Twixt Here'nThere

A spasmodic, serendipitous, journal to show what's happening or not in England, Spain, Portugal and wherever else perchance to roam. Travel, languages, sailing, religion, sex and politics, living abroad, the Pacific Ocean including Easter Island. News from: 'Navasola', in the hills of Aracena at Fuenteheridos; Cabanas de Tavira in Portugal; the cool cool banks of the muddy Humber; and from Pedro (Coelho), Max (Happydays), Tigger, Georgina (my Georgi girl) and Theo and friends in the Great Wen.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm going to dump (interesting technical term) my Navasola diary for October/November here and hope there'll be no regrettable consequences.
Pleased to hear from my two readers in South America and one in Yorkshire!

The Computer diary. Day 1, Monday 9th October 2006, Navasola, Fuenteheridos, Sierra de Aracena, Huelva, Andalucia, Spain. 10:15 am. Temp 15° C. Fine clear morning. Sun rises over trees 10am.
iBook 99 to 97%. 10.22 95%.

Later that day: 20:30 UK, 21:30 here in Spain. iBook 95--> 94%. Plugged in charger from inverter.

Max. temp today 20° C at 17:00. Was 18° C at mid-day (14:00). Reached 19° C between 11:30 and 12:30. Minimum temp 9° C (08:30). Sunrise c. 08:00. 'Second sunrise' (above trees) about 10:00.

Had 'desayuno' at Bar Diablo. (¿Como es por falta del Diablo viejo?). Bought essential supplies in shop.

Peter rang with problems at HYC. Whilst talking to him, had magnificent view of male Greater Spotted woodpecker flying on to olive tree just inside gate.

A few butterflies still about: small white (F Orange tip?), fritillary (small, meadow?), male brimstones, large white, skipper (dingy or mallow?), Wall.

Reminds me of hurriedly repairing a section of wall down again from last visit. the walls are not built like those in England where I was told that walls like these (with very little 'batter' or inward slope, and no mortar) will fall down - they do!

Quite a bit of evidence of wild boar (possibly badger?). weather fine but quite cloudy/overcast tonight and feels a bit like rain. Just found a long-dead wood mouse in trap behind cooker. iBook doesn't seem to be increasing charge (still 94%) but isn't losing it either. Now save as html. Afraid Text edit isn\'t inserting html codes for special characters, so will probably look wrong on a PC

22:20 (21:20 BST). Feel like bed.

Tue. 10th October 2006, Navasola, 09:30 am, Temp 15° C, Min. 14° C. iBook still shows 94% after overnight charging and seems incapable of calculating remaining time.
Overnight temperature 5° C milder than last night (because of cloud cover/air mass?). Can hear bees on Medronho (Medroño?) through kitchen wall/roof/window? Can also hear beetles in timber. To breakfast - 'o pequeno almoço' as I was in 'Português' but had to switch to 'British' to get the 'ç'. 94%! Portuguese keyboard also different which is tricky (azerty?) and switching language doesn't switch the dictionary - and then all the highlighted 'errors' have to be clicked in to remove 'error'! Amazing though what this TextEdit can do with an extraordinary range of international (and UTF/Unicode) special characters, typing languages and dictionaries for the spell-checker. Now, what was that about breakfast? (10.15 am).

10.40 pm Managed to run generator for an hour (or was it 2 hours?) without the charger plugged in! then charged battery for 1 hour. iBook at 92% charging.
Good day, max temp 21° C from 2pm to 5pm. Min. 14° C. Largely cloudy and overcast, some sun in afternoon. Also slight rain at 5.30 and in evening. 2/3 water drained out of pond (c.250 litres) but not much after that so not leaking in bottom (below bridge). Lots of noise from roof at present - bats, rodents?? (saw gecko in toilet yesterday).

