The Ugly Duckling and other Tales from Alicante

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goosey

Goosey Lucy here, well Goosey Lukey because he’s a gander, has been confused for most of his life. He thinks he’s a hen. He was incubated by a hen and his first view when he appeared in the world was of a hen.

He has spent his life since trying to get back into the hen pen.

Geese choose a partner for life. It’s not really due to undying love, but more a practical arrangement to ensure successful breeding. This goose is maybe secretly hoping his partner will be a hen.

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We are on a farm near Alicante in Spain. One of the most amazing families we have ever met live there. We first got to know them more than 20 years ago, and if we think back, a lot of what we have done since is as a result of that first meeting. Recycling, for a start.

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We have been recycling “freaks” for a long time. Normal where we live now in rural France, becoming normal where we did live in Scotland, but in days gone by just seen as a bit weird. As anyone who has ever stayed on holiday with us can probably testify, there is a little anxious moment wandering about with the used teabag and dropping it into a container, wondering whether it was in fact the RIGHT container. Or whether there will be a finger pointing in the opposite direction “Teabags go there.”

As a digression, my favourite job ever was as a real nappy advisor with a recycling charity. The idea was to promote and advise parents and parents-to-be on the environmental and financial benefits of using real nappies. Locally, we visited hospitals and homes and ante-natal clinics explaining how easy, cost effective and cute reusable nappies now are. Why buy 2500 nappies (average amount till a baby is toilet trained) when you can buy a couple of dozen? The average disposable nappy takes well, basically, centuries to degrade. And let’s not start on the chemicals disposables manufacturers so love us to put next to our babies’ bums.

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We also were reminded all those years ago by our wise friends just how precious water is. One out of 6 people in the world don’t have access to clean water, and yet we often literally, just pour it down the drain. The average usage in the UK is 150 litres per day per person. More in the States, a bit less in the Netherlands, but generally a LOT. And that doesn’t even consider “virtual water consumption” (manufacturing of cotton for clothes, or food production etc) which can be 30 times as much. Per person. Per day.

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There is a restaurant on the farm. A very worthwhile place to go if you are ever near Alicante. Look at Tripadvisor. Fresh, organic and home-grown.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1064249-d1492761-Reviews-Restaurantes_Los_Balcones-Villena_Alicante_Province_Valencian_Country.html#REVIEWS

The kids have learnt loads, we love it as we always do. Katie is in her idea of heaven with all the animals around. From enormous, sloppy-jowelled Aline the 70kg great dane, to the arab horses, the sheep and lambs, the goats, the cats and kittens, the terrapins, Dusty and Dill the other dogs, the geese, the hens and the gander who thinks he’s a hen.

Here are some pictures.

Picking beans. Red ones with white dots like Jack and the Beanstalk beans.

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Shelling beans. Watching Breaking Bad. Sometimes with a glass of wine. How much better can it get?

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Aline perched on Katie’s knee.

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Ready steady go…… lamb race. Another lamb is due tomorrow.

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Hen and goose eggs. Our first visit here was when we learnt to recycle the calcium in the shell. Toast the shells in the oven for a while, crush them up, and add them back to the feed. If you miss out the oven bit, the hens are more likely to get a taste for eating their own eggs, not good when you want them for yourselves.

And a bit of goat milking.

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Okaido, the arab stallion. A real beauty. He’s 26 now. Arab horses have bigger hearts than other breeds. That’s not to love you more – although they are said to be very co-operative and smart and willing to please – but it makes them better at distance running because of the extra stamina.

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There’s wood to cut and stack. Almonds to collect. Maize to husk. Always lots to do.

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How to make Paella.

The nicest we’ve ever had. Add oil to a (paella) pan, add chopped onions and whole garlics and fry. Add any meat you are using and cook till browned. Add the (uncooked) rice and cook until it soaks up all the oil in the pan (quite a lot) before adding the water (to which you add turmeric for the colour). Stir to evenly distribute, then add veg (mainly peppers) and seafood. The trick is now not to stir again, wait till the water has been absorbed and it’s all cooked – 20 minutes or so – and it’s ready.

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Traditionally, you get the triangle closest to you at the table, you pour a bit of lemon juice over your section, and you tuck in! Borderline mussels or gambas need to be negotiated over.

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And amidst all the animals and food, there was time for Adam to find the coolest Geocache yet – a magnetic, micro one near a local church. No bigger than a finger nail. It took two trips and several hours hunting an area a few metres square. We can say no more about its location (or you are technically a “spoiler” in Geocache speak).

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And also time for a bit of homework. Wifi, yepeeeeee!

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An enormous thank you (once again) to Renny, Michiel and Myrna and ….. see you again for a Spanish Hogmanay!!

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6 Comments

Karin

One can never be too freaky about recycling! One more thing, it is snowing in the Creuse…

adamspyro1707

Keep cozy 🙂 oh fellow freaky one xxx

Bob

Great story about the goose. And the farm in Alicante sounds wonderful. Super photos too! You all look happy.

adamspyro1707

Another new lamb born this morning. And it’s snowing! Rare here.

Moira Taylor

Can’t believe you’ve had snow!! Love all the stories and photos 🙂 Love to everyone, love Moira xx

adamspyro1707

Little bit hotter now in the desert 🙂 Love to you too x

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