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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Was it something I said? The housing market has kicked off.
Saturday, May 14, 2022

The houses on either side of my casa de pueblo in Montejaque (Málaga) have both been sold this month.

If this had happened during the 18 months of sometimes noisy building work, I would have understood, but not now, when the drills, lump hammers and tile cutters are silent.

 

In actual fact neither house was occupied full time.

The first house to sell was the property to the right. The vendor has asked me not to write too much, so I'll leave it at that. Just to say that I understand that my new neighbours will be a Polish couple, who fell in love with this tasteful and stylish property the first time they viewed it. I've met them and they are buena gente (very nice people).

The house to the left is an old, surprisingly large village house in need of renovation. It was unoccupied but visited on a daily basis by one of the Spanish owners to water the large number of outside plants and to do a weekly clean. The new owners, two Spanish ladies, don’t live in the village, and I understand they’ve bought it as a weekend house.

 

House sales on the up

After 14 years of stagnation, caused by the financial crisis of 2008 and then the Coronavirus pandemic, the housing market in this area has picked up sharply. Since the turn of the year nearly a dozen houses have changed hands in Montejaque alone.

Buyers come from a range of countries, including Canada, France, Netherlands, Poland, UK and USA, as well as Spain. Prices range from under 100,000 to approaching half a million Euros.

Recently opened Andalucia Country Houses have played a prominent role, as has long-established local estate agent Montejaque Holiday Service. Most houses, however, are sold privately or using the traditional “corredor” system. Corredores (independent “estate agents”) typically charge a 2.5% commission, compared to the expensive 5% charged by agencias inmobiliarias.



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Dos de mayo
Monday, May 2, 2022

Yesterday, Sunday 1 May, was International Workers’ Day, but the bank holiday has been shifted to today in Spain, the UK and many other countries. Not, somewhat surprisingly, in Germany, however. In that country, if a bank holiday falls at the weekend, tough! Workers lose that day. So, if, for example, Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall on a Saturday and Sunday, the following Monday and Tuesday are normal working days. In this example, New Year’s Day would fall on a Sunday also, so that would be a triple whammy in Deutschland – three days holiday lost!

 

International Workers’ Day

International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement and occurs every year on May Day (1 May).

While it may belong to a tradition of spring festivals, the date was chosen in 1889 for political reasons by the Marxist International Socialist Congress, which met in Paris and established the Second International as a successor to the earlier International Workingmen's Association. They adopted a resolution for a "great international demonstration" in support of working-class demands for the eight-hour day.

The date had been chosen by the American Federation of Labor to continue an earlier campaign for the eight-hour day in the United States, which had been the cause of a general strike beginning on 1 May 1886, and culminated in the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago four days later.

May Day subsequently became an annual event.The 1904 Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on "all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace".

The 1st of May is a national public holiday in many countries across the world, in most cases as "International Workers' Day" or a similar name

 

What happens in Spain?

Here in Spain, families will spend the day together, maybe going for a walk, a car excursion and/or eating with the extended family. As it’s a Puente, giving workers a long weekend, many Spanish will go away for a short break, either to the coast or into the mountains.

This year the Sevilla Fair starts on 1 May and lasts until Saturday 7 May. Curiously called La Feria de Abril, this is a week of serious dancing, drinking, eating and socialising, with late nights - or all-nighters - the norm. The sheer extent of the April Fair's spectacle is extraordinary.

From around midday until early evening - especially on Sunday, the first official day - Sevilla society parades around the Recinto Ferial (showground) in carriages or on horseback. There are also daily bullfights , generally considered the best of the season. Then the eating, drinking, and dancing continues into the small hours.

 

Famous painting

Dos de Mayo is also the title of a painting by Franciso de Goya. Probably his most famous painting, it was completed in 1814 and commemorates the Second of May Uprising of 1808 which took place in Madrid.

File:El dos de mayo de 1808 en Madrid.jpg

It was a rebellion by local civilians, alongside some military personnel, against the occupation of the city by Napoleon’s French troops, provoking a heavy-handed repression by the French Imperial forces and much violence, as depìcted in Goya's painting.

***

So, today is a big day in Spain for a few good reasons. Enjoy.

