We’d been beset by autumnal-like mists that made the ground nicely damp – time to start clearing the three terraces on the Mediterranean side. This is a large area planted with nut, citrus and fruit trees that has never been fully cleared before. The chainsaw made short work of the dried up straggly shrubs and root stock, and the strimmer pulverised the thistles and other ‘nasties’ that were just beginning to show through. The added benefit is the emergence of wildflowers that neither of us have come across before, but more of this later.
The resulting four trailer loads of debris was collected with the Nissan and trailer – a hazardous occupation which involved reversing along the larger (but still nevertheless narrow) terrace – and taken to the flat area we call the bump.
This coincided with an unbroken period of hot sunshine effectively marking the end of the misty conditions. Not good news for Joe who had been staring gloomily at the huge pile because good visibility meant I was uneasy about setting fire to it – so he was facing the prospect of at least four trips to the tip. We were never ones to particularly conform, but since the debacle with Ricardo and Call Me Pepe I was more wary of having a fire in plain sight. It could potentially be noticed by someone, somewhere, for which we couldn’t produce a stamped piece of paper in quadruplicate signed by a dozen puffed-up worthies.
Hallelulah! Out of the blue we inexplicably had one day of thick fog and, like a rat up a drainpipe Joe was out there, matches in hand. But to make me feel better, he did keep the hosepipe nearby. It was all over in half an hour, but amazingly, the small mound of ashes on top of the blackened earth was still hot three days later.
We had recently cleared out all the left-over timber from underneath the cabin which had, rather unwisely, become our unofficial wood store. He’d been worried for some time that it could prove an obvious temptation to a passing, would-be arsonist. Before it was moved to a safer location, from some of the more unusable pieces, Joe whipped up a quick compost bin – not pretty, but it should last a few years.
But I guess this rather makes light of just how he managed to do this over two extremely hot, fly-infested days in a rather inaccessible part of our land. Digging was hard enough, but the palaver to mix the concrete must have taken him to the limits of his endurance. No water on tap so it had to be manhandled using a number of 25L containers. We had no sand, so he substituted sieved soil which had to be dug out. The trailer became the mixing platform so the Nissan was once more reversed along the precipitous terrace.
“If you have a beautiful view, you don’t need a good wine to feel dizzy.” Mehmet Murat Ildan
Next day, we staged an ‘opening’ ceremony – comprising a mug of tea each – for our rather beautiful 8ft long bench. What a great spot, with panoramic views over our land, the Med and three pueblos blancos (white villages) nestling in between!