March 2021 – Anniversary of our Journey to Spain 4 years ago

Beginning and end of the months. It started with floods and ended with a feeling of summer:

And as almost every months, March brought a lot of surprises, some good and some not so good.

Below are what are called ‘ollas’. Yes, I know they are terracotta pots.

A German friend of mine who is into pottery sent me a Whatsapp message about ‘Ollas’ (pronounced OY-yah).

These are ancient vessels of clay that are porous and used as a watering system for thousands of years. They are like vases and are buried in the ground between plants and filled with water.

See https://wateruseitwisely.com/olla-irrigation/

I have since read up on them and like this low-tech version of a watering system and have installed a home-made version in my vegetable garden.

Purpose made ollas are beautiful but quite expensive, so I have bought cheap terracotta pots in the Bazaar Chino, two sizes that just about fit snug into another and have sealed the edge with silicone, and also plugged the drain hole that goes into the ground.

The advantage over over-ground irrigation systems is there is no evaporation occurring, as the moisture seeps into the surrounding soil, right there where it is needed and only when it is needed, so it is extremely efficient. This will depend on a lot of things: the saturation of the soil, the soil type, the plant needs, the plant size and how far away it is. So in fact the plants needs dictate how much water is used. Overwatering is not possible, as the olla is full if no water is needed and empty when all is used up.

The other advantage is that because there is no overground moisture, no weeds will thrive. The top soil looks dry, but beneath and surrounding the olla the soil is damp.

How often it needs refilling depends on all these variables and also how often you water the garden. I look upon this system as a back up to my manual ‘flood irrigation’, which I do every two days at least in the heat of the summer. And in between the ollas will supply a steady bit of moisture.

The disadvantage, as far as I can see at this early stage is, that you need a lot of ollas, either one for every two or four plants and they take space away in small plots. Also our soil is nearly pure sand and does not retain any water due to its lack of humus, so any moisture gets sucked away immediately.

I also suspect that the plants will send out their roots towards the source of water and the olla will eventually be totally covered with hair roots. And then what? Will it clog up? Will I need to dig them up, dry them out and clean them?

Will faster and stronger growing plants take all the moisture for themselves? We will see. It is still an experiment for me and evolving as I put down more ollas and plants.

This system can be improved by connecting several ollas with pipes and having a line coming from a water butt for automatic refill if you are so inclined.

I however like to spend time in the garden with my plant children, so it is no chore to look after them or at them while giving them water. They will repay my diligence with beautiful, tasty, fresh and healthy vegetables and leaves.

Property Surprises

We had a surprise while trying to register the finca for the goat project. We did not realise that our abogado/notary did not register the property with the land registry at the time of purchase. Well, at the time we were just happy to close the deal and move on. That’s not so tragic in itself, but it turns out that a several thousand euro embargo is attached to our finca and we did not know about it.

So off we went to La Palma de Condado to check out, if there were any taxes unpaid, just to be on the safe side.

This embargo must be an issue with the previous owner and we immediately engaged a lawyer to shift this embargo off the property while at the same time starting the process of properly registering it into our name, which costs us a further €3,500, apart from the lawyers fee.

Apparently it is quite common that the local authorities will put an embargo on either your bank account or, if you do not have any funds, on your property for unpaid taxes or any incurred fines. They will either take their unpaid dues out over time from your account or prevent a sale of the property from happening. Sometimes the next owner will have to pay those fines, if they have to do with the property, for example not having obtained the required licences or having built too large or for a different purpose.

In our case at the time of sale, this embargo had not yet been put upon the finca, so we will not have to pay any of it. It just takes time and money to shift it.

This is beautiful La Palma de Condado, Iglesia San Juan Bautista, Plaza de Espana:

Garden Art

Thanks to our new neighbour we are now proud owners of not one, but three unique statues. I always coveted some art in my gardens, just not quite the type we now own. But never mind, they are quite fetching and different from the gargoyle that inhabits the vegetable garden.

These three are nymphs come from a nearby finca, whose owners were Dutch and the new owner just does not feel comfortable with them.

