I hope everyone who reads this blog has enjoyed the Christmas festivities (or whatever alternative name you have for this season) and that 2019 will bring you health, contentment and some adventure.
But I know some people will have had a heartbreaking time and will find it hard to imagine that life will ever be joyful again. Hold tight, there are many people who love you and hold you in their hearts.
I spent eight days of Christmas with my youngest daughter and family where I ate and drank way too much and was woken early every morning, surprisingly not by indigestion but by one or both of my grandchildren for a cuddle. I’m making the most of these times as all too soon I expect my virtually eight year old grandson will decide that snuggling up to Nana isn’t really very cool. I didn’t see my older daughter as she spent a full week over Christmas volunteering for Crisis at Christmas, running the kitchen which served three meals a day to homeless people in London, a total of 2,000 meals over seven days. What a star!
We returned to Spain just in time to celebrate the new year with wonderful friends at a local restaurant (El Pámpano) where we were treated like family with good food (they were happy to cater for my vegan diet), more drink than any of us could do justice to, and party bags including the traditional twelve grapes to pop into the mouth one at each chime of the clock at midnight (try it – not as easy as you might think, especially as they always have seeds which you don’t have time to spit out!).
New year’s day was spent rather lazily (well, it is a public holiday after all) but today I set off for one of my favourite shortish walks alongside the Rio Cajula. Early bright sunshine shone from a clear blue sky and it was warm enough to walk without a jacket. Perfect. Roly and I set off along the track that zig-zags from one side of the stream to the other, never requiring more than two or three strides across strategically placed stepping stones to reach the other side. Unless of course there has been a lot of rain in which case there can be a fair bit of mud on either side and maybe an extra step is required. It’s fun and adds to the magic of walking alongside the running water. But maybe it isn’t so much fun for the farmers who need to negotiate the track to reach their land to harvest their avocados, olives and citrus fruit that grow along the way.
The changes I saw today weren’t a surprise as my walking pal had sent me some photos a few days ago, but nevertheless I was taken aback by the rather substantial structures that I found on my walk. All bright new wood, very secure and solid underfoot, but all rather unnecessary. Roly was very suspicious and I couldn’t persuade him to walk over the bridges at all, he preferred to cross the old fashion way and stop for a drink as he went. I did tempt him once by throwing a biscuit onto the middle of bridge number three, but as soon as he picked it up he scooted off and was back in the water. I came across some fellow dog walkers at bridge four who had stopped for a chat, just because they could. All that was missing was a kiosk serving hot drinks!
Bridge number five was still under construction and so I hopped across the water as I have always done in the past. There were buckets of tools on either side of the stream but no workmen in sight. However as I made my way from the bottom of the valley to the access track several hundred metres beyond I passed four guys carrying great chunks of wood along the very narrow, winding and sometimes quite steep and rocky footpath. Good men, and of course I thanked them for their work. The truck at the top displayed a sign for the Gran Senda de Málaga, also known as the GR249 (660 kms, 35 stages, 9 regions, 51 municipalities). My Rio Cajula walk is not part of the 249, although it does pass through the villages of Cómpeta and Canillas de Albaida.
But apart from all this bridge building excitement the day itself was the star of the show. The leaves of the olive trees swaying in the light breeze were glinting silver. Oranges at their peak of ripeness were weighing down the branches with the brightest of colours. Almond trees are coming into full bloom and look stunning standing against the blue sky with butterflies flitting and bees buzzing.
I heard loud voices and looked down into the valley where some farmers were spreading nets on the ground to catch the olives that they would knock from the trees. Roly finds shrivelled olives from last year’s crop and munches as he goes, spitting out the stones.
Wild lavendar and alyssum are blooming, and early broom is attracting the bees. This chap is absolutely laden with pollen and the pollen baskets on his back legs look to be bulging. He must be due to return to the hive to deposit his load any minute.
It has been a glorious start to the new year. A perfect day for a lovely walk.