Along the Thyme Track in January

It’s winter in January, but there are some days when it feels like summer. I’m not saying it doesn’t rain here, or there aren’t cold days when all we want to do is hunker down in front of the log burner. But more often than not the sky is so blue that the only reminder, as we walk along the Thyme Track, that it is winter is the lack of leaves on trees.

5 to remember
hay – there are
se siente como – it feels like
más a menudo que no – more often that not
un recordatorio – a reminder
la falta de – the lack of

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The days when winter feels like summer in #Spain #nature via @Spanish_Valley

Cheesy scone bake

This is a fast-to-make scone recipe, which eats just as well the next day, and fills the house with the smell of cheese. No messy rolling-out or cutting. Easy, honest. This is our Spanish gluten-free version using Manchego instead of cheddar, and Spanish olives.  platefulIn the spirit of experimentation, we have been trying different versions. The sun-dried tomato scone [below] is excellent, simply substitute the chopped olives for the same quantity of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. with sun-dried tomatoes5 to remember
en lugar de – instead of
se parece – it resembles
la masa – the dough
aumentado/a – risen
una rejilla de alambre – a wire rack

In the baking mood? Make this too:-
An English cake in Spain… iced lemon cake
Oh so sticky… chocolate flapjack
Perfect pear cake

mary berry's ultimate cake book 20-1-14


This recipe is adapted from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book by Mary Berry [UK: BBC Books]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
This is eaten quickly: cheese & olive scone bake #Spain #recipe by Mary Berry via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Great Spotted Woodpecker

There is no sound like that of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming its beak against a tree trunk in search of insects, seeds, nuts, eggs, chicks and even small rodents. The family name for the bird is ‘Dendrocopus’ and is a combination of the Greek words ‘dendron’ [tree] and ‘kopos’ [striking]. That seems appropriate. Resident here, the male bird is like nothing else. You will find a nesting hole in an old tree, neat and round, bored horiztontally into decaying wood for a few inches and then downwards up to 6-12 inches in depth.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Listen to the drumming of the Great Spotted at the RSPB website here.

5 to remember
el pico – the beak
un pequeño roedor – a small rodent
griego/a – Greek
apropiado/a – appropriate
horizontalmente – horizontally

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
There’s nothing else like the sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming #Spain via @Spanish_Valley

The veggie patch in December

It looks rather forlorn now, a tangle of dead and drying branches, leaves dessicated and turning to powder. But look closer and there is the glow of decaying colour, fading, squashed tomatoes the colour of blood, pale green peppers still hanging, yellow globes of aubergines, and towering skyscrapers of cabbages gone to seed.

5 to remember
abandonado/a – forlorn
una maraña de – a tangle of
aplastado/a – squashed
un globo – a globe
un rascacielos – a skyscraper

Winter on the Thyme Track

The character of the Thyme Track is different from the house-side of the valley which we see every day. The Thyme Track runs around the edge of the valley where it takes a sharp turn, like an elbow.

There are pine trees on the opposite hillside, wild herbs [including the eponymous thyme] line the track used by the occasional farmer reaching his remotest olives, and nesting holes stand empty until spring. In this tranquil wilderness, birds flourish. Resident blackbirds greet my approach and there are flocks of small brown birds which fly in flurries and move so fast they challenge my identification skills.

5 to remember
el carácter de – the character of
un giro brusco – a sharp turn
un codo – an elbow
epónimo/a – eponymous
la más remota – the remotest

Winter sunrise

I never cease to be amazed at the colours here. Even in winter – which I associate with grey, bleached, pale, grimy colours – there is a vibrancy which never ceases to make me stop and look again. That’s what happened with this sunrise, bleary-eyed I was waiting for the kettle to boil for the first cup of tea of the day, when I looked out of the window and saw this. Bonita! 

5 to remember
estar asombrado – to be amazed
mugriento/a – grimy
una vitalidad – a vibrancy
el amanecer – the sunrise
con la vista nublada – bleary-eyed

December in the valley

Really things never stop growing here. In winter it is rare for it to be cold enough to stop the hardiest plants from growing and the bursts of searing heat from the winter sun help too. So in corners in the wintering valley are bursts of colour, new flowers, olives ready for the harvest, alongside dried autumnal fruits fit for nothing but lunch for the birds.

5 to remember
los más fuertes – the hardiest
lo suficientemente frío – cold enough
calor abrasador – searing heat
una ráfaga – a burst
junto a – alongside