The Holidays are Coming – here’s reblog of At Home in Andalusia’s useful guide to the festive season in Spain…
December and January is full of fiestas and special days in the Spanish calendar… here’s At Home in Andalusia’s run-down to help you enjoy the holiday season.
— Read on athomeinandalucia.blog/2020/12/03/the-holidays-are-coming-a-guide-to-the-festive-season-in-spain/
The beautiful Sierra Nevada in the Granada Province is one of the best mountain regions in Spain, if not THE best! Not just for winter pursuits, the Sierra Nevada, which is just a short drive from the Lecrin Valley, is also a great place to visit in the summer, with loads of activities from hiking, cycling, snow melt watching, waterfall jumping and much more! Continue reading “Sierra Nevada – not just for winter!”
Spring has finally arrived this week, just in time for Semana Santa and the Lecrin Valley will be bursting with sunshine, flowers and Easter parades! Continue reading “Spring returns for Semana Santa”
Our beautiful Lecrin Valley is experiencing renewed vigour with a recovering economy and the completed motorway links to Almeria and Malaga, together with new international flight connections to Granada bringing more visitors and more business. Continue reading “A great time to buy and rent in the beautiful Lecrin Valley, Spain”
The weather may have turned a bit chilly and autumnal in the UK this week, but not so in the Lecrin Valley, where the sunshine persists to provide lovely late summer weather, well into October and beyond. Continue reading “Make the most of the Lecrin Valley’s extended summer!”
Over the next few weeks temperatures in southern Spain will be in the mid thirties, so with schools off for the summer, many Spanish and visiting families are set to escape the heat of the city for the breezes of the valley and the coast…
The Lecrin Valley has the best of all worlds: It nestles in the heart of the countryside with accessibility to the city, the coast and great links to all sorts of places with the newly completed motorways to Malaga and Almeria.
One of the many attractions of this peaceful and beautiful place is that once it gets to July and August, whilst the valley still gets all the sunshine, the local breezes that come off the sierras take away the searing heat that you can get in the city.
So whereas temperatures will reach the mid thirties, you rarely feel uncomfortably hot or experience the sleepless nights you can get elsewhere, making the Lecrin Valley the perfect place to relax; enjoy the local fiestas, bars and restaurants; the beautiful countryside and scenery; walks, riding, cycling and fishing or simply kick back in a shady spot and snooze your cares away!
PHOTO CREDIT: Danielle Gouwens@At Home in Andalusia.
Winter is an amazing time to get walking in the Lecrin Valley. Whether you consider yourself a walking pro, weekend rambler or Sunday stroller, there’s a walk for you, and there’s no better way to see this amazing part of Spain than to get out amongst it in a comfy pair of trainers or walking boots.
The winter has been so mild, but there is still snow on the sierras, so you can basically walk through snow on the high ground, down to warm blossom filled orchards in the lower parts of the valley.
The almond blossom is now out and will shortly be followed by orange blossom from the hundreds of orchards around the area, so the air is filled with a gorgeous, sweet aroma and the scenery peppered with a light pink haze from the thousands of almond trees.
It’s a truly beautiful time of year and one where you get to really appreciate the beauty and contrasting elements of this amazing corner of Spain.
The following websites have great walks planned out for you that can be downloaded.
Or if you’re a local and want to get into walking regularly, then The Lecrin Valley Limpers has walks every weekend. http://lecrinlimpers.blogspot.co.uk or ask to join the Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lecrinvalleylimpers. Members only.
If you want to get higher up into the Sierra Nevada, then contact Mike at Sierra Nevada Guides: http://sierranevadaguides.co.uk (based in Lanjaron).
If you’re looking for some warm winter sun and crisp blue sky days, but prefer incredible scenery to sun-baking and love walking and a bit of skiing, then this is a great time of year to visit the Lecrin Valley. It’s also a great time to visit the Alhambra and the rest of Granada without all the busloads of tourists.
There isn’t a huge amount of rain over the winter in the Lecrin Valley, not that you need much with the acequias running full pelt most days, but just enough, with plenty of water coming off the mountains to water the orchards and it’s amazing just how much fruit and orchard goings-on there is at this time of year.
You’ll still find a lot of fruit on trees too – plenty of oranges (our grapefruit and navel oranges hung on well into February), and it’s quickly mixed with new blossom for the next lot of fruit – citrus trees are very busy all year round! The Lecrin Valley becomes filled with that amazing sweet pungent scent of the “azahar” (official spanish name for the white flowers of the various citrus fruits).
