Horse Corner in April

Is this the greenest spot in our valley? This is Horse Corner. So called, because in our first year here we went for a walk one day and turned the corner along the track and found a friendly horse tethered in this place. And I can understand why he was so happy: knee-high fresh spring grass, plus wild oats and wildflowers, predominantly yellow charlock.

It is common in the countryside here to see a horse tethered on a long rein in a patch of luscious grass, alongside a track or a patch of wild ground. They are often moved daily, seeking out the best grazing, and often in a field of stubble after the wheat harvest. Quite a few of our neighbours own horses and they are treated as precious creatures, groomed and decorated and ridden quite some distance to romerías, local festivals in the summertime.

Typical romería

Most Andalucian villages have their own romería [above] taking place on their local saint’s day. The day starts with a walk to the saint’s shrine, a slow procession through the countryside, everyone dressed in their best, the horses with plaited manes and tails, bridles and saddles highly polished. The day ends back in the village with stalls, food and fairground rides, and usually continues into the small hours.

5 to remember
el caballo – the horse
precioso – precious
la silla de montar – the saddle
la brida – the bridle
la melena – a horse’s mane

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lush and green: Horse Corner in April #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gq via @Spanish_Valley

Is this a type of Buckthorn?

This tree grows along the Thyme Track, in April it is laden with creamy-orange flowers. I’m not sure what it is: a type of Buckthorn, the Rhamnaceae family? Perhaps the Paliurus spina-christi, Miller Christ’s Thorn.

If you can identify it, I’d love to hear from you.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
espino cerval – the buckthorn
cargado de – laden with
no estoy seguro – I’m not sure
quizás – perhaps
si puedes – if you can

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Is this a type of buckthorn? #trees #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-1K4 via @Spanish_Valley

Connectedness: coming soon

I drank hundreds of cups of coffee in Málaga, walked the streets of the Old Town and La Playa de la Malagueta, I’ve sat on benches in Paseo del Parque and eaten plates of fried fish. As you’ll gather, it was hard researching the Spanish element of my second novel, Connectedness! Book two in the ‘Identity Detective’ series, Connectedness will be published on May 10, 2018. This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga. Sandra DanbySo what’s it all about?
TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALWAYS HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING
Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

If you like the novels of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore, this might be for you. Click here to read an extract. Sandra DanbyAbout the ‘Identity Detective’ series
Rose Haldane, journalist and identity detective, reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. And each new challenge makes Rose re-live her own adoption story, each birth mother and father, adopted child, and adoptive parent she talks to, reminds her of her own birth mother Kate. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. Sandra DanbyIn the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Read an extract of Ignoring Gravity here. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother, her hopes and anxieties, her guilt and fear, and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz, and how the now elderly woman is desperate to know her story before it is too late.
Sandra Danby

‘Connectedness’ by Sandra Danby, [#2 Identity Detective series] [Beulah Press]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
CONNECTEDNESS by Sandra Danby  #Kindle #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2jV via @Spanish_Valley

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My Top 5 books about Andalucía

Recently I read a post by fellow blogger and Brit in Spain, Alastair Savage, reflecting on his favourite books about Barcelona. Challenged by Alastair to do the same exercise for Andalucía, here’s my choice. I have avoided ‘general’ books about Spain such as Giles Tremlett’s excellent Ghosts of Spain, one of Alastair’s picks, and have concentrated on Andalucía. Read Alastair’s guide to Barcelona books here.

‘Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucía’ by Penelope Chetwode
Penelope ChetwodeI love my secondhand copy of this slim book for its pale blue cover. Penelope Chetwode, wife of poet John Betjeman, takes a circular ride on her horse Marquesa, around the countryside between Granada and Úbeda in Andalucía in 1961. Charming, quirky. Read my full review of Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucía here.
‘Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucía’ by Penelope Chetwode [UK: Eland]

‘South from Granada’ by Gerald Brenan
Gerald BrenanDecades before ex-Genesis drummer Chris Stewart bought a house in the Alpujarras, Gerald Brenan lived in Yegen. This is the Spain of the pre-Civil War, contrasting extreme rural poverty with the beauty of the surroundings in the mountains south of Granada. Read my full review of South from Granada here.
‘South from Granada’ by Gerald Brenan [UK: Penguin Classics]

