Friday, February 29, 2008


Thursday 28th February. We visited Nigel & Ginny Cobb of Alpacas Andalucia located in the picturesque village of Atalaya on a business matter.

When we arrived we discovered that Theresa, an Accoyo White, had given birth to a female cria named Tallulah on the morning before. As you can see from the photographs she is absolutely beautiful.

Nigel & Ginny's pet goat 'Sophia' comes to say hello, while the rest of the herd look on!

Our ‘Lilly’ is now approaching the end of here gestation period, so all going well we will have our own cria around the end of April! How exciting is that!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I guess once a wallpaper salesman, always a wallpaper salesman!!

Whilst attempting to resource a particular wallpaper design for a client, my business partner Carole came across a company called Tres Tintas based in Barcelona. They were formed in 2004 and are producing the most exciting and innovative contemporary designs on wallpaper. They are a young and enthusiastic team of designers and are a breath of fresh air to the industry.

Carole had plans to visit her son Jamie* in February, who is now based in Majorca, so we decided to meet up in Barcelona and pay Tres Tintas a visit.

Following the meeting with them on Wednesday 13th February, at their offices in the centre of Barcelona, I am pleased to say that we were successful in securing the exclusive distribution of their collections within the United Kingdom and Eire.

You may like to visit their website at, it’s really interesting and informative. You can view their new designs by clicking on the wallpaper lengths on their home page. If you like any of the wallpaper designs, we offer a very special discount for family and friends!!

*Carole’s son Jamie Catto (pictured above) is making quite a name for himself in the music industry. He was a founder member of the group Faithless, before leaving in 1999 to form the double Grammy nominated, global music and film project 1 Giant Leep.

He has worked with a variety of stars including, Bono, Yoko Ono, Susa Sarandon, k.d. Lang, Dido, Billy Connolly, Robbie Williams and Bob Geldof plus a host more. 1 Giant Leep are now working on their second film/album 'What About Me'.
Jamie also runs his own on-line record label website at
I am so proud of him!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


What would we do without Ed! Having driven down from Cannes with our Land Rover Discovery, he decided to stay on for 10 days to complete the animal shelter that he started over Christmas. Lilly and Martina are now the proud owners of their own little house on the prairie!! As you can see, they appear to be very happy and contented with their new home! The photograph above, showing the view of Ronda, has been taken from the shelter, so they also have a wonderful outlook!!

It’s amazing how it all came together. Having spent two days trying to source the right size of timber for the uprights, which was proving to be virtually impossible, we decided to use fencing posts that we purchased from the ‘Agricentro’ which were absolutely perfect.

We then came across a saw mill/wood yard just behind the BP Service Station, on the Campillos Road less than ten minutes from the house that specialise in the making of pallets. From there we managed to acquire a number of 4 foot lengths of the bark planking that they were cutting from trunks, which were perfect for the panelling of the shelter and gave us the rustic feel we were looking for. Even better, the cost of two huge loads of these planks was only 40 euros!!

Ed also found time to construct the ‘vehicle dip’ at the entrance to the property, which is now a standard requirement of the ‘Consejeria de Agricultura Y Pesca’ due to the threat of the ‘Blue Tongue’ virus that is now prevalent throughout Andalucia and will become a major problem again in the summer!
Now that we have met these two major requirements we are in a position to apply for our official farming licence!! Who would have thought that within one year of us moving to Spain we would become farmers!!

Friday, February 8, 2008


Thursday evening 7th February at approximately 8.30pm, a car horn is heard and to our relief Eddie drives the New Land rover Discovery down the drive!

His adventure started on Tuesday 5th February when he takes the morning Easyjet flight from Stansted to Nice, having driven down from Suffolk in the early hours!

He is met at Nice airport by Daryll Jones, from whom we had purchased the Disco and escorted back to Valbonne, where the car was being held. Satisfied with the condition of the vehicle and ensuring the documentation was in order, he passes over our guaranteed bankers draft (sob! sob!) and sets off on his 1,688km journey to Ronda.

He makes the best of what daylight remains and stops for the night at a Formula One hotel somewhere between Marseille and Montpellier.

Although Ed makes an early start on the Wednesday, progress is slow! Unfortunately, the French taxi drivers are staging a one day strike! Disgruntled drivers disrupted traffic throughout France, protesting against plans to deregulate their industry. More than 1,000 drivers caused gridlock on access roads to the southern cities of Marseille and Nice and blocked traffic on the main highway linking France and Spain, causing tailbacks of 12.5 miles! Can you believe it!! However, things improved once he had crossed the border into Spain and he managed to make his way to the south of Barcelona, before stopping for the night.