The biggest is a real beauty and the two smaller ones are of the same model, but all are unashamed depictions of the feminine form.

It’s really a deal – art for eggs. Astrid, our new neighbour, loves our farm fresh eggs and we really love her oranges and so we swap. I include in the deal surplus from the garden and so we are all happy.

Our terrace is the hottest place in the summer and really only good for an early morning yoga session or a late night wine chill-out. We erected a pergola and the first year I had a synthetic matting up to provide shade. Between the wind and rusty wire it went to bits. The ultimate idea is to have the wine, Kiwi and Bougainvillea climbing up and over it, but this will take years.

For now, we need an alternative type of awning.

So this year I cut the cañas, the reeds growing along the road, and proceeded to slip them into the wire grid. Fingers crossed, it will provide some kind of shade. It’s organic, free and I can always add some more.

Random photo gallery:

Between the times…

Garden produce….

The Nicest Time of Year

In this blog I will only talk of positive things, promise.

For example I am really pleased about my winter garden. It has brought us an endless supply of rocket, lettuce, Swiss chard, leek, herbs like parsley, mint, dill, coriander, marjoram, oregano, rosemary & thyme.

Now at the end of February even the nettles are coming to an end as they are starting to flower. I have been making good use of them in my nettle soup, which everybody loves, and have dried enough to keep me supplied for the year in my green tea with nettle and mint morning cuppa. The rest will be used as liquid fertiliser.

I am now also harvesting the biggest carrots I ever grew. Apart from that soon we can eat fresh peas, beetroot and later on leeks, onions and garlic. Courgettes and peppers are coming up, so are Calendula from my own seeds and poppies from last year.

My newest experiment is to dig a hole to dump the kitchen scraps into and let them decompose in-situ, right there where the nutrients are needed when I plant the next crop. It works a treat, as my rocket salad gave us huge amounts of delicious peppery leaves, enough to supply the neighbours.

Four Ladies and Nigel

At the moment we are full, meaning two rooms are taken. Downstairs is Maria from Malaga, a substitute teacher for a primary school in Almonte and here for 3 weeks. In our red bedroom with the single beds we have two ladies from the Czech Republic. One, Martina, is a professional photographer of horses and Lada, who has been here before. She owns a stud farm back home and buys her horses here, in Andalucia. This time she is here for 10 days to train a young horse. She intends to split her time between the Czech Republic and El Rocio.

You can look at Martina’s gallery here: https://projekt-atelierpropsy.webnode.cz/galerie/ for dogs or here for horses: https://projekt-martinaburianova.webnode.cz/galerie/

Cycling Joys

One fine Sunday I went on a cycle tour which brought me all the way to Hinojos on the nice calm road through the National Park. Usually I go as far as the Camping Village Doñarrayan Park or the Restaurante Almoradux but this time I followed the small cycle path and continued until I saw the first houses of Hinojos.

This concrete path is called the Carril de Cicloturismo El Arrayán and is 5.77 kms long and just gorgeous at this time of year. Everything is lush and green, it’s like cycling through a jungle.

All included I did 40 kms in three hours, including small breaks to sip water and take pictures and felt it the next day, but it was worth it.

Not for this Year….

We are now into March and finally construction on the swimming pool has started. The hole in the ground has been here since last May and with the help of Robert’s expertise in steelwork and building, it will progress.

They started with laying down a layer of insulation on the ground and around the sides. On top of the insulation three layers of steel frame has been put and rubble used as spacers to keep them slightly apart, so the concrete seeps between. Rods along the sides will reinforce the three rows of blocks.

Yesterday the concrete was poured and unfortunately the lemon tree was in the way of the concrete lorry and had to go. I am heart-broken.

Get THE TEST – and f*** the REST

                                                                        (*** forget)

Do you feel this is no time to travel?    Too many restrictions?

Well, let me tell you, what has been going on in this part of Spain.

As you know, we run a little guest house, just three rooms on booking.com.

Booking send me an invoice for January 2021 and to my utter surprise, we managed to pull in €200, not to mention the few guests under-the-radar, the phone bookings.

