Well here we are at Friday again, which means we are looking back at the week and finding what has made us smile. Some weeks that is easier than others, but I hope I can manage a cheerful post for you today.
My first picture will have you thinking, 'OK, a dish of lemons. What's so special about that'. Well the answer is they are our lemons!
Yes, this is the total harvest from our own little lemon tree that we planted three years ago. We only have one small patch of plantable earth in our garden and all the rest of the yard is tiled, which makes it very easy to hose down after the dogs, but anything we want to grow has to be in pots. We inherited a lemon tree in a pot with the house, but it never thrived. So we cleared a tiny patch of earth where the crazy paving by the kitchen door was lifted, and planted a baby tree in there. It will never be able to grow very big, and it needs a lot of watering and spraying to help it survive, but it has given us just a couple of small lemons each year, and this year it had five (plus two very tiny ones). So I put them to good use and made a lemon meringue pie for Sunday, which we both love. I haven't got a photo of it, because we ate it, and very nice it was too!!
Well, as I mentioned last week, I was hoping to collect some bitter oranges from a friends house, to make more marmalade, and I arranged for us to go round there on Saturday afternoon. It decided to start raining at lunch time but we went anyway because my friend works every day and I didn't want to wait until next weekend for them. Sadly when we got there, we couldn't find any bitter oranges on her trees. She has only lived there for a short while and is not very interested in the fruit trees, but she knew there was a bitter orange tree there, and so did I as the previous owner had offered them to me last year. But the house had been standing empty during the summer so the trees had not been watered, and since she has lived there, her dogs have enjoyed exploring their new home and chewed on the trees and dug the ground around them, so I had to go home empty handed. There was one bright spot to the visit though, as we got to meet her great dane, and also the second one that I had not seen before. She has seven dogs, mostly rescued through the vet where she works, but while we were watching them through the kitchen door, something moving behind me caught my eye and I turned round to see a dear little 'micro pig' running around. He was so cute. Apparently he thinks he is one of the dogs, but as these tend to do, he is growing faster than they expected and I am not sure he will 'micro' for very long!
My next idea for oranges was to pick some from the trees that line the street in Turre. I don't really like doing this, but I had to resort to it last year when I had not been able to get any elsewhere. So I asked Chris to drive us home that way, but as we reached the spot where the trees are, I was really sad to find that the council workers had got there before me and stripped the fruit and cut back the trees! They don't usually do this until well into February.
So I was back to square one. My only other hope was to try the now disused golf course at Cortijo Grande, a valley on the way up through the Cabrera mountains. Someone had said I might find some there, and I remembered seeing some when we have walked up there before, so as Monday morning dawned clear and sunny, Chris said he would drive up there with me. We parked the car and started to walk. It was really warm and we were soon shedding one layer of clothes. We had dressed up well knowing we were going higher than the village so we were expecting it to be colder. The views up there were wonderful.
As you can see, the local snow soon melted, but there is still plenty on the higher mountains further inland.
It was very peaceful up there, and all you could here was the birds singing, and an incredibly loud buzz from all the bees enjoying the blossom on these almond trees.
In the distance we heard an occasional bleat from a herd of goats coming down the grassy slopes, and the odd command the goatherd shouted to his dog.
Because the golf course has been abandoned for over a year, it is not in a very good state now. We were amused to see the goats come right down there and they were doing a good job of cropping the grass! It took us a while to find a gate that wasn't locked, but we did eventually get onto the course and we followed the footpaths to a small group of trees, but as I had feared, there was very little fruit on them, and what there was, was like tiny marbles, hard and dry because there had been no irrigation all last summer. We saw one tree that looked hopeful and Chris went over to pick an orange from it as they were too high up for me to reach, but when I cut it open, it was a sweet one, so no good for what I wanted.
Accepting that I was out of luck, and there would probably be no marmalade this year, we still enjoyed a leisurely walk in the sun. I spotted this little vine climbing up a fence. It was covered in flowers just like the big pitcher plants you see in tropical gardens on big estates in UK.
So we went home empty-handed again, but I am fairly philosophical about these things. If it is not meant to be, then it is not. And it is no use getting upset about it.
