Saturday, 1 October 2011

The dumbest journalist ever? Says gold is 'backed by nothing' -

The dumbest journalist ever? Says gold is 'backed by nothing' -

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Farewell to Galicia

This post is somewhat late, things have been rather busy since we left Galicia for pastures new. We were sad to leave our friends, but not too sorry to bid farewell to Spain. Life is never easy in a foreign country, especially one that has so many different languages and we never got to grips with Gallego which is what our neighbours all spoke, but we muddled through.
The farewell bash, arranged by our friends was great, hosted by Noel and Yo who opened up their house to all, Lisa was the general coordinator, and she did a brilliant job. Every one entered into the spirit of the thing by dressing up in the national Irish colours, even some of the food was was Irish coloured. So thanks to you all. We are now looking forward to October when we will have the first of our friends from Galicia coming for a visit, we miss you guys!
The move it's self did not go according to plan, the journey should have taken just two days,however that turned into over five days. Unfortunately the vets in Lugo had never done pet passports before, and did just about everything wrong that they could, although the procedure had been carried out to the letter, none of the paperwork had been entered into the passports, they even gave the wrong parasite treatment.All this resulted in a three day delay in Roscoff while a fantastic French vet sorted it all out for us. On the upside, if you have to be stranded somewhere I can think of far worse places than Roscoff, it is a very pretty place and the food in the restaurants is fantastic, we hope to return one day for a holiday there.The animals all took the delay very well and were not too stressed, I wish I could say the same about the humans.
So now we are in our new home and slowly getting things unpacked, there is always so much to organise when you move, however we now have a wood burning range installed, this does both the cooking hot water and central heating. The attic space has now been insulated with 300 mms of insulation, and both the plumber and the insulation company turned up on time! The poly-tunnel should be arriving this coming week, and the sun-room and wardrobes are all on order, and the first load of turf has arrived, so all in all things are fairly organised,Oh yes, the kitchen tiling has been done by Simon, and the garden is looking like a garden, we even had a few raspberries and the potatoes are ready for lifting. It's wonderful not to have to fight against the mice and Colorado beetle. So what do we miss? Our friends, but that's it, life is once again simple.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A Lesson


God said: "Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles."

It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Yes, Sir.

These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch?

They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....

Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Snake eggs

Nature has a way of working out her own balance,pharmaceutical company's would have you believe that they are the only ones that have solutions to problems, be it mice, slugs, aphids or flea beetle, big pharma has the cure.
Well so does mother nature, today's find was a large clutch of grass snakes eggs, in fact it looks as though it is probably two clutches of eggs together, these when they hatch and grow will feed on the mice and voles which are being a real pain in the garden.
Also found today were a couple of lizard eggs, great to control small slugs and aphids. There is also have a great population of both the common toad, the midwife toad and we think also the natter-jacks, there are also two permanent pool frogs who live in the pond.
So who needs big pharma?


We had a drive up into the mountains mainly to get away from the intense heat although we live at an altitude of 620mts a few extra metres makes a lot of difference, I use the term a few lightly, the mountain we explored was in fact 1000mts. The air was cool, well actually it was cold and blowing a gale but it was refreshing.It did try to rain, without success although there were plenty of storm clouds but it was beautiful and made for some nice photos.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bridges, Newts and Stork nests.

Now that we have a lot of spare time on our hands we are taking advantage and are able to visit both friends and places of interest, we visited Paza De Tor near Monforte de Lemos with friends on Tuesday. This is a lovely, very old manor house dating back some five hundred years, it has some interesting pieces of furniture, and I sure it also has wonderful paintings, these however are so dirty it is impossible to see them clearly. There is no charge to visit the house and is maintained by the government, I'm sure that if a voluntary donation box was provided for the restoration of these paintings the funds would soon be available. Unfortunately there are no photo's to show as it is prohibited, but any one in the area and interested in old buildings it is well worth a visit.
Wednesday was another day out with friends and we got to see the old bridge and old road over the Mino between O Savinao and Taboada, the lack of water in the river is due to work on the hydro electric dam near Chantada. It was then back to our friends house to view the crested newts which have taken up residence in their swimming pool, this has given them a problem as these newts are a protected species, not helpful when you want to clean out and use your swimming pool.
We then found a storks nest which gives new meaning to high rise living, by the size of the nest however it has clearly been in use for a number of years.

