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Only Joe King

A light-hearted look at life in Andalucía and Spain in general. Its good points and its bad. This blog doesn't pull any punches.

Serendipity X - Ambushed on the bridge, accosted at the petrol station and mugged at the Olive Tree
Thursday, December 14, 2023 @ 10:57 PM

By Joe King

Serendipity seems to play a large part in my life. Unanticipated happenings that turn out to be very pleasurable. In the last two days, I’ve been ambushed, accosted, and mugged. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I assure you it wasn’t! Here in chronological order is what happened to me on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.


A mugging at The Olive Tree

On Tuesday  evening my wife Rita and I and 15 others attended the Costa Press Club Christmas Party (CPCCP) in Cala de Mijas on the Costa del Sol.

The party/dinner was at the restaurant El Olivo (= Olive Tree).

On arrival we met two new people. Sabine von Reth, a German from Frankfurt, was a new member. Her husband René, from Essen, was her guest.

Rita is also German and I speak the language pretty well (very well, actually!), so the four of us decided to sit together at the dinner table.


It emerged that this German couple, with no experience of the hospitality industry, had opened three “Bavarian Beerhouses” in London, some 15 years ago, the first of their kind in the UK.

Together they had written a book, in English, about their experiences. It is called “Prost!” (Cheers!). They had brought one copy along to the dinner – I’d been mugged, as I felt compelled to buy it! No, not at all, I wanted to. I’m a sucker for books! I must own thousands and I find it hard to part with any of them.

I’ve already made a start on reading it.







Ambushed at the petrol station

After the CPC Christmas dinner, the Christmas Quiz and the Secret Santa exchange of gifts, we headed back to the nearby hotel we had pre-booked.


The following morning, up early as usual and in urgent need of a coffee, I headed out on foot. The only place serving caffeine-based drinks at this ungodly hour was the the local gasolinera de BP.

It was full of workers; astonishingly most of them were young British men.

After a while I got into conversation with Jordan, a 36-year-old from Liverpool, just finishing off a contract locally. Via his company “Abstract”, Jordan offers polished plaster, textured designs, bespoke walls and luxurious finishes to wealthy clients in the UK, Spain, Israel and Italy. And elsewhere too.

After establishing that we might have some common ground, better said, synergy, we eagerly exchanged telephone numbers, email addresses and website URLs.

We said our farewells; he needed to work and I needed to go back to our hotel for breakfast.


Accosted on the bridge

Today, as I was crossing the Puente Nuevo in Ronda on foot to visit an art exhibition at El Convento, I was accosted by a very attractive young lady.

My luck’s in! I thought.

Not at all. Sara Alés Ortega simply realised that, despite looking every inch a “guiri”, I was a fluent Spanish speaker and an avid reader!

Sara had just published a book, "La esencia de lo primitivo", describing her experience of walking the Camino de Santiago. This has been something ever present on my bucket list, but alas, I think it’s now unlikely, unless I do the motorised version!

Back to Sara. She was selling her books from her tote bag at 15€ a copy. I negotiated her down to 10€ on the grounds that I promised to write a favourable review on my website,, the independent “bible” for all things Ronda.


Deal done, we exchanged contact details, money and a kiss on each cheek, and I trotted off to my art exhibition, in a better mood than I had been in previously.







Serendipity of the highest quality. In three consecutive days I’d acquired two very interesting books, by Sabine and Sara, and a potentially lucrative contact in Jordan!

¡Feliz Navidad!


©  Joe King


Photographs: Paul Whitelock


Tags: "Abstract", Bavarian Beerhouse, bucket list, Cala de Mijas, Camino de Santiago, Christmas, Costa Press Club, CPC, CPCCP, El Convento, Essen, Frankfurt, gasolinera de BP, German, guiri, Joe King, "La esencia de lo primitivo", "Prost!", Puente Nuevo, René von Reth, Ronda, Sabine von Reth, Sara Alés Ortega, serendipity, synergy

Like 1


Stinkey said:
Sunday, December 17, 2023 @ 10:12 AM

Wonderful article and I'm totally envious of your linguistic talents,which sadly I've tried in vain for many years to aquire, and now the wife's dragged me back to England, my chances have diminished even further? Felin navidad good sir

AOK said:
Sunday, December 17, 2023 @ 10:15 AM

Come on, serendipity be dammed!. Surely, these are normal life experiences. Helps to promote others books and services though! (lol)

PablodeRonda said:
Sunday, December 17, 2023 @ 9:11 PM

Hi. This is Joe King's alter ego. Thanks for your comments.

Stinkey, I'm glad you like my piece. I enjoyed the serendipitous experiences I had, and also writing about them.

AOK. I'm sorry you didn't like what I wrote. But I still maintain they were serendipitous. According to the American Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of serendipity is "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for". I rest my case.

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