Leaving the fast lane for a slow life in Spain

From IT to olive farmers. We make Lujos skincare products from our own Yunquera Gold olive oil.

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Getting ready for Christmas

We have made a list and checked it twice! The tree is up, the Lujos gifties are made for friends, the presents are mostly wrapped and under the tree.

We have plans to go to Malaga Christmas Eve for a bit of light retail therapy, then some food shopping and lunch, then see the lights. Malaga’s lights are absolutely fabulous – I’ll try to remember to take photos!

Anyway, my friends, one of the jobs today was to do my usual Christmas newsletter, but somehow a video just seemed more appropriate.


Olive harvest 2014

It’s looking like a terrific harvest this year, even though we had our trees trimmed earlier this year. The olives are big and healthy, despite the lack of rain. This seems to differ from most of the rest of Europe, where olives are scarce, and they are already warning of an olive oil shortage next year.

Ann even manages a smile on day 5 of olive picking!

Not picking olives this year, Annie – roll on 2015

It makes me laugh. You would expect that, with a worldwide shortage of olives, the price of olives would rise. We went to our local mill, to see if that was the case, but nooooooo. They will give only 40 cents/kilo, even less than last year!

With my breast cancer treatment taking so much time, we are unable to get out and pick ourselves. (Although I did briefly consider doing it during my ‘good week’ last week! Kenton says it shows how utterly mad I am!)

So what is happening to our crop this year? Given away, my friends. This hurts a lot, but I console myself with the fact that it means some friends who have no work can sell the olives for whatever they can get. This is important in an isolated mountain community – sticking together in time of need, and helping friends and neighbours. As our friend Manuel says, after all, you never know when you might need help yourself.

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Baby, it’s cold outside!

One thing that comes as a surprise to most people is that it’s not always warm in southern Spain. Or, at least in our little corner of it, it’s not always warm! Or sunny. Or dry.

On the coast, I’m sure it’s  a different story, but here on our mountain, winter is most decidedly here. Last week we had Ark-style rain. This week, it’s dry, but the usual winter story of very windy and cold.

Loading the truck

Bringing olive wood up to the house

The end of this week, it will be colder yet. Highs of 9-11° C, lows of 1-3°. Add to that the wind chill factor, and it is extremely cold!

Now I know that my midwestern family and friends will scoff at these temperatures!

Call that cold?

they’ll say.

To a certain extent, they are right. But the midwest is geared up for cold, and southern Spain isn’t. The houses are meant to keep heat out, not cold, so insulation is not common. We are lucky in that we have central heating and double-glazed windows and doors, but those also are rare!

So we’ll be turning the heating up, lighting the fire early, and bundling up!


The olive harvest cometh

Oh. My. God. Just when we thought we would have a poor harvest, due to the heavy pruning we did early in the year, we found out today we were totally wrong!

Casa Tyr olives

Casa Tyr olives (photo by Kenton@imagenary.co.uk)

Thinking about it, it makes sense. With olives, you have ‘off’ and ‘on’ years. Last year was our ‘off’ year, and, indeed, we only picked for 2 days. Even though we pruned, this is our ‘on’ year, and those trees are happy, happy, happy about being pruned.

The men of the house scouted the territory yesterday – Kenton, Milo and Freddy. They walked the length and breadth of the land to see what the crop was like. The verdict? Estupendo!

We are short a man this year, or woman, really – Kenton and I usually do the harvest on our own, but with my recent diagnosis of breast cancer, we decided I should sit it out.

So this year, a different solution is needed, so watch this space.

Comfort food

It’s a cold November evening and the wind is howling. The central heating is on, and the fire in the wood burner is blazing away. How cozy does this house feel?

Last year’s improvements are really paying off. The double glazed windows and doors, despite our reluctance to install them, have been a real blessing. Can you imagine — windows and doors that actually keep the wind and rain out? Sheer luxury.

Amazingly yummy criolla!

Amazingly yummy criolla!

We decided to celebrate by fixing a terrific comfort food dinner – an Argentinian dish called “Criolla Carbonada”, from one of our great cookbooks. It has a huge range of surprising ingredients – corn cobs, pumpkin, meat, tomatoes, peaches – that come together to form a rib-stickingly (sic) great dinner!

It’s the Argentinian version of beef stew, I’m sure – you remember how your mother used to fix that on a cold winter’s night, topped by fluffy dumplings? Heaven.


Sometimes things just…WORK!

After a very frustrating week, we finally organised an appointment for me at a clinic on the coast. This involved getting the recommendation from our doctor, getting authorisation from our insurance company, and finally, getting an appointment at the clinic!

What could be easier, right? Well, it seemed not. The authorisation was slow in coming. My appointment could not be arranged because the phone system was down in the radiology department (say what???). By the end of Wednesday, we thought that the week was a washout.


Our darling Matilda (photo by kent@imagenary.co.uk)

Much to my surprise, the clinic actually did call me back to arrange an appointment! How seldom that happens these days, that people call you back when they say they will – why is that?

So yesterday, we toddled off to the clinic (an hour and a half toddle!). Again, to my surprise, when we arrived, my authorisation had come through, and had been forwarded to the clinic for me, thanks to Victoria from Sanitas health insurance company. The appointments for all my tests were one after the other, so by lunchtime, we were done and dusted!

Sometimes things really do work out! To celebrate, I thought I’d post a photo of our darling little granddaughter.


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