Waves, Woods and Walks

New recipes are few and far between right now, we’re just enjoying old favourites. As we move from what was really not a bad British summer into a typical autumn (hot and sunny one day, grey and drizzly the next) we’re enjoying lots of walks around Bexhill.

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Time to share some of the walks we enjoy. First of all, the beach at Bexhill. We live just a few minutes walk from the main “prom” or promenade. During certain times of the year, dogs have to be kept on lead so we head off westwards to and area called South Cliff where they can  run off lead. It’s always full of dog walkers and at weekends families with young children, cyclists, older folk and everyone in between who enjoy this car free paved walk. If you keep walking,  you reach a little local landmark, a sculpture made from driftwood by a local artist of “Salty Sam and Seawater Sally”.

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Sadly, it has been vandalised in the past, but now people seem to like to stop and leave pebbles with messages written on them. It’s always changing,  a living sculpture.

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If we head Eastwards, we go towards and gentle slope and grassy area by the beach called Galley Hill. We can enjoy views in one direction towards Eastbourne and Beachy Head and in the other direction Hastings.

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A Peace Pole was erected near the top of the hill earlier this year and links Bexhill-on-Sea with every other place on earth that has participated in the project.

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If we keep walking east, we can follow a coastal path all the way to Hastings, but the dogs are always more interested in exploring than covering great distances!

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When the wind  is howling, or it’s a hot, hot day, it’s fun to head off into the woods. Within driving distance we have large areas of woodlands, but just on the edge of town we have Collington Woods, a small woodland area, beautifully preserved and maintained. Great for sheltering from the wind or heat.

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Of course, once we get home, we generally need feeding and a slow cooked Chilli con Carne hits the spot on a chilly autumn day…

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Potato Topped Pizza and a Walk Up the Mountain

If, like me, you don’t fear the carbs (although realy I should), this is a tasty and economical pizza to feed a crowd. And then you take the crowd out for a walk to burn off the carbs!

Potato & Spring Onion Pizza (1)

Ingredients

  • One Quanity of Pizza Dough
  • About 2 cups of chopped tomatoes or your favourite pasta sauce
  • 1 large potato, boiled in its skin then peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • Half a cup of grated cheese (I used a mix of parmesan and emmental)
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tin anchovies in olive oil (optional) omit for a vegetarian version

Turn the oven onto the highest setting while you prepare the pizza.  Put the tin or tray you will be using into the oven to heat up

Roll out your dough to fit the tin and place it on some greaseproof or baking paper. Cover with the tomato sauce. Mix the potato, cheeses, spring onion and garlic together in a bowl and spread this mixture over the pizza. Lay the anchovies over the top and pour over any oil from the tin.

Slide the pizza onto the hot tray (with or without the baking paper) and bake for about 12-15 minutes until the cheese starts to brown and the pizza is crispy.

Hope you enjoy the walk, click on the photos to see them in more detail.

Sad Thoughts, Happy Thoughts

Sometimes life throws you something unexpected, unwanted even. This last week has been like that. We were hit with sad news this week, news without too much hope regarding a beloved member of Big Man’s family.

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We cancelled our holiday, family comes first, and where there is life there is hope. I am sure you understand, most of us have been touched by ill-health and all that it brings within our circle of loved ones.

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Luckily we know that we have a big and loving family unit to help each other through these very difficult days. Through the darker days still to come. There is always light at the end of  the tunnel. It has been a good time for us though to reflect on what we have, what is good in our lives. Time to breath deeply of the mountain air and appreciate the good health that we have, to take a moment to remember not to take it for granted.

Let’s move away from these sad thoughts for a while, join us on a walk close to our nearest village as the sun is setting, it’s about 9pm, the heat of the day is a close memory, and the fresh night air is still a promise to be fulfilled.

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The sun sets on the little chain of mountains known here as “Los Pirineos del Sur” – the Pyrenees of the South. A little ambitious and grandiose, but we’re proud of our little mountains.

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We walk by the river bed which is dry now, but will be flowing with cold clear water in the winter months.

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We walk across the old bridge which is no longer used by carts or donkeys, but is so much prettier than the new tarmac one.

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A little look at the village before heading back to the car, and home. Bad days can also be good days. And every day brings the promise of a better one tomorrow.

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(Please excuse the washed out quality of the photos – I took them on my little camera and the light was fading. And apologies for not visiting you and commenting as much as usual, I hope you will understand).