Fewer butterflies today but think 'small white' might be 'Bath white' or similar (strong grey patterning on underside of wings). Saw flock of bluetits and of long-tailed tits around pond. Also bird thought was Goldcrest but perhaps Pallas's Warbler? Used 'desbrozadora' for an hour and got very hot and sweaty so used shower (working extremely well, shared with large beetles). Cleaned house a little.

Went to seminar on 'Agricultura Ecologica' (or Biologica) = 'Organic Farming' in Fuenteheridos Ayuntamiento. Arrived at 7.15 as thought started at 7.30 but had in fact started at 5pm. A little boring in presentation - very politico-polemical about the benefits. Understood tables in slides if not too much of talk but understood something about 'sacred' principles and 'metales pesados' in environment, 'respeta por la vida' etc. Met Luis Moya again and afterwards (9pm) everyone went to Meson la Posa for drink and tapas (jamon, lomo and chocos) presumably on the Ay'to. Luis commented 'ningun juventud!' - at 60 I might have been below the average age! One of speakers (from cataluña) has 80 hectares of encinas, alcornocoques and olivios near Cortegana. Apparent 'organiser' Manolo young man with small finca at Los Marines. Luis claimed 100,000 litres an hour from his 80 metre borehole on huerta of about 5 ha in finca(s) of 35 ha. Gave me his number as I asked to see the huerta. Lives at 11 Charneca and seems not now to spend much time in Seville. 97% and charging but 'time' shown as 0:15 (minutes?) now 13 - minutes to charge?? 98%. (Showed 4h54m before shutdown at 100%. Lopgging on next day, shows 4h7m (rising) and 98%)

Wed. 11th October 2006, Navasola, 10.40pm. Quite a dull day (sunshine mid-morning with clear sky). Max 19.5° C at about 14.00 but dropped to 16-17° C in late afternoon rain. Greater Spotted Woodpecker saw me before I saw him and made a lot of fuss high in tree. (Squawking and flicking wings held down alongside body). Saw 3 people walking across finca - one probably over wall between house and studio, the other probably one person walking one way then back across bottom (N'n boundary). first with basket so probably after mushrooms. Fire plan from ASAJA was a shock - want 19.5 metres cleared to ground by machine all way round comprising 2.6 ha or 65% of area! (boundaries and calculation as usual for anything 'measured' in Spain wrong - probably about 1.8 to 2 ha or 50% of area). Manuel's sister Maria made me an appointment to see him next Monday at 7pm so will ask him about this as we can't afford it every year. (It's the other sister who speaks good Portuguese because her 'padrinos' are Portuguese (god-parents).

Min temp last night possibly 12° C (minimum gets pulled 'down' = up! by mercury). can smell burning woodsmoke unless it's rain in chimney. saw Derek and Linda+ Fred briefly in Bar Dama. 11pm (put watch on today) and time for bed. a holiday tomorrow so can't get anything done in Aracena and can't get extra poles needed for fencing. Will call Pablo tomorrow.

Thur. 12th October 2006, Navasola, 11.22 pm. Min. temp last night <7° C. 9.30 7.5° C. Max 19+° C late afternoon. Beautiful sunny day with clear blue sky all day. Just now I'm in bed with the laptop. Spent a couple of hours strimming top SW corner about 17m x 3m (to 20m along north wall) and then 20m x 2m away from wall (half way across SW end). Takes about 1 minute per 2 square metres so 2.5 ha would be say 13000 minutes or 220 hours. Presumably the machine would be quicker but there are very many places where rock would make it impossible. Will ask Nicholas Winer about it as well as Fidel and Manuel. also speak to Sasha about it. Clearing 19 metres all round in this way would completely destroy its character as well as most of its valuable wildlife habitat. Saw Tufted Marbled skipper (male), Small Copper, Brimstones, a blue (brown female), Wall, Painted lady, 'Bath white' again, Blackcaps and Willow Warbler in tree and young jay right by house. Greater Spotted Woodpecker again making a fuss from dead top of chestnut some distance away. Long-tailed tits (and blackbird) again in pond. Similar flock of long-tailed tits yesterday about same time (6pm) with blue-tits and possibly a Pallas's warbler. Too tired to write any more.

