An explanation of the title of this blog...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Mystery of the Orchid Continues...

The Mothers' Day orchid is in flower again, with yet another subtle variation.

These are the flowers produced in May; dark pink with a slightly speckled effect on the lower half.

These were produced in September; red and cream with pronounced speckles. I thought there was a slight possibility that there were two different plants in one pot, but...

... here we are in December, and these flowers have opened; they are on the very same stem as the May flowers, but rather than being dark pink, are the red of the September flowers, without any speckles.

I need to do more research...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Water Went Walkabout

I had all of October's WWs on scheduled posting. Blogger seems to have chewed some of them up and spat them out in a dark corner somewhere, so I am trying to do them again, with more success this time, I hope.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


These two flower spikes are growing from the same plant. The dark pinky red flowers are the ones it had in May when I bought it, and the spotty ones are the ones it has grown since I have had it in my care. I wonder how it did that? Maybe I'm not doing something I should be doing...

Monday, September 28, 2009


This was taken on site at the Roman Villa down in the sand dunes and shows the conservation work that has been done by archaeology students in the few weeks that the Town Hall could fund this year. Do you see those regularly spaced blank bits on the left? They were made by the spikes on a bulldozer shovel wielded by someone who thought he could destroy the evidence before the authorities stopped his plans to build on the site...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Local archeology

The Summer Season is coming to a close on the Medieval Ifach dig, but they have made great progress. If you are interested, visit the blog kept by one of the diggers, and if you don't understand Spanish, may I suggest that you Google the search term, and then click on translate this page that appears at the side of the first entry? You can then read a translated version, that although not perfect, will give anyone with an interest enough information to explain what they are seeing in the photographs. Don't forget to look at the older posts as well, as there have been plenty of interesting finds; enough that the Provincial Archeological Museum, the MARQ, is preparing a special exhibition for later in the year. This is a super museum, in a building that was until a few years ago the Alicante National Hospital. The exhibition set that they designed for the present British Museum Exhibition La Belleza del Cuerpo, so impressed the BM that they have requested that they be allowed to purchase it and ship it along with the exhibits as it continues its tour of Europe.

There is a video on YouTube about the BM exhibit, that starts with a plan of the hospital as it was, with pavilions off a central corridor, each pavilion being devoted to a different speciality. (My younger daughter no doubt has pleasant memories of visits to the Orthodontic department while recovering from a broken jaw) Each of these pavilions is devoted to a different epoch, in chronological order as you work your way around in clockwise direction, and the last ones are devoted to whatever is the special exhibition at the time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Vulture Saved from the Sea...

...was the heading on the first of my daily emails from the Town Hall this morning. Viktor Ferrando, a local artist, was out with some friends in a boat off the coast of Calpe on Friday evening, when they came across a very large, exhausted bird floating in the sea. Because it seemed so weak, they decided to get it on board, and took it back to the local Club Nautico, who called the Calpe Animal Protection Unit. They recognised this metre high bird as a young Griffin Vulture and arranged its transfer to the Santa Faz Recuperation Unit in Alicante, where it was put on a drip to re-hydrate it. It is hoped that it will have recovered enough to be released again in a few days.

The Town Hall informs me that it is thought this vulture is one of this year's youngsters from the colony being reintroduced into Barranc del Sinc in the Sierra de Mariola who took advantage of a thermal when learning to fly and was dumped in the sea when the thermal petered out.

Precis from the Griffon link above.

There used to be a large population of vultures in Europe, because farmers were in the habit of leaving their dead sheep, goats and cows lying around for them to dispose of, but EU legislation put an end to that, and there was no longer the wild carrion to keep up the numbers. In some areas, local conservationists have erected muleros; platforms where the carcases of horses and donkeys are left for them to feed on, as these do not carry the same BSJ risk, and at the same time, they are trying to get the EU law amended to allow controlled use of other domestic carcases where they are trying to establish colonies.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Local Archeological Digs...