A Walk on the Wild Side

Andalucía is a region of contrasts. Magnificent cities, historic monuments, skiing, countryside and the famous Costa del Sol.  It´s all there and usually not more than a couple of hours away from wherever you are.

At the weekend we drove slightly north from where we live, over the border from Malaga province into Granada province, Big Man´s heartland and into some wild and rugged scenery.

Near his home town of Ventas de Zafarraya is an area of fertile plains.  A huge amount of vegetables are cultivated and grown there and this provides much needed employment for many people.

Moving north again you come to the beautiful town of Alhama de Granada and between these two towns are a series of lush green plains divided by area of rough, rocky, almost lunar landscapes.

Water comes up through the rocks and provides irrigation and drinking water for plants, animals and Cortijo dwellers.

Some Cortijos sadly remain abandoned, mainly due to the inheritance laws here in Spain which pretty much oblige you to leave your property to your offspring. When families have 10 or more children, it´s understandable that families were often unable to come to an agreement regarding whether to sell, divide or buy each other out.

After a magnificent lunch of goat cooked over an open fire we set off to walk to a local goat farm and buy cheese.

There were plenty of goats…

….and it was milking time.

Some of the group also bought milk, luckily I had been given some that morning by one of our local goatherds.

Posh Milk Bottles!

There were one and two week old kids….adorable!

A family of strange looking turkeys were keeping everyone in line out in the yard.

Our walk took us past a tree which the locals called a Millennium tree, because of its supposed age.

It took five women to get their arms around it….and sometimes it´s good to hug a tree!

And finally a walk back to the Cortijo for coffee and cake.  Sometimes the simple things in life are just what you need.

The Lengths (or Heights) We Go To For A Mushroom

The rain poured down all night and some time around 4am, Big Man woke up and mumbled “If it´s sunny tomorrow and we set off early, we´ll go and look for mushrooms”.  Of course, he rolled over again, snoring was resumed and sleep once more descended.

The next day did dawn bright and sunny, we just slept through the dawn and a few hours of the beautiful  morning too, if the truth be told.  However, the weather was perfect for a long walk and if we found a few mushrooms too…well, that would be a bonus.  Please join us on our mushroom (or Setas as they are called here) scavenge.

You´ll need:

  • Two slightly overweight and unfit adults, brimming with enthusiasm and suitably attired and shod for walking
  • Two energetic pups
  • One pick up truck
  • 2 ham and cheese rolls for breakfast, water for adults and pups, doggy treats, camera
  • Net bag for collecting mushroom haul (so that the spores can fall out and spread more mushroomy goodness)
  • Penknife for cutting them (never pull up by the root)

Directions

Drive truck 4km up steep and slightly scary mountain track behind house, allow dogs to run enthusiastically behind.

Park up and start to climb.

Pass huge, rampaging wild animals and ignore The Goatherd With No Shame when he tells you there is nothing to be found and he hasn´t been up that way for weeks.  We saw the fresh tracks of his horses…you can´t fool us!

Admire old well.

Continue past The Lightning Tree.

Stop for a moment to catch your breath and look back at the view of the lake and then the sea in the distance.

Cross (not so) raging torrent.

Avoid anthills.

Finally…your first mushroom!

Keep going for three hours with a little break for breakfast and a chat with the Honest Goatherd who sends you off to look behind the Old Fig Tree where you are rewarded with a bumper find of mushrooms.

500g grams of delicious mushrooms which you will take home to make something delicious with. But more of that another time. Time for a cold beer and to ease your muddy boots off.  A good morning´s mushroom hunting all round.

Up My Road

Sometimes it´s good to look at the world through another person´s eyes.  Last week my (almost) 16 year old god-daughter Maddy and her mum came to stay.

Apart from sunning ourselves, eating, drinking and chatting, we took time out most evenings to take my two dogs Luna and Alfi for a walk.  No need to get in a car to drive somewhere, just a step outside the front door and the footpath awaits. For any keen walkers out there, the famous GR7 footpath which starts in Tarifa (the southernmost tip of Spain) and finishes in Bulgaria, goes right past our house.  We just tackle a little piece of it, but the views, even just walking a couple of kilometres are spectacular.

I thought you might like to share some of them with me, through Maddy´s eyes.  Enjoy!

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