Secret Garden Retreat, Spain

Welcome to our Blog! We have moved our blogging to facebook. Please visit us there!

Yes we made it. We have arrived in Spain. It has been an incredible journey of trusting the new direction that we are being guided in, letting go of our lives, our home and dear friends in Perth, Australia, giving up and giving away lots of our belongings, overcoming obstacles of landing in a new country and embarking on learning a new language and having the faith that we will have what we need to start our life in Spain.

We will keep updating this Blog with news about our lives and beautiful new retreat site. We hope you will enjoy it.

Genalguacil

So let’s start with where we are… We are living in Genalguacil.

Genalguacil is one of the famous and lovely “pueblo blanco’s”, white villages, in Andalucia, the South of Spain. The village lays in the Malaga province and is about 17 km’s inland from Estepona, a town at the Mediteranean Sea, although driving by road it is about 33 Km, because of the windy nature of the mountain pass roads.

Genalguacil is a very pretty village having 552 residents and situated at an elevation of about 500 meters above sea level. There are 2 little food stores, a few restaurants/tapa bars, 2 bed and breakfast places and even a bank!

The village is in the Genal Valley, near the river Rio de Genal. This river is sourced from wonderfully clear spring water coming from the mountains.

Genalguacil hosts every year in August an art festival which is visited by many. This is one white Andalucian mountain village that art lovers will not want to miss. Every year during the first two weeks in August there is an art festival in Genalguacil called “Los Encuentros de Arte del Valle del Genal” and prize winning works of art are put on permanent public display throughout the town afterwards. This is probably the most outstanding feature of this typical Andalusian village. Visitors come from all over to wander the narrow streets and charming plazas in search of artistic treasures.

The Finca

The property where we are living and creating a place for people to retreat, is a “Finca”,  a small farm nestled about 300 meters below the village and bordering this river at the bottom of the valley. The land size is around 10 acres and there are many mandarin and orange trees and many other fruit trees. The land is fertile and has it’s own source of mountain spring water. The hot water is provided by heat exchange solar panels. We also do have mains electricity but are planning to get most of our power from solar energy in the near future. This will make the property largely self-sufficient. There are two buildings that offer 2 bedrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Build in a typical old Spanish style architecture, with thick stone and mud walls and painted in cal.

Today is Christmas, it has been raining all day. Water the valley needs very much as it has been dry so far this year. It is middle of winter here, about 1-5 degrees at night and about 10-15 degrees during the day.  For us this is a mild winter quite similar to Perth where we came from.

Our vision is to build a retreat where every person who visits can take some time out to relax, calm rest and contemplate their life. Perhaps finding a deeper connection to themselves, to others and to God. We plan to provide a place to rest, to find inner peace, re-couperate, reflect, fight inner battles, meditate and simply enjoy being in the beauty and tranquility of nature in and around the Genal Valley.

The Secret Garden & a New Year's Greeting

“Genal” means garden or paradise. The previous owners called the Finca “Seral Genal” which means “secret garden”. It truly is a beautiful secret garden which has inspired the name for our retreat to be “The Secret Garden” Retreat. 

Rose: As the end of the year arrives, it seems a natural time for reflection, a time to contemplate what I have experienced, bringing forth some questions like: What lessons have I learned this year? What are my values, how have my values changed? What is my deepest heart desire now? Am I living according to these to the best of my ability? What is my focus now? Where is my desire focused now?

Ian, Mackie, Neo and myself, hope that you will find a thoughtful completion to 2013 and a fresh and vibrant start to the new year.  We wish for you a year in which you find deep and great degrees of spiritual freedom.

PS Our guest bedroom will be ready next week!

Update Monday January 13, 2014

What a gift to be able to have so many changes, such a different lifestyle, such a change of environment. It is truly a gift to be here in the country side and both Ian and myself feel everyday so deeply blessed.

Life on the Finca is so very different then living in suburbia or in a city. As we live about 25 minutes away from stores, a bank, a gas station we have to think things through and plan our trips to the towns. The places where we go to buy food and other goods we need are mostly Ronda and Gaucin. Both are such beautiful places.

