The major A roads and motorways (Autovia) networks in Spain are superb. The average volume of traffic per kilometer of road is far less than most other EU countries. Long distance driving is regarded by many as a pleasure and the general absence of thousands of speed cameras is a welcome bonus. (even though they are on the increase in and around cities). The biggest threat to any Expat driver however are Spanish drivers that are perceived as agressive, inconsiderate and arrogant with no ability to anticipate danger, are totally reactive and have not yet found the indicator stalk after 45 years of Seat driving. However; EU statistics show a totally different story; fatalities in Spain are amongst the lowest in Europe with more accidents in rural areas than cities. Spain has halved it's fatality rate over the last ten years bringing it near to the high standard of the British and Scandinavian drivers. Well, how do they do it?
I visited Bodega Bentomiz a couple of years back for their wine tasting and tapas tour. In fact I went a few times, once with friends and then, because it was so enjoyable, I took the family a couple of times too. I have to admit, since those visits I had not returned as I felt I had seen it, done it and could enjoy the wines whenever they appeared on the menu locally. However, I was invited by owners Clara and Andre to visit the Bodega again - and what a surprise I got: it has really changed. The bodega is located above Sayalonga, just off the main road and now the short track to it is all concreted and there is a large fenced car park area, with easier access to the Bodega. The whole building is now completed and an example of incredible architecture that fits perfectly into the landscape. A result of Andres' hard work and vision, it is a magnificent Bauhaus-style building that's clad in slate outside and is light and airy within.
The talk of this winter has surely been how strange it is – very warm, loads of sunshine, high temperatures and no rain! It´s been idyllic - but very bad for the campo, as any Spanish neighbour will tell you, and, of course, bad for us gardeners too, ultimately at least. Trees had no sooner dropped their leaves, reluctantly, than they were budding up again and ready to burst into leaf anew. As I write, roses are still full of flower. Spring-flowering bulbs are super early. And our gardens are still full of tomatoes and chillies! More menacingly, bugs are still rampant; the cochineal beetle on the prickly pear cactus is the perfect example of this. They reached plague proportions during the hot summer of 2015 and there has been no cold weather to kill them off so they just carry on breeding and breeding. For other creatures like frogs, toads, slugs and snails it´s been a bad year.
About 6 years ago we had an erosion problem with our newly terraced land. Since our home was located in the campo above the village of Sayalonga there was no real viable solution. You cannot permit a wall on rustic land. We wanted an economical and eco friendly answer. We spoke with knowledgeable internationally known ecologists and discovered this incredible grass called Vetiver. Vetiver originates from India. It is used by governments in over 100 countries including Spain. The scientific name is Chrysopogon Zizanioides and the variety is Monto. Our first plants came from Italy 6 years ago. We have been successfully planting and experimenting with the grass the past 6 years in all types of soils, environments, slope angles, etc. We have hundreds of thousands of plants. Anna grew up on the largest orchid nursery in Africa and can grow anything. A hobby became a business.