Tag Archives: Sandra Danby

Bird song: Serin

A short-tailed yellowish member of the finch family, I’m guessing you’ve probably seen a Serin but not recognised it. Its upper parts are streaked greyish green with a yellow rump, the yellow breast and white belly are also heavily streaked. The male is brighter than the female, with a yellow face and breast, yellow wing bars and yellow tail sides. So if you see a small bird fly by in a blur of yellow, it will be a Serin. Its song is a buzzing trill, a common sound around our valley. It sounds like ‘zirr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r’. a very quick, sharp sound a bit like breaking glass. Males sing while in flight, or when sitting at the top of trees. One of the most common finches around the Mediterranean, it likes olive groves and we see them fly in yellow flocks above our olive trees.

Listen to the Serin’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
una serina – a serin
rayado – streaked
es más brillante que – is brighter than
zumbido – buzzing
una mancha – a blur

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Booted Eagle
Cetti’s Warbler
Golden Oriole

 

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:
How does the Serin sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2a3

¡Aquí está! ‘Connectedness’ is here

Here it is, my new novel Connectedness is published today. And for my readers based in Spain, it features a lot of familiar things. Read it and see what you recognise!

Art✔
Romance✔
Picasso✔
Love and Loss ✔
Tapas✔
But most important of all, is Málaga ✔

Here’s what some of the early reviewers have said:
5* “Although this is a follow-on novel from the first, Ignoring Gravity,  it could equally be read as a standalone. Danby does not rely just on the story of the search carried out by her identity detective, Rose Haldane, but builds up a detailed and believable picture of the life of her main character Justine. Well written with realistic characters and the setting out of the story in a carefully and balanced way, I would highly recommend this novel.”

4* “There are deep thoughts on life and surroundings that are recognizable to all of us. Eventually all comes together in a heartfelt ending. Connectedness  is a gripping story of love, loss and the human struggle to be your one true self. An amazing read.”

To celebrate the arrival of ConnectednessIgnoring Gravity  is free to download here. TODAY only.

So what’s ‘Connectedness’ about?
TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO 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 Danby

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

5 to remember
aquí está – here it is
una novela – a novel
un seguimiento – a follow-on
gratis para descargar – free to download
una lectura increíble – an amazing read

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/p3dYp6-2k9 via @Spanish_Valley

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Sticky tomato & onion bake

What a discovery this is. It sounds so simple it can’t be delicious, right? Wrong. Combine ordinary looking onions, cherry tomatoes and salad potatoes and roast. The magic of the oven turns this combination into a moreish sticky sweet feast.Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesThis quantity is supposed to serve four, we ate two-thirds of it and could have polished it off. Nice with a side salad of rocket tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Serves 4
500g baby onions [we used ordinary white onions]
750g large cherry tomatoes
750g new potatoes, washed and halved
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
one 400g tin cannellini beans, drained
a small bunch of fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 210°C / fan 190° / gas 7.

If using baby onions, put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a slotted spoon to fish them out and peel back the skins which should be loosened by the hot water. Cut any large ones in half. If using ordinary onions, peel and cut into quarters or eighths. Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesPut the onions into a big roasting tin. Add the tomatoes and halved potatoes. The tin may be full but squash everything in; the potatoes will be cooked in the juice of the tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper and pour over a little olive oil. Toss so everything is coated in oil.

Roast in the oven for one hour, tossing everything every 15 minutes. Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesAfter an hour, remove the tray from the oven. At this stage, the onions should be soft and slightly browned in places, the tomatoes blistered. Add the drained beans and basil, stirring the beans into the vegetables [we didn’t and the beans on top were a little dry]. Put back into the oven for another 15 minutes. Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesSticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesServe with a lemon-dressed green salad.

5 to remember
un descubrimiento– a discovery
frijoles cannellini – cannellini beans
en este punto – at this stage
ligeramente dorado – slightly browned
ampollado – blistered

Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesThis recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
A cassoulet of aubergines
Sweet potato and butter bean lasagne
A rosemary risotto

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sticky tomato & onion bake #Spain #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kn via @Spanish_Valley

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A garden tiger moth

This is a moth with two faces. At rest, his cream and dark brown forewings are zebra-patterned, very modern, very distinctive. Underneath are hidden his bright orange hindwings. I spotted him first resting on a wall, later collapsed upside-down on the terrace. Beautiful, if dead.

