Friday, 26 February 2016

Walking the Montroig campo - El Mas dels Tregells

What I love most about spontaneous make-it-up-as-we-go-
Marigold flower 
along walks around unknown places are the surprises we encounter en route. Dave plotted yesterday's circular route through the countryside (campo) around Montroig to be mostly along agricultural tracks (camis) with a couple of sections using dry river beds (barrancs). We were expecting to see the vegetable crops, olive trees, other harvestable trees, lots of squashed processional caterpillars, abandoned scrubland and the occasional barking dog. We did not expect to see brightly coloured orange and yellow verges of cultivated marigolds so were delighted to find ourselves walking past several of these areas. And we certainly did not expect to suddenly find ourselves passing a pseudo-Medieval castle! Fortunately said 'castle', El Mas dels Tregells, had an informative plaque outside explaining just what it was and how its appearance had come about.

El Mas dels Tregells 

This farmhouse is also known as Sant Rafael and during
Sant Rafael at El Mas dels Tregells 
the Middle Ages it was the centre of its own township. Pretty much all evidence of this town is now buried beneath its surrounding agricultural fields so the Mas stands alone looking either proudly impressive or a bit self conscious, depending on your point of view. At the end of the nineteenth century it was restored and given its current neo-Gothic look complete with side turrets, battlements and machicolations. Now, I admit we didn't know what machicolations were and I thought it might be a bizarre mistranslation from the Catalan (matacans) or Spanish (maracanes), but No! It's a real word in English for holes in the floor of the overhanging battlements through which rocks or boiling oil etc. could be dropped onto the heads of any optimistic attackers below. Good luck slipping that into conversation any time soon!

Our planned two hours walking turned into three as we got ourselves somewhat lost by relying on signposts instead of Dave's intuition. This did allow us to see a fabulous murmuration of hundreds of starlings coming into roost. The flock made the most incredible shapes in the sky and I loved watching them for several minutes. I don't remember seeing birds in these numbers in the UK for at least a couple of decades now. Is that because they are just not in our skies anymore or have I just been in the wrong place? Sadly I couldn't get an image for this post as my phone isn't remotely up to that!

So I will leave you instead without another plant picture. We don't know what this is and, judging by where it was growing, it is probably nothing special at all, but its leaves were the most gorgeous red colour in the sunshine.


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