Apr 182017 Tagged with , , 0 Responses

Cork Oak – Quercus suber in Southern Portugal

Probably the one thing I love the most about Spain and Portugal is the countryside – and the Cork Oak fields.   Thousands and thousands of acres of trees stud the semi- wild fields and all of them have the tell- tale marks of cork stripping.  They’re semi-nude up to around 2.5m high and have trunks of varying colours depending upon which year their cork was harvested.  Pinky/red hued trunks = newly harvested – over the years the trunks gradually go grey and then black.

The Oaks cover the countryside and the wide canopied trees look so beautiful.  It’s such a pleasure to see land that isn’t completely just grass and it looks so completely natural.  I never get tired of driving through it.

Prior to writing this blog I did a bit of research – as you do….  never want to get facts wrong, and I came across this terrific article that you should check out.  It has a wealth of really interesting info. On the Cork Oak, history, the industry, how it’s harvested and grown, the value of cork and the varied uses for it – apart from corks for wine bottles!

Phil and I have both purchased beautiful cork wallets and if I get the chance to go shopping again… a pair of cork sneakers and a belt will be coming home too!

Please click on this safe link below and find out more about this terrific tree  – I found it really enlightening



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Apr 162017 Tagged with , , , 0 Responses

Damask Rose – Rose Oil from Morocco

As we wound our way back to Marrakech through the High Atlas Mountains, dusty mile after dusty mile.  (Actually the main roads are pretty marvellous!) we passed numerous businesss selling Rose oil products.

Ishmael, our Berber guide was an absolute boon on our trip.  He’s fluent in four languages and is a whizz at maths – if we wanted to purchase anything he  always stopped at the Women’s Co-operative stores.  He grew up in a small, but picturesque village in the mountains and though coming from a relatively wealthy family, knew only too well the difficulty women face in a male dominated world.

Every morning the women collect the tiny, tiny buds from the rose hedges that line the vegetable gardens – a laborious job.  During late April- late May – just one month of the year, the famed Damask rose blooms in the Dades Valley.  I would have loved to travel through in May when the scent from the thousands of rose bushes would have filled the valleys and villages at Rose Festival time.  It is only during this one month that the buds can be processed.  Early each morning the ladies harvest their rose buds and rush them to the Co-op as the entire process must be finished on the same day to preserve the scent and oil.

We were told it takes 4 tonnes of rose buds to make one litre of essential oil – that’s 12,000 rose buds!  That’s a lot of picking!  So next time you use rose oil, or rose water – think of the Moroccan desert and the lives of the Berber women – add another drop for good measure and buy another bottle!

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May 242015 0 Responses

The Nakasendo Trail – Magome

We’re in Japan after a seamless flight and multi train trips to arrive at the first village on our trail walk – Magome.  We thought we’d try something different and Japan has a wealth of native plants that have found their way into our NZ gardens.  It will be interesting to see just what we find.  So our theory was to try a small section of the Nakasendo Trail on our way home to NZ. Read More…

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May 222015 Tagged with 0 Responses

Isola Bella – WOW

We had seen so many pictures of this garden on Lake Maggiore that we had earlier decided not to visit if we were short of time.  However, being short of energy on our last day here we opted for this as an easy option.  Just five mins to the ferry and five mins on the ferry and we were arriving at the island we had ferried happily past the day before. Read More…

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