Day 24 to 64 of New Normal (lock down blog – next 40 days)

Day 24 of New normal

Look at the length of Flamenca’s forelock, hard to believe she didn’t used to have one.So glad she isn’t bothered by sweet itch now. Mummy cat was back for food again this morning and again with the kittens this evening.She certainly likes to do her own thing.The wind yesterday moved the net over the hay rounds, it was so strong it even moved the pallet we had on top, holding the net down. When Clive was putting the net back he found that the pallet had torn the wrapping when it moved so he had to grovel under the net with duct tape, can you spot him 😂.There were storm clouds towards Granada and on the coast according to Lily but we had a lovely day here.I decided to sort out all my summer clothes.I still have things that I brought to Spain 20 years ago and I always think I’ll have a bit of a cull but when I try them on I still like them, or I make a few modifications to bring them up to date so I’m not good at the minimalistic fashion 😀. I washed everything to freshen it up but when I went to hang it out to dry it was all tangled, it took me forever to sort it out.It’s now all ironed and hanging in the wardrobe where most of it will stay, unworn as I wear work clothes all day, have a shower in the evening and put the same old comfy dress on 😊.My hair has been annoying me, feeling too hot on my neck so I did persuade Clive to trim a bit off a few weeks ago and he did it for me again tonight.It feels better anyway 😊.Peanut is being a naughty boy and escaping through the fence to go and annoy our neighbours every morning when we go down to do the horses (he’s too lazy in the afternoon when it’s hot 😂).If he carries on we might have to get his pipe out again so that he can’t fit through 😂. Clive got a lovely photo of a praying mantis today, we’re never short of interesting insects here.When I went down to feed the horses and shut the chickens in at dusk there were lots of bats too, swooping over the pool for a drink and eating the insects, I love watching them (photo from the Internet, they are too fast to catch with a phone ).In the daytime the swallows do the same thing.We actually have a slightly more interesting sunset tonight too.

Day 25 of new normal

We’re both feeling a bit exhausted tonight after a trip to Malaga this morning to help Lily and Martin collect furniture.As seems to be the case when we go to the coast, we left bright blue sky here and went in to cloud but it did soon burn off . I love the oleanders down the middle of the motorways here, such hardy plants, coping with the summer temperatures!. It is quite tiring wearing masks in the heat. I know we need to and I am in support of it, though not entirely happy that the rules were tightened up again yesterday and we now have to wear them at all times, not just when we can’t social distance. The only exemptions are single sports (not sure if riding can come under that 😔), while eating or drinking in bars and restaurants or at the beach or pool, but masks must be worn when walking between sea and sunbathing spot etc. Of course you don’t have to wear them in your own home or garden or in cars as long as you are living with the others in the car (which I will take as counting those sharing a holiday apartment). It’s all a bit of a nightmare but I can understand that with the onset of the holiday season and so many tourists they have to do as much as possible to contain the situation. Where is it all going to end😔. After today’s experience I will be sticking to letting Clive do the shopping from now on as he doesn’t seem to mind it 😊. It was strange to see planes flying over us again, taking off from Malaga, a small sign of normality. Driving back through the countryside we stopped to take photos of this amazing tree growing over rocks and a post covered in snails! As we approached home the local goat herd was out on the hillside, so many they looked like ants, they make a beautiful sight and I love the sound of the bells. Buffy has turfed poor Milly off her bed tonight despite having a little bed of her own. Archie is happy laying in the grapevine, much cooler I’m sure. (oh and the mum and kittens are still around 😊)

Day 26 of new normal

Lily and Martin are coming over for dinner tonight so I put the cushions out, the dogs and Buffy were quick to take advantage of the fact! I love these two cushions that Lily and Martin brought me from the maldives for my birthday. I decided to make some cooler masks out of thin material today so that I can ride in them if needed. Archie of course got involved, laying on the material and also being a nuisance as usual when I was trying to print some recipes out. This morning we got some water out of the well to take to be analysed. The last time we had it checked was 9 years ago so we thought we ought to check it again to be safe as we want to use it for the horses. Our herd drink over 30,000 litres of water a year and having just had a water bill of over 500 euros it is time to do something about it. We have been meaning to do it for the past 9 years but have never had the money to buy the pumps etc. needed to set it all up. Even the water analysis is 110 euros! Clive lowered a bucket down to get a water sample but the rope came undone so he had to get a grappling hook to retrieve it 😂. I have just started using the new round hay bales. I was worried it would be a lot more time consuming but I rigged up a hay net filling station on the fence and it works really well. I had mainly been putting it out loose unless really windy, with the small oblong bales as it is easy to portion but I think going back to haynets will help to get the portion size right with the round bales.

Day 27 of new normal

The evening light was beautiful tonight when I went down to do the last feed. Peanut showed his escape route – you can just make him out, standing on the wooden fence of the muck heap. The horses were being tell tales, I looked to see what they were staring at and there he was, naughty boy. 😀. The mum and white kitten came for food, the black and white kitten is probably hiding. Bonnie and Twiggy make me smile, they have such a strong mum and daughter bond and always eat together. The Cockerel was playing “I’m the king of the castle” on the hay bale and Bracken was having a bad hair day 😂. On the way way back up to the house I cut some lavender to take to Lily’s tomorrow, the smell is so gorgeous, especially when it is warm from the sun . Oh, and the new Jacuzzi lid that we ordered before the lock down arrived today. Some guests broke the old one by walking on it We didn’t find out until after they had left 😔

Day 28 of New normal

We went to the coast again to pick up some furniture for Lily and Martin. Clive helped Martin put the outside sofa together, their place is starting to look more as they want it – I could get used to their sea view! They had a gorgeous swallow tail butterfly in their bougainvillea too, such a beautiful contrast of colours. Picasso was in a naughty mood this afternoon, he has started pinging the electric tape with his mouth, I will have to start leaving it on when I’m down there to break the habit. His face was a picture when I told him off, but then 5 minutes later he was raiding the bag of hay, you would think he was 2 rather than 15 😀. Mum cat is starting to get used to the dogs but the kittens stay well hidden. I love my Moroccan wall hanging, it was a room divider which we cut down to make a fire guard, adding metal mesh . This bit was leftover and it was too pretty to throw away. My succulent plants drive me mad, they don’t stop multiplying, I feel like I’m forever having to divide and re-pot but shouldn’t complain, we’re never short of plants! We had this lovely rhinoceros beetle in the courtyard this evening, amazing creatures, we had to move it out of sight of the dogs and cats though before they started playing with it.