Monday, 27 June 2011

30 degrees and rising

Yet another very close forest fire today, despite having had a big thunder storm last night and some heavy rain it hasn't stopped fire. This one is very close and the helicopters have recharged their water bombs from the water deposit tank in what was our field. The geese and goats are quite alarmed by these big noisy birds, the hens are terrified, it is quite likely to stop them laying for a while.
Many of the fires in Galicia are stared quite deliberately, we had an email from a friend on the coast yesterday, she lives in Pontevedra, they had seventy fires in just one day, most started deliberately, and for reasons best known to the government they have reduced the distance of trees from property.
We just hope that with the fire fighters taking the water from the water tank that some of the amphibious life living there remains.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


We always enjoy a visit to Samos, it is on the Pilgrim route and has a large Monastery situated beside a river as many monastery's are.
It was nice to see that the goose population had increased we are assuming that they have had young.
It was also interesting to see how much the new orchard, planted only a couple of years ago has grown. The trees were only whips, this year many are bearing fruit.
The livestock kept by the Monastery also seems to have increased, with a couple of very beautiful long horn cattle, I'm not sure what breed they are but they are superb, and a mare with donkey foal.
It was however sad to see the medicinal garden overgrown and neglected. We had on one of our previous visits met a very elderly monk, in his late eighties who explained to us with great pride that the gardens were his responsibility and that he grew all the vegetables for the Monastery, seeing the medicinal garden so overgrown we suspect he is no longer able to do the work, or maybe he is no longer with them.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Self sufficiency in Galicia: Casa de las Flores

Self sufficiency in Galicia: Casa de las Flores

Casa de las Flores

Yesterday at last we made it to Mer near Sober to Casa de las Flores, created by Martin and Barbara in just four years from a typical Galician meadow. From time to time they open their gardens to the public and their hospitality is great, tea or coffee and the best carrot cake we have ever had. Martin makes beautiful water features for sale which run from a small solar panel. Barbara grows plants! If you are looking for the unusual these are the people to contact. Just about one of the nicest nurseries we have ever visited.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Wild flowers

We have both always had a keen interest in wild flora and fauna and in fact my husband along with his sisters used to collect samples for the artist, Barbara Nicholson who was an illustrator for Oxford University press. I when at boarding school had the nick name of ditch watcher, if there was something unusual to be found I would spot it. We normally manage to identify the plants that we spot, but sometimes we do draw a blank. Here we have the wild Gladioli and a mystery plant. Growing just above a river, standing over two metres tall, with an distinct aroma we have been unable to identify it.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Living in rural Spain you are always aware of the danger of forest fires, Spain has many very big forests and are very hard to access, this is even more so in Galicia. We had our first experience of such a fire in Catalonia several k away from us, but we could see it and smell it, it was then that we realised that we had no evacuation plan set out. There is nothing like seeing an out of control forest fire to focus your mind, especially if you keep live stock. This particular fire took four days to get under control and several people lost their homes.
Today we have seen our first close by forest fire in Galicia, we became aware of it with the helicopters flying above the house every four minutes with water bombs, so far the planes have been flying for over four hours, dropping their water bombs every two minutes. This fire is only four k away, and there is a fairly strong breeze, having had no real rain for three months or so does not help matters and every thing is tinder dry although most of the local farmers have cut their meadows, the field behind us is uncut and surrounded by trees. We know from our neighbours that the forest above us went up in flames a few years ago and all the neighbours are out, keeping an eye on the situation.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


We often see hedgehogs but they are normally dead in the middle of the road so we were delighted today to come back to the house to find that a hedgehogs nest had been discovered. Unfortunately the hedgehog had been disturbed along with her babies, however, she gathered them up and moved them to a place of safety.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Dry, Dry and Drier

According to records this spring has been the warmest and driest on record. We took a detour last week on our way back from friends to Portomarin, a very pretty village on the Pilgrim route. This is a village that had been moved when 'they' dammed the Mino river for a hydro electric scheme, flooding the old village. The water level is now so low that the old buildings are clearly visible and the track through the old village is now back in use, and what should be mud banks is now green grass. After over four years here we have come to the conclusion that all this rain that Galicia is supposed to get is mainly on the coast or very high up in the mountains.
All the fields are tinder dry and gardens need constant watering if they are to stand a chance of producing anything. maybe the rains will come, we will wait and see.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


The rain over the weekend has cooled things down and it is now a nice comfortable temperature about 18c, if however we believe the forecast it is going to get hot again. Anyway, I'm sure that the rain and a couple of days cooler temperatures will have done the gardens a lot of good, weeds as well, still you can't have everything.It is very hard not having a garden here to work in, knowing what needs to be done, and wondering how our newly started garden in Ireland is faring, at least it shouldn't curl up and die due to no rain and hot sun. We sit here planing all the things that need to be done when we get back, or should that be 'what' we want to get done? It's now only six weeks until we go but six weeks seems a very long time when you are waiting.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Rain and roses

