The pond has been abandoned a little but despite a somewhat murky appearance seems to be doing well. We had made it to attract the frogs and this has yet to happen but as there seems to be so few slugs that’s no big deal. What has happened though is that it has become a magnet for the birds who like nothing more than a big splashy bath to start the day. There can be up to five different kinds battling for a place on ‘the beach’ including tits, (blue and great), goldfinches, robins, serins, blackbirds, greenfinches, sparrows and black redstarts plus their scruffy young. Pictures to follow. My favourite at the moment is the linnet although not a common sight. A hoopoe flew by the other day, and there are jays too.
There are quite a few plants growing well and the lily has produced its second yellow flower – very pretty:
But nowhere near as pretty as the red dragonflies:
They look bizarre close up with a giant bobbing head and filigree wings, kind of fascinating but creepy at the same time!
NB Have a butchers on the video page as there’s a new one with the (pretty much) finished house.
After weeks and weeks of downpour the weather has started to be kind, and just at the right moment. There were a few delays the first week but now, the week the roof goes up, it couldn’t be nicer. Blue skies and lots of sun. Actually, it could be nicer – it’s freezing cold! Frost welcomed us this morning but hey who cares because when we get to the house the builders are already there and every day there seems to be real progress. Not surprising perhaps with the hours they put in: they arrive at 8 and leave at 6. And amazingly they do seem to be putting up the roof in a week. The concrete posts are all in place and our builder reckons both the main roof, and the flat roof over the extension, will be done by Friday which is splendid news.
My only concern at the moment is the soil in the garden. Despite oodles of horse manure, composting and growing comfrey nothing is ready yet to put on the soil. I hadn’t been too worried up until now – I’d been turning over spadefuls of moist (admittedly rather heavy) stuff, and with worms in too (despite far too many vine weevil larvae which are waiting for some juicy roots and rabbits waiting for some juicy shoots). But the nice weather has dried up the soil and today I went to break up some clods of earth – and couldn’t! Rock solid! The soil desperately needs some nourishment. Meanwhile I tried to buy some potting compost and despite visiting three garden centres yesterday couldn’t find anything decent. I asked at one place and was shown a huge bag of peat and was told that’s what I needed. It looked dry and unwholesome, and suspiciously cheap. So my latest mission is to find good quality potting compost as the little seedlings are going to need a good start in life.
Richard continues to strim away, everything looks so much nicer once the brambles have been blitzed. Hope to have some tile photos up next…
So the year draws to a close, and how nice that would be if we could say that at last the builders are busy on the house. Alas, that’s not to be – although it does seem that the paperwork is done. Now it’s a matter of getting it all approved, and for that we need the officials to be in their offices… well, it is Christmas I suppose and things do wind down this time of the year…
The weather has turned jolly cold and looking across the valley it was white with frost one morning. Not a great event for many but for me, having lived in more clement climes, it looked lovely, hence the pretty frost pics…
Looking out of a top window from Casa Azul it was great to see so many birds by the big pond, although one looked like it was walking on water – yes, even the big pond had frozen over. This was lunchtime too and the sun had been on it all morning but it was still completely iced up. The pic shows the pond completed before the frost – just to show you what it looks like now filled with water.
And the garden plot has had a lot of work on it now. The last three beds were weeded (and the stones removed), then covered with paper and finally with grass. The idea being that this will prevent the weeds returning (ha!) and also add some nutrients to the soil. The worms should come up and break everything down. For those interested the compost heap has grown (and shrunk), we have made another compost box for all the horse manure we’re collecting (thanks, Dolly), and there is now comfrey root growing in pots (I hope) which will grow huge leaves that make fantastic organic fertiliser. Well, that’s the idea anyway. The most successful gardeners look after the soil rather than the plants, it is said, so at this rate I should have the best produce in town! (When Luis saw us digging up the brambles he scoffed and suggested his tractor friend Tony come round and sprinkle poison over everything!)
Finally, when the sun comes out we get in the pick up and have a run around. The countryside around here really is lovely and we always feel better afterwards. We are spending Christmas down in Lisbon which I’m really looking forward to. So Boas Festas and here’s to a house-building 2010!