We are planning to walk the recently opened Caminito de Montejaque, also known as the Caminito de los Caballeros, followed by lunch either in the newly re-opened El Patio or in our favourite restaurant La Terraza, both in Montejaque.

The weather forecast is very good, so ….. 



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The Young Entrepreneurs of the Serranía de Ronda
Saturday, April 30, 2022

By Pablo de Ronda

On the day on which an enterprising young man from Montejaque (Málaga) opened a new bar restaurant in the premises of a long-standing bar in the village which closed down for good a few weeks ago, Pablo de Ronda revisits an article he wrote for a local website on the subject of youngsters taking the bull by the horns to combat the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on their lives and work opportunities.

 

Today, the last day of April 2022, I attended the opening of Bar Restaurante El Patio in Montejaque in the Serrania de Ronda, Malaga province.

The enterprising young man behind the re-opening of the former Bar El Patio de Frasquito Pedro is Jacinto, aged 29.

I’ve known Jacinto for three years or so. Displaced back to his home village by the Coronavirus pandemic he drifted from waiting at tables to construction. He even had a spell working in Germany.

With a degree in mechanical engineering, being a bar owner was not what Jacinto planned to do with his life, but the Coronavirus pandemic changed his perspective.

The re-furbished establishment is in a good spot in the village. Its unique selling point (USP) is the large, secluded patio out the back.

At the opening today, dad Jacinto was helping behind the bar, as they were doing a brisk trade.

From my point of view the re-opening of El Patio under new management is a welcome addition to the hospitality on offer in the village.

So, we can add Jacinto to the fairly long list of young entrepreneurs that I know of in the northern Serranía de Ronda.

18 months ago I wrote an article on the subject for local website www.secretserrania.com. I have revised and updated it here:

 

The Young Entrepreneurs of the Serranía de Ronda II
30 April 2022

There is a new phenomenon taking place in the Serranía de Ronda. The increase in the number of very young entrepreneurs.

In Ronda, for example, there is 30-year-old Borja, who runs the largest laundry in the town, Lavandería Lavinsur. Two years ago he was on the point of buying a share of one of the biggest laundries in Extremadura, but unfortunately that fell through.  Back then he was also the sole distributor in the Serranía de Ronda of the products of Aqualai, a Spanish national company that specialises in water treatment. At that time he also had an interest in two local hotels, Ronda Moments and Ronda Valley. The guy has energy!

Also in Ronda the Badman Wines is rapidly making a name for itself. Having already attained the Denominación de Origen appellation after three years, Sinbad and Manuel (hence the name Badman), both in their early 30s, have plans to expand their operation even further. Coincidentally, their bodega is over my back fence, with the result that I get to taste their wines from time to time. Mmmm!

Thirdly in the so-called Ciudad Soñada (City of Dreams) is Omar, a young Italian, who started the Pizzería Ristorante Il Forno a Legna at the tender age of 23. He even built his own pizza oven. Six years on his restaurant, located on Calle Nueva, is one of the leading Italian establishments in Ronda, currently at number four on TripAdvisor.

In Montejaque, a white village of just under 1,000 inhabitants, there are several young people who have established successful businesses.

Umberto, still in his twenties, has created Secret Paradise, where guests can enjoy extraordinary food and fine wines on his charming  finca outside of the village. In the middle of the campo, the farm is also a small zoo with a deer, some goats, a ferret, several birds of prey and other domesticated animals.

José Manuel is a partner-cum-franchise-holder at the Covirán supermarket and is the youngest shopkeeper in the village at 35 years old. He wants to be a success. That is why his store is open every day from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm, and if something you need is not in his shop he will get it for you as soon as possible. He has also acquired a number of properties in the village which he plans to develop into holiday rentals.

But it is not just men who are contributing to this phenomenon. Vanesa, married with a young son,  is only 35 years old. Around the time of the start of the pandemic she opened a beauty salon, Vanesa Estética, where she takes care of the hands and feet of the local populace.

Borja, Cayetano and Rubén, three Montejaqueño friends in their twenties, were displaced from the hospitality industry on the coast. They decided to start an open-air chill-out bar with music and food just outside the village. In the middle of beautiful scenery is La Terraza, popular with all ages. They serve delicious tapas and raciones in a spectacular setting. It was an immediate success. However, because of the climate in the montains they had  to close for the winter. What to do?

