Friday, 9 January 2015

Walking the Olive Oil Way

I was still slobbing around in my PJ's at 11.30am when we decided to go out yesterday.  I had a hasty shower and then prepared a pack-up (picnic), including a bag of dog biscuits and chews for the canine members of the party, and then off we went driving north towards Cordoba.  We decided to explore a little more the the green way - Vias Verde -  we had found a couple of weeks ago.  There are numerous green ways, converted dismantled railway tracks, covering some 1900kms in Spain but we haven't managed to track down any maps of them yet and there is no such thing as an Ordnance Survey Map so our exploring is a bit hit an miss.

Update: There is a road map published by the Ministry of /transport/interior?? that includes the Vias Verde in green apparently; I have now to try and locate a bookshop that sells them or I will have to deal with The Ministry direct and get it on line, in Spanish...oops

The remains/ruins of one of the station buildings.  They are quite ornate though this is only the second one we have come across so far.  Apparently a number of its fellows have been converted into rest stops, cafes, accommodation and even cycle hire shops.
We have just approached a via duct that crosses this valley.  The Rio (river) flowing through below is the Rio Guadojoz.

Viaduct de Rio Guadajoz, with two impatient dogs waiting to cross
The bed of the viaduct is constructed of the old railway sleepers, with minute gaps between the weathered timbers that shows the valley some 100 feet below...I walked along the edge

The Rio Guadojoz feeds into this laguna (lake.)  We stopped here for our picnic lunch before turning and retracing our steps back to the car.
On our way back

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Hot waters

Another lovely sunny day, we really are being blessed this winter, so we took the dogs and ourselves off to a local lake on the Rio de Colomera.  The village clings to a steep slope that is studded with olive trees and the road drops down past the villas to the lake.  We parked up and headed for the lake shore.

 Stunning reflections

We found a couple of sticks and in moments it was PLAY TIME!
 Fletcher retrieving his stick

 Floyd's turn

 Joe musing or watching the dogs antics

 Semi javelin, semi discus...but it went

And, that is ...two sticks brought back, despite what you may think
We stayed about an hour, the dogs were exhausted and dust free which was a bonus so we loaded them back in the car and headed back to base where we sat outside in the sun, dried the boys and had a beer, or two.

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Twenty plus degrees today, major p*** off for some so forgive me please.  We ere going to have a look around Jaen (pronounced Hay - en) but the weather was so good we headed back the Vias verde  - green way, we found last Sunday for a walk and a picnic.

 Sweatshirt shed and in rucksack after five minutes walking and a smile on Joe's face...

 Joe had the camera for this shot so it was on the wrong setting - unbeknown to him

 I believe this is an acacia tree
Acacia tree, a good spot for a picnic
 Olive oil processing plant passed en route
Heading back to the car

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year celebration with our Spanish neighbours

New Year feast Spanish style
New Year's eve we were invited to join a local Spanish family for their traditional get together.  The extended family were in attendance so tables had been set out the 'tiled garage' and an open wood fire lit in the  corner fireplace to heat the space.  The table was laden with seafood, hams, cheeses, olives, smoked salmon breads and crackers.  After the cold course there was pork cooked with pineapple and the British visitors contribution, curry..
What a priviledge to be invited right into the heart of the family for this shared feast, I hope we managed to convey our gratitude in our snatches of badly pronounced Espanola and their sketchy understanding of English.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Moclin village

On Monday we took ourselves off to have a look at a typical local village, Moclin.  Hilltop, former Moorish residence with castle on a crag and watchtowers on surrounding crags; quaint. Cobbled streets, extremely clean and litter free - that would please Maffi, - whitewashed and very, very quiet.

 Castle on the top

 Looking down on the village roof line

 Snow covered Seirra Nevadas in the background

Clean, clean, clean

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

In search of a Vias Verde..or a Green Way

On Sunday things were a tad overcast and chilly (Hee, Hee I can hear ..) so togged up with overcoats, but no gloves or hats,  to set off in search for a walking trail that is one of the Vias Verde trails here in Spain.  They are trails established along what are now redundant railway tracks.   The nearest I could find to where we are staying is north of  us on the way to Cordoba near a town called Alcaudete.  I could only find some information about the trails on the tinternet and with nothing resembling  a map or leaflet finding the trail was going to be potluck.   We headed north on our chosen route looking out for a brown tourist sign that might indicate the trail....there was a dearth of brown tourist signs...nice drive though.  As we were about to give up the road passed under a footbridge..."That's it!" I cried, " the trail crosses this road."  So a U turn was executed and we headed back under the footbridge and took the next right and a mile down the track through olive groves and we found the Vias verde.

We set off south along the trail, deciding to walk for 45 minutes before turning and walking the 45 minutes back to the car.  The trail passes  Lake Salanbrol, above.

 Arriving back at the car and the skies have darkened, are we going to have a deluge?

And at last, we spot mechanised Olive harvesting.  We watched while two tracked vehicles set to and harvested olives.  The harvester has something like a giant inverted-broken-umbrella fixed to the front in hydraulic arms.  Approaching  the olive tree, the arms are lowered and the umbrella unfurled around the base of the tree and then the harvester shakes the tree.  The olives fall off into the waiting umbrella which furls up again and gathers the crop..simples.

And spotted on our walk, how about miniature Iris's as wild flowers?
After a couple of hours out and about we headed south again under louring skies but no rain.  We decided that we will take a pack-up (packed lunch) next time, perhaps later in the week and head north along the Vias Verde now we have located it..

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Anyone for olives..

I am probably setting us for a deluge of Biblical proportions by writing this but we haven't had any more rain since our first weekend here, just oodles sunshine.  The clear skies at night mean things are bitterly cold overnight with a hard frost in the morning but by mid morning, there is wall to wall sunshine and it is sufficiently warm enough to be comfortable just wearing t-shirts, so we are pleasantly surprised.  Most days we have been able to enjoy lunch on the terrace and sit for a couple of hours reading in the sunshine. 
We are smack bang in the middle of olive growing country here and the olive harvest is well underway but unlike the UK there is a noticeable lack of mechanisation employed. Your ears are assaulted with the melody of a two-stroke engine powering a hand held 'twig- wobbler' that shakes the olives from the branches.   The olives are then either raked into piles and dumped in a trailer or they use leaf blowers to achieve the same aim...but with more noise.  The harvest is very labour intensive and I wondered how the crop could be economic but it seems that olive trees attract  an annual EU subsidy of 700 euros per hectare (2.47 acres)....
 In another part of the old farm that we are staying on are six young Bulgarians that come every year for the olive harvest, in fact they travel across Europe picking crops in season in various Countries to earn a living. They are working seven days a week, leaving at 7.30am and returning at 5.30pm and they are paid about £50 per day each to harvest olives; Respect!!  Given the terrible level of youth unemployment in Spain one wonders why foreign labour is needed but I have nothing but admiration for those that are prepared to travel and put in the hours that these Bulgarians are prepared to deliver.
Have a lovely Christmas everyone..