Friday, March 27, 2009

Mountain Walks

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Luis here:
With the beginning of Spring, we are experiencing a period of warm sunshine and longer days during which, planting in the vegetable plot has continued. The three varieties of onions reds, whites and early salad ones that I got from the local market, four hundred of them, all have rooted. Seeds of beetroots, spring onions, mangetout, peas, carrots and lambs lettuce will hopefully start germinating soon now that the soil is warmer. As you can see, at this time of the year the vegetable plot requires some time. I have also been experimenting further with the mosaic making to create human and animal shapes.

Not all has been work while Ian has been in the UK visiting family and friends. I have enjoyed some lovely walks in the mountains and coast. I organised some of the walks in the heart of the Picos National Park and was joined by Luis and Tina who both live in Toriello. I was also up in the mountains with a friend, Nigel on two of the most incredible walks in different parts of the region, Piloña and Caso where we climbed Pico Vizcares with 1420 m high and Peña Crespa just a bit taller at 1521 m and a 10 hour walk. Both walks were fabulous with stunning views of remote mountain areas, valleys and high pasture meadows. It would have been difficult for me to do this walks if Nigel, who knows the mountains very well, had not kindly taken me with him. We did not see as many wild animals as we expected but the abundance and range of wild flowers made up for that, daffodils, dogs tooth lily, cowslip, primulas and hepaticas to name a few. In the second ascent we were lucky enough to see all four types of the asturian wild daffodils, some of them in such huge numbers- such a treat! We also gained an insight into the lives of the shepherds by visiting some of the cabañas (shepherd´s huts) dotted along the way. The cabañas are stone buildings in beautiful environments traditionally used by the shepherds when they took the livestock grazing up into the mountain meadows during Summer. Sadly many of them now are deteriorated as there are very few shepherds left.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pebbles and Winter Flowers

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Luis here:
This Winter has been a wet and cold one and as a result we did not manage to plant the oats as green manure. During a recent dry spell we have extended the wood store as we have been given 4 trees for firewood. In the vegetable plot the brasica family benefitted from the wet weather. The cauliflowers have been brilliant and yesterday I harvested the last remaining three, 2.5 kg of tasty, organic home grown cauliflowers floretes. Some of it we made into a very tasty soup that we had for lunch with our home made bread and the remaining of the crop was stored in the freezer to be used at a later date. We have started cropping early purple sprouting brocolli, young leeks and baby carrots. 
I have recently completed mosaics in two different styles. One style is called opus tessellatum which is the traditional roman mosaic found decorating many villas and public spaces throughout the roman empire. Opus tessellatum uses small pieces of stone or tessare in different colours that follow a design, in this case 1 cm square which I cut using a machine designed and constructed by Alfredo, my brother-in-law. At times you also need to make or alter the tessare by hand using a hammer and anvil. My first mosaic made in opus tessellatum is a name plaque for the house. The other technique or style I use is called opus lapilla. This is also an ancient method used throughtout history by the greek, roman and other cultures. Opus lapilla mosaics are made using pebbles of difenret sizes, colours and textures to create a design. At times I incortporate some details made out of other materials such as glass, ceramics, marble, semi-precious stones amethyst), slatehave and even man-made materials such as tile and silextone. Ian helps me not only with the designs but also with the selection os some of the pebbles. My latest pebble mosaic has a central lizard made with slate ands amethyst that still needs to be consolidated using for the first time a special type of cement that has been difficult to track down. Each mosaic is made with thought for the person or the specific garden project. The results are very beautiful.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Shrove Tuesday and Springtime

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Luis here: I hope that you liked your pancakes this year, I certainly enjoyed mine with cinnamon, lemon and treacle. Life at La Pasera is allowing us to enjoy some early spring sunshine that has brought into blossom the daffodils, primulas, hepaticas, aconites, daisies, dandelions, crocus and the beginning of spring growth for the orchids. The scent of the violas is a nice reward whilst digging the vegetable plot, planting the potatoes or seeding different vegetables. 
The last few days we have enjoyed some cold mornings and evenings but the mid-day sunshine has been very pleasant and such a change to the wet period we have just had. Sometimes the locals are right in their weather predictions - The Temporas - we have just experienced a great end of month (February) as they predicted. The Temporas are said to predict the weather forecast over a three month period. You need to observe the weather patterns on specific days of a given month, always on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the weather of the first Wednesday will reflect the predicted weather for the first following month. The Friday weather reflects the second month and the Saturday, the third month. Three days approaching in March will be observed carefully as it is the Temporas with the corresponding weather prediction for the next quarter year. I find this a very curious and amusing tradition however, it serves as a very useful topic of local chit-chat. Some of you may be doubtful that such a ritual is based on any logic or common sense. Spookily it can both be accurate and widely off the mark. I will be comparing notes with Luis of local farmer.
Red Sky at night...

Divining for water with Friends at their Yurt