Back to the blogosphere

Err, cough, swallow……………it has been a while hasn’t it. If you are still interested in hearing about what goes on here I am aiming to publish a bit more frequently with shorter posts. It is always great to get your feedback and to hear from you especially those who aren’t on Facebook so let me know what you think.

Last year it was wasps. This summer has been the season of the ant. Possibly due to the lack of wasps to eat them, there are ants everywhere, outside and annoyingly in. I have been truly amazed by the sheer variety of sizes of ants from the whoppers that heft large bits of vegetation back to the nest to the tiny little dots that are currently attempting to colonise the kitchen. My cupboards have never been so clean and organised as on a regular basis I open one to discover a seething mass of tiny ants searching out a grain of sugar or drip of sauce to sustain them. We are very happy to live and let live outside unless the ants come onto the terrace in great numbers but once inside they have to go and we have a bottle of spray that smells vile and kills the ants pretty much on contact. Of course then I have to wipe down the cupboard surfaces and all the bottles, jars and packets before they are replaced. I don’t have many cardboard packets in the cupboards anymore after I bought some beans from an open basket in the market last year and ended up with weevils in the cereal packets – yuk. Another afternoon spent cleaning out a cupboard.

Considering that we haven’t had any rain for months and I don’t water them, the vines have produced a huge amount of plump and juicy grapes. As we couldn’t possibly eat them all we decided way back at the start of August that we would try and make some wine. People have been making wine for centuries – how hard could it be? As usual before undertaking any new project Steve did some internet research. Clearly we were going to need some equipment which, we thought, would be readily available in a wine making area such as ours. First stop the co-operativa shops, a sort of Spanish Mole Valley Farmers that are found in each town attached to the bodegas and oil mills – nada. Then we started asking around and discovered that there is a shop in Villena that sells wine making equipment but whilst my Spanish is vastly improved it didn’t prove equal to explaining to the shopkeeper that we only wanted to make a small amount of wine and so a beginner’s kit costing nearly 1000 Euros was a tad excessive. Amazon was our next thought but having compiled a shopping basket full of items it transpired that half of the items couldn’t be delivered to Spain. Finally we managed to order from a wonderful site called Homebrew UK and after a two week wait caused by the annual Spanish shutdown in the last two weeks of August, our tubing and other equipment arrived. We had managed to find two large glass vessels at the Rastro and although we were still short of a couple of rubber bungs we picked a bucket full of grapes and proceeded. The You Tube videos we watched kept hectoring us about the need for keeping everything sterilised – we tried hard but reasoned that as Camden tablets weren’t readily available in the past the odd bug wouldn’t hurt. A week and a big sticky mess later we have a couple of gallons of wine fermenting in the corner and a huge amount of grapes shrivelling on the vines. Next year I am going to try and see if we can sell the grapes and at less than 2 Euros a bottle, buy some wine.