October

We had a busy few days after returning from the dog-sit in Frigiliana. (link)

IMG_0644On the first Saturday, we walked up the hill behind us and over to Benalmádena Pueblo.

Because we’d set off early, we had breakfast up there before walking back down and catching the train at Torremuelle.  We then caught the newly instigated weekend-bus service back to the apartment, from Los Boliches. This new service had been much sought after by Torreblanca residents. Well done them.

Carol arrived on Tuesday and was transferred from the airport by James and Michelle. Later that day, Mike arrived too.  Carol was here for just over a week, to join in with the celebrations of James’ final Dining Out night on Friday evening.  That would be James’ final ‘army’ function.

Mike was here for just two days, to attend an interview, also in Gibraltar.

All except Mike, who hadn’t arrived by the time we set off, spent Tuesday walking on the front to Fuengirola and eating (a not very impressive) lunch there.  We walked back and had a coffee in Granier before coming back up the hill and meeting Mike.  We didn’t do anything that evening as Carol was tired and Mike had to prepare for an early start on Wednesday.

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On Wednesday, we visited Monumento Castillo Colomares. This is a sort of folly, built by an American doctor, with the help of local builders. It was designed to tell the story of Christopher Columbus’ discovery (sic) of the Americas.  We had a tapas lunch in Benalmádena Pueblo before returning home.

We drove down to La Alcaidesa on Thursday, after sorting out all of Mike’s laundry. He’d left at 04:00am that morning to catch his flight home.

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Sharon and Carol on our Ardales walk

We stayed at James and Michelle’s place on Thursday evening, before moving on to Gibraltar on Friday.  I cooked an evening meal of Chicken and Chorizo Paella, which we ate when Michelle got back from work.  We’d foraged for this on the way, at La Cañada, near Marbella. We’d called there to buy an Apple T.V. for us to use in Spain.  Our MacBook Pro’s deal with the internet better than the T.V. here (or the Amazon Fire Stick we’d initially tried), so buying one for here means that we don’t have to bring ours from the U.K. every time we visit.

On Friday we were joined in Gibraltar by Debbie, who was also to attend the dinner that evening.

We were all staying at the Holiday Inn Express on Devil’s Tower Road.

The hotel hasn’t been open long (I think it opened earlier this year) and is reasonably priced, for Gibraltar. The rooms were comfortable, the staff were good and the breakfast was delightful.

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We all then met for coffee at Cheers, where much of James’ family meet on Fridays. Here, we had brunch too.

We all met again that evening on the Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s Devil Tower Camp, where we were entertained to a three-course meal with unlimited wine and port.

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A good part of the following day, Saturday, was spent on the beach at Sandy Bay – trying our hands (and balance) at paddle boarding. Tapas I achieved my goal of standing up a couple of times – creating forward motion rather than falling off, will be my next goal. Lol.  Sharon however, did manage to not only stand up and paddle, but to create a forward motion (before falling off). Carol, Debbie, Sharon and I shared a couple of snacks at The Lord Nelson before returning to the hotel to relax before meeting Michelle, James and Ewan for tapas in La Linea. (I’m not sure which we visited – but the food around here is tremendous).

Debbie flew back to the U.K. on Sunday morning and the three of us made a steady return to Torreblanca.

Feria#4Once back, we caught the train into Fuengirola, where, they were two days in to their six day Feria Del Rosario

This is one of the most prestigious festivals held in Andalucía. There is much dressing up in traditional costume and riding horses – most of which we missed, but we certainly got the atmosphere. I will have to plan better in futre.

We had a late lunch at Bar Pepe.

On Monday, we drove back up to the area around Ardales and spent a nice day walking, swimming in the lake (well, I did) and being attacked by wasps (well, Sharon was).

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Campo de Frigiliana – 3

Tuesday was a much easier day, as we’d decided that the next time we drove up that road, would be our last; on our way out and home to Los Boliches.

On Tuesday we both worked in-between dips in the pool and meal times.  The dogs had been much easier to walk in the morning as there were no distractions and they had possibly got more used to us.  Their evening walk was the full-on walk we’d been shown and despite the clouds coming down and threatening rain, by the end of it we were all hot and knackered.  So, the dogs had treats and then collapsed in their room while we cooled down in the pool! Lovely.IMG_0625

Because we had no idea what to expect food wise when we got here, we’d decided to take enough provisions for the Saturday evening and all-day Sunday – then to review the situation.  There is a lovely, well equipped kitchen that is sort of ‘lived in’.  The five-burner, gas hob works perfectly well but the oven door is held closed by a piece of string tied from its handle to the hob’s pan support.  I was easily able to make a tortilla (potato and onion) on Saturday evening and we had thin slices of pork, fried and served with ratatouille (both defrosted from home), boiled new potatoes and tomato/cucumber salad on Sunday.

