Day 65 to 104 of New Normal – next 40 days

Day 65 of New normal

Another stunning day, the sky is such a deep blue, though it had a pretty pink tinge early this morning when we did the horses. It was Blackie’s turn to have her feet done, they looked very pretty when Clive had finished. At the age of 24, she is just getting some grey on her head, apart from that she looks much younger. Poor Scarlett had an impromptu operation at lunchtime (don’t look at the photos if you’re squeamish). I have had the vet out to her a few times since the spring and been cleaning and treating her twice a day every day, trying different creams prescribed by the vet and applying fly repellent. She also had cortisone injections but nothing has helped. She has granulated tissue due to a severe reaction to flies causing her to rub herself raw, poor girl. The vet removed all the swollen scar tissue today (you can see how big a piece he cut out) and it is like a miracle, you can’t even see the stitches and the skin colour has gone back to pale pink. Fingers crossed it works, she is such a high maintenance horse. Luckily I don’t have any trouble with the others! The vet also said she was fat, how dare he, lol . So princess Scarlett is now on a diet, along with all the others as they are all a bit chubby, what with hardly being ridden due to the lock down and lack of guests. I really need to persuade Clive to come riding with me.  Do you like my candle holder made from a bit of pallet?    It’s so satisfying making things from nothing . We haven’t been to the lake where we find the drift wood this year though, it feels strange going anywhere at the moment if we don’t need to . Feeling sad today as our good friends should have been arriving with their family to have a big 60th birthday celebration. It had seemed like it would still go ahead, despite their flights being cancelled and them having to book new ones but then of course the quarantine happened and that was that. It had taken them such a lot of planning, getting all the flights and accommodations sorted out and organising everyone’s holiday dates. we should have been totally full and enjoying their company. Hopefully it can happen next year instead

Day 66 of New normal

I pinched this gorgeous photo from a Facebook post today. It is taken from the Dolmens at Antequera looking across to the Geronimo rock,it looks just like a red Indian head laying down in profile (it is also known as the lovers rock, legend says that 2 lovers jumped from the end as one was Moorish and one was Spanish and they weren’t allowed to be together). Leo had his feet trimmed this morning, only 4 horses left to do then Clive can have a rest before starting all over again .The kittens were sitting on the water trough waiting for their breakfast this morning, they seem less wary of us now but it is a slow process! It is the time of year when we start to look forward to some rain, even the established plants in the garden like the honeysuckle are looking very wilted and the geraniums are struggling to flower. I dead head and feed them to try to keep them going but they are no where near as impressive as they are in the spring and early summer.We took the dogs for a short walk opposite the house but we didn’t go far as it was too hot. They were excited to go out though as we don’t walk them in the heat of the summer. It is still around 35 in the shade by lunchtime so we need to wait for it to cool down a bit before trying a walk again,or go straight after doing the horses. I made a lovely apple and banana cake to use up some some of the apples,it was delicious. We are now down to just 1 sea glass necklace,Lily found us some more sea glass today so Clive can make some more as they are proving to be very popular. He is going to make some bracelets too for a change, though the fundraiser is slowing down now so we might not get much more interest. Scarlett is very well today after her operation, it’s as if it never happened. She’s not so happy about her food being restricted though .We have had a few problems today, the Landrover has a gear box problem, we are hoping it won’t be too expensive .Our printer has also packed up and so did a fan. I rely on Clive to always fix things and he was successful with the fan but the printer is dead . Oh well, such is life. Buffy was straight on my lap when I sat down tonight, at 19 she likes her comforts

Day 67 of New normal

The last of the very hot days for a few days according to the forecast. We did Twiggy’s feet before the sun came up, then a bit of gardening and watering before it got too hot. We have a little side gate at the bottom of the pool terrace, going into our neighbours olives. It is now completely grown over with a vine. Luckily we don’t really use it, it was just useful for painting the other side of the pool wall. It’s probably better that it can’t be opened as sometimes guests discovered it and left it open without us realising and of course the dogs soon noticed and escaped! Talking of dogs, Peanut is getting fat again. He must have been jumping up onto the cat feeding station and eating the cat food,  he’s such a monkey . I have put some more plants there to hopefully stop him. It made a lovely change to get ready for a lunch visit from Lily and Martin and friends. Nice to see the pool being used again and have a reason to put the cushions out. I love how the courtyards look in the sunshine but also when the  sun is going down and the lights come on it all looks so tranquil

Day 68 of New normal

Today I could cheerfully go and live off grid without banks or technology, (or having to deal with some people) it’s been a horrible day but I won’t bore you with the details . Suffice to say that I’m holding on to the fact that most people are good and life is worth the struggle (and tomorrow is another day ). As I’ve said many a time, I have been truly humbled by peoples’ kindness, as shown with our fundraiser and the many messages of support I receive. It gives me the strength to go on, so once again, thank you to everyone who has helped in however small a way, just sharing my posts or fundraiser, messages of support, pledges for holiday deposits for next year (which gives us hope and something to look forward to) – it gives us something to hold on to at a time when there really seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel .  Anyway, enough of that, I still found time to smell the roses,  how can I complain when I live in such a beautiful place, with all my lovely animals (and Clive of course ). Poor Clive had a bad back today so had a day off from hoof trimming. (I still want him to come for a ride so I hope this isn’t just an excuse ). It was a stunning start to the day again and when the sun came over the mountain the sky was such a deep blue. Little black hen had me worried as her comb was all floppy but according to Google it just means she is too hot and it has been another hot day, so that’s a relief. It is much cooler this evening though, with a gorgeous breeze from the North and some clouds! (we get excited when there are clouds as it makes a more interesting sunset ) The kittens are staying close when I feed them now, so though the progress is slow, hopefully they will get tamer. Every time we go down to the horses, Peanut jumps over the fence from the muck heap and goes and says hello to our neighbours dog Bobbie. Milly is a good girl and doesn’t follow him, though she hovers by the gate, hoping to escape when I let Irene in and out. When I came up from the horses this evening I caught Elsie having a drink from the fish trough – makes a change from the pool anyway and at least she doesn’t try to catch the fish. 

