September has always been my favourite month in Spain. Best temperatures, kids back at school, a bit less crowded on the beaches.
Still working through a diary full of random commitments in the UK, I could only find a 16-day window to be in Colmenar. But it was a packed 16 days! I had a hire car from the airport just for two days, while l picked up the Seat Ibiza from Antonio (the mechanic). The next day, Jenny and George from the U3A Poole Spanish conversation group completed the massive feat of driving over from their house in Valencia to visit me. They’d explored all their own area over the years and were venturing further afield. We had a lovely day, me showing off the delights of Colmenar including lunch at the Arco del Sol where Antonio (the bar) was delightful as ever and helped them improve their Spanish.
The next day, Gordon arrived and I did “the airport run” for the first time. The car behaved well and got us safely home at 2,400 feet (where Gordon, living in the Lake District at a mere 331 feet, was at risk of altitude sickness!). There was sightseeing to do, beginning with El Día de las Pasas, the Day of the Raisins, in the lakeside village of La Viñuela. We went for a lovely ramble out beyond the village, looking for where the raisins are laid out to dry. Didn’t find them but the walk was well worth doing just for the scenery.
Gordon paid his “rent” by making his quota of papier-mache briquettes to add to my winter fuel supply, while also managing to find inspiration on the middle terrace to unblock a problem in his current novel. We took advantage of a slightly cloudy day to walk down to Riogordo, and enjoyed the landscape so much that we turned it into a big circular walk and climbed all the way back up to Colmenar. A walk that needs to be done monthly, to watch the changing seasons in the campo. Plus we squeezed in a trip to the coast, the main purpose of which was lunch at Torre Del Mar’s best chiringuito (beach restaurant), but which did enable me to buy duvets for the cooler nights in October. One day Marianne and Geoff from Cómpeta visited. Marianne is a fellow Axarquía blogger and sets the monthly photo challenge that l take part in. It was great to put faces to the names, and they too enjoyed Antonio’s hospitality at Arco del Sol.
Gordon’s visit seemed all too short. He finished his visit by treating me to a superb lunch at Pilar’s where we over-indulged on bison steak and oxen. Antonio (the mechanic) delivered the car to us at Pilar’s having successfully got it through its ITV test (MOT-equivalent) just in time to take Gordon back to the airport.
Only a couple of days without guests, so with the sheets washed and the fridge restocked, l took myself off to Casabermeja for the goat festival (see blog post 22). Some of the Riogordo women came over to Colmenar having leafletted the village dog show with fliers for their country fair and dog show later in the month and we met up for a coffee.
And then it was time for the airport run again, this time to collect Sarah. Very bravely she had booked herself onto a 3-day intensive beginners’ course in Spanish at Axalingua, the language school in Colmenar. After a windy first night she had a slightly chaotic first day as Telefónica came to repair my line (fortunately he said the problem was an old fixing, whereas l knew it was because l’d yanked it out rather too vigorously when squirting the ants behind it). Lunch at Arco del Sol seemed to make up for it, with Antonio feeding us well and being rather delighted with the number of different friends l was bringing to his restaurant!
We had only one chance to go out in the car so decided to visit Benamargosa, and Su’s charming craft centre La Vaquería (the cowshed!). l then introduced Sarah to Bar CO2 so that she had somewhere to retreat for a beer after the stress of her language lessons.
Then with some final instructions to Sarah about closing windows and locking up, l left my little casita in her capable hands and took the Seat Ibiza down to the coast to park while l flew back to Dorset to fulfil a training commitment and see friends left behind. I didn’t realise I was leaving her to deal with the nearby storms and flooding, but fortunately Colmenar escaped the damage which so sadly affected villages only a little further north and west.
It was nice to have the house full, and it’s nice when the visitors go away again! I like sharing it, and l value my time there alone. New routines are beginning to emerge, new networks are developing, and l’m exploring on foot and on four wheels the surrounding campo. I’m pleased to go back to Dorset and see friends, but the pull is strong …… I need to spend more time in Spain.
© Tamara Essex 2012