We had three cyclists staying with us, two from Poland and one French guy, who has been cycling since October 2020 and will keep going around southern Europe until July, mostly camping.

We also had a guy visiting his girlfriend in Almonte and our ex-guests-now-friends from Sweden made their way back to Spain by ferry and car.

Their journey was only disrupted by a road block in France, where they were asked for their Covid pcr-tests. They didn’t have any and are due a fine, although the fine would be a lot cheaper than the actual test back in Sweden. It would have been nearly impossible to be still in-test throughout the journey anyway.

Test costs seem to range from €30 to €60, or more in Sweden and France, where the test costs 135 Euro. 

A German lady and her friend also got on the road with two jeeps and pony trailers totally unencumbered, although they stuck to the night-driving ban.

And now we had a full house, or rather three occupied rooms with one substitute teacher and two lads working on wind turbines.

In the last week in January we went to Matalascanas, the beach and visited the car park at the end of the promenade, where in the winter campers usually stop by. This time there was only two, one German and one Dutch camper. We chatted to the young Dutch couple, which had two little pre-school children with them and had just come from Portugal. They took this last opportunity for an extended family adventure and would be on the road until the summer.

We hear also from football teams, golfers, sun-seekers and Spanish students taking to the air to achieve some sporty goal, get some badly needed sunshine or refresh their language skills.

A friend of a friend returned from five glorious weeks on Tenerife (she has her own hairdressing salon and had to close anyway) to Frankfurt at the Beginning of February. Nobody wanted to see any documentation. Only two days later the local health board phoned her and said: “We are aware that you were out of the country and have not registered with us. You need to take a test immediately.” She already had booked a test from the Canary Islands for the very next day after her arrival and was negative. So she had visited her recently renovated shop. But the reply was “Until we send you an official letter that you can go outside, you have to quarantine.”  Certainly the German bureaucracy is still working.

My mother always said no dish is eaten as hot as it is cooked (translated from German). Things seem or are made to seem far worse than they are in reality.

I certainly will visit who wants me within a reasonable range and have prepared accordingly. The condition in Spanish jails seems quite ok, because I will refuse to pay a fine  ….  (famous last words).

Collection of photos: a spider found on an olive tree trunk, possibly Eusparassus dufourii.

Three of our four cats in a tree; our lamb Laurie and our new gifted statue, what a Beauty!

The CORONA – Tragedy

To clear the head I’ve started to paint, thanks to YouTube tutorials

I would like to explain my position, even in the danger of losing some of my followers.

Let me explain, how I come to have my view, that we are being misled in a way not experienced and seen before, as this is global and personal.

As a child of the post World War II generation, I have been reared and encouraged at school to think critically, to ask questions and to draw my own conclusions, to read between the lines, to mistrust statistics and governments and always inform myself, to look for facts and a second opinion.

I have been brain-washed at school with the most horrific images, which no child should be confronted with, and they left their mark on my psychic. My parents knew however, not to share their war time experiences with a young, impressionable mind. Although one homework assignment was to interrogate my mother (my father had died when I was nine years of age) what they knew of the extermination of the Jews. Were they not aware of what went on, did they not see the stream of people with the yellow David star on their sleeves being herded away. Did they not hear rumours of the concentration camps?

So I have carefully been primed to be suspicious of people in power, of politics and the ideologies of powerful groups, be it the church hierarchy or some men’s clubs like the freemasons. I know that power corrupts, that money corrupts and wealth is the means to influence decision-making in the upper echelons. I am also aware that keeping certain information secret is a means for manipulation.

In 2019 we experienced for the first time a global common enemy we could all fight against together, the Corona virus, Covid-19. What is so very strange is that to this day, over a year later, nobody has isolated and proven its existence.

Never before has been the daily mortality rate been counted worldwide, with all media singing from the same hymn sheet and no discourse, no discussions is allowed, with all critical voices being shunted away, censured and simply disregarded and discredited.

To this day, the rate of the official Covid mortality is below 1% in all populations. A simple percentage per population calculation will show this, but this figure is never shown.

