Serrano broad beans and extremeño garlic thriving on Plot 16, Glasgow.

Three years ago a friend from Galaroza in the Sierra de Huelva, Southern Spain, gave me a big bag of broad beans that he’d dried and saved from the previous growing season. Manolo has a lovely plot just on the outskirts of town where he grows his veg, keeps chickens and stores his harness, because before he retired, Manolo worked as a muleteer or arriero. He still looks after his ancient mule, Curro, once one of a pair, in a neighbouring paddock. Manolo also cultivates his son-in-law’s plot on the other side on the town, on the path that leads to Valdelarco. I am the happy beneficiary of dried herbs; oregano, wild echinacea, spearmint and tila (dried lime flowers that are good for calming the nerves). During the growing season I often ride home with gifts of vegetables (tomatoes don’t travel well on horseback!) and Chaparro, my horse, has become accustomed to bags and watermelons dangling from the pommel of the vaquera saddle.


Manolo’s broad beans at his huerta in Galaroza, Sierra de Aracena. Photo: Jan Nimmo©


Manolo and his mule, Curro. Drawing: Jan Nimmo ©

Back home in Glasgow, on my allotment at Hamiltonhill, I often remember, with envy, the fecund kitchen gardens of the Sierra de Huelva. On our plot we struggle with an inclement climate, poor soil, occasional vandalism, biblical plagues of slugs and snails and have to make a sojourn to south Ayrshire where our friends keep three black Clydesdales, to gather up bags of horse manure to try to improve our soil and to import worms to what used to be a completely worm free zone. Whilst we may not have the sun, fertile earth and on-hand horsey “Brown Gold”, we love our plot because not only does it sustain us around the year with seasonal vegetables and fruit, it is also our all year “No Straight Lines” haven, a green space which makes tenement dwelling bearable and which eases the stresses of long hours spent working at a computer, or al least indoors away from sunlight or cloud.

Plot 16, Hamiltonhill, Urban Haven. Photo:  Jan Nimmo©

Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow, Urban Haven. Photo: Jan Nimmo©

This year's broad beans hardening off at Plot 16. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

This year’s broad beans hardening off at Plot 16. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Broad beans form Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo

Broad beans form Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo

One of our joys has been to successfully grow good healthy crops of broad beans from the beans that Manolo gave me. (This is our third year growing them). We intercrop them with Marigolds and enjoy preparing dishes with them: cooked with jamón serrano and a quails’ eggs or just tossing them into stir fries. My Auntie Carmen from Jaén told me that her aunts used to prepare whole habas or broad beans, pod and all, for her when she was young. We’ve tried this too but they have to be young and tender to prepare them this way.


Allotment tourists: Uncle Archie and Auntie Carmen, Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotments, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

This summer, when our beans are ready to harvest, I am planning to try out a typical recipe from the Sierra de Huelva:

Habas enzapatadas. (Broad beans in slippers).

  • 1 kilos of large broad beans
  • Spearmint
  • Mint (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Lemon


Peel the broad beans, the bigger the better, and wash them.

Put the water in a large pot and when it’s almost boiling add salt.

When the water is boiling add slices of lemon, the mint and peeled garlic and let that simmer for a minute.

Lower the heat and leave for a minute then add the broad beans for 15 – 20 minutes but ensure that they don’t get overcooked.

This is a recipe from the Sierra but there is a variation from Moguer and Palos de la Frontera, on the coast, which substitutes the mint with coriander so I think I may give that that a go too. In Huelva you’d wash this down with a cold Cruzcampo but we’ll be in Scotland so it might have to be a Williams Brothers Grozet.

The broad beans aren’t the only crop of Spanish origin that does fine on Plot 16. Every year in January I buy garlic at the Wednesday market in Galaroza. There is a man who comes down from Badajoz Province every fortnight and has a stall with plants, trees, seeds and flowers. The garlic he sells is the excellent ajo castaño; the head is covered with white skin, flecked with purple and inside the cloves are covered with shiny purple skin. It is strong and flavourful. Once you have tried this no garlic will do. Our garlic doesn’t thrive quite so well as it does in the huertas of Galaroza but the favour is the same. So with exception of lemons I think we can get all the ingredients to make this when summer comes.

