STRANGE 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.
Our 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.
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.
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.