Never before has been daily reporting on deaths been done, never before were we confronted with stories from hospitals, that work to save lives. It is scary, shocking and frightening to witness our vulnerability and mortality.

This goes on every day, but normally, before Covid, every minute people were also dying or being born without us being made aware of it.

I won’t even go into the so-called Conspiracy Theories, because I do not have to even do this, as common sense is enough to see through this effort of control being taken increasingly of peoples personal life’s through tracking and tracing apps, through police controlled road blocks and fear, until it becomes normal, the new normal. And yet the restrictions and opening and closing of shops, schools, restaurants, gyms and public places seem erratic and non-coordinated, based on where you live, as if nobody travels to work, mixes in those environments, where air travel is ongoing and trains, buses and cars still cross community and country borders. If there would be a serious threat to human life, like the pest, this would not be happening. 

Here we have found a common enemy, which luckily is available in all countries worldwide and so necessitates the same measures in all countries. Historically our enemy were outsiders like other nations, the Jews, the gypsies, immigrants, black slaves, communists, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, the list is endless.

And here we are in a situation, where we are being told ‘We are in this together’ while being kept apart; while we are being told where to go, how long to stay, who to meet, what to buy, sections of supermarkets being out of reach. We are not allowed to express our most human feelings, to hug, kiss and enjoy one another’s company. We are being deprived of coming together to support each other, as it was possible in war times, where we rallied and gave each other hope.

Our hope now comes from a syringe. An injection, which has not been sufficiently researched and trailed on humans, no long term effects are known and, which plays into the hands of the population control idea of the Bill Gates Foundation, there could possibly be the effect of infertility. But whether you pin your hopes on this being the golden bullet or not is not so important, it is what comes with it. An increased surveillance system; as to be effective, most of the world population will need to have proven immunity. No matter that our immune system already fights the corona virus group to which the common flu belongs, to 98 % and more.

At present, immune compromised people, persons with pre-conditions and the elderly are at risk, many with life-style diseases, which are preventable and curable. Statistics tell us, most victims of Covid-19 are over the age of 85 years, well over the life expectancy. Basically, we are not allowed to die.

Mortality rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Spain as of November 24, 2020, by age group

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1105596/covid-19-mortality-rate-by-age-group-in-spain-march/

And here it comes, the dreaded theory. In the background, I believe, the response to the pandemic is orchestrated by the WEF, Bill Gates and his foundation and the interests of multi-million dollar corporations, the pharma industry and governments.

Who are they?

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

The Forum Members community represents outstanding firms from around the globe that are among the world’s top innovators, market shapers, disruptors, including niche market leaders and regional champions.

They are businesses of established influence that continue to help growing economies thrive, contribute to societal prosperity and are transforming into global leaders in their industries and regions. Together, they form one of the Forum’s key pillars of global business and address urgent issues, explore emerging trends and help facilitate the Forum’s mission of improving the state of the world.

‘As of January 2016, the community of Forum Members comprises more than 390 firms from over 60 countries. Membership is by invitation only and a result of a diligent review of selection criteria. Typical Forum Members exceed their industry standards in a variety of metrics,…’

https://www.weforum.org/communities/forum-members

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum, argues that the long term economic consequences of the pandemic will exacerbate the climate and social crises that were already underway and this will make more urgent the “great reset” of our economic and social systems.

He states, that ‘“changes we have already seen in response to COVID-19”, which have forced us to quickly and radically abandon some habits in our lifestyles that were considered essentials prior to the pandemic. This “great reset” would be based on three pillars:

  • Steering the market towards fairer outcomes, bearing in mind environmental and social risks and opportunities and not just focusing on short term financial profits. 
  • Ensuring that investments pursue shared goals, such as equality and sustainability. In this regard, the author mentions the European Commission €750 billion recovery fund which represents a major opportunity for progress.
  • To harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good, especially by addressing current health and social challenges.’
  • “The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world” – Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

https://www.santander.com/en/press-room/insights/capitalism-reset-and-new-social-contract-post-covid-19-crisis

‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming the consumption landscape by creating opportunities for value through game-changing technologies. With consumer spending driving approximately 60% of global GDP, embracing the power of technology to create value is paramount to ensuring progress throughout developed and emerging economies.’

