A quick check in…

I know that having officially bowed out of writing a blog in August this may seem a little surprising however the past weeks here in Murcia deserves a mention and an update on life on the hill!

La Azohia..a favourite seaside village for long coastal walks and picnics. A day out for Spain Day!

For the first time in 18 months we have had family to stay..the Watsons. Rach, Graeme, Dougie , Penny and Anna. It was a reminder to me of a previous post ‘Sharing our Happiness ‘ and how much we missed doing just that. The week , predictably, went by too quickly but it was wonderful. Murcia weather was welcoming and warm enough for both pool and beach, hiking , eating outside and when ( it is Autumn after all) we had one very rainy day, we began knitting projects, jigsaws and lots of drawing! Saying bye bye was also predictably hard. Apparently there were tears at the airport because they didn’t want to go! Rocky mooched about all day looking sad after all the extra cuddles and adoration that he had become used to, not to mention extra snacks, that he had been getting for a week.

One of our visits during their stay had been to Hugo’s home farm. This is a small finca five minutes from our home which is now run as a donkey/horse/ goat/ hen/ dog/cat/alpaca…in fact any abandoned animal rescue. It is the passion , imagination and incredible hard work of a young Scot from Musselburgh and while the finca belongs to his partner’s family, the project began several years ago in Benidorm and moved to Murcia last year. Local cat and dog pounds and the police all know of Hugo’s and frequently supply them with new guests! This all takes a lot of funding and so on the Saturday of our gangs’ departure I spent a few hours on the ‘cake stall’ of a fusion . . British fete and Spanish paella day!It was a great success and the best of two cultures. I loved hearing the kids whose parents had moved to the region permanently and put children in to local schools, speaking Spanish and English with out missing a beat. The sun shone, animals were on best behaviour, cakes and jam sold and funds were raised. Éxito!

Home made local peach jam alongside abuela’s paella!

Four days later, the Mattisons arrived! Rocky had a playmate again ..the Duracell toddler that is Arthur with his Mummy and Daddy . So much fun ! The weather reminded us that even although this was Murcia, it was still autumn. Despite quite a lot of cloud and cool mornings it was still warm enough in the afternoons for braving the pools …freezing! the beach…invigorating and ice cream in the city…delicious. Once again, the week went too quickly but oh what wonderful memories to store away.

Our neighbour’s neat lines of broadbeans and celery
Brrrr!

I was determined to savour every moment that I had with the ‘peques ‘ ( little ones) and as my classes now take up every morning, I had a mad baking/freezing breenge ( Scots for doing something with gusto- difficult to translate! ) for the fete before they arrived. October went by in a flash! It’s already half way through November and Walt has been able to get to Valencia for the final race of the MotoGP. Two years later for this pilgrimage aswell! My Fridays are suddenly busier than ever with classes all day, so I chose to stay at home with Rocky. This meant I could go on a very gentle guided walk this morning to learn about the flora in our Sierra de Carrascoy. It was a beautiful morning and perfect for wandering around learning about plants and flowers . All in Spanish! Tomorrow Anne and I will continue to amuse our Spanish huerto neighbours with our anarchic plot. We must be ‘the talk of the steamie!’ The tomatoes, especially the cherries have not stopped fruiting. We still have aubergines on the go, arm loads of basil and a few padron peppers. See photos for ‘us’ and them! We have planted some winter crops in wee spaces, kale, broccoli and onions and are using our first load of our own home made compost so haven’t done the traditional autumn clear out. Our squashes were also successful and the plants have just been cleared away. We both hate waste so while we can’t compete with the broad bean harvests that our neighbours will have next month, we are still taking edibles home everytime we visit! Anne took on the green onion chutney task this year with delicious results. I will do the annual marmalade marathon in December…when the fruit is free how can we not!!

Guess whose patch is whose!