Well, they took over a bar that had been closed for years and that place, also called La Terraza, is a big success. Rubén, 35, is a trained chef and has designed a sumptuous menu. It is currently our favourite eatery in the village.

Younger brother Borja, 30, takes care of front-of-house, alongside their pal Cayetano, 28.

We must not forget Juan, our builder, who has just finished a superb renovation of our house, Casa Rita.  He started his company five years ago at the age of 31. Raised in Germany Juan has adopted many Germanic characteristics and produces work of a very high quality. He already has a great reputation in the area. His company is called Reformas y Multiservicios Juan Tornay.

But the youngest of all our entrepreneurs is the admirable Javi, who was just 20, when he opened Bar Nazarí two years ago. In the heart of Montejaque, with good music, tapas and a lot of atmosphere, it could be the bar of the future in this village.

FactFile:

Badman Wines, Partido Rural Fuente de la Higuera, 11, 29400 Ronda                      Tel: 696 63 39 60

Lavandería Lavinsur, Calle Majaceite, 4, 29400 Ronda                                               Tel: 658 41 79 56

Hotel Ronda Valley, Ctra de Sevilla, km 26, 29400 Ronda                                          Tel: 641 46 13 34

Hotel Ronda Moments, Partida los Morales, 28, 29400 Ronda, Málaga                     Tel: 665 82 78 62

Ristorante Il Forno a Legna, Calle Nueva 4, 29400 Ronda                                         Tel: 951 46 87 38

Bar Restaurante El Patio, Calle Nueva, 29360 Montejaque

Secret Paradise, Montejaque                                                                                       Tel: 628 38 69 03

Coviran, Calle Padre Antonio Díaz Romero 2, 29360 Montejaque.                             Tel: 698 95 82 43

Vanesa Estética, C/ Carnero, 29360 Montejaque                                                        Tel: 696 24 56 36

Bar Restaurante La Terraza, Bda. Santiago, 43, 29360 Montejaque                           Tel: 697 73 61 99

Reformas y Multiservicios Juan Tornay, Avda. Knittlingen 4, 29360 Montejaque         Tel: 695 35 59 40

Pub Nazarí, C. Jose Vazquez Calle, 1, 29360 Montejaque                                          Tel: 633 23 03 78

 

Nota:

Para leer la versión original en castellano de septiembre 2020, haz clic aquí.



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As Unclear as Mud
Saturday, April 2, 2022

Once, back in the Dark Ages, when I had an after-school detention, I was told to write an essay entitled "Mud".

What? I thought the teacher was taking the p**s - he wasn't!

 

That was 60 years ago and I can no longer recall what I wrote, but I know I found it difficult at the time.

If that were now, however, March 2022, I would have had plenty to write about, what with all the Saharan barro that has been deposited on us, our houses, our cars, our streets, our gardens and all the produce growing there.

Elderly locals say they've never seen anything like it.

On the first dry day, nearly all the neighbours were outside with their Kaerchers and hoses washing their houses down. "If you don't get it off before it dries, you'll never remove it," said one solemnly.

Local house painters, Emilio and Miguel, are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of all the work repainting houses that they're going to get this coming summer. One wag suggested I should come out of retirement and set up as a house painter.

No chance - I'm far too busy!



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First things first in 2022.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Pablo de Ronda has tried a few new things for the first time in the first two months of 2022. Also a few things just happened to happen to him for the first time ever in his seven decades of life on planet Earth.

 

Food and Drink

Dined in a Japanese Restaurant. Discovered the Miyagi Express Sushi Bar in Ronda by chance in January. I already knew one of the owners, Marcos Marcell, and the head waitress, Ana Belén Sánchez. Marcos is a professional actor and director who runs the theatre group Proyecto Platea. Ana Belén is one of their leading actors and used to be receptionist at the garage where we take our cars for service and repairs, Rondeña de Automoción (Peugeot).

Tried cerveza tostada. I was aware of several brands of cerveza sin (non-alcoholic beers) which were tostada. But had never come across una tostada con alcohol. Until the other day. Scrummy! So scrummy I can´t remember the brand!

 

New DIY skills

Plastering and cementing. While renovating Casa Real, my house in Montejaque (Málaga), I had watched my albañiles do this time and again, so, in January, when no builders were available, I thought: why not have a go?

