Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The sudden hot weather has meant that last week's cookery course was agreeably complemented by lunch under the arbour, and dinner under the stars.

The new saltwater filtration system, and solar heating are almost completed, so we are looking forward to chlorine free swims!

Jeannie and I were at the Bruce Springsteen concert in Seville on Sunday night, in the Olympic Stadium. An incredible concert. The man sang for 3 hours solid without a break!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Struggle for Work at the Rio Tinto Mines

60 miners have been walking from the town of Rio Tinto for the past week; staying in sports halls, being fed by friends and volunteers.
Today, they reach their goal, the Andalusian Parliament in Seville, to protest at the unbelievably slow, foot dragging of the Junta de Andalucia, over the re-opening of the mines.

Miners have been locked into the Corte Atalaya pit for weeks now in protest of the lack of jobs in the traditional mining town.

Emed, the international mining company which has taken over the mines have been allowed to languish in spite of huge investment and a willingness to provide many jobs which would kick the local economy into action and give unemployed families, who are many of them living on an economic cliff edge , an opportunity for life and dignity.

The longer the Junta drags its feet, the longer we wonder what is going on in the background....are there economic interests muddying the issue? Does someone, somewhere want a bigger slice of the action?

Why, when a country is crying out for work opportunities, and there is someone prepared to start an important business, is there no positive action taken?

Today, the protesting miners will be demonstrating outside the parliament buildings at 1pm.

If you are in Seville, show up and give them some support, please

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Preparations

Fresh from our travels to the historical wonders of the Highlands of Ethiopia (Lalibela, Gondar, Axum and the painted monasteries of the Zeghe Peninsula in Lake Tana) , we returned home to find Andalucia basking in its fourth dry month of constant sunshine.

What about the orchards? To sow or not to sow? Should we plant the spuds and use sprinklers?

This year we have imported rare heritage potato breeds from Caroll's in Northumberland; Shetland Black, Highland Burgundy Red, Pink Fir Apple, Salad Blue and the wonderfully floury British Queen, which we had only seen before for sale by the road in West Cork, Ireland. We remember it's fluffiness when baked, and slathered in butter. Mmmmm. Not very Andalusian, but we can look forward to having our varieties for sale in the local burgeoning farmer's market this autumn.

Holy week was mostly a washout, although some of the processions could go out, noteably La Madrugada, the solemn night-and-dawn procession through Aracena, which starts around 5 am. We took our clients, and it was a cold, starry night. We punctuated our street-side wanderings with visits to bars for carajillos (coffee and coƱac to warm the blood), and as dawn came up and the first birds were singing we brought home Aracena's unique potato churros, to serve to our guests with our fresh farm eggs for breakfast. (Our Violet Andalucians are beginning to lay well)

Now at last we are going through a period of April showers and sunshine, and things are beginning to grow. Soon the Spanish chestnuts will be in leaf. The goats are producing a lot of milk and I am making yoghourt, hard cheese and flavoured cream cheeses. These are delicious with our own sourdough breads.

We start ploughing on the top of the far hill next week, to clear the flatter ground of cistus ladanifera and pink heather and to try to re establish some pasture under the oaks. (The wild shrubs, though beautiful, are a fire hazard and can grow 1.6 metres in height over a period of 3 or 4 years.)

Kind neighbours have lent us their ram for a week and he is covering the ewes....doing his duty, so we hope to have some lambs in the autumn, in time for the winter pasture.

On June 9th, the village Hermandad de la Virgen de Gracia, is coming to Finca Buenvino to cut down a poplar tree. The men of the village then carry it back on their shoulders, stopping every 20 metres or so to refresh themselves from a barrel of punch. Later the tree will be erected in the village plaza, with much heave-hohing,the Spanish flag fluttering from its tip. This is an annual springtime rite and we're honoured to have the tree selected from our farm this year.

Los Marines' Romeria is on the last Sunday of the month of May, Sunday 27th. We still have room for two couples if anyone is interested in coming for the weekend.

Our new solar heating panels and saltwater installation are being fitted to the swimming pool even now, so we will soon have lovely chlorine-free water, and an extended swimming season!

On the 18th June we are running a 6 night cookery course. The total cost, for tuition, meet and greet and drop-off in Sevilla, excursions to Jerez wineries, restaurant outings and all food and drink and lodging is €1200 per person+8%VAT. We only have a few vacancies (max cooks 8 if sharing rooms, or 4 if all want singles) Single supplement €50 per night.

If anyone is interested, drop me a line at buenvino@facilnet.es