El Rec Comtal. March 2018

From an article in the ARA newspaper about Rec Comtal (the ditch of the city of counts) I found Enric H. March blog. There is a wealth of information on this hydraulic infrastructure that has carried water from Besos river to Barcelona since the Middle Ages and which may have been preceded by an aqueduct in Roman times.

From Montcada to the orchards of Vallbona you can still follow the route of the ditch until it disappears before reaching the Trinitat neighbourhood.

The Water House in Montcada

Besos river at the beginning of the ditch

Vallbona neighbourhood

The Ponderosa orchards

This narrow stretch, between the C58 freeway and a fence, is like a secret, humble garden, out of time. Nothing would suggest that we are just 300 meters away from the huge Trinitat roundabout in the big city of Barcelona.

Here the ditch disappears. From now on we will have to make an effort of imagination to visualize the outskirts of Barcelona in the Middle Ages, when all the area were farming fields.

Water House in Trinitat Vella. The old pictures collected by Enric March show the Trinitat neighbourhood without buildings. You can try to follow the ditch track through Sant Andreu, La Sagrera and El Clot until you reach Arc de Triomf, where we would have found the entrance to medieval Barcelona in the Sant Pere district.

The names of the streets reveal the past of the Rec Comtal ditch.

And finally a fragment preserved in the Born CCM.

Here, the track at wikiloc, not accurate, as I was not able to follow always the detailed directions of Enric March’s blog.


Postcards from the terrace, late winter 2009

There has been the white narcissus, the strawberry tree, a new pine out of a nut, the mimosa, the viburnum and, just at the beginning of spring, the cherry tree has blossomed.

So many memories
flood my mind-
cherry blossoms


The company of a ladybird that settled in the terrace comforted me. It doesn’t seem to be very sociable. I hope its going to eat a lot of aphids.



For the first time, the magnolia in the terrace has blossomed. The flowers don’t last long. When not totally open they have the shape of a tulip in very pure white that contrasts with the shiny green of the leaves.

Soon the petals open and in a few days become brown and fall. Every day I went to watch the tree to see how they changed, like some lights that appear out of the blue, emitting a white light and fragrance for some days and then vanish. Egoist as I am, I cut he last one that blossomed to have it near me. Now I’ll have to wait until next year hoping that the tree will blossom again.

Pictures can give an idea about this white. But how could I describe the scent? A mix of floral fragrance, a touch of lemon and an echo of green grass and forest.
There is a famous story about an indian prince that ordered a pavilion to be built in the middle of a forest of magnolia trees in the huge garden of his father the maharaja, so that he would move to live there when the blossom season would arrive. He was about to die of starvation because, when servants brought him the most delicate food he could not stand any other smell than the fragrance of magnolia flowers. Fortunately, the blossom season didn’t last long and he could survive with just water and hazelnuts. And so he went on, every year, moving to the magnolia pavilion and refusing food while he would have those white flowers around.
There is also the story of a noble russian lady that became blind and, to avoid depression requested a new fresh petal of magnolia flower every day. So, during the blossom season, gardeners would cut the flowers just after they opened, wrapped the 9 petals of each one in silk cloths and stored them in ice.

PD: I’ve just made up those stories but they could have been true.

Spring with water restrictions

Drought imposes restrictions on water consumption and I have suspended automatic watering in the terrace. My emergency plan consists in:

  • mop the floor without detergents and use the dirty water for the garden.
  • Fill a bucket with the water that we let flow in the shower while waiting to reach the appropriate temperature.

I hope this will be enough to keep alive wonders like:

new shoots in a rose

cherry blossom

rock rose (cistus albidus)

topped lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

That, in collaboration with a lost swallow, announce, just in case I hadn’t realised yet, that spring is here.