Thursday, May 31, 2012


Hay making time.....

When it comes to producing our hay, we are completely dependent our lovely Spanish neighbours, to whom we are extremely grateful.  Salvador begins the process by ploughing and seeding in October time. Paco cuts and turns the hay around the middle of May and Antonio bales it soon after. 

Our dear direct neighbour Enrique used to cut and turn our hay up until two years ago when he suddenly passed away. Although he must have been well into his eighties, he was an amazing man and worked the land every day, from dawn to dusk. We now have the second generation of the family helping us, as his son Paco has taken over his responsibilities.

Salvador ploughing accompanied by his faithful dog..

Paco cutting our field yesterday morning.....

and a photograph of dear old Enrique turning the hay 2 years ago..

...and last but not least Antonio the baler!

With the prediction of rain later this week it was all hands to the pump.  We were awakened at 6am yesterday by the sound and lights of Paco's tractor as he busily tried to turn everybody's hay before the arrival of the baler, who arrived mid morning.

It was then left for Ed and myself to collect and stack the bales with the use of the Discovery and trailer, which is back-breaking and exhausting work.  Thank goodness Ed was here! Needless to say, we both slept very well last night. Ed, who is fast approaching his 70th Birthday is practically super-human; he just never stops working.... God bless him

A resident of our haystack....

and his friend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The athletes assemble at the football ground prior to the off...

Last weekend we got caught up in a very special event. Every year the La Legion Espanola of Ronda organise a 101km race for cyclists, runners and walkers through the mountainous trails of the beautiful Serrania de Ronda. The race starts at 11am on the Saturday and has to be finished by 11am on the Sunday, so the competitors race into the early hours to be sure of finishing within the allotted time! 

This event was first established in 1995 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of La Legion. Only 400 people took part in this first race and of these most were from the military. Today, this race of endurance has become a major event and attracts over 7,000 entrants from all over Europe and beyond.

On the Saturday afternoon, we had arranged to visit one of our friends who lives in Ronda la Vieja, the area of the Acinipo Roman ruins. Unfortunately, the route of the 101km race went directly in front of her villa and the officials of the Legion had closed the road, so we had to walk the last 2 km to see her!!!

Road cars!

A group of cyclists followed by La Legion support vehicle!

...and still they come!

Due to this years unseasonable weather with temperatures soaring to over 38 degrees celsius, over a 1,000 athletes were forced to retire and unable to complete the course. However, La Legion's organisation of this event is superb and army trucks are on hand to rescue those who can't continue.

The winner of the bike ride was Jose Marquez in a new record time and the winning runner was Manuel Serrano Almazan, who completed the course in 9 hours and 14 minutes. You have to take your hat off to these guys!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


James hard at work....

Our dear friend James Dixon and his nephew Noah turned up this week to give our alpacas a haircut. Noah, who is 15 years old, managed to get time off school to join James on this years shearing adventure in the United Kingdom and Europe and what a great time he is having, this being his first trip to Europe.  He really is a charming, well mannered and polite young man who made quite an impression on us.

They had quite a whistle stop tour this year, taking in alpaca farms in Gaucin, Antequera, Cordoba and here in Ronda in a matter of days, before returning to the UK to complete this years shearing in Yorkshire and Scotland.

James, Noah and our dear friend Ed at lunch...

James’s wife Kim normally accompanies him on his annual pilgrimage to Europe from Australia, but due to work commitments she couldn’t make it this year and was sadly missed.   


and after!!!


and Leah terrorising one of our chickens!!


Spookie at 20 years of age

It breaks my heart to write this, but our beloved Spookie is no longer with us!

She had been partially blind for the best part of 6 months, but last weekend she suddenly virtually lost the use of her back legs. With difficulty, she was still able to get around and always managed to find her litter tray when required, but it was heartbreaking to see her struggle.

Our vet, Jose Maria Martinez Gonzalez called on us on the Wednesday afternoon and examined her and although she was clearly very poorly he was prepared to carry out a serious of tests to find the cause of the problem.

However, due to her age, failing health and quality of life we didn’t think it fair to cause her further distress, so Jose Maria returned that evening and sent her to heaven.  He is the most loving, gentle and caring man and we couldn’t wish for a nicer vet.

Spookie had been part of our family from 1999; we had found her at the Wood Green cat rescue centre at Heydon, when she was 7 years old. So if my arithmetic is correct that would have made her 20!

She made the long trip down to Spain with us in the car, when we finally left the UK, which must have been quite an ordeal for her.

She was slowly settling into her new life here, when one evening she was savagely attacked outside the house by an eagle owl we think, as one had been seen locally taking kittens.  Although, after 3 days day in a virtual coma, she survived, she never really recovered.  She lived the rest of her life in the upstairs room and other than the odd venture onto the roof of the terrace, she never left the house again.