More Pueblo Blanco

Gaucin is one of the most famous white villages just 20 minutes away. It is lovely to go there, walk about and have some tapa’s before going back to our Finca.  A glass of wine or beer with a tapa, a small plate of some sort of finger food, cost about 2 Euro. It is very affordable and a way to support local business. We love the bars and little restaurants with their terraces. You can sit there watching all the local people, which truly is a treat. The people feel so very alive, heartfelt and present. It is also great to see so many older people. They have no problem to keep walking those steep little streets in the village. We have been told that a lot of them are close to 100 years old. That age is very common here.

Ronda is a very old white city, higher up in the mountains. It is famous for having the oldest bullring of Andalucia. It is truly a gem of a small city. It is hosting tourist all year around. In Ronda we can buy practically anything. So it is a good place for us to go.

Shopping is a bit of a journey though. We are learning that if you buy something and they need to order it or make it….only buy it if you are ok for it to arrive at your house whenever! The Spanish word for tomorrow is “Manãna”. But here in Spain, manãna really means a lot of the time “someday…sometime…in the future”. The same meaning can be given to the word Monday = Lunes. “When will our bed arrive? The sales person answers: Lunes”. On Monday we are waiting for our bed and we are calling, “Where is our bed”. “Oh, not ready yet….maybe Thursday and next Lunes for sure!” So indeed we are still waiting for our bed. Ian called the men today and we are promised it is now for sure coming tomorrow…we will see.

On one level people seem to be living more in the moment with what is available to them in the moment. A wonderful and peaceful way of living. If they need something in order to do something and it is not there, they do something different. Of course habits like laziness, procrastination, resistance and being uncommitted etc. have an easy ride here.

A Sweet Reunion

My sister Mieke was our guest for the last week on our Finca. We haven’s seen much of each other at all over the last 30 years as I was always living abroad and our focus in life seemed to differ a lot. It was so wonderful to have her here and connect with her again. She is such an aware and loving person. Of course we were also so curious what she would say about the Finca. Well, she loved it and thought it was a great place. But she said, it is a lot of work! Oh yes…we know, and we are getting ready for it.

Wwoof!

We registered our Finca/Farm with the Wwoofing organization. This is an organization that connects organic farms and people that want to come help and experience working on an organic farm. A lot of younger travelers love to do this. They work for about 5-6 hours a day and in exchange we provide them with accommodations and meals. Our invitation has been out for about 10 days and we have our first 2 woofers come this week for 2 weeks. So help is coming.

We are also very excited as our best friends Annie and Brigitt will come visit in about 2 weeks. We can’t wait.

We are currently working on the guest bedroom and will be ready soon! Oops I forgot...Manana!

This week hopefully the container will be released by customs. It has been in Algeciras already for 2 weeks. Paper work galore and lot of headaches. Hopefully we are seeing the end though and we will have our belongings this week.

Thanks for living country life in Spain with us. You are all in our hearts.

Update Monday January 20, 2014

Sooo much accomplished this week. Alex and Gill, the wwoofers I talked about are here with us and they are just wonderful. Intelligent, witty, creative and just great to be around. Our family has been extended and enriched with them.

We have cleaned, painted and oiled our living room and kitchen. It looks clean and fresh. Ian has build our kitchen island and it gives the room a bit of modern chique. He had very few tools and materials as the container is still not in our possession but he made it happen! A great challenge with many breakthroughs.

And we are celebrating as we have finally got a green light for the container from customs. I had to go to Madrid to the Australian embassy to get a specific document. I took the fast train which took about 4 hours from Ronda. These trains go about 330km/hour. My goodness it was fast. It was a bit getting used to, especially after being in the calm and serene life we live at the Finca. But thanks to the fast trains I was able to do Madrid with a return ticket and going to the embassy on the same day. Then I had to go back to Ronda to register at the tax office which made the Spanish customs happy and thus released the container. This has been the longest journey of government paperwork I have ever had to do. The container will arrive on Tuesday and it will be parked at the top of our track. We have about 10 people in the valley helping us to unload and we have 3 hours to do it in. Let’s hope it all will go smoothly.

