Ann Sansom of the Poetry Business ran a residential Poetry week at the Almassera Vella in June and it resulted in a happy coda as she invited me to read at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere and join a workshop there. Ann’s courses at the Almassera Vella have proved the birthplace of a good deal of published and prize-winning poetry — her methods almost force quality work out of you.

Peter Sansom ran the Grasmere workshop on similarly inspiring lines and and as the sun set over the fells, we indulged in a Wordsworth/Coleridge ‘walk and talk’ afterwards.

This summer we’ve switched the pool system to salt water and as a result have beautifully clean and clear water seemingly permanently. As the water has a tenth the salt of the sea it isn’t discernible as a taste and we no longer have that hint of chlorine.

It also seems to resist algae. All we have to worry about is occasional Sahara dust after rain storms.

Last year’s haul of 226 litres of extra virgin oil from our Valero trees, probably won’t be matched this year as the chilly Spring has reduced the harvest. The Blanqueta trees however are laden. We have a party coming on November 2nd to help in the gathering. ‘Milking’ an olive tree very therapeutic – just taking your hands down a branch and letting the olives fall onto the ‘manta’ below. Old-fashioned thrashing is therapeutic too, but in a different way. You have to be careful not to damage the tree overly. After gathering, the trick is to get the olives as quickly as possible to the press lower down the valley. We sold most of last year’s surplus to a restaurant. I suspect there’ll be enough for just us this year.

We had our eighty trees pruned earlier this year – ‘so a swallow can fly ‘atween the branches’.