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.
Bar Amalia in Archez opened earlier on in the year and last month my family went to eat in the restaurant and see how Dot was getting on since I last spoke to her. We went for lunch and all of us wanted some really good pub type food, my husband was especially looking forward to a home cooked pie as that isn't something I have time to do in our household! Well we were certainly not disappointed as all the food is home cooked. Dot prides herself on making the pastry from scratch and all the desserts, curries and pies. We arrived at Bar Amalia on quite a cold day for lunch but once seated in the conservatory area we were nice and warm from the sun that that was peeping through the clouds and had warmed up the room nicely. On a full sun winter lunchtime the outside terrace area would probably have been great to sit out and look out over the view of Archez but I was just as happy seeing it from the warm conservatory!