Spring has at last sprung, and the land and sky around Eight Askernish is stirring with promise of new life. Skylarks soar and sing, and Lapwings swoop and dive …
Indoors, final preparations for our first guests of the 2017 season. Outside, spring sunshine is spurring the willows to bud, so now’s the time to take and plant cuttings, making good the wear and tear of the past winter – from wild storms and hungry deer.
Deer-ravaged willow, and daffodils.
Deer-ravaged willow shows signs of life.
Yesterday, Sunday, we spent in the SW of Lanzarote, mostly in the Timanfaya National Park – a land of calderas and camels. It’s an active volcanic area, and dangerous in places (if not from the volcanic activity, then from the extraordinarily baked-hot barren landscape) Visitors have to park their cars, and then transfer to buses. Becky and I got seats second from front so we had good views. The bus driver showed his experience and skill, negotiating hairpin bends through narrow passes of lava and steep drops. The cafe – another of ‘s projects! – cooks with volcanic heat. A ‘geothermal restaurant’.
Both Becky and I are environmentally responsible, we’re committed to sustainable living, and unwilling to contribute to global warming, so we chose croissants, not kebabs, which seem to me an irresponsible use of volcanic heat, released un-necessarily into the atmosphere. (Ha ha – just joking! No, really, just joking !)
Now the next bit might offend extreme vegans. A camel ride across the wasteland of volcanic ash. Safarists (those who undertake a safari?) were allocated camels according to stature: Becky and I were obviously considered light in weight as our transport seemed to be a little smaller than others, probably a female. The camel ahead of us might have been a male: I felt sure I heard the guide call it Humphrey. [J: Denise does like her puns. Best to humour her!] All camels well behaved for the short 2km trek. The guide led them and gave commands to each camel in turn, telling them to get up and to lie down.
Even after reading the information displays (in Spanish) in the interpretation centre, we’re still not sure when camels were introduced to the island, but in the Yaiza and Uga area the animals were the tractors of their day. They performed multiple tasks from ploughing, harrowing and sowing seeds to carrying water in barrels, baskets of grapes and used as a mode of transport. The tools on display showed a very long plough with a 4m long beam, a metal plate that was dragged over the rofe – ash – to break it down and make it level for sowing. These were all harnessed around the neck of the camel. There were also wooden barrels, crates and seats like the ones we were on that were placed around the hump. I suppose they were the equivalent of our Eriskay ponies!
You know you’ve settled well into a coastal community you’ve moved to, when the locals leave fresh-caught fish at your doorstep for you. It contributes to feeling a sense of Plaice. This appeared, some time this morning, just outside the front door of Carrick. Okay, it’s just one, and it’s a tiddler, but the gull that dropped it off for us must have known we just love Plaice. It’s the thought that counts!
Denise: In High Field there’s an outcrop of partially metamorphosed granite with prolific inclusions (both veins and lumps) of biotite – a type of mica that’s black, soft and very flaky. The large crystals of the granite are ‘granulating’ from the effects of weather, and doing so unusually easily, such that the parent rock is actually eroding faster than the biotite, which as a result stands out like varicose veins, or chocolate chips in a cereal bar. How ironic, one of the weakest of minerals proving more durable than what is normally one of the strongest of rocks!
J brought this to my notice when he came home with a heart-shaped lump obviously from the boundary between the biotite and the parent granite, with one side micaceous, the other side fine crystalline dark granite. It takes a man with a heart of stone to win over a female geologist!