If I was having a coffee right now …..

If I was having a coffee right now, I would be thinking, like many of us, what a strange world we are currently living in. We’ve completed the 7th week of lockdown and now we are beginning our phased exit. I was thinking of writing about what tricks we have used to survive this period but honestly, none of it was particularly interesting or original! (Apart from Steve’s self haircut and no photos allowed!) So, I thought I would talk about the first thing I would like to do on release from lockdown?

But my mind started wandering (not too difficult in these times) to the ‘firsts’ that Steve and I have experienced during our 5 year Spanish adventure, so here are a few of the more memorable ones …..

Realising quickly, that as a proud owner of gardening design City and Guilds certificate, it meant nothing in our garden where 3 meter plus cacti sat waiting to attack me rather than me pruning them! Eventually, I found them mostly stunning when in flower.

Owning a swimming pool and watching my husband learn how to balance the chemicals to keep it safe and clean so I could paddle safely!

Getting up close and personal with snakes and being bitten by a spider. Steve has seen the biggest centipede which the 6′ 3 gardener, working at the house, jumped 6′ 3 in the air and then decapitated the centipede with a spade but it kept on walking ! (no photos …..google this creature if you want!)

Steve and our neighbour removing processionary (or marching) caterpillars from a pine tree. They first sprayed the nest with hairspray, lobbed off the branch the nest was on, catching it in a bin liner and then digging a large hole in the ground placing the bag and setting fire to it. It is so important to do this, as the caterpillar hairs are so toxic and can become airborne in the wind and give nasty rash to humans and with dogs in severe cases can be fatal. (again google if you wish!)

The night a wild boar visited and re landscaped the front flower beds.

(Still thinking of moving to Spain ….. lol!) 

Back to the nice things …..

Harvesting our olive tress, going to the olive press and exchanging our olives for pure extra virgin olive oil that was unbelievably delicious. However, our neighbours had to ‘lend’ us one of their olive trees in order for us to just to fill a crate! (read more – blog post December 2017).

Joined an art class and painted for the first time since I was 16. And I sold my first painting last December ….. who would have thought?

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Obviously, speaking another language although still not fluent with our Spanish, we can get by of sorts. I recall the first time I went to a Spanish hairdresser and requested a cut and colour, it was as scary as the first visit to our Spanish dentist!

Started Spanish dog training classes with our German Shepherd, Charlie when he was a puppy….. that also helped with learning the language. Any shop assistant or waiter I can confidently tell to ‘sit’ stay’ ‘down’ ‘turn’ etc! But the highlight was entering Charlie into an obedience competition held in Vera bullring. Sadly, he didn’t achieve a rosette but I was just relieved he didn’t escape!

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assessment day, best hide!

Administration here in Spain is a test of wills, not logical and extremely time consuming with different rules depending on who you are dealing with and what day of the week it is! So I will skip over setting up house taxes, car tax, car ITV (MOT in UK) and the 4 visits to Almeria to secure our residencia! But each mission accomplished was celebrated with a large vodka and tonic!

Oh! yes, so what is the first thing I will do on my full ‘release’ …… a walk along the promenade with Steve and Charlie, our dog, and stopping for a coffee. Sounds a dream? Well we are now moving forward with a slow easing of lockdown mode and heading for the ‘new normal’ that everyone talks about!

How exciting to think I can become a ‘new normal’ ….. ha! ha! ha!

Oh! PS, Steve has finished his book and one day to be published.

 

 

 

The Basket Case in Jauro

It never ceases to amaze me how people become part of your life. With Colin and Steve they became the font of knowledge, our Wikipedia de España. We were introduced to them by our Belgium friends Georges and Jeannine when my Steve was desperate to find a sports therapist to help with a sciatic problem he had. Ray solved the problem in a matter of weeks and my Steve was eternally grateful to them for their help. Fast forward four years and we are now firm friends!

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Colin and Steve moved to a small pueblo in the hills called Jauro near Antas in 2006 after buying one house. Two years later they bought the house next door as well. They did the majority of the renovations themselves and completed most of the combined houses in 2012. The pool, terraces and garden were completed in 2013 and finally the front courtyard in 2015. They have maintained the Spanish character and furnished their home in a traditional Spanish manor.

