Sunday, 5 January 2014


1st January 2014
It was a lovely NYE party at Josh & Jamie's; it was many of the same people as were at P&M's Boxing day party, but we got to speak to some different ones this time. It was mainly expats but varied nationalities - Israeli, Dutch, Irish, .........
We woke up (late) to overcast skies and heavy, penetrating drizzle, not a nice day but it was forecast; so the fire was lit early. We managed to walk Looby a few times between showers and tired her out running after the ball, occasionally she even brought it back! Maybe this week we'll get her a playmate (I know we keep saying that).
I didn't write about our visit to Claire and Phil yesterday; wow their place is lovely. They have a gorgeous stone house which they only live on the second floor of, downstairs is massive with huge wine making machinery and tanks carved from granite; it was originally owned by a doctor. Phil has built beautiful Shaker style kitchen cupboards, shelves and pegboards (he's a carpenter by trade) and they're all painted in soft, calm colours (greys and mushrooms), it is very tastefully done.  They have the most amazing views and can see the Serra de Estrella mountains from their living room window (which is actually double doors and, at the moment, has a long drop below it, they're going to put in a balcony). They have 5 acres of fruit  trees - about 80 oranges, masses of lemons, almonds (we came away with a huge bagful), apples, pomegranate, to name a few and a massive vineyard (which is a waste as they don't drink alcohol). Out of all the quintas we've visited their one is on a par with ours (fortunately we still like ours better).
We did our accounts today ............... we need to budget better, we spent twice as much as we should have last month (whoops)!

2nd January
So budgeting started well today; Pam and I went to the 'sales' in CB!!!!! There's a brand new H&M shop and lots of lovely stuff was half price, so I just had to buy it - I saved nearly 40€!
The solar hasn't had much charge for the last week or so and the batteries are pretty low, we turned everything off except a for 10 watt (low energy) light bulb and waited for the inverter to switch off ......... it didn't!

3rd January
Still raining, still dull but we still had a little power and put the fridge on in the morning (we reason that it won't lose much cold if we switch it off overnight as it's shut up tight); then we read the weather forecast, another week of rain, so we made the painful decision to turn it off!
Looby is a thief! I put a dish of almonds on the coffee table and she has spent the afternoon stealing one at a time, taking it back to her bed and eating the nut inside - she's a strange animal she eats, nuts, grapes, olives, haw berries, acorns etc.
I bottled some of our red wine today; I've been saving bottles for a while with the help of Mark (and Glenn) and filled 15 bottles, now all I need is a wine rack (and electricity so I can print off the labels).
Our wine has the burgundy tops
Why don't I ever learn? Yesterday I bought nut crackers from a China shop (that's what they call themselves), today I tried to crack one of the almonds that Claire gave us - of course the nut crackers cracked first!!!

4th January
It rained all night, heavy, loud rain; and it was windy! But this morning the sun showed itself for a few minutes, Brett even said "shall we turn the fridge on?" (we didn't) and then this afternoon it rained ICE (that's what the weather forecast called it) and it was very cold and dark so ................ we lit the fire and watched a film (Red Dragon), (nothing else to do); oh yes, and ate chocolate!
But we did have a beautiful double rainbow.

We took down the Christmas decorations, we've only lit the lights twice (both times before Christmas) because we didn't want to waste solar.

This evening we made olive oil 'candles',
Olive oil doesn't smoke as it burns and if you want it to smell nice you can add essential oils (I want to make lavender oil next year but I need to source a small cheap still); we didn't use our own olive oil, we used the expensive stuff we bought before we had ours back from the press! This is a prototype we will experiment with different wicks (this was just string) and several wicks in one jar. If we can make them bright enough we won't need to buy candles any more.

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