The last Lock down blogs of 2020 – Happy New Year!

Day 145 of New normal. A stunning sunset tonight, the sky was on fire. Blackie was much better this morning, keen to get back and join Fern and Lola. Spirit had his usual style of eating, strange boy. I’ve been looking through old photos, it’s been very nostalgic. I found a photo from 13 years ago, when we planted the courtyard palm, before that we just had the round trough with pansies in and I also found a photo of how it looked when we first moved in, lots of changes! Interesting how slow growing palms are compared to some of the trees in our garden. I also found a photo of our old dog Chichi, she was our neighbour’s dog until they moved into the village. Just weeks after she moved in she had 11 puppies! We found homes for all but one who we kept and named Buster. He sadly died last year. I found this cute photo of Archie as a kitten too 😍. We heard that Spain is going to make anyone entering the country have a corona test before leaving their home country, more bad news for the holiday industry, they are very expensive in the UK so it is going to put a lot of people off, even if things get better and they are allowed to fly 😔 

Day 146 of New normal. We had a lovely dog walk through the olives and up to the top track looking down at the house. It’s one of our favourite walks as we don’t meet any people and the dogs can be off the lead, well, most of the time – unfortunately there is a lot of goat and chicken muck under some of the olive trees so we did have to put the dogs on leads at times to prevent rolling! (though Milly still tried when I wasn’t looking ). This route also passes our favourite ruin. It was the same route we took a few years ago when we decided it would be fun to take all our then rideable horses out together, the first and last time we ever did it but the horses were perfectly behaved and seemed to love it, 11 horses, bit less and barefoot, perfect , oh for those days to come back again . We are starting to accept that it is very unlikely that things will be any better by Christmas, especially with the new testing rules for anyone entering Spain. We had such a nice family staying last Christmas and they left a lovely review . Bonnie is looking fat and fluffy, very different from when she had Twiggy, 14 years ago. She had a rare, late pregnancy colic and lost lots of weight, luckily it all turned out well. The Arum lilies have started growing, so pretty when they flower. I put this gorgeous blanket in the kitchen, it was knitted for us by our lovely Finnish helper Veera who was with us for 8 months

 

Day 147 of New normal. You can just make out Finn sitting on the bowl under our cortijo los lobos rules. I was banished to the breakfast room to use the guests Internet while Clive watched the formula one qualifying – couldn’t risk streaming two different programs on our Internet, might have led to divorce, lol . Nice chance for a bit of time with Finn away from the cats, though he did poo on my keyboard . It was nice sitting in there for a change, I felt a bit festive with the driftwood Christmas tree. Talking of cats, Buffy was determined that my lap was hers, despite Peanut giving her the evil eye. Just look at his face when he decided to get up with her. Bless him, he does make me laugh .This cartoon sums them up . What would we do without animals to keep us cheerful, especially now there is even more doom and gloom now surrounding the Covid test, a final nail in the coffin for the airlines and tourism, not many families of 4 can come up with an extra 600 pounds for tests on top of flights . We did have a lovely family Facetime chat today though which cheered me up and I have also had a couple of generous donations on the fundraiser as well as a lovely past guest making a big effort to pass our information onto her acquaintances and children’s school, sending out emails and typing something up about us – so thoughtful, it’s things like this that keep us going. . It was supposed to rain last night and all day so we put the horses on the concrete where they have been all day, with no rain, typical! Oh well, back to sun tomorrow. Our fundraiser has just over 2 weeks left to run, if anyone would like a seaglass necklace or to pledge a holiday deposit from only 25 pounds we would really appreciate it

Day 148 of New normal. The sunrise was so pretty, turning into a perfect hot day, I had to get my summer clothes back out! Lily and Martin now have a foster dog, Rupert, to keep adopted dog Chica (now Betty) company. He is 18 months old and a Bretton spaniel, the same as Betty. He comes from the same kennels and may even be her son. They are very sweet together apparently . I hope we get to meet him if the lock down ends before he goes to his new home. We had fun last night playing old singles. I started collecting them when I met Clive at the age of 13 and he made me a special wooden box to keep them in during his school woodwork lessons . I spent some time grooming the horses in the sunshine, well, giving them a nice rub anyway, they shouldn’t be groomed too much in the winter as it removes the oils in their coat that protects from the weather. They all enjoyed the attention and it was so sweet that some started grooming another horse while I was grooming them . Finn enjoyed some time outside too. I can’t believe the grass that’s growing in the gravel, we almost have a lawn now! The parsnip tops we’re growing are strange, the leaves on the tops are totally different from each other, very strange

Day 149 of New normal. Back to summer today, we are so lucky, it really helps to count our blessings. Spirit had his feet trimmed, then we started picking the olives. Our neighbour Gracia checked with the local police that we are OK to cross borders as long as we have an appointment at the olive factory . I had a lovely view of the horses while picking, certainly makes hard work easier. We have to physically pick our olives rather than bash or vibrate onto a net, due to having so many plants underneath. When we originally planted the trees, around 18 years ago, they were just to make the garden look pretty, we never envisaged picking them. We have 11 trees altogether, 2 only seem to produce horrible little olives so from 9 trees we usually get around 50 litres of oil!. The size of the olives varies from year to year and depending on whether we’ve had rain. This year has been so hot and dry that we’re not expecting a great yield. You would normally wait to pick, hoping for more rain to swell the olives but with the unusual high temperatures still, most of the olives are already black and dropping so we don’t want to leave it any longer. We usually pick when we have a mix of black and green so it will be interesting to see if the oil tastes different this year. Peanut kept watch to make sure we didn’t miss any and to remind us it was dinner time . We have about 3 different varieties of tree, it is interesting to see the different shapes and sizes of the olives and the leaves vary slightly too. Smudge is getting so tame now, he follows us around asking to be fussed. Little Casper still won’t come close though .  Scarlett didn’t look quite the princess this evening, look at her pulling faces . I sent out 2 personalised pdf sponsor certificates today for Bonnie and Bracken for 2 children who will get them as part of their Christmas presents, another kind donation on the fundraiser, thank you  

