Going away

If this blog has a colour it is green, the soft lush green of Wales.  If it has a theme it is the garden and the landscape and the kitchen - growing things, cooking things, eating them with family and friends.  Sometimes I think the rhythms of my life now are so seasonal and repetitive that they are not very interesting to others but this is how it is, so green and gold and grey are the colours. 

This is a fawn and brown, bleached gold and blue blog today. 

We went to Fuerteventura.  The reasons were entirely pragmatic: flights out of Liverpool at civilised times of day; a warmer, brighter climate.  I don't know what I expected really.  I had never been to the Canaries.  If I don't have deep countryside or wilderness I like cities, great European cities like Paris or London or Rome.  It was a very short break away from the various responsibilities of family.  I hadn't done any of the usual stuff, hadn't read up the history, learnt a bit of the language, bought any books.  I just got on the plane and fell asleep.

We stayed here -  a simple and beautiful room in a house in a village a few miles from the coast.  Our hosts, Carmen and Albert, were delightful.  Albert, a builder, had designed and built the house himself.  It was a lovely place with sinuous curves and polished wood and the village had a great shop with kind and English speaking owners.

It took me a while to get my eye in.  I am used to green and there everywhere was bleached brown and pale by the sun.  The fields were bare earth and stones.  I think that here at home I garden on stone but here you need to dig before you feel the clang of the blade against rock.  In Fuerteventura the land spouts stone like a fountain spouting water.  It is all over the land like grass.


The green in the valley here is almost shocking after miles of bleached mountains.  Signs at the side of the road tell you to beware of goats.   Driving through this desert you cannot imagine what they have to live on.  You see herds of goats on the hillsides, apparently browsing on stones.


After the lowering grey of a Welsh winter the vivid sky is almost shocking.  There was a strong wind blowing from the North East and Carmen apologised for it.  Without the wind it would have been warm.  With the wind it was perhaps 20 degrees and not the weather for shorts and sandals.  But for us it was a luxury to need to wear sunglasses against the glare.  The nearest we have got to glare here in a world of grey for a few months has been the steely cold of a riding full moon.





Things were growing where they surely shouldn't have been able to.  How adaptable we are, both people and plants the world over.  Give us the chance for life and we will find a way.



Layers of volcanic rock made me wish as I so often do that my education was not so purely literary and artistic.  The science I once scorned now seems to me as magical as poetry.



A museum of agricultural life spoke to me oddly of home with the same preoccupations of shelter and management.  Our ancient bread oven is inside, as you would expect in a climate of rain and wet.  Theirs are outside, as you need to do when the enemy is not cold but heat and to bring your source of heat inside would be madness.


But look inside the oven and the construction is the same.



Look inside the houses and the pure simplicity of the rooms is the same.  In Wales and the rest of the UK you are concerned with keeping the weather out so the windows of our old houses are small and deeply recessed.  In Fuerteventura the old houses frequently have no windows at all.  They have double doors as the only source of light.  Why would you not when the doors will always be open?  There are no chimneys, a strange thought for us when the huge fireplaces are the heart of the house.




On the last night we ate outside as the sun went down, a great meal at the Blue Cow in El Cotillo, although by coffee time it was cold enough to ask to go inside.

Coming home across the freezing tarmac at the airport was a shock.  Here on the hill the hellebores have keeled over in the cold.  The snowdrops are standing bravely in the wind.  The puddles are deep in ice.

The world is a strange and beautiful place.

Comments

  1. What a beautiful trip! My daughter lived in Aberdeen for a year and the long cold DARK days really got to her. They went on a few trips just to see the sun and feel a bit of warmth. Thanks for taking us along on YOUR trip!

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    1. I know just what you mean about the dark. I have a friend from New Zealand who went back to visit family in our winter. He said that, along with leaving family, one of the hardest things about coming back to the UK was coming back to grey.

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  2. It is truly beautiful in its simplicity.... but I always wonder how animals can survive in such barren environments.. I know this is a stupid question but what do they eat?

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    1. Pretty much exactly my thought Gwen! I really don't know what the ones out on the mountains eat. We saw a lot confined in huge tent like structures and some of those were eating what looked like a haul of salad stuff from a supermarket which was past its sell by date!

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  3. How lovely to see the sun and blue skies and 20 degrees sounds very warm indeed to me at the moment:) The agricultural life museum looks really interesting, I love that interior.

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    1. I loved the interior too. I know it was scrubbed clean but it was so simple, pared down to what you really need.

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  4. It's amazing how a few days in a different context force us in a gentle way to see things differently. I am happy you had this experience and I agree that geology is as magical as the Sorcerer's Apprentice and as poetic as Virginia Woolf.

    Stephanie

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    1. In ever realised that though Stephanie when I was young and arrogant. I thought poetry and words were what mattered and science was for nerds and bores! How very very wrong I was.

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  5. I was caught by your phrase "the land spouts stone". What a vivid picture you painted with it!
    It is that time in the north when we long for light and warmth, and dry brown is more beautiful than damp grey. Thank you for the invitation to go away with you!