Ian is digging a hole and is bringing in a 6 meter long pole! Hopefully this way we will be able to get a signal to the satellite that will provide internet to us. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

We also have some lessons in firewood this week. Main lesson: Have plenty of it! We ran out this week and the rain has come, finally. The rain makes the place feel colder and it is so nice to have a fire. Also our hot water is made by the fireplace when there is no sun to heat it on the roof. So running out of wood, with nothing but wet wood around has been a challenge. Alex and Gill have been superstars though. We have found plenty of wood on the Finca, relatively dry…and further dried it by the fireplace so we can burn it the next day. The system works perfectly. Two thumbs up for Alex and Gill. We are warm again.

Update Monday 27th of January

Internet at last!

Yes, Ian and the satelite company did it. The 6 meter long pole did it! We are connected and the internet seems of great quality and speed and is reasonably priced on top of it. Yippie Ja Jay! It is a different experience this week to be available and reachable again. It makes all the research so much easier. And now I can write our blog from the comfort of our own home. That is really nice.


Alex and Gill have left us. They went back to England. Again, thanks so much you guys!!!! You were our saving angels and it was great to have you be part of us getting settled in here at our Finca. Well done. We hope you are having a safe trip back to England and lots of good things happening this upcoming year.

El Correos

On Wednesday I went up to the village to introduce my self to the postman. We are not able to receive our mail here at the Finca as it is too far away from the village. The postman will keep the post in a box till we pick it up. So once a week we will go up at noon to collect our mail. My first trip was an interesting one. A whole group was waiting on the doorstop outside of the post office. He supposed to arrive at 12 noon and stay for 15 minutes. It was 12:30 and still no postman. About 8 people from the Campo = Country side has gathered outside and did the necesary catch up talking. Really sweet, and oooo I wish I could understand Spanish. But one of the locals was able to communicate to me to not worry, the postman always comes. And indeed only a few minutes later he drove up in a little car. A bright, handsome young man got out with 2 big boxes. Ah, that is our mail. Salvador the policeman dropped by just before to unlock the post office. It is a little room, with a table and 2 chairs. How easy is that! In my few words of Spanish I introduced myself to him and was able to tell him where I live. He told me to wait. The a few other people from the village had much to talk with him. I kept trying to leave as I had other things to do. But he kept holding me back and said "stay". So I guess he is not finished with me yet. Then after a while he went back to his car and retrieved a 3rd box. He rumbled through and low and behold, there were 2 letters for us. Wow...what a miracle. I thanked him graciously and felt so proud walking away from my first post office = Correos experience with mail.

Thinking back on the experience I realize how much I have been taking for granted when living in City's. The mail arrives, every day, always. It is just there. This whole experience makes me realize the energy it takes to indeed physically get one letter from one place to another.

Update Monday 3rd of February

Annie and Brigitt

Annie and Brigitt, two dear friends of ours visited us last week. What a wonderful experience it was to spend a week with them and to share this beautiful place with them. It was great to receive some feedback and work together. They reckon we took on a big project with a lot of work! Well yes, we knew that...hope they keep coming back to help! Thanks Annie and Brigitt! It was great to have you here!

We are settling down more and more and have some time now to walk around and really take everything in. By the river, the village people have carved a walkway. You can walk now from our place all the way to 3 villages over this path. Very exquisite and lovely for people who love to walk in lush nature. There are some steep drops as you look down ( or maybe not!) to the river. A great part of the path is using the existing asequia....I might have spelled this wrong. This is a waterway that was build over a 1000 years ago. This is how the farmers would get the water from the river to the land to irrigate their crops. A really intelligent system. Our Finca still owns these right to receive water from the river this way.

And Ian got his camera out today! What a joy. He loves finding those special moments. And yes also a picture of our first guest bedroom. It is starting to happen! Your bed is ready. Just let us know when you want to come.

Update Monday 17th of February

feliz cumpleaños Rose!