The highlight of the day was the towering snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees and the visible ski-runs.

Thursday was all together different. The sun was shining; driving became a pleasure again and after stopping for a couple of hours in the afternoon near to Alicante, he completed his journey later that evening. What would we do without our Eddie or our Karen, who ensured that everything was well organized in the UK prior to Ed setting off!

Thankfully the car is immaculate, as described by seller! We had taken a huge gamble buying a car on eBay. We had stupidly transferred a deposit of £500 before discovering that it was virtually impossible to insure it!

An English couple, buying a German car, being sold in France for use in Spain. We need our heads examining!

Miraculously, everything came together in the end and we are now proud owners of a beautiful new car.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I had an amazing experience in the week. It was around 8.30am, in what was, a beautiful clear morning; the full moon was still visible and the sun was rising, projecting a fantastic violet coloured tinge to the Grazelama mountain range. This in itself was pretty spectacular!

I was walking our two dogs, Nuri and Luna, down the track that runs along side the Arriadh Hotel, when suddenly from nowhere this Griffon Vulture swooped low over our heads and landed in the field directly behind us. To my amazement it had joined another vulture that had already landed in the field. I couldn’t see any prey or carcass nearby, so I’ve no idea why they had chosen that particular place to land.

I quickly put the dogs on their leads and double backed through the olive grove. I managed to get within 25-30 metres of them before they were aware of our presence and flew away. Apparently these birds have a wing span of 3 metres, so it was quite sight to see them effortlessly glide to the other side of the valley in less than a minute!

I had no perception of the size of these vultures when I had previously seen them flying over the house; they are huge! These two must have been over a metre tall!! We have a large colony of Griffon Vultures nearby in the Grazelama Natural Park, so they are regular visitors to our valley.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


After given the matter a great deal of thought and consideration, we finally decided that we would have a go at harvesting our own olives this season. We have around 80 olive trees, around 60 of which are situated around the house and 20 in the paddock where we keep our Alpacas.

We joined the local COOPERATIVA ‘SCA Agricola Almazara de Ronda’ on the 14th December 2007 to where we were to take our olives for pressing and produced into ‘Aceite de Ronda oliva virgin extra’. We received our membership number within a day of our application and given a quota of 2000kgs, which was estimated on the number of trees we have.

We purchased our 4 Manto Red Gris (nets) measuring 8 metres x 6 metres and a Vara Fibra Vidio; the pole you use to knock the olives off the tree with, which measures 2.5 metres in length.

The season starts once the COOPERATIVA opens for business, which is normally around the beginning of December, although this year it opened in the middle of November, as the majority of the trees locally were laden with ripe fruit and it was obvious that is was going to be a bumper crop this year! The season finishes at the end of January, so you have around 2 months to complete your harvest.

We started our harvest around the 15th/16th December and finished on Monday 21st January. Sadly Lin was taken ill soon after we started, so she was only able to play a small part in this year’s harvest, which was upsetting for both of us, as she was really enjoying it! Luckily, Eddie who was staying with us for a month over Christmas, pitched in and did an admirable job, as one would expect of him,.

Although it was incredibly hard work, it was also great fun, especially when the weather was fine, which it was for most of the time. It did rain for a couple of days, but other than that we had clear skies and sunny days!

It was a particularly difficult task this year, as our trees had not been properly looked after for the past couple of years, so we were having to prune them at the same time as picking, which made it more time consuming. Hopefully, we will be better prepared next year!

The work is quite pressurised as the harvested olives have to be taken to the COOPERATIVA within two or three days of being picked, as after that they become acidy. You are actually paid on the quality and oil content of your olives, so it is important that you get them to the COOPERATIVA as soon as you can. Samples are extracted from every batch delivered to the press and taken to the laboratory to determine the quality and oil content and they are valued in accordance with the test report.

We have three different varieties of olive in our grove, Hoji, Marte and Lechin. I have no idea of the difference between them, but out of interest I will do some research on them when I get some time!

We collected just over 1900kgs; not bad for our first year! Originally, we were quite disappointed with the total, but when somebody pointed out to us that we had collected just under 2 tonne, we were more content with our endeavour!

Although we were looked upon as a novelty at the COOPERATIVA during our first couple of visits (this crazy Englishman and his wife) we were soon accepted into the fold and are now good friends with the twin brothers, Alberto and Antonio, who control the daily deliveries of olives.

Everyone there has since been so kind to us and many of our fellow olive harvesters have given us advice and tips and I think they have responded to our efforts to integrate into our new environment and their community.


To add to our problems at the start of the New Year, our beloved ancient SAAB conked out the week after Christmas, so we have had to hire a rental car until such time as we can find out if the SAAB can be repaired or not. Due to its age it might not be cost effective, so we decided that probably our best option was to buy a new one! Second hand cars in Spain are really expensive, so we thought our best option was to buy one from the UK and drive it down. However, we then found a LHD Land Rover Discovery for sale on eBay, which looked to be perfect. Where we are located we really do require a 4 x 4 vehicle, as we are surrounded by uneven tracks that are virtually impossible to tackle with a normal saloon car! At the same time, we also need a fairly smart car for airport runs and the like, so the Discovery or the Disco (as we understand it is called in Land Rover circles) seemed to fit the bill.

The only small problem was that it was being sold by a dealer in the South of France and had German Export Plates. Life is never easy is it!
However, our friend Ed (who was staying with us over Christmas) said that he would love to collect it from Cannes and drive it down to us.

Obviously, it was not possible for us to see the car before we bought it or take it for a test drive, so as we were in a difficult position, we decided to take a huge gamble and go for it!! On the day of Lin’s admission to hospital we confirmed the purchase and transferred our deposit of £500 to the French dealer, with the view to finalizing all of the arrangements after Lin’s operation.

However, you can imagine our horror when we discovered that it was not possible for us to insure the car, either here in Spain or in the UK, as the vehicle had German Export plates!! We were informed that if we could get the car to Spain, along with the purchase invoice and correct documentation, we would be able to insure it on the chassis number, assuming that we started the process of re-registering the car in Spain. But how were we going to get the car to Spain without insurance cover?

By this time Ed had already booked his flight down to Nice, so at this point it looked as if we were going to lose a sizeable amount of money!
However, after a few heart searching moments and sleepless nights, we fortuitously found a resolution to the problem! The French dealer agreed to insure the car himself for 8 days and include Ed as a named driver, which would enable us the time to get the vehicle down to Spain.

This is all going to happen (or not) this coming Tuesday 5th February, so we now have an anxious week ahead of us awaiting the arrival of our new car, sight unseen!!

I’ll keep you posted!


After the euphoria of the last six months, I'm afraid that we have not had such a good start to the New Year...............

Linda experienced a really bad haemorrhage just after Christmas whilst shopping in Ronda with Karen and ended up in the local hospital. After a thorough examination it was decided that she would have to return for a biopsy and was asked to make an appointment at out patients. This proved to be more difficult than we had originally imagined, but with the help of her brother Barrie an appointment was made for the end of January. However, in the interim, we were contacted by Nieves, a Spanish friend of ours, who recommended that we make an appointment to see Dra.Teresa Saiz Espildora, a Gynaecologist, based in Malaga. This we did and following another thorough examination, we were advised by Teresa, that in her opinion, Lin required an immediate hysterectomy!I couldn't bear the thought of putting Lin through the trauma of having surgery at the local hospital, with the language difficulties etc, so we decided to have it done privately at the Sanatorio Dr Galvez clinic in Malaga. The operation was carried out by Teresa on Wednesday 23rd January and although it went extremely well, it left Lin in a lot of pain for a number of days afterwards. Lin was in hospital for only 3 days before being allowed to come home on the Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, I was able to stay in the hospital room with her throughout, which was just as well as the nursing care was virtually non-existent!The hour and a half drive home was quite an ordeal, with every bump proving to be excruciatingly painful for Lin, but we were both so pleased to be home and back in our own bed. We are now on the long road to recovery, which is already proving to be frustrating for Lin, who desperately wants to get back into the routine of our new life together here, which was proving to so enjoyable and exciting since our move here last April .

As many of you probably know I normally go weak at the knees at just the thought of a syringe (if I see one on the TV I have to look away) so you can imagine how I felt when I was told by Teresa that I would have to administer a subcutaneous injection to Lin every day for a week, following her return home from hospital! I still can't believe I could do it without passing out!!!

Last Friday we returned to the clinic to have the staples removed and received the biopsy results back from the laboratory. It was discovered that Lin was also suffering from ‘adenomiosis’ which we understand to be an inflammatory disease of the womb, which was the cause of the bleeding.

With this sudden set back behind us we can now look forward to happier days…….