Newsletter number 1 – week 43/2021

Sunday 31 of october 2021


Dear reader, 


Since I have lived here in Spain, which has been 14 months now, I have been looking for a way to share what I am discovering from being here.

A lot of the people I know don’t use platforms like Facebook and Instagram and this is a new way to give an update on a weekly basis (perhaps missing some weeks) of what I’ve experienced and am producing from the garden.

If you have any questions regarding any of this, I’d love to hear from you and I hope you enjoy reading my stories.

Renovation 
It had been on our wish list for some time and last Sunday we started preparations: the renovation of our downstairs space.

This used to be an open space and now walls and windows are coming in on the sides and a new floor will be poored soon and then we can use this space in the winter to cook, eat and stay indoors and all year round  work on our projects. John to experiment with new tile designs and me to produce various products from the yields in our garden.

We have taken all our stuff from the bottom up and now it is a bit full, but a good time to organize and see what we do and don’t have. 


Meanwhile, the side walls are in and two windows have been cut down, so that we get a larger passage. Although tomorrow is a public holiday (1 Nov. All Saints’ Day), there is still work and plastering. 

Herb garden 
Because a side entrance has been closed off, I had to sacrifice part of my herb garden for a path. I have now placed them between a few plants and it is actually nice to see some plants from a different perspective.


The herb garden looks a bit bare at first glance, but it contains a few favorite plants for me, such as two White Sage-plants, which have grown well, several Lemon balms, Mint, Common Sage.

One marigold has bee growing for months and has produced a lot of flowers. I have to add that I have scattered hundreds of seeds everywhere and that this is the only one that has started to bloom and for two months now already.

There are also two abinthalsems, some marjoram, mugwort and pas I have planted a Tobacco plant and a ‘Plant of God’. I recently bought this in the Netherlands at Moringa’s finest. More about this visit in this blogpost.

Terrace
Because of this loss of outdoor space, we’re planning a new terrace with a lovely view right next to the chicken run.

So, this is of course not the terrace, but just a try out, what the space might look like and in the meantime thinking what to put here.


Yield from the garden 

Strawberry tree
The fruit from the strawberry tree is not doing too well this year. The yield was too poor to produce jam, and I didn’t like the flavor from the few I tasted. I will have a look next week to see if there are enough dark red, so I have enough to make jam.

By the way, this tree is called a strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) , but the fruit has not much in common with a strawberry we all know. Although it has the same size and also little seeds, it has a different flavor and feeling.

Persimmons
The Persimons / kaki’s I picked  are now ripening on the terrace. If they are really very soft, they are tasty.

Yesterday I ate the first ripe one. And the taste is ok, sweet, not very outspoken, but nice. If more are really ripe tomorrow, I’ll try to make a jam. I also tried it last year, but with the kind we have, it can happen that you get a really bad feeling in your mouth around the peel. That was last year with that jam. So not possible to eat.

But as with anything, it takes time to get to know the fruits, especially those that are new to me and that I had never really tasted and seen before.

I am very happy that the harvest this year is only about 35. Last year I had about 200 and I did try to dry a few, but that was not really successful. 


Pomegranates
This year more than last year, but still only about 7.

There is also a tree behind the house, but there is not enough sun there, so whether those two in that tree will ever mature, I have no idea.

Today, by the way, I drank very tasty pomegranate juice with vodka. The sister, brother and brother-in-law of friends of ours visit and walk a lot and always find many pomegranate trees along the way and had picked a lot again this year.

Medlars 
We only have a tiny medlar tree and this week I picked them and put them in the freezer overnight. It is said that it is best to pick them when there has been night frost, but then you can wait here until you weigh an ounce(that’s a dutch expression, not sure if it fits in english), so from there in the freezer.

I made a medlar liqueur from 1 kg, or at least that should it be it in a week or 6. Now it is only 1 kg of whole medlars with cloves, sugar, cinnamon stick and vodka.

I might make a mousse from the other medlars. 

The chickens
We have 4 chickens, two white and two red, and they roam freely on our property.

