. We carried on painting for the rest of the day and Clive put the chair hammock up for me so that I have somewhere to read in the shade. We finished a lovely day with a photo shoot up by the poppies. I haven’t ridden in my fiesta dress for about 18 years so it was great fun dressing up and Flamenca and Scarlett were surprisingly calm about having long skirts draped all over their bums . Sadly the poppies were half dead, we shouldn’t have left it so long, but it was still pretty
Day 94 of lock down
We decided that it was time to stretch Flamenca and take her further afield, introducing a small quiet road, houses, dogs, cars, mules, loud music. The totally new route, with all the challenges didn’t faze her at all. Leo was a perfect, calm companion. After the ride I carried on painting and Clive finished the wooden table, though not without challenges of his own. First the belt broke on his electric plane, so he finished with the chainsaw (a screw broke on the handle and it’s not a standard part), then he tried his electric grinder which burnt out. It was 20 years old so it had done well. Anyway, the table now looks great 😊. The chickens are persisting in wandering round to the front of the house and I caught them up on the front patio table eating the wild bird food, cheeky things . Spain has announced that it is opening its borders to most of Europe, including the uk on the 22nd June but, with the quarantine situation in the UK, it seems that Spain might operate a tit for tat 2 week quarantine for UK holiday makers coming here, if an agreement isn’t reached. It is so frustrating and must be such a headache for the airline industry. Capri is now on our memorial wall, bless her. I found a very pretty flowering shrub in the garden, I can’t remember what it is but it has such delicate flowers. This evening we took the dogs for a walk up into the olives and past the lovely old ruin, once a farmhouse very similar to ours and built in exactly the same way, such a shame it was allowed to fall down. Peanut decided to get lost but was waiting for us when we got back, as if to say ‘where have you been’. Silly boy. The horses were waiting for their late evening hay, the 3 boys, father and sons are always together
Day 95 of Lock down
Minna went off on a camping trip yesterday so I had a break from riding and was able to make an earlier start on painting, meaning that by lunchtime the stables were looking like new. Flamenca also managed to get in on the act, she is so desperate for attention, she follows me around, getting in the way 😀, I’m surprised she didn’t knock the paint over, she had a good try at my step ladder though 😂. Clive decided to start work on replacing the last 2 windows in the main farmhouse. We’ve only been waiting 20 years!. Even after we bought them just before the lock down we still ended up waiting longer as the shop selling the glass was closed until recently. It will be lovely to see the farmhouse finally looking like it would have done, without the horrible replacement aluminium windows installed in the 70’s. This afternoon I stained the wooden table and you really can’t see where Clive has replaced part of it now. A friend luckily gave us an old, weathered railway sleeper which blends in really well. I went a bit mad with the stain after that, staining every wooden door I could find. Luckily I ran out of stain at about 7pm, otherwise I think I would still be at it, it was quite addictive 😊. The evening light was beautiful tonight, enhanced by the glowing stables and the horses shiny coats. The garden is still so pretty too, I love the jumble of oleanders, geraniums, roses and lavender everywhere
Day 96 of lock down
For the first time since the 14th March we ventured down to the coast. Our daughter and son in law Lily and Martin are completing on their house purchase tomorrow but as they are still in Germany until next week, we needed to go to the house to meet the vendors and find out how everything works etc. It was lovely to see the house again and we felt very excited for the new chapter they are about to start. We of course drove down into cloud which always seems to happen to us when we go to the coast, it had burnt off by the time we were heading back home though. We were early for our appointment so had a coffee and fresh orange juice in their local bar, for the ridiculous price of 2 euros and 10 cents! Back home the coastal cloud had broken up into pretty puffy clouds on our side of the mountain so I was able to get the wooden and metal doors painted and stained without getting too hot. The golden plums are almost ready to eat, can’t wait! I also found this beautiful fluffy grass in the garden, there’s always something new, I love this time of year 😊. Oh, and I measured Flamenca with the weight tape and she has lost weight so all the riding and her daytime fat camp with Bracken seems to be working. Our fundraiser finished today, we really are very grateful to everyone who donated and pledged holiday deposits. Hopefully we can turn those deposits into actual holiday dates very soon, and we are also keeping everything crossed that we will start to see some normal bookings coming in now that restrictions are relaxing, as so far things are still very quiet 😔