Day 29 of New normal

We have had a bit of a day off today, it has been very hot though I did spot 2 clouds! I sat and read by the pool this evening while Clive watched the formula one – the water is so clear. Finn has enjoyed a day outside, he has not been out for a few days as it’s been too windy but it was very still today. A few years ago we scattered some date seeds by the fence and we now have some lovely fan palms. I have also planted some seedlings from the acanthus and they are doing well, apart from the fact that something has been eating them! They will look beautiful either side of the pool gate if they survive. I do love free plants 😊. I noticed that the olives are getting quite big, hard to imagine that we will be picking them in 4 months, this year is flying by! Mum cat (we will call her Bella as that is what she was named by the people who gave her to the ‘rescue centre’ )and the kittens, Blanca or Blanco if it’s a boy and Smudge were drinking from Minty’s water bucket. They seem to spend a lot of time in the hedge near him , so with the chickens and horses he is getting lots of company, bless him. The kittens let me get quite close to them again too.

Day 30 of New normal

Clive finally managed to get a photo of the comet last night. He now wants to get a better photo, now that he knows where to look and isn’t so rushed. It is supposed to be at it’s best around the 22nd /23rd so it will be a nice way to round off Lily’s 30th birthday on the 22nd 😊. I have been busy today putting bunk beds up and getting ready for our son Harry and family who are also arriving on Lily’s birthday. It’s not going to be the big celebration we’d planned but it will be lovely. I have cut some lavender to put in vases, Lily said that she made some lavender oil and put it on salad, will have to give it a try. Our first guests since lock down left us a lovely review. We had to remove the guest books due to covid precautions so have put a loose sheet in instead, that can be glued in the book, so much to think about! There is more and more fake news going around in the press, saying Spain is back in lock down etc. It is all untrue and so damaging, I just don’t know where its all going to end but it is becoming more and more stressful for us, with guests worried about what they read. Elsie made us laugh tonight, making a bridge across two armchairs, silly thing! 😂. Scarlett and Bracken were side by side again when I went down to feed them , they are so cute together. There was a little bit of cloud too so the sunset was lovely but my phone camera can never do it justice .

Day 31 of New normal

What a strange day, more like Autumn. We started with strong winds, blowing the sand away and threatening rain, with thunder rumbling in the distance. Luckily it didn’t actually rain but it is quite a cool evening for July! Scarlett had to stay in a stable today so that she couldn’t rub herself under her tail as she has got worse again, it seems a never ending problem, whatever we do to treat it. Irene found that she could reach the hay over the fence so she was happy. Lily and Martin and friends came over this evening to spend a couple of days with us for her birthday, the dogs were so happy to have more company, joining us on the sofas. Elsie also hung around, making it difficult to set the table 😊

Day 32 of New normal

A perfect morning for Lily’s 30th birthday. The light was so beautiful when we went down to the horses. We had a lovely early ride, getting back as the sun was getting hot. Scarlett and Sierra enjoyed a roll in the sand, Scarlett looked like a palomino afterwards. Our son Harry and family arrived just in time for birthday cake on the pool patio. We had a lovely day in the pool finished off with homemade pizza in the pizza oven, sampling Mermaid gin, one of Lily’s birthday presents and viewing the comet again – a perfect day 😊

Day 33 of New normal

I had some little helpers doing the horses this morning, it’s important to poo pick in a sun dress and sparkly sandals 😊. Another relaxing family day with lots of eating and pool time. The animals kept us company, whatever we were doing. Elsie showed her party trick of drinking out of water glasses and Milly lay in her favourite place, squashing the plants! The evening light and balmy temperature was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Luckily we’ve all seen enough of the comet as everyone was ready for an early night tonight!

Day 34 of New normal

We started the day with an early morning ride, lovely to be riding with son Harry and 4 years old granddaughter Penelope. Sweet old Irene is so perfect for little children. Bracken had her feet trimmed, they are getting there after her bout of laminitis in the spring. Peanut supervised while Clive cleaned the pool. then shared a sunbed with me, cheeky boy. The kids had fun in the pool all day and had a nice early night, leaving us with a quiet evening playing Rummikub. Clive took a lovely photo of the milky way last night, the stars are great at the moment because the moon is only a slither so the sky is nice and dark.

Day 35 of New normal

A short blog tonight as to be honest I am in despair over the latest news re quarantine being re introduced in UK. I just don’t know where it leaves us – if people can’t come it is not their fault but not ours either. We could have filled the summer slots with bookings from Spanish but turned them away as we were already booked. We simply can’t give refunds or alternative dates at this short notice, after 4 months with no income how can we afford to? Not to mention the fact that no one is going to risk booking holidays for the rest of the year. Added to the misery, I was stung by a wasp yesterday right next to my eye and now look like the elephant man 😂. On a lighter note, Harry got a lovely photo of a praying mantis today and a gorgeous photo of Milly. I also made a delicious stir fry with crispy tofu and cauliflower rice, yum 😊

Day 36 of New normal

Quite a subdued day after last night’s news re the UK quarantining holiday makers from Spain again. I spent the day waiting for emails, feeling sick. Surprisingly our guests due today from the UK did actually arrive, having taken the decision to enjoy their holiday, whatever. They had asked for a meal tonight so Clive cooked his first (and possibly the last 😔) paella of the year. On the plus side, my face isn’t as swollen and we had some fun with the grandchildren, with Penelope having an early morning ride on Bracken while Dad Harry climbed the mountain (where he found an Eagle feather). Penelope also got very daring in the pool, going down the slide head first and big brother Harrison was brave enough to dive to the bottom of the deep end. Just feeling lucky that our family arrived before the quarantine and we can make the best of a very worrying situation.

Day 37 of New normal

Another lovely family day. Penelope and Finn got to know each other. Milly went to the vets as she has been having a few ‘accidents’. It seems she has bladder incontinence not uncommon for middle aged neutered females. We are devastated and will do all we can to help her. She has tablets that will hopefully help but don’t always 😔. Other than that I will make waterproof covers for the dog beds and have already looked into dog nappies. Bless her, she is the loveliest dog, it is heartbreaking. This afternoon we went over to Lily and Martin’s and met their Foster dog Ava. Poor thing, she is scared of her own shadow, who knows what has happened to her in her short life 😭

Day 38 of new normal

Started the day with a beautiful early morning ride. We have guests from the UK and Holland, everything is as safe as can be and I am feeling more and more devastated by the current situation. If anyone knows of a lottery winner who doesn’t need to earn a living and wants to buy a rural retreat, please pass them on. Or if anyone knows how on earth we can make a living and support our rescue animals I would love some ideas. After 20 years of working constantly to build our business up and help animals I am in despair.Had our first email from guests due in a couple of weeks threatening to take us to court if we don’t refund them. Wondering what holiday insurance is for? It’s not as if we can insure ourselves against this and this situation is not our fault! Giving alternative dates is not a free option, it just means we don’t earn money for the replacement week and prolongs the problem. The BBC news even admitted today that Andalusia has less cases than the UK. At least we were able to drown our sorrows with a family lunch on the beach (again, all very safe and socially distanced, Spain really knows how to deal with things) and back home to our lovely animals. Irene was hiding in the shade of the pine trees while Scarlett was happy to be out in the sun. Peanut joined us for dinner and a game of rummikub, as did some strange cave man – oh no, it’s actually Harry growing his hair long 😂

Day 39 of New normal

    

More cancelled guests today 😢. On a happier note we are not going to be sued anymore and I really appreciate the understanding. We did a very hot early morning ride, we will have to start even earlier for a while as we are having a bit of a heat wave. The chicory flowers are everywhere, such a beautiful blue. The pool is 30 degrees but still feels refreshing with the outside temperature being over 35 degrees in the shade, dread to think what it is in the sun. Harry rescued a Mammoth wasp from the pool, they are huge! Poor broody hen hasn’t stopped sitting so we have replaced the unhatched eggs with 2 new ones. It is a shame that we can’t put more under her but the hens aren’t laying much at the moment. It could be the heat but they are also quite old. The cockerel still gives them lots of attention though so I really hope that the eggs are fertile this time, poor girl. We just let our hens retire when they stop laying. We would normally get a few more but with no guests a few eggs a week is more than enough.We are missing our double yokers though. The stray cats have returned this evening after being missing for 2 days. We will have to get Mum Bella sterilised soon or she’ll be pregnant again. She is easy to catch so it won’t be a problem but the kittens are still really shy. The kids had fun in the pool again, Harrison did a bit of flying, they are both very daring. Harry and Katie treated us to dinner out tonight. Penelope loved dressing up for the occasion, bless her. It really made a lovely change not to be cooking 😊. Milly doesn’t seem to have had any more accidents, it’s a bit soon really for the tablets to have taken affect but I’m keeping everything crossed.

Day 40 of New normal

 

 

Harrison and Penelope have made it their mission to befriend Elsie. After lots of cuddles and insisting that Daddy showed them the proper way to pick up a cat. They then made Elsie a lovely nest in the cushions. On the ride this morning I saw this very pretty and delicate dried flower. I think it’s of the scabious family ( scabiosa Stellata) . The kids wanted to go on an off road trip in the land rover, ‘sitting in the boot’. We went to the top of the mountain and saw wild thyme everywhere, the smell was incredible. One of the kittens (smudge) bravely mingled with the horses, can you spot her on the floor by the stables?. (or him, don’t know when we’ll ever be able to sex them as they won’t let us touch them). I made a creamy vegan lasagne with sweet potato fries for dinner, it was lovely.

Day 41 of New normal

We left home really early this morning for brunch on the beach. Very quiet and the water was 25 degrees. We all enjoyed some snorkelling, it was like being in a tropical fish tank and so much fun to take the grandchildren out into deep water and introduce them to wearing masks and swimming under the sea. Auntie Lily was a great teacher 😊. They are incredibly confident. We are getting used to wearing cloth masks for everything too, but on the beach, once you have your plot, it is fine to walk to the sea for a swim without one. Today has been extremely hot, by the time we got home we were ready for a siesta. Twiggy made me laugh when I went down to feed them – she was standing on the low wall, funny thing 😀. We had to get Harry to help us manoeuvre a new bale, hopefully it was just the extreme heat as we usually manage on our own. Clive got a photo of this beautiful dragonfly out on the ride yesterday. We ate out on the wooden table tonight to try to find some cooler air but it wasn’t much better. Harry was quite happy to get in the pool after dinner to glue in a missing tile. Peanut does love his cuddles, it is difficult when it is so hot but he sneaked a couple in today. We thought Milly had started to show signs of improvement on the tablets but unfortunately when she was laying by us on the pool patio tonight there was a a little puddle under her. Luckily I could easily shower her off in the pool shower but I really hope the tablets are going to work soon 😔