Being a rescue cat, she was stubbornly independent and not at all tactile, but she will leave a very big hole in our lives.

 Spookie's first day in Spain

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Lin and I had always wanted to visit the 'Feria de Caballo' in Jerez (Spain's world famous sherry producing town) which is reportedly the most prestigious equine heritage event in the whole of Europe. So when we got the opportunity to go in a luxury minibus with a group of our closest friends here, we jumped at the chance.

The minibus left Ronda at around 11am and after picking up a friend who lives in the white village of Algodanales, where we stopped for coffee, we arrived in Jerez city centre at 1 o'clock. We found a lovely restaurant in a square there where we took a few drinks and had a leisurely lunch.

The square where we took lunch...

...and adjoining courtyard

The minibus then collected us from the city centre and dropped us right outside the feria ground 'Gonzalez de Hontoria Park' which was filled with horse riders, carriages (both modern and classic) flamenco dancers and many local people in traditional dress!

This annual horse fair began as a livestock show in 1284 and is now a magnet for horse lovers and attracts many thousands of visitors each year. We had such a fantastic time that we are already planning to go again next year!
It is hard to find enough superlatives to describe this event, so hopefully the following photographs will tell the story....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Lorca (left) with Ginny Cobb at Bourges

Last year Ginny and Nigel Cobb of Alpacas de Andalucia, who originally introduced us to alpaca breeding, moved to France where there is a more established alpaca market, allowing them new and exciting opportunities.

Their new farm in Manot, within the region of Poitou-Charentes, is called Europa Alpacas ( and they have made an immediate impact. Their Godswell Monty was awarded Reserve Champion at the French Alpaca Show in Salbris last April and again at the show in Marcy L'Etoile near Lyon the following October. He went one better at the Terralies Show in Brittany winning Supreme Champion.

Monty is the sire of our own Leah who was born here on the 10th February of last year.

After a lot of thought and consideration, we came to the conclusion that if Lorca, who is very special to us, were to fulfil his potential, we would have to send him to France. Nigel and Ginny kindly agreed to agist him and our other boy Mateo on our behalf, so on the 18th March the two of them were transported up to France, by a lovely Dutch man named Jorrian who lives locally.

Lorca being judged at Hapert

What happened next was beyond our wildest dreams and expectation.

Lorca was shown at the Fifth International Alpaca Show at Hapert in Holland at the end of March and although he was not in the best condition, because he had been fighting with Matty, resulting in a damaged fleece, and was up against some stiff opposition, he still managed to come second in his class.

This in itself was quite an achievement, however he was then entered into the Alpaca International Show 2012 held in the Halle au Ble in Bourges on the 9th April. There were 135 entrants from France, England, Belgium and Spain and the show was judged by Canadian Kristin Buhrmann.

We were absolutely flabbergasted and thrilled when we heard that not only did he win his class and get second place in the Supreme White class, but was also awarded overall Reserve Supreme Champion!

We always thought that he was destined for great things, but this was beyond belief....

What a little star he is!

Lorca with Lin prior to his move to France

Monday, May 21, 2012


Outside the Cathedral in Malaga

To all of our dearest friends and blog followers.  

After an absence of nearly a year.…we’re back!!

Having lived in Spain for five years now we felt it inappropriate to continue under the heading of a ‘Spanish Adventure’ so as you can see we have changed the title to ‘A year in Andalucia - 5 years on’

We will continue to publish special events in our lives, but it will give you insight of how our lives have changed over the past five years.

Unfortunately, we did not had the easiest of starts to the New Year….

Sadly, our dear friend and neighbour Alvaro passed away on the 13th January! He contracted pancreatic cancer whilst he was living and with the intention of working in Luxembourg and although he returned to Malaga for treatment he did not recover. You may remember, Alvaro was the builder of our current house and since we moved here back in 2007, we had formed a very special friendship with him and his family.  He was only 45 years old.

He was always so generous with his time and was so supportive, especially during the early days when we were adapting to our new way of life.

He was always there during our numerous moments of need and we are going to miss him so much.

 Alvaro Jimenez Palacios

We went to his service at the crematorium in Malaga, which is set in the most beautiful location.  Everything happens very quickly here; the service was held in the evening of the actual day of his death and the cremation took place the following morning.  The family has a room at the crematorium for the whole day, which enables relatives and friends to come and go as they please and to spend as much time with the close family as they want.

Raquel, his partner for the past 4 years, thought it would be nice if his ashes were buried at his house here in Ronda, where he had been at his most happiest