Tag Archives: spain

4 Kittens in the Wheelie Bin

Our summer trip this year was destined to go wrong because I was left to organise it. I had arranged to meet a few people that I had met online, I’m not one for meeting random people off the internet unless of course you count my fiancee Rachel and I class that as her fault not mine, she should have been more cautious as to who she let in to her life 🙂 . We headed out from Southport at 3:00am for Manchester Airport, It’s not got a famous persons name as Liam Gallagher is still alive as I write unlike Federico Garcia Lorca in Granada……. alas I digress…..
We arrived at the cave at around 2:30pm, got set up beds, beer, wine etc and had a rest in the sunshine. When we decided it was time for some food we headed up to one of the bars, we had just left our hill and I heard wailing coming from one of the Wheelie Bins that are dotted about, I had a look inside and found 4 very small Kittens with their eyes still closed. Although I don’t like Cats, I couldn’t walk past and leave them to die in 40 odd degrees so we scooped them up and took them back to the cave. Fortunately we were able to contact a friend who was able to assist us (well the teenager) into the best course of action to follow…..
which was to get into Baza and grab some kitten formula, feed them every 3 hours and stimulate them into going to the toilet…. herewith follows the perfect way to distract a teenager away from the lack of 3G/WiFi etc. The long and short of this is that the Kittens are doing very well, Clia (the Teenager) is knackered and we have some fantastic friends in Cortes.
but also please stop being so awful to animals…..

April 2018….. the collapse of the chimney and other nicer things (a couple of Days in Granada)

This year we flew into Granada for the first time, we knew it was a lot closer to the cave but had never tried this run previously, we are definitely coming this way again at every available opportunity. We picked up our pre-booked hire car from AVIS who were very helpful and didn’t try to hassle us in to buying upgrades or extras, the car was better than adequate (bearing in mind we always use the cheapest cars we can get our hands on). We were out of the Airport within 1/2 an hour and on the road. The scenery along this route is amazing, you’ve got the edge of Granada City then the Mountains of the Sierra de Huetor and the snow capped Sierra Nevada followed by the Red and Orange, Outer Space like scenery of Guadix and then finally the Altiplano in the Baza Region – We arrived at the cave within 1.5 hours.

On arrival we heard from the locals that this was the coldest spring they could remember and that it had been snowing overnight in Castril, we ended up getting getting handed three days of cold winds, cloud and light rain. This then picked up and turned to intermittent sun and cloud. 

A few weeks before our arrival we were informed by Clive that he had found some issues with the chimney, basically some of it had collapsed. It was around the chimney where my initial water leak had appeared back in 2014 (catch up with the original Story Here). To cut a long story short, this area of the cave had been left until last and when attempting to fit the new woodburner the mantelpiece collapsed bringing with it a big pile of mud,clay and stone. I hasten to add that I didn’t like the existing fireplace so I was somewhat happy to have it worked on. I am very happy with the outcome and it is nice to get some more organic curves replacing harsh straight lines. 

This visit also saw the last few bits of furniture being delivered from the UK, stuff I’ve had stored firstly in Devon and then in Merseyside since 2013. The Cornish Methodist Chapel Pews for the dining room, a double mattress, a Moroccan brass table, an odd hall stand, pictures, lamps and various other bits and bobs to scatter around. Finally the dining room looks like a useable part of the house rather than a dumping ground and walk through to the other half of the cave. Clive had also fitted the Candle Lanterns that I converted to electric in the kitchen and got all the electrics working in the master bedroom. I would like to add here that for the first time ever It actually feels like a home rather than just a place we go on holiday.

