Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walking in Asturias 4

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One of our favourite short walks that takes you into the Picos national park with stunning mountain views, different types of native trees and beautiful flora and fauna, is the path along the river Dobra; reported to be one of the cleanest rivers in Europe due to the lack of human activity along its short course. The river rushes down the mountains through a narrow gorge and slows down towards the end of its course and before it empties its waters into the river Sella.

The route is an easy walk along a well established path that starts in the village of Tornin, a 30 minute drive from La Pasera. After leaving the car park, you soon start walking along meadows full of grass to be harvested any day now and teaming with wild flowers and butterflies. You soon encounter numerous wells and small water falls where the colours of the water and the rock formations are very impressive.

The views of the mountains through the clearing in the woodlands helps you to remember that you are walking in the national park and which often gives you an occasional sighting of a raptor riding the thermals.
After about 1 hour and 30 minutes you reach St Vincent's Well, a wide lagoon of clear water reflecting light, the blue skies and the greenery of the trees that surround it.

A few meters further up you can sit by the impressive waterfall from where you can jump into the lagoon below for a dip if the water is not too cold. We recently took a picnic with some friends and forgot the passage of time, an easy and relaxing way to spend a Summer afternoon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Honey

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The events of the past few days seem to have faded into the distance with life getting back to normal and the big clean up in full force. Blue skies and brilliant sunshine certainly help and people are busy getting their lives and businesses back to 'normality' ready for the onslaught of summer tourists.

The Bees are busy around the garden collecting pollen and our own minds turn to our annual order for honey. We source our honey from a collection of hives owned and managed by a vet who lives close to Luis' village in Palencia. The honey is set and has a rich and rounded taste. We normally substitute sugar for honey in drinks and cooking and as a consequence we get through a lot. This week we will contact our supplier and order 70kgs of honey... Not all of it is for us! We also buy on behalf of friends and family. Last year the honey was €4,50c per kilo which is a very good price for unadulterated honey.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sending out an SOS

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We have experienced very heavy and persistent rain recently. Initially, it was the western part of Asturias where the heavy rain fall concentrated,causing some localised floods and land slides with temporary disruptions in some of the roads and the railway line.
On Wednesday the rivers burst their banks, including the river Sella that passes through our municipal district, it coincided with a particularly high tide resulting in major floods and disruption. We promptly responded to an SOS call from some friends who live in the town of Arriondas which has since been declared a "natural disaster zone". They live in a fourth floor apartment next to the river and had to evacuate it when the water got up to 1 m high in their lobby and they lost the power and water supplies. Unfortunately, their car was in a two storey underground car park and they were unable to get to it in time. In spite of three of the 4 roads from our home to Arriondas being blocked by overflowing rivers or land slides, we eventually managed to collected them and trace our steps back before the road we were travelling was also closed to traffic as there was a danger of the bridge being washed away. It was very disheartening to see so many homes, business and meadows flooded by water with very big trees uprooted and floating away. We went for a walk later on in the afternoon to the beautiful beach in Ribadesella to discover it covered with lots of debris and that the sea was full of brown murky water.
Their home remained without water for 5 days and they eventually managed to get their insurance company to tow the car out of the garage and away to be assessed, it is expected to be a total write off. It took the best part of three days to pump out the basement garages and store rooms. Everything has been penetrated by a fine silt-like mud, diesel and sewage.

It was devastating to see many people disposing of many of their damaged belongings some of which will never be replaced such as photographs and books. The local hospital, health centre and schools are some of the buildings worst affected by the flood and it will be a while before they are fully operational again. We hear that 7 people lost their lives (not confirmed)along with the loss of much livestock. Many homes, business and local services have been badly affected.
Many of the local business had just stocked up in readiness for the beginning of the tourist season in the very near future.
In spite of all the damage, it has been encouraging to see a community coming together to help and support each other in such times.
We have recently learnt that during the past few decades many buildings have been built on the natural flood plains - not a good plan with or without changing weather patterns.
The clean-up begins:

Natural disasters are always unpredictable, all we can do is look to the future, try to rebuild our lives and hope that if there are lessons to be learnt we do not miss that opportunity. Let us hope the future is bright. Fortunately, we live above the flood plains but only 47m above sea level so if sea levels do rise dramatically in the near future.....

A short news item on the flooding: click here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bird song

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Early morning and dusk are great times to sit in the garden and listen to the chorus of bird song. The song continues during the day but to a lesser degree, or is it that we stop listening as we make our way through the day?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Nymphs and Nibbles

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The pond attracted a lot of interest from dragonflys last year. We witnessed many dragonflys depositing eggs in the water whilst perching from a rock or plant. This week we have just witnessed the aquatic water nymph of the dragonfly emerge from the water and metamorphose into the most beautiful flying creature. I took the opportunity to try our a bit of macro photography and fairly pleased with the result. If you zoom in on the picture you can see much more detail - give it a go...they really are beautiful.

The empty shell underneath the dragonfly is the outer skin/membrane of the nymph that it has emerged from. It is a good time to photograph them as they need to dry their wings and gain warmth in the morning sun before flying away into the distance.

The vegetable garden is looking good with great crops of mange tout, peas and salad. The peas however, are under attack from the mice....Wentworth and Gawber please note.

Tomatoes protected from the sea mists.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Gunnera Spectacular

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The Gunnera has come into its own this year with magnificent 1m wide leaves and alien-like flowers up to 40cm long. Sited in the bog garden, it has taken a couple of years to become established and although it suffers sometimes in the heat of the midday sun, generally it copes well and likes the lush warm climate. Protected in winter, by covering the crown with its dried leaves, it has resisted the small amount of frost we have here on the coast. It provides shelter from the sun for the cats and it has recently become home to another bright green lizard.