(Just a little background info to set the scene of their latest venture we have comically called ‘The Basket Case in Jauro’)

Colin and Steve have two plots of land of 800m2 and last September Steve decided Colin needed a new challenge. Idle hands and all that, so they set about clearing plot one and readying it for planting. This involved weeding, digging and rotovating. No easy task as the ground here in Almeria is rock hard. Colin already had a vision of how it would look with interlocking paths, borders and a wooden gated entrance. The clearing was just a start, a treasure was unearthed in the shape of a set of false teeth and with five ‘gummy’ neighbours nearby, the owner remains a mystery! 

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Actually, this new mini series will be known as ‘What’s in Colin’s Trug!? And not just any old trug, it is a Thomas Smith Royal Sussex Trug (for those who have no idea what a trug is, myself included, its a garden basket used to carry flowers or produce). Trugs are hand made from sweet chestnut and willow strips of wood. A full insight can be found at sussextrugs.com.

But I digress, back to the plot literally! All of their produce is totally organic as no fertilizers or sprays are being used which is quite an achievement considering there are countless bugs in southern Spain ready to pounce at a hint of a shoot.

Everything is watered by hand as an irrigation system is yet to be installed. To protect the plants a high tech gnome called ‘Arthur’ has been employed, well actually Arthur is pretty low tech but appears more effective than shiny tinsel fluttering in the wind (maybe wind is Arthur’s secret weapon!). Whatever the success is down to, the local Spanish neighbours are highly impressed and have taken a keen interest in the local basket case, offering tips and advice. They themselves produce on a grand scale and it has been a lovely way for Colin and Steve to further integrate into the local community and improve language skills. Colin is pretty fluent so ¿Que hay en tu cesta esta semana, Colin?

And if you are also inspired here’s the planting schedule to get to this stage?

September  – clear the plot.

October 12th – planted broccoli, cauliflower and onions

October 21st – planted garlic, leeks, red onions and broad beans.

October 25th  – planted more broccoli and cauliflower

October – fencing put up as protection from the wind

November 1st – planted orange, lemon and lime tree

Then more features, a lovely wooden bench (ideal for those mid morning coffee breaks!) and herb planters made from reclaimed wooden pallets.

January 2nd – planted herbs, mint, rosemary, oregano, sage and chives.

January 12th  the first crop harvested!

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As Colin says, its amazing how quickly everything grows. Lots of work keeping the plot groomed and manicured but looks very impressive! And such a pleasure and the satisfaction is immense.

And veggie costs so far for this new hobby? Broccoli and cauliflowers – 10 for 1 euro. Garlic – 10 for 2 euros. Leeks – 30 for 1 euro. Seed packs – carrots 1.79 peas 2.40 and broad 2.79!

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Colin and Steve’s house is the backdrop to this project!

What is happening next Colin? “Well, plot 2 cleared and propagated ….. so watch this space …..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los Vélez to New York!

After months and months of lovely hot sunny weather, the first really cold snap and very windy weather arrived here in Vera (15C – when you live here that’s cold!). So, what should you do? Yes, visit Vélez Rubio and Vélez Blanco where it’s a balmy 5C!

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In fact Vélez Rubio, Vélez Blanco, Chirival and Maria are the four villages of Los Velez and are situated in the northern corner of Almeria province amongst the Sierra de Maria – Los Vélez Natural Park. The landscape is stunning with mountains, pine forests and the area is also steeped in history. 

Forty-five minutes drive and climbing 2800 feet aproximately, the sky is blue and bright and the air crisp and very fresh! As you approach Vélez Rubio, the pueblo is dominated by the church, Iglesia de la Encarnación.

It was built in the 18th century and is meant to be one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Almeria.

The main alter is an amazingly detailed wood carving and some 65 feet high. The façade includes the arms of the Marquises of Villafranca and Velez who built the church.

As always, I’m not sure my Samsung mobile phone camera can do it justice?

The next stop is the Miguel Guiro Archaeological Museum to see more of the history from prehistoric remains and the Arab and Roman eras. The prehistoric caves and paintings at Cueva de Los Letreos and La Cueva del Gabar are UNESCO World Heritage listed sites. Cueva de Los Letreos dates from 5000BC with paintings of men, women and animals. It was here that the figure of Indalo was discovered. You see the Indalo man symbol everywhere in Almeria and it is believed to offer protection from misfortunes! We’ll see!

