Welcome to Fuentecilla

fuentecilla 1STRANGE how life works. One bleak October day in the mid-1950s you emerge into a world gripped by the Suez Crisis; you are sent to school with a bag of pencils and a blood orange; your O-level results are far worse than expected; you struggle to bring up a family while the certainties of the world you know are demolished by a woman from Grantham; all your old aunts, uncles and grandparents die one by one; doors close while others slam in your face; good things happen but you tend to forget about them; your child becomes a man; grandchildren blossom; years dance by with unsettling alacrity; then suddenly, almost but not quite accidentally, your life changes beyond expectations and you buy a strange house in a strange country . . .

That’s the stage I’ve reached. We’ve just moved into a house called Cortijo la Fuentecilla. Very roughly translated, the name means cottage of the fountain with the small source. Fuentecilla is pronounced Fwenty-theeya not Fwenty-Cilla, and is nothing to do with Cilla Black, who died just down the road a few weeks ago. Mind you, I must admit I was very slightly tempted to use Step Inside Love as the headline.

fuentecilla 2Our plot covers 2,500 square metres, which is just over half an acre, and contains olive, orange and mandarin, lemon, pear, pomegranate and fig trees. There are several as-yet unidentified fruit trees and a number of grape vines.

There is a large number of lavender bushes, an artichoke bed, various herbs scattered about the property, patches of carrots growing randomly, a shed the size of Heorot, some crazy electrical circuitry, an interesting drainage system and an unspecified number of septic tanks.

fuentecilla 5

Dormant grape vine
Dormant grape vine
A carrot patch . . .
A carrot patch . . .
Sage growing among the undergrowth
Sage growing among the undergrowth

There is, of course, also a house in which to dwell and the things that come with it.

Goodbye dear old allotment plot in North Yorkshire. Hello fruit farm in Andalucia and the challenges it brings. Like I said. It’s strange how life works.

The view from the roof: Sierra de Lujar
The view from the roof: Sierra de Lujar

BYE THE WAY . . .

I’VE been out of circulation for a few weeks while moving house and rediscovering the pleasures of mixing plaster and painting walls and ceilings, so a happy New Year to you all.

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26 thoughts on “Welcome to Fuentecilla

  1. Happy New Year Alen, I thought when we hadn’t heard from you the house move was in full swing. Your first paragraph sums up the speed life goes at but now I hope like myself it slows down and you enjoy the “fruits” of your labour. Sounds like you have your hands full but as they say in Spain poco a poco.
    Regards John

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    1. Hi John. Thanks for that. I see the snow level is creeping down towards Carataunas so I hope you’re snug and warm. We are down the Camino de Benizalte (under the bridge beside the little BP garage then a sharp right towards El Morrion). We’ll have to meet up for a drink one of these days.
      Cheers, Alen

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  2. Happy New Year Alen, delighted that you have found your own home now, sounds like some heads down hard work required, but – what an adventure!!

    We were down (up?) your way last September. We were on vacation in La Herradura and chose the only rainy day of the holiday to drive up to Las Alpujarras. It was other worldly driving through the clouds along the winding road to Bubion and Capileira, more like a grey autumn day around Alston than summer in Andalucia, but invigorating none the less.

    Clouds were still drifting up the valley by the time we stopped for lunch in Pampaneira. Despite the chill, we chose to eat on the terrace and the overriding sensation was the heady fragrance that filled the air of recently cropped wheat from the terraces on the slopes the valley. By the way, Restaurante Ruta del Mulhacen is highly recommended, family run, superb good value menu of authentic regional food and wine from their own vines up on the hills. Also, tucked in the calle by the Plaza next to the church, we found a small bakery which bakes bread made from the local wheat and is proved for 4 days, a large loaf and a batch of croissants were taken back to La Herradura for our breakfasts – totally delicious!!

    Your opening paragraph is very reflective and poignant Alen. We are both of a similar age and I often find myself looking back and asking what?, where?, how?, why? I too have seen and done so much and despite deep contemplation I still struggle to make sense of it all. One conclusion that I’ve come to is to emulate your good self and escape this grey unpleasant island, the biggest problem is to make a choice – Spain or Italy? Spain could well be the default choice, Italy is very expensive.

