Thursday, October 23, 2008


The European Bee-eater

We are extremely fortunate to have these two fantastic birds as our neighbours and we see them on a regular basis.

The European Bee-eater, which breeds in southern Europe, Africa and Western Asia. This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly-coloured, slender bird. It has brown and yellow upper parts, whilst the wings are green and the beak is black. It can reach a length of 27-29 cm.

As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects,especially Bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. Before eating its meal, a European Bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. It eats some 250 bees daily.

In the city of Cordoba, there is large colony of these birds, known locally as abejarrucos, living within the city on the south side of the river, and show no fear of people.

The Hoopoe

The Hoopoe has remarkable black and white tipped crest, when elevated like the headgear of a Red Indian, conspicuous barring of the back and broad wings, together with vinous head, neck and underparts make the bird unmistakable.

Searching for food on the ground the head bobs to and fro as it walks. On the wing the hoopoe provides a dazzling effect recalling an erratically flitting butterfly, wings alternately slowly spreading and closing, exposing and concealing black and white barring.

They are a very shy and nervous bird and it is virtually impossible to get close to them. Almost all migrate in autumn - usually at night - to winter in Africa, south of Sahara

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sunday 19th October - Ascari ‘the world’s ultimate drivers’ club and luxury retreat, which is situated just 4kms from us, opened its gates to the public to celebrate the “Festival Automovilístico Ascari 2008”.

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend and saw some fantastic racing and great action. We managed to get into the grandstand at the top end of the circuit, which gave us a superb view of virtually the complete track.

The Ascari Racing Resort was inspired by and named after the Italian racing driver Alberto Ascari (1918-1955) the worlds first double world champion.

To find out more about Ascari visit their website at


Vina Cristina

Saturday 18th October - We had a truly memorable night! We were invited to Judith’s for dinner at her enchanting cottage ‘Vina Christina’ set in the mountains close to Grazalema, along with our friends Nigel and Ginny, Caroline and Robert, Pam and Chris, Kevin and Yvonne, Michael (our Spanish teacher) and Ed, who is currently over from the UK and staying with us for a while.

Judith lives in London for the most part, so her beautiful cottage is available for rental whilst she is in the UK at very competitive rates. Visit her website for further details -

A view of 'Acinipo' a Roman Amphitheatre

Robert & Caroline at the dinner party

After dinner we all went into Grazalema where they were recreating a weekend of the time of the bandits from the early nineteenth century, which they named ‘Blood and Love in the Sierra’ Probably the most famous bandit of them all was José Maria Hinojosa Cabacho better known as 'El Tempranillo'

He is believed to have killed his first man at the age of thirteen, possibly because of an attack on his family, possibly because of a slight against his mother. He acquired a Robin Hood-like reputation, redistributing his ill-gotten wealth among the poor. Not all bandits were so gallant, but El Tempranillo became a cult figure throughout Andalucía and beyond.

He married a young woman, María Gerónima Francés, from the village of Torre Alháquime in Cádiz region, but she died in childbirth in 1831.

El Tempranillo scandalised the authorities when, with the aid of fifty other horsemen, he rode into the mountain village of Grazalema to baptise their son in the village's Nuestra Señora de la Aurora church, thus the celebrations!

El Tempranillo?

Nearly five hundred residents of Grazalema and Benamahoma took part in this extravaganza all dressed in clothing in the style of 1832.....

A camp of the bandits set of this period of the nineteenth century was reproduced in the plaza and included taverns, shops, farmyards and chapels of the era. The evening finished with us all sitting around a camp fire and being spell bound by performances of flamenco and traditional music.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Just thought this was a beautiful photograph of Lin with one of our friend's 'deer hounds' along with a few photographs of their fantastic house.......

Friday, October 10, 2008


Podeis ir en paz....

City of Malaga

As we have said previously, one of the few things we miss from our past life in the UK is attending church.

As our life has now been restored to some semblance of normality, after a whirlwind first year here and being labelled ‘slipped Christians’ by Roger, during his and June’s recent stay here, we decided it was time for action.

We researched ‘Anglican Churches in Andalucia’ on the internet and discovered 4 churches that were all located on the coast, where there is a much larger ex-pat community.

Well, last Sunday we attended the Holy Communion service at St Georges Church, situated in the English Cemetery in Malaga. We both found the service very uplifting and it was comforting to be back in direct contact with our faith.

It was the first time we had shared in the Eucharist since the Pilgrimage Service at St Albans Abbey on Easter Monday 2007 and it brought back so many beloved memories of our beloved All Saints Church in Datchworth Village and all of our dear friends of the congregation there!

The Revd Peter Wolfenden

The Chaplain at St Georges is The Revd Peter Wolfenden whom we both liked very much. He was down to earth, frank and his sermon was spoken from the heart, not read from notes and it reflected on current World issues and problems of the Third World

Enjoying wine and tapas after the service!

St Georges Church, Malaga

After the service on the ‘first Sunday’ of each month wine and tapas is served outside of the church! Makes a nice change from coffee and biscuits!