Time for a short lunch and then a 10 minute drive to Velez Blanco. The castle, Castillo Palacio is set high up on the rock and more than 1000 meters tall looking down on the pueblo. It was built on top of an old Arab castle in the 16th century. Sadly, only the exterior has been preserved to this day. You can take at tour but now it’s winter opening hours so it was closed when we were there. (We should have checked first!)

You will also see the remains of the Iglesia de la Magdalena on the hillside near the Castillo. In the church are the graves of the first two Marquises of Los Velez.

There are quite a few hotels here but they are all closed until the spring. But still a pretty place and nice to just wander around, soak up the atmosphere and stop for a hot coffee! Near to a bodega is the brightly coloured Fuente Caños de Caravaca (fountain) from the 18th century featuring the Vélez Blanco arms.

In the summer when the streets are buzzing with tourists and all the cafes and restaurants are open,  it would be lovely to just sit outside with a drink and watch the sunset.

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So, Los Velez to New York?

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Met Museum of Art NY

Well, the marble patio from the Castillo was actually purchased by George and Florence Meyer Blumenthal in 1913 and was the centre piece in their house on Park Avenue, Manhattan. He gifted the patio to the Met Museum of Art in 1945 when he died. The patio was removed in blocks and placed in the museum storage until 1963. (Blumenthal’s house was demolished.) After further, research the patio was reconstructed and installed and during the construction two arches and other modern elements added by Blumenthal were removed. It now serves as the entrance of the Thomas J Watson Library showcasing the museum’s Italian Renaissance statues.

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1997 to 2000 the patio was closed for refurbishment with a new floor of the same Macael marble put in which closely matches the original patio floor.

I didn’t expect this cosmopolitan ‘ending’ when Rhona (my blogging buddy!) and I set off to visit these sleepy pueblos!! But you never know what you might discover!

 

Coming soon ….. ‘what’s in Colin’s trug this week!’

Colin's trug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I was having a coffee right now …..

If I was having a coffee right now …… firstly, I would remember to take a photo of my friend Rhona and I sipping fresh coffee! Whoops!

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Anyway, we spent the morning in San Jose, Almeria. Just 50 minutes drive, on a sunny October day, from Vera. We drove by El Sotillo Cortijo, a refurbished 18th century house (now hotel), on the outskirts and which has links to Clint Eastwood and the movie Fistful of Dollars. ‘Google’ movies filmed in Almeria, you will be surprised!

This is such a lovely time of year to explore, as the main tourist season has finished but there are still enough restaurants and shops open and with quite a few people just mooching and chilling. And of course the token cyclists who are so popular in Almeria but they stop for a refreshing beer not coffee …..ha! ha! However, in July and August this place is mobbed with mainly the Spanish people on holiday from Madrid and in fact this year the local police were limiting the number of people on the beach! Hard to imagine?

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The shops are good and a little different, check out Salamandra Lamparas, great, stunning and quirky.

The promenade is lined with fish restaurants, leading to a small marina and is still a busy little fishing port.  In the main holiday season, there’s kayaking, scuba diving and other water sports plus horse trekking on offer.

The Cabo de Gata coastline is relatively unspoilt with beautiful coves, beaches and pueblos. I have visited Agua Amarga several times which is much smaller than San Jose. Definitely not such a tourist resort, and I think even more charming? (photos below)

Still on my list ‘to visit’ are Las Negras and Rodaquilar (with the closed goldmines). And one day, do some of the walking trails with Charlie.

Meanwhile, it was just a lovely way to spend a morning in this glorious part of Spain where we live!

After 3 ….. 1 2 3,   musical-notes

Woh woh woh woh woh woh woh woh woh woh  

Do you know the way to San Jose
I’ve been away so long
I may go wrong and lose my way
Do you know the way to San Jose
I’m going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose

(I know the song is about the one in LA but couldn’t resist!).

Cabo de Gata Nijar

Mayor Pedro Zamora of Antas

 

Firstly, congratulations Pedro, on being voted Mayor of Antas. Where shall we start?

En primer lugar, felicidades Pedro, por haber sido elegido alcalde de Antas. ¿Por dónde empezaramos? 

Please tell us a little about your family?     ¿Por favour cuèntanos un poco sobre tu familia?   