Day 150 of New normal. Elsie helped us with the olive picking . It was like summer today, Clive had his shirt off by 10. 30   and I have to admit that I ended up stripping down to my bra (one good thing about not having guests ). It’s lovely working by the horses and seeing what they get up to. We dragged one of the concrete rings a bit further away from the fence this morning as Sierra has a habit of blocking the space so that Scarlett and Flamenca can’t get through. There is a lot more space now. We were so excited to find some mistletoe growing on one of the olive trees. Clive did rub some berries into the bark last year to try to get it to grow and it looks like it’s worked . Finn joined us for the picking today, he had a lovely time talking to all the birds. We could tell it had been hot today by the amount of water splashed out of the water troughs. The horses love to put their heads in and scoop it out when they are hot .  Peanut knows that the official place for sunbathing is on the pool patio, clever boy  

 

Day 151 of New normal. Well what a panic we had today! The place where we had our appointment for our olives to be pressed on Friday morning phoned at 10.30 to say that they couldn’t do them due to a problem with their water supply. We suddenly had to find somewhere else to take them. Once picked they should really be pressed within 3 days. We were pushing it to 4 to give us more time to pick as we had no help. The new place could only do it at 2pm today, meaning we had to finish by 1!  Losing a day and a half of picking was not good news but all we could do was work as quickly as we could. It was so hot again too, so we were really sweating! Peanut wasn’t happy that we were ignoring him when he thought it was food time and kept crawling under Clive when he was picking the odd olives off the ground, he is so food obsessed. I also caught him up on the cat feeding station,  he had somehow managed to jump up between my pot plant barrier. I have now put an extra pot up there . The horses were watching us too, hoping for extra food. The next tree we started was loaded and luckily quick to pick so we managed to get a total of 185 kilos from the 6 trees we picked. Not bad really considering the drought . Normally we get between 250  and 300 kilos when we pick all of the trees. Clive got the olives to the factory without being questioned by the police and we were quite happy to get 31 litres of oil, not as much as normal but worth the effort anyway . (and we don’t have to pick tomorrow!). Buffy curled up in our tea tray in the sun, cat’s are so funny, it is metal so hardly comfortable. Some good luck today though, I found one of Lily’s avocados that we’d wrapped in newspaper to ripen and forgotten about. Luckily it was just perfect, though I wanted to eat it on toast and managed to burn the last 2 slices of bread we had, so not totally lucky!. We also received another very kind donation on the fundraiser so the day ended well .

   

Day 152 of New normal. A beautiful end to a beautiful day. After all our hard work yesterday we made the most of the sunshine today and took the dogs for a nice walk by the river. Everywhere is so pretty with the bright green fields and yellow leaves. We made some gluten free bread and oat cookies too, to make the most of our day off. Peanut was tired after his long run and wanted a cuddle when we got back .

  

Day 153 of New normal. Today is supposed to be our last really hot day, temperatures look like slowly reducing over the next few days so I made the most of it with another lovely dog walk. Peanut gave Buffy the stare again, wanting to get on my lap but as soon as Buffy got off Milly tried to get on – she really does think she is a lap dog . Naughty girl, she then chewed up a bit of Clive’s foam tubing, I don’t think she’ll ever grow up. Clive harvested the last of his chocolate habaneros and the oranges look about ready to harvest too . The boys, Leo, Picasso and Spirit were hiding from the sun when I went down this evening. Little Casper came close while I was fussing Smudge, maybe he is getting tempted . We also had another donation on our fundraiser which was a nice surprise, at least it’s still ticking over, with only 10 days left to run.

Day 154 of New normal. The weather men got it right, a cold wind brought the temperature right down today and there was thick cloud on the mountain this morning. A good excuse to make a yummy lemon cake. I also had a go at popping pearl barley after reading a friend’s Facebook post yesterday – who knew that you can pop more than just corn, any grains will pop . The barley barely popped like corn does, though it can do apparently, but it tasted lovely and seeing as we have no nibbles it was something healthy to snack on. Irene is looking incredibly fluffy in her winter coat, we won’t have to worry about her getting cold this winter. Scarlett was dozing in the sun under her name plate, clever girl . Little Smudge wants to be with us so much now that he gets in front of the wheel barrow so that we have to stop and fuss him . I noticed that we have lots of new hollyhocks growing, that will be lovely next year. Clive was sorting out his technical drawing stuff today and found his plans for the El Establo cottage,    we started building it 13 years ago! We had another donation today too, we really appreciate it. Tomorrow we find out what will be the next stage of the current lock down restrictions which end on Monday. It is looking pretty likely that it will be extended for another 15 days to cover the bank holidays on the 6th and 8th, sad for us as we still won’t be able to see Lily and Martin or go to a decent supermarket but we just have to accept it

Day 155 of New normal. Back to a beautiful blue sky today but much colder. The horses enjoyed sunbathing, Milly looked like she was guarding Irene . Smudge is starting to like play fighting now, those sharp little claws can be painful! Ghost or (casper)  always watches, I wish he could pluck up the courage to join in. Clive finished building his steam engines out of scraps in the shed, they both work perfectly, clever thing! I saw a picture of a scarifier for the sand arena today, I’ve told him it’s his next project . We will need something as the seed from the hay has caused so much grass to grow, there is even a thick layer on the rubber mats that I used to roll the bales on (thinking it would help keep the sand clean, lol, silly me ). Clive found this beautiful butterfly, sadly it was dead. I persuaded Clive to let me cut his hair tonight (what he’s got left, lol ).  Unfortunately our lock down is being extended for another 2 1/2 weeks, so we are still stuck in the village, unable to see Lily and Martin or buy food from a decent supermarket . We cheered ourselves up with a home made Indian while the dogs snuggled on their beds, for once not trying to get on my lap