The garden tiger moth is heavy-bodied and hairy, quite easy-to-spot although they do come in a large variety of colour combinations. The colour is designed to ward-off predators, as the moth’s body fluids are poisonous due to its diet of plants such as potato and laburnum which give off toxic substances. If a threat is perceived, the moth opens its wings to show off its coat of many colours.

5 to remember
una polilla – a moth
las alas anteriores – the forewings
las alas posteriores – the hindwings
estampado de cebra – zebra-patterned
al revés – upside-down

 

Collins Butterfly Guide [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A garden tiger moth in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley #moths http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26K

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

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

Buds, on the verge of bursting

It feels like waiting on the edge, of a sunrise or sunset, of an eclipse. The buds on the trees here are on the verge of bursting, but it hasn’t quite happened yet. They are fattening, getting rounder, with that teasing glimpse of green where the casing starts to burst. Some trees are nearer than others. As always, the walnut will be last. First will be pomegranate, cherry and acacia.

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

5 to remember
se siente como – it feels like
en el borde – on the edge
en el borde de – on the verge of
burlando – teasing
como siempre – as always

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Buds, on the verge of bursting #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dN via @Spanish_Valley

A walk on the Thyme Track

Walking along the Thyme Track into the wildest part of the valley, where the slopes are a dense mat of shrubs and thorns, away from the cultivation of olives, we encountered a reminder of the durability of nature. The stumps of olive trees: one old and gnarled; another twisted and dried; a third burned, presumably by the farmer. The fourth gave us the answer: new growth sprouting from an old tree stump, hacked, felled, burned, but still alive.

Elsewhere along the Thyme Track, signs of spring are everywhere. Green grass covers Horse Corner. The view to the other side of the river is not so clear, partly-hidden by new leaves. And the viburnum [aptly called durillo, ‘tough one’ in Spanish] is flowering.

5 to remember
denso – dense
nudoso – gnarled
quemado – burned
en otra parte – elsewhere
parcialmente oculto por – partly-hidden by

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Gnarled, burned and felled olive #trees: a walk on the Thyme Track #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dY via @Spanish_Valley

Not only for Easter

Torrijas. This eggy bread is another Spanish recipe which makes great use of leftovers. Although it is traditionally eaten at Easter, we eat it often for lunch or brunch. milk & cinnamon sticks in the pan 18-4-14plateful 18-4-14Serves 6

2 litres milk
300g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 load of day-old white bread
Vegetable oil for frying [something flavourless like sunflower oil or peanut oil]
2 eggs, beaten
For the cinnamon coating:-
100g sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Place the milk, sugar and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring almost to boiling point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and leave for about 15 minutes so the milk is infused with the cinnamon aroma. milk - boiled & standing 18-4-14Cut the bread into slices about 2-3cm thick. Place the bread slices in a large shallow dish and pour the milk over. bread - slice 18-4-14bread - soaking 18-4-14Chill for at least 2 hours, turning the slices over halfway through.

bread - two slices in frying pan 18-4-14Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, you need to be able to fry at least two slices of bread at a time. You could use butter instead of vegetable oil but beware, it burns more quickly. bread - dipped in egg 18-4-14When the oil is hot, quickly dip each slice of bread in the beaten egg [above] so that it is fully-coated and the place in the hot oil. Be careful not to burn your fingers!

After a couple of minutes, flip them over and fry for another minute or two until golden. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. cinnamon sugar - spoonful 18-4-14Mix together the sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle on both sides of the torrijas. Do this while they are still hot, as the sugary coating will stick more easily.

5 to remember
la Pascua – Easter
las sobras – the leftovers
a menudo – more often
desabrido/a – flavourless
el cacahuete – peanut

Looking for other breakfast options? Try these:-
A seedy berry thing for breakfast
A peach and brioche breakfast
Aubergines for breakfast
Tapas Revolution - book cover 2-9-13

 

Recipe from Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy [UK: Ebury Press]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Torrijas: not only for Easter #recipe by @tapasrevolution via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Ls