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“I have been married 10 years to my wife and we have two girls, a 6 year old and a two year old. They are all lovely. I also have an older brother along with my parents, uncles, aunties and cousins. They are very good people and I am very proud of them all.”

“Llevo diez años casado tengo mi mujer y dos niñas, una con seis años y uno con dos años, son muy bonitas. Tengo un hermano mayor, mis padres y tios bien y primos todos bien y muy orgulloso de todos.”

Pedro, who is the boss in your house, who’s in charge?     ¿Pedro, quien es el jefe en tu casa?   

“Very good question. My wife and the girls are in charge, yes my wife and the girls!”

“Muy Buena pregunta. Los tres mujeres en familia manda!”

And I am told that you have a special helper who likes to be present at any important conferences and meetings?     ¿Y mi dicen que tienes una ayudante quien siempre les gusta esta a tu lado en los presentaciones y reunión?

Yes, the one who likes it the most, has got to be Daniela, my six year old, she loves coming to events with me”   

 “Si, la que mas le gusta es Daniela la niña de seis años”   

Pedro, do you have something interesting to say about yourself, that people may not know?     ¿Pedro, tienes algo interestante o curious sobre ti? 

“not sure really”.

“No en realidad no”

Pedro Luis (part of the mayor’s team) answers with a smile, ‘he has the Almería record for the football player who runs the least in a match! (Ha, ha, it’s a joke). Pedro Luis contesta con una sonrisa, tiene el récord de Almería para el jugador de futbol que menos corre en un partido! (jajaja es broma).

“Ok I admit, I don’t run enough but I have a good technique! Why run anyway? Running is for cowards!”

“I’m really athletic and like to practice sport. I like going out to parties but with two girls I can’t as they must come first. We enjoy going out as a family as well as with friends” 

“Si corro poco, pero técnicamente soy muy bueno (todos se réin). Bueno admito que no corro mucho pero para mi correr es de cobardes.”

“Soy muy deportista y me gusta mucho practicar el deporte. La fiesta también me gusta pero con dos niños no puedo, porque ellos son la primero. También me gusta echar un rato con los amigos y con la familia” 

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From L to R…Pedro Zamora, Maria Jesús Aznar Garcia, Pedro Rodriguez Garcia and Lea-Anne Honeyman.

What do you think about social media in general both negative and positive?     ¿Que opiniones sobre los redes sociales en genéral? ¿Es negativo o positivo?

“Personally, I preferred how it was before. I don’t like mobiles. Now, you go home and your wife is on one sofa and you are on the other sofa looking at social networks! Social media has taken away a lot of social interaction at home and people used to go out a lot more and chatted to their neighbours, children in the street or in school. Today, children are at home on the internet or on their consoles, and when we go out for a coffee its rare to see people not sat on their phones on WhatsApp or Facebook!”

“Personalmente, a mi gustaba mas antes. Los móviles no me gustan. Puedes llegar a casa y tu mujer en el sofa con el movil y tú en el otra sofá con el movil en redes sociales. Las redes sociales nos han quitado mucha vida social en casa, antes la gente salía mucho a la calle hablando con los vecinos, los nínos el en la calle o en la escuela. Hoy en día mi los niños esta con internet o están en la play y cuando vamos a tomar un café es raro el que no está con el movil con el wasap o Facebook!”

But its a good way to publicise events and to inform people, don’t you think?     ¿Pero esta bien para publicitar eventos y para informar a la gente no? 

“In this sense, yes. We can inform people and yes, we are using social media a lot more to promote the town and keep people informed.  Yes, for the publicity and advertising, it is very good, but limited!”

“Para ese sentido si puedemos informar a la gente y por ese sentido estamos moviendo muchas más en las redes sociales para promocionar el pueblo y informa a la gente. Si para el tema de publicidad es bueno pero limitado

How did you get into politics, Pedro?    ¿Como has entrado en la politica Pedro? 

“I have never been a politician.  I have always taken interest in politics but never wanted to be a politician. I was presented with this opportunity and I declined at first and then I thought, why not try, it is a new experience? So, then I needed to convince others to join me, including you Lea-Anne!”

“Yo nunca habiá sido político. La política me ha interesado siempre, pero nunca había pensado en ser politico. De la noche a mañana se me ha presentado la occasión, al principio que no, me insistieron y finalmente me decidí a intentarlo, es una experiencia nuevo, intente convencer a las personas entre ellas tu Lea-Anne!” 