Day 156 of New normal. The horses were very excited this morning,especially Flamenca. It was windy but that doesn’t usually bother them, so not sure what it was but they did have fun . The sky was an unreal deep blue, so beautiful. Milly looked so cute, she was grooming Buffy but stopped to look at me when I tried to take a photo. I do wonder how she is comfortable with her head on the hearth! We still have summer plants in flower, I can’t believe the antirrhinum – they will have a shock from Wednesday by the looks of it when we have a lot of rain and much colder temperatures coming. There will be a lot of snow falling at the Sierra Nevada ski resort but sadly, due to the extended lock down, they have had to announce that they won’t be opening until after the 10th, when, fingers crossed, restrictions will ease. We had some tiny limes from Lily’s garden, too small to juice but they look very festive drying on the mantle piece. I am making myself hold out until December but can’t wait to put the decorations up, it always lifts the mood . The village is having a Christmas lights competition this year which is a lovely idea to lift people’s spirits but also not ideal, when most people won’t have the money to buy lots of decorations. We will put up our summer patio lights, and the Christmas lights we already have, at least we can do that

Day 157 of New normal. Posting later than normal tonight as I decided to knit some paper chains and got a bit addicted . Buffy did her best to try to stop me . It is so hard to believe that it is going to be raining by the morning as it has been another stunning day. We did Leo’s feet this morning, then Clive went to the village to see what food he could get. He managed to get more parsnips, funny thing to be excited by you might think, but not something we often see here, certainly not in the supermarkets but our little municipal market often has a better choice. Amazingly he also got a celeriac, something I have wanted for ages but we rarely see here – it’s the little things, lol . He also got some fresh local mackerel – I eat vegan /vegetarian but maybe 4 times a year I might eat fish if it is local and ethically caught, so it was  nice to have something different tonight, especially with potato and celeriac mash . We boiled up the parsnip peel to use for stock, Minty doesn’t like parsnip so we didn’t want to waste it, the horses don’t like it either. We had another donation on the fundraiser so all in all it has been a good day

Day 158 of New normal. Well the rain finally arrived this afternoon. It came down really heavily at one point and was threatening to flood into Irene’s stable so Clive had to quickly dig a trench. Irene has a habit of standing there and scuffing up the sand, making it higher than it should be outside the door way. People always think horses don’t like rain and need to be tucked up in stables but as you can see, even old Irene chose to stand out in it, though they all have access to shelter if they want it. (mind you, Princess Scarlett asked to go in, she likes her own stable with a straw bed at night when the weather is bad ). Minty was a sensible boy and tucked himself away in his little shelter so no worrying about him tonight. Picasso had his feet trimmed this morning and a bit of grass as a treat for being a good boy .  Archie made herself comfortable on the mantelpiece and Peanut took advantage of the sudden gap on Clive’s lap . (first time he’s been on Clive’s lap, I think he got fed up with my knitting ). I used up some more of the radicchio to make potato and radicchio rosti with poached eggs for dinner, delicious. The hens are still only laying 1 egg a day between them but hopefully the 4 young ones will start laying soon.

Day 159 of New normal. Some dramatic skies today and at last some real rain. The horses actually did choose to shelter for a time! Smudge seems to have made friends with cockerel which is cute .   As it was definitely an indoor day I decided to make a Christmas cake (a bit late I know) to cheer Clive up as his 60th birthday and our first family Christmas for 11 years is now cancelled . I know it’s not the end of the world and thank goodness we have Lily and Martin here so we won’t be on our own, but we are only human and of course feel very disappointed. I know we are not the only ones who can’t see family but at least most people are able to visit friends and family even if only for a socially distanced walk. We will just have to hold on to the hope that things will get back to normal soon. I had initially thought that Clive could have cheered himself up with a days skiing for his birthday present as it is his favourite thing but it seems that all EU ski resorts will be closed until the new year . Never mind, maybe he would like to come for a ride with me instead . To further improve our mood, as well as getting on with knitting paper chains I got Clive helping me make pom poms for Christmas decorations. Peanut was fascinated and Buffy got in the way as usual . At one point she got annoyed with my needles and chewed right through my wool! . We also had a comfort meal of black bean, chickpea and quinoa burgers with home made oven fries and coleslaw made from the remains of the celeriac , it was lovely. 

Day 160 of New normal. A Christmassy feel today, with a cloudy and misty start and our coldest temperature over night so far of 5 degrees. We did see some blue sky this afternoon though, nice that the rain stopped for the switching on of the Christmas lights in Malaga. Sad though that with everyone locked down to their own towns and villages, only those who actually live in Malaga itself can see the lights. Keeping to the Christmas feel and with Clive worrying that he wouldn’t have mince pies this year due to not being able to go to the English shops that sell mincemeat, I decided to make some. It was really easy and tastes lovely so I will always make it in future, plus I could make it without suet which suits me . I also joined some of the knitted paper chains together, they are going to look great . Lily sent a photo of the Marmoma mountain which they can see from where they live. It has a good dusting of snow today but then it is the highest mountain in the Malaga region. Hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago when we drove past to visit them it was looking beautiful, reflected in the lake

Day 161 of New normal. We had such low cloud today that the mountains disappeared. There were some very dramatic black clouds too but only a bit of drizzly rain. Not a day to be outside though so I cooked the Christmas cake after the fruit had been soaking in alcohol for 4 days – there is nothing like the smell of a Christmas cake cooking . Clive decided that it was a good day to start the panelling in the dining room, it will be nice not to be tripping over the wood in the shed after storing it for 9 months! Poor Bella had been missing for 24 hours and Clive found her shut in the pool pump house, silly girl. He also checked the cottages in case of any problems after the rain and found that a mouse had made a nest on a put-u-up bed, at least it wasn’t one of the normal beds . Clive also made a lamp out of a glass dome he had, I think it’s great . We only have 2 days left of the fundraiser, if anyone would like to pledge a holiday deposit from only 25 pounds or maybe purchase a sea glass necklace or sponsor a pony then please take a look at the link on our Facebook page or website 

Day 162 of New normal. A dramatic sunset to end the day. It was much brighter and warmer, we let the horses into the sand arena for a run around. Smudge helped me put the hay out and Buffy helped me join the knitted chains together. All done now, can’t wait to see them up on the wall but Clive said I have to wait until December . Mind you, he didn’t insist on waiting to eat the Christmas cake. First he suggested we could cut the edges off and turn it into a square cake so that we could eat some, then he decided that we might as well just start it. Well, with our big Christmas celebrations cancelled why not . It really is a  delicious cake, it’s Mary Berry’s if any one wants to make one. I finished making the pom poms too but one must have fallen on the floor and was destroyed by one of the animals (most likely Milly) . You can always tell when the sun comes out as Peanut adopts his sunbathing position . Clive has almost finished the wood cladding. It will be lovely not to constantly have to fill the cracks. The house is very old and built on rocks so moves  back and forth with dry and wet weather. We  fill cracks and then a few months later the filler is pushed out as the cracks close up, it is a constant battle. This wall is always the worst so it will make life a lot easier

Day 163 of New normal. I sneaked some decorations up, do you think Clive noticed? . Really pleased with how the knitted chains look . I’ve got nothing left to knit now though . The sky was beautiful this morning, really pink, turning into a lovely day. The horses were back  in their paddocks this afternoon, Blackie, Fern and Lola had a lovely run around and roll. It’s funny as they have their own sand pit in their section of the paddock so I don’t let them into the sand arena but they always want to roll when they get their mud paddock back. The dogs were really happy to have a walk too, now that the mud is dry. The council (town hall) laid new sand on the track opposite the house last week but sadly with just one nigh of heavy rain, a big ditch has appeared across it . I gave the cladding a first coat of paint while Clive did some shopping in the village. He came back with some lovely rustic bread from the supermarket, very exciting as apart from the loaf I made we haven’t had bread for ages. Good to know it is possible to buy it in the village but it is very much down to luck, being in the supermarket at the right time! The fundraiser has officially ended, though it is still possible to donate after it has closed. I had a very kind donation from someone who asked for donations for their birthday and a couple more last minute donations – we can’t express enough how grateful we are. We had thought that the Spanish government were giving us a 3 month break from paying social security payments from last month and had received confirmation that we were accepted for the break but they took 300 euros last month and again today so we really are in despair – no income for 9 months and the government here just doesn’t care. We are fortunate compared to some as we were able to take out a loan in March to live on and haven’t quite got to the point of selling things thanks to the fundraiser but how are others coping? Such a terrible time for so many

Day 164 of New normal. The moon looked amazing this morning and the sky was so pink and pretty when we went down to feed the horses at 8am. It turned into a beautiful day, all the animals were so relaxed and happy, hard to believe it’s December. Smudge seems to have made friends with Minty . I washed the dog bed covers as, now they aren’t on raw food they emit a much stronger body odour, it’s horrible, I really struggle when Peanut wants a cuddle (and we won’t talk about the difference in their poo!). I really hope we will be allowed to leave the village when the current lock down ends and get them back on raw food. Buffy enjoyed the sun coming through the window, laying on a box of magazines, surely not comfortable . This evening I put the dog bed covers in front of the fire to finish drying and Buffy and Elsie were straight there, cats are so funny. Poor Clive has a really bad back ache and is sitting around, feeling the cold, so he lit the fire even though it is really warm, meanwhile I’m dying . I’ll be glad of the fire at the weekend though when we have snow forecast – crazy! 

Day 165 of New normal. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . Had fun putting the kitchen decorations up and the outside wreaths. The Harris gin bottle looks good with lights in but would be better if it still had gin in . The cladding is finished and I painted it and put the furniture back, a busy day indoors despite the beautiful weather outside. I did decide to take the dogs for a walk to enjoy the sun but when I opened the door they ran the opposite way to our normal route, down the road towards our neighbours so I wasn’t happy!. I abandoned the walk but in a few minutes they were back looking at me as if to say ‘we’re ready to go now’. I didn’t take them, as a punishment but of course they won’t learn anything from it . Clive popped into the village and called in at a friend’s to swap some of her home grown walnuts for our almonds, I do love bartering . I am planning to make some sugared /cinnamon almonds and walnuts for Christmas as well as roasting some almonds in olive oil and salt – delicious. Clive’s back was still bad so he took things easy and made himself a pencil case out of some of the leather he has for making his knife sheaths. I was very naughty and made a decadent chocolate fridge cake in the shape of a Christmas pudding, with melted white chocolate on top to look like cream – yum

Day 166 of New normal. We made up a little paddock and let Scarlett and Bracken have some of the grass growing on the gravel. I didn’t plan to leave them for too long as it wouldn’t be good for Bracken, luckily I went down about 90 minutes later and found that Bracken had broken through the electric tape and helped herself to Irene’s bowl of food and knocked the lids off the food bins, naughty girl, I just hope it doesn’t lead to a flare up of laminitis. I gave Scarlett and Sierra a turn on the grass but they were more interested in the hay everyone else was getting so I put them back in the paddock after about 30 minutes. Oh well, looks like Irene will be getting the grass from now on. It was such a beautiful, sunny and warm morning, it was hard to believe that the weather was going to change but by early afternoon it had clouded up and got colder. I decided to put the decorations up in the living and dining room and Clive lit the fire for the first time up that end, it felt very cosy . Finn helped me, can you spot him?. When I finally sat down, Buffy was straight on my lap, while Peanut gave me the sad eyes and Milly sat on my feet – nice to be loved . Clive made up our Christmas room smelly potion, it’s lovely and all natural, though it doesn’t look that pretty

Day 167 of New normal. Winter has arrived with a vengeance and we are waiting to see if we get the forecast snow tomorrow. The mountains have disappeared under cloud and we have had freezing cold rain for most of the day. Tonight I decided to put Blackie in a stable in case it does snow over night as she is getting old and has quite a fine coat. I moved Scarlett to a stable next to Irene, where the kittens live so she has company tonight . Clive saw a strawberry tree in the village, so pretty, I think we need to plant one in the garden. This afternoon I brought the Christmas tree in from the garden and decorated  it. It’s the 3rd Christmas we’ve brought it in, hopefully we’ll get another Christmas before it gets too big. Finn enjoyed some more time out, perching in a pot plant, like he was in the jungle . Poor Elsie had a trip to the vet this morning. She has cat flu so has to be isolated from the other cats and has lots of different medicines. She is now living in the ‘posh’ end of the house, though she is too ill to appreciate it and hopefully won’t have the energy to wreck the Christmas tree . The vet said we caught it quick, she was just sneezing with watery eyes but luckily I felt that we should take her, I’m glad we didn’t leave it longer. Just hoping that the other cats haven’t caught it from her