We spent the last two days in Granada City, right in the heart of the Albaicin at an apartment with a roof terrace that looked directly over the Alhambra and Mirador San Nicholas (Check Our Apartment Out HERE, it is well worth a Look). The owner asked us to meet at the edge of town so her husband could guide us in, which is just as well as we would never have made it otherwise. The route went from normal road into winding single track cobbled streets that reminded me of James Bond car chases, we only had a small car but it was still pretty hairy after the luxury of the empty motorway. This area is a fantastic place to explore and we spent our time doing nothing more than bar hopping around colourful shady streets listening to and watching the large variety of buskers and street performers who seem to mainly be working hard in the sunnier plaza areas. We found some lovely interesting shops, bars and restaurants all dotted about in the maze of tiny streets….. I don’t like towns in general but I love Granada and even after the second visit there is still heaps to explore ! 

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

April 2018 and we visited Cortijo BĂșho’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 BĂșho 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 BĂșho Website
Follow Cortijo BĂșho on Facebook

This week I have mostly been flicking through this: Once Upon a Time in Almeria by Mark Parascandola

I stumbled across Mark’s Blog about a year ago while looking into the possibility of visiting “El Condor” (the remains of the purpose built filmset Fort used for the film of the same name). His blog had a post talking about his visit to the site then going on to explain that the land owner had turned up with a gun and loosely threatened to shoot him. Obviously I was rather put off by this idea as I never trained to be a teacher in Trump’s America and would therefore be unable to overpower him. Reading on I discovered that Mark was a photographer with a fondness for the Almeria region and also a huge interest in Spain’s historical Spaghetti Western film history.

He has spent many years documenting the villages, forts and farms that are slowly being reclaimed by nature. So much so that to the untrained eye there isn’t a village with a bar, a church and a ferreteria at all where Alex Cox filmed his 1987 movie “Straight to Hell” and previous to that Charles Bronson took the lead as Chino in “Valdez the Halfbreed” in 1973 right beside the  Autovia A-92 just outside Tabernas……

……. after reading through Mark’s blog I discovered that he had book that was very close to being published featuring lots of photos of his visits and naturally I had to own one.
To cut a long and tedious story of how my mind (doesn’t) work it arrived at the beginning of this week and It is fantastic…. Lots of lovely photos of places I’ve visited and some that I haven’t  that aren’t all totally overexposed like mine always are.

Credit: Mark Parascandola

Fun Fact: The “Flagstone” Set for Sergio Leone’s 1968 Once Upon a Time in The West Movie was also used in the KLF’s 1991 White Room Film (find it here on Youtube).

If you have any interest in the Spaghetti Western genre then this is a great book to have,
It’s about ÂŁ25 (find it here on Amazon)

** I’m not selling it by the way **
** I’m just informing you because I like it very much 🙂 **

BOOK INFO
Paper over Board, 10 X 12 In. / 148 Pages / 70 Color Photographs
ISBN 9781942084396

Our Friends Eco Campsite Project in Vera

I haven’t updated in a while…. as there hasn’t been much going on in my life cave-wise since I was last in Spain, today however I thought I’d pass on some information about a project one of my friends in has been working on.

Camping VerdeVeras

The plan is an eco friendly (offgrid) campsite on a piece of land that she has recently purchased in Almeria Province.  She has been planning the site for over two years but now the purchase of the land is complete it is finally moving along and will almost certainly be an interesting place to go and stay.

Situated on the outskirts of Vera the site is a sunny, level plot about 14 minutes from the sea, just under an hour to San Jose, The Cabo de Gata and Almeria and good place to start if you are wanting to explore the Spaghetti Western locations in and around Tabernas and the Cabo de Gata. Vera town itself is just a short walk away and is full of the usual amenities, Supermarkets, Bars etc.

The site is taking shape slowly but surely but at present she is looking for some help doing stuff clearing, heaving, building and generally being helpful (obviously having a skill in eco stuff would be more than handy)…. there is already a small team onsite doing stuff but any help would be or could be useful…… so if you have some time free between now and next summer and fancy a cheap holiday in a lovely part of Spain get in touch via the Verde Veras Facebook Page.

When the site is open it will be a great spot to base your explorations in this area of Spain…..

