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.

 

 

 

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

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”