Fitting a new see-through roof. Again, apart from one day, when Stewart El Alto lent me a hand, I did this myself, up and down ladders, on the roof. I just took it slowly and carefully.

Installed a pellet oven. My fitter was unavailable, so I thought: how hard can it be? It wasn´t.

Installed new windows. I was just the peón for this, but it was fun.

Used an angle grinder. I´d always had a fear of these vicious machines (angle-phobia?), but when some jobs came up that were crying out for un radial, I was forced to have a go. Once again, I took it slowly and carefully. Turns out it’s not so bad after all.

 

Jobs on the side

Earned commission on a house sale. After months of time and effort seeking out properties not officially on sale in Montejaque, my first was sold recently and I earned a small commission.

Designed and built a holiday lettings website. Using a template from Site123, I built my own website, www.a1-holidays.net , which has just launched. It is a portal offering rental properties in and around Ronda and Montejaque.

 

Travel and Leisure

Got to know Antequera. Properly. Rita and I had both made short visits to this Roman town in years gone by with previous spouses, but we didn´t really know the place very well. I had accumulated enough amigos points to get a free night in a parador, and there was also a special offer for older people, dias doradas, so we booked two nights. So, a kind of bogoff*! This gave us the time to explore the town more thoroughly. And what a lovely place it is too, especially the casco antiguo and the area around the Castillo. The karst rock formations at nearby parque natural El Torcal were stunning.

Filled in my first locator form online. I was planning a trip to the UK to see family so needed this to enter the country. At the border in Gatwick Airport they didn´t even check!

Ordered a Ryanair meal for the first time. It was a Thai Green Curry and, despite the tales that you here about Ryanair food, not too bad.

Went to Cornwall on holiday. When my brother Simon learned that I was going to England to help my son Tom and his wife Su do up their Victorian house, Simon invited me to come with him and wife Marilyn on holiday to Cornwall. Cornwall is on Rita´s bucket list, so she came too! What a beautiful part of England, especially the far west around St Ives and Camborne.

Visited St Michael’s Mount near Marazion. I’d visited the French version in Normandy many moons ago but had never been to the English one. What a thrill - beautiful surroundings on a bright sunny March day. Followed by a delicious genuine Cornish pastie. Even Rita liked it!

 

Financial

Got myself an online bank. I decided to change my currency converter to get a better rate. My pension is paid in Pounds Sterling into my UK bank account and needs to be sent to my Spanish bank account every month. After some research, I found that Wise (formerly Transferwise) offered the best rates, gaining me an extra 50€ a month approximately. So I switched. They also offer a debit card for 7€, so I got one of them too!

 

Media

Started writing in earnest for Eye on Spain (www.eyeonspain.com) . I have several blogs there: Puntos de Vista; The History Man; The Culture Vulture; Spanish Matters; My Covid-19 Diary; Only Joe King; How to .....? and The Curmudgeon. Previously I had written copiously and regularly for www.secretserrania.com but that site is currently dormant. Although you can still access it.

We were interviewed as a couple for a TV documentary for St Valentine´s day on the theme of love in the Serrania de Ronda. I had pitched the idea to journalist Maria Jose Garcia of Charry TV back in January. She liked it so we decided to approach up to five couples/individuals to take part. Several baulked at the idea of being on the telly, but we managed to find three British, one German and one Spaniard who wanted to take part: Julie Wilkinson (UK), who lives in Cañada del Real Tesoro (Estacion de Cortes de la Frontera); Charlotte Wilmot (UK) and Jaime Lopez (Spain), who are married and live in Ronda; and Rita Drechsler (Germany) and Paul Whitelock (UK), a married couple who live in Montejaque.

 

Vehicles

Had my van vandalised. Parked outside my house, someone broke into it, smashed the windscreen, released the handbrake and let it roll down the hill and set fire to the interior. Nice! I´m pretty sure I know who it was and he will get his comeuppance in time.

Suffered my first insurance write-off. (See above). This is still sub judice so I cannot write any more about it at the present time.

 

Gardening

Built a raised bed as part of my huerta.

Planted veg I´d never grown before: artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, onions

Harvested our first ever orange. Friends Pippa and Rich bought us un naranjo, an orange tree, as a wedding anniversary present. Despite the cold winter it produced its first crop this month (one orange!). Signs are good for the future, though!

