The first day at my new job.

As Hub set me down and returned to workshops I took a look around and was suddenly daunted by the size of the garden laid out before me!
In the UK I had only worked small plots but this was at least one third of an acre and solely my responsibility. I gulped at the prospect but with steely determination I headed for the kitchen annexe to have the essential "Brit Cuppa"; the owners were away so I had the place to myself.

On the table I found neatly typed notes left by the previous, now retired gardener: Layout, plant-identification, feeding/watering instructions and a
welcome good-luck message. After half a hours study I decided to familiarise myself with main specimens: dozen young lemon trees, apples, pears, almonds. A most beautiful mimosa, huge passionflower, ornamental pomegranate and shrubs including, plumbago, French lavender, agapanthus and more. Set back from the lane with wonderful views all around it was a truly beautiful, peaceful setting.

I strolled across the vast lawn feeling on top of the world when, suddenly, my ankle was caught up in something extremely sharp and I found myself
falling backwards. My leg contorted, there was searing pain, a sickening crunch as my left knee twisted out of place. I didn't faint; just lay there in
agony, afraid to move; sure I'd broken my leg. I looked down. My knee was swelling at alarming rate. Below my foot was my enemy. A thin line of sharp wire stretched taut across and hidden in the thick grass.
Later, I managed to pull myself to the patio. It was there Hub found me an hour later. Brilliant start to new career!

Luckily nothing was broken. A few days rest and I was back on duty; albeit with strapped knee and stick. Hub removed the wire, the owners had rigged it up as dog-run; wished they'd told me!

I was sitting by the pool planning the weeks work when, the creak of the double gates caught my attention. Into view came four people, two men two women. The ladies wore long dark skirts and blouses, their beautiful black hair held back with cotton scarves. The men were shirt-sleeved with
neckerchiefs at throat, in their hands they carried long poles, scythes and sacks. As they approached I felt alone and vulnerable. I raised myself up and waited. They pointed at the Carob trees on garden boundary. After few minutes I understood their question, "If we pick carobs, can we have them?"

A quick call to my agent made it okay and they went ahead. Large pieces of cloth were laid around both trees. After an hours hard labour the trees were stripped bare of their dark banana-like fruits. Sitting beneath the trees the carobs were meticulously sorted and soon there were two large sack full. One of the ladies came over to where I was sitting, looked at my bandaged leg murmuring sympathetically. Then returned to her friend.

I watched in amazement as the two took up garden brooms and proceeded to clear every bit of debris, then pruned the lower twigs and branches of trees and neatened the grass edge. They swept where I sat and gestured "did I want anything done". After my grateful thanks, I told them to sit and hobbled to kitchen to make them cold drinks. There was no water. The pump at the borehole had stopped working. The men saw my struggle and one came to help. In 20 minutes it was fixed.

As we finished our drinks Hub came to fetch me. I told him what those lovely kind people had done and though they, at first declined, managed to persuade them to accept small reward.

We walked with them to the gate and as they unloaded their sacks onto waiting handcart, I managed, in my fractured Portuguese, to ask one woman what the carobs were used for; she replied they were made into chocolate/type milk to feed their babies.

As they trundled away down the lane, we called out "Boa Sorte". They waved back then disappeared round bend in the road. A few days later while driving to Silves, we noticed small encampment on the roadside. Slowing down we noticed a small dark-skirted figure emerge from
under tent of plastic sheeting. It was one of our traveller friends. She did not see us. We watched as she went to washing line strung between two
trees, then proceeded to hang out her wash of tiny baby clothes.