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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 .

Friday, February 23, 2024

La Asociacion de Prensa de la Costa del Sol (Costa Press Club), of which I've been a member for some dozen years, is a social grouping of journalists, writers and other media people living and working in Southern Andalucia. The group is international; present at last Tuesday's get-together were English, Welsh and Scots; two Australians; two Germans; an Argentinian, as well as a couple of Spanish.



The February get-together for a presentation and dinner was earlier this week at Restaurante La Alvaroteca in Malaga City.

An impressive 34 members and guests turned up, the highest attendance yet in the 20-odd year existence of the association.

What was the attraction? The restaurant where we were to meet? Or, the speakers? A combination, I think.

The chosen restaurant on this occasion was La Alvaroteca, in the centre. After a pre-dinner vermouth-based cocktail and a natter, we occupied our seats in the private dining room, and were treated to three talks by publisherd authors.

Two women and one man, ranging from 70-odd down to 22 years of age. Two were/are members of the CPC.

The evening was introduced by Joanna Styles, CPC committee member and the organiser of this event, and compered by Neil Hesketh, the new chairman, elected following the sad and premature death last year of previous incumbent Dane Jesper Sander Pedersen.


 "Writing and publishing under the microscope"

The panel of authors taking part in the presentation included a Scottish lady, an Englishman and a Welshwoman.

First up was Joan Fallon, a Scottish-born lady who has lived in southern Spain for longer than she hasn't. She is the author of 18 published books, one non-fiction and the rest novels, usually set against a Spanish historical backdrop. Joan is a long-standing member of the Costa Press Club. Joan managed to find a publisher, 

Nick Foster, an Englishman, writes novels based on true crimes. Nick splits his time between Spain and the Netherlands and has half a dozen published books. He self-publishes and his books are available from Amazon.

Katie Lewis, born in Spain of Welsh parents, is the "new-kid-on-the-block". Just 22, she is tri-lingual and has one book published but several others in the pipeline. She also self-publishes. She writes fantasies in English and translates them herself into Spanish.

All three spoke about their own backgrounds and what inspires them to write, and offered advice to aspiring authors.

After a few questions from the audience, we settled down for the main event. We were getting a bit peckish!


La Alvaroteca

Dinner was a menu de degustacion, comprising a wealth of exquisite tapas. My wife, an occasional guest at these functions, and no mean cook herself, declared it to be the best yet of the several CPC dinners she has attended. We were served the following:

Ensaladilla de Gambas

Tosta de Arroz Negro, Anguila Ahumada y Ali Oli

Coliflor a la Crema

Chipirón en Salsa Americana

Merluza, Holandesa y Lechuga

Postre - leche, Tomillo y Calabaza


Then, it was all over. People got into their Ubers and Bolts and headed off home. We just ambled across the road to our hotel, the reasonably-priced Hotel Goartin. We had planned a mini-break around the CPC meeting, so that we could enjoy a couple of days on the coast and in magnificent Malaga.


© Pablo de Ronda



Costa Press Club, 

La Alvaroteca, C. Gerona, 38 bis, Cruz de Humilladero, 29006 Málaga  Teléfono680 62 52 14

Hotel Goartin, C. Gerona, 32, Cruz de Humilladero, 29006 Málaga  Teléfono: 952 36 51 35

Joan Fallon, Home - Joan Joan Fallon: books, biography, latest update

Nick Foster, : nick foster

Katie Lewis, (5) Video | Facebook - "A Curse of Love and Law" is available in both English and Spanish and is the first of a series.



Liz Parry (official chronicler of the Costa Press Club)

Karl Smallman (photo of the authors)

Paul Whitelock (all other photos)

SUR in English (background information)



Alvaroteca, Asociacion de Prensa, Costa Press Club, Hotel Goartin, Jesper Sander Pedersen, Joan Fallon, Joanna Styles, Katie Lewis, Malaga, Neil Hesketh, Nick Foster, Pablo de Ronda, Sur in English

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“Tropicana” Romántica
Thursday, February 15, 2024

Celebrating St Valentine’s Day in style

The Tropicana is a restaurant in Ronda. We used to go when it was a tiny place on a corner on Avenida de Malaga. Then, around 2019, they purchased premises in the centre of Ronda, and refurbished the local. Then came the Coronavirus pandemic, with its lockdowns, and the team, led by father and son, both called José Antonio, had to adapt their plans. Since the “all clear”, however, this fine restaurant has established a strong reputation and it’s hard to get a table these days. Well, it's number 2 in Ronda on TripAdvisor.


14 February 2024

We tried to book last year, but they were full. This time I booked a few days in advance and there was no problem. On arrival last night, there was a sign outside informing would-be diners that Tropicana was fully booked.

Polite staff showed us to our table in a well-designed and spacious dining room. We checked out the menu to a background of foreign voices, some English, but, astonishingly, lots of Italian. Was there a conference in town?

Of course, at 8.30 pm there were no Spanish – far too early for them.


Our food

For our entradas (starters) we opted to order two and share.

We went for ensalada tropicana, which as the name suggests had some tropical fruit in it with a variety of leaves and a scoop of ice cream. We also chose croquetas de la casa. Both were delicious.

For our main courses Rita chose pulpo (octopus) and I went for conejo (rabbit), which you don’t see much on menus these days. But what to drink? Red? White? We went down the middle and chose rosadoCloe, from local bodega, Doña Felisa.

Rita found her pulpo sensational, and I thoroughly enjoyed my conejo. There was no buckshot to contend with, which has been my experience in the past.

The wine, nicely chilled, went well with both the “fish” and the “meat”.

Nicely replete, we nevertheless shared a dessert, tarta de zanahoria (carrot cake). Not too sweet, except for the Chantilly cream which we ended up scraping off.







All in all, a very pleasant evening. The bill came to 106 euros, which, for what we’d consumed, was perfectly in order.

The best bit was, Rita paid, her Valentine’s gift to me.