Day 97 of lock down
It has been a day of highs and lows. Sadly Clive found our lovely tabby cat Tinker dead on the road this morning. Why, when they have acres of land to roam, do they have to go on the road? 😔. Poor Milly will miss her best friend and so will we of course, she had turned into a lovely cat, from the feral little hissing and spitting stray kitten who turned up about 5 years ago. On a much happier note, Lily and Martin completed on their house purchase today and we also collected their new car ready for them. Coincidentally the house and car were built in the same year, I like to think it is a good omen 😊. Peanut joined us for a g & t on the pool patio to celebrate this evening 😀. Clive put the new window in the living room and rendered round the bedroom window and I spent most of the day painting, with a little bit of gardening just to keep on top of things! The lavender is amazing now and the cactus flower is about to open, it must be at least 4 metres tall, so sad that the plant will die once the flowers have finished.
Day 98 of lock down
Officially the last day! The state of emergency ends at midnight tonight, it feels very strange! We then begin the ‘new normal’ where things are almost normal but we still have to wear masks if we are less than 2m from people we don’t normally have contact with. We started the day with a lovely ride, roping Clive in so that we could test Flamenca out at the back of a ride and also in the middle. She was very happy to be at the back but a bit flirty in the middle, very aware of Twiggy being behind her. Picasso was a good boy again and led the whole way, even down the river track which he hasn’t done before. After the ride I spent all day painting again. Peanut had to be everywhere I was and ended up covered in paint. I tried to have a rest in the hammock this evening but he still wouldn’t leave me alone, he is a bit of a mummy’s boy, although Milly is quite fond of climbing on your lap if you sit in hammock too, she has no idea how big she is 😊. I dug out the solar powered garden lights yesterday and strung them up in the grape vine, they look really lovely 😊
Day 1 of ‘new normal’
(feeling a bit miffed that we didn’t quite make 100 days of lock down, lol). We took Flamenca and Sierra for a lovely ride with lots of new routes which didn’t faze them at all. While we were out Clive made an early start on the painting, it is hard to get it done once the sun gets hot , I have to move around to try to stay in the shade. I managed a bit more on the pool patio before it got too hot and I had to have a little break and a swim 😊. I love how white the walls look when it’s done though. Minna gave Milly another hair cut which also got rid if the paint she had all over her. I saw Milly with something in her mouth, luckily I decided to investigate as it was a baby sparrow. She hadn’t harmed it but I don’t know if it will make it. I left it in the palm where its parents could find it and had a bit of time out in the hammock so that I could keep an eye on it. Fingers crossed it will be ok. Today Spain has opened borders so that anyone can now visit for a holiday. I hope that the uk does away with the quarantine so that we can get back in business and our family can visit
Day 2 of New normal
No riding this morning as Minna was on another camping trip and Clive was too busy. It meant I was able to get an early start on the painting. The pool patio is finished now. Peanut had to christen it of course, silly boy, he does love to lay in that position. The new windows are finished on the outside now, I just need to paint inside. We have a broody hen, she has been sitting for a few days now but only has 4 eggs under her, I hope for her sake that at least 1 is fertile. The horses make me laugh with their fly hoods, they look like they are about to go fencing 😂. We have a subscribe button on the website now, so if you want to be kept updated with the latest news and special offers, please subscribe. Tomorrow would have been the start of our foot trimming course. (here are some photos from last year) We always have such a lovely time, it is such a shame it had to be cancelled but we are hoping we might be able to run it in the autumn so please let me know if you are interested
Day 3 of New normal
