Monday, 18 November 2019

The rain in Spain falls mainly where?

Unfortunately the train windows are tinted and so not easy
to get a good photo, but the fields still look rather parched
Spain is suffering from a drought, as could be seen from the parched fields on the way to my next destination in Spain. I was heading northwest over the mountains to the coastal region of Asturias. As the train traversed the mountains through numerous tunnels there were glimpses of the first snows on the mountain tops. Yes! Snow in Spain. As the train emerged on the other side, green fields greeted the passengers and overcast skies. The scene reminded me of the steep valleys of parts of Derbyshire, only the hills were even steeper. There were hedgerows and trees everywhere. A rather different scene to the dry plains of Spain. So the rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plain, or so it seems.
Waiting for the local train at a tiny station just after the mountains

On the way to Gijón. Those clouds sure looked ominous
It was dark when we arrived in the train station in Gijón and we those heading to the conference had to wait for the bus, which irritatingly wasn't arriving until the next train load had arrived. I would have caught a later train if I had known or made sure of alternative transport arrangement. We did arrive an hour late though, so the wait didn't seem quite so bad as it could have been. I'm not sure what the problem was but the train arrived late in Madrid and then we had to transfer to a smaller, local train closer to our destination. There were a few people in the train station who seemed to be wandering around and one lady in particular looked like she might be heading to the same place. It turns out she was from mid-Wales, and yes heading in the same direction. We decided to wait in the cafe and got to know each other over a cup of coffee.
It stopped raining!

A little sunshine before the field trips
Eventually the bus arrived and the next load of train travellers arrived and off we went set to Candás, a small seaside town. I showed the driver where my hotel was, but he didn't seem to know it. That was a good start. He dropped some off at hotels along the way and then the rest of us were to get off in the centre of Candás. Most hotels were in the very centre. Mine was a 14 minute walk. No problem - at least not normally. On this particular day though, it was. By the time we arrived it was bucketing it down. There wasn't time to fasten up, just walk. Fortunately it wasn't too cold, but my GPS wasn't working very well and so I just had to walk and hope I was heading in the right direction, until it picked up a good signal. I knew it was straight up. I saw a couple of my Latvian friends sheltering and said hello before trudging on again.
Well this looks promising doesn't it? Hahaha

First stop, one of the many kiwi farms. Kiwi plants grow for
20 years and do not produce much for the first five years, so
they graft a new plant in on the 16th year and cut out the old
plant in the 20th year. Neat! The rootstock stays the same,
so an ecologically sound fruit to eat, with no till.
I managed to find my way to the hotel, but the guy who happened to be stood in the doorway told me to go across the road. There was what looked like a pub, apparently it was connected with the hotel. In I walked, sopping wet and signed in for my key. In my hotel room, I changed into my pyjamas and decided I would forgo the evening activities because I had no intentions of getting wet again. I hung up my coat to drip in the bathroom and spread out my wet clothes. I even had to empty my suitcase as water had got in a bit through the zip and the stuff in my rucksack was damp. I looked for information for the Wifi, for details of breakfast, well anything really. Nothing! Not one sheet of paper. Sigh! At least the room was clean and dry, if a little musty smelling and the bed was comfy.
The fruit is ready in November for six months, so we were just a
tad early for the first kiwis of the year. Although they do have
a variety that are ready in October only we didn't get to taste
them. 

Looks like a huge construction project. I'm guessing a new
road
In the light the next morning it was easy to see that the place was definitely green, also many of the inhabitants carried stout brollies and had good waterproof coats on. Could this be a clue to the climatic conditions? Yes! It was! It rained every day. It was a lovely place, with lots of little coffee shops, but it was wet. Instead of wearing my good clothes, like I normally do at conferences, I wore my new, waterproof hiking boots all the time, except for the dinner when I put my good shoes on. I might have got wet, but my feet were always warm and dry. I didn't bother changing out of my warm clothes either. One lady kindly allowed me to stop in her nearby hotel room on the night of the dinner, so I didn't have to walk back to my hotel room in the rain. Getting wet once a day was enough. Funnily enough, there was a brolly in the welcome pack. I wonder why? Mine did get broken as I put it in one of the handy bins by the door for wet umbrellas. I also managed to lose it somewhere.
We decided to eat lunch inside. This is a fishing lake

