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Scribbler in Seville

Last night, the Spanish football team made history by winning its third back-to-back major competition: Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and now Euro 2012.

Two of the team’s players are native to Seville (well, the province) – Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas. Ramos, in fact, hails from my husband’s home town – the unlovely conurbation of Camas, best known for the factory which supplies drain covers to various cities around Spain. Nice.

After Spain gave Italy a sound beating – 4-0 is the most definitive victory ever in the European Championship (one of many records broken last night) – Sevillanos poured onto the streets to celebrate. Due to poor timing and recalcitrant children, I missed the big moments in Puerta Jerez and the Setas, but managed to catch a few snaps around Avenida San Fernando and the Alameda.

While my long-suffering husband stayed in the double-parked car with two…

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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Parallel Worlds

[words and photograph © Mark Eveleigh]

“Spain is a very special country and one must approach it with respect and with his eyes and ears open,” wrote James A. Michener in his introduction to Iberia. “He must be fully aware that once he has penetrated the borders he runs the risk of being made prisoner.” Over the centuries Spain has made “prisoners” of many foreign writers who have come to travel here, to call it home (Washington Irving, Gerald Brenan, Michener, George Sands, Somerset Maugham et al) and in several cases to fight for it (Laurie Lee, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, William Herrick).

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Definitely a romantic notion on the hills round these parts, but a lovely post from Danigard….

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

When you’re disappointed by the flavour of a tomato then you know your problems are few!

I consider myself spoilt because I have just had that very thought: ‘That was a flavourless tomato!’ And my thoughts wander back to the rugged mountainsides of Las Alpujarras, in southern Spain, where in summer time the tomatoes will be encouraged up their network of wires, striving for perfection in colour, size and flavour. Having recently returned from a walking holiday in Las Alpujarras I have become appreciative of where my tomatoes come from. A holiday in Andalucía revealed a very fertile agricultural region, dedicated to the growing of fantastic cherry tomatoes, high above the Mediterranean and in the lee of the Sierra Nevada. The good news for British tourists is that these beautiful tomatoes are exported to the UK.

The Andalusían Moors were responsible for the ancient irrigation system that took the best advantage of this fertile soil in Las Alpujarras, Andalucía. They introduced new techniques of raising river-water, with the use of the noria, an Eastern type of water wheel, most commonly a vertical water wheel which was slung with a chain of buckets. The Moors were quick to harness the reliable supply of water running off the Sierra Nevada with the use of norias and irrigation channels. There is evidence as early as 961 AD in the Calendar of Córdoba, written by the Mozarabic bishop Rabi Ben, of soil-analysis, times to plough, plant, irrigate and harvest. These ancient agricultural practices, in combination with the fact that the valleys of the western Alpujarras are among the most fertile in Spain, has led to a rich abundance of fruit trees. Today grape vines, lemons, figs almonds, persimmons and oranges are all grown.

In 1567, Philip II, issued a royal decree ending all toleration of ‘Moorish’ ways in an attempt to either provoke a rebellion or have the complete assimilation and loyalty of the Moors. Following this decree and subsequent rebellion of the Alpujarras Moors, in 1568, most of the Moorish population were evicted from the Alpujarras region. That is with the exception of two Moorish families per village who were retained in order to teach the new inhabitants how to operate the terracing and irrigations systems that they had expertly introduced and maintained for hundreds of years.

Little has changed today due to the steepness of the Alpujarras terrain and the fact that modern agriculture is still unsuited to this area; so tomato cultivation has excelled in the small fields and is an essential income of the region. This has also helped maintain ‘turismo rural Andalucía’ as tourists enjoying walking holidays in Andalucía are quick to appreciate that traditional agricultural methods have helped preserve the beautiful Las Alpujarras region.

So back to that original tomato without the flavour: I suggest you check the country of origin on the label. What you are looking for is ‘red, juicy, cherry tomatoes, vine ripened on the south-facing mountainsides of Las Alpujarras, nestled under the Sierra Nevada, Spain’. If you can’t see that on the label then I suggest you come and pick your own and combine it with a superb walking holiday in Las Alpujarras hosted by Hotel Los Bérchules!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Andalucian Art by Isabel Raths

Stopped at a cafe on the coast today and had a chat with the waitress about the paintings on the walls – wonderfully colourful pictures of typical Andalucian scenes. It turns out her mother – Isbael Raths – was the artist. I love them.

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
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A herbal adventure in the Alpujarras – from The Olive Press

I meet Sue Rodgers at the tourist office in Lanjaron, a pretty spa village in the Alpujarras – the starting point for my journey of herbaceous discovery…. read more…..

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
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Alpujarran Lawn-mowers

Alpujarran Lawn-mowers.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Interesting post on hand-holding hang-ups…

Exotic Maypole

Holding hands with Louise Brodie

Louise and I hold hands. Picture by Lou Brodie

What do you think about, when I say “holding hands”? Is it pig-tailed girls swinging their arms and giggling, best friends. Or lovers with their palms glued together, or running their fingers over one another’s hands just to make sure they’re real?

I think of love. Whether it’s a consolatory hand-hold to tell a sad friend that I’m listening, or skipping hysterically down a street after way, way too much prosecco, or walking down the street smiling happily at my boyfriend, I only hold hands with people I love. Oh, not my parents though. My family loves each other dearly, but from a distance.

Apparently the UK is jolly rare in thinking of hand-holding in such a limited fashion. While idly combing the internet for more things to do in my beloved Camberwell, I came across a work in progress by…

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

¿Qué es eso?

toptapas

What is it?  It’s  a LOQUAT – and here are hundreds of them around at the moment – like figs in Autumn they grow like weeds here in Andalucía. 

BIBASSIER in France, WOLMISSPEL in Germany, NISPERO here in Spain. In England? The delightfully named MEDLAR.  Indigenous to Central China, I had my first taste for breakfast this morning, Pedro next door bought them at the monthly market mistaking them for Apricots – an easy mistake, they look for all world like an Apricot, but are quite different inside.

Lots of shiny jewel like seeds, a tough often blemished skin and a soft fruit that’s packed with pectin, so jelly and jam, crumbles, ice cream, chutney, put them in Moroccan dishes with Lamb and Chicken, with curries, or just eat them as they are!

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fLICKR PHOTO

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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

XXV Gran Premio de Fondo Ciudad de Órgiva half marathon is taking place tomorrow in Orgiva. It’s going to be a hot one….

El Blog Rural de La Alpujarra

A continuación os dejo la nota de prensa que se remitió a los medios desde el Área de Cultura y Deportes del ayuntamiento de Órgiva, donde se incluye un resumen histórico de la evolución de la prueba:

“Nadie podía imaginar hace casi medio siglo, que el GRAN PREMIO DE FONDO,  entonces Media Maratón de la Alpujarra con apenas 70 atletas, se iba a convertir en el referente provincial en lo que a pruebas de fondo se refiere y al mismo tiempo en el evento deportivo más importante que se celebra en Órgiva y la Alpujarra, congregando en la última  edición  a 650  atletas procedentes de distintas provincias andaluzas ( Sevilla, Málaga, Almería, Jaén ) e incluso de ciudades de fuera de nuestra comunidad ( Madrid, Alicante, Murcia, etc.).

Este año se cumplen veinticuatro ediciones desde que empezara su andadura allá por el año 1988 y podemos afirmar que…

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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Uncategorized