I have finished painting everywhere outside and cleaned up all the mess, it all looks so lovely, especially if you compare the before photo. Just need to put all the cushions out and we will be ready for guests, if and when they ever come! When I went down to feed the horses I noticed how loaded the apple trees are, what with the glut of golden plums on 2 trees we are going to do well for fruit 😊. Bracken made me laugh, I am feeding their hay in nets as it is windy but she realised that she could reach Minty’s loose hay through the fence. He seemed quite happy sharing 😊. It has also been cloudy this afternoon, the sky looked quite moody as the sun went down
Day 4 of new normal
We have had a busy day ticking off jobs and getting tools etc ready to take to Lily and Martin’s house tomorrow – can’t believe we are actually going to see them 😀. It has been an idyllic day , though quite hot, it was lovely doing the horses this morning just as the sun came over the mountain. We were up at 6 for some reason ( probably excited 😊) and it gave us such a head start on the day, just that extra 45 minutes of cool time. Will try to do it more often. As it heated up I went inside and finished painting around the new window in the dining room and put everything back – so pleased with how it looks! Buffy is doing well at filling the void left by Tinker, her and Milly have been laying down together a lot , it is a shame that Buffy is 18 though, poor Milly might not have her friendship for long. Another old animal, Blackie, at 24 is looking amazing, so black and shiny 😊. I did sneak a quick read by the pool today too, well I earned it after that early start – the walls look so dazzling white now. The grapes are getting really big and the lavender is stunning now, on both sides of the track down to the horses – the bees love it. The false pepper tree is also covered in pink pepper corns, so pretty. (and actually edible). Some good news on the Uk news this evening too, it sounds as if the quarantine could be over by mid July – fingers crossed!
Day 5 of new normal
A bit of a busman’s holiday for us. After an early start, giving the horses lots of hay in doubled up small hole hay nets in preparation for a long day away from home, we set off, me straight to Martin and lily’s house and Clive to the airport to pick them up. It was lovely to have a view of the sea when I got to the house, I just had time for a quick tidy up and feed the fish (which they desperately need to rehome if anyone local would like some goldfish), before they arrived. Within an hour we had started work on knocking the wall between the kitchen and the living room down to make it open plan. Minna messaged to say that she was coming back from Fuengirola so could look after the animals, meaning we could stay the night here rather than drive home and come back in the morning which was great news 😊. We soon had a huge pile of rubble which we can use to fill the fish pond once we’ve found homes for them. We can’t escape chickens, we even have one here 😊 ( along with a million gnomes which also need to be rehomed 😀). It was lovely to have a sunny lunch with Lily and Martin and catch up with all their news and an evening meal as the sun went down, it has been too long since we last saw them. Lily decided to have a swim and rescued this huge Mammoth wasp from the pool. We also heard lots of chirping in a bougainvillea bush by the pool and discovered a Siberian warbler with a nest of babies 😊. It has made a lovely change to leave home for a couple of days but I always feel home sick for my animals
Day 6 of new normal
Strange to wake up in a different house with a different view but how lovely to have the luxury of a cup of tea watching the sun rise, with no animals to feed! We had another busy day helping Lily and Martin. I spent the whole day painting their dark wood kitchen units cream while Clive helped to dump rubbish, show how to clean the pool and shop for building materials before doing a bit of plastering. We left this afternoon and came home just in time to help Minna with the poo picking. The dogs were very happy to see us, you can always rely on the love of a dog 😊. I must admit it was lovely to see our own views again too, no sea but we are spoilt for mountains 😊. Our golden plums are now ready to eat, looks like we are already sharing them with the birds but never mind, the trees are loaded . The carob beans are also getting huge, it won’t be long and they’ll start turning brown
Day 7 of new normal
It is actually starting to feel more normal now, with the fantastic news that the uk is ending the quarantine. We can now look forward to seeing our lovely guests and family and friends this summer 😊. Minna and I went for an early morning ride on Flamenca and Sierra, exploring a new route which was fun 😀. When we got back I got all the cushions, umbrellas and wicker chairs out ready for Minna to take some nice photos (I couldn’t resist taking a few but Minna’s will be much better!). Buffy made herself comfy on the cushion pile, bless her. Clive found these little potter wasp nests in the shed when he was getting things out, aren’t they cute. He also took a photo of a butterfly in the lavender, so pretty.