In January, the whole valley is transformed again with the Almond Blossom. From white to pink, the blossom colours the entire landscape giving it a sort of pinky haze. And despite the sometimes ferocious wind, the little flowers manage to hang on well into February.
It’s an amazing smell and just when you think the trees have lost all their leaves and life for the winter they burst full of pretty pink and white flowers again.
In October and November the Lecrin Valley is a hive of activity, as the locals harvest and shell the almonds, gather fruit and tidy up their orchards. There’s that lovely smell of bonfires now that the fire ban has been lifted until next year.
This area has a great climate for fruit and veg. Most of the locals grow a selection of their own vegetables in their courtyards, on their rooftops or in little pockets of their orchards.
For a pretty small area, the Lecrin Valley has quite a varied climate – subtropical to the south of the area and colder in the higher mountain areas, where you’ll find cherries instead of oranges and lemons.
The temperature is not as hot as Granada, but hot enough; mild in the winter; not as damp as the coast, but with a decent amount of rain and water fed from the mountains via the acequias.
Hidden amongst the obvious oranges, lemons, olives and almonds at this time of year, you’ll find orchards or gardens bursting with avocados, apricots, quinces (membrillos), pomegranates (granadas), apples, nisperos, tangerines and grapefruit. Many of the local residents have a grapevine or two over their roof terrace or balcony and the roadsides are littered with cactus fruit…just don’t try to pick them without protection. You often can’t see the fine prickles, but you’ll definitely feel them!
Really if you go on a decent walk in the campo with a basket, you can just forage enough produce to keep you going for a very long time!
You’ll have plenty to keep you going throughout the autumn and the oranges, lemons, grapefruit and some avocados can pretty much last you through the entire winter if you’re lucky.
Nearer to Christmas you’ll find persimmons aka caquis, kakis or Sharon fruit. Yes they have lots of names – they’re a very confused fruit, which is probably why they’re a bit later than other fruit and don’t really know whether they’re ripe or not. Commercial growers have given up on them – they’re just too temperamental. Now they’re just in gardens – and mainly splattered on the ground! But they make great pies (treat them like pumpkin) and you can cut off the tops and freeze them to make a sticky caqui sorbet!
How often when we eat almonds do we stop and think how they got to our table? Living here in the Lecrin Valley at this time of year it is a question that can easily be answered, as during the months of September and October the normal peace and tranquillity of the valleys and villages of Lecrin is broken by the sound of the small agricultural machines harvesting almonds.
Originally, almond trees came from Central Asia and were traditionally grown in non-irrigated areas of the Middle East and Mediterranean countries from ancient times until today. During the 18th century Spanish missionaries introduced the almonds to California, which is now the leading supplier worldwide, with Spain being in 2nd place.
The almond tree has an average life span of 20 to 25 years but does not bear fruit during the first 3 to 4. Additionally, almond trees are alternate bearing, so that a lighter crop the next often follows a large crop one year. The almonds are mainly shaken from the trees manually, although this can be done mechanically. They are encased in a tough leathery hull that has to be cracked open to expose the inner protective hard shell. It is during this first stage that the machines are used. The shells are then spread out in the sun for one or two days in order for them to dry until the kernels rattle inside. They are then bagged and stored for up to 6 months in a cool dry and well-ventilated area, which ensures lower moisture content and higher oil content.
But not only does the Lecrin Valley resound with the sound of the machines, but also the chitter chatter of families. It is not unusual for younger members of the family to return to the villages from the cities during harvest periods in order to help out with the labour intensive work. Parents, children and grandchildren are seen altogether gathered around the mountains of almonds, husks and drying shells as they prepare to get them into the sacks ready for market.
When thinking of almonds don’t just think of them as nuts as there are several different uses for them. Used in cereals and ice cream, they are also used for almond milk, which is a low fat non-dairy alternative for consumers who prefer to avoid dairy products. In addition to being a good source of protein, they are also a good source of Vitamin E, dietary fibre and monounsaturated fat, which is associated with the decreased risk of heart disease.
Additionally, they are used in beauty products. Almond oil helps to keep hair silky soft and is thought to keep greying hairs at bay. It is also used to keep skin smooth and supple and help with premature ageing. There is also growing evidence that almonds help with IQ and memory loss. You can blend them into a smoothie or milk shake to make a delicious drink. For the lovers of creative cooking there are some seriously mouth-watering recipes using almonds as many gourmet chefs are introducing them to their dishes. The least you can do after all the hard work involved in harvesting is to put them to the test.
Text by Elaine Dee Crawshaw
Photos by Lyn Baker
Additional photos sourced from Wikipedia, Guardian.co.uk and other local sources.