– June

First off, I have finally finished treatment for my back (hernia).  It’s taken about four months, during which the only thing I had to do was remember to take tablets, and has been a wonderful success.  For the first time in what must be at least eight years I am completely pain-free.  All thanks to homeopathy (and our amazing practitioner).  I have to admit I was really sceptical, despite all the marvels Maureen has experienced, but no longer.

The solar water heater/ cooker continues to evolve, albeit at a spanish pace, which is either very slow or not at all.  I’ve now added a layer of bricks to the inside (which we had over from the renovation), on the base and standing up around the edge (wired to the wall to hold them in place), in an attempt to store more of the heat, especially as it has been mainly cloudy recently.  The next time we go out I’ll get a piece of glass cut to fit over the entire top, to see if it will help keep the heat in.  Also look for a scrap of thin stainless steel, to use as the reflector.  Still haven’t managed to track down a 5 litre cast-iron saucepan though.  What I have got was a secondhand book on solar cooking (SOLAR COOKING by Harriet Kofalk), which I hoped would be inspiring and informative, but turned out to be neither.  Just like all the other alternative/ sustainable living titles I’ve been duped into buying (like: LIFTING THE LID by Peter Harper/ Louise Halestrap, and DO IT YOURSELF 12 VOLT SOLAR POWER by Michel Daniek).  When it is so hard to get anything published these days, how do they make it?

Other goings on at El Pocito.  Finally finished the rainwater canal down the second half of our bit (400 metres) of the track.  With the spoil being used to fill in the worst of the potholes, so now it’s like a carpet, and come autumn/ winter I no longer have to worry about any further damage.  Sadly the rest (about 1,5 kms), is still degrading.  This is due to increased four-wheel drive traffic, which tears the surface, and the reticence of the local council (which in Spain is the mayor) to do any maintenance work (even if it becomes impassable).  Yet these forestry tracks are very important.  Not only so we can get in and out, but all the other landowners too, this is the only way for them to reach their land.  Walkers depend on it as well (ours is an official tourist route).  The only hope is if the current mayor is unseated at the next election.  Meanwhile we will have to cycle in and out, leaving the van in town.

We’re waiting now for the summer annuals to germinate.  There’s no veg plot here (because the soil isn’t fertile enough and it is too hot, requiring precious water), but we have managed to fill loads of 5 litre water containers (rescued from the recycling bin) with what was left in the compost heap, and are looking forward to at least some of our own tomatoes, chillies, okra, and loofas.

Next big job on is the pond.  This is the one below the house (the other, nearer, has been taken over by the wild boar), created by the previous owner using a JCB, and was massive.  Except he made the sides far too steep, and during one very wet winter it all caved in, taking a large chunk of the hillside above with it.  I have a passion for ponds, along with a deep concern that the house stay where it is, so last summer dug it all out again (this time by hand) and over the winter terraced the upper side to prevent any further erosion, then planted it up with fast growing trees/ shrubs.  However I’ve just noticed there still isn’t enough shade over the pond to stop the water from drying out, so this week I start terracing the rest, ready for planting in the autumn.

Anyone out there have experience with brush cutters?  We have some serious weeds now that need removing before they become a fire hazard, and need to know which make/ model/ and blade type would be best.  Also whether hiring one this year would be more economic than buying, especially as I’m a novice.

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