Day 69 of New normal

Such a lovely temperature today, it didn’t get higher than 26 degrees, perfect. Nice to see a bit of cloud too, it made a stunning sun rise.    Bonnie had her feet done, she was very good and didn’t lean on Clive so his back survived . Lily and Martin came over for a late breakfast to introduce foster dog Ava to Milly and Peanut. They soon got used to each other though Peanut always gets jealous of other dogs and wasn’t impressed that Ava seemed to like Clive . We have sold one more necklace on the fundraiser but it really is very slow now . Don’t forget you can also pledge a holiday deposit from just 25 pounds – something to look forward to when this nightmare is over .  I found this lovely photo of the landrover in sand dunes when we went to Bolonia beach near Tarifa   about 18 months ago, in the good old days when we used to travel around – such a beautiful place, only a couple of hours from us. Spain is such a diverse country, we have so much more to explore, so lucky to live here . Missing the landrover at the moment but hopefully we’ll get it back this week. 

Day 70 of New normal

Well, I was determined that today was a new day, forget the problems of yesterday and start on a positive note. It was much cooler this morning, such a joy to be outside. Clive’s back held out to finish Twiggy’s feet. She had one foot left to do when his back gave out 2 days ago. She has a bit of heavy horse in her, with her mum Bonnie being half Belgian draught and she definitely is heavy! .  He then got on with making more seaglass necklaces – we have lots more available now if anyone wants to buy one on the fundraiser! There is even a brown one for a change. He also harvested some pine nuts from our pine cones, no wonder they are so expensive, it is a very labour intensive job! Sadly the day went down hill from there, with Clive discovering that the Jacuzzi heater had packed up and also a washing machine. To add to our problems, 5 minutes after that I received a message from our mechanic to say that the bill for the landrover gearbox would be over 2000 euros. I’ve got to laugh or I’ll cry. Oh well, on a more positive note, the kittens are almost eating out of my hand, the horses are healthy and happy, Scarlett is still recovering amazingly, no sign of rubbing or discomfort and the sky has been a deep blue again. Things could be worse, especially as on the coast at Estepona today there have been terrible fires, sweeping along the beach and burning a  holiday complex, bars, trees, so awful, what next for 2020?

Day 71 of New normal

I love going down to give the horses their last feed, the light is so golden and the mountains turn pink as the sun goes down. The sky has been a really deep blue again , the contrast with the white walls is stunning. Clive gave the palm a trim today. It has lots of flowers which will be dates in future years when the palm is a bit bigger. He seems to have even more chillies ripening and the plants have more flowers, good thing we like spicy food! I packaged up all the necklaces and knives from recent orders, ready to post tomorrow. I will use tracked post but a knife I sent 3 weeks ago still hasn’t arrived so it is all a bit worrying . The post is not reliable from Spain but fingers crossed everything will get there in the end. One necklace I posted earlier has  arrived so that is good news, I am sure that everything gets there eventually. I shared the fundraiser again today and I have had 2 more holiday deposit pledges of 100 pounds each which is so helpful and heartening as it really does give us hope for next year. One was from my coffee morning friends, we all met when we had our children 33 years ago and still get together when we can. We are hoping for a reunion here next summer, especially as a couple of them are celebrating their 60th birthdays, fingers crossed we can make plans soon . We actually have 17 deposit pledges through the fundraiser and 2 holiday pledges paid in full for some time next year so that is 19 holidays to look forward to getting booked in when we can . Our fundraiser is only 75 pounds short of 5000 pounds which is fantastic, this will pay the horses feed bill in full which is a big weight off our mind . Of course we still have many more costs involved to keep the horses and the business afloat but the generosity has been amazing and is so appreciated, thank you

Day 72 of New normal

We had a day out today, walking with Lily and Martin. We were doing the Saltillo at Canillas de Aceituno but unfortunately the best bit with the rock pools was closed for maintenance work on the trail so that was a shame but it was a nice walk anyway, especially as it was cloudy so we had respite from the sun. Lily and Martin treated us to a lovely lunch at a hotel by the lake, as a thank you for helping them with their house. I was in heaven as a man was mowing the lawn and the sound and smell was so nostalgic –  one of the things I miss from the uk, you rarely see grass here. We had bad news though re the knives as the one we had already posted is stuck in customs, it seems you can’t post knives . We now have to refund the knives, unless we can find another way of sending that is allowed and also pay customs 50 euros to return the knife, such a shame . At least the necklaces are OK to post! On the way home we saw an ibex, right by the road, which was lovely. Our oranges are getting really big now and the tree is loaded, hopefully they’ll be ripe in time for Christmas. I was really pleased to see that the little black hen wasn’t on her own tonight – she is normally such a loner, I always feel sorry for her, maybe chickens don’t mind being on their own though, who knows