We are now back into our usual routine so Tuesday saw me driving over to Cucador for my Home group which now meets in the church as we grew just too big to meet any of our homes. When you turn off the main road to approach the church, you drive through some open campo, some agricultural land and along the side of a rambla. There are very few houses by the road and I always enjoy the wildness of it, and am on the lookout for interesting flowers and other wild life. Just lately I have had several glimpses of birds hopping along the ground, each with a crest sticking up from their head. I am always hoping I will see a hoopoe, as I know they are seen in that area, but so far one has never crossed my path. I knew these birds were not big enough or flambouant enough to be hoopoe, and I think it is still too early in the year for them, but I wanted to find out more, so on the way home I pulled just off the road and parked up and waited. Sure enough, very soon several of these little birds appeared quite nearby, and I managed to get a few photos of them.
Now this probably will make you smile. I wanted to know what my little bird was so I put one of these pictures in 'Google search' and asked "What is it?" Their answer; "Our best suggestion is a bird" !! However, I didn't give up, and after putting every key word I could think of into image search, I eventually found out it is a crested lark. Apparently they are fairly common in this region, but rarely stray as far as UK, which is why I hadn't seen them before.
That brings us to Wednesday, when as usual I went to my sewing group. I normally drive there myself but this week Chris wanted the car to run some errands, so he dropped me off and collected me later. We stopped off to have some lunch on the way home, and when we finally drew up at our gate I found not one, but five carrier bags full of oranges on our porch. And I was delighted to find that they were true Seville oranges. Marmalade was back on the menu.
I had no idea where they had come from, but luckily there was a note tucked into one of the bags. They were from a lady I have not seen for many months, who moved away from our village early last summer. One of her neighbours had given her the oranges and asked if she knew anyone who could use them, and she remembered me. I rang her up to thank her, and arranged for her to come after the weekend to collect some marmalade for herself and for the lady who owns the tree.
For every kilo of oranges I use, I add four lemons, which helps it to set, so I was very happy when another friend offered me a bag of lemons from her tree.
Lemons are plentiful here, and quite cheap to buy, but when I get given both lemons and oranges and my marmalade only costs the price of the sugar, it means I can make a good profit for the charities I sell it for. So yesterday and today I made a pan full, so that is fifty jars so far. That's about halfway for what I want to make, but there is still plenty of fruit to make more. I quite like making it and I love the smell in the kitchen, but standing preparing the oranges, and slicing the peel is hard on my hands and my back so I can only do one batch each day. But a couple more sessions should see my cupboard shelves full again.
you this picture that a friend of mine posted on Facebook to advertise her brother-in-laws green grocery shop. It is a satsuma trying to escape! It just tickled me and certainly made me smile.
We have had a mixed week of sunshine, grey clouds and chilly winds, but there have been several days when it has been warmer outside than in, and we have been able to sit out to eat our lunch. I often take my morning cup of tea outside, and wander around the back yard while the dogs are eating their breakfast. Yesterday I was just looking around and thinking about all the really little things that make me smile, and feel so very blessed to be living in this lovely area. So I got my camera out and recorded a few of them.
I love: the way the sun shines through the leaves of my little succulents, making them almost glow...
...the way the oleander is opening its new round of blossom, before last years has properly died away...
.... the way this ancient almond tree that has almost died from neglect and lack of water, has still managed to produce a few flowers this spring....
...the way this succulent cutting I took last year, is sending up its first flower bud this week...
...the fact that while there may be a shortage of bitter oranges, the trees of sweet oranges are bowed down with the weight of fruit on them...
...the fact that the beautiful chumba next door has again proved resistant to the plague of cochineal flies that have killed most of the plants all around here, and is looking really healthy still...
...the vibrant patches of green that can be seen all around. It is the greenest spring we have had since the first year we were out here.
So many little things to be grateful for.
I have no striking sunsets to end with this week, but I do have one of the sunrise this morning. It was a lovely light in the sky but I haven't done it justice with my photo. I stood watching the patch of light struggling to banish the bank of clouds, and saw all the little birds flitting across it. I couldn't decide if it was promising a good or bad day, and in the end it turned out to be somewhere in the middle; not sunny enough to sit out, and with a very cold wind keeping the temperature down, but at least it was dry, and I had my own little cloud of orange scented steam to keep me warm in the kitchen.
And with that I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I will leave you with some updated verses of of some very old Nursery Rhymes. So hopefully I leave you smiling too.