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Treasure Island beach walk

21 May

Last weekend we wanted to do a morning walk before the weather really gets too hot to even think about walking – so our friends Mike and Gill, who are very keen walkers – told us about one particular route they had done which gave you two options.  The first one is a much more challenging walk over quite big hills above the beaches beyond Mojacar; the second is a coastal walk, but along a decent, flat track for the less ambitious. Both start from the tower at Macenas beach as you head for Carboneras.

Meeting point at Macenas tower

We didn’t have to start too early, although the forecast was for the high eighties on the Saturday that we went.  But anyhow, we agreed to meet at an acceptable 10.30 and promised Gill that we would be on time as we always seem to be 10 or 15 minutes late when going to theirs for lunch!  So, we set off extra early, and they still beat us to it.

Signposted all of the way

We were hoping to be 6 or 8 but everyone else cried off for various reasons, so with it just being the four of us, Mike gave us the option to either do the more difficult, over the hills walk (I hasten to add there was a promise of a beautiful beach and tapas lunch in the chiringuito at the end of the two hours that it would take to get there!) or to do the easier coastal walk to the same point, but which would only take an hour or so.  I thought as it wasn’t too hot, that even I would brave the hills.

The sea view

Shelters on top of the hill

This is where someone having done the route already pays off, as Gill kind of kept me up to date with what to expect; it was tricky here, steep there, over the worst bit – that kind of thing!  Not being much of a walker myself, it all helps to keep you going.  There were several gorgeous natural stops on the way where the council have put up seating areas and little cabins to get a bit of shade while you catch your breath and have a glug of water (which obviously is essential to take with you).

Keep going!

The way down.

It was as challenging a walk as I would like –  a few quite hairy bits going down some steep slopes with nothing to hold on to,  but nothing that phased our 70 something companions!  They are quite amazing and remained undaunted, but seriously, if you are of a certain age and not used to walking, then take the coastal route which is just lovely too.

The beach before Treasure Island beach

2 hours later we arrived at Treasure Island beach (yes really they shot the Orson Wells version here in 1972).  It is just lovely, unspoilt and with just one chiringuito, Manaca,  to have drinks, tapas or lunch.  You could quite happily spend the whole afternoon here – and the good thing is that it can be reached by car too, so you could pack everything up and come for the whole day, away from the more popular beaches in Mojacar.  You need brollies and something to lie on though as it really is a natural beach with no other facilities apart from the beach bar.

Treasure Island beach

Chiringuito Manaca

He was a bit thinner then

We arrived for lunch and of course a much needed drink, tinto verano in my case (summer wine a bit like sangria) – just lovely.  Then the owner came out with the menus and a chameleon – (see the picture!) who live naturally here in the trees.  He was very friendly and unphased by being handled by us (the chameleon, not the owner).

Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma etc.

The walk back to Chiringuito Macenas is a about 40 minutes long and passes past the old lookout point. Very dramatic scenery here.

 

The walk back

The old lookout point

Walkers delight – Chiringuito Macenas

So maybe from now on, if you do want to try this walk, you would need to start by 9 in the morning at this time of year, a little earlier as we go through to July, or even go when the sun is setting and have a swim and a sun-downer atTreasure Island beach.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.

 

 

 

 

 

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Minnie (now Cleo) the Podenco has a new home

11 Jan

It was a sad day for us on Monday but a good one for Minnie – our friend Alan (Canon!) Bennett has been thinking about getting himself a canine companion for some time and after having met Minnie at our Christmas party, decided that it was time for a decision.

We all went for a walk on Saturday to see how they got along (Mick and I have been walking her on the lead and she is becoming quite good).  She is a real beauty and is going to be one elegant dog.  At the moment, like all puppies, she is full of life and quite a handful, but has her really good, calm moments and I think will make a very good pet for Alan.  I, of course, cried my eyes out when they left, but Minnie hopped in the back of Alan’s car quite happily and off they went.  She will miss us for a while, as we miss her, but long term undoubtedly she will be very happy with Alan.

We have become, unsurprisingly, very attached to Minnie and were adamant that she was not going to go to a rescue centre.  I had been in touch with an amazing girl who rescues Podencos on a regular basis, and finds homes for them.  She was going to help us with Minnie, but obviously we are delighted that after a month at Cortijo del Sevillano, we were able to home her locally where we will be able to see her thrive and grow.

Here is a picture of Alan and Minnie, now Cleo, in her new home – I wonder who is going to be the boss!

Minnie the Podenco

7 Dec

In the never-a-dull-moment-living-in-Spain life, let me introduce you to Minnie (she looks like a little mouse!).  She was left in our friend Nevenka’s garden and I am afraid I am unable to walk away when it is on our own doorstep, so to speak!  There are fantastic animal charities here, but of course, they are bursting with tear-jerking stories of abandoned dogs and cats – Paws is our local one, but before we contact them, we are doing our best to home her ourselves.

As many of you know, the Inn is a bit full at Cortijo del Sevillano with Kevin, the Pointer and Digby the Jack Russell – both rescue dogs (well, Kevin found us and literally lay down on the doorstep).  At Christmas time one is even more given to acts of stupidity where these beautiful creatures are concerned – if you don’t want to be caught, don’t look into there eyes!!  I did and before I knew it there was a great big puppy cage in the hall.

She will going off to the Vet on Friday to be inoculated as it may be easier to home her if she is vaccinated. We are doing a bit of puppy training too in the hope that a well behaved dog will be an easy dog!  In the meantime, we are giving her lots of love, food and a bed by the fireside – if anyone knows anyone in the Almeria area who could perhaps give this wonderful animal a home, she and we would be forever grateful.

