Sunday, February 21, 2010


That's my boy......

2pm Saturday 21st February 2010…..the time and date our boy lost his virginity!!

Although Lorca is not 2 years old until the 3rd May of this year, we thought we would attempt a mating with him and our Martina. We were not very hopeful because of his age, so we were rather surprised to see him rise to the occasion!!!
He lasted about 12 minutes, so for his first attempt this was very commendable. We will repeat the process in another 8 days and then keep our fingers crossed for a pregnancy.

Later this week, we will be mating our Lilly with Monty, one of the stud males owned by Nigel and Ginny Cobb of Andalucia Alapacas, so hopefully this time next year we will be looking forward to the birth of two new crias!

Watch this space……………………

Lorca takes to it like a fish to water...

...although Ginny had to lend a guiding hand!

Lilly offers some advice!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


A selection of Conrad's fine wines

Last Wednesday we went for lunch with our friends Barrie & Liz, to one of our favourite fish restaurants in Ronda; Los Cazadores located at the top of the Calle Espinel (La Bola as it known locally)

To accompany our meal we decided to order a red wine that was produced locally and chose El Niño Leon from the Bodega Conrad, which was excellent.

Ronda is one of the fastest growing wine areas in Spain and produces some splendid wines. It is a perfect location for wine production as it has the advantage of being at an altitude that allows a cool period at night time, even if the temperatures during the day are high. This difference in temperatures is ideal for growing good quality grapes.

Anyway, another couple came into the restaurant and sat at the table next to ours, who were instantly recognized by our friends as Theo and Ana-Maria Conrad-Stauffer the owners of Bodega Conrad. They quickly spotted that we were drinking one of their wines and couldn’t resist asking us if we were enjoying which we answered jokingly ‘No it’s rubbish’ Well, to cut a long story short, after a very pleasant conversation with them they invited us over to view their Bodega, which we immediately accepted and arranged to go on the following Friday. Theo and Ana-Maria are both Swiss, so as you can imagine their Bodega was spotlessly clean and very professionally run. They are both absolutely charming and their hospitality was second to none

Bodegas y Vinedos Conrad

The bodega is located on the El Burgo road approximately 4km from Ronda and only 6kms from us, as the crow flies! It has a total of 27 hectares within a beautiful natural place filled with oak, olive, almond and walnut trees, of which 6.5 hectares are dedicated to vineyards. Although they have lived in Spain for 20 years, they only started their wine business 10 years ago and today they produce 30,000 bottles per year; one for every vine.

Theo and Ana-Marie have exacting standards and are obsessive about every detail that go into making excellent wine. They are committed to making wine as naturally as possible and take particular care of every aspect in the vineyard

The aging of the wine is carried out in barrels of French oak, which are stored in a beautifully designed cellar (shown above) with a capacity of up to 300 barrels. The majority of their wine is sold locally and can be found in most of the top restaurants, including Ronda’s famous Pedro Romero Restaurant located in the Calle Virgen de la Paz, but they also export to Switzerland and England.

The family crest

This wood carving was produced locally and given to the Conrads as a present


Our Hector....

It was quite obvious from day one that Hote was going to bond with the alpacas, as he seemed quite happy to be in their company and vice versa, but there were times when he was left on his own and he looked very lonely. He had come from a herd of over fifteen, so he was obviously missing his family and friends.

We therefore decided to try and find him a companion and through our network of friends here we discovered that there was a donkey for sale at the stables of one Juan Jesus Guerrero Dominguez, situated in the valley below the Ronda Tajo.

Well can you guess what I got for my 60th birthday present……

The moment we saw him being ridden up the track by Juan Jesus, we knew he was for us.

He is fourteen years old, fully trained and has a lovely temperament. Sadly, he didn’t have a name so we have called him Hector.

Having arranged a moving certificate with the OCA office in Ronda, Hector arrived with us on the 27th October in a much more civilised way than poor Jote I’m pleased to say. Juan Jesus delivered him personally in his horse box and calmly led Hector over to our paddock where he met Hote for the first time.

Although we had a few problems initially with dominance issues, they now both get on very well together and Hector is the most perfect companion for Hote, who has come on leaps and bounds since his arrival.

I'm boss..........

.... and then sharing a hay net together!

Saturday, February 6, 2010



Lin had wanted a donkey from the very moment we arrived in Spain.

So guess what she got for her 60th birthday present……….

Through our network of friends here, we managed to find a donkey that was for sale locally. He was owned by a German family that live in Ronda el Viejo, close to Acinipo (the Roman Ruins) and having agreed a price for him, we arranged to collect him a few days before Lin’s birthday, with the loan of a friend’s trailer.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be very traumatic. When we arrived at the farm to collect him, he had broken free of his tether and was wandering about in aches of woodland with the rest of the herd there, trailing a long piece of rope behind.

It took half a dozen of us an hour or so to catch him and sadly when we were finally able to get hold of the rope to restrain him, it caught round his hind leg and he fell into a shallow valley, cutting his nose on a hawthorn like bush on the way down. By the time we were able to manhandle him into the trailer, needless to say he was completely stressed. To make matters worse, by the time we arrived back home it was late at night and we had no alternative but to offload him in total darkness, so he had no idea where he was until the following morning.

Anyway, we have named him donkey Hote after Don Quixote…a bit naff we know, but we always promised ourselves that if we ever did get a donkey he would be called Hote!

He is one year old and untrained and in view of his above noted ordeal we wondered if he would ever trust us. However, after a lot of time and patience we have managed to gain his confidence and he now comes to us for carrots, which allows us the opportunity of stroking him etc. Two weeks ago, Lin even managed to get a halter on him without any fuss, but at the moment he is not happy to be lead.