Oh dear, yes it was my Birthday this week. 50 years. It feels like a big number. I spend the day in a lot of contemplation and doing an assessment of my life until now. I asked myself questions: What do I want now in my life? Am I living according to my deepest hearts desires and prayers? In it all I feel such tremendous gratitude for our friends, our neighbors here in Spain and the beautiful Finca we are about the buy. So I will share some pictures with you in the hopes to share the beauty I have around me!

Trabajo Duro

In the mean time we keep fighting brambles as they are everywhere and suffocating so many trees and bushes on the land. Also all the manderine and orange trees need to be cut free from many wild growth stalks....It has not been done in a long time so they need a lot of care. It is very satisfying work as you see results fast. Not to mention the fires we had to get rid of all those prickilly twigs. I am not sure but I think something comes out of us when we create fires. We all seem to so love it. We are eating loads of manderins every day.....yummy! No lack of vitamin C we will have here. And thanks to many of our friends things move forward in great speed. Thanks Annie and Brigitt, you were wonderful bramble warriors!

Update Monday 24th of February

Janis

YEAH! Another week on the FInca. This week with Janis. Janis is a beautiful man, a wwoofer, who comes from Germany. He is an artist and loves nature. His expertise is wood and wood sculptures in particular. I call him an elf from the land of Pan. A free spirit so to speak. We love having him around and Ian and Janis have decided to tackle the first yurt platform, the platform for our meditation yurt. A big undertaking and lots of thinking and creativity.

Check out Janis's website of his own wood carvings if you like. It is so beautiful. My favorite is "Tanz der Gegensatze". It is on the right as part of the gallery. It is really nice as you see him step by step carving his sculpture.

As we were about to tackle our first yurt platform, Robert our neighbor told us someone wants 15 crates of oranges and manderines that he will take to Germany to sell. That is wonderful news as I have had so many thoughts about what to do with all this fruit we have. 450 manderine and orange trees is no small thing. So we said yes, let's go for it. We spend about 4 hours picking the fruit. It was a wonderful experience, to be so close with the fruit and harvesting them one by one. You need to lay them in the basket with care otherwise they will bruise and last less long. In the end I was so disappointed as the harvested fruit did not make a dent at all in our fruit quantity. From one tree we harvested about 4 crates of oranges which is about 80kg!!! That is enormous. And you did not even notice it.

Later in the week I went to the market in the village of Genalguacil and asked if he wanted our manderins and oranges. Pedro laughed and said he has enough and people do not buy them here much as everyone has oranges and manderins in plentitude. Well, I thought I give it a try.

But first things first. Wood....and lots of it. We need Lena.....oopps we figured out that this is firewood in Spanish. What we are looking for is called Madera. Ok. We need madera and lots of it. We have 2 wood yards nearby, like a bunnings or obie markt you call it. Well here is the picture of it. A big plot, with lots of trees that have been harvested and a sawmill in the middle and a most incredible view of the village and the mountains. Now you can figure out what you want and order it. That is bit getting used to after in Australia you go to the shop and it is all laying there, cut, treated and ready to go. You buy what you see....now you have to imagine what you need, find your tree and order it. And of course all of this in Spanish. Thank God for Janis who speaks a bit of Spanish and Gerard who is friends with Jose, the wood man, we got what we needed and super fast. Jose had to come down the track with his 4x4 about 5 times....and yes, all the wood is here now.

Building of the Yurt Platform

Ok, the wood is here, Neo inspected all of it. Now we can start. First we spend days and evenings planning the platform. It has to be strong as this yurt might have 20-30 people dancing in it. And no squeeky floors please! A great challenge. Both Ian and Janis have plenty of knowledge, insight and experience so a great platform it will be for sure. And with a perfectionist from South Africa and a German....I think we need to have no worries.

We decided on the place where it will be. It is high spot right under the Eucalypt tree with an amazing view and a feeling of being sheltered at the same time.

Day 1: Preparing the ground, Leveling and measuring the diameter of the platform; about 5 meters.

Day 2: Digging 13x55cm deep holes in the ground which is full of rocks. 2 holes had to be drilled out! Mind you!

