The Beer Run and a Bomb Shelter

With the beer shelf of the fridge looking sadly empty we interrupted our morning to take a quick trip to Adra and our current favourite shop for essentials –  Lidl.

We timed it right as there was 50% off the second bottle of most of the ‘nice’ beer labels, so we threw Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Germany into the trolley with some of their Italian range of food and headed back.

“Fancy a look at the museum while we’re here?” asked Museum Man Stan. (I wish he felt the same about the beach)

I did, so… we did.

Entering the museum, the nice chap at reception turned on the lights and gave us a few pointers for looking around – then asked where we were from. “Ireland  – piped up Museum Man Stan – he almost always refuses to admit to his Queen and country – Er, Alpujarras, we live in the Alpujarras.”

Nice chap: “Which part?”

Stan: “Murtas”.

Nice Man: “Ah Murtaaaa  – a big smile – (it’s always the same reaction). My family were from there in the 1800’s….There’s also another foreigner there, an Englishman, a photographer, do you know him?”

Soy yo, (That would be me)” admitted the Honorary Irishman.

Apparently, they had met years ago, when Nice Chap visited the village and he purchased one of Stan’s photographs that was displayed in the bar – giving him his contact details and asking for more, explaining that Nice Chap was in fact the tecnico cultural for Adra, and he wanted to do an exhibition of the Honorary Irishman’s work. Yay.

Except the Honorary Eeejit lost the details and never followed it up.

So, fast forward to this morning.  Nice Chap turned out to be Javier Sanchez Real, author of Farua, that annual cultural book on Adra, in addition to his tourism/cultural role, and a mine of info on Adra.

We promised to come back armed with camera and notebook – because the museum is seriously good,  and I’ll cover more on it in another post, but do go – and he gave Hon Eejit all the details again, as unbelievably he is still interested. He’s also love me to write some info in English 🙂


Photo from

Javier then directed us down the street to the ancient town walls, and instructed us to claim a key from a bar, saying he sent us 🙂 which would enable us to have a private look inside the Civil War bomb shelter, which we duly did. It was fascinating, and was also used to shelter those who walked the route from Málaga to Almería as detailed in the book The Crime on the Road by Norman Bethune. Paul Read  – Forgotten Stories From Spain: The Ambulance Man And The Spanish Civil War is another great read on the same subject.

So that was our rather interesting morning…yours?

9 signs you’ve settled in

Moving to Spain means a transition in mindset and lifestyle as well as geographical relocation.  You might be immediately comfortable, or wonder if you’ll ever settle in.

But watch out.  There are signs that will show if you do – so here are 9 to look out for:   🙂

1. Flat feet. Wide feet.  Feet 2 whole sizes larger than the ones that first excitedly entered Spain.  Your flip-flops are your best friend.  No longer do you breathlessly lust over Blahniks – your high arches and post-party foot aches are a thing of the distant past.


2. It becomes perfectly normal – indeed absolutely necessary –  to shout loudly “Who was last?” as you walk through the door of anywhere with a queue.  The medico, the bank, anywhere.


3. Although there are 20 impatient people huffing behind you, the bank counter seems like the ideal spot to discuss  your impending operation in full detail, with gusto.


4. Slippers are as important in winter as flip-flops in summer.  The perfect footwear to go shopping in.  Team them with that furry housecoat and you will set off your outfit perfectly. Go for the full village experience and buy them from the travelling van with the megaphone.


5. Market clothes start to look like an attractive possibility. Elastic is a definite possibility.  Big knickers a complete necessity.

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6. The neighbours have started to actually eat the food you bring to gatherings.  Of course they do, you’re using their recipes.  You have banished all manner of spice and stopped hankering for a Jalfrezi. The only Naan in your life is the one that sends you a birthday card.


7. You fully accept that inviting the neighbours round for a dinner party results in their bringing the entire clan.  Granny in the corner sucking on a bit of Jamón, 20 kids eating something lurid and staining, whilst jumping all over your white Bauhaus sofa.  Get over it.

kids calm

8. Brandy or Anis and coffee sounds perfectly reasonable at 8am.


9. You have developed an interest in the Spanish TV soaps, but only at full volume. and the quiz shows, the word games.  But just to improve your vocabulary, right?  And wearing that slipper and housecoat ensemble.


Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  As soon as these signs appear, it’s too late – you’re already done for.

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.

Rest In Peace

A quick trip home to Dirty Dublin last weekend, in fact shiny and groomed it is, at least my picturesque village of old, a river runs through it, quaint thatched pubs and pretty coffee shops abound. There’s even a tapas bar. But even chocolate box scenes can be sinister.

A reason to go

A purposeful visit to see my mother, getting on in years now and recently an almost-victim when she experienced a couple of unwelcome wannabe visitors. Big cities equal crime, the capital is just a short ride in a getaway car and lonely widows make quick cashpoints.

So, a short holiday/visit for me and The Girl, who drew gasps and too many admiring glances for my liking, her lofty height and Dad’s DNA bringing attention. (Think Biro refill with hips) She enjoyed the family, the shopping, the festive fever and the overdose of One Direction memorabilia available. I managed a taste or twenty of the Black Stuff right here….


Back in the real world

Meanwhile Stan and The Boy stayed home, they did the unthinkable and ventured to Iceland after Málaga airport, as in the land of processed shite, not the one of hot springs and geysers.

They also took in the Almería – Real Madrid match. I think the Scotch Eggs and Sausage Rolls brought more satisfaction!

A call to arms

Stan was summoned, another day, around to the Bodega, which is also the Carpintería, at least formerly. The current owners father was the village carpenter in days past.The neighbour wanted a hand hauling something and had rounded up a few locals. Work done, he showed them an old fireplace he had uncovered.

– I’ll make a few shelves for that, put some antiques up, what do you think?

The general consensus is that wood these days is expensive. Much sucking in of missing teeth and mumbling.

– No problem, says he, I have loads of wood.

– Where?…..

A final resting place

…..He waves his hand over to the corner. Eyes swivelled to where half a dozen coffins, circa civil war – were laid to rest. Well, a carpenter only had so much work in those days….

You can’t use those, exclaimed Stan! Laughing, he suggested that our friend might as well make a bed or two while he was at it…

– No, no …that would be disrespectful. Shelves it is.

Stuff the Lettuce

Living in Spain…you’ll oft hear of expats waxing lyrical about the good life: Sunshine and siestas, the tapas and the relaxed temperament, the generosity of neighbours – all good and true, naturally. We love it here, on our Andalucian mountain, even the hard times are good times, a life filled with a lack of serious cash borne bravely, compensated by the good things, which have turned out to be much better for us than the finer things…

Winter is here, it arrived unexpectedly a little while ago, suddenly my flip-flops looked silly, the wood burner more attractive, and the fly screens redundant.Image

The sky is still a deep blue – and HIGH – but there’s a nip in that mountain air that would send a chill through even this hardy Irish Rubia.

As the dogs edged closer to the fire this week we thought to order in some almond to feed it with, that or start regarding the furniture with a beady eye, it’s quite big and pretty hungry, so we ordered a trailer full which was more than reasonable, working out at 11 cents per kilo (although who is going to weigh it I have no idea). Well, it’s all stacked neatly thanks to the friendly delivery chicos and Josh, and it’s partnering the other item down in the stable that’s going to help keep us all warm. 

A mule? A stack of blankets?.Image

Our generous vecinos – who keep our Summers padded out with bags of beans and lettuce – have pumped in 500 L of the finest Red – a soft and naturally sweet, organic Tempranillo/Cabernet mix…

Suddenly Winter nights look a tad cosier…