© Pablo de Ronda



Cover photo courtesy of Restaurante Tropicana

All other photos by Paul and Rita Whitelock


Further information and Links:

Restaurante Tropicana, Calle Virgen de los Dolores, 11, 29400 Ronda (Malaga) 

Tel: 952 87 89 85


Restaurante Tropicana - Restaurante Ronda (



Bodega Doña Felisa, Cloe, conejo, croquetas, ensalada Tropicana, Pablo de Ronda, pulpo, Rita, Ronda, rosado, tarta de zanahoria, tropical fruits, Tropicana, zanahoria

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Kilómetro 26
Monday, February 5, 2024

As we all know, exits from motorways and main roads correspond to the distance in kilometres from the start of that road. For example, all roads leading from Madrid start at kilómetro cero. The Carretera de Sevilla (A374) in Andalucía starts at    and continues to Ronda (Málaga) at kilómetro 30.


The title of this piece, Kilómetro 26, refers to the exit to our house, but also to four hotels, three vineyards, two real estate agencies, the Spanish Foreign legion barracks and around 50 fincas.

This area is not a town, nor a village, but a pedanía, a district. Its name is Fuente de La Higuera, after the spring at the area’s heart. It has its own mayor(ess), and an active Asociación de Vecinos (AVV), a neighbourhood association.


Hotels, guesthouses, vineyards, estate agencies and casas rurales


Ronda Valley Hotel

The hotel right by the exit at kilómetro 26 is the Ronda Valley Hotel. The name was changed fairly recently by the Portuguese owners, probably unaware of its similarity to the name of an area in South Wales, the Rhondda Valley.

Locals and delivery drivers still know the hotel as the Hotel Don Benito, the name it had for several decades.

The Ronda Valley (nee Don Benito) is my local. It’s the second-nearest to my house, but, crucially it is open every single day of the year. Other hotels are seasonal and close for the winter.

I visit my local most days, either for an early morning coffee in the spring and summer months or for pre-dinner drinks in the evenings all year round.

Most of the patrons are locals, neighbours or folk who work in the area. These locals are farmers, agricultural workers, vineyard staff and off-duty legionaires. All Spanish.

There is also a sprinkling of foreigners (guiris), either tourists or residents. I am one. We are commonly referred to as ex-pats, but I prefer the word immigrants, because that is what we are.

The hotel is always busy and often full. The rooms are well-priced, so the Ronda Valley attracts lots of tourists, as well as commercial travellers. There is also a large free carpark, a massive terrace, a pool, tennis court and padel court. And, a restaurant. And the bar.

And it’s only seven minutes’ drive to Ronda.

I really like the Don Benito. It’s better than any local I ever had in England. Friendly staff, friendly locals and friendly prices.


Hotel Molino del Puente

100 metres along the road is this English-run hotel and restaurant. Ian and Elaine Love met as youngsters on the Costa del Sol. They got together, married and ran a successful restaurant in Cabopino, The Harbour Lights. They had three daughters.

Then after thirty successful years they decided to sell up and move inland. They chose Ronda, where they found, bought and renovated a dilapidated mill, and turned it into what it is today – a charming three-star hotel and acclaimed restaurant, La Cascada.




                                      Photo courtesy KAYAK



Love Viviendas

With offices based at the Hotel Molino del Puente, this relatively new estate agency is run by the aforementioned Ian Love and his middle daughter Carly Love. They are both experienced in the field, Ian inland and Carly on the coast. Now they have combined their expertise and experience and have developed a portfolio of properties across the whole of the Serrania de Ronda.




Love Viviendas

Telephone: +34 619 056 055



Cortijo La Perla Blanca and Bodegas Badman

From the hotel, take the right-hand fork and in 100 metres you come across the entrance to this mini-country estate. Up a 50-metre drive through a field of vines, you first come to the elegant cortijo, now a bijou hotel around a central courtyard. The rooms are well-appointed and expensive, but they are invariably full, especially at weekends.

Currently in the hands of a family from South Africa, they have been busy re-organising and tidying up.


Bodegas Badman are housed in a part of the main building and their vineyards extend up the hill. The winery is run by young entrepreneurs Sinbad and Manuel, hence the name of the winery.

They haven’t been going long but have steadily built a good reputation for their wines. They have already attained Denominación de origen (DO) status, which is equivalent to Appellation Controlée (AC) in France.

We like their tinto made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.




A1 Inmobiliaria - Real Estate

Retracing your steps to the T-junction, turn right and after about 50 metres on your right is this independent estate agency.

A1 Inmobiliaria is a solo outfit run online by Paul Whitelock, although he works in collaboration with a number of other companies (see below).

A1 has a small portfolio of properties predominantly in Ronda and Montejaque. The properties range from hotels, bars and restaurants to small businesses, to fincas, apartments and village houses. We have visited all properties listed and know the owners personally.

A1 works in collaboration with: Andalucia Inland Properties (Málaga and Cádiz provinces), Inmobiliaria Atica (Ronda), Emma Inmobiliaria (Ronda), Montejaque Holiday & Service (Montejaque), Ronda Realty Properties (Ronda and Arriate) and Sierra Estates (Arriate).

Tel: Paul (+34 636 52 75 16)

English, French, German and Spanish spoken



Bodega Joaquín Fernández

Continuing up the hill, turn right at the fork and after about two kilometres you come to this ecological bodega. One of my favourites. I’ve done a couple of tasting tours there in the past led by Joaquín’s son “Moses” (Moises).

Unfortunately, Joaquín retired and sold out to an English pair. The new owners have decided to close the winery to the public – so no more tastings - and concentrate on wine production.

My favourite of their wines is a dry white wine made from black grapes. Delicious!







Hotel Molino del Arco

A bit further on along this country lane and you fetch up at the Hotel Molino del Arco, another mill conversion, which is now a 4-star hotel.

Spanish-owned and run, I know very little about this place. They seem to want to keep themselves to themselves. I think it’s guests only.

It's a beautiful and tranquil spot.

Tel: (+34) 952 11 40 17




Finca Retama

Another five minutes further on and you reach a delightful casa rural, which has a 3-bed, 2-bath apartment in the main house and a separate luxury 2-bed 2-bath country villa with disabled access.

There is a large pool set in lawns, a sauna, table tennis and extensive grounds.

Owners Nick (English) and wife Julia (Hungarian) live on site and personally welcome their guests.

Between them, they speak English, Spanish and Hungarian.

