We have experienced a whole spectrum of weather conditions in the last few days. Just a week ago (the night/morning of 19/20 December) we had winds so strong that they lifted from outside our door a very heavy wooden cupboard that we use to store logs and boots and deposited it down the garden. It had travelled over five terraces, each a metre high, and landed upright in a narrow space between a stone wall and a young tree, having done almost no damage en-route!
A couple of days later we were sitting in Cómpeta main square before attending a concert in the church (excellent – youth string orchestra) and it was so warm I had to divest myself of my jacket – and I looked up to see a young woman wearing just a tank top and shorts!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day supplied us with much needed rain – and plenty of it, backed up by more exceptionally strong winds. And now, 27 December, it has been absolutely still all day, with beautiful sunshine – a glorious day, perfect for a ride.
For reasons stated in a previous post, I am wary of riding in strong winds, so between the weather and the social whirl that is Christmas, I have not ridden for quite a few days, so took my opportunity to tack up and get going. Roly was delighted when he noticed my preparations – an opportunity to get away from those annoying little puppies for a few hours. So we set off for a long trek down into the valley and up into the mountains on the other side.
There were many signs of damage from the winds. Oranges and avocados on the ground, lots of branches torn from trees. Luckily the olive harest had been early this year, starting in November and mostly completed before the winds came, but the tracks and roads are still full of fallen olives. The olive harvest here is very labour intensive. The trees grow on very steep slopes and the fruit is shaken from the trees into nets that are slung below the branches. No room for any mechanical assistance on is terrain, although mules are often used to carry the crop home.
The route that we take on our ‘cave ride’ includes a long stretch of driveable track, part of which is finished with asphalt but which changes to compressed dirt. During the summer this has compacted so that it has been as hard as concrete under Liana’s hooves, which means walking and trotting only, but today, thanks to the rain, it is soft underfoot which means we can canter and gallop along for miles. We both love it, although it sometimes takes Roly a little while to catch up with us.
This is a lovely circular ride, and we return via La Fabrica, across the river which is running very fast due to the recent rain, and reach home to find that David has been sunning himself on the terrace together with the puppies, who get very excited at the sound of my voice. Poor Roly must be thinking that they have invaded another of his spaces, although he seems slightly less bothered by them outside than indoors.