Monday 28 October 2013

Andalucia part 3

Thank you for bearing with me. This is the final installment of our Spanish adventure. 
A wonderfully authentic bar. Hams over the counter and horse pictures on the walls, along with an enormous boar and a stuffed deer. Sugar sachets on the floor where they were discarded after the men came in for their coffee. Everybody said hello to everyone else.

We had a cheese and tomato crostini and a coffee apiece. In total it came to 5 euros, which is £4.00. I said 'cinco?' in surprise. She nodded and I said 'solo?!' She nodded again and smiled. As we left we heard all the locals retelling the story and copying the intonation and pitch of my 'solo?!'
On the way back, there was a little old lady sat on that chair chopping beans to the sound of flamenco on the radio, while her cat lazed in the shade. Like everyone, she offered a greeting. 

I tried my best Spanglish out on everyone I could. When it comes to foreign languages, I know no shame and make a little go a long way. I had a lovely chat with an elderly couple in Granada. When I said 'Buenos dias' to them they turned to me and smiled as though I was the person in the world they most wanted to see right then. Such kindness transcends language. The man in the supermarket was really chatty when I said 'hola!' with a grin. Wanted to know all about us. I forgot the word for England, but we got there in the end.
This little doggy was out for an evening stroll with a group of local people. It was running after us and jumping up to say hello. We were laughing and talking to it. The people pointed at the dog and said 'verrrrrrrrry sweeeet'.
Did I enjoy myself? Yes, I never wanted to leave.

Friday 25 October 2013

Andalucia part 2

Alhama de Granada, set high up in the mountains. Such was its desirability that when the Moors lost it to the Spanish in 1482,  Abu Al-Hacen famously let out a lament of sorrow '¡Ay de mi Alhama!'  I felt a bit the same when it was time to leave.
Hibiscus in the grounds of the Hotel Vinuela where we went for a posh lunch.
In the afternoons, the first clue would be the sound of bells, and then they would appear, led by a goatherd. They are quite playful, fighting each other, bleating and occasionally almost jumping. Goat's cheese is a speciality in the area.
Beautiful ceramics. If I was coming back by car, I would be laden down with them.
Seems it's not just mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun
The sun setting over our olive groves

Time for a trip indoors I think. Want a peek?

Monday 21 October 2013

Andalucia part 1

We've been to sunny Spain. Viva Espana!

Andalucia is a magical, enchanting place. It has arid landscapes which produce succulent fruits and almost inhospitable temperatures which produce gracious, welcoming people.

Oranges, peaches, olives, limes, lemons, pomegranates, almonds, prickly pears. Everywhere you look there is bounty. Today is mainly about our little villa. It's a 200 year old one storey dwelling, built to withstand the heat. Thick walls, small windows, tiled floors. Just perfect.

It has no real address, just the name of the house and the village, Periana, which is famous for olive oil production. The second picture down is the 'road' to the villa. It's just a track by the side of olive groves.

Goat's bells and prickly pears
A shy donkey in an olive grove just below our house. The sound of braying floated up to us by the pool.
Alhama de Granada. Perfection.
Frigiliana. The guide books say it is one of the prettiest white villages in the area. It was too perfect for me. Like a stage set for tourists. Reminded me of that soap opera from the 1990s, El Dorado. I prefer a place to be lived in, real. It was the only place we encountered a surly waiter. I wonder if that is a necessary ingredient of famously beautiful places? It was the same in Dubrovnik. 

We went to Periana, Viluena, Frigiliana, Granada, Alhama de Granada and Nerja, but mainly we hung out at our villa. Do you fancy a tour?

Monday 7 October 2013

Take the road signposted North. When you get there, take a right turn towards the East

We've had this on the mantelpiece for months, a golden invitation to an autumn wedding up in the beautiful Yorkshire dales.

Him indoors is a Yorkshire man. I've noticed the further north we go, the happier he gets. Roots are important.

The wedding was designed in what was coined by one of the bridesmaids as bling minimalism. The colours were gold and white with the bride's Chinese heritage coming through strongly. Monkeys for the boys, horses for the girls as those are the Chinese horoscopes of the bride and groom.

We walked across fields on the Saturday to help set up for the reception. It was a beautiful day so I wore sandals. In a phrase that I like to use as to challenge the Universe, I said, 'What's the worst that can happen?'

If the Universe were on a dating website, I think it could allow itself a GSOH*. How do you suppose it responded?

Food glorious food! We ate like kings. Every guest was given a favour of a jar of honey from the groom's mother's apiary.

Carpaccio of red, golden and candy striped beetroot with goats cheese, mint leaves and flower petals and some kind of dressing. I felt like I'd wandered onto Master Chef.

The venue was Broughton Hall, a 16th century pile which has been in the same family forever. The week before, the weather was shocking and Cindy told me that the venue had asked her what her contingency plan was. I didn't quite understand what she meant until I realised that the wedding was actually outside. In Yorkshire, at the end of September.
Brave, but the gods were on their side.

The wedding took place at Eden and the reception at Utopia. One guest said they sounded like tacky nightclubs. Rest assured, they were anything but.

Late at night, the garden lit up with strings of bulbs and tea lights. It was magical. The heavens were filled with stars. We walked home down country lanes which were pitch black and entirely silent.

The following day on the drive home, I saw this. It was a sign. ;)

So off we popped to Gargrave. What did I find there?

A chinoiserie table and a carved wooden Siamese temple dancer. A fitting end to a weekend with an Oriental twist.

This weekend I haven't done much, but today we went for a walk. 
Any bloggers posting OBDs**: I'll see you and raise you! Who's the daddy now?

*Good sense of humour
*Obligatory blogging deers