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On Monday, we had bought a cooked chicken from Mercadona.  Now there’s a treat if you’ve never had one.

For Cena on Monday therefore, I made a stew of chicken thigh/drumstick, with onion, garlic, left-over ratatouille and chickpeas, and then served all that with sauté potatoes. Tuesday evening was chicken breast salad, with avocado from the garden, fresh tomato with basil and more sauté potatoes.  We still had chicken breast (and lots of salad stuff) left for lunch on Wednesday.

We will leave this evening, after the dogs have had their second walk – so I’ve ordered a pizza for 21:00pm from Restaurante Montemare. Sojourn over.

Reflections

The dogs were lovely dogs, they really were. Their only problem was that they are quite undisciplined when it comes to moving traffic and other dogs.

They are kept in overnight because there are wild boars and other wildlife roaming the area, but during the day they are free to roam the property.  A simple noise from across the valley will have Leo off and half way up the other side, chasing whatever it is he’s seen.  Lucy (the youngest, takes part in these activities but I noticed that she was the first to return when called) 42516214_10155534233026109_833941198430273536_nwants to play all the time, which is nice.  Pixel, is the older dog. Most of the day he just lounges about and when on walks he slowly follows everyone else until a car or scooter appears and then he’s off!  He leads the charge quicker than you’d think him capable of.

All in all, we had a good time, despite all the mosquito (or whatever) bites.

Campo de Frigiliana – 2

Our second full day, Monday, was to include some shopping, lunch out and about, and a few swims in the afternoon.  We sort-of did all that but without the lunch out, we had a coffee in Frigiliana instead.

IMG_0625We set off with the dogs about eight o’clock and once again had to curtail the walk half way around, as men had gathered about where the new road was to be laid. The dogs go ape-shit when they meet strangers, animals, and/or cars so, as I suggested in the previous post, we improvised.

When we did set off out, we faced every one of the nightmare thoughts I’d had about driving back up that (approx.) 2K of single track to the main road. Our first encounter was another car, the same size as ours. That was fairly easily negotiated as we’d just passed a property entrance that I could reverse in to. But, phew!

Then just a minute later (bear in mind that this is now 11:00am and the roadwork chappies have been at it since 08:00am ish) we encountered the cement truck coming towards us!  Well, that was not a treat to behold. This single-track road is bordered by deep ditches, steep walls, or pretty much nothing until the bottom of the ravine it traverses. Well, the cement truck, which is just about as wide as the road, wasn’t reversing, so I had to wind my way downhill again until I could find a place to pull over. That was double phew!  The truck squeezed past with inches to spare, followed by a less than happy white van man.

IMG_0604We reached the main road without further ado and turned towards Torrox.

The Frigiliana to Torrox road presents some of the finest views in this area, but isn’t one for the faint hearted or for small cars.  We had a number of 1st gear moments, tight bends and very rough (unmaintained) roadway until we slid past Torrox itself, somehow missing the sign that said ‘come in’.  So, we headed off to the supermarket and, as I thought it was just a tad early for lunch, we called in at Frigiliana for a coffee on the way back.

So, by now it’s two and a half hours since we met the cement truck on our way up the single-track road.  What do me meet on the way back down?

The cement truck again!  Triple phew!  

Another scrape into a gated driveway was required before he could squeeze by.  It must really make the cement truck driver’s day to meet someone coming the other way who does NOT know where the easy passing places are.  Grrr.

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Our evening walk with the dogs was similarly curtailed as all the locals who live along the new roadway were parked and chatting at the end of it, as they were forbidden from driving up it. What’s more, even if we could have got past those folks we would have had to come back down the newly laid road – which might have been a bit soggy.  We improvised again.

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Campo de Frigiliana -1

For our fourth week here in Spain, we have come to the Campo de Frigiliana.

At some point last year, Sharon joined a house-sitting site, with a view to us experiencing more of Spain.  Mostly the house-sitting involves looking after pets and, on this occasion, we are the guests of three dogs; Lucy, Leo and Pixel.

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We have not house-sat or dog-sat abroad before, so this is our first experience in Spain.

Frigiliana is just an hour away from our apartment and the campo (countryside) behind is a mixture of wilderness and farmed – although the farmed bits look just like wilderness too.  The road to Torrox winds away up above the town and our ‘house’ is quite a way up that road and then down about 2K of twisty, narrow (luckily, concreted) tracks.

The owners, who are away for four days, also cultivate three kinds of avocado (Bacon, Pinkerton and Hass) commercially and mangoes for their own and local consumption.  They also grow oranges, lemons and kumquats – but whether commercially or not, I don’t know.

By the way – who knew bacon grew on trees?