Tel: (+34) 666 40 73 33



Bodegas Gonzalo Beltrán

Going back to the exit from the main road at kilómetro 26, on the other side of the road is a dirt track which takes you down under the railway line to the main buildings of the winery. Gonzalo has vineyards throughout the Valle del Tajo, below the town of Ronda, but this is his HQ.

My favourite wine of theirs is a tinto called Perezoso (lazy).











Campamento de la Legión

A little further on past several houses, many of them abandoned, is the Spanish Foreign Legion barracks. This army grouping was modelled on the infamous French Foreign Legion.

There are just two Legion bases on the Spanish mainland: here in Ronda and in Almería in eastern Andalucia, three hours away.

Apart from deploying troops to trouble-spots, as part of Spain’s commitment to NATO, La Legión is very active in the community, organising events and hosting tours. The most important of their events is the 101, a race for cyclists, runners and walkers. This take place, normally on an annual basis, over a weekend in early May.

The distance is 100 kilometres. The cyclists need a couple of hours or so, the quickest runners around six hours, and the walkers quite a bit longer. They are still walking past our house (the route passes through Fuente de la Higuera) in the early hours of Sunday morning.





So, Kilómetro 26, just an exit off the A374 road from Ronda to Sevilla, but an interesting one, I think. I wonder whether all junctions lead to such exciting places. I doubt it.


© Pablo de Ronda


Further reading:

Days of (Ronda) Wine… and Roses - Secret Serrania de Ronda

Early Morning Coffee (

PLACES TO EAT - Help me, Ronda (

PLACES TO STAY - Help me, Ronda (

The other "Ronda valley" (

Three new kids on the restaurant block - Help me, Ronda (

What is a guiri? It's what the Spanish call us foreigners - but is it good or bad? (



101, A1, A1 Inmobiliaria, AC, agricultural workers, Almeria, Andalucia, Andalucia Inland Properties, Appellation Controlée, Badman, Bodega, Bodega Badman, Bodega Gonzalo Beltran, Bodega Joaquin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabopino, Campamento de la Legion, Carly Love, Cortijo La Perla Blanca, Costa del Sol, Denominación de origen, DO, Don Benito, Emma Inmobiliaria, farmers, Fernandez, Finca Retama, French Foreign Legion, Fuente de la Higuera, Elaine Love, Fernandez, guiri, Harbour Lights, Ian Love, Inmobiliaria Atica, Joaquin, kilometro 26, kilometro cero, La Cascada, local, Love Viviendas, Madrid, Manuel, Moises, Molino del Arco, Molino del Puente,  Montejaque Holiday & Service, Moses, NATO, neighbour, off-duty legionaires, Pablo de Ronda, Paul Whitelock, perezoso, Rhondda Valley, Ronda,  Ronda Realty Properties,  Ronda Valley, Sevilla, Sierra Estates, Simbad, Spanish Foreign Legion, Valle del Tajo, vineyard, winery  

Like 4        Published at 11:55 AM   Comments (2)

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Did you know that in 2023, Oliver was the most common given name in the United Kingdom? That being the case, I’m surprised I only know two Olivers, and neither was born in the UK!

Oliver F, 19, was born in Ronda of English and Hungarian parents, and is a student.

Oliver D, German, is a joiner, who lives in south Germany, in Montejaque’s Twin Town, Knittlingen.


Famous Olivers

I also know “Oliver!”, the musical (1960) and film (1968) based on Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” (1838), written by the late Lionel Bart.

I also knew of and admired the late actor and rabble-rouser Oliver Reed (1938-1999). He was in some memorable films, including the afore-mentioned Oliver!, as  well as Curse of the Werewolf, The Triple Echo, with Glenda Jackson(d), Women in Love, The Devils, and the musical film Tommy! His last film role was in Gladiator in 2000 (it was released a year after his death in 1999.


Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658) was an English statesman, politician and soldier, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of the British Isles. He came to prominence during the 1639 to 1653 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, initially as a senior commander in the Parliamentarian army and latterly as a politician. A leading advocate of the execution of Charles I in January 1649, which led to the establishment of The Protectorate, he ruled as Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658. Cromwell remains a controversial figure due to his use of the army to acquire political power, and the brutality of his 1649 campaign in Ireland.




In Germany, arguably the greatest ever football goalkeeper for the national team was Oliver Kahn. He is now a big cheese at Bayern Munich and a TV pundit.

He was loathed by English fans, because he was so arrogant, and so bloody good!




Staying in the land of my wife, Rita, there is a fashion brand in Germany called s.Oliver, but it’s out of my price range.










Oliver Hardy (1892-1957), the tubby American half of the comic duo Laurel and Hardy, starred in umpteen Hollywood films of dubious quality.









Oliver Stone, US film director (b. 1946). Stone started his film career writing the screenplays for Midnight Express (1978), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted ScreenplayConan the Barbarian (1982), and Scarface (1983). He then rose to prominence as writer and director of the Vietnam war film drama Platoon (1986), and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) for which he received Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for the former and Best Director for the latter. He also directed Salvador (1986), Wall Street (1987) and its sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), The Doors (1991), JFK (1991), Heaven & Earth (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), Nixon (1995), Any Given Sunday (1999), W. (2008), and Snowden (2016).




Jamie Oliver, the TV chef, I got to know briefly when he filmed in Ronda, Benaojan and the Serranía for one of his TV cooking shows.

One event was especially fun. He learned how to cook a massive paella in Benaojan. Read about it here.

There's a film on YouTube about Jamie's visit to the Serrania de Ronda. Click here.



Oliver is also used for place names. In Spain there is a barrio of Zaragoza that bears the name. In the USA, Oliver is the name of towns in Georgia and Pennsylvania.


“My” Olivers

Oliver D lives in Knittlingen, the German twin-town of Montejaque and Benaojan (Malaga). One day in 2020 I got a phone call out of the blue:

“Hallo! Mein Name ist Oliver. Ich bin ein Freund und Kollege von deinem Stiefsohn Johannes.”

Oliver told me he was a friend and colleague of my German stepson Johannes. They are both cabinet makers/joiners, ie top quality carpenters.

Oliver told me he was planning to come to southern Spain for an extended trip with his young second family: wife Lily, three daughters and a baby son.

He wondered if I could help him out with accommodation, perhaps in exchange for his labours.