Fri. 13th October 2006, Navasola, 10.50 pm. Min. temp 10° C. Max. today 20° C at 4pm. Clear sky, sunny day (24.5° C in Aracena/car) except cloudy between 7 and 8pm.
Discovered car had no oil in it at 12 - needed 3+ litres to show on stick. Saw Tufted Marbled skipper again, brimstones, large colourful brown butterfly (could have been painted lady again but looked larger). Went into Aracena - getting oil!, gas and petrol. saw Inigo and made appointment for next Tuesday at 10. saw Sylvia and Juan and collected tax form (for 63 eurocents - Juan says nothing else to pay). Will check with Barranca. rang Nick Winer (spoke to Nicola) and should have rung this evening but forgot. Must ring him and Jago tomorrow morning.

Went to Castaño at about 6, saw Richard and Dina and met Mike Fox. Saw Sasha and 'happy birthday' to Gala today. Sasha told me Opel garage is in Rio Tinto and much cheaper than in Aracena. (there is an Opel dealer in Pol. Cantagallo in Aracena so get price for battery tomorrow.) Moved 'hincos' to front of house with car - get a few more tomorrow. Need to set alarm! Have had gas fire on.

Colin and Ros 'texted' and rang from Béjar - coming here tomorrow and think it will be about 2. Want to stay night so will have to tidy up. Saw mouse whilst they were on phone. Bat making a terrific racket in roof. Kept me awake a lot on Wednesday night. Georgi rang and seems in better spirit than last night. Emails from Jennifer re 4 weeks next year and Margaret Hancock as poem about Gnomes at White Cottage. Also strange email from Peter. Now 11.30pm.

Sun. 15th October 2006, Navasola.
Colin and Ros arrived about 5pm on Saturday. Min. overnight temp had been 8°C. Max 21°C. A beautiful sunny day. Temp upto 24°C in Aracena. Went to bank at 1pm and signed off transfer. Asked Ignacio re deposit account. Had scheme for investment over 27 months with 8% return? But for instant access best was 2.5%. Will email if something new comes up. Bought chair and table but forgot vegetable rack! Spoke to Nicholas Winer who said ignore the fire-plan - normal to put 2 m/c widths or about 8 metres round - see Sunday. Spent 3 hours vacuuming and cleaning bedroom and elsewhere. (I hadn't slept in 'casita' since March and didn't relaise it was so dirty. Also found mouse had again excavated two holes in foam to make nest.

Had walk round finca wioth Colin and Ros, then, in evening, went to Almonaster la Real to see 'Jornadas Islamicas'. Went to Mesquita just as getting dark. There was some kind of concert follow-on with prayers, calling the faithful and explanation of the importance of a daily family meal. Bought 'shwerma' with chicken (we think). Bumped into Sasha with Julia and Gala and gave gala a 'singing frog' - small wooden model bought on stall. Gala's birthday on 13th. Saw house Georgi and I had been looking at in Almonaster. Then came back via Alajar and went for meal to Campsite, returning about 11pm.

Sunday. Min. temp 11°C. Dull and overcast. But Max. 20.5°C (3pm). Tried to rain and Colin worried about getting out. Had Colin's meusli porridge for breakfast. Went for walk around finca including over rock behind studio. They seemed to have slept OK and been quite comfortable and warm. Both had showers. Took a few chestnuts and left about 1.45 through campsite. (Colin very worried about his car). Became sunny in late afternoon (about 6pm?).