Our first morning (Sunday) was altogether different from today (so far) Monday.  Our hosts departed early, about 08:00am and we then set off for our first walk with the three dogs. We’d been shown a good walking route on Saturday evening, involving lots of ups and downs and which kept us out of neighbours’ land and away from passing any passing motorists/scooters.  We eventually arrived back to give the dogs’ their breakfast, after which they went absolutely mental, barking and yapping for about an hour.  We realise now that that was because the various neighbours were visiting their properties for Sunday relaxation or crop maintenance and the dogs were alerting us to their presence.  The nearest neighbour even brought his own dogs so they added to the cacophony.

2B137803-6796-4DDB-B036-5776D33B7E8CSo far today (Monday) no one as visited any of the nearest fincas/villas so it’s quite blissful.  We’ve not been in the pool yet, but did so quite a few times yesterday.

We took the same route with the dogs last night, but had to cut it short half way through because we heard goats just around the corner (they have bells around their necks) – we didn’t think it would be a good idea to let the dogs see them, as we didn’t know how they would react.  We’d seen herds of goats, away in the distant hillside earlier, so this was probably that herd simply moving from one place to another.  Part of our given route will also be closed today because of some roadworks being undertaken – so once again we have had to improvise the morning walk as the dogs would not like those men and machines to be on THEIR mountainside! 

I’ll recce that part of the route myself tonight, before we set off.

September fun

This is the third year that we have visited our apartment in September. The year we bought it, we travelled back up through Spain and France in August, but in 2016, we  drove back down and met John and Carol in Gibraltar for National Day.  I commented then, about how good the weather was here, in September.  It was no different last year.

So here we are.

Alison and Andy were still here when we arrived so we spent a great couple of days with them. Despite their invalidity, they’d managed to do lots of stuff already, so we just took them to our favourite places to eat (those that were not closed!) and to the market and Mijas, for Alison to buy colourful Spanish crockery.

img_0552This year, we hope to stay long enough to visit the Feria de Fuengirola (last year’s visit was cut short and we missed the feria). However, we will be in Gibraltar on the 6th, so we’ll miss the opening ceremonies (if there are any). We’re there to join James on his final ‘dining out’ after leaving the army earlier in the year.

Earlier this week (our third), we were joined by Michelle for a day. We introduced her to the area just north of Caminito del Rey – which we had first explored during last September’s visit. We had a lovely walk along the tracks that meander through the woods and hill sides there, had a tasty tapas lunch in El Kiosko and then had a sunbathe and swim in the lake opposite.

Michelle very kindly drove us there and back (she has a much more comfortable car). We finished the day with ice cream on the front at Los Boliches and later, tapas at Bar Pepe. I think we all had a lovely day.

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Sharon’s cousin Andy was also in Los Boliches for a few days earlier. We met him one evening last week for a few beers and a meal at Meson Salvador, then yesterday we met him and his friend Rob, at the market and took them up to Mijas. We walked around Mijas for a while (and finally explored the bull ring there) before wandering on to Bar Alarcon for lunch.

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Three weeks in June

It is surprising how much you can fit into a three week break in Spain.

I hadn’t planned any of the things I’ve done during this visit, other than the trip to Caminito Del Rey with Tony and David.  That first week was a busy one, as besides Tony being here staying (and walking) with me, David and Gail were in their own apartment downstairs too.  So, it was a socially busy week too.

https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/a-week-of-walking/

One day, during the second week, David and I walked up to Mijas for coffee and then back down via a light lunch at the Peña Caballista La Retama De Mijas.  I also did more scootering this week; which meant that I did: first a scoot, then desayuno somewhere and then an hour or so on the beach, before coming back to complete any work that I had.  

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Desayuno – Cafe Costa Del Sol

I also spent some time with David and Gail on an occasional evening, when they introduced me to new places (new to me) in Los Boliches and Fuengirola.  Then, towards the end of the second week I drove to Gibraltar and stayed with James on the Friday, before being taken canyoning on the Saturday – what a great day that was.

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2018/06/25/canyoning/

This final week has been quieter, but no less sociable.  Jim and Yvette turned up late last week, so I spent the better part of a day with them walking up and down the boardwalk at Cala de Mijas and then another day with them retracing the walk Tony and I did to Benalmádena Pueblo, Torremuelle and then back up from Los Boliches.

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I feel fitter and more energised now than I did back in the UK and can hopefully continue with the sociability and activity upon my return to England, especially as the weather seems to be good there too.37289398095_722fe5ca39_n

Nevertheless, any of that will depend on the mundane/stressful ‘home’ things like visiting mum and talking to dad.  

Also, Betony is due to give birth this coming weekend and our house move has been delayed again (is now planned for mid-July).  

Yet, despite all of that, I am looking forward very much to seeing Sharon again, as I have missed her very much.

Ultimate Rock Adventures

See:

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2018/06/25/canyoning/

For more about this month (June 2018)