Lea-Anne; ‘and you told me that It wouldn’t take up a lot of time Pedro!’ Everyone laughs!

Lea-Anne ‘ si recuerdo y  mi has dicho ‘oh poco tiempo Pedro!’  Todos rein!

“And look at how far we have come? From January to here, everything we all went through together and all the experiences!” 

“Y mira donde estamos ? Desde Enero hasta a aquí, los noches que hemos vivido y las experiences!”

What is one of the most important things that you would like to achieve or change, you can only choose one thing!?    ¿Qué es una de los cosas más importante para cambiar o lograr, solo puedes elegir una cosa!? 

“For me, it is necessary to expand the PGOU (General Urban Plan) it would be difficult to finish in four years, as there are many administrative procedures. I hope it can be completed within 5-6 years. It is a big project and Antas needs it, so we will work hard to achieve it.” 

“Para mí lo más necesario para el Antas, será elaborar el PGOU (Plan General de Ordenación Urbana) es muy difícil acabarlo en 4 años, porque tiene muchos trámites administrativos, espero que se pueda finalizer como muy tarde en 5-6 años. Es un proyecto muy grande y estaremos muy satisfechos cuando esté finalizado. Antas lo necesita y vamos a trabajar muy duro para conseguirlo.” 

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Ayuntamiento – Town Hall

What ideas do you have about improving integration in the town between Spanish and foreign residents?     ¿Que Ideas tienes para mejorar el integración en el pueblo entre los Españoles y Extranjeros?

“Well, this is something that we have spoken about before isn’t it Lea-Anne?”

“Bueno eso es una tema que hemos hablado mucho, no Lea-Anne?” 

“This is something that worries us and we would like to improve the integration, for example, with the English people. We have spoken about holding a social event and inviting everyone to bring a sample of their  country’s typical cuisine, i.e English, German, Spanish, French, etc. A real celebration of cultures in the Plaza  de LA ERA.”  

“Este tema, nos ha preocupado siempre y gustaría que hubiese mejor integración por ejemplo con la colonia inglesa. Nosotros siempre hemos dicho de intentar hacer un evento en común, por ejemplo hacer comida típica inglesa, alemana, española, francésa etc. Hacerlo en la Plaza de LA ERA y hacer una jornada de convivencia entre culturas.”

If someone were to write your biography about you Pedro, what would the title be!?     ¿Si alguien escribiera una biografía sobre ti cuál sería el título?

Pedro Luis from the culture department, OK, I have it, ‘ the man who changed Antas!’

Pedro Luis de cultura OK lo tengo ‘el hombre que cambio Antas!

Thank you Pedro for your time as I know you are very busy. It was also good to get to know you and some of your team and I wish you much success. Huge thanks to Lea-Anne, who arranged all this and translated Spanish for me. Muchas gracias!

Gracias Pedro por tu tiempo porque sé que estás muy ocupado. También fue un placer conocerte a ti y a algunos miembros de tu equipo y te deseo mucho éxito. Muchísimas gracias a Lea-Anne, que organizó todo esto y tradujo el español para mí. Muchas gracias. 

From the mayor’s office, “thanks, Lea-Anne for your interest in helping the town!!”

Y de la oficina del alcade “Gracias Lea-Anne, por el interes en ayudar al pueblo de Antas!!

You can also follow Lea-Anne on Facebook – visit-  ‘Antas Chit Chat’.

See you at the fiesta in September!     Hasta la fiesta en Septiembre!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I was having a coffee right now ……

 

If I was having a coffee right now, I would be sat on the shady terrace of our apartment , which is currently ‘home’. I’d be scrolling through photos and videos, I took a few nights ago in Vera at the Moors and Christians parade. But, I’m under strict instructions from Steve, not to write another blog on Spanish fiestas, parades, carnivals etc! Sipping on my coffee, I would be stressed about the fact that I haven’t written a blog post for 3 months. Or maybe I’d be preoccupied again with Brexit which is making it impossible to plan anything and be wondering what the impact will be on living in Spain for us?  Life has been busy and very sociable and I do still have my list of ‘must visit’ places in this lovely area of Spain, which I can then share on my blog.