And here is a fish sculpture
Once I had adjusted to the fact I was going to get wet and not see the sun after all, I relaxed. It was a fairly easy conference to meet people to talk to, some academic conferences can just be hard work. On the first morning coffee break, a lady put her hand on my back and asked me how I'd slept last night. Just as I was beginning to wonder at the strange greeting, she gasped and apologised. I wasn't who she thought I was. That was funny! She recovered quickly and asked me where I was from and we had a great conversation. There is even a remote possibility of a piece of research out of it, so happy to be the subject of a mistaken identity.
The snow covered mountains in the distance

Next stop a pellet factory. We thought
we were going to see small rural
businesses but we ended up at this place.
Quite fascinating and a local company,
but not many jobs because it was mainly
automated. No pictures were allowed at
the coffee roasting factory we went to.
I also had many a cup of coffee or tea paid for by someone, which was rather nice. One guy inadvertently ordered over the top of us in a cafe. He had stood behind us and had managed to catch the eye of the lady serving. The lady, who I was with, a rather lovely Irish lady, and I were a bit shocked. We sort of let him know what he had done and in return he bought our drinks. We assured him, he could butt in any time he liked after that.
A bit hard to see due to the dim light! Did I mention it rained
a lot? This is a fancy construction but many homes had
something similar. I think it is a place to keep the winter
feed dry and off the floor. These constructions were all on
pillars with a good airflow underneath.

Spanish bagpipes. This was taken on my
phone but it has a very painterly quality
I think. 
When the conference had ended I went for a walk with another lady who was not dashing off. It had stopped raining and so an ideal time to explore, or so we thought. We got about half way around a promenade and then it started to rain. We found a coffee shop and the waitress took our cups around the corner to a place where we could watch the sea out of the scenic window. It was the best place to be as it poured once again. The lady I was with paid for the tea. Finally it stopped and we decided to venture out. Half way around, it started to rain again, so we just headed for the next coffee shop. I fully intended to pay this time, but the chap in the coffee shop she knew and who we spent sometime chatting with before leaving paid for ours too. It was turning out to be a cheap trip from that point of view. Someone even paid for my meal in the evening. Every little helps as they say!
Will we make it back before the rain? Nope!

In the few days I was in Asturias, it snowed up in
the mountains. Taken from the train.
The one aspect of this European Rural Parliament that I found useful was the lack of presentations that happens at academic conferences and more time for discussions. It's great that young academics get the chance to present what they are doing and it does generate some interest from time to time, but there just isn't enough time to fit in some good discussions. I guess it is because the Parliament approach is more focussed on outcomes and not on research. There was one group, however, that are trying to put a research section together because there still is a need for research. Evidence is still needed - and yes, I am going to get involved in the research section, I've already been in discussions but at the end of the day, there still needs to be money allocated. That is easier though when there is a definite call for it and willing academics from multiple countries. We'll see though.
Sunshine! Yay! My friends on
the beach, five minutes away from
their house

These oranges were wonderful, fresh
from the tree
With the conference over, it was time to head right the way across Spain to see some more friends. From the northwest coast to Valencia, just north of my friends it was 8 hours. Another lady was also travelling back from the conference and when we got to Valencia she made sure I knew where I was going and so I managed to get the next train down to my friends. The weather was drier in their place and I woke in the morning to see the numerous orange trees in their garden. Not many were ripe, but enough to have a few oranges and I also got a good dose of sunshine. They were pretty busy but we managed to have some good conversations on life before I headed back to Ian in the gloom of Latvian late autumn. I took some oranges back, it was the best I could do.
A garden of oranges

My knowledge of plants in Spain is limited, so I have no
idea what this is, but it's a gorgeous colour
So I've been back nearly a week now and I haven't seen the sunshine since leaving Spain. At least it has more or less stopped raining and the ground is drying slightly. It is also relatively warm for this time of the year here. I've dug up some Jerusalem artichokes and put a good load of manure on them. I've been working on my thesis and the EU project, I've been to town to sign papers and show my documents to the accountants, had a meal at a friends house and tried to catch up with bits and bobs of things that needed doing like marking students' work. I even made soup for some visitors because they were coming to talk about alpacas and I figured that everyone would need warming up as I know how Ian likes to talk.
Oranges ripening

Another garden of oranges

And of course there has to be palm trees

Kind of quiet around here

Date palms

Obviously the time of the year to visit to get the beach to
yourself

The sea was rough though for the Mediterranean. Sometimes
it's as still as a lake appparently.

Yes it was warm too and I had my good shoes on, which I
didn't want to ruin in the sand.

A long time since I've been on the beach 

Spain! White buildings and cables everywhere

Tiles on walls

A decorative mosaic on an artist's workshop

No comments:

Post a comment

I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi