Whilst most people here in Spain are digging out their warm clothes in preparation for the winter, I am doing the very reverse. The coats and scarves are being packed away and the swimming stuff, shorts and T-shirts are coming out.
Because soon, very soon, I shall be on a long-haul flight to Australia. I’ll be spending Christmas with my daughter, son-in-law and gorgeous granddaughter, two-year-old Indy.
“What about Joe?” I hear you ask.Joe will be joining us later. First he needs to take care of some business in Britain and to get himself checked over medically. Spanish healthcare is great but he wanted to see his own doctor and discuss stuff with him in English.
So much to do!
Apart from packing, we must secure the house because we’ll be away for three months. Winter can be wild and wet in the mountains and we’re glad of our new windows and doors. Autumn winds are wrenching the dead leaves off the vine but by the time we return, Spring buds will have begun to unfurl.
I’m not concerned about the village cats. We sometimes feed them but they are perfectly capable of fending for themselves. However, our chickens are a worry. A month ago we had a flock of three.
“I hope Paco next door won’t mind looking after the girls while we’re away,” I said.
“Well,” said Joe, eyeing my casserole dish, “with bad weather coming, chicken stew would be very nice.”
I ignored him. We’ve never been tempted to eat our own chickens.
Then, a week ago, two of our chickens died in their sleep, leaving just one lonely chicken in the coop. Mrs F Chicken (don’t ask…) was always the sturdiest of our hens.
“We can’t ask Paco to look after just one geriatric chicken,” I said, worried.
“Why not give her to Miguel up the mountain? He’s got loads of chickens.”
“No, that would be cruel. He has an established flock. She’d be at the bottom of the pecking order and at her age it would probably kill her.”
“Well, there’s always the pot…”
I hoped Mrs F hadn’t heard that. Whatever, within a few days, she also joined her sisters up in chicken heaven. It was very sad to see our empty chicken coop, but at least we no longer needed to find a chicken sitter.
We’re nearly ready to lock up and go. I’m so excited about the coming holiday I can hardly sleep. I hope you’ll forgive me but this will be my last tale from our Spanish village for a few months, because I’m planning to make the most of every second with my daughter and granddaughter. Any time left over, I shall be using to write my next book.
So, I’ll wish you an early merry Christmas and a prosperous new Year. As you sit down to your roast turkey, think of me. I’ll be down under with my rellies, flinging some bonzer tucker on the barbie.
Spanish Recipe of the Month
Chili Rubbed Steak
If you enjoy a ‘kick’ of chili, (or chilli) then this chili rubbed steak recipe is for you! It offers a great flavour and takes on hints of smoky paprika. This simple recipe for Spanish steak served with fresh salad and thick potato chips or wedges will never disappoint.
Preparation: 45 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
2 large 1 inch thick steaks (sirloin, fillet or rib-eye)
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp hot smoked paprika
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Place the chili powder, smoked paprika, olive oil and lemon juice into a bowl and mix well.
Rub the mixture over the steaks ensuring a good covering, and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the steaks until done to your liking. (BBQ is also good)
Serve with fresh salad and potato chips.
Find more Spanish recipes at Orce Serrano Hams.
by Victoria Twead.
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here or click the button below to view her own blog…