    Anyway Alen, all the very best with the restoration of your new found abode, I do hope that it brings you many pleasant experiences and memories.

    Cheers,

    Alan

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    1. Hi Alan. La Herradura is a great place for a dip and a day on the beach. We’ve been there a few times in past few months. It boasts an excellent barber’s shop as well. Had my first haircut for more than a year down there.
      Shame about the clouds in Pampaneira. We had a couple of bad storms in September so you must have caught the tale end of one of them. If it was like a grey day in Alston then you were really unlucky.
      I’ll look out for the bakery next time we are up there. Might go in the next few days because there has been some snow recently and the sky is exceptionally clear.
      All the best, Alen

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  3. Happy New Year and best of luck with the new house/farm/project. You must be relieved to have completed the transition.

    Of course, while we all sit here in the drizzle and the floods, we pass on our best wishes through gritted teeth, green with envy that one of us managed to escape Stalag Britain. I think, for future reference, when you write your blog posts and describe the views and the air quality and the ripening fruit, tag on a paragraph to let us know you’ve been stung by a hornet or refused retrospective planning permission or eaten a bad chorizo, just to ease our agony a little.

    Business idea: could the septic tanks be turned into small holiday homes?

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    1. Hi Chris. Here’s something to cheer you up. I installed a new cooker hood/extractor fan in the kitchen on Sunday, and that night it rained heavily and water flowed through the vent and into the electric motor. Then I had to fork out 70 euros on Monday to get the van fixed. Just unblocked a drain, but had to buy one of those long wire things first. Pull-cord spring has snapped on the petrol strimmer.
      Happy New Year, Alen

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  4. Happy New Year and Happy New House to you, Alen! Sounds very promising, and I love the view from your roof. Rooftop gazing is not something I’m going to take up just yet, especially with the weather we’re having. Hope that you were driving over lemons (or oranges) once again. It will be exciting to see all the new plants and trees coming into bloom (and fruit) this year. Life certainly takes you on unexpected paths sometimes but maybe you have more Mediterranean genes in your ancestral soup than you thought! I hope that Bessie and Agnes are happily settled in their new home.

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    1. Hi Jo. Glad to hear you haven’t been washed away in all the floods. The closest I can come to Mediterranean genes is a great-great-grandmother from Switzerland who married an Irishman. I’ve tried yodeling but I’m not very good. But apparently all our ancestors emigrated from Africa via the Mediterranean so there must be something in the mix.
      Agnes and Bessie have settled in fine, thank you.
      All the best, Alen

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  5. Hi Alen. I wish you a very Happy New Year in your new house, Fuentecilla.
    What an endearing name for a house. A metaphor for a source of inspiring, joyful and creative life from the house residents.
    Warm congratulations, Alen.
    All the best,
    Hanna

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  6. Pleased you have found somewhere to call your own Alen, half an acre should keep you out of mischief and provide you with plenty of quality home grown food. In contrast my little garden is just a soggy muddy mess, a third of which is under water. The walls in a couple of rooms now have large damp patches creeping up them as well, all of which makes me tad envious of your little piece of Spanish paradise.

    Happy New Year

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    1. Hi David. I’m beginning to feel guilty about the weather. I’ve been following the floods on the BBC news so I am aware of what you people are going through. I had an email the other day from one of my old allotment buddies in Barton who described the allotment site as being “like Redcar beach when the tide is going out”. I hope things improve with the New Year.
      All the best, Alen

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  7. Ahh Alen! When you reach a certain age you do start to look back and around and wonder why you are where you are and how you arrived there! I’m in that strange landscape myself but not in Spain of course. I wish I had the courage and ambitions of my ancestors to give up my home and move to foreign parts. Wishing you a happy healthy and peaceful new life.

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    1. Hi Ash. I’m finding that life is becoming more bewildering as I get older. Really, it should be the other way round – but there you go.
      As for courage – the real driving force behind this adventure is my wife, Anne. I just go with the flow, so it’s more like cowardice than courage.
      All the best, Alen

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    1. Funny you should mention Last of the Summer Wine. I’m thinking of writing a new series and I need a Yorkshire lass to play Nora Batty now that Kathy Staff is no longer with us.
      Happy New Year chuck.

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