Day 42 of New normal

Another very hot day. Penelope went for an early morning ride on Irene while Clive, Harry and Harrison went for a walk up the mountain. They saw semi-wild horses and mules and a tarantula web plus strange bushes trimmed into pyramid shapes by goats. In Minty ‘s paddock we found a cute young dung beetle trying to find a cool place to hide. We cooled off in the rock pool, even Clive stopped for 5 minutes in the hammock! Bella the stray seems to like being with Minty and the little black hen 😊. Penelope managed to stroke Bella too, though the kittens still aren’t keen to be touched. When out riding we always see long, 2 inch wide trails made by ants moving seed heads to their nests, such incredible, industrious creatures, they can also come from nowhere if you leave any food residue around! We  caught Elsie drinking out of the fish trough and also saw a Little owl perched on the electric pylon, watching the bats diving into the pool . We have had more holiday cancellations today, I just don’t know where it is going to end 😢

Day 43 of New normal

Last day with Harry and family. We went to Nerja for an early morning swim, the waves were such fun and the water was really warm. The beach was lovely and quiet too. It always makes us laugh going through the road tunnel on the way home from Nerja – why do we need to be told that we have come out of a tunnel? 😂Lily and Martin came over for dinner tonight too so it has been a lovely family day. It has also been a bit cloudy tonight which made a beautiful sunset. When I went down to feed the horses tonight I found Sierra, Flamenca and Bracken in Irene’s paddock and Irene in their paddock with Scarlett. I had forgotten to bolt the door between the paddocks. Oh well, they all went back to their usual places once I put the hay out. It is 3 years today since we got Flamenca. She is such a different horse now. We are lucky that we rarely have mosquitoes so the terrible sweet itch she arrived with has gone now.

Day 44 of New normal

It certainly was a day of getting back to normal, feeling sad to say goodbye to Harry and family. We were so lucky that they made it out here before the quarantine restrictions started up again. I just don’t know when we’ll see them or other family members and friends in the UK again. It is sad to think that our lovely Scottish family who come every year would have been here now too, just one of many more cancellations over the summer. Hard to see light at the end of the tunnel now, with no one feeling confident to book for the rest of the year or even next year. We have started to think about registering as a non profit organisation and concentrate on raising money for the horses but from what I have read about it, it seems complicated and costly to set up – not what we need! 🤔. Penelope gave Buffy a goodbye present of some rubber ducks – she didn’t seem too impressed 😂. I have started thinking of things we could sell but it is all a drop in the ocean really. Anyone who has read my book ‘no time for a siesta’ will know that we have been through very hard times before and in the recession of 2008 we had to resort to selling our land rover just to eat and feed the horses. I did mention it as a future possibility to Clive yesterday, you should have seen his face 😔. When Harry and Katie took us out for dinner the other night we had cute miniature bottles of oil on the table, a nice idea for our oil, for people without hold luggage to be able to take home a souvenir, but not exactly a money spinner and relies on having guests! Our carobs are starting to turn brown, at least that is free food for the horses 😊. It was a lovely cool day today, well, cool as in under 30 degrees with a slight breeze and puffy clouds, very welcome after the extreme heat of the last week. I’m sure the animals enjoyed it too, I love this photo of Leo and his sons, always together 😍

Day 45 of New normal

Wow! I took the decision today to restart our fundraiser and within 30 minutes have already raised over 500 pounds /euros in pledges and donations. There really are some lovely people out there 😊. I have some of Clive’s sea glass necklaces and Damascus steel knives on offer too and they are being snapped up. It’s a pity we can’t post chillies as Clive’s chocolate habaneros are doing great and we have so many other chillies growing too. I have been promoting my book too and lots of people have said they have bought it. I also made a start on my new book today but it will take a while! It was a lovely trip down memory lane though, going through all my old Facebook statuses to jog my memory. I managed to get a photo of the kittens today, they are getting bigger but not much tamer. I really do need to find some time to sit with them and maybe find some extra enticing food to tempt them, I don’t even know what sex they are yet! I was upset to find a bit of mould on the outside of a new bale I opened but luckily it was fine, I think it was just where it was touching the plastic! The boys are being very naughty while watching me bag up the hay and keep biting the electric tape, it is so stretched now it must be useless. I will have to leave it plugged in when I am down there, that’ll teach them! Picasso did look beautiful in the evening light though so though he is the main culprit I forgive him. Talking of electric, Clive has unplugged all of the un-used fridges.We have 8 fridge /freezers and 2 freezers in total so, though they don’t use much electricity. It must all add up and every little helps! Blackberry, Fern and Lola have a unique way of licking their square salt lick, it looks like a cotton reel, none of the others lick theirs so perfectly 😀

Day 46 of New normal

It is still quite hot, though the heat wave of last week has gone. We have had strong winds for 2 days now which has kept the temperature down at least but is annoying. If it was windy all the time it would drive me mad, it is difficult to do things like feed the horses and the poor plants dry out and get blown about, not to mention the dust! Spain can have extremes of weather though and these days you never know what is around the corner. I am certainly ready to expect anything this year, plague of locusts maybe, lol. Luckily the wind tends to switch off as quickly as it starts and it is very localised, so if it is windy here, it won’t be somewhere else and visa versa, if it is windy on the coast it won’t be windy here, so you can always get away from it. The most extreme weather we had though was on the 28th February 2013 when we woke up to thick snow! Minna had just arrived from Finland and she was so excited as it reminded her of home. We debated whether to go for a ride but weren’t sure how the horses would react so took the dogs for a walk instead. I will always regret missing the chance, everywhere was so quiet and magical. Whilst looking through old posts for my new book I also came across a photo of Peanut when he was first dumped here, nearly 7 years ago now. He was so cute 😍. Archie was cute today too, helping me pack the bunting away 😂. This evening we went to Lily and Martin’s for dinner and took Ava their Foster dog for a walk. Bless her, she is so timid. She will be travelling to the UK in September, I just hope she will cope with the journey and settle in her new home. On the walk we found capers growing, we really must try to get them growing in the garden, they are so pretty.We arrived home just in time to catch the sunset and shut the chickens in. Poor broody hen was off her eggs and they have gone. I know broody hens can dispose of the eggs if they know they are not fertile, I feel so sorry for for her, I really hoped she would be lucky this time.The fundraiser is doing so well, in 24 hours we have sold 3 knives, 4 seaglass necklaces,plus more holiday deposits and donations,we are humbled by how kind people are. 😊

