Tag Archives: benamaurel

A visit to Cortijo Búho (The Bird of Prey Experience)

April 2018 and we visited Cortijo Búho’s Bird of Prey Experience.
Not being seaside attractions kind of people: Kiss Me Quick Hats, Slot Machines and Benidorm Karaoke (you get the picture) we were very excited about this trip, particularly because it is only 20 minutes away from our cave.

Cortijo Búho is just outside Benamaurel, a reasonably large and typically rural Spanish village in cave house territory with quite possibly more bars than people. They run what they call a “Bird of Prey Experience” which is aimed at small groups and families, forget waiting around for 20 minutes for the people in front to get a move on so you can have a look in the next cage….. This is actually Really Quite Special !!!

We were booked in for the 12th April, It was a dull grey and cloudy day but it had at least given up raining.
On arrival we were greeted by a Mat and Lawrence who immediately invited us in to their fantastic Vaulted Cave House which dates from the 11th Century, I’ve yet to see two identical cave houses but this one is spectacular. We were given a rough itinerary as to what we should expect…. It Pretty Much went as follows: 1: Meet some Birds. 2: Have some Food. 3: Meet Some Birds. (I must stress here that this is nothing like meeting birds at a Benidorm Karaoke).

First of all we got to meet and handle the Barn Owls Molly and Magic, a lovely pair who quite happily demonstrated their silent indoor flying skills and their ability to chose who to land with, somewhat dependant on who had a little treat for them. Next up was Mystic a gorgeous 2 month old White Faced Scops Owl who has recently learned to fly but seemed to quite enjoy walking around on the table and being very attentive to anything that moved.
Time for Dinner……. WELL WOW ! Three Course Thai meal, created with organic produce from Mat and Lawrence’s own garden….. This was certainly one of the best meals I have had in Spain in the seven years I have been visiting. During dinner Mystic fell asleep on top of a candle but had to be woken up so she could be put away as it was time for Matty to arrive.
Matty is a young European Eagle Owl, Eagle Owls are really impressive to see and handle up close, their sheer size and power is really evident when you are nose to beak with one. Amazingly given her size and weight (2 metre wingspan and almost 6.5 kilos in weight) Matty was able to fly with total confidence inside the cave and land happily on the chiminea at the far end.
Lastly It is the turn of “Sasa” the Harris Hawk, again really impressive up close and a so obviously a true hunting bird.

Just to summarise:
Mat’s Cooking is second to none and the fact this unique experience is aimed at small parties means you won’t get forgotten and will get looked after superbly.
Lawrence is a total mine of information about these creatures and he loves to share his knowledge, we found ourselves totally immersed in the whole experience and time literally flew.

The Birds are exceptionally well cared for and are quite obviously part of the family as are the other animals you will almost certainly encounter (Dogs, Cats, Tortoises and even a newly acquired Pony).

Important: Due to this experience being set up for small groups Please Make sure you book in advance as you will not be able to just turn and expect to be fitted in.

Links:
Cortijo Búho Website
Follow Cortijo Búho on Facebook

A bit of information about our Cave House

I often have people saying “you have a cave ?, where do you go to the toilet?, does it have stalactites/mites?” etc etc. so I thought I’d post a bit of information about it.

Our cave has 13 underground rooms, 2 rooms built on the front and another separate block built room in the yard. It also has a covered verandah. Because it used to be 2 houses it still has 2 front doors but the caves are connected inside via a passage that was dug out more recently.

Front Aspect

The door on the left of the picture by the Barbecue is a cave store room (which probably used to be home for a Donkey as there is an old feeder inside) this measures approximately 4 metres x 2.8 metres. Moving to the right is the extended part which houses the shower, toilet, bidet and washbasin plus a utility area. The covered verandah measures approximately 3.5 metres square and although I’m not that keen on the look of it, it’s great for being able to sit outside on warm evenings even when it is raining. You can just see the first front door in the left hand side of the verandah. To the right again there is a covered pathway about 1.4 metres wide all the way to the right hand end. You can see the second front door just to the left of the tree. The jacuzzi is at the far right by the tartan blanket. In the right of the foreground is the other building which is basically a small room about 3.5 metres by 2.7 metres with light and electric.

Cave Plan

At present there are 2 x double rooms (the one on the right is almost 6 metres long), a single room and a twin room. 2 lounges, kitchen, dining roon, breakfast room, 2 dressing rooms, shower room and the room I call the Music Hall which is inside the second front door and contains my stereo and a sofa. On the plan the tunnel that connects the dining room with the music hall is where the two original caves were connected.

Most caves (that I have seen) seem to be laid out in a similar way where one largish room is cut out first and then other rooms are cut out to the left and or right and then carrying on forward in a similar fashion. Our cave has signs of this but I guess because they were originally side by side they were limited as to directions they could dig.