Day 8 of new normal
Phew, our feet haven’t touched the ground! Up at 6 to get a head start on the day, with a bit of indoor painting before doing the horses when it was light enough (dawn is late here in Spain). We then went on a beautiful early morning ride on Leo and Flamenca. A lovely lady gave us fresh figs from her tree as we rode past, so we had a delicious breakfast on the go. While eating the figs and not concentrating at all on our riding, a group of off rode motorcycles came past and Flamenca didn’t even blink. After the ride I quickly painted the balcony of El Establo and touched up some of the wooden tables in the courtyard, then it was time to drive over to lily and Martin’s to help them. Clive got on with removing kitchen tiles while I painted a wardrobe and then started painting over the horrible black stone cladding on the bottom of the exterior walls. We arrived home just as the sun was going down, to see a cute gecko by the kitchen light. I love coming through the gate to the courtyard when the lights are on, it looks so welcoming. 😊
Day 9 of new normal
I rode Flamenca out this morning and she was lovely. I then finished painting and tidying the ground floor farmhouse guest bedroom, it looks lovely with the new window. Minna gave me some of the photos she has been taking too, I love this one of the courtyard and the cushions. Can’t wait to post more😊. This afternoon we went back over to lily and Martin’s to help them again. The fish were collected by a nice couple who will give them a good home and we can now demolish the unsightly pond that takes up a lot of the patio. I am very jealous of the fact that they have avocados growing, lucky things. Lily and Martin treated us to a lovely meal on the beach, our first time out since the lock down began. It was lovely to see people enjoying themselves but being careful to social distance and with the waiters wearing masks and disinfecting tables between customers. There were no menus, you had to use the Qr code on your phone, all very high tech! (too much for my phone, lol)
Day 10 of New normal
After an early start feeding the horses and poo picking we drove an hour over to Lily and Martin’s again to help them demolish their pond and continue painting. They were able to rehome most of the fish yesterday but there were 5 smallish ones left which we decided we could bring home and put with ours. It was quite eventful knocking all the rocks of the pond surround down, uncovering a huge wasps nest and an equally big toad. The patio now looks so much better without the pond, you can’t even see it was there now, with the gravel raked over. It has been very hot today but when we arrived at Lily and Martin’s we could see a sea fog over Africa and within an hour it had crossed the sea and swallowed up the buildings on the coast at Torre del Mar. Quite amazing to see. This afternoon, after feeding the horses I started painting the back wall of our pool, once the sun had moved around and it was in the shade. I had a lovely view of the pool from the top of the wall. We treated ourselves to a well earned G & t to unwind and watched the swallows skimming the pool for a drink, so cute. At dusk the bats do the same thing 😊
Day 11 of New normal
A slightly more relaxing day at home. Picasso made us laugh by sticking his nose in the chicken’s water pot when Clive was cleaning it and walking around with it , silly boy 😂. Poor Fern has hives, she gets it every summer but luckily it doesn’t bother her. I discovered the alliums in bloom, hidden under the apple tree, we’ll have to move them in the autumn. The dark pink olianders are covered in flowers and Clive’s chillies are doing really well, especially the chocolate haboneros, my favourite. I finished off painting the back wall of the pool while Clive ticked off lots of small jobs before it got too hot. Relieved that the painting is all done for this year now and we can relax a little bit before our first guests arrive on the 25th. (and hopefully our son Harry and family on the 21st). We put the big umbrella up on our own front patio, I had to repair it as mice had been chewing it 😔. Oh well, it still does the job. The field in front of the house is being harvested this evening, I find the sound of the combine quite relaxing and summery for some reason 😊. I made a lovely aubergine and potato curry for dinner and ended the day with a G & t in the courtyard , perfect 😊
Day 12 of New normal
We had a lovely early morning ride on Picasso and Flamenca. I noticed that Flamenca has lock down hair, she needs her roots doing 😂. Peanut rolled in something smelly, his face when he wanted to get up on my lap was a picture 😂. Lily and Martin came over for dinner and Chaos and Kaino made themselves comfy on the sofas much to Peanut’s disgust. Chaos also enjoyed a cuddle with Clive. Martin had fun with his drone , can’t wait to see the finished results. The horses were surprisingly calm, we are going to try a ride with the drone tomorrow 😊. I found a dried up snake in the horses hay, I think it was a whole snake and not just a shed skin. Minna took some lovely night time photos of the courtyards, its so hard to capture the atmosphere with a phone camera
