Christmas is a very busy time in the retail trade. The run up morphs into the SALES which means this Christmas I had the 25th December and Boxing Day off, as well as New Year's Day.
Other than that it was work as usual which is why I like to book a week in Spain around the end of January, which I did this year. My wife Kay , and I, flew out of Birmingham and were very lucky to leave the snow behind us.
The timing was perfect and this was underlined when we went walking around the hills of Bolnuevo a couple of days later. This little seaside town sits on the shoulder of the Port of Mazarron (Puerto Mazarron) in the region of Murcia (Costa Calida).
The mid day temperatures got up around 20 degrees, though they drop quickly after daylight fades. I like to look for wild or unusual flowers or birds as well as feel the sunshine on the back of my neck. On this occasion I found some wild white orchids, which are not uncommon in this region.
The combination of palm trees and hillsides is more uncommon, creating a feeling of an oasis. Towards Tallante we were privileged to see 3 ground feeding Hoope's.
This is a bird I have seen once, when in Spain with my brother David, and before that only as a picture card given away with Brooke Bond Tea in the 1960's; so imagine how thrilled we were to see this sight.
The almond trees were full of flower, the goat herders control massive flocks, and the local Casa de la Ermita red wine is great value. This is an area I will re-visit in more detail in the future.
Britain's Best Gardens is a new three part series that begins in January on ITV. Nathan James Dodd has learnt that top amateur gardeners from all over the country will be featured in this brand new programme.
The Big Allotment Challenge returns to our TV screens on 2 January. The first series featured a series of challenges themed around growing vegetables, flower arranging and making preserves. Nathan James Dodd discovered what makes this programme such a ratings success.
Traditional cast stone garden planters often reference styles from the classical to the rustic, with many replicating stately home originals. Nathan James Dodd reviews the range of traditional planters for sale in the UK.
Sky announced that its new 'Show Me Your Garden' series will be on your screens from 2 January next year. Nathan James Dodd has discovered more information on a programme that promises to explore the nation's most beautiful back gardens and their passionate gardeners.