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.

Valero – Olive Grove

We are open for retreats in our cottage or flat at 69 Carrer Mare de Deu del Miracle,  all year. We converted an old village house opposite our front door in 2003 to provide over-spill accommodation for our residential courses here, but also to provide quiet, comfortable accommodation for retreats and relaxation, close to the village centre with its bars, small general store and thrice weekly market.  The cottage has three double bedrooms each with private facilities, a well equipped kitchen, a dining and living area and a first floor study. The self-contained flat has a single and a double bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen and a living area. The flat and cottage have a staircase connection which can be opened up if needed.

Included within our retreat package is easy and permanent access to our roomy terrace, swimming pool, outside workstations and recliners etc. and retreaters are free to wander through our almond, olive and citrus groves

Within the Almàssera we have printing/ copying facilities, Wi/fi (which extends to the cottage), a 4000 book library and a wide selection of DVDs. Both flat and Cottage are equipped with TVs.

We have recently had bookings from writing groups taking the opportunity to work together on writing projects or operating workshops. We can facilitate, group excursions to museums, galleries and places of local interest or organise and provide a pick up service for mountain walkers. I can also arrange local readings via connections with Alicante University. This is an active literary scene on the coast here.

At a late hour I know, but for those wishing to escape the ravages of Christmas, our accommodation in both The Almassera Vella and No. 69 are free over the Christmas break — but we have a letting fixed for the new year. Contact us for quotes, preferably before the 19th December.


For writers, painters, walkers and tranquillity seekersself-catered from 215€/₤150 per week – 50€ per trip pick up and return to Alicante airport.

Overnights 35€ single occupation, 50€ double.