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Spanish Secrets: Natural Beauty

Imagine sitting on your terrace, savouring a coffee, while a majestic eagle glides overhead. Imagine watching a stork, circling in warming thermals, as though tethered by an invisible cord. Craig Briggs describes another day in the paradise of a Galician hill village.

An early morning rise gave me the opportunity for a stimulating cup of coffee while sitting outside on the back terrace. With the sun shaded behind wispy clouds I sat in quiet contemplation. The only sound was that of a gentle breeze rustling through the leafy woods.

This silence was broken by the repetitive and unmistakable call of a cuckoo. Occasionally it received a slightly higher-pitched and distant response.

Silently a majestic eagle glides overhead, seeking an early breakfast. All around there is the shrill chattering of other feathery creatures in varieties too numerous to mention.

In the clearing easterly sky a giant stork effortlessly circles on the warming thermals as if tethered to an imaginary spot with an invisible length of cord.

The seasonally returning swallows bring an unsurpassable, aerial-acrobatic display. They twist and turn, dip and dive, each seemingly attempting to out-perform the next.

The early morning hinted at a beautiful, sunny and warm day to come, and so it proved. Anticipating a later mail delivery and not having a single postage stamp in the house, we left several addressed letters in a clear polythene bag hung over the front gates, along with a handful of loose change to cover the postage. We often post our mail in this manner.

If our coined offerings exceed the postage cost, the post woman returns it when next delivering. If we’ve underestimated the cost, she makes the difference up out of her own pocket, and awaits reimbursement when next delivering. On our return later that morning the mail was still hanging there. No post today.

After lunch we walked down to the village post box. Still not having purchased any stamps, we simply dropped the bag along with its contents into the public mail box and await the same response.

As promised the day turned into a real scorcher. Our dog Jazz, spent her time in intermittent motion. With the accuracy of a Swiss built cuckoo clock, she alternated between lying in the sun then cooling her overheated frame in the shade.

Later in the day, with the temperature waning, my wife Melanie and I took Jazz on a much-needed walk up the lane which runs in front of the house. At this time of the year the drainage ditches which run either side of the lane are extremely overgrown.

Hiding amongst metre-tall grasses are a plethora of wild flowers. It seems that all the colours of an artist’s pallet are present in these miniature corollas, and every conceivable form.

In a short time all will disappear, not through the normal course of nature but by a swift mechanical reaper - the council tractor mowing the ditches clear.

After our walk we sit out under the front porch. Once again the weather of early evening is warm and still. We indulge ourselves with crispy finger biscuits and home-made cheese sauce and a Greek-style dip.

To accompany these delicious tapas we choose a bottle of Berberana, Carat de Plata, a delightfully full-bodied, oak-aged, tempranillo.

As the sun begins its final decent in the evening sky, musical notes and broken tunes float up from the village. Anna, granddaughter of a neighbour, is in the garden, practicing on her recorder.

A soothing way to end the day.

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