As winter seems to come down heavily upon us, literally snow falling as far as the eye can see, its time to make a move to somewhere warmer.
Although winter in the UK is nowhere near as bad as many of us have been lead to believe. Sure there may be a bit of surface water around, frosty mornings with ice to be wary of and even a good dumping of snow that brings a lot of the country to a standstill. But the houses are still warm and cosy, at least in our neck of the woods that is.
There's a certain satisfying feeling of coming back in from a freezing cold outing with horses or dogs to a warm country kitchen. Even if I wasn't a keen cook I think I could be influenced and converted by my surroundings.
I'm now picturing myself as a female version of Nigel Slater or even better Nigella's little sister!! What can't I create here, as I gain inspiration from the many cookbooks on the wall and this wonderful big oven just waiting to be used. And best of all a very eager accomplice ready to particpate in any taste testing he can get at.
So glass of wine in one hand and menu in another I begin! Never as easy as they make it sound let alone as much fun. No cool calm elegant looking cook in this kitchen just a hot sweaty flustered middle aged woman struggling to get her sauce to set!
Spain here we come, I can escape, at least until the memory erases those last experiences just like childbirth and I fantasise about my culinary skills again. A quick flight to Almeria makes it all the more accessable this time. The fresh snow falling on M25 means getting to Gatwick at 4am is probably the most demanding part of the journey.
Looks good but looks can be deceiving, really cold
A view of our winter camp
First thing that really hits us is the clear blue sky as far as the eye can see. There's a crispness in the air, the sun is certainly shinning and the feeling is of a spring morning back home on the farm in NZ. Even as I hang the washing out the next morning I am marvelling at how it good it feels to be in this environment. In fact just the act of hanging the washing out on an outside line and letting the sun and wind dry it naturally brings a smile.
The countryside looks spectacular with the almond trees in full blossom, pink and white, with that same lovely delicate blossom as the apple trees. There are orange, mandarin and lemon groves with trees laden in fruit, sometimes even lying on the ground. The river beds are even lush and green with wonderful spring-like growth and many olive groves all around the hills. Then higher up you find herbs like rosemary, thyme, and lavender scattered across the harsher country which the goats spend their days foraging on.
Mid winter in Spain
Cheryl, great hostess
Two o'clock most afternoons you can hear the clanging of the goat bells as the goat herder brings his mob out to wander over the hills. They milk in the morning and spend the afternoons grazing around this area - its a glorious site as they come round the side of the hill behind their trusty leader. One goat herder and his faithful off-sider dog scooting around the mob every now and then to remind them who's boss on this mountain. Some rather cheeky little kids who are testing the boundaries and a tired old girl who says 'Have had enough for the day' and not going any further without some attention.
Mojacar with Francis and Janet, no not grumpy just bright sunlight
Chris and Nick looking for shops in Alicante
Down near the beach the pace isn't much faster at this time of the year, but the coast looks amazing. Nobody much around to spoil the view of the stunning sea colour against the white of the houses. You can wander for hours, and the temperature conducive for doing so, with this glorious beach that just keeps going as far as the eye can see. What better way to spend a Tuesday afternoon?
Great Lunch Mojacar beach with Francis and Janet
The life down here seems far simpler than anywhere we've been and perhaps this time of the year makes it feel more so. Lovely long lunches with friends, cheap (better description might be great value for money) wine, delicious jamon, manechago cheeses, chorizo, fresh oranges picked straight from the tree and wonderful coffee.
Getting a Master class in Spanish wines from George.