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Archive for May, 2008

THE ROAD TO HELL

I swear to God, I travelled the Road To Hell last week … in my efforts to reach the Hoopoe Yurt Hotel down near Cortes de La Frontera in Málaga ….

It ranks as one of my worst ever driving experiences – at one point I thought I was going to be found, in true Bridget Jones style, being eaten by Alsatians, MONTHS later …..

Having booked my 3 day holiday online, I was sent a map on how to get there – a simple drawing that had been scanned in for me to print out. Which I did. And it worked fine until I got to the cross roads by the petrol station – where it was also fine as the map made it quite clear I should turn left.

The tarmac / concrete on the road, within a very few metres, went to the right and there was a “left turn” which was pretty much straight ahead, however as the concrete goes to the right, so did I – after all – there was no “turn left” indicator on the map – no indicator of any roads for that matter …..

I reversed out again some 10 minutes later as said road took me 2km down a track at which point the road ran out, tipped VERY steeply away from me, and turned into the Road To HELL – I joke NOT.

So I turned around after backing out of Hell some long distance and went back to the petrol station and asked for help – to which I was told categorically that you go down the unmade-up road and when you see the white house, you turn right ….

OH MY GOD ……….

Alone, in my car, with my mobile signal faltering, I returned and teetered over the edge of this precipice – staring down at the gouges of earth, rocks the size of my head, gulleys where flash floods had carved out and deluged away what earth remained … and my hammering heart was palpably chewable in my chattering sweaty mouth ….

I gripped the wheel tighter, raised my shoulders by a foot, said a prayer, and eased over the brink, foot jammed on the brake as I swerved and scraped, avoided and manoeuvred my way down the road to end all roads ….. And 400 yards later came to a fork in the road ….

And no White House …..

To say I said SH*T to myself would be an understatement …..

I carried on a little way straight ahead and just knew it was wrong, so backed up, VERY slowly, using my mirrors like crazy to stop myself gouging either side of the car on jagged rocks or trees ….

And took the right turn ….

BIG MISTAKE ….

That was a track with 3 foot high central growth which HID BOULDERS – boulders which hit and scraped the underbelly of my car and terrified me even more …..

And I arrived at another dead end …..

The map beside me winked at me so I grabbed my mobile and scanned it for their number —– which wasn’t THERE!! I could have SCREAMED at this point as I realised that I had absolutely no choice whatsoever – I HAD TO BACK OUT OF THERE !!!!!

I nearly pood myself and was gulping back the urge to scream, cry, run away ….. it was the worst drive of my life – even worse than my 27 km adventure on an unmade up road last year … scraping and crunching back up this unbelieveably tiny track trying to avoid damaging my car any more – back to the fork at the bottom of the scariest road I have ever driven ….. The stench coming from the engine scared me more than anything else – and the prospect of HOW do I get out of this mess ?

So I commenced a 455 point turn – inching forwards and backwards between rocks, trees, boulders and spikes – painfully slowly edging the car from precipice to smashed light fitting, over and over, until I was pointing once again at the Road from Hades, but this time I had to go UP the B*gger …..

20 minutes later, my body absolutely ice cold with sweat – even my sweat was sweating – I found myself at the top of the road with tears of relief pouring down my face.

I went back to the petrol station, shaking like a jelly, and told them what had happened to which they said “You turned right?” …. I asked what they meant and it then all became horribly clear – the road that bent to the right with a left turn coming in was actually a straight ahead road with a right turn going off it, no matter what the cement lines may say ….

I could have sobbed … The stress I had caused myself was off the scale – even childbirth was easier than that …..

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Living as we do in the very heart of Andalucia, our guests frequently use our peaceful base to visit local cities – Córdoba, Málaga, Sevilla and Granada being the most obvious choices.

But have you heard of Jaén?

The Province of Jaén is situated to the East of Córdoba, touching Castilla – La Mancha to the North, Murcia and Almería to the East, and Granada to the South, and boasts the incredible statistic of producing on average 900,000 tonnes of olives each year from 4,500 sq km of groves and some 40 million olive trees.

That translates to more than 200,000 tonnes of olive oil, or aceite de oliva – half of Andalucía’s requirement, one third of Spain’s, and a 10th of all the olive oil consumed in the world today.

The City of Jaén is breathtaking – http://www.andalucia.com/cities/jaen.htm – it was taken from the Emirate of Granada in 1246 following an amazing six month siege, and it is held that the new frontiers would be respected in exchange for half of the emir’s income!

However all that changed in the 15th Century when the Catholic Monarchy used Jaén as a base against the Granada emirate.

Come back for more interesting information titbits on Andalucia’s places of fascination – they occur regularly!!

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I go walkabouts ….

I wake up grumpy for no apparent reason, get through the morning rituals that that well known You Tube video of the song Mom exposed, and then as soon as the school day starts, I put on my trainers, tie my hair back in a chaotic mess, grab a small bottle of water and, with keys stuffed down my cleavage, leave the house planning to never return

It’s just after 11am and I have been gone nearly 2 hours – I turned left out of the house today instead of the normal right, and speed walked down the hill towards Iznájar. I had determined a day or two ago to strengthen downhill muscles so that I could climb more of the hills and mountains you see, and while I have no problem going up, I fall to pieces coming down…

So once I was at the bottom of the La Celada hill, I was already thinking to myself “How am I ever going to persuade myself back up there?” – you see it is steep most of the way, and then it has a 200m stretch where it is about 1:3 – and I was feeling a bit daunted at the return prospect.