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But there is also a place I would like to re visit, Nijar, which sits between Sierra de Alhamilla and the Mediterranean coast. To be more precise , Cactus Nijar which is a commercial nursery on the outskirts of town. The founder and owner Toni Brugger moved from Austria and set up the nursery and garden almost 20 years ago. I was first taken there by friends when there was small music and art event one hot balmy evening. What a setting, and of course my photos cannot do it justice. Nijar is not far from the film studios where the ‘spaghetti westerns’ were made. and you could easily imagine Clint Eastwood riding amongst the cacti!

The garden’s many varieties of trees include olive and palm with strategically placed sculptures throughout the garden and highlighting the different types of cactus plants. It is an inspiration however large or small your garden or terrace may be?

Of course cactus plants just thrive in our climate here, as I well know from our last garden. In fact I’ve grown (excuse the pun) to think they can be quite stunning and beautiful and more importantly, fairly low maintenance.

PS… for those of you who don’t get bored of seeing photos of Spanish fiestas, parades and carnivals……!! Vera Moors and Christians parade……

Now if Steve was sitting having a coffee right now ……

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If I was sat here having a coffee right now …… Carole would have made it!

‘Thank you Darling’ …… what would I be thinking about? Well if I were still a smoker, I would be thinking about the sheer pleasure of finishing said coffee and then lighting up. The coffee taste still fresh in my mouth, as I flip the lid of the fag packet and slowly remove a ciggy. The excited anticipation of the first drag and feeling the nicotine ‘hit’ as my brain shouts its approval and writes ‘pleasure’ in my eyes. But, sadly, that little pleasure is no more. I’ve tried to get high on cacti but it just doesn’t do it for me. So what would I be thinking about? Maybe the book that I’ve been writing for so long, that now, when I decide to write, I have to re-read  the first few chapters to remind me what its about! One day soon it will be finished and I will unleash it to the public scrutiny. It will be trashed and I will be ridiculed and I will know that I should have spent my coffee breaks more productively. So what am I to think about as the aroma of the beans and my taste buds combine to provoke an idea? Life. Life is a subject of incalculable facets. A subject of such magnitude that I think I’ll go and watch the Michael Macintyre ‘Waitrose’ sketch on YouTube.

“Lovely coffee Darling and good luck with the blog …… no fiestas etc”

 

What did you do this Sunday morning?

 

Well, I can tell you what I got up to on this chilly Spanish Sunday morning. I went with our neighbours Kay and Mike to the nearby port of Garrucha. We parked at the marina opposite the dry dock where currently, there is an old 34 metre yacht, formerly named the ‘Jazmine’. It had been deteriorating for 15 years a few kilometers up the coast in Aguilas. Richard Burton bought, the once luxury yacht, from Aristotle Onassis as a gift for Liz Taylor. Just one of a number of their yachts, when they were arguably Hollywood’s most famous couple!

Liz And Richard

But it was a time when glamour and mystique went hand in hand, with the public having only the occasional glimpse of the legendary couple, not like today with 24/7 news on social media.

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I guess for the younger readers of this blog, they were the George and Amal Cloony of the 60’s and 70’s.

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We took a short stroll to the huge marquee erected in one of the marina car parks, where Gastro Festival de la Gamba Roja was  being held. Such a great way to try tasty tapas, including the famous local catch of the Garrucha prawns.

Local restaurants had prepared their specialties and the aromas, the hustle and bustle of visitors made for a wonderful atmosphere.

For the first time I tried a typical local tapa of deep fried aubergine with a crispy coating and sticky honey, delicious. Kay and Mike chose seafood and bacalao (cod) tapas, also equally delicious!

In fact, Almeria has recently been confirmed as the new Spanish Capital of Gastronomy for 2019! With over 300 gastronomic activities already planned, it will be a very busy city. This will also be great for tourism, really putting Almeria and the province on the map. Currently León is the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy.

After a couple of hours wandering around the huge marquee looking at all the gastronomic delights on offer, we finally sat down with our ‘cafe con leches’ and we all agreed it had been a very civilized and chilled way to spend a Sunday morning.

How was your Sunday?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer fades to Autumn

 

Just can’t believe my last post was over 2 months ago – sorry! Where did the wonderful summer go? A cruise, trip to England, watching the World Cup, partying at a few fiestas and days on the beach of course.

