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Biking & Baking in Las Alpujarras

We've been in Spain for over 4 years now - plus 4 motorbikes - and a horse - join us for the ride!

Our Dusty Paradise
Tuesday, December 2, 2014

At last I've managed to finish my book about our life here in the mountains of Andalucía!  This has taken over from the Blog and been difficult to complete due to my cancer treatments, but at last it's in the public arena!  It's called Our Dusty Paradise and is available on Amazon Books and Amazon Kindle Books, at very reasonable prices.  The Kindle version has (colour) photographs too.

I hope some of you will read it and find places, people and events that you 'recognise,' even if you live outside our patch.  It might make a good Xmas present for folks back home, to encourage them to visit this lovely (if dusty!) spot.  Book number 2 is already in the making...


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Walk and Talk with Chris Stewart!
Sunday, August 17, 2014

One of our friends and valley neighbours is Chris Stewart, writer, raconteur and generally nice guy with whom we have discussed a wide variety of topics ranging from rare spiders to classical music, cooking to sheep-shearing.  Now there's an opportunity for you to enjoy his company too!  Here's a tempting offer:

In just 3 week’s time, from 6 – 13 September, Chris (author of the best- selling book Driving over Lemons) is leading a walking holiday up in the Alpujarras.  The week includes walks to Chris'

favourite places, and it's based at a gorgeous boutique guest house called Casa Ana, in the charming white village of

Ferreirola.  There’s a professional chef who'll be be providing gourmet dinners and there's a lunch at Chris' cortijo El Valero,

as featured in his books.

I saw that they are offering a late booking discount: €200 off the price of a holiday for two people. See this link:

You can contact the organiser Anne Hunt of Casa Ana at for more information, and do mention that you saw the offer on this blog, just so we know where interest has come from.







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Hello again!
Monday, June 16, 2014

It's been a long time (too long) since I posted a new Blog and for that I apologise.  Life has been busy (my health, the horse, writing, gardening) and my focus has been directed elsewhere.  The motorbiking has taken second place (except for watching Marquez of course) and the baking comes a long way down the list of priorities at the moment...but life in our little village continues and we are still happily chuntering along.

Right now, my partner Steve is somewhere on Mulhacén, or on his way to Veleta, in the company of Chris Stewart (Driving Over Lemons), Fit Nick and Glenn, Nick's brother.  These heroic chaps are walking the famous Integral to raise funding for a good cause...Acompalia is a newly-formed charity planning to build and run a palliative & hospice care unit in Granada...a new idea here in Spain but much needed by expats and locals alike.  I might need it myself one fine day!

Anyway...the 4 day walk should include as many peaks over 3000m as they can manage (15 is the target, 8 would be good), sleeping out under the stars where possible and keeping up some kind of reportage as they go along.  The SpanishHighs website has a 'yellow brick' live route map running and has provided crampons and ice-axes (it's due to snow up there tonight) and if you want to donate, go to the website.  I did have the fine idea of riding my horse up there, taking a roast chicken and a bottle of wine, to surprise them on the last day, but it would be too easy to miss them and have to chomp/gurgle my way back down the mountain on my own.

Talking of lovely girl is doing well though we're back into mosca season  so fly masks are us...and she will be 6 in July!  That's quite mature for a horse but also means that she's entering her most robust decade...I had a fall before Christmas (cantering too fast through the woods when she got a fright) so I must remember to slow down and keep control.  We ride once a week with friends so she's getting a bit more 'socialisation' than previously.  Next Blog will tell the tale of her encounters with my neighbour's  'bloody donkey' and its shennanigans.  And I might even manage a recipe for...wild cherry pie!

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Chutney days...
Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's been a while since I posted and for that I apologise.  Life with a horse changes everything and there seems to be less time for writing, thinking, using the internet, baking or biking!!  Summer is disappearing fast (though these autumn days are beautiful and warm) and we feel sure that another 3 or 4 weeks will see the first snows up on Mulhacen.

So what's new - or newsworthy?  I'm a grandmother, which is a novelty...I'm on the final FINAL edit of my book about our village life...Steve has done his back again and been told to do muscle strengthening exercises (him?  mountain man?)...and Canela continues to be a delight.  The farrier came up from Motril on Tuesday and shod her front feet, just in time, as the shoes had worn very thin in 9 weeks.  She behaved very well, almost snoozing at one point, but we had a good long canter the next day to blow off the cobwebs.

I have managed to do some culinary stuff and here´s my own recipe for Green Tomato Chutney - I guess we all have our favourites:

3 lbs green tomatoes, 4 large cooking or 'tart' apples, 2 small cucumbers, 3 large onions, 6 oz stoned prunes, 12 oz demerera sugar, 2 tbsp mustard powder, 1.5 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp cayenne, 1.5 tbsp salt , 1 pt vinegar (red wine or cider will do fine).