‘Andalus’ by Jason Webster
Jason WebsterPart travel book, part memoir, Andalus tells how writer and journalist Jason Webster explored Spain looking for its Moorish heritage. After Andalus Jason Webster went onto write other travel books about Spain, each of which I enjoyed, before writing his Max Cámara crime novels set in Valencia. Read my full review of Andalus here.
‘Andalus’ by Jason Webster [UK: Black Swan]

‘Driving over Lemons’ by Chris Stewart
This is the Big Daddy of living-in-Andalucía books, with Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence it invented a new genre. Now part of the ‘Lemons Trilogy’ comprising A Parrot in the Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society, this is the first and best about life on a remote, hill farm. True isolation. Read my full review of Driving Over Lemons here.
‘Driving Over Lemons’ by Chris Stewart, #1 The Lemons Trilogy [UK: Sort of Books]

‘Death’s Other Kingdom’ by Gamel Woolsey
Gamel WoolseyThe American writer Gamel Woolsey was married to Gerald Brenan. This slim volume recounting their days at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War can be read in one day. She watches Málaga go up in flames from their villa at nearby Churriana, worrying for their safety and that of their neighbours, and what will happen to everyone. A very personal account. Read my full review of Death’s Other Kingdom here.
‘Death’s Other Kingdom’ by Gamel Woolsey [UK: Eland]

5 to remember
un paseo circular – a circular ride
el patrimonio moro – the Moorish heritage
verdadero aislamiento – true isolation
el escritor estadounidense – the American writer
ir en llamas – go up in flames

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
My Top 5 #books about #Andalucia https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2jh via @Spanish_Valley

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Spring orzo pasta

Really this is a Pasta Primavera recipe by another name, but it is fresh, quick and very tasty. Orzo is a type of small pasta made in the shape of a grain of rice, but your everyday choice of pasta will work just as well. It works with either fresh or frozen peas and broad beans, but do not stint on the Parmesan or pine nuts. Serves 4
200g dried orzo
200g frozen baby broad beans, defrosted and outer skin removed
200g frozen petits pois, defrosted
a knob of butter
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced very thinly
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g full-fat crème fraîche
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
juice and finely grated zest of a lemon
50g Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g pine nuts, toasted

Cook the orzo in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, until just cooked. Do not over cook, as it can become stodgy. Drain, and set aside.

Boil the broad beans and petits pois in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes, drain and rinse.

Meanwhile heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, fry the onion over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, turn up the heat and fry for 1 minute.

Stir in the crème fraîche. Next, add the cooked orzo, beans and peas, and gently heat. Add the thyme, lemon juice and zest, and half the Parmesan, stir together and season to taste.
If you like this, try these:-
Punchy leeks on toast
Stuffed butternut squash
Pasta with gorgonzola & pecans

 

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Everyday cookbook [UK: BBC]

5 to remember
realmente – really
por otro nombre – by another name
en la forma de – in the shape of
un grano de arroz – a grain of rice
indigesto/a – stodgy/indigestible

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
More Parmesan! Spring orzo pasta #Recipe by #MaryBerry #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1YC

Aliens

April is a wonderful month of anticipation, when Spring works its magic and there is something new to see every day. Such as these new buds, unfurling. Their necks not strong enough to stand straight, as if they are shy. Do you recognize them?

They may look like aliens, but they are the buds of the Common Poppy.

[source: Wikipedia]

5 to remember
la anticipación – the anticipation
despliegue – unfurling
el cuello – the neck
tímido – shy
los alienígenas – the aliens

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Aliens: what are these flowers unfurling in Spring? #Nature #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29t

Bird song: Willow Warbler

We are getting better at identifying birds, especially the small Sparrow-sized ones which are a thousand variations of brown. One of our latest identification triumphs is the Willow Warbler, a tiny – 11cm long – warbler which visits us here for the summer from sub-Saharan Africa.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

He sat on a shrub singing away, a beautiful fluid song, not frightened by our proximity and curiosity. Like a lot of small songbirds, his song is bigger and louder than he is. He is plain grey- brown all over except for a pale stripe above his eye, and a buff white chest and belly.

Listen to the Willow Warbler’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
último – latest
un triunfo – a triumph
una curruca – a warbler
nuestra proximidad – our proximity
nuestra curiosidad – our curiosity

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cuckoo
Booted Eagle
Jay

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The fluid song of a summer visitor: the Willow Warbler #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KD