Top marks for everyone who has dutifully taken their history lesson and learned:
a) who ‘occupied’ Gibraltar and for how long [answers: Moslem 700+ years, British 300+ years, Spanish <250 years, added bonus point for those of you who remember it is currently a British Overseas Territory]
b) that England (later Great Britain) took Gibraltar in 1704 as part of the Spanish war of succession, and the rights to Gibraltar were later ceded by Spain in perpetuity to GB under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 at the end of the war of succession.
Remember that though, because there will be more on this next week.
Back to present-day Spain.
Wandering around our pueblo we noticed a new development at one of the local bar-restaurants (the village has six for some bizarre reason) – take-away pizzas. That could be useful for an evening meal. If we aren't asleep by the time it opens. Shall have to ask around and see if it is any good and find out when it opens.
The nearest pizza places before this were in town which is four kms away. Not exactly five minutes walk down the street, and cold and soggy before you return, so you might as well eat at the restaurant in town which is far too much like hard work.
On we walked around the houses lining the main road, and we noticed this new and extremely compact vegetable garden. Got to love the way people use space in Spain. In the UK, we like to have lots of space to wander around in and feel affluent. Here, many people use whatever tiny bit of space they have to best advantage.
The house itself has been reformed and has been for sale for some time now. The entrance is below street level and it's not a very big house. A British acquaintance we knew went to look at it (it was cheap) but obviously decided not to buy.
A closer look at the veg garden: peas, broad beans, runner beans, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and onions. Pretty impressive. So impressive that when we returned home, we started making our plans for adding another veg plot on the terrace.
On the return leg we stopped to talk to a pig. As you do.
(Just out of the picture on the right is a young cockerel, but I have my own, so he didn't get his pic taken).
(The happy pig was the name of one of my childhood books – I loved it – happy pig had balloons and was generally such a smiley pig).
Oh, here is his/her pal. With the evil eye.
Perhaps s/he didn't like my camera.
So cute, rubbing their sensitive noses together.
Poor little porkers, they will probably end up as jamon serrano. It is ironic that I come to live in one of the best cured ham-producing countries in the world when I am vegetarian, but life is like that. And I couldn’t eat either of those pigs. Not even evil eye.
And back up the main street, one of the local fieldworkers ploughing his ground. I can't call them farmers because basically everyone rents the plots of ground so they are not landowners and they don't have farms. So while I say 'his' ground, I mean the ground he rents. He's never without a huge cigar in his mouth, but sadly he kept turning round to check his work as he was ploughing, so no pic of cigar. Maybe next time.
Still, on with the gardening/growing/crops theme, here is what is left of my nispero tree. One of two, both of which sadly we had to cut down because the roots were beginning to cause cracks in the walls and we didn’t want to see the wall in the street one day, especially not on top of someone or someone’s car.
Now being a right-on person and not using pesticides or herbicides, I didn’t want to use poison to kill it off. I did plenty of internet-searching and came up with a few options.
1) Dig it out.
All well and good but because it is in a narrow wall we couldn’t even get a spade in there. No leverage.
This is meant to work, but apparently it doesn’t do much for the neighbouring part of the garden and remains in the soil. Another no.
3) Human urine.
Worth a go in the dark.
4) Chicken manure.
Got plenty of that too.
5) Seal up the stump to prevent the light getting to it.
Easy enough as well.
So, we reckoned on 3,4 and 5 as our options for a natural way to kill off the stump and roots.
It’s nearly two years since we cut them down, and initially after a period of a few months, I was sad to see that new shoots were vibrantly growing back, even under the plastic and black plastic pot.
This month however, those perky shoots seem to have died back. Could be a success story for urine and chicken manure. And certainly nothing else in the same patch of garden wall has any problems with growing. Two of my lettuces are right next to this tree stump.
Oh, and as well as being chemical-free, it was money-free as well.
When I’m not gardening, walking, cooking, or losing at cards at the finca (a disaster, I got beaten at seven card rummy and gin rummy) I’m reading.
Three books read were: two Jack Higgins, Exocet and Thunder Point, and Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin.
