john-clare books -- the algarve
Click the pic to get your copy
From my window I can see the cat sitting in
front of an empty bowl. Every so often she gets up and sniffs
all round the area, then sits bolt upright guarding her sacred
Great wafts of scent billow down from a hillside further along
the road. The smell of the cistus is pungent and almost
alcoholic, like a rich honey being turned into mead. I have
found an early sprig of orange blossom. It's scent gently drifts
over the top of my laptop computer. An occasional small green
frog in the river belches into the clean air, another chirrups
from the top of a lemon tree.
That reminds me, I need my
belated elevenses. I walk back across the river and pick a ripe
lemon. In the kitchen I slice it, drop a wedge into a glass, and
tip in some tonic water. On the shelf is a hunk of queijo de
figo (fig cake) that I bought yesterday from a charming
little shop that reminds me of a cream tea emporium in deepest
Dorset. I cut a slice, and add in a small Alfarroba
Outside my study is a patio facing a fig tree which is just coming
into leaf. Beyond is the river, with white and mauve flowers
tumbling down the old stone walls that line the banks. Behind the
low wall, the peach and almond trees create a light pattern of
fresh green leaves splashed with small white and pink blossom.
Beyond that is the pond and the vine arbour. I make a mental note
to prune the vines next week before they start to shoot. Further
away is the orange grove, then the field, and the trees in the
My eyes glaze over. The view is almost heart-rending, and yet
there is an even finer view from the roof terrace, as from there I
can see right across the marshes down to the estuary and the sea.
The clouds are still shunting
around the hills of Monchique. Perhaps they wont come down to
worry me today. I get out the heavy duty clippers and walk down to
the orange grove. Yesterday I pruned my first orange tree. Today
I'll attack the second.
The tree is dense and the leaves are covered in some black
substance. There is mould growing on the main trunk. This tree
needs air. I attack it surgically, stripping the tangle out to
leave a pattern of branches that will allow the sun and the air to
get to the growing fruit. Around the tree is a tangle of discarded
branches. I hope I have done the job correctly. Armindo, who sold
me the farm, said he would come back to show me how. But I'm
impatient, and he hasn't been round.
I'm pleased with my day's work. It is one o'clock. I have done my
office work, uploaded pages to my websites, done some writing,
pruned an orange tree, and that should be enough for anyone for
one day. It is time for lunch.