Day 3: Cutting the stumps, burning the ends

Day 3: Putting the stumps into the ground and packing them tight with rocks till they do not move anymore!

Day 4: The stumps need to be cut and leveled and then the first platform frame can be build.

Day 4: Yes, we did it, the first platform got finished just before dark!

Day 5: The Second platform can be made. Wow, that is a way bigger job then we imagined!

Pffff, some rest and playtime after a day of platform building!

Visitors!!!

Look at what came walking into our gardens this week! Yes a donkey with a white horse. So incredibly cute. The were just strolling down the walking path at the bottom of our Finca and then decided to say hi to us. It is a funny couple indeed, a real couple. One does not do anything or go anywhere without the other. Our Finca has lots of yummy greens so this is paradise for them. We locked them up in the vegie vega in the hopes we can have them for a while. This way they will eat all the grass and weeds down and leave us with great fertilizer on top of that. Let's hope the owners will find out late that their funny couple is gone!

UPDATE: the owners found out they are here with us yesterday....we talked in the few spanish words that we have and yes...we can keep them till Saturday. YEAH....lots of fertilizer for our garden.

Primavera...it is spring!

Wow, we have had a warm last 2 weeks. Just beautiful. It was lovely to be woken up by a chorus of birds, go  to work outside with nature unleashing all of its energy's and going to sleep as the surroundings become so deeply silent. The trees are blossoming and the grasses and plants are growing so fast. What an incredible event!

A visit from Mom and Frits ....and water at last!

When you live on a 11 Acre finca and you have one water source you start to realize how important  and precious water is. And even more important...that you can access the water where ever you need it. Our water spring is at the East side of the Finca near the mountain. Our vegetable gardens are by the river at the west side of the Finca. I have been planting tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini and cucumbers already and have been watering them every day with a watering can by going to the river. This is ok for a little while but as the vegetables started to grow and I planted more and more, this task of walking in water became too time consuming....although great for my buns though!!!

I start to realize how important and helpful it is to have water available in the gardens. Thanks to Frits and his diligent research and commitment to getting water down at the vegetable vega....we have water! Thanks Frits. And mom, thanks so much for making the sitting area of the guestroom so beautiful! It was wonderful to have you both.

And there is it. Our first yurt floor. Sanded, sanded, sanded...oh and then sanded again. The she received 2 coats of a great natural blends of 3 good oils. And now she is ready for the yurt. Our meditation yurt. How wonderful. A great mile stone. Well done Ian. I think it is a masterpiece done with love. And thanks for Janis, Florian and Frits for your help.

Sunday April 13, 2014

Today it happened! The meditation yurt was erected. What a wonderful thing. Ian rented a big van and drove to Cadiar, a village in the Sierra Nevada, the Alpajurras. This is a very beautiful place in Spain and about a 4 hour drive away from us. Ian brought back 3 yurts. One is 16 FT, the meditation yurt and 2 are 15 FT, for residential purposes. The pitching was an absolute pleasure. Rob and Ratna, the makers of the yurts, did such an incredible job creating the yurt and especially the way they put together the "how to pitch it" part with all the parts so lovingly wrapped and packed. Just first class. Thanks Rob and Ratna for making a product that has love in it from beginning to end....from the canvas to the crown. And thank you Guido, Robert, Marco and Siard for being part of pitching it. It was a wonderful experience to do this with you all.

Yurt pitching 1
Yurt pitching 2
Yurt pitching 3
Yurt pitching 4
Yurt pitching 5
Yurt pitching 6
Yurt pitching 7
Yurt pitching 8
Yurt pitching 9
Yurt pitching 10
Yurt pitching 14
Yurt pitching 11
Yurt pitching 12
Yurt pitching 13

Vegetable Garden

I love our vegetable garden. I like putting my hands and fingers in the earth, to feel the seeds and the little plants and learn all the things I have to learn to help them to grow. It is also amazing to see how fast things can grow. I am also understanding so much more how important and precious water is. When you live in a city you do not think about these things. Water is just coming out of the tap and you think there is unlimited supply behind the tap. Our water tank was almost dry one day. What a shock that was. Thank God there was nothing wrong with the water spring coming out of the mountain. We just had what is called an air lock in the tubes and had to clear it. Now the tank is full again and water is running freely. But it really makes you think. Now when I open a tap I feel gratitude for having water. What a nice feeling that is.