Long story short, they stayed in my house in Montejaque rent-free in exchange for work on our three houses. He also picked up a few other paid jobs with local friends and neighbours.

The three girls attended the local colegio and mum Lily enrolled on a local Spanish class.

We struck up a great friendship.

A year later we visited them in Knittlingen during a trip to Rita’s family in Germany, and enjoyed a great lunch with them.

For more on this, click here.


Oliver F is the elder son of friends Nick and Julia, English and Hungarian respectively.

Ollie was born in Ronda and has lived here all his life. He attended local schools until the age of 13 then went off to the alma mater of his father in Somerset, where he sat his A-levels in 2023 gaining a great set of results. He has a place at Exeter University starting in September 2024.

With three schoolfriends Ollie is off to the Far East for four months. In fact, they have just left. In order to finance the trip, they all had to earn a tidy sum.

Ollie has been industrious and hard-working. He has worked on a vineyard in France, in a local hotel, in a couple of local restaurants, and has been a gardener and general dogsbody for his dad, Nick, and for me.

I’m very pleased with what Ollie has done at my place, ranging from strimming, to lawnmowing, from cleaning the pool, to constructing a log store and generally tidying up.

You can read about Ollie’s work for me here.


© Pablo de Ronda


Note: On a similar theme Eye on Spain blogger Only Joe King recently wrote about all the "Lola's" he has known. Click here.


Further reading:

HOW TO ..... build a LOG STORE? (

“Quick! Hire a teenager while they still know everything!” (

Ollie and Lily (






Joe King


Pablo de Ronda

Tapas Magazine




Academy Award, Any Given Sunday, Bayern Munich, Benaojan, Best Adapted ScreenplayBest Director, Best Picture, Born on the Fourth of July, cabinet maker, Charles Dickens, cleaning the pool, Conan the Barbarian, Curse of the Werewolf, Exeter University, Gladiator, Glenda Jackson, Heaven & Earth, Jamie Oliver, JFK, joiner, Julia, Knittlingen, Laurel and Hardy, lawnmowing, Lionel Bart, logstore, Lord Protector, Midnight Express, Montejaque, Natural Born Killers, Nick, Nixon,  “Oliver”, Oliver Cromwell, Oliver Hardy, Oliver Kahn, Oliver Reed, Oliver Stone, Oliver Twist, Ollie, Pablo de Ronda, Platoon, Ronda, SalvadorScarface, Serranía, Snowden, Stan Laurel, strimming, The Devils, The Doors, The Triple Echo, tidying up, Tommy!, vineyard, W, Wall StreetWall Street: Money Never Sleeps,  Women in Love,


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What’s in a name?
Monday, January 22, 2024

By Pablo de Ronda

Parents often find it hard to name their new-born babies. In some countries of course, it is straightforward; tradition dictates that the first-born son takes the father’s given name. Problem solved. In others, especially catholic countries, by convention a Christian name must be religious or biblical. Some countries have an official list of forenames and only names on that list are permitted. In others certain names are taboo and avoided. In the majority of secular countries, anything goes.



One of the first questions to be resolved by couples who are about to become parents, when they learn of the sex of their baby, is “What are we going to call him/her?”

They will often not be short of advice from relatives and friends. “You’re really going to call her that, are you?”

Others will say “Too modern, too classical, very long, very short.”

Seriously, though, naming a child is not to be taken lightly. A child’s name is, after all, it’s calling card.



In some western countries, eg the UK and the USA, names come in and out of fashion. Who, today, would name their child Elvis or Madonna? Back in the day many did.

Names like Wayne, Lee and Darren have pretty much come and gone.

Going further back, how many British females alive today are called Elsie, Gladys or Hermione?

My four British grandsons are called Felix, Wilbur, Jude and Buckley. Quite unusual, although Jude has crept into the charts lately.

A noticeable trend in Germany in the last few decades has been to choose Nordic forenames, like Lars, Björn, Ronja or Freya.

My German step-grandchildren are Anton, Madita and Lotta, the latter two characters from children's stories by Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.

As for the tradition of naming the first male child after the father, a certain former American Heavyweight Boxing Champion, took it to extremes. George Foreman named all five of his sons George also, and one of his seven daughters Georgette. Vain, or what?



George Foreman [Photo: Mundo Deportivo]


Tables or lists

A list of the most popular forenames based on registered births in the UK in the year I was born, 1950, revealed the following:


Top 5 Baby Names for Boys in 1950

1. James

2. Robert

3. John

4. William

5. Richard


Top 5 Baby Names for Girls in 1950

1. Linda

2. Mary

3. Patricia

4. Barbara

5. Susan


70-odd years later, there has been quite a change.


Top 5 Baby Names for Boys in the UK (2021)

  1. Noah
  2. Oliver
  3. George
  4. Leo
  5. Theo


Top 5 Baby Names for Girls in the UK (2021)

  1. Amelia
  2. Olivia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Freya


Note that there are no names common to either list.


Official Lists

In some countries, eg Spain, certain names are banned. Indeed, there are official lists of approved names enshrined in law, la Ley del 8 de julio de 1957 of the Civil Register. It is regularly updated to account for changing trends.

Banned names include Hitler, Judas, Osama Bin Laden, Loco (Crazy) and Caca (Shit); names of fruits; acronyms; complete names of famous people, eg Rafael Nadal, Pedro Sánchez; commercial names such as Chanel, Nutella, Mercadona; surnames.

So, the daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Nick Martin could not have been named Apple if they had been living in Spain at the time.

Classic names such as Martín, Mateo, Hugo, Lucas; and Lucía, María, Martina, Julia and Sofía are still, popular. Up and coming are Leo, Enzo, Thiago, Noah; and Alma, Mía and Chloe (according to the Instituto Nacional de Estádistica (National Statistics Institute).


No Restrictions

In many countries there are no restrictions, including, as mentioned earlier, the UK and the USA, as well as Germany, but by convention, in none of these three countries has the name Adolf been in use since the Second World War.

Apparently, back in the late 30s, Adolf Hitler’s brother is rumoured to have lived in Liverpool, UK. Rumour has it he changed his surname smartish! However, my extensive research has failed to verify this as fact.


© Pablo de Ronda



Carmen Barreiro (Diario Sur)

Diario Informacion

FirstCry Parenting



Like 1        Published at 11:38 AM   Comments (2)

Bar International
Tuesday, January 16, 2024

My local is the Ronda Valley Hotel just outside Ronda. It sits in a valley. Hence the name, I guess.

Named for decades Hotel Don Benito, it is still called that by the locals.

It’s a bit of a landmark.

Delivery drivers from DHL, MRW, Boyaca, Correos Express usually ring up to check where you live.

“Do you know the Ronda Valley Hotel on the Seville road?”

“Never ‘eard of it, mate!” is the usual response.

“What about the Don Benito?”

“Yeah, I know that …”


Hotel Ronda Valley

I digress.

I like the Don Benito (sorry, Ronda Valley). It’s near my house. It’s open every day. The staff are delightful. And the prices are OK, albeit slightly dearer than in the villages or in Ronda.

But, if you drink there, you don’t burn lots of expensive fuel getting to Ronda nor have to pay exorbitant car parking charges.

It’s a short walk or an even shorter car trip and the car park is huge and free.



A good handful of foreign local residents use the bar in the evenings for a pre-prandial drink or three.

Since Covid-19 lockdown rules were relaxed and the explosion in tourism in Andalucia since 2022, the number of foreigners who stay at the hotel has rocketed.

Added to that many of the staff are from overseas, most from Latin America, and most on the WorkAway programme.


Foreign locals

I’m there for an early morning coffee when I can. As a result I am known by and also know lots of neighbours and local workers. No foreigners at this ungodly hour!

I am also there four or five evenings a week when the neighbours have switched from their breakfast coffee and a chaser (anis, Miura, Patxaran or coñac seem to be the alcoholic tipples of choice) to something more substantial like a whisky and coke, or a vodka and lemonade (not for me I’m afraid, at 6€ a pop!)

This is when the foreign locals also come. Most, by far, are beer drinkers: Nick (English), Julia (Hungarian), Oliver (English/Spanish); Jim (Irish), Helen (English); Vic and Si (English); David (Scottish) and Dagmar (German); Ian, Elaine (both English) and their daughters Robin, Carly and Megan (English/Spanish).

Occasional visitors are Peter (English); Paul (Yorkshire) and Synnove (Danish).


Foreign guests

Over the years I’ve got chatting to travellers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Holland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, USA.



Foreign workers

The hotel has benefited from the use of Workaway volunteers. Since Covid, most seem to be from Latin America. Currently there are three argentin@s, una uruguaya and dos chilen@s.

In the past there have been workaway@s from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Slovenia and USA. 

Some have stayed for months; others for less time. To a man/woman they have all been pleasant, polite and intelligent.



Last week

One night last week I popped into the RV for a drink, as is my wont. I hadn’t arranged to meet anyone, so I used the time to catch up on my mobile phone messages.

That went well for about half an hour, until suddenly I found myself in a fascinating conversation with two Chileans and two Argentinians.

Felipe, just arrived, is 34 and from Chile. He is a physiotherapist, and now a Workaway.

He has lived in Ireland, the UK, and Portugal, and is now in Spain for a period. He speaks good English, so most of our conversation was in my mother tongue. Felipe sees his future here in Spain.

His “missus” Andrea is also Chilean, aged 33.

The two argentinos, who arrived a month or so ago are tall and handsome Lucas (26) and beautifully-formed Victoria (25).

Another argentino, on the full-time staff, is Gaston. His wife, also called Andrea (incidentally the name of my first ever proper English girlfriend when I was a teenager) is from Uruguay.

On Friday I came across a couple of Danish pastries, I mean ladies, mum and daughter, who were guests at the hotel.

Lotte, 50, and her daughter Mie, 21, were making a short tour of Andalucia. They’d “done” Cadiz, Sevilla and Ronda, and were planning on visiting Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz) before heading to Fuengirola for the last five days of their holiday before flying home.

As you would expect they spoke excellent English.

We ranged through several topics of mutual interest, before Lotte revealed that they had recently bought a holiday home on the Baltic coast. We are invited.

OK, bar talk, but we exchanged business cards and promised to keep in touch. I’ve since viewed their property on the internet. It looks fantastic, just off the beach. Brilliant. I think me and the missus might head off there later in the year.


This week

It’s Tuesday. I haven’t met anybody foreign yet this week (except my missus, she is Deutsch) . I’m off down to the Bar Internacional now for an aperitif or three. I wonder who’ll be there …..


Stop press

I met an English couple, birdwatchers, who know the area and were here for five days.

I also met a delightful Polish couple, Kamilla and Woytek, who came on the spur of the moment from their home in Lodz, Poland.

We spent a couple of hours putting the world to rights. Good stuff.


Further information the site for cultural exchange. Gap year volunteer for food and accommodation whilst travelling abroad.

Working for free? Why? Er… why not? Part 2. (


Note: Some names have been changed by request.


© Pablo de Ronda


Tagsanis, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Boyaca, Canada, Colombia, coñac, Correos Express, Danish, Denmark, DHL, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lodz, Miura, MRW, Netherlands, New Zealand, Patxaran, Peru, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Workaway 

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The cat is out of the bag!
Wednesday, January 3, 2024

By Paul Whitelock

I've been writing for Eye On Spain for several years under different aliases, although I never really tried very hard to be completely anonymous.

Now it's time to "fess up", so here is a list of all my noms de plume on EOS.



The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world hard, with over 120 million global victims.

I am British, married to a German and we live in Andalucía in the Serranía de Ronda.

This blog contains articles i've written since we both caught Covid-19 at the beginning of 2020. It was a weird life of curfews, lockdowns, masks, hand gel, rules and regulations and, for those of us who were affected directly, the vicious after-effects of the virus, long-covid, bereavement and financial ruin.

I started this blog in the aftermath of our personal experiences with the Coronavirus. Hopefully it has run its course, ie both Covid and this blog.



This blog is entitled "Spanish Matters", because it does!

Matter, that is.

If you have committed to living in Spain, in my opinion you should also make a commitment to learn some Spanish. Your life will be enhanced.

So this is a blog about matters Spanish, as well as promoting the notion that Spanish does indeed matter.

The blog contains articles in both English and Spanish. Don Pablo hopes it will be helpful to those learning the language.

The name Don Pablo betrays my origins as a former Spanish (and German) teacher in the UK.

This blog will continue to be added to from time to time.


HOW TO ..... ?

This blog is intended to be helpful to English-speaking foreign residents in Spain by explaining "how to ... " do certain things.

The Crazy Guy has lived in Spain full time since 2008. A fluent Spanish-speaker he reckons he knows his way round the bureaucracy, the indifference and sometimes downright rudeness of "funcionarios".

The Crazy Guy is known amongst the Spanish where he lives as "El Loco", largely because, despite his advanced age, he's always on the go, doing this and that. The Crazy Guy hopes his "How to ..." articles will be helpful to others.



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.

Only Joe King didn't really want anybody to know anything about him. That's just gone out of the window, BTW.

He's blogging because he thinks he has valid things to say. He hopes readers appreciate the pun in the name (Only joking!).



Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of some 45 years and resident of Ronda in Andalucia for the last 15 years.

This is my main blog, indicated by the number of posts I have made, already in excess of 100.












This blog contains a selection of recipes from all over, in particular from Andalucía, Asia, England, Germany and the wider Mediterranean area.

Contributors include Rita Drechsler, Jovan Le Knorz, Madita Schröder, Carolyn Emmett, Simon Whitelock, Julie Wilkinson and Paul Whitelock, who are mostly members of the same extended Anglo-German family. Rita and Paul live in the Serranía de Ronda in Andalucía. Madita and Jovan live in Baden-Württemberg, near Heilbronn, Germany. Carolyn and Julie also live in the Serrania de Ronda and Simon lives near Bristol, UK.









The Crazy Guy is known amongst the Spanish people where he lives as "El Loco", largely because, despite his advanced age, he's always active, doing this and that. So, he's "The Crazy Guy".

This blog is about some of the things he's been getting up to lately.

The Crazy Guy (El Loco, according to his fellow villagers) likes to keep busy. He hopes readers of this blog find his experiences interesting. He has another blog on EOS called "How to .....?" which offers advice on how to do things here in Spain, based on his experiences.



A blog about cultural things: art, music, dance, literature, film and theatre.

The Culture Vulture enjoys the good things in life. These include art, music, dance, film, theatre, and books.









The Curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything about.

The Curmudgeon is now in his early 70s now and has lived in the Serrania de Ronda since he was 58.










This blog contains interesting facts about the history of Spain and things Spanish.

The History Man discovered Spain some 50-odd years ago and he fell in love with the place. He has been resident here for 15 years and takes a keen interest in all things historical, geographical and cultural. He is blogging because he hopes readers will find what he writes interesting.





The Spanish Fly is a nom de plume of Paul Whitelock who first visited Spain at the age of 20. Now more than 50 years later, he has been to most parts of the country, including nine of the 12 islands. He has owned property in Andalucía since 2001 and has lived in the region for the last 15 years. This blog is a travelogue about some of the places he has visited.

The Spanish Fly writes keenly about his travel experiences in Spain and beyond. He hopes you enjoy sharing his journeys and are inspired to make similar ones yourself.



So, now you know. All of these blogs are written by li'l ol' me, Paul Whitelock.

I hope you enjoy reading them. Please feel free to comment.


© Paul Whitelock


Tags: Andalucia, blog, blogger, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Crazy Guy, Culture Vulture, Curmudgeon, Don Pablo, El Loco, EOS, Eye on Spain, History Man, How to .....?, Joe King, noms de plume, Only Joe King, Paul Whitelock, Puntos de Vista, Serrania Kitchen, Spanish Fly, Spanish Matters

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CPC in Cala de Mijas - Christmas Party
Thursday, December 14, 2023

On Tuesday night it was the Christmas Party of the Costa Press Club, Club de Prensa de la Costa del Sol, of which Pablo de Ronda has been a member for some 15 years, since he has lived in Spain, in fact.




                            Photo: Karl Smallman


Along with his wife Rita and 15 other media people and their guests, this hardy international group gathered in Restaurante El Olivo in Cala de Mijas for the group's annual Christmas Party.


Christmas Dinner 2023

Despite having been a member of the CPC since 2009, this was the first time I'd managed to get to the Christmas "do". Well, I've been missing a treat, haven't I? What a great night!

The group gathered in the private dining room of this top class restaurant close to the beach in Cala de Mijas. Those of us who knew each other reacquainted ourselves and several new members were warmly welcomed.

The international group is more a social group then a networking forum, and is all the better for that. Comprised of writers, journalists, photographers, bloggers, web designers and radio and TV folk, the ages range from young to old. I'm not even the oldest, amazingly, and there are members as young as mid-twenty-somethings.

We had the pleasure of sitting with the former editor of SUR in English, Liz Parry; current acting president Neil Hesketh; Georgina Oliver, Arts and Style correspondent; Helen O'Leary, writer and illustrator; Sally Harrison, former actress and TV presenter from England, and her guest Javier from Argentina; and Sabine and Rene von Reth, new members originally from Germany.



                  Photo: Karl Smallman


Sabine von Reth has just published a book about the couple's experience of opening and running a small chain of Bavarian restaurants, "Bavarian Beerhouse", in London. Her book is called "Prost!" I bought a copy,  which I look forward to reading over Christmas.

Photo: Bavarian Beerhouse


The Christmas meal

We had pre-selected our choices. Rita and I both started with spicy duck roll served with guacamole and mango chutney. Then we got a sorbet to clean our palates. For our main course, Rita had fillet of sole in a cava cream sauce on spinach, while I had gone for the traditional Christmas turkey with all the trimmings. Afters was chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream for Rita and apple strudel with vanilla ice cream for me. All washed down with copious amounts of wine.




                             Photo: Paul Whitelock



Christmas Quiz 2023

This was a light-hearted quiz with a Christmas theme, prepared and hosted by Neil Hesketh. It was pretty tough but good fun. We came second.


Secret Santa

We each brought a wrapped gift to a value of not more than 10 euros and we drew lots to pick a present. I got a copy of the game "Snakebite", currently in its pre-publication version. Rene also gave me his gift - some tin mugs bearing Christmas messages.


The morning after

Several of us stayed the night at the nearby Gran Hotel de la Costa del Sol, where we got a favourable rate of 60€ including breakfast. Helen, Neil, Liz, Rita and I met for breakfast, before Neil had to head off for work (sucker!) and the rest of us headed for our various homes to continue enjoying being retired!






                                Photo: Wikipedia



© Pablo de Ronda


TagsBavarian Beerhouse, Bavarian restaurant, brownie, Cala de Mijas, cava, Christmas, Christmas dinner, Christmas meal, Christmas quiz, Christmas turkey, Club de Prensa de la Costa del Sol, Costa Press Club, Georgina Oliver, Gran Hotel de la Costa del Sol, Helen O'Leary, Javier, Liz Parry, Mijas, Neil Hesketh, Pablo de Ronda, Rene von Reth, Restaurante El Olivo, Rita, Sabine von Reth, Sally Harrison, Secret Santa, Snakebite, sorbet, spicy duck roll, SUR in English

Like 3        Published at 11:39 AM   Comments (1)

Working for free? Why? Er… why not? Part 2.
Wednesday, November 8, 2023

My alter ego Joe King has written about this previously for Eye on Spain back in May 2022. Prior to that, earlier versions appeared in Olive Country Life magazine in 2019 and on the Secret Serrania website in 2020.

18 months after the Eye on Spain update in 2022, I’m still at it, with two examples in a week, just recently.

Let’s re-cap and bring the story up to date.



In previous versions of the story, I wrote about difficult economic times, and money being short, arguing that working for free could be the answer for people struggling to make ends meet.  

I’ve been doing it now for the best part of 20 years. Here's a summary of my "working for free" career.



Lots of people volunteer, ie they work for free. They give their services voluntarily, for example as counsellors for the Samaritans, as advisers for the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, helping out at hospitals, charity shops, and in a range of other organisations.

Such volunteers provide a valuable service and are fortunate that they have sufficient private means, such as a pension, to enable them to do so.

I’ve done it. I used my large van to deliver items of furniture for a charity in Warrington that sold second-hand furniture and household goods that had been donated, usually following the death of an elderly relative. That was in 2008, before I emigrated to Spain.

I loved their Shakespeare-esque slogan by the way: “Now is the season of our discount tents!”


Payment in kind

But, what about those of us who cannot afford to give of our services for nothing in return?  Do we really need to be paid money for our work?

After all, if we are paid, we must give some of it to the government in the form of income tax and other stoppages. So, why not work for payment in kind?  This can end up being quite valuable and also great fun.

Since I retired in 2005, I have pretty much only worked ‘for nothing’.


First of all, I renovated a house in Ronda (Málaga) for an English lady in return for free board and lodging and other treats. In actual fact, she was my girlfriend at the time, Maude.

I repeated the exercise in summer 2008 for a Welsh friend from my student days, Jac, who lives in Luxembourg.  An entire summer decorating a large house from top to bottom was rewarded by board and lodging, slap-up meals out, trips to the opera, concerts, and a summer romance! 

I regularly did odd jobs for an American lady, Patricia, who lived in Ronda.  In return she kept an eye on my apartment, when I was away, checked my post and welcomed my paying guests on my behalf. Sadly she passed away a couple of years ago.





Once I taught two classes of Spanish (the regular teacher was sick) to expatriates in Ronda in exchange for ….. whoops!  I only got a free cup of coffee?!  Oh, well, I enjoyed it (the teaching AND the coffee), so no pasa nada.


From time to time, I’ve helped friends out with a bit of interpreting, eg phone calls, or tricky meetings. That often brings a free breakfast.

Lately I’ve translated two different restaurant menus for free, in Ronda and Montejaque. In one place I’ve not paid for a beer since! The other restaurateur is not so generous. However, I’m hoping he will give me the job of translating his website into English. ¡Ojalá!





In many fields of work, it is expected that, as a young person fresh from university, you work for free. In some careers it’s the only way to get on. Never mind a good degree, a Masters and a PhD, you need to be able to show significant work experience on your CV.

On graduation my daughter, Amy, did two internships, one in Brussels at the European Parliament and one at Westminster as a senior researcher for a British MP.


Probably the most famous intern of all time was Monica Lewinsky, who “worked” at the White House in Washington DC in the mid-1990s and, although she wasn’t paid, evidently enjoyed fringe benefits from President Bill Clinton.

As for Amy my daughter, her two internships put her off a career in politics, although she was a Labour councillor in Tower Hamlets for eight years. Doh!

Instead, for her career, Amy opted for the charity sector, where she has worked for MIND, Young Women's Trust, The Children’s Society, Unicef UK and Birthrights – a charity championing human rights in pregnancy and childbirth. She is currently Chief Executive at Tutors United, which provides catch-up education for disadvantaged youngsters.



The best example of the barter system working to the advantage of everybody concerned occurred early in 2022.


German family of six, mum (Lily), dad (Oliver) and four children, lived free of charge in my reforma house in Montejaque in exchange for their labour, or specifically Oliver’s.

He’s a joiner and so he fitted the banisters to my stairs, created a delightful shelving unit from a reclaimed door and window shutters, re-hung doors and completed other odd jobs.

He also did some kitchen modifications in our two other houses. What a great deal for both them and us!

Other unpaid but well-rewarded work has included translating restaurant menus, one in exchange for a patio table and four chairs (I needed the furniture; he didn’t!). That was in 2002, just after I bought my first property in Ronda.

The other menus were done in exchange for slap-up meals for two in one of Ronda’s top restaurants Restaurante Almocábar in Barrio San Francisco, Ronda.  


I have also written articles for a newspaper, The Olive Press, and for a local website,, in exchange for free advertising space.



Before I emigrated to Spain I spent a half-day doing odd jobs for a lady paid for by a nice meal out and did some remedial work in a kitchen for another lady in exchange for a rather fine coffee table.

In one week recently I experienced “barter” twice. First of all, I’d done some project management work for a non-resident English couple who own a house in Ronda. I was due a tidy sum of money, 100€, for the time I’d spent on the project. However, when Neil and Amanda invited my wife, Rita, and I for a super meal prior to their return to the UK, I waived my fee. Fair enough! No money, no tax!


The second barter was completed later that same week, when Rita and I spent four nights in a lovely front-line house on the Costa del Sol free of charge.

This was my payment from a couple of friends, Nick (UK) and Julia (Hungary), for looking after the garden and swimming pool of their big house in the country outside Ronda, while they were away on a silver wedding holiday in Central America.

Once again, no tax liability! Sorry, Hacienda.








The “Workaway” scheme


Workaway is a platform that allows members to arrange homestays and cultural exchanges. Volunteers, or "Workawayers", are expected to contribute a pre-agreed amount of time per day in exchange for lodging and food, which is provided by their host.

Hosts register at and are expected to provide information about themselves, the type of help they require to be performed, the accommodation they offer and the sort of person they are expecting.

Workawayers create an online profile including personal details and any specific skills they might have, after which they can contact hosts through the website and discuss a possible exchange.

Workaway is aimed at budget travellers and language learners looking to become more immersed in the country and culture they are journeying through, while allowing local hosts to meet like-minded people who can provide the help they require. It has been described as a useful way to improve foreign language skills, as well as an opportunity to develop new talents and learn about local traditions.

The opportunities on offer are varied and based in a wide range of countries around the world. Some types of volunteering available include gardening, animal-care, cooking and farming, as well as more specialist and niche help requests.

Workaway charges the “Workawayer” a yearly membership fee to connect to hosts but does not charge the host a fee to list. The duration of an exchange can range from as little as a few days to over a year.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of Workawayers over the last few years. They have hailed from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, UK, Uruguay, USA.

They have almost invariably been very nice people, mostly young, 18 or 19 on a gap year before university, or older, in their 30s.

One Dutchwoman “did it” constantly, moving from “job” to “job”.


Most of the ones I have met were doing bar/hotel work (says a lot about how I spend my time!), but I’ve also met a good few who were working on the land or in construction. Almost all were positive about their experience.

Whilst there is no requirement for the host to pay the Workaway anything at all, some do. The Hotel Ronda Valley, near where I live, pays their Workaways 600€ per month, on top of free board and lodging. Not bad, I reckon.

If I had my time over again, I would certainly have taken part in the scheme at least once.


Working for free?  It makes a lot of sense, especially in a recession or post-COVID-19 lockdown. However, if people want to pay me instead, that’s OK too!


© Pablo de Ronda


Further information:


This is an updated version of an article that first appeared in Olive Country Life Magazine (Jaén) in 2009 and subsequently on in 2020 and at in 2022.



Barrio San Francisco, barter, Brussels, charity shop, Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, coffee, Covid-19, European Parliament, expats, Eye on Spain, Hacienda, hospital, Hotel Ronda Valley, Luxembourg, Montejaque, Olive Country Life, Olive Press, payment in kind, Restaurante Almocábar, retired, Ronda, Secret Serrania, Shakespeare, Spanish, translating, volunteers, Westminster, workaway, working for free

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Halloween, All Saints and All Souls in Spain
Friday, November 3, 2023

What a hectic three days the end of October and the beginning of November are here in Spain. A semi-pagan festival, Halloween, followed by two Roman Catholic feast days, All Saints’ and All Souls’. This year, 2023, they have just gone by. All Saints’ Day, 1 November, was a national holiday. It fell on a Wednesday, so no ‘puente’, or bridge, to give a long weekend.

Pablo de Ronda has been looking at the background to these three días festivos



The word Halloween, a contraction of “All Hallows’ evening”, is a celebration observed in many countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

One theory holds that many Halloween traditions may have been influenced by ancient Celtic harvest festivals, which may have had pagan roots.

Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending, Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films.

In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.

Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as sweets or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” implies a “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.



All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. Its intent is to celebrate all the saints, including those who do not, or are no longer, celebrated individually, either because the number of saints has become so great, or because they were celebrated in groups, after suffering martyrdom collectively.

The feast may have started in the Christian community in Antioch. Its date, November 1, was set by Pope Gregory III and extended to the whole church by Pope Gregory IV.

In Western Christianity, it is still celebrated on November 1 by the Roman Catholic Church as well as many Protestant churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic and Byzantine Lutheran churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The Church of the East and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate All Saints’ Day on the first Friday after Easter.

In the Western Christian practice, the liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of October 31, All Hallows’ Eve (All Saints’ Eve), and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls’ Day, which commemorates the faithful departed.

In many traditions, All Saints’ Day is part of the season of Allhallowtide, which includes the three days from October 31 to November 2 inclusive, and in some denominations, such as Anglicanism, extends to Remembrance Sunday. In places where All Saints’ Day is observed as a public holiday but All Souls’ Day is not, cemetery and grave rituals such as offerings of flowers, candles and prayers or blessings for the graves of loved ones often take place on All Saints Day.

In Spain, el Día de Todos los Santos is a national holiday. As in all Hispanic countries, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. The play Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla is traditionally performed.


All Souls’ Day

All Souls’ Day, also known as the Day of the Dead, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died, which is observed by Catholics and other Christian denominations annually on November 2.

Practitioners of All Souls’ Day traditions often remember deceased loved ones in various ways on the day. Beliefs and practices associated with All Souls’ Day vary widely among Christian churches and denominations.

In contemporary Western Christianity the annual celebration is held on November 2, and is part of the season of Allhallowtide that includes All Saints’ Day (November 1) and its eve, Halloween (October 31).

Many All Souls’ Day traditions are associated with popular notions about purgatory. Bell tolling was meant to comfort those being cleansed. Lighting candles was to kindle a light for the poor souls languishing in the darkness. Soul cakes were given to children coming to sing or pray for the dead (cf. trick-or-treating), giving rise to the traditions of “going souling” and the baking of special types of bread or cakes.


So, there we have it. As implied earlier, despite serious religious undertones, the Spanish see this period as a time for family and celebration of life in general – even in the post-Covid-19 world we live in.

With acknowledgements to Wikipedia

© Pablo de Ronda


Photos: Karl Smallman –

Note: An earlier version of this article appeared at in 2000.




Tags: Allhallowtide, All Hallows’ Day, All hallows, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, Covid-19, Day of the Dead, Día de Todos los Santos, días festivos, Don Juan Tenorio, Halloween, José Zorrilla, Karl Smallman, Pablo de Ronda, Secret Serrania, trick or treat, Wikipedia 

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