There are several Airports within fairly easy access: Almeria 50 Mins / Murcia 1 hour 22 minutes / Alicante 1 hour 56 minutes / Granada 2 hours 10 minutes / Malaga 3 hours.
and of course the drive from the ferries in the North is well worth the experience.

Also if you are in anyway interested in exploring this region pop in and LIKE the Facebook page for updates
Camping Verde Veras

The Winter Blues are setting in already…but there is stuff on Telly :-)

I always suffer a complete sense of gloom at this time of year in the UK, partially because I know I won’t be going back to Spain until the spring and partially because I know it is going to get darker and wetter here for the foreseeable months. It’s usually about now that I will start practicing learning Spanish again, I find it much harder to concentrate between Spring and Summer because I am always too excited about flying out again. So this week I have been back on DuoLingo and also catching up on the British TV shows about people moving to Spain (A Place in the Sun, A New Life in the Sun etc). These little things just make me feel closer to this part of the world that I adore.

Anyway…. Yesterday I was having a little break from moping and spotted a facebook post from Cuevas Helena which is about 15 minutes from my place, talking about a TV show that they were featured in.
Channel 5 – Our Dream Hotel. This is a great watch if you are interested in Cave Houses (or of course holidaying in one). Lovely to see such passion not to mention a fantastic finished cave. I am always grateful to see Mt Jabalcon too as it reminds me of another home 🙂

You can watch it on catchup at Channel 5 – Our Dream Hotel

 

August Holiday and a Trip to Granada

Well we popped over for 11 days in early August for our second and final holiday of 2017.
I was armed with bits and bobs along to decorate a little and put a bit more of a mark on the place (mainly vinyl albums in frames but also some other junk I had collected from charity shops over the past few months). The weather was brilliant, mid to high 30’s the whole time and the jacuzzi was even at 35c when I first turned it on…. more importantly though, My first bit of Great News was that Clive had fitted the new hot water boiler so we now have Hot Running Water, this might not seem like much but it has never worked properly since we bought the place, partially due to me not having cash and partially due to other things that were more important.  The excitement of having hot water forced me to buy a portable washing machine from Amazon and have it delivered to one of the local bars so this was also waiting for us at a friends house on arrival. This was a great addition to the house and meant I was able to leave a full 10 days worth of CLEAN clothes behind thus meaning I can take more junk next time. Clive had also worked on the arch in the large bedroom and made some nice little cubbyholes with sockets inside (just big enough for a cup of tea and a mobile phone).

Our neighbour had told us that “Donk” the Donkey had reappeared and was living in the Old Bullring so we bought a big bags of apples and carrots from the Mercadona in Baza and took her an evening feast (the following day she got sold to another farmer so we ended up with a heap of apples and carrots we had to throw out).

We didn’t really have any plans for this holiday other than going down to Granada for a night. Granada is about an Hour and a Half from Cortes de Baza and we had booked a little apartment on the hill below the Alhambra. I’m not really a city/town person but I loved it there and really look forward to exploring further, our main goals were to visit the Alhambra and Placeta Joe Strummer (Joe Strummers memorial plaza). However I have recently taken an interest in the Spanish Civil War and the story of Federico Garcia Lorca which means we have far more exploring to do in the future. Granada is very hilly and when we visited  the temperature hit 44c so I would advise using the busses or taxis around the town (even though we didn’t). There are mountains of interesting Bars and Restaraunts and the Alcaiceria is certainly worth an hour of your time. We pre-booked tickets for the Alhambra (and I would strongly advise that you do to, if you want to guarantee entry) but by the time we arrived we were so hot and tired that we didn’t queue for the palaces but instead had a cerveza and partook in some much needed people spotting. There are some fantastic views of Granada and the surrounding area from the Alhambra so it is definitely worth taking the time to visit.
Granada Photos Below:

Quick Rundown:
Day 1: Went to the Supermarket
Day 2: Fed Donk and got Got Burnt
Day3: Donk left 🙁
Day4: Went to Granada, got Hot and Tired
Day 5: Came Back from Granada
Day 6: Went to Rachel and Shawn’s for dinner (Lenny the giant dog did not steal my food)
Day 7: Our other friend Rachel arrived from the coast for a few days.
Day 8: Had a look around Baza.
Day 9: We all went to a Barbecue at Bob’s House.
Day 10: One Rachel left and one of the other Rachels came out for lunch at Hotel Galera (for my Birthday).
Day 11: Drank and Ate too much.
Day 12: Did some tidying and washing before setting off home.

