Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Following a couple of sightings, we decided to wage war on the rats that roam the garden here, so yesterday I cleared everything from behind the pump house and set up four conventional traps.

Unfortunately, when I checked the traps later that evening, I discovered that we had accidentally caught a beautiful horseshoe whipsnake, which was 3 to 4 feet in length. What was particularly sad, is that this snake wasn't after the food and had activated the trap whilst passing and was caught in the midriff.

Although we released him immediately and could see that he was still alive, he was not moving, so we could only imagine he was in shock.  After a while, with a bit of persuasion, we managed to coax him into a piece of metal pipe and that is where we left him for the night.

I returned to the area of pipe this morning, fearing the worse, but NO...I am pleased to say that there was no sign of him, so we assume that he survived and is out there somewhere under a rock, recovering from his ordeal.

Horseshoe Whipsnake

The horseshoe whipsnake, takes it's name from the horseshoe pattern along its body and in Spanish is called a 'culebra de herradura'  It is found throughout the south of Spain and all along the Mediterranean coast up to Barcelona and favours sunny bare stony ground. 

This particular snake makes up 9% of the booted eagle's diet, which would explain while we regularly see one circling the house early in the evenings.

Thursday, July 26, 2012



and Julia

Within a year of us moving to Spain, we were kindly invited for a 'Paella' lunch by our neighbouring farm owners Juan-Carlos and Rosario. Sadly, due to a translation misunderstanding we let them down and have felt terribly upset and embarrassed ever since.

Therefore, you can imagine our delight, when they turned up on our doorstep one evening early in March, to ask us if we would consider helping their children Miguel and Julia with their English studies.

Obviously, we jumped at the opportunity, not only because of our feeling of guilt with regard to the paella fiasco, but more importantly it allowed us to give something back for all the kindness and support with have received from all of our neighbours since our move here back in 2007.

Miguel and Julia are two of the nicest children you would wish to meet and it has been an absolute pleasure to spend time with them and help with their English. They are both incredibly enthusiastic and keen to learn and it has been so rewarding for us watching them develop and Miguel has already seen a 15% improvement in his examination results. We are so proud of them both.

As a thank you to us, Miguel (who is passionate about the history of Ronda) wanted to take us on a tour of the places of interest the town has to offer, so last Wednesday the four of us set out for what was going to be a very memorable day!

He is a photographic summary of a small selection of the places we visited...

Statue of Ana Amaya Molina; Aniya the gypsy was born in Ronda 27th September 1885. She was a great singer and dancer who performed in the best places throughout the whole of Spain and with the best singers of her time.

'Los Ocho Canos' Eight Spout Fountain

Miguel and Julia take refreshment at the Los Ocho Canos, located in Calle Real, which evokes the glorious past of the district, the first commercial and social centre of Christian Ronda. A watering hole for both animals and humans

Padre Jesus Church....

...and in the background Espiritu Santo Church in the San Francisco district..

The 'Casa del Rey Moro' House of the Moorish King, which sadly lies in a state of disrepair due to negligence over the years. There had been talk of the property being sold to a German developer with the intention of turning this wonderful building into a hotel, but objections were raised by the local town hall and the plans were shelved.  

A different aspect of Ronda's most famous landmark...The Tajo Bridge!

Church of Santa Maria

The impressive altar of the Maria Auxiliadora Church

The house and gardens of San Juan Bosco, with it's wonderful patio of ceramic tiles and stupendous views of the Tajo valley and river.

The 14th century water mine.... With temperatures raging in the high thirties, we were not sure whether climbing up and down the 60 metre mine was a good idea, but we're really pleased we did, as it was a memorable experience.

The river at the bottom of the mine, from where in the past a human chain of slaves would collect water for the city in large skin jugs!

The bottom entrance to the mine....

The roof of the 'Sala de Secretos' (Room of Secrets) where what is spoken from one corner to another is not heard in the centre of the room....It was quite amazing!!

A view of Ronda from the City Wall dating back to the 11th century...

A self-portrait of Joaquin Peinado

One of the highlights of the day was the visit to the Museo Joaquin Peinado, one of Spain's most famous artists. Born in Ronda in 1898 he was a known follower of Cezanne and considered to be the spiritual son of Picasso. You can certainly see his influence within the 190 pieces of work displayed here. Being one of the most elegant painters of the known 'Spanish School' of Paris he died there in 1975.

We had no idea that such a fantastic gallery existed in Ronda and to our surprise the director of it was the aunt of Miguel and Julia, so we were treated to our own personal guided tour!

The beauty of having a day out with two teenagers, is that one is allowed to have lunch at McDonalds (Yes! There is even one in the centre of Ronda) so we had our first Big Mac meal in almost 4 years!!!

At the end of the day we were all exhausted, but still found time to visit Miguel and Julia's grandmother, who lives in the old part of the town and who coincidently is the neighbour of our dear friends Robert and Caroline.

Here endeth the longest BLOG article in history!!!  

Friday, July 20, 2012


Having returned to Lorna and Alan's for a leisurely lunch and a well earned siesta, we met up again in the evening for one of Alan's special barbecue dinners.  We were joined by Pat and her Spanish husband Pedro, two of Lorna and Alan's other friends from Mengibar.  They were great company and we really enjoyed spending time with them

Normally, after one of Alan's home-made burgers you are ready for anything, but nothing could have prepared us for what was to happen later.

In Cordoba it was 'La Noche Blanca del Flamenco' which is the all-night Flamenco Festival.  Stages are set up throughout the city centre, all within walking distance of each other and a performance of flamenco takes place every hour throughout the night starting at 10:30pm and finishing at 5:30 the next morning, in a stunning setting close to the Mezquita. This event attracts a crowd of over 250,000, so as you can imagine the atmosphere was electric!

