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177 – Forty Days

 

Forty-four days.

I go for my morning walk, my feet heading automatically to the Enchanted Place.  The almond blossom is just finishing, and the grass smells fresh.  The view is clear, across to the rocky outcrop that so dominates the village, across to our big mountain, with just a touch of snow on its peak, down to the neighbouring village, and back through the frame of the almond trees to the village that I call home.  I shake off the worries, the cloud that hangs over, and turn back, retracing my steps and round to the bakery where Gloria puts my bread roll in a bag as I enter, without waiting for me to ask. Continue reading

175 – Finding Luck

The tradition began a few years ago.  A coachload of villagers from my pueblo and a nearby one had gone off on a holiday together to Almería in the autumn.  On one of the excursions, somebody said they wanted to nip off and buy a Christmas lottery ticket.  Suddenly everyone around decided to go too, and the coach returned from Roquetas del Mar with people clutching over 200 of the precious lottery tickets, for themselves and for presents within their families. Continue reading

171 – Four Breakfasts and a Barbecue

Another month, another “escapada”.  This time to Cádiz, a city I had overlooked for far too long.  Three nights in probably the best-located Airbnb flat anywhere, with a terrace looking directly onto the tower of the impressive cathedral.  It was the flat of Francesca and Carlos – for me the real benefit of the Airbnb system is being able to stay with locals and get their tips about things to see and places to eat.    Continue reading

170 – Una Escapada

 

Juan-Jesús was probably about seven, though hard to tell.  He’d been staring at me in the bar earlier, where I’d been chatting to a charming old guy about the provenance of the local jamón.  The old fella had offered some useful tips about villages I should visit between Huelva and Extremadura.  Obviously the child had spotted my accent, and seemed captivated by it.  Continue reading

168 – Space For Two Campos

168-brenan“Seen through Mediterranean eyes, we English are a cautious, fussy, elderly-minded people, living without large ideas among a litter of temporary expedients: far too taken up with the problems our muddle creates for us to have much faculty left for practising the arts of life.”  Thus wrote Gerald Brenan on his return to England after the tour of Spain about which he wrote in “The Face of Spain” (1950).  Spain had captivated him, as it does so many of us, yet he at least in part fell into the trap of seeing the host country through rose-tinted spectacles, and seeing only the negatives of the home nation. Continue reading