A number of writers and artists have taken advantage of our retreat space here this year. With access to our extensive library, Wi/fi, printing facilities available and a quiet corner of the village an easy walk from the village square bars, market and local shops – everything fits to give you peace and tranquility to progress your project. Pleasant walks from the front door, inspiring mountain scenery – and we’re near at hand for anything you need. We can pick and return you to the airport, station or bus-station in Alicante. In the warmer months (May through to October – the pool a refreshing break from work – and maybe move your work station to our terrace in the shade of the Persimmon tree.
On 24th May we took a ferry over to Tabarca, an island off Cabo Santa Pola, Alicante. We can just see it on the horizon driving from Relleu to Alicante via Aguas de Busot. Formerly a roost for the aggressive Barbary pirates, the island has the remnants of a fortress citadel built in 1770 with some original housing constructed for Genoese refugees from Tunisia. Rather barren and windswept it has nonetheless become a popular place for day excursions with ferries from Santa Pola and Alicante. An off beat island, with a fascinating Geological history . Chris Lambert explained to me that it was essentially a nut between the upward grind of Africa and the South of Spain – the continental drift that threw up the Sierras and the Pyrenees. There is a conspicuous fault line scything the island in half. It has an interesting natural history too – once an enclave for Monk seals in the sea caves on the South coast. Birds include Kentish Plover, Thekla Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling and a colony of Storm Petrel. We had an excellent lunch and a bracing walk before catching the Santa Pola ferry. The drive back to Relleu about an hour. The ferries from Santa Pola run once an hour and it’s half an hour across to the island.
We’ve just had our 80 or so olive trees in the Valero Grove expertly pruned. There is plenty of flower buds so we are hoping for a good harvest this Autumn, say 200 litres plus of Extra Virgin oil. The combination of blanqueta trees and the locally traditional Manzanilla trees produce a very pleasant blend. Last major harvest we sold all our surplus to a local restaurant. The lemons are doing well, and almonds. Oranges could do with some more rain – but are providing us with plenty of orange juice nonetheless.
Inspired by Stephen Moss, the broadcaster, author and ornithologist who gave a talk in our village on ‘Mrs Moreau’s Warbler – How Birds Got their Names’, Terry Gifford and I drove an hour North to visit the 1290 hectare Bird Sanctuary at Pego. This has a remarkable list of specialities including 3 types of Heron, Stilts, Booted eagle, Little Bittern, Nightjar and occasionally Osprey – indeed there is a plan afoot to persuade Ospreys to nest there permanently. The best sight of the day for me was three or four wheeling marsh harriers and schools of saintly white Egrets. We did see a bird on a distant elevated nest that may have been osprey, but was more likely one of the Harriers taking a break.
Stephen Moss’s Book: (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35997821-mrs-moreau-s-warbler)
The first two weeks in February are a magic time in the valley — the almond blossom is out. A hundred years ago there would twice as many trees at least, the almonds going to the nearby Jijona Turrón factories, but there are still thousands of trees left – lining the bancales like white ghosts. Jijona buys its almonds from California now, but there’s still a market through the local co-operative. Now the groves are full of photographers, we gather almonds in August.
November is a month of changes. We still have warm summer days extending into December but mixed with sudden squalls and storms – this year a good deal of rain, much more than normal. One result, a startling display of wild flowers in our Olive grove: mauve Moricandia or Purple cabbage (which is in flower every month of the year — in Spanish ‘Collejón’, White rocket , Lobularia – in Spanish: Mastuerzo blanca, and yellow Erysimum. The rocket and Moricandia turn whole bancals mauve or white.