Remove stalks from the tomatoes and peel from the apples; skin the onions and cucumbers.  Chop/slice everything small, for easy spreading on bread or cheese or jamón, and put all ingredients into a good-sized pan. Bring to the boil, allow to simmer for 2 - 3 hours or until quite soft, stirring frequently.  Pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal.  When cool, keep in a dark, dry place or in the fridge, or simply give away to your friends!!  We find it´s so delicious, we eat it up in no time at all.

Tomorrow is a medical day...blood tests and X-rays, but I am doing so well that I usually forget that I have a terminal condition...well, that's what life is anyway isn't it? None of us will get out of it alive!!

Hasta luego XXX


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Quick tapas
Sunday, August 18, 2013

We've grown some very small green peppers this year with just one thing in mind...tapas...they're delicious quick-fried and salted and eaten with a glass of cerveza!  Also on the quick tapas list are lightly toasted almonds, garlic cloves soaked in olive oil (though of course these need to have been marinaded long before), langoustines cooked with chili, ginger and garlic...and peeled pepinos cut lengthwise and lightly salted.  I'm sure everyone has their favourites.

12 of us sat down to dine recently, outdoors in a beautiful garden setting, and after many delicious such tapas we ate homemade kebabs of lamb or pork with peppers, fresh salad, creamy potato with garlic and lots of runner beans with butter.  Puddings (various) included homemade tiramisu, chocolate brownie with hazelnuts and little custard cakes bought in Granada.  All washed down with some excellent wines and liqueurs to follow.  Thank goodness we were walking home, not driving!

Pitres fiesta has been and gone...they lost to Trevelez in the Futbol Grand Final but as ever it was a colourful it's the turn of Ferreirola to send up the fireworks...and almost a full moon too.  Splendid!


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Summertime...Canela...a new bike perhaps
Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's one of those hot, lazy Sundays in July...the horse and I had an early morning ride while it was cool, Steve tuned in to the MotoGP from Germany, I baked a cake for a friend's 60th... but now we're all ready for a siesta.  A glass of tinto de verano (red wine, fizzy water and ice) makes that part even more likely!  Yesterday we went to the beach for a couple of hours and swam in the delicious, cooling waters, then checked out the Castell de Ferro flea market (not really worth the effort), winding up with supper in Casa Julio in Pampaneira.  Home cooking and local dishes, plus lovely family who run it...a Menu del Dia for only 8 euros...highly recommended!!

I hope that, like us, everyone round here is stuffing themselves with cherries, mulberries, raspberries...other fresh produce from the garden...and saying goodbye to spring flowers, green grass and even the best blooms of jasmine and geranium.  That sun is doing its summer business, as usual. 

Canela is getting easier to ride all the time.  With a little bit of honey on it, she now takes the bit with alacrity and has learnt to stand still when I get on - 'Wait!'' is the command until I'm in the saddle.  Her 'water jumps' are more controlled and she only freaks at very sudden and unexpected movement...thank you to all the car drivers who slow down, turn off their ghetto blasters and don't toot their horns.  Mind you, I get some funny requests e.g. people wanting me to take photos of them beside a fountain (where do I put my gloves, little whip, the reins, the moving horse?) or give them complex directions to some remote town, from a narrow pathway high on the sierra...

Last but definitely not least, the Man is thinking of a new motorbike and trading in 1 or 2 of the ones in his stable...I believe that a  BMW 650 is high on his list of desirable alternatives...he's just done a run to the French border and back with a friend and has been re-inspired.  Says the Albacete to Granada road is something special so we may try for a short trip sometime in the autumn when the temperatures moderate a bit.  I believe it's pretty warm in the UK at the moment, probably perfect riding weather, on wheels or 4 legs!

Well, I can feel my eyes closing...a quick zzzzizzzz....

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Summer at last!
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Suddenly we seem to be into summertime mode: shorts, sandals, siestas and a lot of sunshine!  Luckily the temperatures up here in the mountains are not too high yet and there are cooling breezes drifting guys and gals down on the coast or inland near Sevilla must be beginning to feel it.  The best part of the day is about 8am...or 8pm...and the landscape is still lush and green, full of birdsong and flowers.

My horse is doing well although she doesn't like flies - or fly repellent - and is still adapting to country life.  The trip to Lobras (in winds, rain and chilly temperatures) resulted in a sprained wrist and thumb for me which I am still coping with, and a few frights along the way.  But the actual event was great - have a look on YouTube for Lobrasan Horse Races, 2012 and, soon, 2013, to get a flavour.  All good amateur fun.

We are told that there will be a motorbike event next Sunday 9 June in Mecina Fondales, but I haven't seen any posters or adverts...if I find oút more I'll post it here...then start polishing the C90!!!


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Riding, riding, riding...
Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's been a busy few weeks but I've found a new dietary formula...just get a horse, put it on a piece of land up/down a hill and 15 minutes walk away, and you'll lose weight in no time at all!  By the time you've done 2 feeds per day, maybe a 3rd visit, various replenishings of water, checking hooves, grooming, never mind getting prepared and ready for a ride...and then riding/ will soon find a new, slimmer, fitter person emerging.  Exhausted sometimes of course and frustrated when simple tasks become tricky, but the enjoyment level is high nonetheless.