...have started their Summer season work again. I usually gaze at the Roman fish sauce factory through the chain link fence that protects it, but have never climbed the slopes of the Peñon since they started the excavation of the Medieval walled town on the slopes. I have read about it on the MARQ website, and the dig blog, and on Friday I became a tourist for the morning having signed up for the 9am guided tour. I can't tell you how glad I was that I had to postpone my booking for last week as it clashed with an 8am blood test, because last week it was very hot. Yesterday I woke to rain and a cool breeze. The rain had become a slight drizzle by the time I presented myself at the Tourist Office at 9am, and I was happy to leave my waterproof in my rucksack. There was a German family of six, a young Spanish man and two middle-aged Spanish ladies waiting outside the locked door. The family had rucksacks, hats, trainers and cameras. The young man was wearing an anorak and trainers. The two Spanish ladies had handbags and pashminas. One was wearing canvas espadrills, the other a pair of white wedge heeled mules...

Shortly after 9, the door opened and Victoria emerged with her clip board. She ticked off all our names, except for the two señoras, who said that they had been told in the Office that they could just turn up at 9am any Friday and tag along. Victoria disputed this, as they were very restricted in the number of people allowed on the site, but as she had had a lot of cancellations caused by the wet weather, she would allow them to join the group.

Before we set off, she explained that because of the rain, the archeologists were not yet on site, and that instead of visiting the dig first, before going on to the nature centre and then climbing up to the tunnel, we would first visit the nature centre, then climb to the tunnel and hope that by the time we descended again, the diggers would be on site. If they were not, she would explain as much as she could. Having done the climb to the top of the Peñon a couple of times before, I had been planning on taking my leave after seeing the dig, but as it was such a cool day, when we came out of the nature centre, I hiked up to the tunnel with the rest of them. For an idea of where the tunnel is, if you look at this picture, the tunnel is at the very top left of the green part of the Rock. In fact, the climb isn't too bad. The path zigzags up at quite a gentle angle, and the surface has been paved with rough stone since I last climbed it, and there is now a wooden hand rail, as much to keep people on the path as to help them climb. We stopped a couple of times on the way up as our guide pointed out the remains of the defensive walls, and took us to stand in the remains of one of the watch towers. When we arrived at the tunnel, Victoria explained that she was not allowed to take groups any higher than the tunnel, but that any who wished could continue on to the top. The Germans elected to do this, as did the two ladies. Victoria asked the the two ladies if they were sure, and explained that it was not a good idea to go scrambling over wet rocks without suitable footwear. In the end, she accompanied them through the tunnel, but shortly afterwards returned with the two señoras in tow. I thought it was very restrained of her to do nothing more than raise her eyebrows and grin at me as she emerged. She pointed down the rock and we could see that there people at work in the dig. In my photo above, it is at the back of the bare area in the centre of the picture. The buildings you can see are the Visitors Centre. Here is a better aerial view. The Peñon was always private property until the Valencian Government took it over as a National Park back in 1987, and the previous owners had built a luxury hotel on this site. Large quantities of earth were bulldozed to make a level platform, the bell tower of the church was flattened because it spoilt the view, and the concrete slab you can see on the right was the base of the swimming pool built over the Medieval church. I can remember watching this hotel being blown up a few years later.

We made our way back down to the dig site and Victoria called to Roberto who was to take us round. She explained that the rest of the party had decided to continue to the top and there were now only four of us, but he said even if only one person came who was interested in archaeology, he was very happy to show what they were doing. I became so engrossed in what he was telling us that I forgot to take any photographs, but can I suggest that if you are interested, that you visit the links to the blogs I gave at the beginning? They are both in Spanish, but if you put proyecto ifach into a Google search box then click on translate this page at the side of the link to the proyectoifach.obolog you will get a translated page, and every time you click on a link from there, Google will also translate those as well. The history of the site is very interesting, as the architecture is found nowhere else in the Valencian region, it was of a design found in Italy and more Northern parts of Europe, and even the facing stones used were not local. A large quantity of these have just been hauled off to the MARQ Museum in Alicante for cleaning and cataloguing. The soil that was moved when the hotel was built has protected a lot of the site, but means that excavating is a slow process, and they are having to remove large chunks of reinforced concrete.

