I am now ten days into the self-imposed alcohol ban and have started on the 5:2 diet – had to wait a few days to get going because for some reason I find myself unable to start a diet on any day other than a Monday, but we are now up and running.
It has been a week of riding and walking. Until today the weather has continued to be stunning with day after day of fabulous blue skies and deliciously warm sunshine. I have been on two lovely long rides this week, the first, on Monday was just Liana, Roly and me trailing down into the valley and high up the other side close to the ‘cueva del agua’. Caves are ok so long as you don’t have to squeeze and crawl to get into them, which is necessary for this one, the largest and best known in the immediate area, which is apparently extremely deep and contains two chambers that are full of water. (Lots of photos of Cueva del Agua here http://www.forospiedrasobrepiedra.com/smf/index.php?topic=12202.0)
I dismount at the highest point of the ride and let Liana nibble on the poor, dried up grass while I feed Roly some biscuits and we both have a drink.
On the return leg of the ride we are lucky enough to see a group of ibex, I count six although there may have been more, they are across the valley on the other side of the river and they keep still enough for me to get a couple of rare photos of these shy creatures.
A couple of days later I do practically the same ride with my friend Kim on her horse Irene.
On this occasion we pass the goat man with his herd that are grazing just above the track. There is always plenty of warning when the goats are in the area because they all wear bells that chime together to create a charming symphony that floats across the valleys. The ‘goat dogs’ show more interest in Roly than he is comfortable with, but these animals – one of which is very big – are not usually aggressive and we pass without incident.
There are many herds of goats in this area, the ones that are kept closer to the villages are walked out each day to find forrage on the hillsides and they are a common sight on the roads, blocking the traffic for a while – not so bad if you are driving against the flow as they find their way around the cars and you are free to drive on as soon as they pass, but if you catch them going in the same direction it can take quite a few minutes to drive through them – the nannies with their teats so full of milk at the end of the day that they almost drag on the ground, the billies that try to do their duty along the way, and the kids jumping and skittering around the adults. It is a charming sight, best viewed through closed car windows as the smell can be a bit challenging!
I have started to use a new app (map-my-walk) on my iPhone to chart my walks (and rides). On Thursday morning I walked a route that I regularly ride up into the natural park just above Canillas de Albaida, emerging at Cruz del Monte and returning home via the upper Cómpeta ring road and the goat track.
I started the application as I set off but realised when I was nearly home that I had accidentally paused the programme, so didn’t have accurate data. So I decided yesterday to repeat the walk, and found that I had walked 8.85 km in 1 hr 41 mins with an average pace of 11:27 mins per km (fastest km walked 9:53, slowest 12:44).
On reaching home I had a bite of breakfast and then saddled up Liana and did the same route again as I was interested to see the different data for each journey. We are able to do a few canters and gallops in the park and we trot most of the way back along the road, so the journey feels a lot faster. The second trip took 1 hr 21 mins, average pace 9:25 mins per km ( fastest 5:34, slowest 14:02). Apologies if this is really boring, but I am quite taken by my new toy!
And Friday was the day that I had to say goodbye to my puppies after six weeks of cuddling and cleaning the floor! They have found a new friend recently, a bodeguera – a spanish ratting dog, rather like a long-legged jack russell. He seems to have been abandned at the stables above our property and has been spending a lot of time with us. The puppies love him because he is kind to them (unlike Roly who doesn’t want to be anywhere near them). He is desperate for attention and every time I crouch down to pet the pups he tries to climb on my lap. He is very sweet.
So the boys were collected by their new girls after they had been picked up from school, and the two sisters and two brothers were delighted with eachother.
I am sure they will be very happy together and I can always go to visit them at the Pavo Real (bar/restaurant) where they have gone to live. And it will be a good excuse to sample the Pavo Sunday lunch that is so well reviewed. (Pavo Real Restaurant, Torrox-Competa Road (KLM 9) Tel: 654 869 083)
Today, Saturday, I drove to Sedella to walk with my good chum Helen, up in the mountains behind Sedella. We drove to the picnic place and walked up a very steep climb to a ridge where we were looking directly over at Maroma.
Unfortunately the weather had changed today and at times we were walking through the wispy clouds, so didn’t have very clear views. Unless we wanted to continue the walk to Canillas de Aceituno (which we didn’t) we had to turn and follow the same route back to the car, which is a shame because I much prefer circular routes. We walked just 8 km but it seemed much longer.
I returned home in time to to receive Tony, the farrier, who came to give Liana yet another new set of shoes. This needs doing every 6-8 weeks as horses’ hooves continually grow and need to be trimmed regularly. Sometimes the old shoes are not too badly worn but still need to be removed so that the hooves can be trimmed and then the old shoes are put back on, as was the case today. But usually new shoes need to be fitted. I have to say, I wouldn’t object to new shoes every six weeks!
Tony is an English farrier. We use him (apart from the fact that he is a great bloke) because he is the only farrier in the area who ‘hot shoes’ (shaping the shoe to fit the horse’s hoof) rather than the local spanish way of cold shoeing (shaping the horse’s hooves to fit the shoe).
Tony also runs a riding establishment with his wife Donna and their partner Jeff. ‘Los Olivillos’ is set in a stunning location within the natural park and offers hourly rides, day trekking, riding holidays and trail riding with full board accommodation, if required, in their beautiful finca – http://www.los-olivillos.com/index.html