MY first encounter with avocado pears came during the general election of 1979 while watching BBC Nationwide with my father. I had never heard of the fruit until this rather well-to-do woman in a large house in Helensburgh was asked who she would vote for come polling day. She replied: “Well it won’t be Labour, because prices have risen to the point I can no longer afford avocado pears for my family.” Continue reading Proverbial pears
THERE’S a swallowtail butterfly in the lavender. It busies itself drifting from one plant to another, gathering nectar or whatever it is that butterflies do. This insect – as delicate as it is – triggers a thought process in the recesses of my mind and liberates forgotten memories. I am transported to a terraced house in a Lancashire village where coal trains from Cumberland clank past the front door and high moors rise from the back . . . Continue reading Fifty years later . . .
THERE are many things a man needs to sustain him in life and one is rhubarb. There may well be items of greater importance, such as bread and butter, faith, humility and hot tea, but rhubarb is among the essentials. Anyone who has worked an allotment, or owned a back garden where dolly tubs rust quietly under elder trees and gutters sag from shed roofs, knows the one element that links them all is the rhubarb bed. A vegetable patch without rhubarb is like a hot-pot without potatoes. So this is my quest to grow rhubarb in Spain . . . Continue reading Ruibarbo, ruibarbo
THERE’S a law in Spain relating to fresh concrete. People are obliged to tread through it to leave their mark. This also applies to cyclists and motorists; tyres must make an impression, several centimetres deep. Dogs and goats are not excluded. Owners must ensure that claws, paws and hooves are inserted. Unaccompanied animals have a special responsibility to use their initiative. Nothing is exempt . . . Continue reading Concrete facts
LATE afternoon. And after two days of heavy Andalucian rain, which shorted out our electricity supply, the clouds break and Sierra de Lújar emerges from grey. I stand on the roof and feel the warmth of sunshine. For the briefest of moments I am in Scotland . . . Continue reading Just like Scotland . . .
CHRIST emerges from his refuge for the second time in as many weeks and again he is greeted by the sinners. The Sweet Name of Jesus band plays mournful tunes while the hooded penitente parade behind the cross through the streets of Orgiva. It’s a spectacle . . . Continue reading Bearing crosses
DRIVING down the concrete track towards the house I pass a girl thumbing a lift. She’s carrying a big bag and a plastic bucket that’s full of stuff. I stop and she clambers into the front of the van. She’s going to El Morreon, an alternative community down near the Rio Guadalfeo. I can take her about halfway, which suits her fine. “What’s your name?” she says in a German accent. I tell her and ask hers. “Carlotta,” she replies. Pleasant girl, Carlotta – early twenties I would say, been in Andalucia a few months. Two minutes later I drop her off and she continues down the track with her bag and bucket . . . Continue reading Little donkey . . .