So putting that out of my head, I forged ahead and through the olive groves til I found myself at a tiny babbling brook – the noise was just tinkly and lovely – and I made myself stop there and enjoy it for a moment – if I was never going to return, I might as well take a break there …

So I crossed the stream and started to walk along a scar of a road hacked out of the side of the mountain – well used and undergrown, and with Iznájar in the distance, I was starting to feel that I may return to my house after all, just making a big loop out of my determination to leave.

Then I saw horses – gambolling 50 yards beneath me at the base of this rocky crag I was discovering – and felt extremely grateful that I had chosen to cross the river rather than walk unbeknownst into this frolicking foray of long strong legs that would undoubtedly have seen me as a chance to play.

On and on – ah – there’s my chance to cross the scrub and arrive outside my friend Gonzalo’s house – so I stride out across a “field” which looks unthreatening and actually rather beautiful spotted with zillions of wild flowers …

And the grasses get longer and longer and longer. Before long I am wading up to my thighs in grains, bergamot, vast variegated thistles and goose grass – leaving me covered in tiny sticky seed balls … and I go the wrong way, turn back, wade up the hill as if through solid treacle, my thighs and bum by now screaming with the effort and then Splat – I lose my footing completely and end up in a heap of ticks, seed heads and goose grass balls ….. !

It did me the world of good …

My grump was left on the floor, and I stood up, smiled at my trousers now totally covered in goose grass balls, and headed for Gonzalo’s house and bashed on the door. No reply, but a 10 minute deballing took place before I stiffly got to my feet and started to head back here.

It’s a LONG way …. and my water ran out so I refilled it at the Cuatro Vientos bar (they do brilliant tapas there) and as I rounded the corner I was thinking that I might actually hitch my way home – it was getting warmer, and that 1:3 hill was taunting me somewhat …

And then I heard it – toot toot – my angel had arrived – Peter, who lives just down the road, scooped me up and drove me, engine howling, all the way up to the top of the hill, cutting my walkabout short by about an hour and a very sore pair of legs ….

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It is one of the most pleasurable experiences imaginable, as a newly opened Guest House, to be Fully Booked ….

The publicity, public relations, editorial and effort shows itself to be paying off …

And more importantly, that the word of mouth from our lovely Guests is saying what we always hoped it would say ….

Stay here – It’s Great …

I am humbled and delighted with the press we get – thank you!

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I have just watched a programme on television about this hospital in Granada ….

I am absolutely in awe of the Junta de Andalucia – they have created the first hospital in Spain (possibly further afield) which offers an entirely ecological diet to its Patients.

How wonderful is that?

May they lead the way to other hospitals following suit in registering that what is fed to patients is of vital importance to their health ….

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All my life, ever since I can remember, I have Loathed, Detested and Despised BROAD BEANS ….

I think they were invented by Satan to torment normal folk .

In fact I would go further and say that I think anyone who eats Broad Beans needs lobotomising (so that would be my entire family including my son ………..)

I cannot bear the smell of them, the feel of them, and to cook them – well I’d rather have my nostril hair plucked out a strand at a time.

I have a friend who feels the same about custard …. she has to leave the table if anyone is eating the yellow peril ….. It makes her physically gag !

Do you have a food that makes your toes curl? Which is it?


Bed and Breakfast La Celada Iznájar Córdoba Spain
Quirky Watercolour Paintings Website
Living the Dream in Spain Blog
Casa La Celada Blog
Art Blog

Ecademy España – Ecademy Spain

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With time on my hands yesterday and a new sculpture in the pipeline, I decided to visit the last remaining old fashioned ironmongers in Rute (ROO-tay). It is an extraordinary shop – similar to Arkwrights in that it will have Fork Handles and Four Candles as well as air conditioning machines and wheel barrows.

I feel, as I enter this homage to the olden days, that I must morph into a mole, because there is not one single light on in the whole shop, and a smell of damp pervades the air. Through the murk you can make out everything from chairs to heaters, watering cans to coffee makers – all dredged in a thick layer of dust.

I cough, call “Hola”, and wait. And, as ever, from around a mountain of tiny boxes housing every size of screw, nail, washer and bolt, comes the owner – a man in his 90s, who has not a hair on his head. And from the mountain of boxes to the counter, all of two steps, I watch him, quivering and shaking, as he takes minutes to cross the gap to greet me.

He gathers himself and looks into my eyes with his own rheumy blue pair.

I tell him that I have come to buy wire – the thinnest possible, and that I am in a bit of a hurry.

He explains to me that he can sell me however many metres I want, while trundling back to a vast pair of wire cutters. I am ordered to follow him so, remaining behind him, we walk, more slowly than the growing speed of an oak tree, to his back rooms, him shaking with a regular, almost soothing monotony, as he goes. He fumbles around for what seems like an age for a light switch, potters on – another light switch – potters on until eventually we arrive in a dusty damp infested room with cement bags and chicken wire.

I’m really beginning to realise that I should never have come here, and yet I am practically having an out of body experience with the surrealness of it all. Here I am, in some dank and dark back room with an extremely elderly man who is no gentleman, but I feel entirely safe as I could walk faster than he could run.

And he shows me his prized wire – huge rolls of oxidized and galvanised totally unsuitable stuff which I won’t be buying – so I thank him and say No, sorry to have taken your time, I need a much finer wire …..

I thought I had my opportunity at that moment to escape, as my eyes fell on the dustiest sewing machine for sale next to a chemical loo and floor rug – but he says No! Come here, I have more … and we walk back, achingly slowly, back to the very place we started where he shows me his thinnest wire – 0.6mm – too thick and galvanised …. But nevertheless presented with a pride you rarely see in shops these days.

And he starts the same conversation we had the last time I went in – you’re not Spanish are you? But not English either … Oh? You are English? Well, you don’t look English, and you don’t speak Spanish like an English person ….

Bye Bye, Mr Acorn Antiques …. Til next time ….

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