Spanish Garlic/Ajo Castaño, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Spanish Garlic/Ajo Castaño, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Jan Nimmo 15th April 2015 ©

José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow Escocia, quiero saber dónde está José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa. Digital Collage: © Jan Nimmo

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quero saber dónde está José Bartolo Tlatempa. Digital Collage: © Jan Nimmo

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quero saber dónde está José Bartolo Tlatempa. Digital Collage: © Jan Nimmo

José Eduardo, the son of a bricklayer, comes from Tixtla, Guerrero and is a first year student at the Escuela Normal “Raul Isidros Burgos” in Ayotzinapa. He was 19 years old when he was disappeared alongside 42 of his fellow students on 26th September 2014 in Iguala. There is more background information on “Caso Iguala” and why I am making these artworks in a previous post.

I have translated the following from an article by Rosa Emilia Porras Lara for El Milenio Digital to give some background on José Eduardo’s family:

Mexico City, 6th October 2014

The mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa asks, over and over again “Where is my son?”. None of her family dare to tell her that no one knows.

José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, a first year student at the Normalista Teacher Training School in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, is one of 43 students who were disappeared on 26th September 2014.

In an interview with El Milenio newspaper, Aunt Ana Celi tells of how Eduardo’s mum isn’t aware that her son has been disappeared.

“My sister is in hospital because she has cancer. She doesn’t know what’s happening, none of us dare tell her that Eduardo hasn’t appeared since he went to Iguala. She simply asks, “Where is my son?” to which we reply, “With us”.

Eduardo’s aunt was in Mexico City the previous Friday, as part of a delegation that was received by Luis Enrique Miranda, Vice-Secretary of the Interior Ministry, to ask for his support in the search to locate the whereabouts of students.

Ana Celi says that Eduardo left for school as usual on the 26th. He said he was going to Iguala to collect funds so that they could go on the march on the 2nd October (to commemorate the 1968 student massacre in Mexico City).

“Friday 26th was the last time we saw Eduardo. The plan was that they were going to communities around Iguala the following week, and for that reason they also needed money.”

Ana Celi, is sure that the municipal police started to follow the young students as soon as they started collecting money.

“The students who got away alive have said that the police followed them all the time and didn’t let them out of their sight, and when the students were leaving, the police attacked them with without any motive. Many of those who were injured are critically ill as they were shot in their vital organs and we want justice for them”.

Eduardo’s aunt directly accuses the municipal police in Iguala and also organised crime gangs for the disappearance of the students.

“Of course those who are involved in organised crime are behind this, as well as the Mayor of Iguala; they are all linked to one another. They have done this because it doesn’t suit them to have educated young people around.”

Ana Celi insists, “We know that they are alive, probably badly beaten and for that reason they don’t want to show them”.

Article ends. Original article in Spanish here.

Since then I understand that Eduardo’s mother’s cancer has been in remission. The whereabouts of the students is still unknown with one exception – Alexander Venancio Mora – whose remains were identified (from a 1cm fragment of bone and a molar found in Cocula) by Argentinian forensic scientists.

You can see a short video report with the families by James Fredrick for The Guardian here.






Tribute to Alexander Mora Venancio

I, Jan Nimmo, Scotland, wanted to know the whereabouts of Alexander Mora Venancio. He was in Cocula. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo ©

I, Jan Nimmo, Scotland, wanted to know the whereabouts of Alexander Mora Venancio. He was in Cocula. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo ©

Alexander Mora Venancio, was 19 years old and was studying at the Normalista School “Raul Isidro Burgos”, in Ayotzinapa when he was disappeared on 26th September alongside another 42 students. Alexander likes to play football for his local team in El Pericón and was well thought of in his community. He is described as a boy who was polite and respectful of his elders. He is from a poor family and he desperately wanted to become a teacher.

Alexander is from Pericón, in the municipality of Tecoanapa, Guerrero. One of his brothers works as an agricultural worker on a vineyard in Sonora. He had three brothers and his mother died two years ago. His father, Ezequiel Mora, is a taxi driver.

His nickname is “la Roca” because of his perseverance and determination.

“They have taken everything from me and I don’t want other people to suffer the same and I will continue to fight, so that this miserable government does everything possible, and because there are so many “disappeared” people and no-one does anything about it”, said Ezequiel Mora, Alexander’s father to Mexican newspaper El Proceso.