They have a large run, but we close it only at night.

One chicken has been broody for weeks and then moulted and the white chickens have stopped laying eggs for a week. Maybe the weather is getting too cold? Only Lily, she continues nicely. An egg every day. We named the white chickens Koos and Annie after John’s parents but they are almost indistinguishable from each other and the red ones are names after my parents: Hans and Lily and Hans has been broody and moulting for weeks and therefore looks a bit pathetic. They like to eat from my hand, have never eaten enough and also walk around a lot all over the site.

Every other day our neighbor brings a stump of ‘Acelga’ for the chickens and he often puts it somewhere along the side of the road to our site. The chickens love it, especially when I give it to them in pieces. I’ve never eaten there myself, but there are many recipes on the internet, so I’m going to try it soon.

Acelga translates as Swiss chard, but it looks very different from the Swiss chard, which I have myself. 

Cats
The cat family consisting of an almost all black father, a calico mother and two young cats, probably a male and a female, come every evening to see if there is something tasty to eat.

It is an art and takes times to coax them to come closer because they are really wild, but I already manage to touch one of the two young very gently. for a bit. Very briefly.

In the evening when I sit on the terrace by the wood fire, they are now often nearby and unfortunately they also defecate in my planters. 

Yoga

My daily ritual in Rotterdam for the last 10 years was rising early to go to a yoga class across the Erasmus Bridge. Here in Spain I couldn’t find anything similar in the town of Castellon but, to my great surprise and delight, classes, five times a week, have started in a yoga studio in the local village.


They are very relaxing and  constructive lessons, of course all in Spanish, so in time I will be able to tell all body parts in this way. In a way I must even be thankful it’s in Spanish, because the language spoken here is Valenciano

.The yoga teacher was born in the village and started the classes three weeks ago. She has followed several international yoga trainings and people in the village asked why she didn’t start teaching. Without any advertising, except that you can see it on the outside, she started. 


Very funny to drive over a deserted bumpy hill instead of through the city and into a village, where the few bars are already open and where there are already people. 
The yoga studio is located next to the most famous pub in the village, near the central square and there are mainly men drinking coffee when I go to the yoga class and of course it is also nice to have a cup of coffee after class. drink with one of the classmates.

Restaurant
This week we had lunch at “Sopa”. A restaurant on the outside of Castellon, under a block of flats where the surrounding business premises have all been bricked up. Never been in, like so many here in town.

But the restaurant is nice and pleasant to be there. Delicious food, made with care and attention. 

Website 
Two weeks ago it turned out that my website was no longer usable. What exactly was going on, I have no idea, but there was nothing for it but to start all over again. That also means that I can adjust it again, as I think it is right now. From now on in English and in a while I hope also in Spanish.
On the website I tell a lot about the off-grid life, the plants and trees in the garden and their medicinal properties and what you can do with them, and I also like to tell you about the beautiful and special places in the area. and I like to take the reader and viewer along with my explorations.This week I started all over again, which also meant completely discarding the old website and restarting it. In addition, I accidentally destroyed the database of my photography website, so I can start making it again. 
This week I added a few posts, such as :
– two posts with mostly pictures of two beaches, which we like to visit. 
– the beach in Almazora,
– the nearest beach, we like most, near Cabanes,
and of course I have already made a story about the Moringa, one of my favorite plants.

There is much more to see and I will now add stories weekly. Still working on the page about myself, but that will be there in the next two weeks. Would love it if you take a look.

Finally
Finally, I would like to end with how much I enjoy being outside so often. To enjoy the many sounds, the many birds around us, the crickets, in some times the frogs, the cats and much more. I have always loved camping and this often feels like luxury camping. More pictures about that next week.


This brings me to the end of my first weekly newsletter. For me it is great to have an overview of the week and to enjoy all the richness once again.


Next week the continuation of the renovation, I will tell about Juan’s paella. Plus more about my vegetable garden and the olives that are about to be picked. 


Hasta proxima semana!! 

Lieke

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