As soon as I started Exocet I realised I’d read it before. An officer in the Grenadier Guards is seconded to the SAS, goes to the Falklands, gets pulled back to do another job regarding the potential (illegal) acquisition of more Exocets by the Argentinian government. The story moves through UK, France, Falklands and Argentina, and is a good action novel. Also somewhat timely given the 30 year anniversary of the
war conflict and the forthcoming sovereignty referendum in the Falkland Islands. Needless to state I read it again and enjoyed it all over. Sometimes books are often better the second time around.
Thunder Point had a wicked anti-hero, or villain for a goody. An ex-IRA killer, who went on to sell his services to any terrorist organisation, is employed (under duress) by the British Secret Service to carry out a job for them in the Caribbean. Another good read.
Funeral in Berlin was a different kettle of fish. Apart from anything else it was set in the Cold War period – hence the scene of activity being Berlin and lots of toing and froing across the wall.
I did get lost in some of the double deals and triple deals and twists with every turn, but that may have been because I read too quickly and I also read it at night. The plot is centred around the premise of the Russians selling a scientist to the west, but nothing is ever what it seems with Deighton.
What is good about both these authors, is that they are hard-hitting (in different ways) and although there are plenty of deaths, there are no gory details or gratuitous murders. The people in their books are professionals and killing is their job. Whether you or I agree with that is another matter, but at least they aren’t writing about sick psycho serial killers and giving us every vile horrific detail about victims being tortured to death.
Before we left Gib, our neighbour plonked a load of books with us. I managed to read one of them at the finca (after I had finished the decent library books). It was the Ravenscar Dynasty by Barbara Taylor Bradford.
This is not a book I would ever choose. But it was readable, at least it was largely set in Yorkshire (Ms Bradford comes from Leeds, and worked in journalism for the Yorkshire Post company so I suppose we have something in common) so that was a minor advantage. It’s about family feuds, family business, handsome hero and, well, you get the idea. Oh, everybody is rich too.
Not one I would recommend, because it isn’t my taste, but if you like that sort of thing then no doubt you would enjoy it. It wasn’t well written, it wasn’t badly written, it just wasn’t anything. Looking up Ms Bradford, I see that her original manuscripts are housed in the Brotherton Library of the University of Leeds alongside those of the Brontës. Does that mean they are comparable authors? I would like to think not. I see Ms Bradford even has an award (OBE) for services to literature. Um.
Speaking of awards I can neatly mention some of the ones I have totally failed to acknowledge over the past few months.
Thanks to the following:
Gerry at Restawyle for Blog of the Year 2012 (told you I was late)
Helen at The Venomous Bede for Versatile Blogger Award
Sisterhood of the World and Very Inspiring Blogger from being mrscarmichael
There were some questions with this sisterhood one, so I thought for once I would graciously answer them.
1) Favourite colour – sludge green
2) Favourite animal – all of them (excludes people of course)
3) Favourite non-alcoholic drink – tomato juice with ice, lemon and tabasco
4) Facebook or Twitter – neither
5) Favourite pattern – Vogue Designer by Armani (I think, because I don’t have it to hand) an asymmetrical jacket, short skirt, all seams over-stitched on the front, and the jacket stiffened with iron-on interfacing before it was put together. Great design. Pic to follow at some point when I remember.
6) Getting or giving presents – getting simple ones – food or flowers
7) Favourite number – 5 and all its multiples, followed by sevens, followed by twos
8) Favourite day of the week – Sunday, it is so peaceful in both Spain and Gib, and when I don’t have to work Monday, there is none of that depression that sets in post lunch when you start thinking about WORK. It’s also a great day to cycle or walk in Spain due to less traffic.
9) Favourite flower – gladioli, lilies, crocuses, jasmine, hibiscus – oh, only one?
10) My passion? – Not a word I use often, although it does occur in my about me page. Otherwise those of you who read Clouds can work out what I get remotely animated about (the latest post being about horse meat in lasagna). Those of you who don’t read Clouds will just have to wonder.
And on blog awards generally, about which I am extremely lax, I never realised there was any value in them until I read timethief’s excellent post about backlinks today.
I’ll end on a serious point for Valentine’s Day because it merits it. Maurice on Duck? Starfish? but…23 has written an excellent post commemorating a tragic oil industry disaster that happened 31 years ago on this day. Not just that, he points out we still don’t learn our lessons from history.
Well worth a read.
Better than reading blog posts about red roses – £45 a dozen today apparently – and no, thank goodness, he didn’t buy me any.