Day 13 of new normal
Lily and Martin stayed over last night and Lily, Minna and I went out for an early morning ride with Martin accompanying us with the drone. The horses were very good with the drone, right until 5 minutes from home, after the photo shoot had ended , when Flamenca got a little bit nervous, for some strange reason, when there was no longer anything to be nervous about 😊. Later in the morning the vet came to look at Scarlett as she has been suffering terribly with a severe reaction to flies, causing her to rub under her tail. Apparently it is common but luckily none of our other horses suffer. I have spent most of the summer constantly cleaning and treating the area , it is a nightmare, poor girl . She gets so itchy she rubs herself raw, often bleeding, which attracts the flies, (sometimes resulting in maggots which have to be removed with tweezers 😔 – good thing I’m not squeamish) it is a vicious circle, no matter how hard I work to help her . It seems from what the vet said that some horses are just extra sensitive, that just about sums princess Scarlett up really 😂. I have to continue with twice daily cleaning and treating with a cream, this time she has also had cortisone injections which is a last resort due to the side effects. It is also important to use a good fly repellent, we’ll see if the latest stuff works any better. I was relieved that the vet said I had been doing a good job as I felt so bad about it. While she was already sedated from the thorough cleanse she had her teeth done and we also did Irene and Flamenca. Flamenca had to have a tooth removed which means more treatment to do as she needs to have her mouth rinsed a couple of times a day to prevent infection. Never a dull moment! The dying cactus flower is getting very pretty and we have so many plums on our 2 trees that we are going to have to stew and freeze a lot. The weather is idyllic now, every day is the same, though pretty hot so time to do things is limited. The evening light is particularly beautiful for photos, I love this photo of Leo, such a handsome boy and the moon coming over the mountain
Day 14 of New normal
Clive built the chickens a swing to play on. Not sure if they’ll use it, we’ll have to wait and see 😊. He also fixed the roof on the Thomas train as the wood had rotted. We took Flamenca and Sierra out on a repeat of the route we did yesterday, minus the drone this time, to make sure that Flamenca had got over her spookiness – she was perfect, thank goodness. As she had had a tooth out yesterday I decided it might be more comfortable for her to go out in a side pull rather than her usual cross under. She was very happy in it and I was happy to see my lovely old Capri’s bridle being used again 😊. When we got back from the ride Sierra had a nice roll and a little snooze in the sun. I made Scarlett a half fly rug out of olive netting to keep the flies off her tail, she is so amazingly calm, letting me do all these strange things to her 😂. I noticed that the pomegranates are getting quite big now and the miniature rose was looking very pretty climbing over a cactus. I also found a kettle in a tree while taking a hammock down to clean – Clive likes to give the birds lots of places to nest, Robins in particular like kettles 😊. It has been another lovely day with a bit of a breeze so not quite as hot today. I had a nice swim after doing the horses and all Scarlett’s ablutions this evening and then made a courgette and tomato bake for dinner, it was so simple but really tasty 😊
Day 15 of New normal
A productive day, starting with stewing some of our mountain of plums to freeze ready for crumbles. We then patched some of the the concrete in the horses’ paddock, typically the chickens were hovering ready to leave their signatures 😊. Our broody hen is still sitting determinedly, fingers crossed we should see some chicks in the next few days. The next job was to plant a pot bound yukka in the ground, unfortunately it was impossible to remove it from the pot without breaking the pot, such a waste . I saved some of the plum water (lovely and sharp as I didn’t add much sugar) to mix with sparkling water for a refreshing drink. Clive decided to add some gin to it tonight and I must say it was very nice 😊. I have been sorting through Minna’s lovely photos again today, such an asset to have these new photos for the website 😍
Day 16 of New normal