Please call us on 950 453 34o.

The Bee-eater

24 Jun

About this time of year, sometimes we are lucky enough to hear and see the   bee-eater bird and to watch them flying in and out of their “nests” which they make in sandy hillsides, or in our case, the side of the dry river bed near the cortijo.

 

They truly are beautiful birds and you will know one when you see one by their brown and yellow upper parts, but more by their wings which are bright greeny blue.   They can reach a length of 10–11 inches, including the two elongated central tail feathers.

 

It is strongly migratory bird, spending the winter in tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka so they’re not here for very long and you really know summer has arrived when you first see one around May time.

 

They breed in open country in warmer climates. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters eat bees, wasps and hornets which are caught in the air by missions from an open perch.

 

Before eating their catch, rather brilliantly the bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. Astonishingly, they can eat up to 250 bees daily.

 

Bee-eaters are gregarious creatures and nest together in sandy banks, usually in May & June. They make a relatively long tunnel in which they lay their eggs, around the beginning of June. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, (like the hoopoe which we also see often here), which are brooded for about 3 weeks – you can see them swooping in and out of the holes along the dry river bed from our swimming pool and you can watch them for hours.

 

Then as swiftly as they arrive they seem to disappear at the end of summer but it is always exciting to see the first one when they return.

 

 

 

The Hottentot Fig

4 Apr

The end of March is probably one of the prettiest times of year here – you can be a bit unlucky if you get 4 crummy days on the trot, and of course we do have rainy days during January and March. Now we can see the benefit of a few cold rainy days in the sudden sprouting of green and yellow carpets everywhere you look and the hills look as lush as they ever do in the region.

The weather has changed in the last week – today is like a hot summer’s day and we will see less and less rain now, making planting difficult unless you have lots of time to tend and water plants in.

The Hottentot Fig or Cat’s Claw (so called because that’s what each plant head resembles) is out in force – you see it growing all over the place and it has the most stunning bright pink flowers – and I have been transplanting it again in front of the house.

We had such a hot summer last year that it suffered a little but so hardy is it that you just snip a piece of another healthy plant in the ground and water it in.  Within a year, it should be lush again and is just no bother. So having lived here now for almost 7 years I have learned what is happy growing here and what isn’t. From now on I’m looking to achieve a low maintenance ‘garden’ that will survive the heat of the late spring and summer in the desert.  This is a good start.

The Hoopoe bird

21 Nov

Living where we do, we have a fair variety of birdlife – if you are lucky you will see an eagle or two, we once saw three all at the same time which was an amazing sight.  More frequently, though, you will see the shy hoopoe – they are very distinctive black, white and brown stripes, with a red crest on their heads, and a very long hooked beak for feeding from the ground.  I must admit they do look a bit nutty but it is always a thrill when you see one, or more usually, a pair together.

Hoopoes are monogamous or at least for one season anyway.  They are quite territorial and fights do break out with rival males.  You can hear them calling to each other (hence their name!) and they don’t seem to shut up at night either (as some of our guests have told us!).   Also they have a great way of seeing off any predators when incubating their eggs or looking after their fledglings (we frequently saw magpies trying to stick their beaks in!) – the female hoopoe secretes a liquid that smells of rotting meat which seems to deter any unwanted attention – in fact the babies can also direct streams of waste at intruders from 6 days old!

 

You will usually see them in pairs and they actually nest quite close to the ground in rock faces or holes in trees.  Early this summer, it became apparent that a pair were nesting behind our courtyard in one of the Cyprus trees.  We noticed them in May, going back and forth, back and forth over the roof all day long, and then heard the twittering of babies who stay in the nest for about 6 weeks.  My dad watched them for ages and managed to get some great footage on his video camera of them coming to and from the next with grubs and insects for the babies.  I knew we were going to be away when the babies flew the nest and of course the very week we were away for my birthday they did. But it was amazing to see the parents up so close for so long, as they do tend to be shy, but we are hoping that we will see more of them next Spring..

 

Introducing Digby

24 Aug

For those of you who know us you will also know that we lost our beloved little Scrappy dog in June – thankfully we have been very busy so that has kept our minds of how much we miss him.  Last week, Pat (the lovely lady who dog sits occasionally for us) emailed us saying that she had a little Jack Russell cross who had been left at her gate.  She has 8 girl dogs of her own and so can’t take a male.

She said she knew it was a bit soon after Scrappy, but that this little chap was just gorgeous – very good with people and other dogs and immediately thought of us as I had said I would consider having another small dog in the future and she knew how heartbroken we were at losing Scrappy.  She said that there was no pressure on us as if we didn’t think we could have him, he was going in a vehicle to Holland on Sunday with one of the charities here (lots of them go to Holland – they must be really kind over there.  I emailed back saying that we would give it some serious thought that we felt it was a bit soon, but that we knew we were in a position to take in another little hound.

Once Mick and I had discussed the fact that we were indeed considering taking him we kind of knew what would happen next!  We went to visit him on Saturday and one look at his little face and the deal was pretty much done, on the basis that if he fit in with Kevin the Pointer and us we would keep him.  So we brought him home for the rest of the weekend to see how things went.  He is absolutely adorable, very very good and even Kevin seems to like him.  So we emailed Pat to say that things were going very well, we loved him already and to cancel his place on the lorry!  So we are back to a full complement of dogs again – Digby (the new one pictured) has not replaced Scrappy, but we knew he wouldn’t mind sharing. I hope he has a happy old time with us.