Tomorrow we ride to the Lobrasan horse weekend, which for us will be a spectator event but for some it includes horse 'races', gymkhana events and ladies in big hats!  Steve is on his way there now with the tent, sleeping gear, boxes of food and feed and wine.  The logistics and preparation took a while but it's not so different from a bike ride or a mountain walking expedition.  Pity the weather is imploding of course!  We've had some glorious days and the spring flowers are heavenly, but at this very moment it's raining quite hard and looking thundery.  My poor girl, out in her field, with just one tree to get under...the shelter is yet to be built although we have the timbers treated and next week could see it going up.

One of our good friends has bought himself a BMW 650cc, a few years old but very handsome; someone else has a new puppy...and we think a few kittens will arrive in the village shortly.  Friends have come and gone and more are arriving soon, many from Bonny peace for the wicked! 

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2 legs good, 4 legs better...
Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's been a while since the last post (?!) partly because of visiting family and friends and other social activities, and partly because of a new preoccupation...the imminent arrival of a four-legged resident on our land...Canela, a cinnamon-coloured 4.5 year old Andalusian mare.  Are we mad, we ask ourselves, and the answer has to be 'yes,' but the die is cast and we expect to install her in about 8 days time.  Meanwhile we are are trying to source electric solar fencing, materials for a wooden shelter and all the necessary basics to get her started.  Local horsey people have been wonderfully helpful and we have had 2 'experts' to ride her and help us to assess her temperament.  Thank you, Jo and Nadia!  I had ponies as a child and have ridden out here quite a lot (and in South America) but feel ignorant when it comes to owning a big horse or caring for one properly.  The newest book on the shelf is Monty Roberts, the 'horse whisperer' andd we are doing a lot of googling to inform ourselves on everything from saddle selection to removing ticks to checking hoofs.  Oh and having a good 'seat' too.  And at 6am some chap I know will have wandered down to the land to see his new girlfriend!   

Apart from that, what an amazingly summery couple of weeks we have had!  We recorded 44 degrees in the sun on the terrace at some point and everyone began to look suspiciously suntanned.  Yesterday we walked up the Poquiera valley towards Mulhacen and enjoyed the combination of a green valley, rushing waters, snowy peaks and warm all has changed and it's foggy, dull and cool.  But summer will return soon!


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Snow-shoeing in a blizzard...
Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our friend Anne has been trying to organise a snow-shoeing expedition for some weeks, but each time the weather has got in the way, or some other deterrent...finally we decided that today would be the day and 4 of us booked a session with the Navadensis chaps up at the Granada ski station.  Down in the valley all was green, with the occasional jewel-like oranges or pink almond blossom indicating spring...but up on the mountain it was another story altogether.  Threatening, dark clouds rolled around, a light drizzle was turning to fresh snow (at 10am) and some roads were already getting very narrow thanks to the drifting .  Visibility was poor.

But hey, we're British, we don't do negativity!  By 11.30am we were out on the mountainside (at 2500m perhaps), wrapped up in waterproofs, woolly hats, gloves etc with 'raquetas de nieve' on our feet and ski poles in our hands.  Buitre was our guide and we headed up the snowy slope into the stinging wind...this quickly became even heavier snow and a stronger wind as we climbed, until we were well past the Virgen de la Nieve monument and getting towards the top of a 'red' ski route; by this time we couldn't see anything much, although the odd skier passed by going down.  We were glad of our protective clothing and decent energy levels, but decided that we too should turn back after a couple of hours as it was all getting a bit risky; even Buitre wasn't sure of the route back in what was now a complete white-out and temperatures of about -10 with the wind chill factor and blizzarding snow.  When your hair turns stiff and white, your cheeks are sore and your eyes watering, and only your snow-shoes are stopping you from sinking or skidding over icy patches - it's time to go home!   We collected up a young Spaniard, Juan on the way down, suffering from a bit of altitude sickness and, I think, fear of where his troop of snow-shoers were going.  We were all glad when first the Military mountain refuge and then the Albergue de Juvilines came into view, although we still had a few miles to walk to reach our car and the main road.  It was 5pm by the time we left.

But we were not done...the road down to Granada was in chaos!  Very, very icy and full of traffic!  The World Finals for Snowboarding and Freestyle ski are taking place this week and next, so the resort is packed out, but many people had headed down to the city for a day in sunlight of some sort...and now they were coming back up to their hotels, without realising how bad the weather had been all day.  People had stopped to put on chains or because they were slipping about or, being in Spain, because they wanted to overtake the car in front but couldn't quite make it...and people like us going down the mountain were tending to do the same thing!  Result: a horrible mess!  It took a good hour to get clear and the only solution was to head for Lanjaron and hot chocolate with buñuelos to sustain us!

We enjoyed the actual snow-shoeing and will do some more;  we were glad of our sensible clothing and warm layers;  we thought Navadensis did us proud at 30 euros per head for a good 4 hrs; and Buitre was an excellent guide and a nice man.  But next time we want sunshine and a view, not the sensation of being adrift in Antarctica!!  Oh and some decent driving too!! Happy days!!

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