Green grapes, purple figs and warm winds

The intensity of the summer heat subsides as the warm winds sweep across the hills rattling the seed pods of the Spanish broom. The night song of the cicadas and crickets start to fade and the arrival of overnight dew resuscitates the roots of this land. The air clears and the azure blue sky returns bringing with it the singing birds, the shepherds and the jingling bells of their clambering goats.

andalusia landscape

The wild life is not all that comes back to life, our restricted water supply starts to trickle back to normality and behind the scenes we can once again return to more 'doing' than coping.

The almonds are falling to the ground now and those that haven't made it into the nets are picked up by hand. It's gentle mindful work, rather therapeutic and a good way to empty a very full head.

Very few of the almonds gathered now require de husking as these have dried up and fallen away but the shells must be properly dry in order to store well over the winter so they are checked over before adding to the storage bins. When needed for the kitchen they're cracked open by hand in small batches.

figs in a tree

The amazing fig tree fruits for the second time, a larger crop than in June and they pretty much decide to be ready all at once. They're great with all sorts of combinations including serrano ham, manchego and strong coffee - although dipping a ripe fig into soft, dark chocolate may just come out top.

making vinegar

The figs that drop are collected to make vinegar, simply by putting them in a large container with spring water and letting them ferment. The resultant liquid is tasted regularly and about 4 four weeks later when ready, it is strained, put through a series of very fine sieves and bottled. It combines particularly well with vino mosto to make a sweet-sour drizzling syrup.

muscatel grapes

These are sweet muscatel grapes and we only have a few vines at the moment. They are quite surprising to eat, some bursting with sweetness and fragrance, others quite tart resembling gooseberries. By the time the grapes are at their best the leaves have started to dry up so we pick and pack up a batch of young green leaves earlier in the summer for storing in brine.

wild asparagus

The hostile asparagus casts its invisible net, its thorns protecting the delicate shoots. For those not knowing, in search of the beautiful perfume it radiates, rarely find its origins as it flowers only for a few days, then it's gone, wafted away.

Sea squills (Drimia Maritima)

These beautiful Sea squills, (Drimia Maritima) flower only for a few days and although common in coastal areas, being 500m above sea level they are a rare sight on these hills. They are poisonous to humans, rodents and most grazing animals but thrive where grazing is particularly heavy and after a bush fire these two stems shot up.

Some very long straggling fennel stems get cut, bundled and left out to dry ready for kindling the winter fires.

And then 'coming back to life' is meaningless for some! This is Pip, as a small kitten he walked all the way up from the river following some walkers one day, had a Lebanese meatball and has stayed ever since.