I love the look of traditional caves like Danny and Josie’s see One Foot in the Cave but after spending time mooching about under the verandah, I’m pretty glad it’s there (even if I wouldn’t have bothered with it).

anyway that’s a little bit of information about the cave itself…… please ask if you want to know more.

The Week after Fiesta in Cortes

Late August 2016

We arrived for our second visit this year the week after the Fiesta, this is the time that the whole village seems to go in to limp mode, not surprisingly as the whole place will have been buzzing for the previous couple of weeks.
We were greeted by the newly built hot tub step/counter that Clive had built, I had asked if he would be able to build a step with maybe a place to put drinks and my iPad so there was somewhere within reach to change music without getting out (I love being able to leave things in his capable hands and know that he can grab an idea and run with it).

Hot Tub Step

We had arranged to put on a Barbecue for Bob and our newly found friends Rachel and Sean on the Wednesday so it was all systems go, mainly because I love the idea of getting together with people but I’m not actually that bothered about getting together with people. I am somewhat introverted ! I can’t really be bothered with having too many people around me and I don’t feel I need many people around me, all said and done though It was a great evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I totally enjoyed the company of people who If I’d been them I probably would have said “aww sorry, I’m cutting my nails that day”. The Barbecue was a success not because of Bob’s barbecue skills or Rachel’s Schnapps but because of my Cous Cous (that I always get from Lidl) :-).  As well as Schnapps Rachel brought Daisy along (one of the street dogs she had rescued and the reason we met in the first place) Daisy was looking very happy with her new pack, she also brought Lenny who is from what I can make out a six foot tall puppy crossed slightly confusing himself with a teenage human, anyway enough of that.

This was to be a pretty boring holiday because the weather was lovely and nothing out of the ordinary happened in the way of “set backs” so we made the most of it and visited the local communal swimming pools.
First up was Los Olivos, I think it cost 2 euros each (for as long as you like) and we had to put up with about another 20 or so people.

Los Olivos Pool

Next we headed to Orce for the pool (the one with the fish) which was equally busy.

Orce Pool

Finally Cortes which was again very busy…..

Cortes de Baza Pool

This was to be the first time I really thought about adding to the decor since splitting up with my ex-wife.
I found a guy on eBay who printed canvas prints so I had some album covers copied and then I found some cheap album frames for real albums so I now spend a lot of time in charity shops looking for album covers to put in them. It’s quite nice not having to worry about the condition of the records themselves as I’m not likely to play them as all my music these days is digital.

Album Cover Canvasses

The First REAL Album Cover (Hats off to the Spaghetti Westerns)

All in All this was the most normal and straightforward trip to the cave 🙂

The First Holiday

August 2013:
my marital status was well and truly over, I’d spent a couple of months in hiding, licking my wounds and sofa surfing. I decided I needed to visit the cave properly on a holiday after all the effort that had gone into getting the place…… where do I start?  Facebook of Course 🙂

So I put a status on Facebook asking for a travel companion, typically I got next to no response.
The first was from a friend who runs a tea tent at festivals…. although she was into the idea of a break she couldn’t get around having time away in the middle of the festival season. I was then contacted by another friend who was able to squeeze the dates in… It was on ! I was crawling out from under my stone and attempting to use the place as it was intended (or as I at least had intended).

The plan was to go for the Fiesta (weekend before last in August). I had heard that Cortes gets really busy during fiesta and the population swells to around four times it’s usual amount which by my reckoning would mean there was likely to be 30 or 40 people on the street at any given time of day or night.

We flew out from Exeter to Alicante which was novel as I had always flown from Bristol in the past. Driving to the cave was interesting as I was with somebody else and therefore I almost certainly spent too much time explaining that it was going to be fun even though it wasn’t by the sea etc etc. On arrival I was greeted by the barbecue that had been made from the remains of the old kennels. I love the barbecue, it was one of the silly ideas I had about having my own bar with a pizza oven and then got embarrassed about thinking it was a typical British thing…. a bar with spirits and a couple of lager pumps, a tv with sky sports on 24/7, a place for fat red people with their skin falling off to congregate and a place where I could be the landlord…… fortunately Clive had excelled my expectations tenfold.

On entering the cave it turned out that Clive hadn’t stopped at the barbecue but had also removed the ugly shelving in the shower room and replaced some parts with wood giving it a lot more of an organic feel (I was Very Happy).  I sorted everyone out with their rooms and set about drinking a nice cold lager before we headed off to the fiesta. The fiesta was very busy, there was people everywhere and of all ages. I love the fact that families spend time together in Europe much more than they do here, Babies, Toddlers, Teenagers, Parents & Grandparents all enjoying each others company and not being embarrassed by each others behaviours. I imagine it’s down to having a little more respect for each other ?