Day 47 of New normal

Missing my lovely old Capri today, such a special little horse. I went through so much with her due to her past traumas but despite her being like a race horse I could ride her in just a neck rope. She had such a lovely wise face and she loved to join us for picnic rides. (also missing picnic rides, always a lovely thing to do) She remained my lead horse until the age of 28 and had 3 years of retirement until her death earlier this year aged 31. Poor Fern, her hives have come out really bad today but to be honest it really doesn’t seem to worry her at all. I found this old photo today from 2014 of the first time I ever rode her after helpers convinced me I wasn’t too big for her. Such a lovely pony to ride 😊. I saw my favourite little dog at the goat farm today, when he was a puppy he was the size of a Guinea pig, he’s so cute and friendly 😍. We haven’t had a chance to go to our favourite waterfall this year but I’ve heard that though the rock pool is there, the waterfall has dried up. Our secret garden pool has a little waterfall but since Clive had to move the pump when we built the apartment, he hasn’t got the waterfall running yet. I found these old photos today of building the rock pool 6 years ago, it was fun to do and we built it from local rocks that you can find every where, where farmers have cleared them from fields and stacked in piles. Our fundraiser has done well today and a lovely friend has very kindly asked for donations to it for her birthday – how lovely is that? 😊. Every day we are reminded of how kind people can be. (see bio for website, fundraiser is on blog page, just scroll down a bit to find the fundraiser blog 😊

Day 48 of New normal

The sky was very strange this morning, it looked like it might rain for a minute. Our lovely Dutch guests left today but sadly our equally lovely repeat guests from last year who were supposed to arrive today had their flights cancelled 😭. The dogs have been making friends with little Yorkie Jimmy who is staying with his mum in the secret garden. He has found that he can get through the fence so he happily runs around with the horses and Peanut and Milly having a lovely time. It reminds me of the time when we used to have to put a harness with a bit of plastic pipe on Peanut when he first came, to stop him getting through the fence. Hard to believe he was that small. I remember when we had an American guest who brought her two chihuahuas to stay, just before Christmas. They had flashing Christmas collars and festive outfits 😊. Peanut hadn’t been with us long and I was worried that he would eat them, they were so tiny, but they soon put him in his place 😂. Clive made the dogs these great leads out of paracord a few years ago too, maybe that is something else we could sell! He professes to be more of a cat than dog man but the dogs do love him, though I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he feeds them 😀. We took the 3 dogs for a walk together tonight just as the sun was setting. The oleanders at the front of the house are finally in flower which is good timing now that the hollyhocks have died off but they are so tall that we can barely see out of the windows so I know that Clive will be taking about trimming them soon 😔. I love looking back at the house in the evening light, the shadows of the distant mountains are so soft. we have had a couple more donations on our fundraiser, thank you to those lovely people . If anyone would like to share it, we would appreciate it. Don’t forget that you don’t have to donate, you can pledge a deposit on a future holiday or buy one of Clive’s hand made knives or necklaces etc.

Day 49 of New normal

I do love this photo of Clive on Picasso, almost makes me wish we still cantered 😍. We did have a lovely sedate ride this morning though, if was good to be back on Scarlett, she was perfect. We are lucky to have our guest Trish from Madrid, back for the second time. When she booked her holiday in the secret garden we had no idea what lay ahead but at least she didn’t have to cancel. We picked a few figs from our tree today, bit jealous of Lily’s lychees though – we can’t grow those this side of the mountain! Fresh lychees are amazing 😍. Our false pepper tree is huge, I hadn’t noticed how big the trunk is, it was only planted about 10 or 12 years ago, such a quick growing tree. When we moved here 20 years ago there were only 3 trees, there are now over 200 so we like to think that we are covering our carbon footprint. We have a ruin just up the hill in the olives of an old farm house that looks identical to ours, it even had a fireplace the same though it has crumbled away now. Our house is built mainly of stone and mud, with a cane, mud and terracotta tiled roof. You can see it clearly here when Clive was re-rendering the El Establo courtyard wall. I made our favourite stir fry tonight with cauliflower rice and sticky peanut tofu. I think I’m addicted 😂. We have had some more kind donations and pledges on our fundraiser today, we really appreciate it ❤️

Day 50 of New normal

What a strange day! Wind, then dark cloud and later on rumbles of thunder with a few spots of rain. The horses all looked spotty with the rain drops on their dusty coats 😊. We trimmed Irene’s feet, taking advantage of the the break in the sun to get some work done!. Our apples are now ready to eat and delicious, the almonds are also ready to harvest, with their soft outer covers starting to split. Clive’s chillies are also going mad, looks like we’ll be making more chilli sauce as we’ll never use all those! There’s always something to do! Sierra is in season so we let her spend the day in the sand arena as a treat, allowing her to flirt with Leo and Co in the other paddock. I had to bribe her back into her own paddock with some carob 😊. During the hot weather I have been having an afternoon read in the ground floor guest bedroom as it is so much cooler than our upstairs room under the roof! I love the pretty window with the view of the oleanders and hollyhocks outside. The fundraiser has had another couple of donations today, thank you, we really can’t thank people enough. We have also sold the last Damascus steel knife but we still have plenty of sea glass necklaces left .

Day 51 of New normal

A cloudy and windy start, the weather is crazy this year, along with everything else. We went over to Lily and Martin’s to help level their floor ready for tiling. Lake Vinuela looked a very pretty turquoise colour as we drove past. Our carobs have turned brown now, almost ready for picking. With the strange, windy weather of the last few days the pool temperature has dropped a bit so we decided to get the cover out, to put on at night. We were upset to find that one side of the roller was broken but luckily our friendly metal man welded it for Clive in 5 minutes. Hopefully this strange weather is just a blip, we’ve never put the cover on in August before! Clive has been hand stitching the leather pouches for 2 of his knives, ready to post off soon. The fundraiser has gone a bit slow now but we did have one donation in today, we appreciate it so much. Looking through old photos again tonight I found this funny one of Peanut helping me with the olive picking – hard to imagine wearing winter clothes at the moment! Not sure if we’ll pick our olive’s this year as, with no guests, we still have a lot of last years oil left and it costs money to get the olives pressed too 😔

Day 52 of New normal

A beautiful morning to drive over to lily and Martin’s, just the usual Spanish traffic jam of sheep on the road. There was a sea fog on the coast but it soon turned into a lovely day. We helped with the floor tiles and Clive made a start on the wall tiles. We had a lovely view of their village while having lunch. Back home in time to feed the horses who were all waiting for us. Clive finished the pouches for 2 of the knives so they are now ready to post. We have had a couple more donations and holiday deposits today too, so that has cheered us up as our visit to the UK in September is not going to happen. Even if the quarantine is lifted we have lost our house sitters. Unfortunately we booked our flights in January with Ryan Air and they are not cancelling flights due to quarantine so we can’t even get a credit or a change of flight so will lose our money . So sad not to be seeing our family and friends but we are not alone, it’s just that some airlines are being more understanding than others. On the other hand, from a business point of view, we understand how hard it is to offer refunds and credits so who are we to complain? . It is just so hard being separated from family, especially our grandchildren for so long and who knows how much longer 😔

Day 53 of New normal

A day at home catching up with jobs after an early morning ride on Scarlett and Leo and doing Fern’s feet before it got too hot. When we got up this morning we found a puddle on the kitchen floor, meaning Milly’s medication isn’t working on one tablet a day so we now have to try 2 a day, doubling the price 😔. Clive popped to the vets and ordered more tablets and booked Bella in to be sterilised next week. Poor girl, she and the kittens won’t be happy about that. I tried to sit down and read for a while but Peanut and Milly had other ideas 😁. Clive has made some more sea glass necklaces today as we have had a few more pledges for them on the fundraiser plus a very generous donation by way of a bank transfer from a name we don’t recognise. We had held on to the hope that we might get some bookings for the autumn from European countries that don’t have to quarantine but so far it is deathly quiet, it is so  worrying. It has been an idyllic day, weather wise though and the evening light was beautiful as the sun went down .

Day 54 of New normal

         

We set off early to Lily and Martin’s to help with the floor and wall tiles. We had noticed a nice track, cutting the corner off, approaching Zafarraya so this morning we tried it out. It was really pretty. Foster dog Ava was there to greet us, (spot the dog standing by the pool) she usually hides away so that was a good sign though she is still terribly shy. We were very sad to find a squashed chameleon on the road up to Lily’s, why can’t people drive more carefully 😢. Another sad sight was acres of mangoes rotting on the trees due to Covid preventing the usual pickers from Morocco to come over I would imagine. Such a terrible waste. We drove home past some of the oldest olive trees in Spain, at least 500 years old! Peanut welcomed us with his favourite sunbathing position 😂. We managed a bit of gardening this evening, we have a pine needle mountain, it’s a shame they can’t be used for something, the pile is like a soft bed. Last night we watched the shooting stars, (perseids meteor shower) they are at their best this week and we literally started seeing them as soon as we went outside at around 10.30. Spain has brought in tighter measures to prevent young people from spreading the virus by closing discos and controlling how many people can eat together at restaurants etc. Smoking is also banned in public places. Despite the hype on the news, Spain is bringing in these measures to prevent things escalating, we still have less deaths than the UK for instance, but only bad news is good news it seems! On a brighter note, we have had a couple more pledges and donations today, as I know I keep saying – thank you, we appreciate it so much ❤️

Day 55 of New normal

 

I rode one of my favourite routes for views this morning, though with lots of hills it wasn’t Leo’s favourite 😊. Setting off at 8am before the sun came over the mountain it was beautifully cool. We passed a load of abandoned plastic that used to cover a stack of straw, I have an awful feeling that it will be left there forever as it has already been several months 😢. Bracken had her feet trimmed and Clive also started trimming the lavenders as their flowers have now died off. It smells gorgeous when I walk down to the horses now. Our pomegranates are getting big and we have flowers on one of the big yukkas. The pine trees also have gorgeous, luminous green new growth. Clive isn’t happy though as Irene has been rubbing on one of the pine trees in her paddock by the road and most of the bark has gone which could kill the tree 😔. The pool was 30 degrees this afternoon which isn’t good as it actually feels too warm and also the chemicals struggle to work over 28 degrees. We had started covering it at night as the evenings are slightly cooler but we will leave it uncovered tonight. We received another generous donation on the fundraiser today which was a lovely surprise, nice that it is just ticking over as we are back to having literally no income and no sign of new bookings with things looking very uncertain again re the Corona virus 😔

Day 56 of New normal

 

I love walking through the gate from the horses and into the shade of the Carob and Ash trees, the courtyard area is such a lovely, cool and restful place to be. We drove over to Lily’s again this morning to help with tiling. It made me smile on the way home to see a sign with an actual goat symbol, the first I’ve ever seen. Usually they just use the standard cattle sign for all animals. One of the hens made me laugh too, cooling off in Minty’s little shed. The swallows seem to be gathering in preparation for their return to Africa, where has the summer gone? The weather definitely has a late summer feel, it is just perfect with hot, clear days and cooler nights, I love it. Such a shame we will have no guests to enjoy it. The last of the summer bookings cancelled yesterday so we have no more guests due until mid September, hopefully they will make it 😔. Such an incredibly worrying time for so many. Our fundraiser has just gone over 4000 pounds, the total includes the previous fundraiser as we just reactivated it, but we have almost doubled the initial total, helped a lot by the sale of Clive’s knives, people are so kind ❤️. Clive’s habanero chillies are starting to change colour, we have so many, including a load in the freezer from last year so will have to make some chilli sauce soon. The blackberries are also ripening in the hedgerows now. They don’t get very big here due to lack of water but they taste so sweet. When I fed the horses this evening Scarlett, Flamenca and Bracken looked so cute with their bums in a row 😊.