 

Miscellaneous

Met my first Slovene, Leandro aged 18 from Liubliana. On a gap year before going to university to study architecture, he is working as a workaway at my local hotel under the workaway scheme. A whizz with IT, he helped me set up my new laptop and to copy my files across from my old one.

Bought a national lottery ticket. Having won two tickets for El Gordo before Christmas, each of which netted me 100 euros, I thought I might be on a roll. I wasn´t! 24 euros down the drain!

Finally, I visited a brothel for the first time in my life. I must stress that I didn´t partake of the services on offer. Honest! I went out of interest. Honest! And to carry out research for an article someday. Honest!

 

Further reading:

Cheque (sic) your Spanish bank account

My eco-house in the Serrania de Ronda - phase I

 

 



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Día de Andalucía – Monday 28 February 2022
Thursday, February 24, 2022

Andalucía Day marks the anniversary of a referendum held on 28 February, 1980 when a large majority of voters supported the referendum for Andalucía to become one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain, following Spain’s democratisation after nearly forty years of the Franco dictatorship. General Franco died in November 1975 and was succeeded as Head of State by King Juan Carlos I, since disgraced and living in exile.  Pablo de Ronda has done some research ..…

 

Día de Andalucía is a significant day in the life of most andaluces. It is a public holiday so that schools, businesses, and government offices are closed.

In 2020 it was not celebrated officially because of the Covid pandemic. In 2021, 28-F, as the Spanish call it, was restricted, again because of the Coronavirus.

In 2021 Día de Andalucía fell on a Sunday, so the public holiday was transferred to the following day, 1 March. (Also a significant date for Welsh folk, incidentally, though not a bank holiday. It’s St. David’s Day.)

This year things should be back to normal and next Monday all Andalusian hell will be let loose!

Many people spend the day quietly with family or close friends. However, some people organise or attend private parties with traditional music, dancing, food and drink. Some municipalities hold communal meals with traditional foods, drinks and entertainment. This did not happen in 2020 or 2021, of course, because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The autonomous community of Andalucía shares international land borders with Portugal and Gibraltar. Within Spain, it borders the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Murcia. People in Andalucía voted for the region to become an autonomous community of Spain on February 28, 1980. However, the Spanish Parliament only accepted Andalucía as a historic nationality in 2006.

Andalucía’s flag is widely displayed on Andalucía Day. It consists of three equal horizontal bars. The top and lower bars are dark green and the middle bar is white. Andalucía’s coat of arms is at the centre of the flag. Andalucía’s coat of arms consists of an image of the mythical Greek hero Heracles between two columns. The columns represent the Pillars of Heracles. These are the rocks on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar.

In many cities, towns and villages in Andalucía people decorate their balconies with the regional flag and with green-and-white bunting.

In 2021 this was the extent of the celebrations, as many places were in various stages of lockdown, with perimeters closed and non-essential businesses unable to operate.

This year it looks like we may have gotten to grips with the Covid-19 virus, so everything should be more or less back to normal. Let’s hope so and let’s look forward to Monday.

This writer already has his plans in place: he’s off to Bar Allioli in Jimera de Líbar, Málaga, to see live music performed by the rock band Equis, featuring Markus Myers, formerly of the band Alicia’s Attic.

Beer, burgers and brilliant music!

!Felices fiestas!



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Eat your heart out!
Wednesday, February 16, 2022

We’ve been out for food a lot lately. Last week we were invited for dinner at the house of Rita’s best friend in Montejaque (Málaga). Later that week we dined in a parador, had lunch in a bar near El Torcal, and dinner in Trip Advisor’s no 1 restaurant in Antequera. On Thursday of this week we were invited to dinner with friends who have recently moved to Montejaque. Then on Saturday it was a restaurant from our top three in the Ronda area. On St Valentine’s Day we had breakfast in another from our top three and that same night we celebrated El Día de San Valentín in the third of our trilogy of current favourites.

 

Potaje de verduras

Our good friend Jill, who has lived in Montejaque for nearly two decades, invited us round for supper. What a treat we had, a delicious fresh salad followed by a tasty and filling vegetable stew.

What a pleasant evening it turned out to be; just the three of us chatting away in Jill’s newly renovated house at the top of one of the prettiest pueblos blancos in Málaga province.

 

Antequera and El Torcal

We had accumulated enough Amigos de Paradores points from our parador tour to Extremadura in 2021 to pay for a free night in a parador of our choice. We settled on Antequera and booked two nights - one free and one as part of a deal for old people called días dorados.

The first night we dined in the parador restaurant which regularly receives very favourable reviews.

We were not disappointed, although it wasn’t cheap. We had a couple of starters to share and then Rita chose chipirrones a la plancha and I had espárragos de la Vega con foie asado y brotes de vinagreta de frutos rojos . The bill was an eye-watering 98 euros. Blimey!

Breakfast wasn’t included in the “points deal”, so off we went in search of desayuno elsewhere and ended up in a nice little hotel, Hotel El Dolmén, outside the town.

Molletes originated from Antequera, so that’s what we chose, with serrano ham and Manchego cheese, natural fresh orange juice and delicious coffee washed it all down.

After a great ramble around El Torcal parque natural we popped down the hill to Villaluenga del Rosario and stopped at the first bar restaurant we came across.

Bar Oasis didn’t look like much but it was sensational. Rita couldn’t resist trying their version of chipirrones and I had potaje de garbanzos. We learned that this restaurant serves a complimentary salad and bread free of charge. The bill with drinks and coffee came to just 23 euros!

That evening we sought out the number 1 restaurant in Antequera on Trip Advisor, Recuerdos Tapas Bodega. No wonder it’s number one. The tapas were exquisite, inventive and well-priced. We dined really well and escaped with a bill of just 33 euros.

 

Calle Doctor Vázquez y Gutiérrez, Montejaque

Donkey Street to you and me!

Our friends Chris and Mike Yeatman recently bought a house in the street. Casita de Sueños is currently being renovated, so they are renting a flat lower down the same street until the work is finished.

They invited us for dinner. Well, Mike, a former restaurateur and chef in the South West of England, treated us to a meal to die for. As Rita said: “At last an Englishman who can cook!” (Do you think that was a dig at me?)

Croquetas that weren’t at all fatty and a kind of ragout of pork with a divine sauce were what we dined on.

We quaffed some nice wine too. A champagne (the house champers from their former restaurant in Portishead) to start with, followed by wines from Miguel Domecq (Cádiz), Friedrich Schatz (Ronda) and a plonk from ALDI at the end to see if we could tell the difference!

 

Frank’s

Otherwise known as El Muelle de Arriate. This restaurant, run by Dutchman Frank Röttgering, has consistently been one of our favourites since he opened 10 years ago.

For our main course we had pre-ordered a stuffed whole calamar, which is plenty for two people. Fa – bu – lous! We knew it would be, since we’ve had it before at Frank’s.

We also had one last October at a chiringuito in Guadalmar on the coast near Málaga airport, but it didn’t compare.

 

Valentine’s Day Breakfast

We had been filming a documentary about LOVE for Charry TV at the Parador de Ronda that morning and decided to go for breakfast afterwards at another of our favourite restaurants, Las Maravillas on Calle La Bola.

We both chose sandwich italiano which we had never tried before. De-li-cious!

Two cups of coffee each and an orange juice and a bill that makes it the most expensive breakfast in Ronda (apart from the Parador!)

But it was worth it, especially on this romantic day.

 

Cena de San Valentín at La Cascada

Otherwise known as Ian and Elaine’s, ie the restaurant at Hotel Molino del Puente in Fuente de la Higuera, just 50 steps from our house.

This restaurant has also been in our top three for over a decade.

And guess what? The chef is also an Englishman who can cook! So, there are at least three around here. Mike Yeatman, Ian Love and Paul Whitelock!

Rita chose the house salad and her favourite plato principal, Mussels in a coconut sauce. I had tostas con berenjena, tomate y pesto, followed by fillet of dorada. Coincidentally, they had the same chardonnay from Miguel Domecq that we had tried for the first time at Chris and Mike’s, so that’s what we chose.

Unusually for us we also went for desserts: home made strawberry cheesecake and lemon tart. Rita ate most of both! Which is fine, because I’m a type 2 diabetic, so shouldn’t be eating “sweets” in any case.