Walked right round finca again. From map believe boundary is about 1100 metres and only 350 metres of this would it be possible to 'plough'. Rest is too rocky or difficult access, slope etc. to reach. About 4pm on south boundary wall, suddenly saw two enormous owls fly out in opposite directions from Chestnut. So large that I feel they must have been a pair of Eagle Owls. (At least 2 feet long with quite long tails. Plumage appeared grey and white spotted or streaked from underneath. Slight suggestion of horns on head but only saw for a couple of seconds and were flying in opposite directions. Went back later to see if had returned to same tree but no sign of them. saw bat in roof after supper (of cauliflower cheese and vegetable casserole again!). Georgi had been to Richmond Park and seen something about compost from Bracken in leaflet. Season for Red deer rutting. Max not very well. Asked her if she could get recipe for Quince jelly. (To use the 5 large quince/membrillo/marmelas I have picked). She suggested last night that 'izzy' Sue might come on the April course. 11.35pm.

Wed, 18th October 2006, Navasola. (92%., 12.05).
Monday: Min. 11.5°C (I think originally misread at 8.5°C). Max. 19°C.(1pm). Very windy. fast moving clouds from south/south-east, later south-west. Dull, overcast, typically 15-16°C. Started raining about 11am. Very dark. Rain at times very heavy. went into Aracena in evening. Saw Manuel. Met Derek and then Jago who I'd been trying to contact by phone all day. Will speak to Fidel and knows of possibility of selling chestnut crop to Galaroza co-op and they look after trees. Painted hinges in loo bright green. Meal in Gran Via.
Tuesday. Min. 13°C (9am). Max. 18°C (2pm). Still dark, overcast and raining heavily most of time. Some respite and brightness in afternoon but torrential rain again at 7pm on road from Aracena. More water in pond. Gale force winds. Took Pablo to Aracena in morning and saw Iñigo at 10. Arranged with Gemma to meet Manuel at 11am next Monday. I(ñigo and César to start work. Possible site visit next week, otherwise in November. Expensive quotes for replacing fan in car but 89€ for service and later bought second-hand fan in Galaroza's 'desguace' Melli for 20€. (Otherwise a new non-Opel fan 200€). Tyres from 35€. Battery c.50€. Met Derek and Linda, saw Mick and Jan and met Sasha (Sasha to ring Opel in Rio-Tinto for me). Pablo likes to go in jamon café to practise Spanish rather than English. (A good Norfolk/London lad!). Toilet broken and went to San Blas twice but neither of two replacement ball-cock mechanisms really suitable. No toilet or water (as valve on loo also not shutting off properly), but eventually repaired (welding plastic kept failing) with wire and will serve for now. Spoke to Teresa who was keen I should get some pre-course instructions done. Left message on her phone later to ask if she could send me specimen as I haven't got it on this m/c before she goes to UK early Wed. Now leaks from base of filler pipe!

Wednesday! 8am 14°C. Min. 9-10am 13°C. Enjoying the weather! There's light/moderate rain, heavy rain, very heavy rain, very very heavy rain, torrential rain and something else. Has been raining most of time for 48 hours. Not quite so heavy Tue. night but torrential rain, storm with thunder and lightning from 8-8.45 this morning. Heavy rain most of time since and exceptionally heavy about 11. Some leaks over door and in front of fireplace. Pablo rang at 10 when I'd gone back to bed with tea. Wanted number for Sierra and Walls but can't find it and not sure if it's in car. Still raining now (12.35), sometimes heavy. Have had several rain showers - saving water! and very stimulating - feels warmer at 14°C then having a hot-shower in the house (which feels cold afterwards). Slippers and flip-flops drying on gas fire which have moved into bedroom (with door ajar!). Had ('Colin's') meusli porridge and toast for breakfast. Running out of matches so have candle alight in miniature bucket candle holder. Too wet to do anything and too dark in house to do much. (Have had lights on in day but will need to re-charge, better if it stops raining). More rain so will have another drink and lie down to warm up. Paint hinges again and do paper-work, tidyhing and possibly electrics later. (80% 12.45). - suggests over 5 hours or 4 hours now. (m/c says 3h55m).