Day 168 of New normal. The snow was disappointing, instead of waking up to a blanket of white there was just a dusting on the mountains . It was only zero degrees when we went down to do the horses at 8am though, brrr!. We took the dogs for a walk past the Cien caños. There is still very little water coming through the pipes, we do need more rain. The horses came over to the fence to say hello as we walked back. Clive can now pick Smudge up, I didn’t quite get a photo but it is a big step forward, I just wish Casper would trust us. The two of them were snuggled in the straw together when I went down to give the horses their lunch, so cute . Clive persuaded me to make some mince pies and I also roasted some almonds with salt, paprika and olive oil, really tasty. We decided to do a jigsaw this afternoon in the dining room to give poor Elsie some company. She is doing well, no worse and enjoying her luxurious surroundings, testing out different sofas. She is taking her medication really well too so hopefully she will soon feel better. 

Day 169 of New normal. We have had a lazy Sunday, doing the jigsaw and keeping warm and cosy inside as it was another cold day. I did take the dogs for a nice long walk though which always warms you up. We had a lovely visit from a pair of cattle egrets this afternoon, they looked beautiful in their white plumage against the dark clouds but the photo failed to capture it. We don’t usually see them here, they must have been passing through .  Bella looked very pretty posing on top of the jacuzzi in front of the pear tree. Poor Elsie is about the same today but enjoying her snoozes on the sofa. We had have discovered a new plant in the courtyard, a ‘cat’tus, it seems to be growing cat food . The cactus is on the cat feeding station to stop Peanut jumping up and eating it but maybe this was a result of him trying?. Despite the cold weather Clive has a few more habaneros to pick, they just keep coming! We found some really beautiful lichen, moss and fungus in the drift wood, one bonus of cold damp weather . Our lock down has been extended by 48 hours, until the 12th, still waiting to see if we will be able to shop further afield than our own village. We can cope if not, but it must be difficult for people with children, needing to buy Christmas presents etc, as our village is very limited for shopping 

Day 170 of New normal. Another drizzly, grey, miserable day. Kept busy inside making a mincemeat shortbread (going to get so fat ) and starting work on making a unicorn horn for Scarlett. I also made some signs for Lily and Martin for their herb garden, just need Clive to cut the wood. The 4 young hens like to hide out in the alleyway but it is really wet there in the rain so Clive rigged up some shelter for them using a wheelbarrow. Peanut had his feed me my dinner face on from 11 this morning, due to it being so dark and grey .  Clive’s bonsai Acer is shedding its leaves, they are so pretty.

 

Day 171 of New normal. The sun finally poked through the clouds this afternoon, after a very wet and miserable day. The young hens huddled in the one patch of sunshine. Buffy and Archie spent the day snuggled by the fire, there have been a few sneezes, I just hope it is the usual sneezing from dust etc. and not that they are coming down with cat flu . Peanut was very happy to cuddle up in the armchair . I finished the herb signs and the unicorn horn has had a few more coats of paint. Will need to work out how to attach it next . I have had a lovely reaction from sharing our drone video and even a couple of tentative enquiries for next year

Day 172 of New normal. The sun came back today, it was lovely to see a blue sky again. Bonny, Twiggy, Leo, Picasso and Spirit looked cute, standing in line waiting for their lunch . The cloud looked amazing at first light when we went down to do the horses, pouring over the mountain. We finished the jigsaw and have found another one to do so that will keep us busy when the forecast rain comes back tomorrow. Clive popped into the village this morning and found some crafty Christmas decorations . I love a bit of recycling!. Scarlett is still rubbing, despite the new cream. I rigged up electric tape and put cones on top of any fence posts that the tape didn’t cover, to stop her rubbing on the posts but somehow she still managed to . She was happy for me to try the unicorn horn against her though, bless her, she is such a good girl. Need to work out how to attach it now and decide whether to leave it white or spray it silver or gold? 

Day 173 of New normal. We couldn’t see the mountains this morning, all day it has been as if we were inside the cloud, really miserable but the rain is good for the garden, or so I keep telling myself . Buffy is really showing her age now and spent the whole day snuggled by the fire, along with Milly and Peanut . Elsie came out of her week long solitary confinement and was very happy to be back on Clive’s lap, bless her. I am paranoid every time any of the other cats sneeze and I have started Buffy on the leftover antibiotics as a precaution, at the age of 19 it would be awful if she got the flu. Archie helped us with the jigsaw,   at least she only seemed interested in the box. Clive sprayed the unicorn horn gold, will have a play around with fixing it to a head collar when the weather improves. We had just sat down to dinner tonight when the electric went off. I lit candles while poor Clive had to run around in the dark and rain to find the problem. It seems to be in the pool pump house, he got it back on in the house but has a job on his hands tomorrow now. It does sometimes happen after the first heavy rain of the year, when water gets in somewhere. We’re just lucky that Clive knows about electrics. The horses electric fence is attached to that particular circuit so I hope we don’t find that they have broken out and run around in the mud overnight. We are waiting for the Spanish government to announce the new Covid rules tonight, fingers crossed we will be able to leave the village at last!