 

***

Epilogue

Now it’s back to eating in. Some unexpected expenses, a broken clutch on my VW Transporter and a new pellet oven for Casa Real (our guests are freezing!), have emptied my bank account.

But since Rita’s a great cook and I’m one of three Englishmen around here who knows his way round a kitchen, eating in will be no hardship.

Last night, for example, I baked two great pizzas – courtesy of ALDI!



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Serendipity VI – DIY in Hastings, Oboes in Bow and Camelot
Monday, February 14, 2022

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, Serendipity is the fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary goes for the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

 

“Hi, Dad ….. Would you possibly be able to come over to help us get some house stuff sorted ahead of our move in?”

This was the message that popped up in WhatsApp last Friday evening.

 

Three Wonky Floors

Let me explain. My son Tom and wife Su bought a run-down Victorian terraced house in Hastings, East Sussex, just over 12 months ago. It needed a lot of work before they could move in with their baby boy, Wilbur.

I offered from the outset to go and help them with the work (I’ve acquired a few building skills over the years and am still a keen property developer in a low-key way).

Anyway, until now they haven’t really needed me. And what with Covid-19 restricting activity, especially travel, going over to the UK hasn’t been feasible.

I’m delighted that they need me at last. The plan is that I’ll go over for about a week in early March and work intensively to get part of the house habitable for them to move in the following weekend.

This request was so unexpected that I view this as the first piece of serendipity I’ve had for a while (well. in 10 days!).

 

Oh, Bow!

The second serendipity is that I’ll get to visit my daughter, Amy, husband Carlo and my two London grandchildren, Felix and Jude.

And guess what? Amy, an accomplished oboeist, is playing in a concert while I’m staying with them in Bow, East London.

 

Brotherly Love

My only other close relative in the UK is my brother Simon, who lives near Bristol. When I asked him if I could come and visit for a few days, he said yes, of course.

But he also asked if I could extend my stay and go with him and wife Marilyn on holiday to Cornwall, to Camelot country.

And what about my wife, Rita, who has always dreamt of visiting Cornwall? We were due to go in May 2020, but had to cancel because of Covid-19.

When I asked her, she was delighted. So she will now fly over for a week and get to see a part of the UK she has never seen.

That has to be a classic case of Serendipity.

 

Logistics

The travel arrangements are somewhat complicated, but I think we’ve got there. I’ll fly to Gatwick, pick up a hire car, drive to Hastings for 5 days or so of hard labour, pop over to Yate, near Bristol to see Simon, Marilyn and extended family who live in the Bristol area.

Then it’s back to Bow for the weekend and that concert.

Rita flies to Stansted on the Sunday evening. I’ll pick her up and we’ll head for the south coast, Brighton or Bognor Regis for a night by the sea, before heading off to Camborne, Cornwall via Stonehenge.

Five nights in a luxury lodge exploring St Ives, Tintagel, Land’s End, Falmouth and the Eden Project.

***

Serendipity happens to me a lot and I love it.

 

Note:

Previous ‘serendipities’ are available to read elsewhere in the Only Joe King blog.

 



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Ollie and Lily
Sunday, February 13, 2022

“Hallo. My name is Oliver and I live in Hohenklingen, near Knittlingen, Germany. I’m a friend and colleague of your stepson Johannes and, since we are going on an extended trip to Spain in 2022, he’s suggested we might come and visit you in Montejaque, which is of course twinned with Knittlingen.”

 

Twin town visitors

This message, in German, popped up one day last Autumn in Messenger.

I got back in touch immediately on behalf of myself  and my wife Rita, Johannes’ mother.

It turns out that Johannes, when aged 15, attended a carpentry/joinery workshop being run by Oliver, a member of the guild of joiners, and was so inspired that Johannes trained to be a joiner, and is now, 25 years later, also a member of the guild and an experienced and talented joiner. Johannes and Oliver often work together.

When Johannes found out that Oliver, his partner Lily and their four children were planning an extended visit to Spain, he suggested getting in touch with us.

Now, after several messages and phone calls, the “Summers” (their surname – Lily is half-Scottish) are living rent-free in Casa Real, my recently “re-formed” house in Montejaque.

Why rent-free? Because Oliver’s “rent” is to complete a number of carpentry jobs we have in our three properties here.