Next Tuesday I have booked for the tour of the Roman garam (fish sauce) factory and the Roman villa site down by the beach; no more gazing through the wire link fence, I get to see the amazing circular mosaic floor close to!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Bounty of the Orchard

is only bite-sized; A few years ago we cut down some pine trees that were infested with processional caterpillars and were too close to the boundary and damaging the walls. The Council's Tree Man came around to inspect, and gave us a licence to fell on the usual terms; that we plant two trees for every one we felled. We felled 7, so had to plant 14, but he was quite happy for us to plant fruit trees, palm trees, bay trees or ornamental trees. We planted 4 Golden Cyprus, 4 palm trees and 6 fruit trees. The Nispero has flowered and fruited each year. The Pomegranate has flowered but never fruited. The Apricot flowered and fruited the first year, then inexplicably died very suddenly over a matter of days the following year. The 3 plum trees all flowered the first spring, but the Prune plum gave up the ghost after next door's cat took to using its slender trunk as a scratching post, the red Plum died off above the graft during the second year, but below the graft it continues to flourish. (The leaves look like an almond, but as I have no idea what the local stock tree is, I shall have to wait and see.) Only the third, yellow plum has flourished. I say flourished in that it has flowered each year and this year has set one solitary fruit, pictured above in all its majesty...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Bottom... looking rather dry these days, rather like a hay meadow in need of cutting, but with one very good reason not to cut; the large numbers of Centaury plants in bloom. The odd low growing plants of early spring were just forerunners of this abundance. If you click on the photo, you will also be able to see the Honeysuckle that is now in bloom.

From a distance, these two tall plants look similar, but close up it is obvious that one is a Helianthemum, and the other I have identified as a member of the Aster family; ANDRYALA integrifolia.

There are a couple of stumps in The Bottom, the remains of pine trees that were cut down a few years ago. They yielded a fine crop of beetles, both bronze Pine Beetles, and Rhinoceros Beetles over the years, but are now almost reduced to powder. The blackbirds treat them as a larder, and I watched them excavating quite a hole in the ground as they looked for ever more succulent morsels.

Finally, proof that it is not only the UK that is seeing a great increase in the number of Painted Ladies this year. There were twelve just on one side of this lavender bush. I only managed to get three into the frame, and they wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a close up...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Water

Running water at the fish Market.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wednesday Water

Before you ask, it is the view from the top of the 7,000ft Pilatus down to the Vierwaldstaettersee on a misty morning. If you want to know how it looks today, here is a link to the 360º webcam...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And the winner is....

...Mountainear...who recognised it as an Orchid. This particular one is the Pyramid Orchid - Anacamptis pyramidalis. It is quite widespread in The Bottom, but this particular clump has taken its time opening for some reason; nearly a week after most of them. Maybe it's camera shy?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

What will it be?

It is already about 9" high...answers on a postcard...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Red in Tooth and Claw

Coming back to the house, after a session in The Bottom, I noticed that Chancey was creeping up on something near the wall. Suspecting it might be a lizard, and wishing to give it a chance to escape, I called to him just as he pounced. I didn't put him off his stride, and he ran towards me to offer me his prize; a foot or so of very young, very pretty, Horseshoe Whip snake. He dropped it at my feet, and it started to make its way back towards the wall, but then Charlie Badmash, jealous of any attention given to Chancey, cuffed him around the ear and made a grab for the snake. Knowing that I would deprive him of his fun, he ran off with it down to The Bottom, and by the time I got there, he had despatched it and you can see how sulky he is that I stopped him from starting his meal until I had my photo. It is not a very good photo, but you will see the pattern on the snake if you click on it. Here is a much better one of an adult snake that I found on the web.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's a Doddle...

....Sorry, that should be Dodder... click on the photo to see it close up. Those thin red strands are only a millimetre in diameter, and the tiny pink flowers grow out of the strands. There are no leaves because it doesn't need them. For those of you who don't know this plant, it is a parasite that lives on a number of different plants and doesn't have any chlorophyll of its own. Believe it or not, it is a member of the Convolvulus family...a bindweed with a difference..