   

Day 174 of New normal. Such a miserable day, Scarlett took one look and decided to go back in her stable. The good thing is that when she is in there is nothing for her to rub on so she looks much better today. The cloud was so low, I could hardly make Clive out in the gloom. Definitely another jigsaw puzzle day. We finished the Gaudi one and I have just started a new one of the Amazon rainforest. Spookily, puzzles keep popping up on Facebook, quite worrying really but this one of kittens is really cute. Buffy has been in front of the fire all day again, bless her. She hasn’t eaten anything, despite Clive going out and buying her some tempting wet food which is worrying. She has been drinking at least. Archie obviously wanted to be by the fire too, but had to make do with being underneath . I found this cute photo of Archie as a kitten . We have thought of a new project we can do without spending money, we have lots of pallets now that we don’t need them to stack hay bales on so we are going to make a fence around our front patio so that the dogs come out with us and not run away. It really helps to stay busy! . Good news last night – from midnight tonight our lock down eases and we can finally go to a decent supermarket for food shopping . We can also see Lily and Martin and from the 18th we can  go to other provinces in Andalusia and the ski resort opens at 50% capacity! Hopefully, little by little, things will get back to normal (trying to avoid thinking about all the doom and gloom news re the effects of Brexit on travel from 1st January and hoping that some sort of deal will be reached

Day 175 of New normal. It was like being let out of prison today!. Clive popped to the bigger supermarket in Archidona and got a few treats that we had been missing, plus the all important raw dog meat – no more smelly dogs and squidgy poo, lol. Lily came over as poor Martin was expected home today but is stuck in the Maldives until Monday after his flight was cancelled. It was lovely to take our dogs for a walk with Lily’s adopted old dog Betty. We went past the Cien caños water source which is now looking as it should do, after all the rain there is finally water coming from all of the pipes. We saw loads of vultures circling too,  so amazing. Peanut and Bella were determined to help with the jigsaw, if only they could, this one is difficult .  Spirit stood in the feed ring again, he is such a character and Bracken looked the picture of innocence eating her hay, despite having just peed on another pile – a regular trick of hers, so annoying! Buffy is struggling on, sitting in front of the fire all day and only getting up to drink (thankfully quite regularly), but I just can’t tempt her to eat. She is taking the antibiotics like a good girl though, fingers crossed she will feel better soon but at such an old age and being so frail already I am very worried about her .

 

Day 176 of New normal. The sky was a pretty pink this morning and after a misty start it turned  into a lovely warm day. Buffy snuggled in the armchair and had cuddles with me until it warmed up, then amazingly she took herself outside to the pool patio to sunbathe with Peanut and Milly. She still hasn’t eaten anything though so I am not feeling too hopeful, though her flu symptoms seem to have gone . The chickens made me laugh so much, following me up from the horses they suddenly all stopped and froze in place for ages, like they were playing musical statues or what’s the time Mr Wolfe . Clive popped to a friends house to help them get in as one door lock had got stuck and the key broke off in another door so they had no way of opening them. Luckily he managed to sort it out. We have some cute toadstools along the gravel path in the garden that have popped up after all the rain .

Day 177 of New normal. Clive popped down to Malaga for the first time since September to pick up a few things he needed. I decided to stay here, I don’t really feel like venturing out after all this time, it’s easier to stay here in my smelly, horsey clothes . When he got back Clive cut up some firewood while I took the dogs for a walk opposite the house . The fields are so green all of a sudden, since the rain. Clive found another cute toadstool growing on the wood, so delicate. Buffy is still with us, she actually jumped across from the armchair to the sink to drink out of the tap and wandered outside to the pool again but she is really wobbly on her feet and still won’t eat, I even tried syringing liquid food into her mouth but she really didn’t want it. . She is so frail, I know she is just slipping away from us but she doesn’t seem to be in any pain at all, she’s just sleeping . I really don’t want her last moments to be at the vets being put to sleep when she seems to be slipping away so peacefully but it is so hard to know what to do for the best. If she wasn’t so old then of course I would have taken her days ago, but I know that nothing can be done for her . On a lighter note, Finn helped me wrap presents, he’s so cute .   I’m getting on with the jigsaw but it really is a difficult one. Clive got me some tinsel in the Chinese shop – I have a plan for the horses – watch this space

Day 178 of New normal. Today’s blog is dedicated to our beautiful old cat Buffy. I took the decision to have her put to sleep this morning, one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, I so wanted her to go peacefully in her sleep but she was so weak and wobbly on her feet this morning . I am heartbroken, I will miss her constant presence over the past 19 plus years and especially her cuddles in her latter years. Buffy was the one cat who preferred me over Clive . Peanut will be happy not to have to fight her for my lap though . Buffy followed me home from a farm on the mountain on Halloween 2001(hence the name) . She was a tiny little kitten, no more than 8 weeks old, but she had obviously heard on the jungle drums that a good home was to be had at cortijo los lobos and as I rode past on Lola, she started walking with us, often in between Lola’s legs!. When we got to the stream at the bottom of our field I was ready to get down and pick her up to get her across the water but she found her own way, over a fallen log. Of course after she’d shown such determination I couldn’t turn her away and she joined the family. She really was the sweetest cat, the house feels so empty without her . We have buried her in the garden with our other beloved pets. R. I. P dear Buffy

Day 179 of New normal. The early morning sky was very pretty, which is more than I can say for Scarlett who seems to have spent the night rolling in poo . Milly and Peanut have been making sure that I don’t miss Buffy on my lap .  Lily and Martin came over and helped us cut firewood on the mountain. I will never feel happy watching people up ladders with chainsaws! We saw wild boar footprints, though even if they had felt like venturing out in daylight, the noise of the chainsaw would have kept them well away from us!. We got 3 trailer loads of top quality oak (with permission and supervision from the town hall of course). A good morning’s work . We came home to find the horses sleeping in the sun.  Peanut loves Lily and crawled under the table to try to get on her lap at lunchtime . Betty followed me to the outside toilet and peeped in through the cat flap – if you think toddlers following you to the toilet is bad, don’t get a dog

