Spanish Dreams? Reality Bites

“Are you mad?  Ah – go for it – lucky ba$tar*s.  Can we have your furniture?”

I admit most of our friends took the realistic approach when we shared the fact we were decamping from our very normal life to a leaking shack/money pit 1115 metres up a Spanish mountain.


But, wait, stay right there.  This is not a “Hey look at us, didn’t we do well” lifestyle post.

It’s been, well, great – and almost 10 years on we are happy enough with our lot – although it has not always been easy.

Especially the cold and hard winters we have endured since we arrived with boxes of linen and cotton clothes, and a selection of flip-flops – our woolies and 15 tog quilts gaily abandoned in a Newport skip.


©Carol Byrne


But –  this is the middle of summer.  Spanish summer.  The sun has got his sombrero on. Woop – right?

The expectation

Calls from home – wet and windy Ireland calling…

“You must have a great colour”

“How blue is the sky?” (This last one usually asked through gritted teeth, as in Ireland we wear the sky as a grey bobble hat)

“You’re off for dinner? Oh imagine, sitting OUT”

“Saw your area on A Place In The Sun – it looked FABULOUS.”   Er, no, you didn’t.  Just Christopher Columbus and us made it this far up a blasted mountain.  Maybe Mallory if he was lost.

Image of a glossy highway sign on blue sky

The reality

Actually no.  I’m a faded brown, sort of sludge colour.

Why? Well, since our day (note the singular) on the beach this year, when we overdid the idea of a day off and turned deep Gamba pink, we haven’t sunbathed.

I did buy a relaxer-lounger garden chair, but haven’t managed to sink my bum in it once.


Wiki commons

Wiki commons



It’s too bloody hot.

So, envy-filled friends and family, imagine a different picture.

Closed shutters, drawn curtains.

The fan whirring and pushing hot air around.  Re-runs of A Place In The Sun on TV.

Flies.  Big flies.  Flies that might normally be indicative of a dead body in close proximity.

Little flies.  No-Sees.  They salsa through the mozzie nets, laughing at us, and with needle precision torment us all night.

We eat out – sure we do.  At 11 or 12 in the darkness when it’s cool enough, the mosquitoes have us for postre as we sit there sweating and heavy breathing.

Entertainment is mostly checking the dogs for ticks.  And then checking us for ticks. *Shudder*

So, dear friends and family, look fondly at that ‘soft weather’ – and be bloody grateful.


Hooray – It’s Spay Day!

Yes, I did type that correctly.  Funny, the dogs have all disappeared….

Seriously, we love our 4 legged friends, and since moving to Spain have, like many expats, opened our front door and our sofa to several vagabonds, ragamuffins, in Barney’s case, downright vagrant.  He’s the only dog who can look like he’s been through a bush backwards half an hour after his bath.

Love and money

But apart from food, flea collars and firewood to keep them warm there’s another real expense with stray dogs and that’s the delicate topic of spaying, neutering, ball chopping – whatever you want to call it.  But, there is a solution, and that’s where Spay and Neuter Assistance comes in and saves the day – if not poor Fido’s manhood. Contact them via that link – it goes to their Facebook page – and they’ll fit you in on one of their Spay days and give you a quote.  Their work is brilliant, they also pick up unwanted and abandoned animals and spay them.  They have several spay dates a month, at a fraction of the normal cost, and will fit you in.

How big is the problem?

Guys, it’s epidemic. If a picture paints a thousand words, then look at this:


Not convinced yet?  Okay, you do the math…


Radley has had his date, just 3 more to go…and Jimi the street cat – ssshhh he’ll hear!

Jimi Car

So I’ll say it again – Contact Spay/Neuter assistance today. Please share this post. x

How big is the problem?

Mad Dogs and Englishmen…and Irishwomen…

Yesterday started with Stan doing a bit of watery work at a friend’s cortijo, and then we headed off to the coast as our Texty Teen wanted to see her ‘boy friend’, who we are not allowed to call her boyfriend, or share or like or comment or, well, anything, for fear of being deleted, blocked, banished. Like all peace loving parents we merely nod, agree, and drive.

Getting to Smell-Ejido early, I went and had a haircut,  performed by a slightly  – but nicely – crazy lady who did a great job considering the material she had to work with – it’s difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I have her card and will return.

Having seen Texty Teen safely there, we mooched on alone to Almería city, to visit the brilliant provisions market and buy a picnic lunch.

This, the new decision for jollies and general days out. Fed up to the back teeth and tastebuds of bad restaurant food and slop filled menu del dia meals we have resolved to picnic as long as the weather is nice enough, and eat the food we really like.