More torrential rain and storm putting out lights in Aracena 7-9pm. Electrobrico wants to fit 2 new tyres. Spent 2 hours at Sierra Walls - 5 minutes to check and fit fan, then 2 hours whilst tried to fix electrics (fan not working on temperature). Gave up at 9pm (after trying new relay), and asked me to return about 4 tomorrow. Saw Linda to collect washing and then had snack in Noria under TV for Chelsea v. Barcelona. Temp. at 10.30, 13.5°C. Forgot to ring Sasha again or Jago. Rang Pablo who would pick me up if necessary. 11.25.

Sat. 21st October 2006, Navasola.
Lot of rain last 3 days, especially on Friday when rained much of night and all day, sometimes torrentially. Min. Thur. 12.5°C, Max. 16°C. Fri: Min 13°C, Max 19°C (but generally 14-17). Today, Min. 11°C, Max. 19°C. Some sunshine in Aracena pm. Had 2 tyres fitted am Thur. Couldn't get fan/electrics sorted - maybe Monday? (ditto for tracking). Went to Laura and Pablo's pm Thur for battery and had meal with them. Laura showed me current and past publishing (dtp Quark) work she has been doing. Battery seems to be OK but have Pablo's as standby. Linda rang at 11.45 to say police came to say Derek had fallen and broken his shoulder - taken to Rio Tinto by ambulance and brought home about 3.30am. On Friday, took him and Linda from Bar Dama to Centro de Salud - then sat in Gran Via before taking him home.
Inverter battery low-voltage warning went off late last night as not used Generator much (couple of hours since Sunday) so put on today for 4h 35m (+ half-hour for drilling for door lock on bathroom).

Very poor signal on phone at finca since bad weather. Have been unable to get Georgi today although she did send me a text message but hasn't rung. Went into Aracena late morning - shops all closing at 2. Bought paper and psychology magazine with book. Also bought vegetable rack and book on Spanish cooking and a few more provisions from Dia including a couple of persimmons ('pronto a comer') one of which collapsed but has been eaten! Found CD-R couldn't be written to after recording files on it in internet shop on Thursday. Hope CD-RW which now has files on it can be used between Mac and PC OK. (Had thought CD-R would be multi-session but 'Read only' on Mac - permissions). Raining again just now and forecast to rain tomorrow and Monday. Met Pablo and Laura with Titus and friends in Aracena this afternoon. Have seen (and heard!) the wood mice quite a bit. Bats also noisy and sometimes disturb sleep.

Appleworks on here won't re-open files once they have been saved in Word format, so this is quite a problem. Also deletes all content from some files saved as rtf (tables?) but seems to be fine with html. Have put together pre-course information as requested by Teresa but can't reliably save it as Word. Have saved itinerary as html.

Fri.27th October 2006, Navasola.
Can't believe Georgi has been here 5 days (since Sunday) and has now, today, gone back home on the first day without rain (so far!) in 11 days. What a week! The car breaking down on the motorway out of Seville at 11pm on the Sunday night in the pouring rain after a delayed flight was not a nice experience. How lucky we were to get such a helpful 'grua' driver who got the car back to Aracena and us to Fuenteheridos in rain and fog at nearly 2am.

Now the car needs a new 'junta de culatra' (head gasket) it's a painfully expensive experience. Then being without the car all week and the weather being so dreadful with heavy rain most of the time all this week has completelyu changed any plans for the week: hence no visit to Portugal and the car probably not fixed now until the week after next. It was really helpful of Richard and Dinah for Richard to run us to the airport this morning and of course it was a fine day for Georgi's departure.