Day 57 of New normal

A productive day picking almonds, apples and figs. Lots left to pick but at least we’ve made a start. The almonds have to have their soft outer covers removed then left to dry in the sun for a few days. The big wooden table is perfect for it but we have to pull all the chairs out otherwise Peanut jumps up and eats the almonds. They are like a toy and food in one, he loves them 😀. Clive made some fig compote, delicious in crumbles or with yogurt or ice cream. He also bottled up some oil as we have some people coming to buy some tomorrow, 16 bottles, fingers crossed! . We have also had a couple more donations today so every little helps 😊Bonnie was sweet this evening when I went down as she left her pile of hay to come over and say hello 😊. Spirit did his usual trick of standing in the hay ring. Funny how he is the only one who does it. We had to clean out one of the water troughs this evening as it was full of hay and dust from the wind we had last week and the bottom was really sludgy and disgusting, not a pleasant job!

Day 58 of New normal

   

The horses have got the idea of social distancing 😊. Sierra’s droopy bottom lip is so cute, though we were told that she has nerve damage in her mouth and by the scars on her nose it is obvious she has had harsh treatment in the past. She is only 17 but we are her 11th (and final!) home – how sad is that? She was very nervous and scared to be caught and touched when she first came to us but with the help of a clicker and treats she is a happy girl now 😊. Irene always makes me smile, begging for her bowl of hard feed which she has 4 times a day due to her old age. We sold 18 bottles of oil today, big thanks to friend Hayley for recommending us to her guests – nice to see some money coming in for a change 😀. I started husking the almonds today, very relaxing standing next to the fish trough and listening to the water trickling. It’s not good for your fingers though, I’ve got a few broken nails now but then that’s nothing new with our lifestyle! Our grapes are ripe now too, I just can’t keep up with the amount of stuff we have to harvest! We went over to help Lily with the tiling again, I fixed the skirting tiles among other things. Although it is an hours drive each way, we can’t complain at the views. The hair pin bends aren’t for the faint hearted though! (there are several different routes, so we can pick and choose to keep the drive interesting.) The kittens were cute this evening, climbing up the pallets that block the doorway to the stable where I feed them. Mum Bella has had her last meal for a while – poor girl is having her operation tomorrow, I hope the kittens don’t get worried by her absence 😔. There was some pretty, light cloud this evening, making a lovely sunset. A friend who asked her friends and family to donate to our fundraiser for her birthday instead of giving presents celebrates her 70th birthday today – such a kind and thoughtful thing to do – we appreciate it so much, it has really helped to keep the total rising, thank you ❤️

Day 59 of New normal

I have to admit to having one of those days where everything just seemed too much, Clive and I have both struggled to stay upbeat.It started with trying to catch stray cat Bella ready to take her to the vet for her operation.After trying from 8am until 11.30, using various strategies, we had to admit defeat and cancel the op.She is a very friendly cat,we can usually pick her up and stroke her but as soon as she saw the cat box she turned into a savage, scratching us and ripping Clive’s shirt.We tried putting a towel over her but she was having none of it. I just felt such a sense of despair and anger – how dare someone dump their cats on us, leaving us with the problem to sort out, physically and financially. It is just all too much in our current situation.I have since calmed down and will try leaving a dog cage in the stable where she likes to be fed and put her food in it for a week or so, so that hopefully she gets used to it. Of course we will also have the problem with the kittens before we know it and so far we can’t even touch them and have no idea what sex they are.Poor Clive went shopping to get various things to fit a pool pump for a friend and some bits for Lily but every shop he tried both in our village and one 20 minutes away were closed for holidays. He came home even more stressed 😔. We tried to salvage the day by ticking off more jobs,including picking and preserving more fruit and juicing some of our apples – yum! I gave the horses a little treat of chopped windfalls and freshly picked Carob beans. (have to be careful not to give them too much apple as it is high in sugar).I will also stew some apples for crumbles etc as we can’t eat them all! I made some very tasty falafel burgers for dinner so at least the day improved as it went on,though there was another heart sinking blip when yet another estimated electric bill came in, this time over 600 euros for 2 months (the previous 2 were over 1000 each!) about double what it should be going by the real reading .We have had estimated bills since at least last autumn, it is criminal. We are going to look into a new provider, we can’t let them get away with it any longer 😢 . The evening sky was very pretty though so that lifted our spirits 🙂

Day 60 of New normal

 

A better day, getting off to a good start with a beautiful sunrise and stunning skies on our drive over to Lily’s. There was a strange smog on the horizon, over Africa though, not seen that before. You can’t really see it on the photo but it was really yellow. We helped finish off lots of little jobs this morning, including painting the doors. On the way home we drove past Velez Malaga Castle, we must stop for a visit some time. We have too many grapes, we did juice them one year and froze it but we never drank it so it’s not worth the work really and with wine so cheap here it’s certainly not worth making it. Oh well, the wasps and birds are enjoying them 😊. I ground up some more food for Irene, I bought this great grinding mill a few years ago and it’s worth it’s weight in gold. By grinding the grain it means Irene gets all the nutrients instead of half of it coming out in her poo! Great news, the hens have started laying again, well, one has anyway 😊, after a 6 week break. It is common for hens to take a break but ours don’t usually. Maybe they knew we didn’t have any guests, lol, mind you, being on a tight budget, a few eggs wouldn’t go amiss! I had a nice holiday deposit pledge on the fundraiser today and a couple of donations which was lovely and helped brighten my day, I also spoke to a very helpful electricity company who can give us big savings on our bills and help us sort out the mess that our existing company have made so that is a big relief. Bella and kittens didn’t come for food today, but they are still close by, hopefully Bella will forgive us soon. Spirit made me smile with hay all over his head, he is a funny thing 😀