It has been very hot today so we decided not to ride this morning. I picked more plums and made a lovely chutney. I also had some carrots that weren’t going to last another day so I made a curried, chilled carrot soup, I’ll definitely be making it again, it was delicious. Clive fitted some cattle wire on the fence between the horses field and the secret garden as the dogs had been sneaking in, just when we think we’ve finished all the jobs for now there’s always another. Milly is getting very naughty and has realised that she can catch the fledgling sparrows in her mouth. She just holds them there like a prize and I have to pry her jaws open. Unfortunately they don’t always survive the shock, it makes me so sad. She is such a gentle dog, I don’t know why she does it. I don’t think the cats have the energy to catch birds in this heat, fortunately, Buffy has been flaked out all day under a wicker chair, bless her. The orange tree in the courtyard has lots of oranges on it. They’re green at the moment and we have to be careful when we have guests as they have been known to pick them thinking they’re limes 😔. I don’t think we’ll be repeating last night’s dog walk as it is still over 30 degrees but I love this photo from last night 😊
Day 17 of New normal
What an eventful day! When we went down to do the horses this morning we found a very vocal little black cat with her two pretty kittens. She is very tame and very demanding, soon sending me back up to the house for food and water. She was very hungry and her kittens also tucked in. Peanut was very interested but more in the food than the cats I think. They look to be around 6 to 8 weeks, Mum is definitely less protective of them and has ventured up to the house a few times to see us and ask for more food. We finally managed to let the injured sparrow free this afternoon, when our cats and dogs were sleeping inside and the stray was in the horses field. It seems to have flown away, we are so pleased 😊. It has been really hot today, I had a cool off in the pool but without staying in the water all day it doesn’t really help! It is Minna’s last day as she is heading north in the morning to find cooler weather so we had a final meal together. We will miss her and Milly will miss Kaino. Peanut and Chaos have not been particularly interested in each other, I’m sure they’ll both be happy for life to get back to normal. I plugged a fan in to try to cool us while we ate but the air being blown was hot. Peanut was determined to get on my lap despite my telling him it was too hot and had a selfy😀. It was fun sitting by the water trough and watching the sparrows sitting on the umbrella plants and bouncing up and down, we have so many sparrows, we are like a sparrow sanctuary 😊, they are so cute, they queue up to have a drink from the trough. It’s nice and safe for them as they can stand on the plants
Day 18 of New normal
Elsie made us laugh, how can she be comfortable? Spirit also cheered us up with his silly habit of standing in the hay ring, it’s funny that he’s the only one that does it 😀. It has been a stressful day dealing with all the messages relating to the abandonment of the cats, a sad and unbelievable situation really. I was also worried that the kittens were missing this morning but they finally appeared this afternoon and the 3 of them are very cosy in the hay barn where they have decided to set up home. I can’t give Mum cat enough food to satisfy her at the moment, though that’s hardly surprising as it turns out they were dumped up the road and sighted a week ago, so what with feeding the kittens too she must have been starving when she got to us. She apparently was dumped with 4 kittens too but one got run over and one disappeared. Poor little thing, she’s been through a lot and she doesn’t look much more than a kitten herself. To add to the stress we have had a few worried guests questioning the safety of coming to Spain due to the exaggerated and scaremongering press coverage. It is so worrying for us as we are now legally open for business so our usual cancellation policy has to stand. We are getting new enquiries in nearly every day now for the summer which we are turning away due to being booked, so if people decide not to come, we can’t be expected to refund or give alternative dates at such a late stage, it is a nightmare situation. On top of all this, Clive was stung by a wasp. He is allergic, so that was him out of action all day, poor thing. It has been a cooler day today though and mostly cloudy and windy which has been a welcome respite. Clive popped out this morning, before the wasp sting and got a lovely photo of some caper flowers, they are so delicate. I noticed that our yukkas in the garden (not so delicate) are getting really huge, I wonder how big they can grow? I hope they don’t get to a certain size and then die like the Agave.
