Nature, walks and wildlife

This category contains 90 posts

Passing wind (hopefully)

If the orange earth under our feet were the sea, our house would have headed for port a long time ago. A bride leaving Órgiva’s church would be in tears (or hopefully laughing); her hair in tatters, her bouquet ruined. The lights flicker; banshee-wailing winds have come with a vengeance. The outside area has been rearranged, … Continue reading

One for the vine: pruning and the moon

It’s sometimes starless here, sometimes bible black; and on those still nights you could hear an almond drop. At the new moon – as it is today, 20 January 2015 – the valley’s dogs will know it’s time to settle down on this dark night. Our knowledge of ‘country life’ – in Ireland, England and … Continue reading

Snowy rooftops in Bubión (photo)

On a clear day you can see forever – just not today. While the UK faced its coldest night of the winter so far, here we experienced our first Spanish snow. Not exactly crisp underfoot – more soft and a bit sludgy – we still had to take care on the road leading into Bubión, one of … Continue reading

A pressing engagement: the olive harvest

We awoke early and headed to a friend’s olive grove, the oxalis – yet to show its yellow flowers – was crisp underfoot in the cold air. Two gigantic nets were laid beneath the first tree and off we went, agitating each branch with bamboo sticks to remove the olives. Hitting and shaking the branches resulted … Continue reading

Cacti and webs (photo)

We do like Mondays, and especially today. High pressure has slunk in from the west, smoke from burning olive logs rises vertically with no buffeting breeze, and there’s barely a sound. The low sun means sunglasses are needed as much now as in the scorching summer months; it’s a special time of year. On a … Continue reading

Late summer garden bits ‘n bobs (photo)

Here are a few things collected from the garden as the warmth very slowly recedes. On the left is a prickly pear which are a nightmare to handle. They have tiny spikes, thinner than a strand of hair, which can get into your skin with ease. What’s more, they are then almost impossible to see to … Continue reading

A mole cricket turns up

With, what seems, the entire flying ant population of Andalucia ending up in the pool, we were introduced to a new creature this morning. One of the cats may have brought it in as a gift – it’s kinda ugly and beautiful at the same time. We think it’s a mole cricket (Gryllotalpa brachyptera). We know little … Continue reading

To Trevélez – con jamón!

We’re the millionth visitors to take the same pictures of ham but that is, after all, what Trevélez is famous for. The highest village in mainland Spain (although some would dispute this) is similar to most other white villages in Las Alpujarras: Moorish, cute (mostly), touristy in places – mainly the lower part (Barrio Bajo) – and … Continue reading

Making the cut – almond trees

As the sun beats down and we lie on our bench we can always hear them squawk; the sound of chainsaws. Like strimmers they’re a part of countryside living in Spain. A few of our almond trees have bitten the dust and stand, nestled among healthy fig and olive trees, gnarled and broken with their coating of … Continue reading

Snake skin (photo)

Walks around the vicinity throw up all manner of things: half-alive cicadas, scorpions, decapitated mice, rogue dogs chasing our cats up trees, dung beetles, wild boar damage, 20-metre trails of black ants and the odd dead bird (not resting). So here today, gone tomorrow – we can now add a shed snake skin to the … Continue reading

The winds in Spain – a lot of hot air

Everyone knows about the rain in Spain but the winds deserve a mention. We’ve been here in March when it barely relented for five days in a row and, on the odd occasion, we thought we’d end up somewhere over the rainbow. The fabulous meteorologist Steph Ball (on Twitter), who’s based in Gibraltar, drew our … Continue reading

You are my (partly cloudy) sunshine…

If anyone’s in any doubt about whether it’s sunny most of the time here, then this is the proof (thanks to AccuWeather). We love the slight difference in the days’ description: plenty of sunshine, sunny, sunshine, abundant sunshine, sunshine and warm…oh look, there’s a sunny, warm and less humid (worry not, it’s sunny the next day). … Continue reading

Let us prey…

While S was digging in the dirt she spotted a 5cm-long albino mantis. They change colour to camouflage themselves and this one was among white geraniums. As we carefully approached, untangling olive branches from our hair, the mantis extended its forelegs in readiness to, presumably, strike. Here’s some excellent information about them on Wikipedia. Apparently, … Continue reading

A moving tale

Or should that be – a moving tail. Our cats hunt anything from mice, insects, birds, snakes and, today, a lizard. We think it was a Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). The lizard was rescued but its tail – jettisoned like a street robber dropping an emptied purse – continued a brief existence. Having not thought … Continue reading

Wisteria pods (photo)

Wisteria is a genus of the pea family (Fabaceae) so it’s no surprise that that these look like, well, peas in a pod – actually, they’re more like beans. We cut back a huge wisteria and found beautiful, velvety pods hiding among the forest of leaves – most around 25cm long. There was also a … Continue reading