back to extremadura for nine days at the end of march; sunshine and showers, house cleaning and refurbishing – some surprises, good and bad.

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the pool full of blanket weed again, what a nuisance – I will have to treat this with an effective bio-weed killer – but looking beautiful because the surroundings are, the banks all covered with wildflowers. new growth in the pond has not started again yet, and still not enough sunshine to run the pump regularly.

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the water is perfectly clear, and the level good, because of all the rain.

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the finca has suffered from the incessant rain. a friend reckons they have had eighteen inches in the three months since I was there last.

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then there was the camino, full of mini ravines, still running with water, almost impassable. the bulldozer man, Pepe, soon took care of that though, made a big ditch further up to keep the water off, and smoothed down an impressive track.

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the flowers at the sides of the camino flourishing in the damp.

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the nightingale ravine, a little way up from my finca, full of noisy chattering water, rushing under the culvert and down past the olive groves.

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no nightingales when I was there, just a week too early. lots of cuckoos and hoopoes, competing with similar toned voices. most of the birds I see are just the usual ones, especially blue tits, great tits and blackbirds, although there are much more exotic things about to see, if you know what they look and sound like.

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water running down the stones of the old moorish/roman muletrack, making it treacherous in places. five years ago, even though the winter had been dry, these places were still wet, but the dry years since have obliterated all signs until now.

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water coming out of drainage holes in walls, and even over terraces in places where upkeep has been neglected.

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the familiar grim fortresses of the granite peaks are decorated with carpets of yellow and pink.

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it’s the season for the white broom flowers. earlier than the yellow broom, pretty and delicate.

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all the tiny stone cupped meadows full of flowers

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the lower walk round the bottom of the sierra to Arroyomolinos was almost one continuous stream.

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I found tadpoles in about two inches of water where the brambles make this track almost impassable. I was turned back by lack of wellington boots on my first attempt.

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rich grazing for this lovely red paterfamilias. his wife and child further back in the field stared at me aghast.

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another stream back to life after five years drought.

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this stream bed full of chamomile flowers restored to its old beauty.

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sadly I was followed by three motocross riders. it is forbidden to drive quad bikes and motorbikes in these tracks, but they ignore the notices, which have been defaced.

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almost like an english landscape. extremadura should be green eight months of the year. it will be interesting to see how long the green lasts this year.

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the fig trees just starting to open their leaves, little green flames catching the late sun.

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the house after a couple of coats of paint looking much better. the weather was nice enough at the weekend to have a late lunch sitting at this end of the porch in the sun.

on the saturday I was having a little doze on the porch in the afternoon, when I heard a whoosh and thump nearby, loud and strange enough to be startling. it turned out to be a short-toed eagle, sitting in a tousle-feathered heap under an olive tree, presumably with some reptilian prey in its talons. it flew off at the level of the olives, so I got no further views of it, but the next day it was back, wind-hovering over the finca. we saw about twelve griffon vultures as well that day, probably on some foray from the Montfrague reserve, where there are hundreds of them.

these white flowers are a little like a wild freesia, but no scent. I haven’t been able to identify them yet. they were everywhere.

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lots of these pretty wild lupins, and of the tassel hyacinth, which I haven’t a photo of, another blue flower.

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the finca I rent, next door, is also extremely wet, the water apparently coming from under my pool through the bottom of the wall here. clover seems to be growing really well in the wettest parts.

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more of the pool. it certainly works well in the finca under these circumstances. one would hardly worry about what is growing in the pool itself, the surroundings are so gorgeous.

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I’ll be going back in June, to set up for the summer and get a bit of swimming in myself.

driving to Trujillo on the way to Madrid to fly back to the UK, there were carpets of pink amongst the rocks, carpets of yellow amongst the trees. just stunning.