And so another year rushes headlong towards its end…probably one of the strangest in most of our lives but with lots of wonderful memories still made despite everything and definitely so much to be grateful for. I think that is why I decided to write this wee diary. I do struggle at times, so far from my children , siblings and old friends . This past year and a half has made this even more difficult. However when Walt and I walk Rocky to the top of our urbanization and look over to the Sierra de Carrascoy, the Sierra de Espuña, our beautiful glittering city and the Ricote Valley in the distance, we realise just what wealth we have and how lucky we are to live here. Gracias Murcia..por todo!

My morning ramble.
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Autumn thoughts ..

I am so lucky. Two weeks ago I was in Edinburgh, finally meeting my new grandson Arthur and reuniting, after 8 long months,with family. I was quarantined for 14 days with baby Arthur and his Mummy and Daddy and then had a week to spend with the other little people and the biggies too! It was done in shifts and mainly outside as Scotland began to experience a rise in case numbers and new restrictions were imposed. It was however, wonderful and I am so grateful for those moments. I know so many of my friends around the world have still not been able to see their families. It is really tough. The little ones grow so quickly, suddenly they’re not so little.

Late summer in Edinburgh and my self isolating view!
Pretty good views from the quarantine bar aswell !
First cuddles…well worth the wait!

The three weeks flew by. One of the strangest things I have found throughout this whole pandemic affair is how quickly time has gone by. You would think it would drag but here we are…October already. I arrived in Edinburgh on the 3rd of September. The view from my guest bedroom come online classroom was still a summer one. Three weeks later, the trees were changing colours and the pavements were satisfyingly covered in enough leaves to kick through! I am still a big kid at heart. I said goodbye to autumn Edinburgh, not sure what season I will see it in again!

Edinburgh weather was very kind and allowed us to catch up safely.
A picnic in the park. My brothers, Laura and lovely nephew, Harry. Chris ( at the front) is like me with photos! Do you have to?
These guys don’t stay still long enough to get them all in one photo!
We even managed to get to the beach. Arthur is wondering why there’s not a fish supper!
Scotland really is a small country..bumped in to this very special friend and Bear in North Berwick..a ten minute chat but so precious.

Back home, we had had rain! The temperatures had dropped to a comfortable 24 degrees average! Not quite as autumnal as Edinburgh but this morning it was. Misty and cool, the smell of wood smoke as farmers begin burning dead wood. Most of the trees in our woodland are coniferous and so the view from our kitchen window is always green but the few deciduous trees there are, are beginning to take on reds and golds. Citrus and olive trees are green/grey all year round! I never realised this until we moved here permanently. Evergreen as opposed to coniferous. The blossoms on citrus trees appear twice a year as the fruit is still being picked! We have lemons all year. Oranges are best in the winter months. The grape vines likewise are now almost bare and we have cleared the huerto and winter planted, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, beans,chard, parsley, lettuce and coriander. Patience is needed now. I can’t believe the summer crops have come and apart from some chard, the sturdy aubergines and chillies that keep fruiting , all gone! The last green tomatoes are now chutney! The little orchard beside the huerto has given us some tasty apples, figs and now pomegranates. We are very few huertanos now and hoping the project will continue. It has been an unsettled year and people have had lots to contend with, especially the younger ones with families. It’s only a handful of us oldies keeping things going , which is a pity. We rely on a watering system that we pay monthly for and if the project becomes unviable and the system is shut off , we are thinking of ways to water physically and keep our plot going. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

Granadas y berenjenas.. seasons overlapping !
Good to go again.

The sun is burning the mist off now. It will still be warm enough to lunch outside. The swallows have departed but the blackbirds, sparrows, pigeons and occasional hawk have found their voices again after the August heat retreated. The gentle Murciano Autumn and Winter stretch out before us…walking, cycling, gardening . The big kid in me that loves kicking through leaves also loves and lives to be outside! So grateful.

Home with my boys.
This little guy flew over to say hello a few days ago. Not a great photo but he was very brave and not phased by our huge mut ..a canary? Can anyone help identify him?