Day 73 of New normal

Not done a lot today, it’s been hard to get motivated. Finn had a nice long time out of his cage, with a little fly around but more time on our heads . It got windy this afternoon so I had to make up haynets so that the hay didn’t blow away. It was a beautiful day though with just one puffy cloud . We are finally accumulating enough eggs to make a meal, though I think it’s still only little black hen laying, bless her. I hope the others haven’t stopped laying for good, we’ve got enough old retired animals as it is . We had pizza for dinner tonight – we have to keep a gargoyle in the front of the pizza oven to stop the cats going in when we’re not using it. can only imagine how simple life would be without animals . Actually that reminds me, when we were building it, just as we were cementing the big pizza stone in place, we heard a miaow and discovered that our old cat Simba was inside the base – lucky we didn’t cement him in! Poor Scarlett is still rubbing, I am at my wits end now, I have tried so hard for months to sort her out. I really thought the operation would sort it out, it looked so promising. The vet is coming back to check her in a few days, fingers crossed he’s still got some more ideas    

Day 75 of New normal

( jumped a day as I found out today when doing my 40 day blog for the website that I had posted 2 day 42’s, lol.) I feel like I have sat in front of my laptop most of the day, trying to sort out PayPal and holiday cancellation problems, it is emotionally exhausting and very worrying .  I have had some good news today too though – I had to notify 2 people that I would have to refund them for their knives and one kindly gave me a 20 euro donation and the other very generously told me to keep the whole amount as a donation, how lovely is that . Also, friends who luckily were able to claim on their insurance for their holiday with us have very kindly paid us again in full for next year, such a life saver. People really are lovely. I sent the other 2 knives by courier to Holland, keeping everything crossed they will get there . More good news from guests due to arrive on the 14th – they are coming!! We won’t know what to do with ourselves, lol. We also had some kindness from Facebook friends who run a Spanish news  website Spain buddy – they ran an article about us and our fundraiser – every little helps, we really appreciate it. Talking of the fundraiser, it has just gone over 5000, how great is that .  At least I can pay the hay and vet bills, such a relief, though of course bills will continue coming in and we still have no sign of an income on the horizon. Watering the plants today I noticed that we have little self set antirrhinums in some of the pots, so pretty. Clive’s scotch bonnet chillies are nearly ripe and we had one pear from our pear tree . I noticed today that mum cat Bella now hisses at the kittens when I feed them so I now have to put 2 bowls down. I am so worried that she could be pregnant again, I am going to have to try to catch her for an operation soon. Peanut and Milly are disgusting, eating the horses poo, could be worse I suppose!. Sierra was laying down, sleeping this afternoon, a sign of autumn I think. Clive amused himself making a steam engine out of copper tube, doesn’t take much to please him

Day 76 of New normal

Spirit’s turn to have his feet done, he looked very fetching in a pink head collar . Clive has been going on about Victoria sponges lately as they keep cropping up on TV programmes that he’s watching, so while he was out this morning I made him one . Our fig tree is still loaded so we are going to have a go at drying some, I do love dried figs so hopefully they will turn out nice. Clive found this minute little spider with crab like front legs, really cute. We had a bit of a heart theme going on today, firstly Clive picked this heart shaped ivy in the garden, then I found a heart shaped potato after   sorting a bag out when I smelt an awful rotting smell, almost like fish – really not much worse than the smell of a rotting potato . Luckily the rest of the bag was fine. I got this photo of Twiggy in the sunset tonight – she has an almost perfect heart on her face, though her forlock is hiding it a bit in this photo. It’s been a good news day too, at long last – firstly the new heater for the jacuzzi arrived and then we got the Landrover back with its new gearbox – just got to pay the bill now though! Unfortunately a  booking we had for the 19th cancelled today, so we now have just the one last booking on the 14th, for the rest of the year, as things stand . Autumn is usually really busy for us so it is very sad. Another good thing happened today though, one of the disputes against us on PayPal has closed in our favour, phew, one weight off our mind but another one is still hanging over us, worrying me sick  

Day 77 of New normal

We found a dung beetle while poo picking this morning. Clive moved its pile of poo to the other side of the electric tape so that it could do its thing without getting squashed . Talking of poo, we do have a lovely view from our muck heap . It was another perfect day, the sky seems to get bluer.  Bonnie and Scarlett were looking beautiful in the evening sun – Scarlett seems to have stopped rubbing, fingers crossed! It was Picasso’s turn to have his feet done today, that’s them all done now, Clive can have a rest for a few weeks before starting again. This time last year we held a yoga course, we had planned lots more courses of all kinds this year but sadly it wasn’t to happen. Never mind, there’s always next year . Clive fixed the jacuzzi heater and it is now up and running, very relieved that after spending money on a new heater it worked when it was fitted! I constantly count myself lucky that Clive can turn his hand to just about everything or I don’t know how we’d manage. Lily and Martin have a resident toad, it was living under their pond when they removed it and wandered off but it came back today, so Lily has made a damp home for it . I am quite jealous, I love frogs and toads but I think our cats would be a danger to them if we had any here . Clive is watching the formula one now so I am sitting in the hammock with my kindle, watching the sun go down – perfect

