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December 2009
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April 2010

January 2010

Surprising Winter visitors to Galicia

Over the last few weeks we have had some unusual bird sightings near Trabada. In particular there have been several surprises on the coast near Ribadeo.

The first strange visitors just before Christmas were 5 Snow Buntings on the beach at Penarronda. This is a beatiful beach about 10 minutes from Ribadeo and about half an hour from granero del burro near Trabada. Surely this is well south of their range? We were more used to seeing them around the Scottish hills and coastlines before moving to Spain.

Cattle Egret
We also appear to have a small colony of Cattle Egrets in the fields around Penarronda. These have been here since well before Christmas and once again are a bird you would expect to see further south.

Our final unexpected Winter resident is a Common Sandpiper at Tapia de Casareigo. This is just over the border in Asturias. It is a bird that should really Winter further south in Africa. We also had a very late (November) pair of Common Sandpipers further along the coast in Galicia at Porto de Rinlo, a beautiful little village set in to the rocky coastline.

Is this normal for this area or are these really unusual?

Christmas in Galicia

We moved out to Spain in October and have spent the last 2 months working on the house. However we took some time off to enjoy our first Christmas and New Year the 'Galician way'.

The first big difference between here and the UK is that the Christmas decorations do not appear until the week before Christmas. Fantastic! We spent a night in Oviedo in Asturias in the week before Christmas and it was very 'tastefully' festive. The lights were great, nice carols and Christmas music piped in to the street, and everyone in a nice festive spirit.

Christmas Day in Ribadeo
We live in Ribadeo on the Galicia - Asturias border and so spent Christmas here. Christmas Day was 15 degrees and clear blue skies and there were lots of people out in their boats on the Eo estuary. Christmas lunch was Galician style - Anchovies to start, Pulpo (Octopus) to follow, then a 'big pink fish' and finally Cabrales Cheese with Eucaliptus honey. Not a Turkey in sight!!! Christmas Day night over here is wild!! Everyone goes out and the bars and clubs are open all night (and that is all night!!). Great.

Pulpo on Christmas Day
In between Christmas and New Year the Spaniards keep up the party atmosphere. It is as though they are in training for New Years Eve. Everyone stays in the see the bells and eat their 'uvas'. This is the Spanish tradition of eating a grape for every chime of the bells. It is quite a sight to see people with their mouths stuffed full of twelve grapes trying not to laugh! And then they start to go out. A few at 1 o'clock, and then a few more and they just keep going all night. Most bars closed around 9 or 10 in the morning. We threw in the towel at 6.00am!!

Midnight NYE
In the UK that is about it for the festive season but here they have the 'Reyes Magos' on the night of the 5th January (twelfth night). There are processions in the streets with children on floats throwing sweets to everyone. They also have a special pastry called a Roscon de Reyes which has a hidden gift in it for the children (a bit like the sixpence in a Christmas pudding). And then once again they go out and party all night.

Reyes Magos parade
And that is it. Everywhere is very quiet now but it was truly a fun first festive season!!

Renovation work starts

Our architects over the months, put together a set of plans for both the barn and the house based on an original brief we gave to them. The house plans were based on creating a nice living space for us and the barn plans were based on providing luxury self catering accommodation for tourists wanting to spend a holiday in the Trabada area.

Granero with its roof removed
The house was always going to be the biggest and costliest part of the project so we decided to get started on the barn in October 2009 and start by stopping the building deteriorating any more - it already had a huge hole in the roof! We aimed to replace the whole roof and put in drainage to take the water away from the building. We found a very keen local building company to do the work and they got started in early October when the weather was still fantastic.

New Granero roof
Construcciones Sierra a Pontenova were the company taken on to do the work and they made rapid progress in the good weather. The new roof was all Chestnut wood and the huge beams looked great. Even as the weather started to deteriorate a bit in mid November, all looked good for an early December finish. Sadly this all came to an abrupt halt when one of the walls collapsed due to having no foundations (a common problem with old buildings out here). Now this wall has to be rebuilt and we are waiting for a license to do these works. A shame, but all being well we should be able to get restarted soon.