The Nights Draw In

Today a long-sleeved shirt has come out of the wardrobe. Trousers, shoes and socks replaced shorts and sandals about a month ago. And a few minutes ago, I pulled on a sweater as well. Spanish houses fall down quite badly on thermal insulation. Outside, if you sit in the sun, out of the breeze, then it"s still lovely and warm for most of the daylight hours, but indoors the temperature is down to around 17°. Back in England that was enjoyably mild; here in Spain an acclimatised ex-pat finds it distinctly chilly.
It"s a lot cloudier recently, too and my web-based weather forecasts indicate that over the next couple of weeks we can expect rain on between half and two thirds of the days. This is not surprising; this is one of our 'rainy seasons' in the run-up to Christmas. Hopefully, we won't see the protracted, heavy rains that we endured last winter, but neither do we want to embark on another drought! Time will tell!


A Second Bite Of The Cherry

We returned from Cabo de Gata on the Tuesday, giving us just enough time to empty the suitcases, repack them and head for the airport on Thursday morning to catch a flight to Gatwick. We had booked three nights in a hotel in Ripley, just around the corner from our elder daughter and her family, followed by two nights staying with them for a spot of babysitting duty, before returning to Frigiliana the following Tuesday.
The purpose of this trip was to celebrate my birthday with the family, which we did with a lunch on the Saturday at a local pub with en excellent menu. In addition to our daughter and son-in-law and our two granddaughters, we were joined by our other daughter who lives about an hour away, my youngest brother’s ex-wife, her partner and one of her sons - sadly Peter died last year, and her other son was on rotation working out in Khazakstan - and my other brother. We had a similar get-together in the summer of last year, shortly after Peter died; this, a much more cheerful occasion, was another really enjoyable day, and I’m sure people are already wondering how we can meet up again next year.
In addition to my birthday lunch we had the treat of attending our eldest granddaughter’s school fireworks display on the Thursday evening; she only started at the school in September, so took great pride in showing us around, and of joining our younger daughter again on the Monday for her birthday lunch.
So, here I am back in Frigiliana with the completion of my three score years and ten behind me. I am banking on my genetic inheritance (both my paternal grandparents were in their mid-eighties when they died) to give me a good few more years of active enjoyment of living this dream.
¡Hasta la próxima!, as my Spanish neighbours would say.


A Weekend To Remember.

This past weekend, we went to the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Almería for two nights, to celebrate my birthday. It’s only about two and a half hours away by car and we have often thought of visiting it but never got round to it. However, 70 seemed to call for a bit more of a celebration than your run of the mill birthday, so that prompted action.
On the internet I found a likely-looking hotel in the coastal village of Las Negras and booked us in for Sunday and Monday nights. It turned out to be a wonderful hotel in a magic spot, and I’ve no doubt that we shall be going there again.
Although Cabo de Gata is so near to us, the province of Almería is very different to our own Málaga Province. The area gets very little rainfall most years, and indeed from the mid-1940s to the mid-80s it experienced a forty year drought! The climate is reflected in the barren, desert landscape, and even today it remains sparsely populated, although centuries ago the rich deposits of lead, gold and iron made it a major mining area. The mountainous terrain betrays its volcanic history.
The four star Hotel Cala Grande, a recently built modern building is all cool whites and greys in a minimalist style which contrasts with the landscape, but is in harmony with the typical architecture of Almería, squat, cuboid, white houses with flat roofs. In the basement it boasts a spa, gymnasium and both outdoor and indoor pools. Forty five minutes being pummelled and pulled on the massage table was the icing on the cake.
For some reason Blogger is refusing to upload a photo for this post, so I’ve put a selection of photos on Flikr if you wish to have a look (http://www.flickr.com/photos/53210313@N06/).
One note of caution, there is a town of Cabo de Gata just outside the park. It is a fairly pedestrian Spanish working town. Better to stay in Las Negras, La Isleta del Moro, or San José.