Day 61 of New normal

What a beautiful day it has been, though very hot! The forecast for the next 2 weeks looks idyllic, such a shame we won’t have guests to enjoy it 😔. We did some gardening today and I stewed up some of the apples. Scarlett had her feet done, foot trimming is strictly an early morning job at this time of year, before it gets too hot so we can only do one horse a day. That is the problem with most jobs actually, in the summer we have a never ending list of jobs to be done by 11am and of course usually we have rides to do during that time too, though that isn’t a problem at the moment! While gardening I came across our old horse Carretta’s grave stone. She died in 2001, before the garden was established and is buried under the stone. For quite a few years after that we weren’t allowed to bury on our land which was horrible, involving waiting sometimes days for a dead animal lorry to pick up the body 😭. Thank goodness we are now allowed to bury on our land again. Clive found this beautiful Rose chafer beetle, unfortunately dead, but such a stunning metallic green, he also took this photo of a lonely sunflower in Pedro’s field, opposite the house, so pretty. I am coping with the new round bales, I have got used to how much to give and how best to use them, by rolling back and forth to get the sections of hay off but they are almost more than I can manage each time I open a new one, they are so heavy to push. Poor Clive nearly kills himself too, each time he has to push one down from the stack, and if they land on end it is almost impossible to tip them over so that they roll! 😂. We desperately want to grow our own veg but though we’ve tried over the years, what with the heat, lack of water and occasional strong winds, it has been impossible. We have decided though that the shady area at the bottom of the horses field might be ideal and we are going to give it another go, a good project for the winter anyway 😀. Milly has been desperate to make friends with stray cat Bella and the kittens. Bella is now happy with her presence but might not ever allow her to groom her the way Elsie, Buffy and Archie do 😊

Day 62 of New normal

 

One positive thing of not having guests is that I can choose to sit wherever I like, to find the coolest spot 😊. Today has been another scorcher, so as well as fitting in some pool time, I’m now reading in the shade in the El Granero courtyard with a lovely soft breeze coming through the window grill, heaven 😊. (Clive is inside watching a film, strange person 😂). I wasted an hour of my life this morning trying to get some justice from Ryan Air re our September flights that we booked in February, to visit family in the UK and can’t now take due to the quarantine restrictions. Sadly no luck, so that is money down the drain 😔. Just hoping that the other budget airlines survive this crisis as, despite using Ryan Air faithfully for years, I will avoid them if at all possible in the future. Scarlett had a pedicure this morning and we harvested more figs. I also finished husking the almonds and cut down all the grapes as they were starting to make a sticky mess on the floor. I love our cute driftwood light made out of glass jars under the grapevine, it is always so satisfying making things for nothing. We needed a hand rail up the steep stairs in the farmhouse, so a driftwood pole came in handy for that too 😊. Clive made some more sea glass necklaces as we are getting lots of pledges for them on the fundraiser. The oleanders at the front of the house are so beautiful now, they always seem to be at their best towards the end of the summer when the bushes have got so tall that they block the light from the windows and we really need to trim them 😔. Hopefully I can persuade Clive to leave them for a while yet.

Day 63 of New normal

 

The light on the mountains this evening rounded off another stunning day. The dying cactus flower is heading towards the road, hope it doesn’t fall! Bella seems to like to hang out in the shade by the horses water trough. I have seen the kittens leaning in and drinking too, I can’t help worrying that they will fall in but they seem to know what they are doing. Milly and Buffy had a siesta on the kitchen floor this afternoon, so cute 😊. We did Lola’s feet this morning but just as I was leading her back into the field she trod on the poor cockerel’s foot. Luckily he can still walk on it but it looked a bit mangled 😢. He didn’t want me to have a look so I just had to leave him to it. Scarlett, Flamenca and Bracken always seem to eat together lately, they look so sweet. Our preserved lemons are ready to eat, just have to plan a meal now to use them. I gave the outside toilet and shower a bit of a clean up today, I love all our home made driftwood accessories 😊. We also sold a couple more sea glass necklaces and had a couple of donations on the fundraiser, so all in all it’s been a good day 😊

Day 64 of New normal

I must be strange but I love poo picking just before the sun comes over the mountain, it is so peaceful and cool. I find it really satisfying, seeing the field all clean but it is very annoying if a horse poos just as I finish 😂. There was quite a lot of cloud as I looked towards the coast and a few puffy ones on top of the mountain but we had another perfect day. There was a pleasant light breeze so I took some time out to read in the shade of the pine trees in the secret garden – it was lovely. Minty seems to spend all his time laying in the shade. It used to worry me but I’ve noticed that all the sheep I see around us are all laying down too 😊. Clive pointed out that we never see the horses laying down in the summer whereas in the cooler weather they lay down a lot. I did catch Sierra still laying down sleeping the other morning though, when I went down earlier than usual, so I think they must lay down at night when the ground is cooler at this time of year. Bella and the kittens drove us to distraction again this afternoon.They had somehow got inside the netting covering the round bales.It was a nightmare as they just wouldn’t come out.We tried everything,shouting, banging on the bales (not helpful when we are trying to tame them but needs must) it was so hot, we were exhausted. Finally the kittens came out but we had to leave Bella in there,she was determined to stay, just laying there, nonchalantly, ignoring us 😊. We had to seal her in with stones weighing the net down,so that the kittens didn’t go back in, though that’s how it was before so who knows how they got in. Hopefully she will come out when I go down to feed again later but we really don’t need cat claws in the plastic covering, it’s such a worry 😔. We love cats and wouldn’t mind too much taking these 3 on, apart from the expense, but we have all the negatives of cat ownership without any of the joy 😔.The almonds are now dried out so I cracked a few, blanched them and drizzled with olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt and roasted in the oven – delicious. I usually do them for Christmas so I had better save the rest!