Day 78 of New normal

First job today after doing the horses was chopping firewood. Pedro’s field next door goes down to the river and there are often fallen trees there. We help Pedro by clearing his field and he helps us with free firewood . One of the trunks had been pecked by a woodpecker. I also found this pretty woodland plant. It was good to keep busy to take our minds off the fact that we should have been flying to the UK this morning to see our 5 gorgeous grandchildren and family and friends. I hoped right until the last minute that our flights would be cancelled so that at least we wouldn’t lose our money but no such luck . On a more positive note though, I noticed for the first time that the terms and conditions on our crowd funder state that they take no commission from us, ever penny of the money pledged goes to help our horses . The dehydrated figs turned out amazingly, they are delicious. I have stored some in air tight jars, frozen some and I made some very tasty fig bars this morning too. I’ve noticed lately that Twiggy and Picasso are often together. They are half brother and sister, sharing the same dad, Leo, but Picasso is also Twiggy’s uncle, as Picasso’s Mum was Twiggy’s grandma Capri – not at all complicated, lol.   Interestingly, Twiggy’s mum Bonnie and Picasso are chestnut, which means that though Capri was bay like Twiggy, the Chestnut has come from her. It has been such an idyllic day, weather wise that I treated myself to some pool time this evening. The pool is still 29 degrees, hopefully it will stay warm for our guests on the 14th, without having to turn the heater on . Who needs cold old England, lol

Day 79 of New normal

We have actually been more sociable in the last 24 ours than in the whole of the lock down so far – starting with a fun wine tasting evening with friends last night, then this afternoon a delicious afternoon tea at different friends (sadly I forgot to take a photo of the scones and clotted cream until everything was nearly gone.). We unloaded the last trailer load of firewood from yesterday, it will certainly save us buying any for a while as it is well seasoned. . This time last year Peanut was practicing downward dog during the yoga course, then we had a sudden rainstorm leaving us rushing around getting cushions in. The horses had great fun rolling in  mud . This year is so different, we normally have at least one rain storm around the end of August, beginning of September but so far the hot weather just keeps going, the garden desperately needs a good soaking now. Peanut and Milly took advantage of Lily and Martin being here this evening to lay on the outside sofa. They brought their foster dog Ava over again to learn to socialise but she really doesn’t seem interested, poor girl. It was a very hot evening, still 26 degrees at 9 o’clock, so we had a lovely meal outside, watching the sunset. 

Day 80 of New normal

A bit of an animal and plant appreciation day – Buffy looks so pretty on the blue cushions, she is such a sweet old cat, at 19, we don’t expect to have her too much longer but she is doing fine at the moment, no health problems and she can still jump on to work tops etc. Her coat is a bit sticky though, so she was enjoying a bit of a groom here and she has lost her miaow so she just looks at us and opens her mouth, bless her . Peanut also posed on the blue cushions, not quite as elegantly . He can look very cute of course, and Milly is just too pretty. Lily’s foster dog Ava has finally relaxed and made herself at home too, she is a beautiful dog but was used as a breeding machine and has all sorts of mental problems. Milly and Peanut have the job of encouraging her to behave more like a dog! They are very possessive of Lily though when she is here, which isn’t really helpful, following her around and sitting outside any door if she is the other side of it, it’s so funny . The fish we brought home from Lily’s pond are doing really well, I think they have a nicer environment now as our pond has lots of plants in it. Lily took this amazing close up photo of one of the cactus, nasty thing! The other very tall cactus has fine hairy spines that are a nightmare if you accidentally touch them. Cactus are a bit of a liability in the garden really but we do love their artistic sculptures. 

Day 81 of New normal

This time last year we were in Torrox to see the stunning umbrella display, so pretty, not sure if they have done it this year, with Covid. It has been a beautiful day, the sky was such a deep blue. Lola is starting to look her age a bit now, at 23, but she has always had a luscious, tangle free mane, even now, with a bit of grey, it is still always tidy.I found this old ariel photo of the farm, when we had just built the stables, about 18 years ago. There are no trees or hedges, it is incredible how much it has changed. Bella the stray cat has started going in another stable which has bars above the door so it might be easier to catch her now, if we can block off the top part of the door once she is in. The pomegranates are nearly ready to eat now, we will have to beat the birds to them though!. I love the outer courtyard when the lights come on at night, it looks so warm and welcoming

Day 82 of New normal

Don’t you think my boys are handsome? Flamenca is waiting for her hay and the kittens are waiting for their food. Mum Bella has decided to abandon them and come up to the house , maybe we can get her sterilised soon. Foster dog Ava is really settling in now, her little holiday here has done her the world of good, she has learnt how to socialise with the other dogs and is so much more confident. Lily and Martin made use of the jacuzzi while they were there too . Our Thomas train is missing our young guests, shame, as we put a new roof on it in the spring ready for the summer season, little knowing how long the Covid situation was going to last . Today has been a beautiful day, 30 degrees, with a lovely sunset to end the day, life is good, despite our worries . On a sad note though, we found our sweet little black hen dead this morning, we don’t know why but it happens sometimes with chickens  

Day 83 of New normal

We bought Milly’s monthly tablets and I was able to also buy a sedative for Bella, so now just have to work out the best plan of action to get her sterilised.  Clive managed to fix the windscreen washer on the old Fiat, though he had to remove the front wheel to get to the problem!  I had a lovely surprise in the post today, a kind friend sent a bottle of neem oil for Scarlett.She is actually totally fine at the moment but I dare say she’ll have need of it again knowing her and it will be helpful for Sierra and Fern who have rubbed their manes recently. Peanut wanted lots of attention today, I think he is secretly glad that Eva has gone and he doesn’t have to feel jealous all the time . I found a tiny dead gecko this morning, poor little thing. We also had a visit from a slow worm, amazing creatures. Clive’s little olive bonsai is doing well, he originally brought 6 bonsais with us from England and has created a couple here. The olive is about 25 years old now. You have to be quite dedicated to have bonsais in Spain as they need to be watered every day in the summer and kept out of the sun as well as having their roots trimmed every year. We had a stunning sunset tonight to finish a lovely day.