Day 180 of New normal. We ventured down to the coast today for a bit of shopping. I have never liked shopping at the best of times and I’ve only been out a handful of times since March and I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I find it so surreal seeing everyone in masks and it feels so weird that you can smile at people and they have no idea .   I just look at all the stuff in the shops and wonder what it’s all about. I got away with staying in the car and letting my personal shopper Clive shop as much as possible . We were only at the shops for an hour and then escaped up to Lily and Martin’s village for lunch. We haven’t been to theirs since the strict lock down started in October so it was nice to see what they had been up to. They have a very pretty orange climbing plant in flower, I think it’s a type of Bignonia. They also have grapefruit ready to eat, very jealous of all the exotic fruit they can grow there. We are too cold here in the winter but do manage to grow oranges and kumquat. There is a lovely mule monument in their village, apparently they have a mule festival every 12th October, though not this year of course. The cloud formations were dramatic, it has been a day of sun and cloud. We passed a pretty waterfall on the way home and lots of gorse and wild dwarf irises in flower. We got home to find a lovely Christmas parcel from our son John and family in the UK, so exciting .  I finally finished the jigsaw yesterday, it is a very pretty one, no help from Clive on this one for some reason! . Just time to do another one before Christmas I think

Day 181 of New normal. Today we would have been excitedly preparing for family to arrive and enjoying a lovely evening together tonight. Sadly that has all had to be cancelled but half the world has had to cancel celebrations this year and also go through sad and difficult times so we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. I decided to cheer myself up with a much needed hair cut, now that we are allowed to travel to nearby villages. The village of Rio Frio where I had my hair cut has a lovely old bridge over the trout stream and is famous for it’s trout farm and caviar. We left home in fog but it cleared to a beautiful day.   On the drive we passed lots of mistletoe – in Spain the berries are red instead of white and look much more festive. To keep the positive vibe going I decided to make a start on my Christmas agility project. Bracken wasn’t phased at all by the tinsel curtain. Bella sat on the slide and watched us and actually slid down at one point . I tried to keep the festive theme going by getting the dogs to pose in Christmas hats but they were so useless . I think Milly would rather kill the hat than wear it and Peanut just looked depressed . I’ve made a tiny hat for Finn, will be interesting to see if he’ll wear it! (I’m not going to even try the cats as they will just look at me with contempt I’m sure ). Yesterday we had a very kind and unexpected donation from a past guest and after months of not buying wine I am treating myself to a glass or two tonight – cheers! .

Day 182 of New normal. More Christmas fun with the animals today. Scarlett looked very cheeky, poking her head through the tinsel with her tongue out . I tried the dogs with tinsel collars but Milly lost hers straight away and Peanut ran off . Finn posed beautifully, though he drew the line at wearing a hat . Today is the 21st anniversary of our arrival in Spain, I can remember the excitement of driving down with our caravan after taking our cat Simba and my parents’ cat Toby to the airport to travel in style. What an adventure. There was snow on the ground when we stopped near Madrid but the weather was beautiful when we arrived at my parents house, just in time to see the sunset

Day 183 of New normal. We turned Scarlett into a mystical unicorn, I think it suits her . She also had her feet trimmed but she wasn’t happy with Bracken and Flamenca watching . Little Smudge has a cosy box to sleep in for the winter. He did follow us half way up to the house today but wouldn’t come any further. Old Irene is so fluffy in her winter coat, we won’t have to worry about her getting cold. Flamenca enjoyed a nice rest on the sand. We are supposed to have sunshine back tomorrow so hopefully the horses can go back on their mud paddocks as they were almost dry this evening. Bella decided to come in the house and lay in the sink for a while, strange cat . She did settle on my lap for a while, maybe I will have a Buffy replacement .  Doesn’t Archie have the biggest eyes? She is so cute. The last of the cloud gave us a nice sunset tonight, we really must cut down the dead cactus spear though before it falls in the road! 

Day 184 of New normal. So good to have our deep blue sky back. There was still fog in the valley early this morning but it didn’t affect us and it was a lovely warm day. The horses went back in their paddocks, lovely to see Minty with his friend Bracken again. I treated Flamenca to an udder rub, she is such a floozy . Clive got his home made smoker out to try smoking carrots, we’re going to try a vegan alternative to smoked salmon .  Lily and Martin have a new foster dog Chino, he is a big, soppy Scent hound, 9 years old and very sweet. We will meet him tomorrow at their house , then he is coming to us, along with Betty for Christmas. Just hope Peanut and Milly like him or it could be interesting! . Last night we watched an old Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez dvd ‘shall we dance “. A lovely film if anyone is looking for something to watch. More doom and gloom on the Covid front – with the new strain taking off in the UK, Spain has announced that only Spanish citizens and residents can enter Spain from tomorrow so things just look more and more bleak for us business wise . It is hard to see a time when we will have an income again, however positive we try to be.

Day 185 of New normal. Today we went down to the coast to celebrate Clive’s birthday before the big day as Christmas eve wouldn’t be a good day to go anywhere. First we went to Lily and Martin’s and took the dogs for a lovely long walk in the warm morning sunshine. The air smelt of honey from the almond blossom, it was gorgeous. We also saw a processionary caterpillar nest in a pine tree. Nasty creatures, they can seriously hurt animals when they hatch if touched. The horses field where Fern, Lola and Blackie live has grass growing where the hay used to be stacked. We are fencing it off to let it grow for a Christmas treat for them . Here is a photo of Casper just so that you know he is still around . His mum Bella is now very settled in the house, I doubt he’ll ever be that brave

Day 186 of New normal. After a busy day getting ready I am finally feeling Christmassy . It has been so lovely and hot today though, it does make me feel sad that our family aren’t here to enjoy it with us. I raked up all the uneaten hay in the sand arena to use for bedding while Clive cut down the agave cactus that was threatening to fall in the road – can you spot the difference? Irene enjoyed a day out on the grass. Smudge is so funny, he guards the poo shovel, hoping clive will give him a tickle . Casper had a sleep in the cardboard box. Funny, I just read today that you shouldn’t put out material beds for stray cats as they get cold and damp – straw is much better, so our two are nice and cosy . Our lovely neighbours Jose Manuel and Francis brought us some cakes for Christmas, they just happen to be one of Clive’s favourite Spanish cakes . There dog Bobbie was getting very friendly with a German Shepherd, I hope it is because she is in season and it isn’t an abandoned dog!. On the eve of Clive’s 60th birthday we decided to treat ourselves to a jacuzzi and cava, it was so beautiful watching the sun go down and we saw two planes too – quite a rare sight these days!

