I have just realized it’s almost December so time for another blog. When we first came to Spain I vowed to myself to publish a blog once a month and have almost but not quite stuck to it in the 3 and a quarter years we have lived here. I’ve only missed a couple so decided I’d better get on with it in what is left of this month! We’d just got back from Naples at the end of the last instalment, having travelled there and back via the UK with a quick family visit thrown in to see our grandchildren. Ironically the day after we got back I heard that my sister was very poorly in hospital and so I fairly quickly arranged to fly back to the UK, stay with a friend nearby, support my sister and if time, add in a quick visit to Richard and Aoife in London. There wouldn’t be time to visit Bolton again on this occasion.

Sunrise en route to the airport

Before I set off again, this time from Alicante as there weren’t any suitable flights from our favoured nearby airport of Murcia, the en suite renovation began. The old one was swiftly removed and progress began first with making good and tiling and then plumbing and unit fitting. There were a couple of hiccups along the way causing slight delay and it wasn’t finished until after I got back again. But thankfully we had the main bathroom to use and the spare bedroom and it sure was worth waiting for. We still need to purchase some accessories, like towel rails, loo roll holder and drawer organisers but there is no rush for that. It’s quite a transformation and I love it!!!

The Before pics……..

The After pics…….

My week in the UK was very busy, arriving at Luton airport in the pouring rain. My sister was out of hospital by the time I arrived. My friends, Jean and Peter and their lovely dog Ayesha made me very welcome at their home in Barton le Clay and drove me up to Huntingdon and back twice to where Janet lives.

Ayesha the marmalute

I stayed with Janet for three nights and was able to support her, she was very glad of my company and help. I saw my nephew, David who lives in Cambridge and he came and picked us up for a walk in the country park. I met his very energetic young dog, Juno for the first time; a chocolate labrador who loves swimming!

The middle weekend of my week in the UK gave me a chance to catch a train down to London and see Richard and Aoife in their new home. Another lovely warm welcome ensued and we had a grand few hours together in and around Blackheath where they now live, we wandered from Blackheath to Greenwich, sampled the beer/coffee in a few local hostelries, walked along the Thames, had a very good lunch with Aoife’s mum joining us and it was great to be back in my home city for a short while. Would I want to live there again? No chance but great for short visits!

Richard and Aoife, spending time with them is such a tonic!
All Saints Church, Blackheath
The Cutty Sark, Greenwich

Richard had to leave for a flight to Germany for work early on the Monday morning but Aoife was working from home so after a leisurely breakfast and shower, I set off back on the train to London Bridge station and treated myself to a trip up the Shard. It was a beautiful clear, dry day with good views across the city. My emotions got the better of me as I stood looking down at Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, so many poignant family and happy childhood memories. Fortunately I had plenty of tissues!

Our lovely mum, digitised from a slide circa 1980. This would seem an appropriate moment to include it. Shame she closed her eyes!

After the Shard, I caught a 149 bus to Stoke Newington, where I spent my childhood and teenage years, for a nostalgia trip.

Our grace and favour Stoke Newington House, the Manse for the church next door, where my mum was caretaker for many years. (Sadly the church was knocked down for flats years ago.) We first lived in the basement, then when the Minister moved out we moved upstairs.

I had a long wander around, looked at our old home and my Primary and Grammar school. A very nostalgic trip, some parts still very familiar, others completely unrecognisable. After that I was glad to get back on a train to Luton, where Jean picked me up and I spent the evening back at Barton before returning to Janet’s for another couple of nights.

I was able with a little persuasion, to get Janet to come out for a short walk, the first time she had been out since before her hospital admission. She really enjoyed it but it was tiring for her.

Back in Spain, despite having to wait a few days for the completion of the en- suite, we’ve just got back from a week away in the campervan. We headed off to the Alpujarran mountains, just south east of Granada in Andalucia. The weather continues to be dry and fine although the temperatures are now lower and it was cold at night. Those of you who have facebook will have seen most of these pics but I’ll add just a few of this charming area which we have wanted to visit for some time. Not to be outdone, it was my turn to have a fall this time, I tripped on a tree root at the bottom of some steps in the dark, in spite of having a headtorch on and ended up on my bottom! Ouch, it was painful but nothing broken. To add insult to injury, the restaurant we were heading for was closed!!!

Pampaneira, it was a dark and scary night…….what could possibly go wrong???
I still bear the bruises but I’m not showing you!
Pampaneira by daylight! We also drove up to the two villages above, Bubion and Capiliera, the top one, from where, climbing up to a mirador, we could see Mulhacen, Spain’s highest mountain not very far away in the Sierra Nevada. There was a sprinkling of snow on top.
Shame about the pylons but that’s Mulhacen with the snow on in the distance, pic taken from our journey towards the sea when we were leaving the Alpujarras, We spent a night at the little white village clinging to the hillside to the left of the left hand pylon, Mairena.

We bought some hand made rugs in Pampaneira which is one of the reasons we wanted to visit. The canines approve!! It was very hard to choose but we decided to steer away from our favoured maroon shades of latter years and go for blues.

Demonstration time!
New rectangular rug for the lounge
New runner for the corridor into the kitchen
New runner for beside the bed. Ditto can now jump up and down without his back legs skidding all over the place!
Guadix cathedral. We spent our first night on the way to the Alpujarras area here, a lively town.

The Alpujurras, the valley between the Sierra Nevada to the north and the Sierra Contraviesa to the south was the last refuge of the Moors following the final Christian Conquest of Spain, when the Moors were ousted from their capital, Granada. Wholesale bloodshed was avoided by allowing the Moors to flee – some back to North Africa, but others were allowed to settle in the Alpujarras – where some of their traditions exist to this day in architecture, farming (high altitude apricot cultivation) and rug making. 

Orgiva, at the western entrance to the valley is known for its centuries old olive trees, some of which were planted by the Moors when they arrived there in the 16th century. Unfortunately for this photographer the best examples are behind fences but …

Looking back towards Mairena where we spent our second night
These rocks were used to drain oil from the olives in ancient times, you can see the drainage groove that allowed for collection of the oil
Looking towards the olive oil rock collection point above
Peppers drying on a verandah in Trevélez, the highest settlement in mainland Spain, where we spent the third night at just over 1,500 metres.
A jamon curer and supplier in Trevélez.
Many of the houses like this one in Capiliera have well established vines growing up them from the ground!

After our mountain fix, we headed towards the sea so that the boys could have a good run on the beach, and boy did they have fun!!!! And Nigel got his bike out and had a cycle up to this tower.

Torre del Pirulico, south of Mojacar
Just to prove he got to the top, he took this photo looking towards the south
And looking back down the spiral staircase…..
Beach boys
The beach south of Mojacar
Poco sleeping off his run on the beach
When we got home from our trip we tried to light the pellet burner for the first time this season…it wouldn’t light, the culprit was this desiccated gecko who had dropped down the chimney into the fan housing! Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long for a call out to fix it.

Next week we are heading for a mini break to Barcelona. We have house sitters arriving to look after the boys and we are flying from Murcia to Barcelona on a new scheduled flight that only starts next month.

Hasta Luego todos