Managing Epidemics with Consumer Wearables aims to establish an ethical, accountable and practical governance system that provides authorities and public health officials with useful information for epidemic response using derived insights from information collected on consumer wearable IoT devices.’

IoT stands for ‘Internet of Things’, examples are Smart Mobiles, smart refrigerators, smart watches, smart fire alarm, smart door lock, smart bicycle, medical sensors, fitness trackers, smart security system etc.

Nice words for some, the Techies and Silicon Valley types. It is just too convenient that this ‘pandemic’ is giving world leaders, be they politicians, global businesses, pharmaceutical industry, experts in one thing or another, a reason to confine us all and feed us identical information on all channels, with no discussion or alternative opinion or expertise allowed.

Basically, it is all about money, control and power. And everything is happening right in front of our own eyes, in plain sight. I certainly did not sign up for this and do not like this intrusion into my life. Time to ditch the smart phone perhaps?

Back to Covid-19. What is it?

What kind of virus is the one that induces COVID-19?

SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the broad family of viruses known as coronaviruses. It is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA (+ssRNA) virus, with a single linear RNA segment.

Other coronaviruses are capable of causing illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS, fatality rate ~34%, and
SARS-CoV, a beta virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Coronaviruses didn’t just pop up recently. They’re a large family of viruses that have been around for a long time. Many of them can cause a variety of illnesses, from a mild cough to severe respiratory illnesses.

The new (or “novel”) coronavirus is one of several known to infect humans. It’s probably been around for some time in animals. Sometimes, a virus in animals crosses over into people. That’s what scientists think happened here. So this virus isn’t new to the world, but it is new to humans. When scientists found out that it was making people sick in 2019, they named it as a novel coronavirus.

Coronaviruses have all their genetic material in something called RNA (ribonucleic acid). RNA has some similarities to DNA, but they aren’t the same.

When viruses infect you, they attach to your cells, get inside them, and make copies of their RNA, which helps them spread. If there’s a copying mistake, the RNA gets changed. Scientists call those changes mutations.

These changes happen randomly and by accident. It’s a normal part of what happens to viruses as they multiply and spread.

Because the changes are random, they may make little to no difference in a person’s health. Other times, they may cause disease. For example, one reason you need a flu shot every year is because influenza viruses change from year to year. https://www.webmd.com/lung/coronavirus-strains#1

Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre- existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable. WHO, Feb 25, 2020

Latest statistic, as of 11.02.2021:

As I write this, 2,361,485 people have died around the world from or with Covid-19.

World population: 7.7 billion people,   2,36 million of 7.7 billion is: 0.31%.

To date, only 0.31% of the world population have died from, with or of Covid-19.

In comparison 56 million people died in 2017:  For example 1.18 million died of tuberculosis, 2.38 million died of digestive diseases, 2.56 million of lower respiratory diseases, 3.91 million of respiratory diseases. We never heard about them.

https://ourworldindata.org/causes-of-death

The average age of those who have died from coronavirus in England and Wales since the start of the pandemic is 82.4 years old. About six in every 1,000 infections now result in death, down from about 30 in every 1,000 in June. (that is a 0.6% fatality rate)

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/average-age-of-coronavirus-fatalities-is-82-pcwqrzdzz

I still believe the response and restrictions imposed on the population are unjustified and will have long-lasting consequences; businesses going bankrupt, more people on the dole, increased depression, anxiety and suicides, children already being referred to psychological services with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mask wearing and distance keeping are most probably going to be the norm for some time to come. And forget about traveling the world, which we once saw as a right, even a right of passage for young people.

This so-called vaccination will not stop the stringent restrictions as nobody knows if it is effective, for how long, if people are still infectious because it has not been researched enough before being administered.

ANNUS HORRIBILIS 2020

our nice green lawn

Good riddance to this year, which has brought many people heart-break, anxiety, a feeling of doom and insecurity, of hopelessness and loneliness.

