Friday, January 28, 2011

Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli

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This winter has been a great time for brassicas with cabbage, swede, turnips and cauliflowers doing well however, the winner by far has been the early purple sprouting broccoli. The temperate climate of Asturias seems to favour this particular vegetable. Each year it just gets better and better. It is rarely affected by any pests and continues sprouting as we cut and cut again.

Whilst it is so fresh we tend to steam lightly and eat hot or cold. It is sweet and tender and goes with most things. Later on when we just cannot keep up with the glut we will harvest, quickly blanch, then freeze. It is never the same on its own once defrosted but is great in soups.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

News about the Donkeys

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It is a while since we posted about El Paraiso del Burro the Donkey Sanctuary here in Asturias. Since our last post the Sanctuary has appointed a committee following the formation of an Association. Luis and I are involved in a small way but continue to help out when we can with publicity and developing the association. Marleen, the owner, has always wanted to put on open days where people can come along and meet the team and the donkeys, and tour the finca and beautiful setting.

A series of open days are now planned for the coming year. These are:
Time: 11.00 to 14.00

Sunday 6th February

Sunday 3rd April

Sunday 5th June

Sunday 3rd July

Sunday 7th August

Sunday 2nd October

Sunday 4th December

If you are in Asturias and want to come along, please contact Marleen via email or telephone:

marleen.verhoef @

Tel: (00 34) 646.188.375

If you have time take a look at the other web resources for the Sanctuary: - English language blog - Spanish language blog - Dutch, Spanish and English Language web site
Facebook page
Facebook Group

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ground Force - update 1

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You may remember that sometime ago we helped John and Be to prepare a couple of new vegetable beds in a piece of land next to the Sella river. Well yesterday we all met up there to see how the newly planted veg was doing and to plant yet more.

The cooler weather has certainly helped to keep the weeds to a minimum so it didn't take too long to loosen the soil and remove the weeds that had started to take root. Most things had grown well. The cabbage was small but it was planted late and might not get enough growth in to form anything worthwhile. Needless to say John and Be were really pleased with their first harvest of salad leaves, baby leeks and spring onions.

Weed free veg....
The compost heap was turned, more lettuce planted and two fruit bushes planted, gooseberry and blackcurrant, kindly donated by Nigel. It'll not be too long before a third bed needs preparing and the whole plot strimming. Temperatures of 20-22 degrees this week and high humidity have meant ideal growing conditions for both veg and weeds. We rounded off the morning with a welcome cuppa from Sara and Bill...and some yummy flapjack type slice....

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Walking in Asturias 8 - Peña Crespa

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The walk up to Peña Crespa is in the Ponga Mountains, a mountain range next to the Picos National Park and popular with walkers. From La Pasera, it takes us over an hours drive along some very impressive mountain roads with fabulous views.

Peña Crespa was the last in a series of five limestone ridges we tried to climb over on this particular occasion and just before all the snow had melted. The views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular and in the distance you can appreciate how impressive the Picos Mountains are.

Any walking in the Ponga area will take you through some stunning pasture lands and meadows dotted with stone huts or cabañas used by the shepherds in the Summer months. Many of the cabañas fell into disrepair when the number of shepherds started to decline in the late 80s and through the 90s. I could not resist photographing the carvings on the door of one of the cabañas still standing. Spending any length of time in any of the cabañas as people did in the old days must be quite an experience. I could see myself spending the odd night in a tent up in the mountains but imagine stopping in the middle of nowhere with a fire for warmth at night, a candle to light up your evenings and having to collect your water to wash yourself from a natural spring running down the face of the mountain ...

These remote environments we enjoy while walking for the day are often viewed very differently by those who still walk these mountains to tender their herds. Whilst talking to a farmer whom we encountered at the end of this walk, it was very apparent that opinions differed over this type of landscape. He had livestock grazing the high meadows and viewed it as a working landscape. Harsh and difficult it maybe but beautiful and enchanting to the visitor.

Coming soon: Making hand cream; The Palette; Cultivating Seeds.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year Challenges

New year resolutions are not for us. What is the point of promising yourself that you will give something up or start doing something you don't like doing simply for the sake of it?

We do however make a point of talking about the things we want to achieve in the coming months and see them as personal challenges and goals. It doesn't really matter if life gets in the way but at least it gives us a focus for our time over the next few months.

We have a range of general challenges that we aim to face and tackle, some are not for public broadcast whilst others maybe. You may have noticed that we have links to four new pages connected to the Blog: The Artisan, The Gardeners, The Photographer and The Writer. Have a look and check out the links and slide shows. We have set ourselves challenges in these four areas they are:

The Artisan - to continue developing new skills and to continue with mosaic projects currently planned for the garden.

From a series of mosaics that form steps down into the garden

The Gardeners - to grow more chemical free food and to use what we do grow more effectively.

Fresh fruit and vegetables on the menu

The Photographer - develop and strengthen camera and lens knowledge with a view to taking photographs that inspire and inform.

Such grace

The Writer - develop techniques and strengthen personal discipline to ensure I write regularly.

From: People on Platforms

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who takes an interest in our life and pastimes here at La Pasera and to say how much we appreciate the many kind words and comments we receive. It never ceases to amaze us how many people regularly visit our Blogs. Luis has had 100,000 visits to his blog in the past 12 months! Keep in touch and may all your dreams come true.

And finally, Wentworth and Gawber continue to play an important role here at La Pasera, now fully grown they add a quality to our life that only another animal can......who could resist?

Wentworth and Gawber