That is our next aim


Don’t be alarmed… was only a joke! This is how I went dressed to the Christmas lunch, but it could have so easily had been reality. I was extremely lucky!

On the evening of the 23rd December we had been to a folk music concert at the Casino and Ciculo de Artistes building in Ronda’s Plaza del Socorro with two of our friends who own a wonderful house opposite the Mondragon Palace in the old town of Ronda.

We arrived home at around 1am to discover that water was coming through the ceiling in the third bedroom again, caused by the torrential rain and high winds that we experienced that fateful night.
Anyway, although I had had a few glasses of wine throughout the evening and very little to eat, I decided to go up into the loft to investigate.

We have suspended ceilings in that part of the house, which are precarious at the best of times, so we have a builder’s shutter board up there which is balanced across the supporting frame to spread ones weight. Unfortunately, as I was working my way across the board on my stomach, the end of the board slipped off the frame, so all my weight was on one of the unsupported metal cross sections, which buckled and I came through the ceiling, surf like on the shutter board.

Lin was also very lucky, as she was in the bedroom below, but saw what was happening and quickly moved out of the way, otherwise I would have come down on top of her.
Miraculously, other than a bit of bruising on my thigh and Lin’s hand, neither of us was badly injured. However, you can imagine the mess, but that was only the start of the problems that we were going to experience over the next few days!

One of my friends said to me the next day ‘what made you decide to come through the ceiling this year and not down the chimney as normal’

The hole left in the ceiling!!

Friday, February 5, 2010


A flooded Hotel Molino del Puente

The Hotel Molino del Puente, where we planned to have Christmas Lunch and New Years Eve Party, was another casualty of the local flooding. All Christmas bookings had to be cancelled as the river burst its banks and two-metre high water levels wreaked havoc on their hotel.

The hotel is owned by English friends of ours, Ian and Elaine Love and they told us how their neighbours “waded up to their waists in mud” to help them clear-up. Whilst the damage is extensive they now hope to use the opportunity to give the hotel a face lift and re-open it in time for Valentine’s Day weekend.

Not for the first time, Nigel and Ginny Cobb stept into the breach and saved Christmas Day by inviting 25 of us to lunch at their house in Parchite, which included the Love family and a few of their guests and miraculously managed to get everything together in less than 24 hours notice.

Everything turned out superbly and it will be a Christmas that we will remember for a long time to come.

Table setting for Christmas lunch

The Love family during happier times

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The volume of water cascading through Ronda's famous Tajo Gorge.....

The weight of water created a mist in Ronda's town centre, similar to that of Niagra Falls!!!

As Jim from the Vicar of Dibley series once said ‘Do you remember the great winds of 1964’ Well we will certainly won’t forget the great Ronda storm of December 2009, the worst on record since 1947!

Around 100 litres of rain fell on the Serranía on Christmas Eve causing the mayor of Ronda, Antonio Marín, to invoke the municipal emergency plan to assist local residents.

The four major rivers in the area – the Guadiaro, Genal, Guadalevin and Guadalcobacín – all burst their banks and hundreds of homes were flooded. Local farmers who had been concerned about the effects of the drought on their crops now found their land underwater and drowned livestock floating in their fields.
Mudslides covered and washed away a large number of roads and on New Year’s Day a total of 18 roads in the region still remained closed and will be for the forseeable future. Some of the worst flooding was in Jerez where the Guadalete river burst its banks and the water authority confirmed that the river was at its highest level for “over 100 years”

In the early hours of Christmas Eve we were also hit by a mini tornado, which caused considerable damage to many of our neighbours with the loss of many mature trees and fences. We were fortunate that we were not in its direct path and although many items, including our wooden sun beds, were swept away, one landing in the swimming pool, the only real damage we suffered was the loss of a dozen or so roof tiles. Thank goodness this all happened in the early hours of the morning, as the next day we discovered large pieces of broken roof tiles half way up our drive, some 30 metres from the house.
Our dislodged roof tiles

The highest rainfall fell in Grazalema, which has the reputation of being the wettest town in Spain, where they saw over 700 litres per metre cubed fall in just four days, which is 60 per cent higher than the average for this time of year. Poor things! The Junta has confirmed it is now studying an action plan to pay for the damages to the region and the authorities of Malaga, Cadiz and Granada have appealed to central government for financial aid.

Nuri and Luna enjoying the flooding.....

A lizard that we rescued from a mudslide...he was a fiesty liitle thing!!

Our neighbour's olive grove.....

This ditch appeared from nowhere, following 24 hours of persistant rain....

and this is what happened to our track down to Arriate!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We scrub up well for sixty, don't you think!

Well, a belated Happy New Year to you all!

Apologies for the delay, but we have just experienced the worst weather conditions here in Andalusia since 1947. Having recently been smug about the fantastic weather we had throughout 2009, with virtually 9 months of clear blues skies, from the middle of December it changed dramatically.
We had the equivalent of an average year’s rainfall in one month, along with high winds and on the 23rd December we experienced a mini-tornado, which caused serious damage locally. We were fortunate in as much that we were not directly in its path, but even so we lost a number of roof tiles, many of which we found half way up our drive. Thank goodness the storm hit us in the early hours of the morning.
Anyway, we will tell you more about the storms in our next post.
Firstly, a quick review of 2009. It was the year when both Lin and I celebrated our 60th birthdays; Lin on the 11th October and mine on the 12th December.
Although we had intended for them both to be quiet affairs, to our surprise our friends Nigel & Ginny Cobb arranged a ‘Blazer & Bling’ Party for us at their wonderful house in Parchite, which was attended by the majority of our friends here. As you can see it turned out to be quite a night

Our host and hostess..Ginny & Nigel Cobb

Lin with friends, Rita, Jill & Tom

Party in full swing......

Still life in the oldens......

What a fantastic house for a party.....

Group hug......