Day 84 of New normal

We went to IKEA today to collect a sofa for Lily and Martin, it still feels surreal seeing everyone walking around in masks. When we got home, Scarlett and Bracken were staring at me as if to say ‘come on Mum, feed us’, their faces were so cute . Autumn has definitely arrived as the fields are being ploughed all around us and we have acorns on the Holly oak trees. Still waiting for the first rain of Autumn, everywhere is crispy dry. We do have some new flowers on the geraniums though, the slightly cooler temperatures have cheered them up. We have guests arriving to stay in the El Establo cottage on Monday, so we have started getting it ready. They booked before Covid started, we really didn’t think we would get to meet them! a paper wasp nest fell out from under the tiles, aren’t they amazing?  Clive found this old photo of a snake in a tree hanging over the lake where we swim,  we tend not to tell friends about the water snakes when we take them, lol

Day 85 of New normal

Clive’s chillies just keep coming and so do the figs. We also have lots of new self set hollyhock plants popping up everywhere, ready to give us a lovely display again next year. I love this beautiful photo of Ava, Lily and Martin’s foster dog, they are going to miss her when she leaves for her new home in the UK on Friday. Luckily they have 2 more foster dogs lined up though. Elsie was funny today, first sleeping on the back of the armchair, then playing with the strings of the cottage keys before suddenly falling asleep .  We were so relieved to hear that the 2 knives we sent to Holland arrived safely – their customs department obviously isn’t as tough as the UK, thank goodness.    We have not had any pledges or donations on the fundraiser for quite some time now which is a shame, our necklace would make lovely Christmas presents and even a holiday deposit would be a bit different . The fundraiser still has 16 days to run so hopefully we might get a bit more interest. We noticed that the field across from the house has been marked out ready for olives. It is sad that soon, instead of the pretty patchwork of fields with colourful crops it will just be olive trees everywhere but could be worse I suppose. Will miss the bright green, then golden fields though. With no more guests looking likely after the ones arriving tomorrow, or very few, even if we are lucky enough to get any locals, we have started putting things to bed ready for the winter. The secret garden pool is now covered and the hammock has been put away, hopefully we can welcome more guests to our beautiful garden retreat next year.  Today was our first grey day since June, Autumn is on it’s way, though it was still very warm 

Day 86 of New normal

A beautiful red sky to start a cloudy day. The horses are getting winter coats already though the temperature hasn’t dropped below 25 yet. We now only have 4 hens so we have ordered 4 more today. We debated whether to bother, with no guests coming to eat the eggs but the cockerel is quite attentive to his girls so I think it’s only fair on them if he can share the love a bit further . After the strong wind yesterday I picked up a whole wheelbarrow full of carobs, the horses will be very happy. It’s easy to wait for them to fall off the tree rather than pick them, there are still barrow loads more! Our first UK guests since July arrived today, they aren’t worried about the quarantine fortunately. We set the table in the courtyard ready for dinner, then it started to rain. Luckily just a few drops, then we had blue sky – phew! Clive cooked his 2nd paella of the year, the last one was in February! I did tapas to start, including my frozen egg trick to make mini fried eggs.

Day 87 of New normal

A beautiful sunny day. We started with an early morning ride, lovely to be out for the first time in about 5 weeks. I came across this old photo of the outer courtyard when we first moved in – doesn’t it look different now! We have this very pretty chrysalis on the pump house wall, I wonder what it will be?  We found a wild boar footprint by the horses fence. They do pass by in the night quite often I think, we always know when they’ve been as they make the horses nervous and their poo is kicked all over the place in the morning, sometimes you see evidence of where they have rooted around under trees too. One day, actually in daylight which is unusual, the horses were all looking over the fence and snorting and when I went to see what was wrong I saw a boar with 3 little babies . Tonight I served dinner out on the wooden table so that the guests could watch the sun go down. It was Greek food so I made Greek yoghurt pots for dessert .

Day 88 of New normal

Another lovely early morning ride, past Cien canos and through the new jungle path. We had a totally cloudy day forecast but it has actually been more sun than cloud today luckily. I noticed that an agarve at the front of the house is getting big, I hope it doesn’t produce a flower and die like some of our others or it will leave a big gap . Our fundraiser has come to a halt now, we haven’t had any pledges or donations for a couple of weeks which is a shame. We still have 13 days to go though so there is still time . Guests always ask me what the weather is like at certain times of the year. It is impossible to say, and more so with climate change. These photos from when we built the sand arena in 2015 are a prime example. We did the work in January, over the course of a week and some days we were in shorts, other wrapped up in winter clothes! Taking advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures this afternoon, we made a start on sorting out the cracking problem in one of the guest bedrooms in the farmhouse. We bought the materials before the lock down but ran out of time to do the work before it got hot. The house is built on clay soil with no foundations other than rocks, so it moves when the ground is dry and again when wet, meaning we are forever filling cracks which then close up, pushing the filler out. We decided to try cladding the wall with tongue and groove, then the cracks can open and close to their hearts content behind the wood . We have noticed that old stately homes often had wooden cladding, probably for the same reason. The plan is to do a wall in the dining room that cracks a lot too.

