A Chance Encounter

I was just checking something online when I noticedthis website and clicked on it. Hey Presto! Walking holidays being offered here in the village.
I've opened a 'links' section and this is the first entry. As I come across other sites of local interest I'll add them in. Hope you find them helpful!


Raising the Profile.

Frigiliana features alongside the Alhambra and Nerja in the video for Sharon Corr's debut single.



Thursday and Friday we had the first real rain since May, a clear indication that we have moved out of summer and into the beginnings of autumn. But we were on the southern edge of the weather system and avoided the much heavier rain that fell in much of the rest of the Peninsula. Now the weather has cleared again, and it is warm and sunny once more, but there will be other isolated days of rain over the next month to six weeks; then we can expect - or at least, hope for - the proper autumn rains. Then the rain should be heavy and prolonged over the course of around a fortnight to three weeks.

This year new drains have been laid along c/ San Sebastian, the main street of the new village. At the same time, culverts have been installed so that the water cascading down the stepped streets (callejones) climbing up to the ridge from the main street is diverted into the new drains before reaching San Sebastian. So the water running down the street should be simply from the rain that falls on it. The callejones, however, will doubtless perform their customary trick of transforming themselves into rushing torrents, water up to 10cm deep tumbling down the steps. OK if you left home prepared, wearing the wellingtons you brought from England, but otherwise drenching your trousers as you plod valiantly up the waterfall to the safety of your own front door. Still, at least the streets are beautifully clean after a few days of this rain and your trousers soon dry out; shoes take longer, though.

Lest you misunderstand me, our rains are so well-dispersed in the year, that they have their own attraction and appeal. And of course, plenty of rain in autumn and again in spring ensures well-filled reservoirs and aquifers to carry us through all those hot, sunny, dry days that characterise this region.


It's That Time Of Year Again

It's the middle of September. The summer holidays are over. The children are back at school. The heat, such as it was, has gone out of the British sun. The days are getting shorter. Hopes of a good summer this year have finally evaporated. In another six weeks the clocks will go back; it will be dark when you travel home from work. Shortly after that, it will be dark when you go to work too.

So it's the time of year when you ask yourself whether there isn't a better life you could opt for. I guess this year that feeling will be even stronger in the UK as people look forward with apprehension to George Osborne's autumn spending cuts; it looks like being a long, hard, miserable winter.

You remember the sun, the fun, the stress-free time on the Spanish costas. And you may be tempted to up sticks and head for a new start and a better life in Spain - like the one I enjoy! If, like me, you are retired and have a secured pension income, (moderate will do), then I wouldn't seek to discourage you. How could I, when my entries in this blog paint such an attractive picture of life out here?

If, on the other hand, you have dependent children and you need to work in order to provide yourself with an income, then you should think very long and very hard; and you should probably conclude that it's better to keep it as a dream.

Younger Brits coming to Spain either have a trade, often to do with the building industry if male, or to do with hairdressing, beauty if female, or expect to find a job which demands their fluent grasp of English. This latter category usually means either estate agency, or running a bar/restaurant aimed at the British residents/holiday-makers.

The Spanish construction industry, and with it estate agency, has collapsed almost completely; a host of estate agencies have closed down over the past couple of years. Nothing is selling. The tower crane has become a rare sight, where once they despoiled the skyline. Spain is awash with Spanish construction workers - bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, tilers, plasterers, painters, etc - desperately looking for work. As a foreigner, you might as well not even try. Tourism numbers are down, so there is a glut of hairdressers and beauticians.

To give you an idea of the situation, here in Frigiliana, a village of 3,000 people, there are 258 people 'en paro' (on the dole), that's just over 8.5%. But, of course that 3,000 includes retired people no longer looking for work, mothers choosing to stay at home to care for children, and those children themselves. So - and I'm guessing now - probably only half of the population is in the 'working' group. In which case, 258 unemployed represents 17% of the working population or one in six. That's how bad things are right now.

There are also more bars and restaurants than the present state of the tourist industry can support; residents are eating out less frequently than they used to, so they can't make up the gap. You could, of course, offer 'something different' - import British beer, offer a full English breakfast, a roast Sunday lunch. Except that that isn't different; it's what most struggling British-owned bars are doing; and it doesn't work.

So I hate to be a killjoy, but if you dream of a new start for you and your children in a better climate, forget it. For those who have to work it will turn out to be a nightmare.



Every now and then I pick up a copy of a free, English-language newspaper. There's not usually that much in it to interest me, but the latest edition is something of an exception. To share a little of the content with you:
"Almost five cars per resident in Colmenar"
Colmenar has approximately 3,600 residents, but 17,407 cars are registered there. Municipal Vehicle Tax (the Spanish equivalent of the vehicle excise licence) is operated at a local government level with each authority permitted to set its own level of tax. The Axarquia region, which includes Frigiliana and Colmenar, sets a particularly low level of tax. As a consequence, Madrileños with second homes in the Axarquia, and car hire companies register their vehicles here, even though they are rarely if ever to be found in the towns.
"Happy expats want to stay"
I'm sure you, like me, have been exposed to much UK media coverage detailing the misery being experienced by us expats "trapped" in retirement hell. Well a recent large-scale survey found that on the contrary, 77.3% of expats are 'happy' and a further 16.5% are 'relatively happy' living in Spain. Only 3.5% wish they could leave and only 2.7% are planning to do so.
"Alfarnatejo earthquake is virtually unnoticed" - Well, that says it all, really.
"Hottest August"
It appears this year gave us the hottest August since 1942, with an average temperature of 27.6 degrees, and night-time temperatures rarely lower than 22 degrees. Now, though it's September, the wind has swung from the south-east to the west, and the daily maximum is around 29 degrees; normality returns!


A Taste of the Three Cultures

Well yet another Three Cultures Festival is behind us. This year's was a bit draining; not the content, which to my mind was better than ever, but the heatwave that hit a couple of days before and lasted through until the Sunday. There's just so much going on. This year I took advantage of my much improved Spanish and attended the three lectures on different aspects of the local culture which can be traced back to islamic, jewish and christian roots. Fascinating. In fact I've ordered a book by one of the speakers. When I've had a chance to read it, and check that I understood correctly what was being said, I'll return to the subject and share some of it with you.
In the meantime, here's a snatch of the percussion group who signed off the festival on Sunday night. ¡ Buen aproveche !