Nature…

How does nature make you feel? A year and a half ago, every sound,bug,bee,spider was to be avoided. I can’t help it,it’s instinctual if you grow up in Australia. Dangerous animals are a way of life there. My brother who’s instinct for danger seemed much lower than mine was bitten by a mouse spider and given a hickey from a blue tongue lizard. You. Just. Leave. Nature. Alone. 

The fear, installed from such a young age,you see takes a little time to shake it off.
Attending to the gardening without looking like this:


  

We used to walk to town everyday and as such,we pass orchards and bushes,hills and houses. There are rustles from every which direction. I’m reminded of a saying from my old driving instructor ‘ to keep my head on a swivel’ 
Which can actually be quite tiring, but all said and done, I now am at ease. The garden,originally set more for a holiday villa-low maintenance with lots of concrete. It now allows for all kinds of nature to survive and thrive.

I love going outside,just past dusk and watching the little mousebats careen through the sky. To hear the Industrious honeybees are a warm buzz. The lazy,fat sweet bumblebees are a joy to watch during morning tea. The spiders are small,pretty and harmless. The flowers we planted are insect friendly and laced with summer scents. 

The loquat trees are growing new leaves vigorously. As if to warn the farm managers not to cut them down. This is the task of the month in the lifecycle of the loquat. The fruit of my villages’ main export. We are to be woken by chainsaws. The car covered in fine sawdust. 

We may also be guilty of occasional pulling over of our car to slip a few abandoned tree limbs into the car for the coming winters fire. 

This is my favourite view in my garden. I’ve spent a few days with a good book here,occasionally looking up at My beautiful grapevine, who knows how old it is. The grapes are just moments away from being perfectly ready.  Anyone up for making some wine??

Nature here is harsh, the trees are brittle,the earth baked into useless clay. But she’s a beautiful beast,come winter and it feels like an eternal spring

Love and loquats.

Lea. X 

Eating in Spain 1/50

Eating in Spain is,relaxed. Timings are flexible and definitely later than Mr E and I are used to. We have slowly moved our evening dining to the later timeslot of 9pm. 

For most spaniards,Breakfast is a slightly toasted baguette half. It can be covered with anything from tomato paste and olive oil or some beautiful fresh off the bone jamon. Washed down with a coffee (Aussies beware,no geeks,half shots,semi skimmed anything!) it’s delicious and just enough to get you going in the morning.
Recently a special breakfast was presented to me from the old boys at my local cafe. Local lamb,homemade chips and aioli. The aioli was just olive oil and garlic smashed into paste as opposed to the more milder,mayonnaise type of aioli we are used to.

Lunch. For most spaniards,Lunch is the biggest meal of the day,even if you are working the loquat orchards. Paella,tortilla de patatas, three courses and washed down with a glass of beer or wine. In Valencia we have a favourite bar that does very traditional fare for everyday office workers including all of the above options. For those in more remote and rustic campos,there is the sardine tin,whacked over a fire with fresh baguette and again beer. 

old sardine can

Dinner runs late,in comparison to the UK and Australia. 9 is early. Depending on location,it could be whole fish,more paella,soups and stews. Desserts for the most part are traditional fair of creme caramels and ice cream.

Saying that a country whose food seems entirely predictable produced Ferran Adria, former head chef of El Bulli and many believe, a master of molecular cooking. He considers himself a ‘food deconstructionist’ as opposed to being attached to the molecular food movement. Molecular food is basically changing a texture of a food,dreaming of unique ways of presenting food. It’s not a way of eating I am envious of. However, for me the innovation and showmanship is magical. Considering the diet of most spaniards during the civil war and into the 80’s, was so entirely basic and lacklustre.I think I appreciate the method of Ferran just that little bit more. 

Ferron
Tapas,the dish of the drink,deserves a whole post (or several) of its own.

Tonight I’ll attempt a tortilla de patatas,mine never seem to be as good (or majestic) as the ones we eat out.

attempted tortilla

Love and loquats.
Lea. X 

Blue black.

 I’ve been doing it for a lot of years. Red and purple rinses,then onto permanents and blue black for the last 5 years or so.

I do it at home, I can’t afford to do it at the hairdressers,although I wish I could! 

At seven months pregnant, I had put off my periodical hair dye. I scoured the Internet for a definitive answer. Could I or couldn’t I? In the end I had decided to put it off,until baby was born. 

Well, seven months in and I was completely over not looking feeling like myself. Not to mention my ever expanding body,without the hair dye,my make up making my face breakout,I felt super frumpy.

So I took some extra precautions,threw open the windows-bring on the bottle.

When I visited my mum did at her place last year,she offered for me to do it in her guest bathroom. I was totally freaking out that I’d somehow get dye on her immaculate white bathroom,so I made her do it! 