Day 89 of New normal

A day of sun and cloud, finishing this evening with a massive rain storm. The first rain of the autumn sent me running for a coat and wellies to go with my sun dress to feed the horses this evening. Somehow I still managed to get muddy knees .    It was lucky that I didn’t fall over, running around on the slippery, newly wet dust. Poor old Minty couldn’t get into his little house to get out of the rain. He is nearly blind and not so confident on his feet. I tried to lift him in but he is so heavy, I had to run back up to the house to get Clive which wasn’t ideal as his back is still playing him up.  I am afraid to say that with the change in the weather we realise that Minty is not going to cope and it is time to make the dreaded decision to have him put to sleep. He has really shown his age through the summer but it hasn’t been a problem until now .  At the age of 13 he has lived a long and happy life but it doesn’t make the decision any easier. This morning Clive’s back was really hurting so he made some more healthy date bars while I did the horse chores. He felt a bit better this afternoon and managed to fit the tongue and groove in the bedroom. As it was a hot, mainly sunny day until the evening I decided to wash one of the guest cottage throws. Unfortunately, when sun creams and other lotions stain the bedding, once washed they often come out bright green or pink, it makes you wonder what goes into the things we put on our skin . It is very frustrating as it is no one’s fault really, no one means to stain things but what can we do? We can’t throw bedding away after each new guests. I will just have to keep trying to get the stain out. Yesterday after sharing my fundraiser again a lovely past guest bought 3 necklaces for Christmas presents so that was nice

Day 90 of New normal

After a wet and windy night the horses were all mud coloured this morning . Today has been mostly grey with occasional showers. The garden is looking relieved and it smells gorgeous . The cats have been inside all day, poor old Buffy’s coat is really matted, she obviously isn’t cleaning herself as well as she should now. She let me brush her for a while but soon got fed up. I’ll have to try to do a little every day. Archie swapped her outdoor grapevine playground for jumping around on top of the kitchen units . Clive put the finishing touches to the wood cladding and I gave it the first coat of paint, perfect wet weather work

Day 91 of New normal

We woke to sunshine and a bright blue sky. Unfortunately, as is usual when we have had rain followed by hot sun, the moisture was drawn out of the ground so that by the afternoon we had cloud and a bit of drizzly rain. You can see the problem with having clay soil, the mud in the horses field is horrendous, thick and sticky, turning into concrete lumps after a couple of days of sun. The rain was so dirty, I had to wipe down all the outside surfaces. Minty was out of his little house this morning and seems bright and happy . Clive finished the tongue and groove and re grouted the floor while I gave the walls another coat of paint.

Day 92 of New normal

We finished the tongue and groove wood cladding in the bedroom, it looks lovely. Archie decided to keep me company while I was painting .  Due to Clive’s bad back we pulled some hay bales down with the landrover, easier than pushing them down but haven’t bothered before now as it involves opening all the gates to get the Landrover in – probably worth it though if we do a few bales at a time. We tried building Minty a slope to make it easier for him to get into his house. Before it was just stones which was fine but now he struggles a bit on his feet so we are hoping this will help. The sand we used will harden to a firm surface but we might have to add a bit more so that it isn’t as steep. The mud in the horses field has already hardened to concrete again! We had an unexpected donation yesterday after a quiet couple of weeks. We only have 9 days to go on the fundraiser so if anyone wants to buy a seaglass necklace or take advantage of the chance to pay a deposit on a future holiday from just 25 pounds then don’t miss your chance – fundraiser link on website cortijoloslobos.com). When it rains we get snails every where, you have to be really careful not to tread on them. Clive found one giving a smaller snail a piggy back

Day 93 of New normal

Milly is looking super cute in her curly winter coat though I always wonder how she can be comfortable with her head on the brick hearth. She looks a lot more comfortable in this photo taken with one of our guests who left yesterday – they also gave me this photo of Scarlett and Flamenca grooming each other and one of them going for a walk in the olives – it really is nice to have photos with guests in for a change, also lovely to read the review they left, we’ve been missing those . Listening to the doom and gloom on the UK news today I just can’t see when we’ll ever be back to normal, it is getting so frightening now, we can’t carry on forever with no income .  The garden did enjoy the brief spell of rain but we seem to have a few dead plants since the summer, such a shame. We have saved all the hollyhock seeds as they are such beautiful plants but not sure we have anywhere left to sprinkle them. Poor Clive, he wasted an hour trying to sort out another problem with the fiat – the driver seat belt has broken. Unfortunately he can’t fix it so we won’t be driving it now until we can find a replacement belt. Who’d have cars, there’s always something! At least we have the landrover back, it could be worse