This was the fifth anniversary of this event, which is fast becoming one of the most important events on the Flamenco calendar. This years series of concerts commemorated the 20th anniversary of the famous Flamenco singer Camaron de la Isla's death.    

Nobody was more surprised than us that we managed to stay until the end, arriving back in Montoro at around 7am just as the sun was rising. We can't remember the last time we stayed out all night and in all honesty it probably won't happen again and whilst the mind was willing the body wasn't!

We managed a few hours sleep and a late breakfast, before tackling the 2 and  half hour drive home.

It probably took us over a week to fully recover, but what a fantastic weekend we had; one that we will remember for sometime to come.   


View of The Alcazar from the Tower

Since moving to Spain, Lin has always wanted to visit the palace and gardens of The Alcazar in Cordoba.  So on the Saturday morning we made an early start and after a hearty breakfast and a visit to Primark, at a local shopping centre, we arrive at The Alcazar.

Upon entering, we decided to climb the two flights of stairs of the Tower to the roof terrace with battlements.  The internal circular stairs were extremely steep and unfortunately Lin pulled a muscle on the way down and spent the next hour hobbling around. Although, it was only mid-morning, it was already incredibly hot and I think we were all having second thoughts at this stage, as to whether or not this was a good idea, but needless to say, being British, we soldiered on!!


Despite originating from the Christian era, as you can see, the gardens are typically Moorish in design, with ponds, fountains and aromatic plants.

Beautifully colour co-ordinated!

The contemporary statues of the Kings of Spain

The Royal Stables are adjacent to the gardens

Duck heaven.....

The Alcazar Palace was built in the 13th century by King Alfonso XI and until the late 15th century, the Kings of Spain used the Alcazar as a royal residence.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Our dear friends Lorna and Alan

As most of our friends and BLOG followers will know, Lin and I so rarely get to go away together because of the commitment to our animals, so whilst Ed was staying with us we decided to take the opportunity of visiting our dear friends and fellow alpaca breeders Lorna and Alan who live just outside of Cordoba.

We set off on the Friday morning with the intention of a leisurely drive up to their reformed olive mill situated in the countryside close to the town of Montoro. 

Having stopped off for breakfast, we left the motorway and headed cross country whereupon we came across the town of Castro del Rio, where we stopped for a while to explore.   

A square in Castro del Rio

Within the remains of the old castle in Castro del Rio, we saw a bird of prey feeding its young in the nest that had been built in one of the crevices in the castle wall!

Sadly, this was the best photograph I could take, because once she was aware of our presence, she became very concerned and anxious, so we left her in peace.

The highlight of the day, was when this elderly Spanish man with no teeth, who clearly fancied Lin, stopped his car in the middle of the road and tried his repertoire of English chat-up lines, which sadly for him came to no avail...

Had he had a few teeth....who knows!!!

Storks nesting on the church tower!

We arrived at Lorna and Alan's early evening and after a swim and a change of clothes we went to Montoro for dinner, after watching England's match against Sweden in the Euro 2012 Championships.

We stayed at Lorna and Alan's delightful Casita, which is incredibly spacious and decorated to a very high standard and includes a huge feature bath. It also has a private terrace that leads directly to the pool area. As part of their self-catering business, this Casita is available to rent from June through to September at very competitive rates. For more information you will be able to find 'Alpacas el Sol' on Facebook or alternatively you could visit their website at www.cordobarestrelaxation.co.uk

Monday, July 9, 2012


God Bless You Mate...

Our dear and very special friend Ed came over in May for his annual six week sabbatical.....

He never ceases to amaze us, he starts work the moment he arrives and doesn't stop until the day he is leaving.

Projects completed during this visit include a rustic pergola (which you can see in the background of the top photograph) a set of steps, a huerto (vegetable garden) a garden trough, completion of our irrigation system plus much, much more....

The vegetable garden....

the Spanish steps....

the garden trough!

Ed, who (I'm sure won't mind me saying) will be 70 years of age later this month, is not only a 'Master Craftsman' but also super human!

One morning, when the temperatures were in the high thirties, we had to move and stack over two hundred bales of hay!  Our close neighbours Sarah and Jim (who we affectionately know as Rosie & Jim) very kindly allowed us the use of their stable for the storage of same.  I should point out that I had the easiest task of just transporting the hay to the stable, whereupon Ed had to stack it, to height of probably 12-15 feet.

Well, by the time we had finished I had managed to get through 3 shirts, all of which were sodden with sweat and I was absolutely exhausted, whereas Ed, who had no change of clothing, looked like he had just walked off a photo-shoot session at Vogue magazine!

The infamous 200 plus bales of hay!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Spain 4  Italy 0   Doesn't it make you proud to be Spanish! In fairness, we have been residents of Spain for the past 5 years, so I think we're allowed to adopt their National Football team now!  It's most definately a lot more fun than following England!!

On the night of the final, a group of 14 of us, including our special friend June, met up in the centre of Ronda to watch the match on a wide-screen television in one of the many bars/restaurants!  June, was our old neighbour from the UK, who was staying with us for the week.

The atmosphere in Ronda was electric!  The Spanish certainly know how to enjoy themselves and celebrate special occasions, such as this.

Within minutes of the final whistle, there was a cavalcade of cars, sporting the Spanish flag and horns blaring, circling the town centre and whilst clearly a fair amount of alcohol had been consumed, there was no trouble, but there never is. The local police play there part in this; you can feel their presence, but they are always in the background and are very low key!

Viva Espana!!