At least the well is now full and even higher than it was last April - just above the first step.Running Generator again now as discovered had not charged when run for over 4 hours last week - output plug from charger loose. Should be up to 12 hours since Monday afternoon when discovered problem (as charger cold and fiddling with plug suddenly brightened lights and clearly raised voltage). Met Michael in Fuenteheridos last night and he very kindly offered to get me a gas cylinder which he has done while I was in Seville.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost the maps and papers relating to the firebreak (and annual tax) and may have left them in the bank, bar Gran Via or elsewhere in Aracena last week. Hope I'm able to recover them. Found yesterday that neither the CD-RW or the new CR-R I bought will accept new files. Hope this is due to not seelecting the right options in the Disk Utility CD burner - but what a faff compared with using a floppy - why not default to multi-session?

Georgi should be back at Heathrow or even home by now so hoping she will call. Is talking about us coming out ion February if the new '' flights are available. Suspect this is Iberia in disguise trying to put one over on their pilots and Ryanair.

Sat. 28th October 2006, Navasola. Max. <20°C late afternoon, also 18.5°C after 8pm but 17.5°C 7pm. 18°C at 10pm.
Generally warm sunny day (24-25°C in Aracena). Lift into Aracena from Craig and Sasha at 1pm. Saw José Miguel at 'Sierra y Walls' but adamant problem is with head gasket. Will give only 6 months guarantee. Unable to get hold of Opel in Rio Tinto but Craig will ring them on Monday morning. Abbeygate say Abbey Road should be prepared to take car to Rio Tinto for me.

Saw Derek and Linda at home. Derek seems somewhat better even if hand a little swollen. Gave Maria the Snowy Owl and chocolates and Marmite to Sasha. Got shopping in Logardi and met Craig and Sasha again in Gran Via, then went to Derek's. Later walked with him to Betis bar and then on to bus station for bus to Fuenteheridos. Got back to village at 6 when Colin rang to ask me to book him two rooms for Monday night which I did at Pedro's. Watched DVD, had pasta and vegetables from yesterday plus fruit, yogurt and cake. Believe clocks may go back tonight. Will be interesting to see if computer adjusts itself.

Found 'lost' maps and fireplan on kitchen table. Georgi rang at 1pm after talking to Vinay about repair job. Also got quotes for 7 day and 12 day car-hire.
Larger bat (bigger than pipistrelle) flying about in house. Found him scrabbling along beam by bathroom windows. Left door open and not sure if he's gone out. Lot of noise in roof including something running about on top. Colin rang to say coming Monday lunchtime until Tuesday with Vic and Olive.

Thur. 16th November 2006, Navasola. Min 11°C (am) but now at nearly midnight down to 6°C. Max. c. 13°C
Very wet again since last night and that must have been wettest day so far with possibly 4-6 inches of rain overnight (wheelbarrow full). Small stream appeared this afternoon at bottom point of path up to house and runs down towards huerta. Well at highest yet with water nearly upto 4th step from bottom. Now difficult to believe almost three weeks has passed and keeping a computer diary has proved a chore. Russell was here (and in Portugal) for 4 days last week and helped me put new beam in by fireplace. Old one was extraordinarily rotten and largely eaten away by large grubs which Inigo says are 'Carcoma'. Still don't have car back which now needs a new cylinder head but hope to get it back tomorrow for about 1000 euros. Have had hire car - a Peugeot Partner 5 seat 'van' very similar to Citroen Berlingo. Lots of room except load platform a little shorter than Astra with seats down.

Saw Fidel this evening but looking doubtful if chestnuts will be picked. He thought Pedro's idea of ploughing with Mules would be expensive and would be OK to plough outer field (cleared last spring) with machine. Will cut chestnuts which are down for me.

Collected Pablo from Seville Tuesday night and Linda's mum from there last night, returning in heavy rain. Visited Lidl with Laura, and Leroy Merlin and nearby Carrefour with Linda. Derek in hospital since last Saturday with Pancreatitis and will be in for some time. So have visited Rio Tinto a couple of times. Have fires tonight in both hearth and bedroom stove. (16.5°C in casita).