Ironically, on the morning of the 5th October we were listening to the Sunday Service on BBC Radio 4 and I (Mike) became very tearful listening to the hymn ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’ You can imagine our amazement when we arrived at St Georges to discover that the Final hymn of the service was ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’ It was all obviously meant to be…….

As it is a 5-6 hour round trip to attend church on a Sunday, the plan was to go to a service once a month. However, we enjoyed last Sunday so much that we are going again this week to the Harvest Thanksgiving service!

Collect of the Day: God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church; by the Spirit's gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Welcome back Caroline............

and Annick from France..............

and Ollie.........

and Jill...

Rafael our Profesor

Rafael in action!!

Lin, Sharon and Julee

Tamara, Ilhem from Tunisia and Chris

June, Judith and Pam

Wolfgang and Rita from Germany; Galina from Russia

After the summer vacation, it’s back to school for the continuation of our Spanish Lessons at the Educación de Adultos in the centre of Ronda, which have been subsidised by the Ayuntamiento de Ronda.

The class has now grown to fifteen students and we are hoping more will join us during the term.

This year we are working from a Spanish text book, which has given the classes more structure and more conversational practise, more written work and even homework!!

The lessons are really good fun; we have made so many good friends. There is such a nice atmosphere in the classroom and a great sense of camaraderie between us all…….

Hopefully this year, with a more concerted effort, we will make better progress!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


'Cueva del Gato'
To celebrate the worldwide day of birds, Juan Luis Munoz Roldan, the director of the ‘Consejeria de Agricultura y Pesca’ for the Junta de Andalucia based in Ronda, organized an ornithological walk along the Guadiaro River last Saturday 4th October.

Juan Luis was the person who originally inspected our land and accordingly granted us farm status for the breeding of our Alpacas. We have since become really good friends with him, so we were delighted to be invited to join his bird watching group.

We met at Benaojan Estacion at 10am and set of at around 10.30 along the river footpath in the direction of Ronda and walked to the Cueva del Gato and back, which took us around 4 hours. Nigel (Cobb) was going to join us, but his Smart car broke down on the way over!

Unfortunately, we didn’t see too many interesting birds, just the odd grey heron (Garza Real) but we did see a pair of Ronda Ibex on the cliff top. Sadly, these beautiful animals are hunted locally. The hunting season starts on the 10th October through to the 10 February in the Malaga Mountain area.

'Alfredo with Judith and Lin'
Juan Luis, Fernando, Inma and Children

We were only a small group, comprising of Juan Luis, his wife Inma and two sons, Alfredo and Fernando and their children (friends of Juan Luis) Judith (our friend from Grazelema) and yours truly.

'One of the many fantastic views in and around Benaojan'

Along the way we passed the Hotel Molino Cuatro Parabas which is owned by a friend of ours named Philip, with whom I have had a couple of rounds of golf.

'Hotel Molino Cuarto Parabas'

'The Terrace of the Hotel'

Friday, October 3, 2008


(Photograph taken in August)

(Photograph taken in September)
We have spent the last two months clearly the land before the September rains and we managed to achieve it with only days to spare! The growth rate here is quite phenomenal and only hours after the first rainfall, you can see the new shoots appearing and within a day you have a complete ground cover, as you can see from the before and after photographs!!
Back in June we had an attempt at growing our own melons from seedlings, with quite an amazing result. We have managed to grow seven in total, which is not bad for our first attempt. Our aim is to be self sufficient in vegetables and fruit within the next three years!

We had a fantastic harvest of figs this year from one tree, so we are on our way!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Last weekend saw my first trip back to the UK since permanently moving to Spain in the April of 2007. We (Paper Moon) had decided to launch the new Tres Tintas ‘Mariscal 9 Selvas’ wallpaper collection at the 100% Design Exhibition at Earls Court from the 18th-21st September!

I have to admit that the whole experience was quite a shock to the system! It had been ten years since we last participated in a major exhibition and whilst it was incredibly tiring, it proved to be very successful and all of the Tres Tintas collections were well received by all sectors of the Interior Design and Architectural markets.

I couldn’t believe the prices of everything in London! £4.00 to travel three stops on the underground, £7.80 for two coffees and two chocolate cookies! I can travel to Granada and back on the train for less than that!

However, I took full advantage of my trip back to England! I had an Indian Curry in Kensington, fish & chips from The Sea Shell restaurant in Lisson Grove, which has gained a great reputation with stars and celebrities alike. I also managed quite a few pints of real ale, which are not existent in Spain.

On the Sunday I had dinner at the Satay House Malaysian Restaurant in Paddington with my two daughters Sophie and Becky, my business partner Carole and her eldest son Robin, who I hadn’t seen for over ten years.

Before returning on the Monday morning, I spent a few hours in the Brent Cross branch of Waitrose filling my suitcase with a number of grocery items, which are virtually impossible to find in Spain! For example Loyd Grossman sauces, Yorkshire tea bags, creamy hot horseradish, pork sausages, curry powder and spices etc etc…