Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Burghley Horse Trials here we come.........

Following Lin’s renewed interest in horse riding, she was invited to go riding by her good friend Kathy. She is riding Kathy’s horse named ‘Chimbi’ and as you can see she did rather well……

It was the most beautiful October evening in a wonderful location with a stunning sunset.......

Sunset over the mountains at Sierra de Grazalema


The last guests of the season were Roger and June, our old neighbours and friends from back in the UK.

It’s always good to see them, because it gives us the opportunity of reminiscing about old times and catching up with the events and people of our delightful old village of Datchworth.

Whilst they were here, we decided to take one of Europe’s great short rail journeys from Ronda down to Estacion de Gaucin, which runs through the spectacular El Chorro Gorge.

Although it is named Estacion de Gaucin, in actual fact it is much nearer to El Colmenar. It is a very pretty village, with tree lined avenues, a charming plaza, pretty station and parts of the old town are lovely.

The fountain at Estacion de Gaucin

A stunning bougainvillia

We had a superb lunch in the 'Meson las Flores' restaurante directly opposite to the railway station.

Whilst exploring, we discovered Ancha del Carmen, a little side street that had won first prize in a contest for the prettiest street and corner. As you can see from the photographs below it was worthy of the title.

A couple of photographs of the water tower at Estacion de Gaucin preserved from the age of steam trains............

Another highlight of the summer was the visit of Pauline and her close friend Kathy. I had worked at Paper Moon with Pauline for over fifteen years, so it was lovely to see them. They were on holiday in Fuengirola and decided to come up for the day. Barrie and Jeanne brought them up and they went back on the local bus!


Hello everyone… After a break of 4 months we're back, although not exactly with a bang! We have had an extremely quiet summer, mainly due to the fantastic weather we have experienced here. Virtually every day throughout July, August and September we have enjoyed temperatures in the high 30’s and on more than one occasion it went to over 40!
The weather through October and now into November/ December has been almost as good with mostly clear skies and pleasant sunshine! However, this has been disastrous for this year’s olive harvest; the lack of rain and high winds has resulted in under ripened olives and huge premature losses.

We did have a few guests throughout the summer months. Becky came out for a week (5th - 11th August) followed almost immediately by Karen.

Whilst Becky was here we spent a day at the lakes at Ardales, officially known as the ‘Embalses’ of El Chorro, and also the ‘Pantanos del Conde del Guadalhorce’, although there are known more simply by the ‘ex-pats’ as the local Lake District! They are about an hours drive from us along peaceful country lanes with some marvelous open views from the Campillos area. The change of scenery from dry and arid to lush and green is startling. We had a super lunch at our favourite restaurant there ‘La Mirador’ which enjoys wonderful views across the turquoise lakes.

After lunch we decided to hire a pedalo for the afternoon to explore the inlets and hidden coves that surround the lakes. Whilst we were drifting around the lake, Becky spotted a group of teenagers that were diving into the lake from the cliffs! ‘I’d like to have a go at that’ she says and before I could say ‘Are you completely bonkers’ she had joined them and as you can see from the photographs, was also taking her life in her hands……………

Very brave or stupid.......

but she survived......

Sophie came over on the 14th September and stayed until the 21st and at the same time Lin traveled back to the UK to spend a week in Suffolk with Karen & Eddie. Sophie was starting Bournemouth University on the 5th October, so it was a great opportunity for her to chill out before the hard work commenced. As you can see Sophie has a great rapport with Luna and Nuri and they really missed her when she left.

Sophie with Luna.....

What's the matter with you?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


El Torcal

Last week on our way to visiting our friends David and Di, who live at Antequera in the Province of Malaga, we took the opportunity of visiting ‘El Torcal’ which is virtually on their doorstep!

'El Torcal' is made up of silvery-grey limestone which was created underwater more than 100 million years ago and is a surreal landscape that has been thrust up from beneath the sea and forms an area now 1000 metres above sea level.
Over the years this Andalucian landscape has been further shaped by wind and rain into spectacular sculptures balancing at precarious angles. These sculptures stand alongside mysterious caves and crevasses and we plan to go back again soon to explore the area further.

This also a great place for bird watching, where there are regular sightings of Imperial Eagles and Griffin Vultures and even the occasional Peregrine Falcon.

The village of Villanueva de la Concepcion below El Torcal


An example of the graffiti found everywhere in Granada

As soon as you arrive in the centre of Granada you realise that there is a copious amount of graffiti everywhere, which I can only assume is due to the large student population there; Granada has the third largest university in Spain.

Like most places the graffiti in Granada ranges from ugly scrawls on buildings to high art. Whilst they are probably looked down upon by the majority of the general public, clearly there is no effort being made by the Town Hall to remove them, so one would assume that they condone there creation.

I found myself being upset and appalled and yet at the same time fascinated and admiring of some of the graffiti that was on virtually every available wall surface.


Foreward in the programme by the Prince of Wales (Clarence House)

I am delighted that the Royal Ballet is able to make its first visit to the Granada Festival this summer. I am sure that Spanish audiences will enjoy the beauty and drama of the Company’s definitive production of Swan Lake, which will undoubtedly be spectacular in the magnificent setting of the Generalife gardens. I hope very much that you will enjoy this special evening’

We had heard that The Royal Ballet Company were performing a production of ‘Swan Lake’ at the 58th Festival Internacionalde Musica y Danza de Granada.