This week we went for complete opposites when it came to trips – a couple of days in Guadix passing the Puerta de Ragua at 2000 metres and getting close to the snow-covered sierras, and yesterday a desert trip to Tabernas and the area around it.

As soon as you mention Tabernas, folk think of Mini Hollywood, but we haven’t ventured there yet – we were interested in the immediate area though – there’s not a lot of info on the net and I thought it might make a good article for Spain Holiday.

Just beofre Tabernas there’s a motorway restaurant – we stopped there and were quickly thrown out again – apparently it’s the film set for a new Claudius film, an English/Italian production. We didn’t leave until we had at least wheedled this information. Terribly posh trailers too, go down to Restaurante Alfaro if you also want to hassle the security guard. 🙂

We walked to the top where the castle lies, smiling uneasily at a couple of dodgy looking Gypsies and taking their photo on request. There’s a great view from there of the rather miserable town grown rich by the film industry of the 60’s and 70’s, for a few dollars more, it might be improved – but it’s all a bit square, boxy, lacking in personality. A bit meh.

Back down in the 35 degree heat and high humidity and we drove a bit then went through a tunnel to a track. Stan got out to take a photo of a ‘lovely finca with potential’ (heap of stones) whilst I panted, wheezed, and drank the last of the water. I noticed a couple of puppies wandering up to him and tired at that point I looked away in the other direction.

Falling over an indignant viper who quickly slithered off, Stan turned to find 20 eyes trained on him. 10 hungry dogs were eyeing up English Roast lunch. He moved faster than the snake and back into the car…I’m sure they were just being friendly. 🙂

We wandered a bit more further on, the old film locations make an interesting stop – you forget for a minute this isn’t actually the Wild West – just the pretence. But it is an extreme place, all the same, and worth a trip. Just bring a bone or ten.

Break a leg in Laroles

Laroles? Where’s that then?

Not too far from me actually, here in the Alpujarras. A stage backdrop of winding roads, leading to dramatic drops and stunning views.

Sleepy and tranquil, most visit here for a taste of tranquility, a chance to wind down.

Last weekend, however, there was a bit of a buzz…..

It was caused by Anna Kemp, and her mighty troupe. As they sing out in Les Miserables, (she) Dreamed a Dream.

And it seems if you persevere, dreams really can come true!

The Project

The Project

The Cast

The troupe? A cast made entirely from villagers of this little pueblo, merry men – and mujeres  – a willing Mayor, and many hands.

Anna, who lives in Madrid and holidays as much as possible in Larolesfirst came to the Alpujarras because she was working on the film Al Sur de Granada, based on the life of writer Gerald Brenan.  

Anna on opening night

Anna on opening night

The First Act

Spending Summers in Laroles with the local kids and creating little theatre groups, led to her bright idea of something bigger, something for the whole community, and somewhere inspired by the legendary Rowena Cade and the amazing Minack open air theatre in Cornwall. (*Tip.If you haven’t been there – then go!)

So, inspired by the natural Eras (old threshing circles) splayed around the outskirts of the village, Anna and her crew set to work, rebuilding and refurbishing the old stonework  – hard work too. But with the backing of the local Mayor, and the strong backs of the villagers, they have finished the stage area, and it is truly a stage with a view.

An Era in action in times gone by

An Era in action in times gone by


Last weekend we went to see the culmination of community effort – so far….

Anna, her family, the entire village and friends were there to welcome everyone and reveal the result. We had a lovely evening, under the coloured lights as the balmy evening crept into night. We chatted with both Anna and Manuel Escobosa, the helpful, friendly, and facilitating Mayor, as well as do-ers, shakers and movers from Madrid, and the locals.

Whilst the adults tucked into Migas, Sardinas and Tinto de Verano, I noticed the kids on the stage area, dancing, singing, and performing their own little production, stars in the making!

Everyone is now keen to get the theatre off the ground, and we plan to return on the 16th of this month to see the local kids tread the boards.

Picking the corn from the era into a measuring trough in days gone by

Picking the corn from the era into a measuring trough in days gone by

The Final Act?

They will of course succeed, it’s a brilliant and inspired idea, just perfect for a little pueblo in the Alpujarras, bringing in tourism and breathing life into the area. This community project still requires more awareness of the project, so feel free to shout and share!

There are still major expenses, lighting and sound engineering is not cheap, if you feel you can help out in any way then have a look through these links and contact Anna. or just go and see the project as it happens, get involved in a great plot and be part of the limelight!images

Anna and Co., take a bow!