31 March 2017


birthday boules
We’ve been away for more than six months but nothing much has changed here during that period.  Monsieur Escalier has planted a new plantation of chestnut trees.  Monique has got a new car and a live-in lover.  Her son Vincent has started work at the post office.  Philippe (Monique’s brother)  still has the same car he was driving when we bought our house in 1999.  It was antiquated even then.  He will be 60 years old this summer and has invited us to a méchoui to celebrate the occasion. I have some trepidation about this invitation as we previously went to a similar event for his fiftieth birthday.  

In France a méchoui is a whole lamb spit-roasted above an open fire.  Ten years ago we all trooped (my daughters were here with their partners) next door to have pre-lunch drinks and admire the lamb being turned on some mechanical Heath Robinson spit contraption. At midday we sat down at a long table with about fifty other guests and enjoyed a magnificent meal accompanied by copious amounts of wine and pastis.  This was then followed by a game of boules.  Early evening the table was re-set for supper.  By 11.00 p.m. my eyes were glazed and I had completely given up trying to follow any conversation. There was still no sign of the party coming to an end.  We made our apologies and staggered back home.  I just don’t think I’ve got the stamina to survive another party like that.

30 March 2017

No Water

“There’s no water coming out the tap.”
“Have you paid the water bill?”
“Of course.”
“Maybe they’ve cut us off because of Brexit.”
“Don’t be silly woman.”

It transpired that the whole of our hamlet was without water this morning so we just had to wait until the water board fixed the problem.  That meant there was a lot of jobs I couldn’t do so after vacuuming a few more flies in the house I went outside into the garden to pull some weeds. Paul was busy rotovating the potager ready for planting potatoes and onions.

my black ninja gloves and favourite weeding tool

By lunchtime I was hobbling around and in a lot of pain.  I get arthritis in my hip and it’s been quite bad lately.  I gave up in the end, took some Ibuprofen and set up my chair in a sunny spot.  We had lunch outside on the terrace and drank wine as there was no water.  The wine and pain killers have done the trick and I’m now perfectly comfortable as long as I don’t move too much.  It’s just so frustrating having to sit and look at the weeds.  I have a tendency towards OCD and I find it really hard to relax when the dandelions keep waving their fluffy yellow faces at me.

gardener planting onions wearing his new jeans
The water is back on now.

28 March 2017

Weary Traveller

hotel in Collioure

Our Spanish odyssey has come to an end and we have just arrived back home in the south west of France.  I didn't sleep well last night so I'm feeling a bit knackered.

snow capped Pyrenees

Yesterday we left Calpe and drove north along the east coast of Spain, stopping overnight in Collioure, a pretty seaside town just over the French border.  Our hotel was situated in the town centre, quietly tucked away with a lovely garden; it was just so perfectly ‘French’.  It would have been nice to stay longer but we were keen to get back home.

perfectly French hotel
We arrived home early afternoon, parked up in the weed strewn courtyard, warily opened shutters and inspected the house.  We never know what we are going to find but apart from the usual piles of dead flies all seems to be shipshape. No sign of mice, bats or any other unwanted guests.  Flies have been hoovered up, log fire is lit, bed has been made, wine is poured and the unpacking can wait until tomorrow.

our garden has turned into a meadow

25 March 2017

Sierra Nevada

We said goodbye to Javier’s place this morning and drove across the Sierra Nevada towards the east coast of Spain.  The scenery was stunning, from snow capped mountains with the pink and white blossom of almond trees in the foreground, to Wild West cowboy country.  The photos were taken from the moving car so the quality isn’t great.

We arrived on the Costa Blanca this afternoon and have checked in to our hotel at Calpe for two nights.  We have a fabulous view of the Rock of Ifach, a huge volcanic rock jutting out into the sea.  I might climb it tomorrow.  Or I might just head for the roof top bar.

Rock of Ifach

24 March 2017

She sells sea shells

I just can't resist picking up shells when I'm on a beach.  I filled my pockets with them and took them back to add to the collection at Javier's place.

I might just take a few home to put on the rockery.

I am mystified by this fruit in Javier's garden.  Anyone know what it is?

Tomorrow we leave Nerja and head across the Sierra Nevada towards the east coast.

22 March 2017


When we fell out of the restaurant in Frigiliana (Paul was sober because he was driving) we stumbled across a blue painted door advertising peep-shows and a Harem Fantastico.  Paul could not resist and searched his purse for the 50 cent pieces to insert into the various slot machines and peep-holes installed in the door.  Alas he only had 20 cent pieces but they worked just as well!  He had great fun watching El Milagro de La Vida (The Wonder of Life), La Esfera Mágica de Cristal (The Magic Crystal) and La Maravillosa Vista al Mar (The Marvellous Sea View).  He saved the best until last - the Harem Fantastico!

On a more refined note I discovered a small studio and gallery tucked away in the upper part of Frigiliana.  I have huge respect for accomplished water colourists, it’s such a tricky medium to get right.  German artist Klaus Hinkel renovated the ancient building that is now his home and studio some twenty years ago.  He is a successful artist and runs painting courses here twice a year.  After chatting to him and admiring his paintings I was very tempted to sign up for a course, it would be such a joy painting in that tranquil environment.  I bought a calendar featuring his recent works and some postcards; after admiring the donkey painting on display he also kindly gave me a 2016 edition which featured the donkey.

21 March 2017


We nearly didn’t go to Frigiliana.  This white-washed village is one of the prettiest in Spain so we thought it would be packed with tourists.  We arrived early, parked easily and had coffee before exploring the steep, cobbled streets.  There were just a few local people about and very few tourist trash shops.  We climbed higher and higher, stopping every few minutes to take another photo of a pretty door or balcony.  We arrived at the top of the village and I spotted an enticing doorway of a restaurant that led through to a terrace overlooking the valley.

“It’s too early for lunch.”
“We could have a beer, I’m very thirsty after that climb,” I said plaintively.
“It’s too early for beer.”
“It looks very nice inside.”
“No, we can go back down into the village and find somewhere later.”

So we climbed back down to the lower terrace of Frigiliana where we were confronted by tour groups that had just arrived by coach and were massing around the restaurants.  

The climb back to the restaurant was hard work (I was very well behaved and didn’t complain once) but we were rewarded by fantastic seats on the terrace overlooking the roof tops of Frigliana and across the valley.  Lunch was delightful (I probably had too much wine), only two other couples joined us on the terrace and we had the undivided attention of the waiter.  The tour groups clearly didn’t want to make the steep ascent to the top of the village.

my restaurant El Adarve

I don't feel homesick today.