Day 94 of New normal

We were out early for a morning at the beach with Lily and Martin. It is so sad how quiet it is every where, despite the weather being lovely and hot, though great for us to have the beach to ourselves of course. The rocks and cliffs at Nerja are made of lots of little stones – very unusual. Not much luck finding seaglass but we posted 3 necklaces off to Germany on our way home. We only have 2 necklaces left so Clive will have to get busy again, although there is only one week left on the fundraiser so we might not sell any more. We did have a very generous 50 pound donation today, we do appreciate the help at such a worrying time. I heard today that another riding holiday business is having to resort to selling some of their horses, as with us, their fundraiser helped them to keep going through the lock down but with no bookings for the autumn / winter and no sign of things getting back to normal it just isn’t enough . I really feel for them, I couldn’t do it myself, it would be unthinkable for the rescues to be rehomed yet again and those born here, still living in their family group could never adapt to a different life now, it just doesn’t bear thinking about. Luckily most of ours wouldn’t be worth anything anyway so selling wouldn’t be an option . Seriously though, this is a terrible time for all horse businesses, we just have to hope for a miracle. Some very sad news today – my parents 14 year old Spanish water dog Mitch had to be put to sleep. He had a lovely life, most of it spent in Spain until my parents moved back to the UK. We are all going to miss him and his funny little ways terribly . I’m very worried about stray mum cat Bella too – she has been missing 48 hours now, which is unusual, especially as the kittens are still here, not that she is too attached to them now though, to be fair. I’m hoping she hasn’t sloped off to have more kittens, she is due to be sterilised next week and she didn’t look fat but you never know. This time last year we had lots of lovely guests and were starting the foot trimming course. I do miss our courses, we always have such a good time and it’s fun for the horses too

Day 95 of New normal

We woke up to cloud and a few spots of rain which was very unexpected but by 11 we had bright sunshine and it has been a beautiful day. The horses are all getting quite fluffy, with no riders, at least they are not having to get sweaty out riding in their winter coats – always a silver lining . Peanut enjoyed sunbathing, funny boy . From just the one day of rain last week the roses are looking lovely and green with new growth, hopefully the whole garden will look happier soon. Clive took a photo of the rock face on the beach yesterday, it looks like an old man in profile. A friend also took a photo of this amazing graffiti mural in the village, some people are so clever, the water looks so real. While it was cloudy this morning we gave in to the baking urge and made these incredibly easy 3 ingredient cookies – just chocolate spread (we had some to use up as we don’t eat it ourselves but hate waste ), flour and an egg, so moist and delicious. At this time of year when there are less holiday makers around (in normal years) we liked to go to the lake at Iznajar for an evening picnic to watch the sunset. I suppose we could still do it but we tend to think twice about going anywhere now really, unless Lily suggests doing something , like with the beach yesterday. Having found this old photo though, it is tempting to go again . Only 6 days left on the fundraiser but we’ve just had another donation this evening which is really appreciated

Day 96 of New normal

We have had a breeze from the North today so it has been a bit cooler which made a lovely change. Clive pottered about with his copper engine thing he’s making (not sure what it is exactly ) and re- plastered the back of the living room fire place. He also cleaned the oven glass where it had got streaky between the 2 glass panels so was impossible to clean without taking apart. I can actually see my cakes baking now . Bella was back this morning after being missing for 3 days, naughty girl. I noticed this  morning that grass had literally sprung up over night in the sand arena, from all the seeds coming out of the hay!. We had to shut the chickens in a bit early tonight so Clive was given the runaround, chasing them in, there was an amazing sky at the same time, like a space ship above him. I found this old photo today of the same view when we had just started building the stables, hard to remember what it was like with no trees. I also found this gorgeous photo of a fluffy Twiggy in her winter coat, enjoying a lovely bit less, barefoot and bareback canter, those were the days .  We set a new date for our postponed horse agility course today too, fingers crossed that we can go ahead next May . We are really missing our courses and also hosting parties for special occasions – our place really does suit a wedding

Day 97 of New normal

We had dramatic clouds over the mountain this morning but it was a lovely sunny day. Spirit was having a bad hair day . We keep all our wheel barrows and mucking out tools in the alley way between the stables and have to have a clip and wire system as well as the bolt to stop the horses opening the gate. Many a time we have come down to a line of horses down the alley complete with poo and broken tools. Luckily I have taught them all the verbal command to back up so we can get them out if we ever forget the clip! Buffy spent most of the day sunbathing under a chair, bless her. This evening we met Chocco and Ida, Lily and Martin’s new foster dogs, they are gorgeous. Poor Chocco is 6 and has spent his whole life in a kennel Just realised that Clive hasn’t been in the pool at all this year, apart from regrouting it in February as he has just reminded me . He isn’t a pool fan but he was ‘persuaded in’ at the end of our son Harry’s wedding

Day 98 of New normal

A beautiful sunset to end a beautiful day. We took the dogs for their first walk since the spring today, making the most of the slightly cooler morning air. We walked along the river to the village where we had a quick beer, another first for the dogs as they haven’t been to a bar before. At one point Milly managed to wrap her lead around the table and almost tipped the beers over . The dogs enjoyed lots of refreshing dips in the stream, we should have joined them on the way back as it got so hot. I did cool off in the pool instead when we got back .  On the walk we saw a lovely old tree with a heart shape in the bark and also a weeping willow which you don’t see often in Spain and some bullrushes. There are new lambs everywhere now as we have autumn as well as spring lambs in Spain. When we got home the horses were there to greet us at the fence, Bonnie and Twiggy look so fat in this photo, it was zoomed in and might be the angle but after nearly a year of barely being ridden due to the winter then lock down it isn’t really surprising. They only have hay and it is so hard to cut it down without leaving them long periods without food. They are part Belgian draught so they are supposed to be bigger than the average horse but I am going to have to try to slim them down a bit

