One has only to think about the number of song titles that contain the word “sun” or live in the UK to realise how life enhancing sunshine is. Waking up each day to a bright blue sky and lovely sunshine is a novelty that, so far, has not worn off. Provided that they are watered sufficiently, plants grow incredibly well and flower forever: the geraniums that I got free from an offer in the Telegraph in Frome last year not only survived the journey to Spain and being cooped up in storage for over a week but burst into flower in April and are still covered in blooms now in late August. There have been one or two casualties in the wall pots that have gone from luxuriant growth to shrivelled brown things in the blink of an eye but largely the plants we have bought have all thrived and the vegetables have cropped well.
In the Spanish sun applying sun cream becomes, for me anyway, part of the morning routine and despite being out in the sun for long periods of time we haven’t burnt at all. We try to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and the wealth of sport on television this summer has meant that we have spent a lot of time watching tennis, cricket, athletics and swimming. The house is considerably cooler even than the shady terrace but despite that it can get very warm during the afternoon and so a busy morning followed by a late lunch is inevitably followed by a siesta. More often than not we don’t make it further than the sofa, falling into a heavy doze at about 3.30pm to the disconcertion of our guests staying in the house with us as they go up the stairs in our sitting room to their rooms upstairs. We are contemplating a dividing wall before next summer.
The five sets of guests we have welcomed to Finca Los Gatos during July and August have all seemed to appreciate everything we have available here and we have received some very gratifying feedback. Steve and I have made a couple of changes including buying a new fridge, based on this feedback but largely, the market research that we did when we were setting up the apartment has paid off and we have had satisfied guests.
Our main worry for our guests as the summer progressed was the wasp invasion. Once the temperature warmed up, the shallow end of the pool became the “go to” hang out for the local wasp population who came for a dip and a drink before flying back (we realised in horror) to their nests in the roof and the cattery wall. Steve reacts badly to stings and bites of all kinds and so of course he was the first to be stung, once on his forehead, swiftly followed by four on his side and another for luck while we were clearing the fig tree of over-ripe figs and a wasp got up his t-shirt. Internet research suggested using oranges studded with cloves around the pool to deter the wasps, washing up liquid in the pool water to alter the surface tension (wasps hate this), citronella oil, lavender oil, waspinators (a glorified stuffed paper bag meant to resemble a wasp nest that supposedly signals occupied territory) and if all else fails, Rentokil. To cut a long story short, all else did fail with several nests worth of wasps swimming and drinking undeterred although the washing up liquid did cause the foolhardy to drown and thus we were forced to contact Rentokil who came at vast expense and sprayed the roof. While we were waiting for Rentokil’s visit, Steve read that algicide in the pool water would deter the wasps, kill those that braved the water and as an added bonus, keep the water sparkling whilst remaining suitable for swimming. Who knew? It worked, or at least a combination of all of the above plus a late night covert attack on the nest in the cattery worked. Dressed in track suit bottoms, wellies and hoody with the drawstring drawn tight and armed with a can of expanding foam, Steve, backed up by a similarly dressed me clutching the torch and wasp spray, waited until dark and made our sweaty way (it was very hot in all that gear plus we were a bit nervous about the possibility of wasp attack) towards the nest site in the wall. Our first attempt had to be aborted as having tested the expanding foam spray earlier in the day the foam had solidified and blocked the nozzle so when aimed and fired, nothing came out. The ominous hum in the wall grew louder and deciding that discretion was the better part of valour Steve and I retreated. The next night, tube patent by virtue of poking a wire down the nozzle, we tried again and succeeded in blocking up the hole. We inspected our work the next morning and found a lone wasp buzzing fruitlessly around the entrance, probably a teenager who had been out all night partying in the fig tree. There are still a few wasps about but a fantastic gadget from the Chinese bazaar, an electrified tennis racket insect killer combined with Steve’s stylish volleys sees them off in no time.
And then there were two. At the beginning of August, we had to make the heart breaking but only possible decision in the face of the facts to end the life of our beloved sixteen year old dog Doobie, with us since she was just a five week old puppy. Sad as we are, we are grateful for the fun, joy and unconditional love that Doobie gave us. Rest in peace little dog.
Several of our friends holidayed in Spain this year and we travelled to Almeria to spend time with Wendy and her family. Rupert and Julie, Poppy and Zeb came to stay with us and competed in a pentathlon consisting of darts, boules, table tennis, pool and Pictionary. The prize, a priceless artefact from the Chinese bazaar remains unclaimed as we didn’t quite have time to finish the pool so hasta pronto Devey-Waterhouses. We have also arranged to spend a couple of days in Andalucía with Jackie and family. John and Rhona stayed overnight en route to the UK and whilst at the airport collecting them from their return flights, UK I heard a familiar but unexpected voice greeting me. My oldest friend (oldest as in I have known her for longer than any other friend bar Clare) Debbie and her husband, holidaying in Moraira were dropping their son and his girlfriend at the airport. After a good deal of hugging and even more nineteen to the dozen talking, we arranged to spend a day together before they flew back to England. What a lovely surprise and coincidence.
“Barcelo-o-na” . We let the train take the strain for the journey to Barcelona arriving at Barcelona Sants station at about two p.m. It. Was. Hot. Barcelona is a fabulous place full of interesting and quirky things to do and see. The tourist bus took us all over the city and like an amuse bouche, whetted our appetites for a subsequent and more specific visit. Next time we go I would like cooler weather so that we can walk without my feet turning into balloons with sausages attached, to see the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell and to go to the harbour and eat freshly caught fish. Cooked obviously.