Day 19 of New normal
After the strange sky and hot wind yesterday it has been a perfect day today, staying just under 30 degrees in the shade. I took all of the guest info out of the cottages today as I need to simplify and laminate everything so that it can be wiped down – so much to think about for opening up to guests again, it is hard to get your head around it. . Archie found a basket to curl up in after I emptied out the paperwork – like a bee to honey 😊. The stray kittens are getting a bit tamer and seem very happy in the hay barn. I’m just worried that it is very close to the hen house where the broody hen is hopefully about to hatch 2 chicks, stray mum is a bit of a hunter 😔. Mind you I’m a bit worried that the eggs aren’t going to hatch as I think she has been sitting for 3 weeks now. Poor girl, I’ll be so disappointed for her, she’s been sitting so devotedly 😔. I have been re-potting some of the cactus and succulents and while looking for new shoots in the garden noticed that one of our prickly pear cactus has succumbed to the dreaded cochineal bug which leaves sticky white stuff all over it, which, when you touch it turns bright red. The cochineal beetle was introduced to Spain originally to produce the red colouring before synthetic colouring was used. Sadly it has devastated the prickly pear cactus all over Spain in recent years. Sometimes you can save the plant by cutting off the infected bits, as you can see on the other cactus which has new, healthy growth. It is such a shame as they are magnificent sculptures in the garden and once they are infected they slowly wilt and die 😔. Luckily our fruit trees aren’t infected by bugs, I’ll just finish using up the plums and it will soon be time to do something with the apples. The trouble is, the tree is so loaded that the apples are very small, hopefully they’ll get a bit bigger. Talking of big, Clive’s hand was a lot better today but was swollen a bit by this evening after not resting it enough, at least he got away without going to the medico this time
Day 20 of New normal
Scarlett knows her routine in the morning .She lives with Flamenca, Bracken and Sierra overnight, but during the day she joins Irene out on the grass.This gives Irene company and I have to clean and treat Scarlett under her tail twice a day so it works well. It also regulates feeding – Flamenca and Bracken are good doers, so, during the day, once Scarlett and Irene are outside on the grass, Sierra comes into the sand arena with access to shelter (this is where Irene lives at night) so that she can have more hay and I can then limit what I give to Flamenca and Bracken. It is working well and, along with being ridden out, Flamenca has lost around 60 kilos. Unfortunately, while watering the plants this morning I accidentally sprayed a wasps nest (we have paper wasps and they make tiny little nests in holes and under roof tiles.) They got very angry and I was stung on my arm, I can’t believe it after Clive yesterday, it’s not as if they are vicious, we don’t usually get stung from one year to the next. It was lucky as the nest was in the bbq in the El Establo courtyard, so better I was stung than guests! Our big Agave cactus flowers are about to open , you can see how huge it is from the more distant photo. I put a very prickly cactus on the corner of the cat feeding station – Peanut has a naughty habit of jumping up and eating the cat food so hopefully this will stop him. He is on a raw diet and tends to be a bit overweight so he really doesn’t need any extras. I found the broody hen off her eggs this afternoon and thought she had abandoned them but she was just having a drink. I still think they should have hatched by now though 😔. After doing the horses this evening my arm was hurting so much that I decided to stand in the pool and read so that it could cool off in the water. It felt lovely, though the water temperature is 29 so not that cooling really. Buffy came to join me and drank from the pool. Quite agile for nearly 19!. I only saw the little white kitten in the hay barn this morning and she ran off when she saw me, I tend to think they must be close by if the white one was still here but they haven’t been for food today 😔
Day 21, 3 weeks of New normal!
