Tuesday, August 24, 2010


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Following trials in previous years we have found the best method for us to cultivate tomatoes here on the coast is under plastic. The mists, humidity and salty winds cause untold damage including leaf burn, blight and fruit rot. We have grown 2 varieties again this year but by far the most tasty is Alicante. The smaller cheery tomato is on the acidic side whereas the larger Alicante fruit is sweeter and more flavoursome.

Leaves have been taken off strategically to encourage air flow and to discourage fungal infections. Fed with comfry alternating with nettle juice they have performed well and given more fruit than anticipated. Next year we will try Alicante again and maybe a plum tomato. If anyone has recommendations we would be happy to hear about them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Life

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The simple pleasures of living in Asturias include the opportunity to witness acts of nature that otherwise our busy lives would not allow us to share. The pond has become a haven for wildlife and the biodiversity of the area has increased dramatically over recent months. Late last summer we introduced 4 fish to the pond in the hope of controlling larvae of mosquito (should they take up residence in the water). One fish disappeared - probably died or eaten by dragonfly nymph. Much to our surprise we now have at least 15 baby fish (although very hard to count) and three adults. We hope to relocate at least some of them to a much larger pond up at El Paraiso del Burro later in the summer when they have grown.

Another surprise was the discovery of lizard eggs - tucked away in the gravel under one of Luis' mosaics. We have come across similar eggs before in soil but never in a 'nest' type setting in gravel. They are the size of mint imperials but slightly elongated/oval in shape. We carefully place the mosaic back in position and disturbed it as little as possible. On the couple of occasions we lifted it to check on progress we were fortunate to see one of the little critters emerging and then some time later the same (we like to think so) little lizard making its way into the big wide world.....we called her Elizabeth (only joking honest).

Click on picture to enlarge your view:

This young Buzzard has been screeching and calling for its parents for a couple of weeks now - it is flying low around the neighbouring fields and perching on trees and fence posts. Not the best picture but the nearest I can get to this nervous, young bird. It is learning to hunt and gaining its independence from its parents who are no doubt near at hand.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

74th International Descent of the Sella

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Today has been the 74th International Descent of the river Sella from Arriondas to Ribadesella. Think Oxford and Cambridge boat race with canoes (over 900 of them), rapids, crowds well into 100,000's, TV crews, Live music and sound stages, 1000's of bottles of cider, outside urinals, camping, litter, young people sleeping in cars, on the streets, in the gutter and on the beach.......get the picture?
74th International Descent 
This long-standing event draws huge volumes of visitors for the weekend, many of whom are young and in a party mood. The canoe descent is secondary for some (well most of the under 25s)  but an important event in terms of the economy and employment.

We walked into town from here as the roads are far too congested with foot traffic, unsuspecting tourists in cars and police and security patrols. About 1 km from town the fields become camp sites and rubbish bins. The roadside becomes a car park and village fountains become wash rooms.

Despite the large numbers of young, predominantly worse for wear teenagers and young people, there is never sign of trouble or aggression. Most happy with the merriment of a cider induced stupor and over-priced greasy snacks.

The highlights of the descent are the passenger train that brings spectators from the start to the finish - decked out with paddles and greenery, much quieter this year I might add, the winning K2 canoeists as they head for the line after a 22km descent - pumped up and filled with adrenaline, and the hoards of tourists who are generally having a great time, drinking in the outside bars, browsing the many exotic market stalls and merry making their way through the heat of the day.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Walking in Asturias 5 - The Cares Gorge

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Today I would like to tell you about the first walk we ever did in Asturias, it is without a doubt the most famous walk in the Picos mountains. It is a walk along the "Divine Gorge of the Cares River" or more commonly referred to as the "Cares Gorge trail". It is a linear walk along a path 1.5 m wide that was cut into the mountain in the second half of the 1940s to maintain a canal that takes water to a hydro-electric station. The walk is about 30k long and takes you from the village of Poncebos in Asturias to Posada de Valdeon in the province of Leon with the small village of Cain about half way. To walk the full length of this trail in the same day you need two cars, one to drop you off at the start of the walk and a second to pick you up at the other end; it is for this reason that most people start either in Poncebos or Posada de Valdeon and return the same way after reaching Cain. We usually start this walk from Poncebos as it is the nearest villages from La Pasera.

Starting from Poncebos, you have a 1 hour climb until the path levels out. At this point you are well into the trail that offers you some spectacular views of a gorge dotted with grassland and wooded areas, the clear waters of the river Cares running 1000 m below and the impressive mountains tops that reach over 2.600m. At times you can enjoy the view of numerous birds of prey gliding in the thermals.

The sound of the river water rushing through the gorge never leaves you and provides a soothing background noise to accompany the song of the many songbirds that are difficult to spot amongst the vegetation. There is a variety of wild alpine flowers that change with the different seasons.

The most spectacular part of this walk when you start walking from Poncebos is to be found just before you reach the village of Cain as the river runs very fast in the narrowest point of the gorge, you cross over two bridges and walk through a short tunnel cut into the rock with few windows cut into the rock to provide enough light to find your footing and offer you some stunning views of the surrounding area and a couple of water falls.

The village of Cain is a good spot to stop to have your picnic and build up your energy levels before you trace back your steps. The first time we ever walked this path, we sat to rest in one on the alpine meadows and suddenly the village dogs started barking as a wolf was howling in the distance. You could not have wished for more other than a sight of one of this magestic creatures running free.