I managed to get the drone out briefly but it was a bit breezy and I got scared (footage below).
Drone Footage August 2017

and finally the most recent Cave and Holiday Pics. ….. Thanks for taking the time to have a look.

Bar Jairo

April 2017 Holiday

This was to be (hopefully) our first trip of two this year. I like to get out early in the season before it gets too hot, partially to test out gadgets and of course because I love it here. We didn’t have the teenager with us this time so I us a booked a night at the Hotel Galera so we could pretend to act like grown ups.

The Gadgets this time included a Parrot BeBop 2 Drone as I really fancied getting some overhead footage of the cave and the surrounding area….. I hadn’t flown it before so there was lots of crashes but I did get a little footage which I will post a link to at the bottom if you are interested. I also bought an LG Minibeam Nano LCD Projector as we have in the past enjoyed sitting out on warm evenings watching films under the verandah….. this didn’t go to plan either as it was about 9 degrees after the sun went down, the idea was great though as this thing will practically fit in your pocket and it is rechargeable. Next was the Celestron Travelscope 70 (Telescope). I bought this based on the fact there is so much visible sky and so little light pollution in this are of Spain, having seen the Milky Way looking spectacular last year I thought we might fancy a go at stargazing (It was fairly cloudy/hazy at night so this didn’t get much use but It did fit into Ryan Air hand luggage. Finally this little media player box that you can plug SD Cards, HDD Drives and Thumb Drives into which in turn plugs into a TV or Projector allowing you to watch pre-downloaded films etc. The media player worked very well and exactly as it should, although we didn’t get to try it with the projector, just the TV (great buy at ÂŁ35 on eBay)……. anyway less of the advertising and on with the holiday 🙂

We spent the most part of this trip relaxing, having arrived (unusually) not on a Sunday we were able to pop to Baza on the way and pick up some essentials because I remembered that I had not left any Cerveza behind last time. On arrival at the cave I found that Clive had made the arch in the main bedroom far more acceptable by making little inset shelves where these massive unusable shelves used to be and joining the whole thing together so it looks heaps better too. Unfortunately I forgot to get photos of this. We spent a couple of days generally doing not much at all except for organising a barbecue for Rachel, Shawn and Bob. This was the first time I had felt any interest in changing things around and rearranging things so they were different from when I first set the place up with my ex-wife. I felt great about the place again, I love all the stuff that’s there but it was a case of moving it into new places and of course adding some new stuff. I even cleaned up the two antique pine chests of drawers that got flooded 2 years ago and gave them new homes in different rooms.

On the Saturday we had arranged to go to Hotel Galera for a night and to partake in their excellent food. We were not disappointed, the food was great, the service was great and the Hotel is Lovely…. we highly recommend it! We spent the afternoon looking around Galera and walked up to the Chapel on top of the hill for some spectacular views then back to the hotel for dinner and sleep.

The rest of the week was spent between Cortes de Baza bars for morning coffee or evening drinks and the chinese bazaars in Baza for light bulbs and cleaning equipment.

Finally the day before we were due to fly back I received an email from Ryan Air saying the baggage handlers were going to be on strike and advising passengers to only bring hand luggage. I guess we are quite lucky that we were able to leave lots of clothes behind and squeeze what we needed into hand luggage. It did make me happy that I hadn’t got to worry about messing about for ages at carousels in the hope that our stuff was on the plane.

Click Here for a short Film from my drone, It gives a little bit of an idea of the area.(expect better ones or at least different ones in the future)

 

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 🙂