Since March there has been very little rain so the rain that arrived on yesterday was most welcome, for once the forecasters had got it right. Heavy thunders storms in the morning with about an inch of rain in a very short time, now everything smells and looks fresh and washed.
Galicia is supposed to be a very wet province but we really have not found it so, it can rain and when it does it is normally very heavy but does not go on for weeks as it can in the UK and Ireland.
The roses in Galicia are something to behold, just about every house and garden have roses, mostly highly scented ones, we have found that they are very easy to take cutting of and all of the climbers here have been grown from cuttings given to us by an elderly gentleman in the next aldea. We shall try to take cuttings with us when we make the final move.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Gardening from scratch

Not everything goes according to plan, we arrived in Ireland after three days travelling to find the the solicitors had not completed on our purchase of the new house, whether it was our side or the vendors I guess we will never know but we arrived with a van load of boxes and plants expecting to be able to move in and get the garden started to find that we were still homeless, our solicitor was away and could not be contacted for a further four days. Fortunately we have a number of friends there so accommodation was not a problem and the seller agreed that we could put our stuff into the cottage which was just as well as the first thing we found was water runner through the once perfect kitchen ceiling. We turned of the mains and had to leave it at that, it has done some damage but nothing we cant sort out when we get back there. We eventually got the keys four days later and set about getting the garden started, a few days later a friend turned up with her son and daughter plus a helpxer and they helped turn the virgin soil for us, we now have seven rows of potatoes planted plus swede carrots and parsnips, I also had some special seed potatoes which I have planted in the boxes we had transported our goods in.We have also planted some apple trees a Victoria plum, raspberries and blackcurrant bushes so we should have some food later on this year.
The area we are moving to abounds with wild life, foxes, of course, we intend keeping poultry, hares, and pheasants, we also have a nightingale who sing during the day as well as at night. Going back to keeping poultry, anyone who reads my blog knows that we have had considerable problems with Pine Martins, this is clearly going to be a problem again as we have one living in our attic. Sat down one evening after a days graft in the garden we heard loud scampering noises from above, certain that we don't have ghosts or lodgers living up there further investigation was called for, this turned out to be a very smelly job, Pine Martins don't use just one spot to shit, this clean up job has been saved for our return. It had made it's self quite at home there and appears to have been in residence some time, possible driven in during the very hard winter when temperatures were 18c below, it's possible that it is this little beast that has also caused the damage to the water pipes . One things for sure, it will be made to vacate the premises as soon as we get back.


The last three weeks have been interesting and when on several occasions we were asked where we were from we didn't quite know what reply to give, we seem to have done a lot of travelling both on ferry's and road and it became quite hard to remember where we had been and where we were headed.
We had a few days in Brittany on route to Ireland and on our way back. We got to see the standing stones at Carnac. Nothing we had read or seen about them had prepared us for the shear size of the site which stretches some five miles, many theory's have been put forward to their purpose but the fact remains that they are a mystery and are totally awe inspiring, there is no way to describe them and to do justice to them all you can do is to stand back take a deep breath and try to go back in time to some five thousand years BC and marvel.
Brittany is a very beautiful place and the people are so very friendly, the food is fantastic and there is a real sense of civic pride, the towns and villages are clean and well cared for with flowers abounding every where. The local councils seem to prefer the use of wild flowers on both their roundabouts and verges as you enter or exit towns, so much nicer, and environmental friendly than bedding plants.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


Over the last few days things have gone missing, things that we had stored in the barn, and we think some chickens, now the chickens could be explained by four legged thieves, although no evidence was found, but when it comes to tools and things such as battery chargers and other smallish things we know that it has to be two legged thieves. Several weeks ago the Gitanos were around and every one in Spain knows these are unwelcome visitors, normally there are two men and a woman who normally has a small child in tow, they all do their respective reconnaissance,and have a habit of coming back sooner or later, this is who we suspect as all our neighbours we would trust totally. The upshot of all this is that we have now had all our stuff that we are taking with us removed and it is now safely in storage until July.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The no meat day

A couple of days ago we visited friends, we had left a message saying we would be coming over to see them and we hoped that would be OK, they can no longer contact us as our mobile went missing at Bristol airport a few weeks ago and we have no land line as it's not our house any more. We duly arrived and found that they had prepared lunch for us, but they hoped we would not mind the lack of meat as it was veggie day! Living in Galicia could very easily turn both of us into vegetarians, if you go for a menu del dia the main course is huge quantities of meat, normally quite greasy and either boiled spuds or chips. The meal that l and S had prepared will go down as one of our most memorably meals in Galicia, it was superb, so thanks guys for a truly great meal.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Being Bored

For many years I have always joked that I would like time to be bored, well now I have and I'm bored being bored. Now we are living in just two rooms and with no garden to tend the days go very slowly, not having a proper kitchen any more does not help, I am used to baking every day, either cakes or bread, now all we have is a gas hob, so not even the pleasure of the Sunday roast.
Some people consider cooking a chore preferring to use tinned or frozen food that requires nothing more than heating up, now that must be boring.
We are still making our own yoghurt which is something, and although the weather is now getting quite warm we are cooking a lot of stews, we don't need an oven for that.
Thankfully we have quite a few friends that we can visit, without them it would not be worth while getting up in the morning. We could go out in the car and do some exploring but that means consuming fuel which we always try to conserve. I just have to bear in mind that it's only for another ten weeks or so and that we are going away for nearly three of them.