I can’t remember how many times I ended up with a spot of dye here, or on a patch of carpet there,so I’ve become quite proficient in home dye. Here are my key tips:

. Use some ratty towels,a hairbrush an old or cheap comb, some shampoo,cotton rounds and an extra pair of gloves

1. Follow the instructions. If you’ve not dyed your hair before,then test it. Some say wet hair,some say dry,check!

2. Don’t skimp. Purchasing your favourite dye on sale is not skimping but using a decent one is worth it. I used to use Nice and Easy,it doesn’t seem to exist here in Spain so I used Olia this time,it’s good.

I was very tempted to throw a red into my hair instead, but bottled it it at the last minute. 

3.Have a book,a tea or something else to keep you occupied and hydrated. So youtube and wine are acceptable substitutes to the above. Unless pregnant!
4.I try and keep some tight fitting latex gloves on hand. They come in handy for lots of things (please do not use as condom alternative) 

Great for chopping chillies,removing cat crap from shoes and dying hair.

The close fitting ness means you can massage into the scalp and not end up with whispers of glove marks on your neck and face. Please note, If you are pregnant,keep it just off the roots until you’ve given birth. Just to be safe.

5. Shampoo. When you have done placing all the lovely dye on your head,there will undoubtably be whisks or even splodges of hair dye on your face,wrists,neck and ears. I’ve tried the glad wrap and tin foil covers and it’s such a pain to not move,so this is what I do.

Squeeze out some shampoo on the sink edge, or in the soap dent,wet a cotton round,squeeze out a swipe shampoo. Now rub gently on splodges, they should come right up. If you can have a spotter on hand to help catch any on your neck and back, I don’t bother wrapping a towel around me until after the dye is on. 

Work quickly! 

Now-Clean up. 
Rip the SIDE flaps of your dye box,place rubbish,used cotton rounds a AND gloves into box. Then pop lid down and throw it into a plastic bag and then sling that into the trash. Yes, I know a little wasteful but I’ve tried other methods and end up with a black dye stained bin.

 Wrap towel,pour your wine tea and relax. Don’t forget to pop the special conditioner into the shower,so you’re not halfway through rinsing the dye and then trying to find the little bottle.

In the last 10 minutes of process time,I shave my legs,vigorously brush my teeth. I don’t’ paint or buff my nails. That’s because you have to rinse the dye out well. Sometimes it comes off onto the nail,so all that work is washed away. Foot scrubbing,nail polish removing and cuticle cream are also good activities to pass the time.

 I was gifted the Dita Von Tesses book for Christmas. I felt much better about my DIY hair dying when I read she also dyes her own. Dita also does her own hair and makeup,she’s wonderful. I like that she suggests making it a sumptuous experience,lighting a candle etc. 

it is totally up to you if you dye your hair especially when pregnant. I am not a midwife nor a doctor,so please do what you think is best for you. I have a hairdressers appointment in a few days and I’ll share some new and old hair photos then. 

Love and loquats

Lea. X

Why Spain?

Well it was meant to be France. So much so that Mr E and I were learning the language of love and not of sun and sangria. But it all changed when we discussed the ‘Casa Del Rio’ in Spain

We were planning on moving in a few years from now but then things just sped up,the opportunity came along for this wonderful home and we said yes.

Mr E had seen it before but I had not. 

I said yes to moving to a country I didn’t speak the language of,to a house I’d never seen in person. Was I brave or reckless- probably equal parts both!

I left Australia a few weeks before Mr E,to visit my mum and see my brother get married in the UK

So our new life together really got started late one night in Madrid. Stay tuned for posts on old life in Sydney..

My flight was on time,cleared easy EU customers. Then I sped off to the hotel he had booked for the next week and we hit the town.

 Hey, when in Spain,do as the spaniards do and go to a restaurant at 11:30 at night! We ordered Jamon and cheese and olives and red wine,sat outside on the pavement on a busy Main Street and toasted our new life together.

A week of dining and city life we took a fast train south,then a tram. Mr E’s dad had traveled from France to spend a few days with us and help settle us in.

The drive from the tram stop to our home is no longer than 20 minutes. To me it felt like a lifetime,especially the last 2.5 kms that separate our home from the nearest village. The road twists and turns through two valleys and down a rather steep hill. I sat in the back of the car. Tears streaming from my face,WTAF had I said yes to before seeing? Before packing up my inner west suburb kitchen and trekking to Europe?

We arrived to a warm welcome from Mr E’s mother and a were awarded a tour of the house and land. 

I quickly installed myself beside the fire,a bottomless glass of red wine clutched firmly in my hand and spoke little that night.

We slept in what is now our guest bedroom,cocooned in thick duvets and entwined. 

The next few days were a bit blurry. I remember pretending to forget something at the checkout at the supermarket,so I could cry into a tissue in a quiet aisle before returning home.

Mr E’ s parents left a few days later. I remember wandering around the house,thinking of how we would fill all this space we now had,as our own. The weather still cool,little did we know we’d be in for a hot and sticky summer- and the start of the best time of our lives.

Love and lipstick.

Lea.x