We planted today 70 Berry plants!! Strawberries, blue berries, rasp berries, goose berries, cran berries, red berries, goji berries.....and some I am not sure what they called. YUMMY...the water ran me out of the mouth as I was planting them. I hope they all grow as they were a bit dry because of the long travel in the mail.

70 berries

Everything is edible!

I just talked to my friend and neighbor Ute today. As I am finding my way around the FInca I am starting to realize how much edible herbs and fruits there are just in the wildlife around us. Ute laughed at me and replied: "at this time of year you can eat everything!". I said Everything? not really believing her and she replied....practically. Wow...I love it. It reminded me of something our last wooffer mentioned to us. He said that we are living in a very rare spot in the world, one of seven biodiversity hotspots in the world. This means that men could survive here with eating from the plants around you in the wild. Some call it the edible forest. I am finding some things to eat already but I am sure there is way more to go. SO at this point I am just putting everything I find in mouth and see what it tastes like. So far these are my favorites: Mint, Borage, Sweet Pea and wild Garlic...

We keepin' on going!

It has been beautiful these last weeks. We had lots of visitors that came and helped and left a part of themselves here for others to enjoy. The temperature is between 20 and 30 Degrees Celcius during the day and the nights are between 10 and 17, really nice. We also had twice some rain...how lovely is that.

Working in the heat is hot! And thank God for the river, a couple of times during the day we take a plunge and it cools us off beautifully. We have have a fresh water river pool, how cool is that!

Rose has mainly been doing landscaping, laying paths, leveling grounds to the yurt accomodations; outdoor bathrooms and terasses.

Ian has been building a chicken coop and is working right now on our second yurt platform.

The Moodles have been inspecting the chicken coop inside and out and are wondering: "Where are the chickens"? Still waiting for the floor and the roof and then we are ready for chickens!

And yes, we have been meditating and going within lots, also in the meditation yurt and it is an incredible special experience every time again. A yurt is such a wonderful room to go within.

It is getting dry now and part of Ian's job is strimming the vega's (= flat land by the river). Wow that is lots of strimming, about 4 acres. He has been doing 2 hours a day for the last 2 weeks or so...So we called in the professionals again: The Caballo and the Burro! Yeah...they are doing an awesome job. Unfortunately we can have them only strim one third of the land. The other two thirds has the vegetable gardens and all the new trees.

Yolanda and more

Hey Yolanda! How lovely it was to have you with us. We did yoga and had massages together. The body needed it. Thanks for bringing this awareness to us. And thanks so much for everything you did here.

We build a mosaic with river stones in the ground in the grapevine terrass. It looks great! It keeps amazing me how we can build so much on the Finca from all the materials in nature around us.

And what I love about Spain is that we can have all our meals outside. We practically live outside during the day and sleep at night inside.

We are also so grateful for our neighbors, Ute and Robert. It is priceless to have great neighbors.

Everything Grows....weeds to!

Everything is growing and growing these days as the temperature is getting warmer and warmer. Watering is part of our daily routine and it is truly a delight to see each seed, grow into a mature plant that starts to create fruits.

We have eaten, besides kilo's and kilo's of oranges and manderines, wonderful cherries, apricots and strawberries.

Weeds is a very interesting story on its own. I am learning so much about them. Ute keeps showing me which ones are eatable, a surprisingly amount. The salats we eat are far from boring these days as I throw everything wild that is eatable into it. YUMMY!