Monday, 18 April 2011

April Roses

Following what has been the mildest winter we have known in Spain we now seem to be having a very early summer. There are roses out in the garden and yesterday on our way back from friends we spotted the first bluebells, this is a month earlier than normal. Once again the fruit trees have been full of blossom so it promises to be a bumper harvest for the second year running, it seems strange that I will not be bottling all this wonderful bounty this year, I always find it so satisfying seeing a pantry full of bottled fruit, knowing exactly what has gone into the jars and knowing that no chemicals have been used at all.
Last week we discovered that you can still get good service in the 21st century. We had to cancel the insurance on our old Vitara as she had met her maker, no, nothing to do with us, anyway we cancelled the insurance and surprise, the no claims bonus will be ready for us in a couple of weeks. We then took back a cordless drill which I had bought at Christmas, somehow in our absence the charger had been damaged, we thought the shop would order a new charger for us, but no, they replaced the whole package, drill, the works with no questions asked. It's just a shame that this happens to be the store that we have stopped using due to the loud music, maybe we should give it another try and just use earplugs.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Purple toothwort

During our three weeks away from Spain we had a few days with relations in the West Country, although my husband is from this area we managed to visit several places that he had never been to including Morwelham Quay in Devon, this had been the most important copper mine in the UK up to the mid 1800's, it is now a living museum and attracts many school parties, the children all dress up in the cloths of the period, and all the staff are also in Victorian dress, it seems a wonderful way to teach children and they all seemed to be enjoying it.
Morwelham Quay was also the setting for the recently aired series 'The Edwardian Farm' in which a group of agricultural archeological historians lived and worked for twelve months recreating life as it was at the turn of the 20th century for a farming and mining community.
On our trip there we stopped of to investigate a lovely river flowing through a small wood in the Taymar valley, it was here that we discovered a plant unknown to either of us although we are avid ditch watchers and plant spotters. Once again we had discovered a plant very rarely seen, Lathraea Clandestina, it is a very pretty plant and highly perfumed it is also a parasitic plant, but does seem to have a number of hosts.
It is very strange still living in what until a month ago was our house, looking at the garden knowing that by now the potatoes would have been planted along with many of our root crops, we are however going back over to Ireland the beginning of May so we should have time to get our new garden started, we are planing to get potatoes, leeks, peas and beans planted as well as carrots and swede, we hope we will be able to find cabbage plants on sale and get them in as well. They should survive not being attended until our final move around the middle of July, after all it is supposed to rain in Ireland, although during our two weeks there in March we had just two damp days.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

On the move

After seven years in Spain we are returning to Ireland, we always thought we would and had in fact planed to put our house on the market next year, however, through chance, a helper who knew people who were wanting to move to Galicia things have moved forward somewhat. Having had no plans for a move this year, our pets, nine cats and three dogs did not have their pet passports so we have had to start from scratch,they will be able to move the middle of July, in the meantime we just have to be patient waiting for the day that we can go. On the whole we have enjoyed our stay in Spain but it is an alien country, the language has always been a problem, first Catalan and now Gallego and the way of life is very different from either the UK or Ireland'
So, what will we be doing in the future? Well being selfsufficient is our way of life so nothing will change there, renovation? Never again, it is quicker and cheaper to build from scratch. We have learnt a few things living in Spain, never take water or electricity for granted, and you can never have enough insulation.
So what are we moving to? A typical Irish country cottage with two acres of land, we have learnt here that it is quite possible to grow all you need on very little land, one acre will be used for planting a woodland for coppicing, the other acre will be for the veg, fruit,poultry and rabbits.The cottage is in an area that we knew as it was on our delivery round and we have friends and an organic net work to work with close by.
In the meantime we will try to help the new owners of this house with the animals and give them guidance on growing their own food, and hope that they learn to enjoy it as we have.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Earth Stars

Spring is definitely here, the daffodils are now in bloom and the Mimosa is looking beautiful, the storks are very busy in and around their nests. This week we found our fist ever Earth Stars,on our land as well, these are a rare fungi and in fact had been though to be extinct in the UK, but then in 2006 they were discovered again. As you can see from the video, they are very interesting fungi and quite early.
Our geese are now laying very well and there are three nests of eggs, I wonder how many will hatch, providing the dogs dont start raiding the nests, which they are very prone to do.
There are big changes afoot for our selves, more news on that later in the week.