Day 99 of New normal

The dogs had 2 walks today, one this morning, up through the fields above the farm, such beautiful views down to the house. The old ruined farmhouse in the olives is falling down more each time I pass. All farms used to have a grape vine , giving natural shade for sitting outside and the grapevine is still growing at the front of the house.  I also found lots of autumn crocuses everywhere. The 2nd walk was this evening with Lily and Martin’s foster dogs Chocco and Ida. Peanut found a smelly bone, luckily I persuaded him to drop it . Ida and Chocco found everything very exciting at ours, especially the cats and horses! Ida even got up on a table to try to reach a cat in the grapevine, naughty girl. We shut the chickens in before letting the dogs into the horses field as that could have been a step too far! One of our old hens had to be collected from the front of the house as she has developed a habit of coming up  to eat the bird seed Clive has started putting out again for the wild birds. She is so cute, she often looks as if she wants to come in the kitchen . Peanut needed a rest on my sunbed this afternoon after all his exercise . Our fundraiser has been extended until the end of November which means that maybe people might be interested in helping us help our horses by buying a sea glass necklace as a Christmas present or maybe pledging a holiday deposit for something to look forward to next year

Day 100 of New normal!!

Where has the time gone and why are we still no closer to being back to normal, is this nightmare situation ever going to end? . Today was a scorcher, we are starting to really need rain now, one day last week that barely wet the soil is nowhere near enough. I hope we aren’t going to add severe draught to the  joys that 2020 has brought. We met up on the coast with Lily and Martin as their car had to go in for a repair and took Martin to Frigiliana as he hasn’t been before. Such a pretty village, very quiet with few tourists, as was the beach at Torre del Mar, all the beautiful, pristine bars, restaurants and beach areas with so few guests, despite the high temperatures – how will they survive? We looked for sea glass but didn’t find any though we did find some pretty stones with lines on

Day 101 of New normal

We had to go to Malaga this morning so we had a walk around the botanical gardens roman ruins and port. So sad to see no boats at all where there are usually 100’s moored up. At least half the shops and cafes were closed and those that were open were mostly empty. Where is it all going to end? . Clive had to take the roof rack off of the landrover so that we could fit in the underground car park .   Milly and Peanut made themselves comfortable on the outdoor sofas when we got back and Finn kept us company this evening . Lily and Martin want to get some driftwood so we need to take them to the lake where we found ours 6 years ago. It was fun filling the trailer with all the beautiful olive trunk sculptures and smaller pieces to make things from. That year we made lots of signs, Christmas trees and other crafts to sell at markets. Unfortunately it’s not an option now as the markets aren’t running. Autumn is a great time for foraging, we noticed that the rosehips are nearly ready. Sadly we didn’t get any blackberries this year as it has been too dry but in previous years we have enjoyed taking the horses out to pick them

Day 102 of New normal

The early morning sky was very colourful due to light cloud. We made the most of the slightly cooler temperature to give the dogs  another lovely walk past los Cien canos. Surprisingly, considering how dry the autumn has been, there is still water flowing from the bottom pipes. Some years it is completely dry at the end of the summer.  The olives are very dry and wrinkly though, we really need some rain soon or the harvest will be a bad one. Clive is making progress with befriending the kittens, well the black and white one, Smudge at least. The white one is still very timid. We are pretty sure they are both boys which is great news as at least we won’t be in such a panic to get them sterilised. No worry about kittens at least but we will still get them done at some point if we can, to avoid spraying problems. Bella is currently shut in a stable ready for her operation tomorrow. Fingers crossed we can get her in the box this time without getting scratched to death. We have a sedative to give her in the morning so I really hope that works. We got a close up of the beautiful mural in the village, the detail is incredible!

Day 103 of New normal

We have rain forecast for tomorrow, though very hard to imagine as it has been such a beautiful day. Anyway, we need to be prepared so Clive has shovelled lots more sand to make a bigger ramp to hopefully help Minty get up into his house. He seems really well in himself, eating normally etc. so we don’t feel ready to make a decision but of course if he still can’t shelter in his house we’ll have to. We also got all the cushions in which Archie seems to appreciate . Bella’s imprisonment worked, she didn’t escape over night and I was able to squeeze in the door this morning without her escaping, to give her a sedative so that we were then able to get her into the cat box without being scratched to death . Our neighbours emptied our muck heap the other day, we are very lucky that he has a use for the muck (for his olives) so our muck heap is actually on his land, with a gate from our side and when it gets too full he empties it. There were signs of wild boar activity again last night and consequently the horses poo was spread all over the place this morning, they always unsettle them. A local restaurant has a boar head on the wall, they are pretty big! We had another donation on our fundraiser this morning which is really appreciated as of course we now have Bella’s operation to pay for

Day 104 of New normal

We woke to cloud on the mountain and by mid morning we had a light rain shower. We managed to get Minty inside his house but 5 minutes later he was out again so maybe he just doesn’t want to be inside. We trimmed Irene’s feet, bless her, she’s so woolly . The quince are ready to harvest, the Spanish typically use it to make a solid jam to eat with cheese. The necklaces I sent to Germany last week have arrived safely, we have some left if anyone would like to purchase one on the fundraiser. Bella is home safely, not happy but at least the vet survived . He gave up trying to inject her with her antibiotics though and gave me some tablets instead. Just hope she will eat it ground up in food. We have put her in a dog cage so that she can rest and hopefully get to know us and the dogs more. She soon found the litter tray anyway . A very lovely repeat guest has kindly donated the money for her operation which is such a big help to us at this time. We have set the date for our postponed foot trimming course. It will now be from the 9th to 12th of May, following straight on from the Agility course so that people can attend both if they wish. Fingers crossed that things will be back to normal by then. I have just rescued a tiger moth from the rain, isn’t it pretty?