It doesn’t feel that different to lock down really, although we have a lot more freedom we still have a lot of insecurity. People seem very hesitant to book holidays, not helped by so much fake news and rumour going around. Sometimes it is hard to stay positive but it is all we can do. We have our first guests since lock down arriving tomorrow so that will be a step in the right direction. We woke to a lovely sunny day and rushed around, doing the horses so that we could go over to Lily and Martin’s to help them. I am still very jealous of the avocados on their trees, it gets too cold in the winter here to grow them. It got really cloudy on the coast and though it was still sunny here when we got home it was very windy. The horses were waiting for their tea but had to wait a little bit longer while I made up hay nets as loose hay would have blown away! Flamenca was looking pretty in the evening sun, I love her spotty bum. It’s great to see her with a full mane this year too 😊. Unfortunately we have lost a lot of sand from the arena onto the grass the other side. When the tractor was wrapping and stacking all the hay last month it loosened the sand so it is now deep and soft and blows easily in the wind, so annoying as it’s not as if it is going to rain on it to settle it down again until the autumn. We put the sand in the arena 5 years ago in January, coincidentally with Minna’s help. We did it all ourselves without machines, a real labour of love. Very satisfying and it has worked so well but it makes it extra frustrating seeing it blowing away! This evening I cut Clive’s hair, I think Finn approves 😊
Day 22 of New normal
It was very windy this morning so I had to make hay nets again. I have 3 hooks screwed into the corner of the stable to hook the nets on and it makes filling really easy. When I went down to do the horses at dusk Scarlett was looking very sleepy in the last of the sun while some of the others were more demanding. Old Irene always lifts her front leg and begs while Minty the sheep bleats really loudly. I found an old photo of Minty today when we first rescued him he was so cute. He slept in our bed between us on the first night as he was newborn and so needy, bless him. It wasn’t many weeks before he was taking over the kitchen though and once he was weaned he went to live with the goats. We do worry about him now as he is on his own since the goats died and he is nearly 13 so he has lost a few teeth and doesn’t see so well. When I entered the hay barn I found the mum and kittens were back. Little monkeys have been missing for 2 days, I thought they’d moved on. Milly the dog will soon be trying to force them to be friends with her, she does love cats 😊. We had a little Podenco dumped when we first moved here, she lived to be about 14 and was the sweetest dog. She also loved kittens and even used to let them suckle on her. I still miss her. 😔. Our first guests since the lock down began arrived today, luckily not too much of a shock to the system as they are very nice. We enjoyed getting El Establo looking nice for their arrival, it has been too long, the cobwebs were incredible !. The dogs were also happy to be able to go and say hello to new people again. Peanut did manage to leave them to come down to the horses with me, (I love the shady tunnel effect the trees make as we go through the gate to the garden ) he takes the chance to escape through the muck heap and go to say hello to next doors dog Bobbie whenever he can . Naughty boy, I need to investigate where exactly he’s getting out!
Day 23 of New normal
Over to Lily and Martin’s again today, painting and putting cane up for shade. Made a nice change to have a sea view while painting 😊. I am jealous of their bougainvillea, it doesn’t grow well at ours as the winters can be a bit too cold. We had a lovely view of the village of Comares perched up on top of a mountain, while driving there, we haven’t visited for a few years but it is very pretty. You can only just make out a splodge of white on the first photo, it was too far away for the camera but the close up (pinched from the Internet) shows how quaint it is. While showering the paint off back home I suddenly realised that there was a centipede right next to me on the shower curtain – pretty scary as they can bite. Luckily we rarely see them. When I shut the chickens in tonight poor little broody hen was still on her eggs, I think it has been too long now and there won’t be any chicks, I do feel sorry for her 😔. No sign of the stray cats again today, I wonder where they go? I love the chicken and barefoot hoof prints in the sand, the chickens really love the sand and lay in it, having dust baths 😊