Day 187 of New normal. Happy Christmas eve and a happy 60th birthday to Clive. Lily and Martin came over with their rescue dogs Betty and Chino and the 4 dogs quickly became friends. Clive got some lovely presents and cards (which Archie took great delight in knocking down). Minna sent him a photo of a ginger bread landrover, I think he wished he could make one . He has been busy making a spinning top out of brass and copper, there’s no stopping him! He has also started drawing – no end to his talents, not bad for an old man . His father Christmas is very cute .  We made another yummy chocolate fridge cake Christmas pudding ready for tomorrow though Clive will stick to his favourite real Christmas pud. Poor Scarlett has found a stable wall to rub on ( and poor Clive’s first job on the morning of his birthday was fixing rubber matting to the wall). A friend is kindly sending us some herbs that will hopefully help her, fingers crossed. Hope everyone has a lovely day tomorrow x 

Day 188 of New normal. Happy Christmas everyone. Just about to sit down to dinner with Lily and Martin after a lovely day. The dogs all had bones, the horses had Carob and carrots and we enjoyed a jacuzzi in the sunshine. We are feeling very lucky. Clive made me a thing to try the knitting board and got me some lovely wool. Also a very difficult jigsaw! We made lily and Martin a drift wood mirror, it’s lovely exchanging home made gifts

Day 189 of New normal. We had a lovely Christmas dinner with Lily and Martin last night and Finn joined us to watch a film afterwards. The 4 dogs have been getting on so well, it’s been lovely. Chino looked very handsome in his Christmas hat. They are so funny when Lily is out of the room, they all stand at the door waiting for her . They were also quite put out that we shut them out of the pool area when we had a jacuzzi . We took them on another lovely walk in the sunshine again this morning and then Lily and Martin went back home after lunch. Peanut helped me with the jigsaw this afternoon, it is so difficult! We have missed seeing our friends and family but we can’t complain, the weather has been very kind and we have had a lovely time with Lily and Martin, and had some lovely presents, we are feeling very lucky

Day 190 of New normal. Making the most of the gorgeous weather before the rain that is forecast tomorrow. We had our first frost this morning though and it was zero degrees when we did the horses at 8 am. We gave some of the horses a grassy treat which they were very excited about. They made me so proud when I went to get them in though as I just opened the gate and called them and they all trotted back to their paddock, no fuss . Irene made up for not being on the grass by tucking into a whole round bale that she had somehow pulled into her paddock . We have some cute succulents growing on the roof tiles, hope they withstand the cold weather. I love this photo of Lily with Chino and Betty, she finally got them to pose for the camera. I finished the jigsaw today with no help from Clive which is just as well as I became quite addicted and would not have been happy if he had suddenly wanted to join in

Day 191 of New normal. The rain arrived, quite a shock after the constant blue sky. Luckily we moved all the pallets up from the bottom of the field before the rain, ready to start making a fence, they would be difficult to move now that the field is all muddy. Peanut took advantage of me being inside to have a cuddle while Milly made herself comfortable next to Clive . Bella and Archie seem to think they are dogs too, laying on the floor. Peanut found a snake skin, he was quite intrigued. We decided to do a jigsaw that Lily and Martin brought with them from the Maldives. They didn’t pack the box to save luggage as space, taking a photo instead but unfortunately Lily couldn’t find the photo so we decided to do it without one. It’s good fun, more of a challenge, but we got on quite well, with a bit of help from Archie . Lily has now found the puzzle on Amazon so we can see what it should look like, but the picture is so small it’s not much help really. Feeling a bit sad and worried tonight as by now we would be starting to get holiday bookings in for next year but with the Covid situation only getting worse at the moment and the added gloom on the news re Brexit and its implications for UK travellers we can’t help feeling that there just isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel. We just can’t see a time where we will have an income again but we still have all the bills for living expenses and animal care, it is getting frightening now after so many months of trying to stay positive

 

Day 192 of New normal. What a miserable day! It was so cold we hibernated inside with the fire going all day, making soup and comfort eating Christmas chocolates and stollen. Milly couldn’t get close enough to the fire . Peanut looked cute with one ear sticking up . We weren’t happy when we came down this morning to find the jigsaw wrecked by the cats. We hadn’t bothered covering it as they haven’t shown any interest but we will now, it was so annoying! Bella was insisting on me rubbing her under the chin instead of doing the jigsaw too . I got it finished this afternoon though and have now started another old one I found of the Alhambra Palace. I think I have just one more to do from our store, then I will have to get on with other things . 

Day 193 of New normal. A misty start turned into a beautiful day. It has been very cold though, despite the sun, the kittens looked so cute snuggling together in one of their boxes. One of them stole one of my gloves though – I’d left a pair drying in the sun but this afternoon there was only one. Clive found the other in their feeding and sleeping area in the stable. I have never known a cat to take things before . We are wondering if Casper could actually be deaf. We have had a deaf white cat before and they often are but we tested his hearing when he was a kitten as it seemed a logical reason for him being so shy and he seemed to be able to hear. He hasn’t got any tamer though and Clive tried testing him again today and thinks that maybe he couldn’t hear. We really would like to get them both sterilised as they have started spraying now but it is virtually impossible if we can’t catch Casper. We got our first egg for 2 weeks today after I had just said to Clive that the hens were getting ridiculous now, one of the 3 old hens was laying daily but stopped about 2 weeks ago and our 4 point of lay hens are well overdue to start laying. We are dishing out food every day with nothing in return. It is very rare for us to have no eggs but typically through the whole of the lock down, when eggs could have been useful to supplement our diet with no income, the most we have had is 1 egg a day. We always let our hens retire and live out their lives when they stop laying but 7 non layers is not funny ! We received a chocolaty Christmas present from our son Harry and family today, a good excuse to keep eating . Peanut thought the parcel was for him . I started the Alhambra jigsaw but it is awful, I actually am at the point of giving up on it but I really hate to do that. It is an old one and I’m sure we’ve done it before. We took the dogs for a walk to stretch our legs and to have a break from the puzzle, not that Clive is helping me, he has more sense