Where we live in the middle of el campo in the Andalucian countryside, there aren’t so many places you can walk to. Our track goes either one way to the village, or the other way to ‘the horses’ field’ with a view out to our next village, Villanueva de Tapia.
Walking through the olive groves is also an option, but not so good when there’s been rain, because the heavy clay soil sticks to your boots and you lug an additional 3kg with every step. Good for a real work-out, but generally I tend to stick to the track, and look out for new things to see. And so it was yesterday when I walked to the horses’ field, in gorgeous spring-like sunshine.
Spring starts early in Spain, and at the start of February the almond blossom all around us is a fabulous sight. Sometimes pink, sometimes white, and always emanating a beautifully sweet smell. The bees love it too, and you can see and hear them buzzing around every tree – it will be a good honey year this year! It’s extraordinary how quickly the blossom develops. Within one week, the small almond buds have developed into full-grown blossom. The best time of year for walking, I think!
We live on a dirt track that has been improved over the years – thanks to EU funding – and is now in a reasonably good state, except for when we have major storms. But just a few steps away from our house towards the horses’ field, the track deteriorates significantly with poor maintenance.
So for our neighbours who live that side of our house, it can be a challenge to drive (or even walk) through the mud piles after heavy rain. They all seem to manage, even with modest cars that are low to the ground. I don’t understand how, because whenever I’ve driven over the mud I’ve been sliding all over the place. And the ruts and stones in the road would damage any car’s suspension. I guess you get used to it …. Perhaps more European funding is needed to improve our neighbours’ track.
Despite the occasional very heavy storms, we generally lack water in our part of Spain. There is a pantano (lake) with a dam nearby, and during the summer you can almost see the level of the water drop each day. As we’re still officially in winter months, the water level isn’t doing too badly, and that means we have a better view over the lake (a tiny sliver of it) from our house.
And all the water butts around the place are full, including the water storage tanks in the middle of el campo. It won’t take long before they’re empty and the soil is brown and dry, but for now it is a delight to see greenery (and lots of weeds) all around the track.
I noticed on my walk that there was quite a bit of rubbish by the side of our track. And last week, when Hilary and I made a walk through a beautiful valley with a view over snow-capped mountains, it was much worse. By the side of the foot paths and the roads, we saw litter everywhere. All sorts: plastics, cardboard, bottles, clothes. What a shame. I keep intending to buy a ‘grabber stick’ and then when I go for a walk I’ll bring the grabber and a large bin liner. I’m sure it won’t take long before I fill it up …
The swimming pool
In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned my heart’s desire for a swimming pool. So far, we’ve not managed to break through the barrier of acquiring a building licence, though we continue to chip away at the process.
Meanwhile, during my walk, I’ve had another close look at our neighbour’s swimming pool – which is used for water storage to spray the olive fields in the spring and the autumn. And our neighbour has mentioned that we could use it as our swimming pool in the summer months. It has no electricity, no tiles or decking, and is about 300m from our house. But it is an existing structure that therefore doesn’t need a building licence. This could be an interesting option if all else fails, though it would need a very good clean beforehand!
Whenever I walk on the track, I take pictures of the views. Because it is just so beautiful. It’s a struggle to pick the best ones to show to friends or for the blog. There are so many, and they’re all beautiful. Enough said, let the pictures speak for themselves!
Olives ready to burst
Now is also the time for the olive harvest. Most of our neighbours have started this harvest last December, and it will finish around April. The olive trees that I saw on my walk were bowed down by the weight of big black olives. I won’t say much more now, as my next blog will be all about the olive harvest – so look out for that update in two weeks’ time!