Last gasp summer

Our long awaited family holiday to Spain finally arrived and family Taylor set off at an ungodly hour for the airport. I have never possessed the skill of packing light but when traveling with a baby even I gasp at a) the size of my suitcase and b)the prospect of carrying the whole lot across Madrid on the metro! I kept the end goal in sight (red wine, jamon and the clear mountain air) as we struggled across not one, but two teaming metropolis' until, finally, 14 hours later we arrived in the sleepy village of Guisando and all our stresses slipped away.

About ten years ago my parents bought a plot of land in the mountains about two hours west of Madrid. They built a house on the site of an existing ruined farm building and set about getting the small farm working again. It is a truly beautiful place up in the foot hills of the Sierra de Gredos mountains. You are surrounded by nature with wild boars snuffling round at night, owls hooting and by day eagles soaring over head. It is wild in a way England isn't any more.

The newest addition to the farm are the sheep who I hadn't met yet. They were bought to keep Rucio, the rather frisky donkey, company and they all live in a converted bull ring with the chickens, a very happy menagerie. Rucio likes to be near humans so he follows you wherever you go. The sheep like to be near Rucio so they follow him. This means that wherever you go on the farm you have a little procession happily trotting a long behind you, the bells around their necks bongling away.

The farm gets more beautiful each year, or at least more bountiful. This year we picked figs, peaches, apples, pears and sweet chestnuts straight off the trees. We ate cherry jam made from our own cherries, bottled plums from our own plum trees, collected eggs laid by our own chickens and to top it off, this year we discovered a crop of "bolletta" mushrooms which were delicious. That's not taking into account the veggie garden which was a mass of peppers, tomatoes, onions, leeks, potatoes, cucumbers and more! We were pretty much self sufficient, eating food from our own garden safe in the knowledge that it was 100% pesticide free with only layers of donkey poo used to fertilise the land.

 Madly preserving all the fruit before the wild boar got to it.
 A morning's errand to the veggie patch

Despite all the gorgeousness of the farm, the real highlight of the holiday was having ten whole days hanging out with Nick and Joseph. However, as much as I love the little chap, it was real a treat to be able to hand him over to a willing Granny 
and head off to a quiet spot with a glass of wine.

Birthday cuddles
Oi oi sailor!
"Not sure about that donkey, Mummy!"
Cheeky monkey

Our other very favourite part of any trip to the Spain is a visit to the natural pools just up the valley. These pools are fed by snow melt and natural springs, aka, FREEZING. Needless to say, given the October nip in the air we didn't swim but just being up there was magical and Joseph loved the running water.

And now we're home and autumn is well and truly here. It's not so bad though, I have electricity in my shed, we're going to get the chimney swept and light a fire, Joseph has two teeth and the local park looks lovely in the autumn sunlight.

And now the summer's over, a chance to do some new chairs!