Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Another day at the hotel

The hotel Vegetable garden

Whilst picking the vegetables this morning our son Seb said to me “we must try and get a responsible travel award next year” I replied “yes… but they give so much importance to quantative data” and after a little thought he replied “but just look what’s going on today,” and that inspired me to write a short blog on what's happened at the hotel today

It was Joe’s breakfast this morning so she was in the hotel before eight o clock preparing breakfast. Our home made bread and cakes have to be cut and put out on the buffet along with local and organic cheeses, yoghurts and marmalades. Then there is the final check to see if every thing is in place; cold apple juice made from our apples, organic and fair trade coffee and teas, cereals, nuts, fruit etc

During breakfast its time to check if our guests need any help planning their day, handing out information on our self guided walks, maps, train time tables etc. Today a couple of guests went for one of our local walks leaving their car at the hotel whilst others went further a field in to the mountains and some went for a swim in the sea.

Meanwhile I was out on the farm with Sebastian and Andres, we had cut a Eucalyptus tree and were splitting the wood and then had the hard job of wheel barrowing it down to the house and hotel. This wood will keep us warm in the winter. Towards the end of the morning we picked the fruit and vegetables that needed picking; beans, courgettes, raspberries, beetroot, letuce and then I started lifting our bumper onion crop to let it finish drying ready for winter storage.

Bumper onion crop this year
Actually this isn’t just another day at the hotel as Lidia a local ecologically sensitive artist was preparing her exhibition at mid day in the hotel ready for the inauguration this evening. We always try and buy our decorative elements from local artists and it was great for us to be hosting an exhibition from a local artist.

Lidia preparing her art exhibition in the hotel
Mid afternoon and I took a box of our potatoes down from the cold store to the kitchen where Samantha and Joe were planning how to use the fruit and vegetables we had picked for the evening meal. With most of our fruit and vegetables being grown less than 100m from the kitchen and picked only one hour before being used I think this sets a new standard for the meaning of fresh and local food!

Oh and today is Tuesday so like every Tuesday at about six o clock three small local organic farmers will be bringing their produce to our old house by the hotel where members of the consumer group will prepare vegetable boxes for 24 local families who form part of this Community Supported Agriculture. This is another initiative we are very proud to be part of.

Back at the hotel
Back in the hotel the smell of the freshly baked bread is filling the air and guests are mixing with some of the locals who have come to see Lidias art (and I am writing the blog)

Then it will be time to serve dinners, relax, have a glass of organic wine and think about another day. And even if we don’t get any more environmental wards its just nice to do what we do and see so many people enjoying it.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Hay 2013

The traditional hay stack or "palanca" we finished last friday
Spring this year had been wetter than normal and with all the moisture in the soil when the temperatures started to rise our meadows exploded with an array of different grasses and wild flowers. With the panorama of so much grass I wanted to cut our meadows as soon as possible, so when a week of dry weather was forecasted for the last week in June we got cutting.

Starting to cut four acres of meadows with a strimmer!
In previous years we had cut our meadows using a friend’s alum scythe but we knew this year this machine would not be available. We had tried to buy a second-hand alum scythe with out success so we had the daunting prospects of cutting all the meadows by hand using our strimmer fitted out with a special blade for hay.

The plan was to cut four acres of meadows in two days and have the stimmer working non stop each day! We divided the work between three of us; myself, Sebastian our son and Andres who normally works in the kitchen. We took it in turns with each person cutting for an hour; the strimmer didn’t stop working during nine hot hours each day and we didn’t get too tired.
Five days latter with the hay dried and almost ready for baling
The tractor baling the hay
Once the cutting was finished, the grass had to be turned twice to help with its drying and then moved by hand from the high rocky areas of the farm to the lower flatter area where a tractor could enter to bale the hay.

96 bales of beautiful hay!
We started cutting on the Monday and by Saturday morning all the hay was dried and placed in lines ready for the tractor to bale it. By mid day we had 96 bales of beautiful hay! On Monday morning our neighbour Juanra came with his tractor and took the bales to the stable ready for the sheep to eat during the winter months.

"Heaping" the grass ready to make our hay stack
But the grass kept growing and it was obvious that this year the sheep and horses were not going to be able to eat all the grass before it started to lodge and spoil. So a week latter we decided to cut another meadow and this time make a traditional hay stack. By now we were experiencing a heat wave and the grass dried within two days of cutting.

Compressing the grass in the stack by standing on it.

Combing the grass to help make the stack with stand the rain
So last Friday we finished our hay stack which is now proudly standing in the meadow close to the entrance of the hotel.

The sheep last winter enjoying the previous season's hay.

Rather busy!

It’s been a strange year this year. At the beginning of the season our bookings were considerably down compared to last year. So to help reduce costs we decided it was necessary to employ less staff which meant Joe and I would be covering some of their jobs.

We are now half way through our season and to date our occupancy has actually been up on last year. That’s obviously good but as a consequence Joe and I have been incredibly busy and I just hadn’t found the time to keep the blog entries up to date. We’ve now employed our staff for longer hours so hopefully we will now have time for some of those “other” jobs which need doing, including keeping you up to date with the blog.


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.