Miss Agnes Rennie

Miss Agnes Rennie, NCB. Drawing: Jan Nimmo ©

Miss Agnes Rennie, NCB. Drawing: Jan Nimmo ©

I was put in touch with Miss Agnes Rennie by her niece, Anne Stewart, who lives in Machrihanish. Agnes, now 94 years old, was born in Helensburgh in 1920. Her grandfather, whom she never met, was a miner, as were some of her maternal uncles. As I understand it, her Grandfather Shearer was from the Dennyloanhead/Longcroft area in Falkirk.

As a young woman Agnes studied Institutional Management at Glasgow College of Domestic Science, popularly known as “The Dough School” which was situated just next to Kelvingrove Park. Her first jobs were in hospitals, including Gartnavel Hospital, in the west of Glasgow. She then spent approximately 30 years with the NCB (National Coal Board). Agnes was based in Alloa and was in charge of supervising the catering/canteens in collieries all across Scotland. The area manager at the time was a Mr Lang, who had worked his way up from being a miner and, according to Agnes, was a very considerate person to work for. This work involved Agnes and her assistant, Pat Angus, visiting Argyll Colliery roughly every 6 weeks. She made the journey by plane and thinks that she stayed at the Argyll Hotel in Campbeltown.

Miners Rescue Team Coatbridge/Argyll Colliery. Photo courtesy of Jim Fowler.

Miners Rescue Team Coatbridge/Argyll Colliery. Photo courtesy of Jim Fowler.

When in 1958 spontaneous combustion caused a fire to break out at the Machrihanish mine, a dedicated rescue team was brought from Coatbridge by the NCB to assist the Argyll Colliery workforce. This operation meant keeping the canteen open 24 hours a day, so Agnes and her assistant were told to pack their bags for the long drive to Kintyre to organise the opening of the canteen. Here she worked alongside the local women who ran the canteen on a day-to-day basis and served the men who were fighting the fire. Agnes describes how the team who were brought in were catered for at the expense of the NCB. Agnes, off her own bat, also supplied the men from Coatbridge with writing paper, envelopes and stamps so that they could write home to their families.

Typical meals provided were soup, mince and potatoes, stew; followed by tart and custard. “Pieces” were made up for the men to take underground. There was home baking in the canteens too; scones, pancakes etc. Agnes thinks that on this occasion she was there for three days and that she stayed at the Ugadale Hotel in Machrihanish. She also remembered that she visited the Argyll Colliery when it was in the process of being closed (1966).

Agnes says as a young women she never imagined that she would end up working with miners but went on to say that she loved her job, and that, although many people looked down on colliery workers, she thought that they were “the salt of the earth”. She remembered the men as always being very pleasant and that she enjoyed her visits to Campbeltown and was at pains to say that the women who ran the canteen at Argyll Colliery did a very good job.

Argyll Colliery Portraits

Coal belt and joy loader at Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish. Still from the film "Kintyre" Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive/NLS.

Coal belt and joy loader at Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish. Still from the film “Kintyre” Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive/NLS.

I have started a series of portraits/drawings of people who worked at Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish. These will form a body of work for an exhibition and will be a tribute to the workers. My intention is not only to include the men who contributed to The Road to Drumleman but also want to involve anyone who was too shy to participate or who simply slipped through the net because I had so little in the way of resources for the film project. If there is any who wishes to be portrayed/included or if you know someone who may be interested please contact me. You can do so via this blog, The Road to Drumleman Facebook page or contact me email: You can also see the drawings as they progress on this Facebook page and here on the blog. Many thanks!

The Road to Drumleman: A Documentary Film by Jan Nimmo


The Road to Drumleman tells the story of Kintyre’s last coal mine, The Argyll Colliery (1947–1967), the most remote coal mine in Scotland. Almost no physical traces of the mine remain and now it is hard to imagine that the well run mine thrived just behind spectacular Machrihanish Bay.
When artist Jan Nimmo’s father and former Argyll Colliery shot firer, Neil Nimmo, died, Jan realised that there was an urgency to gather the stories of the remaining miners. Through their personal narrative the film gives an insight into working life 50 years ago; of its hardships and camaraderie. The stories span the life of the mine and pay tribute to all of the men who worked invisibly beneath the wild and unspoiled shores of western Kintyre.

“The Road to Drumleman is a tribute to the miners of Argyll Colliery and a rich oral history of a hidden Scotland. Not just Kintyre, but the whole country is enriched by this moving, witty, compassionate landmark film”.

© Jan Nimmo 2014