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    1. You are so right about longing for light and warmth. Happens to me at this time every year but this is the first time we have ever been away to some light!

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  6. This is just the thing to read on a cold Welsh winter's afternoon. Great pics too, I loved the simplicity of the interiors.

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    1. I loved the interiors too. They remind you of how little a room needs to function and how easy it is to pile it up with stuff!

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  7. The landscape is such a contrast to the green Welsh hills. Oh to feel some warmth and see the sun. I'm quite tempted to escape somewhere like that but I always think the coming back to the cold and grey would be so hard when I'd experienced the warmth. I tend to feel I should just plough on through the winter.

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    1. I always have just plodded on apart from one wonderful February when we went to Venice at Carnavale. It was startlingly cold to come back to but I do feel I have had an injection of light and colour to keep me going until the daffodils come out.

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  8. I'd not realised it was anything but a tourist destination - somewhere horrid. But now I know it's fantastic and fascinating. I understand about windows - but I couldn't manage without them. Interested that you chose a place with a theme 'sport and romance'! I take it, this account is the censored version?

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    1. Not quite sure about the sport bit Lucy! It was quite romantic.

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  9. By a coincidence that you are not going to believe I was looking at Fuenventura (have I spelt it correctly?) just today, on a map: an old French map of Africa dating from 1743 with the Paris meridian running through the Isle de Fer, a small island on the ocean side of the Canaries. The map calls your island, and its capital, Fortaventure, but it doesn't mention stones or English speaking shop owners.

    I love old maps and this one belonged to my father (and to many others before him) and now hangs in my bedroom when I look at it occasionally and marvel at the inventiveness of its authors: so many variations of the eighteenth century French equivalent of 'there be dragons.' If they can't think of anything else, they tell you that some otherwise empty space is 'full of thieves.' The representation of your island is too small to write even that, but it is edged green, about the only colour on the whole map, signifying a certain verdancy. Perhaps the authors knew you were coming.

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    1. I love old maps too. We have some early 1900s Ordnance Survey maps of our area with all the ancient standing stones and monuments marked on them.

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  10. I am really missing our winter holiday in the Canaries. For the past 2 years we have been to Lanzarote in February and have had fantastic weather. These islands have there own beauty and lunar style landscape. The cottage you stayed at looks delightful.

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    1. It was a double room with a shower room really Sue and we had the use of the owner's kitchen. It was quite simple but beautifully done and the people couldn't have been more welcoming!

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  11. What an amazing house. So organic. I think all that white would frighten me though. You would have to strip off your gardening clothes before stepping over the thresh hold after a day in the garden!
    A well deserved break. It looks a wonderful place.

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    1. The white interior was surprisingly soothing and because there was also a lot of wood, not too clinical!

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  12. Those three photos of the inside of the house made me want to buy and easel and a brush and oil paints.

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    1. A bit like a Dutch interior with brighter light!

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  13. What a beautiful place Elizabeth. It must be nice escaping the snow and cold for a few days. I believe the weather in Holland is much the same as in Wales at the moment.

    In reply to the first paragraph in today's post I would like to say that I enjoy reading about your life in the Welsh hills. It's such another world and so different from mine!!

    Happy new week!

    Madelief

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    1. Thank you Madelief. I am glad you like it. One of the great things about blogging is reading about other lives isn't it?

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  14. Lovely, lovely photographs! I reckon it must have been one great winter getaway. I love the simplicity of the house; there is something really inviting about it.
    Having gotten used to the evergreen, emerald city of Seattle, I get what you mean by the 'shock'. Although I find deserts breathtaking, I know I would always yearn for that piney scent in the air.

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    1. I don't think I could live in a brown, faded landscape Suman. I am probably addicted to green!

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  15. The perfect short break, I'd say. I hope you returned refreshed and reinvigorated!

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    1. We did but it now seems a long time ago. Can't be. It was only last week we came home!

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  16. Hmm. It has its own beauty but it is very brown, isn't it?

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  17. This blog takes me back to when we escaped for Tom to convalesce after being seriously ill. We needed some sunshine, but it was December and we too ended up in Fuertevente. It was worrying time but gave us exactly what we needed when life was tough.

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    1. Sunshine has an amazing power to help and heal when you live in a country which doesn't have it wall to wall. I wonder what the equivalent is for people who live in Fuerteventura?

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  18. I just found your blog. The pictures are wonderful. Anything to do with the sea, water, or rocks it great. Here on Lake Michigan I have much the same "materials" but life is different indeed. Glad I found your posting today. Jack

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    1. Thanks and good to have you visit. I am always intrigued by how much the place we live in shapes the lives we lead.

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  19. What an alien landscape, and yet you are right, so much is the same. Beautiful images of stone, natural and shaped by man, and the sea is magical wherever you live. Hope you returned to the land of ice and fireplaces refreshed.

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    1. I love your description of the land of ice and fireplaces!

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  20. Do they still windsurf there? I had a wonderful holiday there, windsurfing on the East and South coasts. Magical place.

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