Having arrived at the end of January in their adapted Renault Trafic after a month on the road, they have already asked to extend their stay from one month to two. They love it so much here in the Serranía de Ronda that they are now considering extending at least until the summer if not longer.

Their three girls, Alice 7, Amy 8 and Leyla 10, are already settled in the Colegio Público in Montejaque, and Lily has enrolled on the weekly Spanish class in the village.

Lily and Oliver are currently on maternity/paternity leave, as their fourth child, baby Cailan is only six months old (baby leave in Germany is very generous), but despite still getting some pay from their employers, they need to work to supplement their income.

 

Joinery – German style

As a joiner, Oliver is in great demand here, where carpenters seem to prefer to work with aluminium. As well as the jobs he’s done/is doing for us in lieu of rent, his order book for the next few weeks is full. Two kitchen renovations, a terrace roof, a large bookcase and some bespoke spice racks are some of the commissions he has already obtained.

 

Physio – a la alemana

Lily is a trained and experienced physiotherapist and can offer a range of treatments, including reflex therapy and Dorn method. She already has four patients: two English residents (back and shoulder respectively), a Spanish hotelier (back) and me (my 71-year-old spinal column suffered a lot during the reform of Casa Real!)

Both speak English, as well as German.

 

Musicians

And as if that wasn’t enough, they’re both talented guitarists/singers.

They were both experienced performers before they met, but now, they have developed a joint repertoire to add to their individual ones.

They’ll be making their Spanish debuts this coming Sunday (tomorrow) at Bar Allioli in Jimera de Líbar (Málaga) from 2.00 pm.

Reservations on 606 69 27 53

 

***

Contact information

If you need a massage or a wood job, please contact:

Paul on 636 52 75 16

Lily on +49 1517 0017586

Oliver on +49  173 6739131



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A Valentine love story set in southern Spain
Thursday, February 10, 2022

This is the story of a friend of mine, Arthur Evans from Neath in South Wales, who some years ago found true love in the mountains of the Serranía de Ronda. 

 

When Arthur, a frequent visitor to Ronda, first set eyes on Carmen at the Feria de Pedro Romero which takes place every September in Ronda, he was smitten.

Not very experienced in the dating game Arthur, a divorcé with two grown-up children, nevertheless managed to get himself invited for afternoon coffee with Carmen, at her house in a beautiful pueblo blanco near Ronda.

After a pleasant afternoon seated in the sunlight on the roof terrace, things got better when Carmen invited Arthur to stay for a dinner party she was hosting that evening for some English friends.  How could he refuse?  He cancelled his plans for the evening and there followed a delightful meal al fresco under the stars. Unfortunately for the putative lovebirds Arthur had to return to South Wales the following day. Would that be the end of a beautiful friendship before it even started?

Not at all.  Arthur and Carmen began to exchange emails on a regular basis.  But this was not enough for lovestruck Arthur.

After two weeks back in South Wales Arthur decided on the spur of the moment to book a flight back to Spain to see the lovely Carmen.  They had lunch and dinner together the first day and soon discovered they had lots in common.  “Carmen is such a bubbly, positive, funny person.  Fortunately I speak Spanish, so we have no communication problems at all. It couldn´t be better.”

Arthur has now moved to Andalucía permanently.  A former languages teacher and translator Arthur is building a new career in the Ronda area translating, interpreting and teaching both English and Spanish, in order to be able to live with the woman of his dreams.

For her part, twice-divorced Carmen is thrilled to bits with her new man.  “I love living in my little pueblo blanco and I have enjoyed living alone, but now I’ve found Arthur my life has become even better.  He is just the man that I always wanted, but never found – until now!”

What did the couple do on St Valentine’s Day that year?  They went to London to watch Arthur’s son, Tom, a professional actor and musician, perform on stage in London in the musical “Moll Flanders”, followed by a romantic meal in a Covent Garden restaurant. ¡Viva el amor!

Many St Valentine’s Days later, Arthur and Carmen still live in the Serranía de Ronda, where they are making the most of their twilight years in this beautiful part of Spain, enjoying their large garden, travelling, walking their dog Chispa and coming to terms with life after Covid-19.

 

Note:

To read an article written by The History Man about St Valentine and the origins of the ways in which we now celebrate his day, 14 February, click https://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/thehistoryman.aspx



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