Things had really started to heat up here. The hay meadows have all been cut, the grass drying in the sun before being baled for winter feed. Anna and I had started to swelter in the heat, we had been doing our gardening either first thing in the morning or (more often) in the evening. The days were spent indoors looking wistfully out the window at the heat haze in the valley. Finally though the weather broke with a couple of huge storms. The rain came down in sheets and there were some amazing lightning displays across the hillside. We were worried for our newly planted beetroots and carrots, but the little seedlings coped remarkably well.
Our friend Jo came to visit for a couple of days. Richard and Suzanne kindly offered to let Jo sleep in the big house, which is a beautifully kept old building and which Jo loved. Unfortunately her love for it couldn’t overcome her fear of unexplained noises in the night, so I ended up sleeping in there while Anna and Jo stayed in the apartment. Best couple of nights’ sleep I’ve had for ages! The ghosts were very well behaved.
We spent a lot of our time with Jo chatting and catching up at the apartment. When you have good food and good company there’s not much need to go anywhere! We did manage a little trip to Mogrovejo, one of the loveliest of the many lovely villages here, where we talked over our plans and further analysed the bizarre happenings at Mazo de Mon! We also did a bit of gardening for Suzanne and Richard as a token attempt to say thanks for letting all our mates stay over! In no time we found ourselves waving goodbye to Jo at the bus station in Unquera as she headed to Santander for her flight home.
Over the weekend we went for another walk. After last week’s expedition we decided on a nice short waymarked path, the Ruta Bajo los Picos (The Route Under the Picos). It started and ended in Mogrovejo, following cart tracks up towards the huge rock face that marks the start of the national park.From there we circled around, crossing a lovely little river and heading back down to town on the other side of the river valley.
On Monday we went to the local Ayuntamiento (town hall) to get ourselves registered at the apartment. This is the first step towards residency. Since the UK is now apparently leaving the EU, we feel the more roots we can put down here now, the better! Richard came along to help us, which was an absolute godsend because they guys at the Ayuntamiento spoke no English, and our Spanish was way too basic. We were amused to find that no-one (including Richard) knew what his house number was. Eventually the lady asked him to take his pick, so we are now Number 30, Basieda. The official register appears to be a printed map of the village with peoples’ names written on by hand next to the houses.
The garden is looking really good. A few of our beetroot seedlings succumbed to the heat when we missed a day watering, but the majority are OK. The carrot seedlings we planted at the same time seem to cope with drought much better and are perky and happy looking even in the heat of the day. When we first arrived here we found a rogue tomato plant growing between cracks in the courtyard. Anna salvaged it and potted it up, and after a rocky start it is now the tallest (although skinniest) of all our tomatoes. It has a small fruit now, and we look forward to seeing how it tastes.
We now have a regular supply of lettuce from the veg garden (huerta). We are supplying a bag to Richard and Suzanne and a bag for ourselves every couple of days. Anna is getting pretty creative with it now; I didn’t realise until today that you can eat nasturtiums, but the flowers and a couple of the leaves made their way into today’s offering. The flowers were quite sweet, and the whole thing worked very well.
Anna spotted a couple of birds circling one of the fields today. I said they were storks, but she reckoned they were Egyptian vultures. I grabbed the camera and she was proved right! Very exciting. We only need black and bearded vultures here now to make up the European full house!