What I am beginning to know about weeds is that I need to find the art of leaving them in to create ground cover enough so the soil does not dry out and yet that they do not start to compete for water and/or nutrients. If so, I need to pull them. Also reading weeds is like reading a map of your soil and grounds. They give a massive amount of information about what is going on in the soil. What you and I consider weeds, play an important role in reclaiming disturbed lands. Whether having evolved as a legume, replacing nitrogen where none existed, or creating quick shade to aid in the establishment of bio-diversity… All weeds have their place…

Permaculture isn’t really so much about weed eradication, the weeds are going to grow one way or another. The simple act of composting the weeds you pull instead of throwing them away is a basic permaculture principle, learning which ones to leave in the ground, and for how long is an art. Many weeds are perfectly acceptable when left in the ground, and often play a major role in the overall eco-system of your garden.For instance if I have many dandelions, which I do not, then my soil would be acidic. I have much clover; this is a sign of low nitrogen in our soil, the solution is as simple as leaving the clovers, when clover is present don’t remove it unless it is in the middle of a planned bed. When I remove it, bury it on site or compost it. We also have lots of penny cress so that means out soil is alkaline. Pfff there is lots to learn. But thanks ot God we are succeeding in having fruits and vegetables flourish already!

Learning about grafting

Marco, our Spanish neighbor and owner of the horse and the donkey that are strimming big pieces of land as we speak, came and visited and taught us how to graft our citrus trees. All citrus that we eat is grafting on a wild citrus trunk. Sometimes the citrus that is grafted on the trunk dies and the wild orange from the original trunk takes over again. So this is where grafting comes in. You cut back the new shoots of the wild tree trunk and you graft into the shoots pieces of the citrus you want to grow. We grafted 2 lemons and 2 grapefruits. We will see what happens.

St. Johns's Wort

I am enjoying so much learning about the herbs and the medicinal qualities. Today Ute brought my attention that it is the right time to harvest St. John's Wort and create an oil from it.

We have lots of it all around. I learned about harvesting just the top third and leaving the rest so the plant can keep growing and multiplying itself. We found a spider that looks exactly like the flower itself. Nature is a miraculous place.

St. John's Wort, also known as Hypericum Perforatum, is connected to St. John the baptist. It has incredible healing properties, specific to the nervous system. Many pagan and christian systems know that the herbs and plants "tell" you what the plant is good for. If you look at this plant, the leaves have many perforations. If you look closely it really looks like the skin of our body. Well that is what it is good for. You can use the oil to heal skin conditions like burns, insect bites etc. It soothes specifically the nerve endings in the skin. Wow that is a great oil to have. So here we go.

I simply cut the plant material and flowers in little pieces in a clean jar. I then added a good olive oil till all the plant material is covered. There can be no air or water as this will create mold problems. I closed the jar and now I need to keep it in the sunlight for about 6 weeks. The sun will aid in extracting all the good things out of the St. John's Wort. The oil will turn into a deep red color. I will keep you updated.

The Orange Yurt is Up!

YEAH! Platform 2 is done and.....our first accommodations yurt is standing. PPPFFF that was a big job. Our neighbors Carlos and Gerard with 2 of their woofers came to help pitch the yurt. It took us 4 hours. Ian and myself had done the preparations for it which took about 2 hours and it took about 2 more hours to complete the job.

We remembered to put the bed first on the platform and then build the yurt around it as the bed would not be able to fit through the door or window. This is the second yurt we pitched and we feel like becoming professionals at it!

So if you like to come...you are so welcome and you can sleep in a yurt, which is an awesome experience! It is so very quiet in there because of the multiple layers of felt and canvas.And wow, what a view!

Next is building the outdoor bathroom. I am looking forward to start this project soon.

Our first harvest and Laura

Our dear friend Laura visited us from Argentina. It was lovely to have her. We weeded the gardens a lot and had our first real harvest. Well done and Muchas Gracias Laura!

I love making gazpacho, Andalusian style. It is tomato's, cucumber, sweet pepper, garlic, bread, olive oil and cherry vinagar all blended well. Then I freeze water with fresh herbs like mint and basil...yummy! What a great cooling meal for a hot summers day.

Our finca is situated on a hiking path that goes all the way from Gibraltar to Granada. That is a long way. The part that is situated by our finca is a long the river and is magical and forrest like. One day some lost hikers showed up in our gardens and did not have the energy to go back up to the village so we drive them back to the village and had a lovely drink and tapa's with.

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