A hard day’s night: Mon, May 26, 2003

After a lunchtime/afternoon JD (Jack Daniels for the uninitiated) session yesterday and just about to fall asleep in the hot late-afternoon sun, I heard my neighbour Antonio, strimming in his olive groves. Now we Yorkshire folk are a very friendly sort and my conscience wouldnt allow me not to go help him out. I got kitted out in strimming gear and went out to meet him …….. big mistake! He was so pleased to have some help that after we were finished he invited me to his house for, yes you’ve guessed it, more drinks! Oh dear!

Antonio doesn’t speak any English and I, of course, have only an elementary talent in Espanol. God knows therefore what the hell we talked about for 3 hours! The rough vino he supplied me with certainly helped. I came away from his house staggering up the path, head full of half understood sentences. Knew I’d promised to have one of his Persian cat’s puppies (What do I want another for I ask myself ?) but the rest was, well pretty blank to be honest!

Sunday dawned with clear blue skies and I was just having breakfast, nursing the previous night’s hangover and looking forward to a nice relaxing day (I’d had 3 or 4 days hard work, fencing, painting and gardening) when Antonio rolled up and asked me if I was ready? “Ready for what” I asked. “Para la agua” he replied. Then followed one of those moments in life when you suddenly think “Oh shit!”. It all came flooding back. I’d asked him in a half drunken state to show me how all the water systems worked in the olive groves. The moment had evidently arrived.

What a hard morning it turned out to be. Antonio works (and walks!) twice as fast as anybody else, and I had major trouble keeping up. We travelled high and low, turning off water, diverting streams, digging water channels etc. By the end of it, about 3 acres of terracing were totally flooded with tens of water courses flooding down through them. Great news for the young fruit trees. Biggest laugh for Antonio (not me) came when I started sinking knee deep into the soft earth of the terraces. “No botas de agua?” asked Antonio with a wry smile. “No I don’t bloody well own wellington boots …. didn’t think I’d need them in Spain!”, I retorted as I fell back once more into the earth! He found all this highly amusing and I bet my flounders will be all round the local bars by now. Evidently I shall have to do this twice a month during the hot months. Anybody got any size 10’s they could let me have?

Cato (who is now evidently a girl) has fallen in love with Rocky. When trying to avoid Leo’s open jaws (Leo thinks she’s a light snack!……..see attached photo), she is intent on playing with Rocky’s tail. Spends hours doing it and poor Rocky just gets fed up. He keeps moving away for a bit of peace and quiet. Funny how things turn out isn’t it?

Remember me telling you about the 40ft cherry tree in the garden. I have picked the ripe lower branches and made some jam. Quite tasty actually, but I think I’ve put too much sugar in, as its a bit sweet. Made about 4 jampots worth. I reckon there’s about another 300 pots to go! Might put my own label on it and sell it to guests renting the villa. By the way, Antonio has informed me that the olive groves I now own should provide a yield of 2,000 kg of olives per annum. At a yield of 4:1 that should provide me with 500 litres of my own Extra Virgin a year. Can I really eat that many chips?

Going for proper lesson on how to ride a horse tomorrow. Sarah, who runs the stables, is going to have a good laugh teaching me to trot and canter. Why am I the village laughing stock? Got to go, Leo has the cats head in his mouth again.

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada