8 – The “Other” Campo

You know when you buy some new clothes, or some new cups or plates, or even a new beachtowel, you really love the new one and get rather obsessed with it?  But then over time you start using the old ones again and allow them a new lease of life, rescuing them from the dark corner to which they had been banished?

Well I have clearly been guilty of this.  Despite deliberately entitling this blog “A Foot in Two Campos”, I have so far focused entirely on my exciting new venture, the charming little casita in Colmenar.  But in between my ever-lengthening trips to Spain, I am fortunate to live in the beautiful North Dorset countryside – a charming campo in its own right.  At the moment Shaftesbury town (famous for Gold Hill which appeared in the iconic Ridley Scott advert for Hovis), is bedecked with bunting, the shops are decorated with Union flags, and the town – like most of the country – is revelling in Olympic spirit.

Last month the Olympic Flame came right past my cottage. It was a wonderful day, still a good few weeks before the Olympics began, and was a great beginning to the games.



And earlier in the spring we celebrated the 8th Shaftesbury Feastival of Local Food.  A new event this year was the Gold Hill Cheese Race, in which competitors had to run UP the hill carrying 22kg cheeses!

It’s a small, mostly friendly town.  Just like Colmenar, Shaftesbury is surrounded by villages, hamlets, and isolated farmhouses which use the town as their centre for banking, shopping, and often selling.  I’m not a Shaftesbury native, I’m guilty of being an “incomer” of a mere eleven years.  But my professional work supporting charities was a useful way in, and I became a Trustee of a couple of small local charities which was a good way of meeting people and feeling useful.  Starting the Shaftesbury Feastival of Local Food 8 years ago was a great way of getting to know a lot of farmers, food producers, and delicatessens!

There are many parallels between Shaftesbury and Colmenar.  Similar size, similar rurality.  Of particular interest is the fact that many people choose to retire to Shaftesbury, which now has a higher-than average age profile. The town has therefore developed an elasticity, expanding to include incomers.  Similarly, the campo around Colmenar has a good sprinkling of ex-pats (though less than half are British).  In the town centre there are only a few non-Spanish, and the Spanish neighbours say they have no concerns about foreigners moving in.  Indeed they say it helps the local economy and helps to ensure that independent shops, the post office, and the two banks, remain open.  Surprisingly, I’ve heard more of the “pull up the drawbridge” mentality in Shaftesbury, where frankly the incomers are unlikely to do much damage, than I have in Colmenar, where surely the locals must be acutely aware of the carnage on parts of the Costas, wrought largely by the British elements of the ex-pat community.

Inevitably this blog will continue to look at similarities and differences between my two home towns.

© Tamara Essex 2012

3 thoughts on “8 – The “Other” Campo

  1. I love the compariison of the two towns. This blog is delightfully friendly and apealing. How is it you found a slice of heaven in two countries so different from one an other. I love the description of your original town Shaftesbury. I do hope to visit there one day. Althought Colmenar does have all that is described in your blog . One day before I left recently I say on the patio by the church, above the town and I was the only female amongst all the older Spanish spepaking men , who were , I assume, retired.. I was watching my little granddaguhter play with a little boy her age. The men were speaking in their native language so t here was a lot of nodding and smiling when I was commuinicating with them They were very friendly and didn’t make me fell uncomfortable made me feel very welcome. There truly is a warm sense of community . With the ever increasing number of English speaking people moving to this town , there is going to be a definite change in this little town. The acceptance is remarkable. How do these older /retired citizens of Colmenar manage to climb the hills here. they are real troupers. So keep on trucking. Oh another amazing observation, these people are so kind to us who do not speak the language and offer insturction to learn a new word or two. Love that Colmenar.so I am sure I would love Shaftesbury.
    Cheers, susan

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