And here is hoping the coming year will have much to be joyful, hopeful and proud about.

For us, as for most of you, it has brought both, good and bad memories.

Obviously since the implementation of measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus, we have missed out on our constant stream of guests, who always brought so much diversion, life stories and of course income to us.

In June my mother died, aged 96, in Berlin. No, not of Covid, just of old age.

As sad it is to lose your mother, the person who has brought you into this world and always loves you unconditionally, it turned out to be an experience I will always be grateful for.

I was so lucky to be there with her, as were my two children, her grandchildren. At this stage she was already quite immersed in her own world of dementia, but I still believe that she knew, or felt, that she was not alone, that we were there with her. And she died at home, as was her wish, cared for by a set of dedicated angels, the staff of the ‘Pflegedienst’, carers service. And they also took me into their very big hearts; to this day I receive messages asking how I am.

Back in Andalucia we could enjoy the fantastic beach over the summer, packed as usual, and some guests in July and August.

We made new friends and met not quite old ones, and worked on our finca and me tending to the vegetable and herb garden.

Our olive harvest was very good, considering the amount of time spent pruning and spraying for disease.

LAURIE THE LAMB

Three weeks ago, when we came back from a trip to the beach and El Rocio with our Irish friend Roisin, we came across this little lamb in a field all on its own.

He would probably not have survived the night, so it was either to die or come with us. We managed to get a feeding bottle, milk powder and fed him every four hours. He has now grown already quite a bit, our ram lamb.

He follows Nigel and the dogs out and skips and runs around with them, such a funny sight. He blends in well with his black and white woolly coat and he is the same size as Clyde. Some day he might be matching Sofie’s size.

In the garden, the frost has wrecked havoc with the voluntary beans, tomatoes and sunflowers and my experimental amaranth and courgettes, although I managed to harvest a fruit last week.

But on a more positive note, the about ten year old lemon tree is carrying fruit for the first time. And nice big lemons they are, too. We must be doing something right, because it received lots of organic and also chemical fertiliser, just to make sure, and it worked.

Some mornings the temperature in the house is down to nine degrees Celsius. Then the gas heater needs to keep me warm for breakfast and later the temperature outside will be higher in the sunshine.

ORANGE GLUT

Thanks to our neighbour Steffi, we received a big amount of oranges and I set about making cakes, desserts and our morning juice from them.

All food here has to be gluten~ and lactose free, so that I can enjoy some too. Sometimes it is tricky, to transfer recipes to suit my needs.

INTUITIVE TRADITIONAL ARCHERY

This year I have taken up my bow and arrows again. It has been seven years since I took part in traditional, instinctive archery, with wooden bows and arrows, in Ireland.

It was great fun to roam the woods in the west of Ireland, where rubber animal-shaped targets were set up. All day long we practiced our archery in small groups, wise-cracking and having a laugh, because the club I belonged to, the ‘Warriors of Queen Maeve’ were a motley group of guys, ladies and families with more interest in a pint after and a day out then achieving best results.

Anyway, I dusted down my two bows, got my arrows repaired and a practice target set up.

Archery gives me a sense of reconnecting to ancient ways of hunting, it concentrates the mind, exercises the muscles and is rewarding, when all goes well. I suppose, any golfer knows the satisfaction of a good shot or the dart player hones his/her skills to become the champion.

I am missing the support of the experienced archers that even go as far as making their own bows and arrows. What I am missing here is the comradeship, not so much the competition as you can always compete against yourself, improving your technique and aim.

the proper target

Bye-Bye 2020

The last night of 2020 was spent in the company of friends. We made up an international group of two Irish, two Moroccans and two Germans. We had live Irish folk songs thanks to Nigel picking up his guitar, some rock, pop and also Moroccan Desert blues. We indulged in delicious home-made treats until we could not move an inch away from the cosy fire. And to top it all, we celebrated a birthday right after midnight, in the very shiny New Year.

This was followed the next day by a walk on the beach in the sunshine and we even received our very first booking in 2021, a very promising start to this New Year.