Then, on the really scorching hot afternoons here, it was a case of sofa, a good movie and ice cream. That got me thinking of my favourite movies – not easy! I often see on other blogs – top 10 lists but Steve and I listed 40 plus movies straight off. Somehow, I have got my list down to top 20….sort of…. It would change yet again if I was asked tomorrow!

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  • Officer and a Gentleman
  • Pretty Woman
  • Rain Man
  • Forest Gump
  • When Harry met Sally
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • Groundhog Day
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • Oceans Eleven
  • As Good as it Gets
  • Terms of Endearment
  • Apollo 13
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Gravity
  • Top Gun
  • Grease
  • The Italian Job (original)
  • ET
  • Jaws

Steve loves all movies, so his list is not in a time warp like mine! What are your favourite films?

Anyway, we said ‘adios’ to August and welcomed a little September rain. (Now that’s something I didn’t think I would say when living in Spain.)

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But the rains brought a lovely freshness and it is still around 24 degrees but with no humidity. Autumn is here and the garden  has come alive with so much flowering.

Why do weeds grow faster than plants? But hey, we will even have the start of a ‘lawn’ in the coming weeks!  It really is more like Spring.

Soon, we are allowed to take Charlie for long walks on the beach followed by hot fresh coffee. Yes, it will also be ‘adios’ to my lovely iced coffees!

The farmer who owns most of the land around our house is also busy. After removing dead orange trees from 3 fields back in May, we are now all ‘ploughed’ ready for the farmer to plant the much promised olive and almond trees. Wow, the smell from the blossom in a few months time will be gorgeous!

In a few weeks the pellet burner will be firing up the central heating and we will be all snuggled up. Dare I say, making plans for Christmas????!!!

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Then and now…some of my favourite photos

 

It’s July and as the searing sun beats down on Antas, the scenery looks more and more parched and desert like. (We’re about 80 kilometres from Tabernas Desert.)  So, I started looking back at photos I took a few weeks ago which led me to reminisce on how our garden has evolved in the last three years but is still very, very much a work in progress and always will be and  I have never experienced such fast growing weeds as here in Spain!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started on the garden around our refurbished courtyard back in November 2015.

 

 

And the courtyard went from this…

…to this, our modern surprise inside our cortijo. The perfect chill out or party (fly free) outdoor room!

 

 

 

 

My recreational drug!

Finally, after months of saying ‘when I get time I would love to… ’ I confess I have an addiction!

I attend a great little art class in beautiful Bedar which is a typical Andalucian village set in the hillside with stunning views out to the Mediterranean.  What more could I need to inspire me alongside Trina my great art teacher and owner of the Bedar Art Center.

Trina has run the center for several years and she and her husband Klaus have their own eventful story on how they discovered and moved to Bedar! I would like at some point to go to the ceramic classes although not sure if Trina’s patience will stretch that far? She says that creativity is a great way to open up, expose and put yourself out there and well it’s been a while since I’ve done that, so to speak! Trina’s wonderful, original ceramic Whimsy People are set off among her paintings, greeting cards and much more…

Her workshop is inspirational, colourful, fun and perfect to indulge a few hours away with the other ‘pupils’. It’s sociable and a laugh with even an Arty Farty Christmas Party!

After months of Steve telling me ‘don’t put too much paint on the brush’ and Trina telling me ‘Come on, get some paint on that brush and that paper’…..I start to get it. I’m currently painting with acrylics which I have never done before. Maybe I will try working with oils and canvas? I now have an easel, paints etc at home, meanwhile I start to progress very, very  slowly. Here are a few of my efforts!

Plus a work in progress, dear Freddie!

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more art…Rojales

Expressions of art can be found everywhere is Spain. On a recent visit to Rojales, we discovered Caves Rojales ‘Cuevas del Rodeo’.  Rojales is a typical agricultural Spanish village with the River Segura running through the town and situated just inland from Guardamar in southern Costa Blanca.

As you enter Cuevas del Rodeo along the paths there are sculptures leading to the cave houses.

Steve and Paul appreciating art!

and Kim and I were in the leather shop……

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Every month there is an arts and crafts market and each month a different artist exhibits in the gallery cave. Children embrace the arts a young age.

Walk by more cave houses and take the steps to the bar and live music (in summer season).

The Casa de Las Conchas is the lowest entrance to the cave area and the owner Manuel has spent many years decorating his house with shells.

Definitely  well worth a visit!