I also got the jacuzzi (it arrived on the previous trip) fired up and that was a rather odd experience because I had imagined spending family holidays splashing about in it.

This was to be the first holiday ever and the last holiday for about a year, during this period  there was a lounge collapse disaster and I found love again <3

I apologise for the rubbish fiesta photos below…..

A Flying Visit

We headed over to Spain in mid December 2012 to finish off the cleaning and also to sign paperwork with our solicitor so he could go ahead with court proceedings against the electric company.
This trip included 4 gallons of white wine vinegar in the hold and a change of clothes. I remember there was snow on the mountains but the weather was bright and sunny (I was the only person in a t-shirt). We headed for Baza to do the paperwork with the hope that the electric company would back down on the €2300 bill they expected us to pay.

I spent a whole day throwing vinegar around, so much so in fact the place smelt like a Chippy which was still preferable to a cattery. It felt a little like things might be coming together, the floors were so clean you could eat your dinner off them (albeit that’s a weird thing to do, give me a plate any day) but the best part was that Clive had come along in leaps and bounds changing square angular things into more organic and cavelike curves and arches.

We were only over for a couple of days so we gave Clive a list of things that we would like doing and started thinking about organising the next trip which would be to move stuff in from the UK.
The decision was made that we would look towards March or April of 2013 (something to look forward to after the fast approaching Christmas).

We had been working at Tiverton Recycling Centre for about 7 years and had taken over the day to day running of Crediton Recycling Centre in Devon for about a year at this point so we were already piled high with furniture, crockery, pictures and all manner of other bits and bobs, all the furniture in we had seen Spain was very overpriced so we decided to collect our own…… the stuff that arrives at recycling centres would very often be far better than stuff I might buy myself (especially for a second home on a now very tight budget).

Roll on the New Year 🙂

 

 

A Day Trip with Sean and Mat

 

On the 3rd of September 2012 we arrived in Galera to meet our estate agent Sean, he said he had 5 caves for us to look at….we headed off on the A-330 but had to stop for some petrol at a little garage where the lady who greeted us must have been at least 90 years old, her Guard Dog (who was also getting on in years) barely lifted an eyebrow and certainly wasn’t coming out from under his bush to investigate us further.

First stop was a cave that was owned by a couple of artists (somewhere along the road from Galera to Cullar), it was a great place and finished beautifully the only problem was that it was smaller than we were hoping and there was no amenities nearby.
Next we headed for Benamaurel (a rural village with about 300 bars). Here we met Mat KT who has since helped me immensely in my seemingly endless path of mistakes (Thanks Mat). The cave here was really nice  It had amazing views up the rambla (riverbed) and it had a reasonable amount of space indoors and outside. The main thing that put us off this property was it had shared access with a neighbour and had other caves in every direction including one that was directly below and it’s chimney was in the garden of the property we were looking at. It was however great to get an idea of the contrasts between how remote and how on top of each other these caves can be.

The next trip took us to Cortes de Baza (a sleepy place that reminded my of the Comic Strip Presents A Fistful of Travellers Cheques) to see a large “YELLOW” cave (that I had previously seen on the website) This place was really big, originally two houses that had been knocked through into one, It had a big secure courtyard with a lovely big Ash Tree in the middle. This cave was our favourite so far as it had plenty of space and was about a five minute walk to the village, the only thing it was lacking was a view….. but it did need some work doing, nothing serious just things to make it more like a home and less like a cattery, there was a big area of purpose built kennels for dogs and cats that would have to go.

Onward, this time to Cortijo del Cura to see an “ECO Cave” as we were running recycling centres in Devon at the time this cave sounded the most interesting as it featured Hemp Brick for Insulation and some new fangled heating system. This was another nice cave and had some lovely rustic wooden features but again it was very small and was nowhere near a shop or more importantly a Bar….. The would be next door neighbour here had a Jacuzzi that was set in it’s own cave looking across the valley which would have done nothing more than make me envious every time I went past.

 

Our final destination was Huescar.
Huescar was the only village on this trip that we had visited previously and not particularly liked (for no reason that I can think of). The Cave here was Massive, It had a few really big rooms with really high ceilings, It also had a big outdoor area that had stunning views  across the Rambla and onward to the Sierra de Castril Mountains. This property also had another separate cave that was in need of full refurbishment. Overall loads of space and loads of scope for  the future but all these things cost money and we weren’t really taken with Huescar anyway.

So we headed back to Sean’s office in Galera, said our farewells and promised that we would be in touch………..

We were both thinking about the “YELLOW” Cave in Cortes de Baza….
and then the questions started: how many people could comfortably stay in it? could you put a pool in the yard? could the kennels be removed? would the two “craft rooms” be better converted back into bedrooms? would it need an extra toilet? how many cars could you park at the front? etc etc………