As Granada is only a two and half hour car journey away from here, we decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. It was to be our first night away together since we moved to Spain, over two years ago and what a memorable couple of days it turned out to be. Our dear friends and nearest English neighbours Rosie and Jim kindly agreed to look after our ever-growing menagerie, which allowed us to leave early on the day of the ballet and to return home late the next day.

We were lucky enough to obtain some good seats near to the front of the outside theatre, set in the Generalife gardens of the Alhambra and reserve a room in the fabulous Alhambra Palace Hotel, which turned out to be the most perfect location, being only 5 minutes walk from the Generalife gardens.

The entrance to the Alhambra Palace Hotel

Views of Granada from our hotel room

We had a delicious dinner at the ‘Casa Lopez Correa’ restaurant in the arty district of Granada before the ballet, where we discovered later the cast of the Swan Lake were going to dine after the evening’s performance.

Restaurant Casa Lopez Correa

On the following day, after a hearty breakfast, we spent a few hours sightseeing in the city centre of Granada, which was the most perfect end to a most enjoyable couple of days.

Granada Cathedral

Plaza Isabel la Catolica


Pilar Becerra

The summer months in Ronda are really exciting and eventful. There are numerous activities and social events taking place in many locations throughout the town centre. These are all organised by the cultural office of the Town Hall or to give them their correct title - La Delgacion de Cultura del Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Ronda

They include performances of traditional flamenco, music concerts and dance festivals and the entrance fees are usually just 3 euros or free.

Last Saturday, we saw a performance of flamenco by Pilar Becerra y Familia Nunez at the Convento de Santo Domingo, located on the side of Ronda’s famous Tajo Bridge.

Next week we have the annual ‘International Folklorica Gala’ which we are really looking forward to.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Ed demonstrates the workings of his chicken coop design

It was great to have our dear friend Ed staying with us for the month; it was like having our own personal, resident handyman in the cupboard.

Although the month went very quickly, he achieved so much in the four weeks he was here, considering that one of the weeks we were shearing the alpacas, here, there and everywhere!

He fenced of the new alpaca paddock, using post and rail, he built us the most original ‘chicken coop’ in Andalucia, he replaced the door in our shower room, match boarded the communal dogs kennel, fitted electrical points in our new porch, mended a whole variety of broken items, plus much, much more…...................
Thanks for everything old mate.. to the man that can; from the man that can't!!

'Hobbits House' designed by Edwin Bunn

The alpacas check out Ed's work...

Ed completes the new alpaca paddock!

Monday, June 29, 2009


EstaciĆ³n de Ronda

We had heard that one of the best train journeys in Andalucia is the line from Ronda to Algerciras, which takes you via Gaucin and past some of the most beautiful white villages in the whole of Andalucia.

Ed, who is a railway enthusiast, wanted to make the trip, so last Wednesday we bought some tickets and we were on our way!

Ed seems to be enjoying himself

The line was originally built between 1890-92 by the Algerciras (Gibraltar) Railway Company Ltd to enable British garrison officers and their families to escape from Gibraltar and enjoy the surrounding countryside. Nowadays, the Spanish railway network is run by the state owned company RENFE.

One of many storks nest on top of the pylons at La Linea de la Concepcion

Well I have to say that it was the most fantastic day trip, through mostly stunning scenery, picture postcard bridges and brilliant views of the dry river bed of the Rio Guadiaro, which has now been reduced to piles of boulders and a mere trickle of water after many years of drought. The train passes through 14 tunnels and beneath a viaduct several kilometres long - an incredible feat of engineering. It continues past Cortes de la Frontera with its huge sweeping mountain ranges and sheer ravines! Quite scary in places!

Restaurant/Bar at Gaucin EstaciĆ³n

All of the stations are beautifully looked after and well maintained and most have a bar and restaurant close by!

Spanish ladies wearing traditional dresses in Algerciras!

It took about 2 hours to reach Algerciras and whilst it is not the most beautiful city, it was unlike all the other Costa resorts we know and has a real port atmosphere! However, the old town around the Plaza Alta is very attractive and we found a very nice fish restaurant nearby, where we had lunch before returning.

Having now experienced this train journey first hand we can fully understand why it is so highly recommended!

Plaza Alta

Algerciras Port

Sunday, June 28, 2009


From left to right: Nuri, Sally and Luna

When we first had our dogs, you probably remember us saying that they were not going to be allowed to live in the house, but outside in their kennels.

Not only do they now live permanently in the kitchen and have the freedom of the open plan lounge, but (as you can see) they now tomar el sol (sunbathe) on the best wooden sun beds!

Was there really any doubt that within a year they would rule the roost!

Friday, June 12, 2009


The fledglings in our roof tiles are preparing to take their first flight…..

The snake that lives in the rocks below our house makes an appearance on our terrace, much to Lin’s horror! It might be a viper!!

And early morning balloonists pays us a visit……

They quite often land in the valley just below us!