Category Archives: Out & About in Andalucia

My Top Tips for ‘Insiders Abroad’

Insiders Abroad magazine asked me: “Where are your Top 3 Favourite Places in Spain” and that got me thinking. Here are my Top 3 in Andalucía. Malaga - from the alcazaba 26-10-10Plaza del Merced, Malaga [above & below]
Picasso was born here, in the cream house on the corner. Two minutes walk away is the Museo de Picasso. Lose yourself in the art. Malaga - Old Town 24-10-10Laguna de Fuente de Piedra
An inland lake, home to nesting flamingoes [below] and migrant water birds. An unspoilt nature site, friendly visitor centre, excellent lakeside walks. Take a picnic. flamencos in april 1-4-11Zahara
A village set high on a hill above a reservoir, with stunning views of soaring eagles. Thirty minutes from Ronda in the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema.

To read my other Top 3’s, read the article in full here.

5 to remember
a magazine – una revista
mi top de tres – my top three
sobre rincón – on the corner
del interior – inland
lacustre – lakeside

Signs of man

Driving along Spanish country roads, it feels as if each field has its own sign. Plastic, new metal, rusted metal. Some so old the writing has long been illegible. old sign1 10-10-14sociedad de cazedores - sign 10-10-14coto privado de caza - sign5 10-10-14Most of these are to do with hunting. Shooting game [partridge, rabbits, boar] for the pot is a regular country activity around here. Some fields sport the welcoming notices coto deportivo de caza or coto privado de caza [hunting reserve], some parts of the campo belong to specific hunting clubs, una sociedad de cazadores. coto privado de caza - sign3 10-10-14coto deportivo de caza - sign2 10-10-14coto privado de caza - sign2 10-10-14Others seek privacy, prohibido el paso means ‘entry forbidden’, propiedad privada is ‘private property’. prohibido el paso - sign 10-10-14old sign3 10-10-14coto privado de caza - sign6 10-10-14coto privado de caza - sign7 10-10-14This road sign makes me chuckle. road sign - cow or bull 10-10-14It is a rare sight to see a cow in a field around here, it is just too hot for dairy cows [and the cow on this sign definitely has an udder]. At this time of year it is common enough to see bulls and young bullocks in the oak groves. coto deportivo de caza - sign1 10-10-14old sign2 10-10-14coto privado de caza - sign1 10-10-14coto privado de caza - sign4 10-10-145 to remember
un letrero – a sign/notice
ilegible – illegible
el coto – reserve [game/fishing]
un toro – a bull
un novillo – a bullock


Out flamingo-spotting at the Fuente de Piedra lake, near Campillos, we were stopped in our tracks by this odd insect. ant - mystery 16-5-13It had six front legs but no hind legs, and was dragging itself along the sandy path leaving a furrow behind. About 3-4cm long. Black with red bars across its back. The only thing in our insect book which it resembles is the African driver ant, but these do not have the red markings and are not supposed to be in Spain.

So at a loss to know where else to look, I posted a query on the Natural History Museum’s NaturePlus discussion page. Thanks to ‘tate555’ it is now identified as a beetle not an ant, the meloe majalis, known in Spain as the escarabajo aceitero which translates as oil beetle. A quick Google search revealed loads of photos just like mine, spotted all over Spain.

[photo: David Imrie}

[photo: David Imrie}

It was a cold windy day at Fuente de Piedra, but the flamencos were out in force too, so it was quite a wildlife-spotting day.

[photo: David Imrie]

[photo: David Imrie]

5 to remember
el flamenco – flamingo
la laguna – lake
el insecto
– insect
la hormiga – ant
el escarabajo – beetle

Malaga 0 Atlético Madrid 0

It was a good point against a good side, but Malaga made no ground on their rivals for fourth place last night as Valencia and Real Sociedad also drew. I’m trying not to think of it as an anti-climax. Malaga’s next game is on Saturday March 9th at Valladolid, currently in 11th place.

When we’re in Spain we buy Marca, the daily sports newspaper. It’s good practise for our Spanish reading skills, and we get all the Spanish football gossip. Marca is also online, and there is an English-language option too.
5 to remember
el anticlímax – anti-climax
el or la rival – rival
empatar – to draw [a game]
ganar – to win [a game]
perder – to lose [a game]

Malaga v Atlético Madrid

La Rosaleda

La Rosaleda [photo:]

We will miss going to the football match tomorrow night. Malaga FC faces Atlético Madrid at home in a league match at La Rosaleda stadium. The game is a six-pointer against the second-placed side. Las Malaguistas are currently fourth in La Liga, 10 points behind Real Madrid and with Valencia and Real Sociedad hot on their heels. Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini has been connected with a possible vacancy as Manchester City manager this summer, but he’s shown loyalty to the seaside club owned by Qatari businessmn and royal Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani who reportedly put the club up for sale last year.

Going to the football at La Rosaleda is a fantastic experience. We’ve learned to double-check the date and time of kick-off before leaving home, as the matches are prone to very last minute changes. It’s good to get there early and sit outside one of the bars, soaking up the atmosphere while eating pescados fritos with a cool cerveza. The noise inside the stadium is overwhelming, it’s about the size of Stoke’s Britannia Stadium and just as loud. The food is different too – no burger or hot dogs, no frying onions. The main snack is nuts and seeds bought from one of many stalls outside the stadium. We’ve found the best atmosphere to be at the summer night matches, either the first or last matches in the season, kicking off at 10pm in the heavy heat.

Tomorrow it will be difficult for Malaga to focus on Atlético given its return home Champions League tie against Porto on March 13. Malaga is 1-0 down from the first leg after failing to score an away goal. The team will be determined to get as deep as possible in the Champions League this year, as the club is banned from playing in Europe in 2013-2014 for failing to fulfil financial obligations. This casts a shadow over the success at Malaga FC, which has been good for the town and for Andalucía. This season there are four Andalucían teams in La Liga: Real Betis 7th [before kick-off today] Sevilla 12th and Granada 15th.

My husband and I are pretty football mad, but it does seem a little strange that we get excited about Malaga FC’s games while our Spanish neighbours are most likely watching basketball or bull-fighting on television!

5 to remember
el partido de fútbol – football match
el estadio – stadium
el gol – goal
soy malaguista – I am a Malaga FC fan
el delantero – striker

The heart of Robert the Bruce

One of the things we promised ourselves we would do when we moved to Spain was drive around the countryside. So when the morning dawned chilly and grey, we decided it was time to drive to Teba, a hill town in the sierra north-east of Ronda. Thanks to its hill-top castle, it is a landmark for travellers for miles around and can be clearly seen from the Easyjet flight as it turns left over the lake at Fuente de Piedra and heads coastwards to Malaga airport.

Memorial to Sir James Douglas [photo: Wikipedia]

Memorial to Sir James Douglas [photo: Wikipedia]

As often happens when we visit these small hill towns, we get completely lost and go around in circles as the road signs always tell you the way to the centro but omit to point the way out. On one such trip to Teba in our early days, I was driving and actually grounded our little Peugeot at the crest of a steep hill. The last thing we expected to see in the middle of town is a statue to a Scot, Sir James Douglas. He was a loyal friend of Robert the Bruce who, on Bruce’s deathbed in 1329, agreed to take his heart on Crusade and fulfil a pledge which Bruce was now unable to do. Sir James, together with said heart in box, travelled south and arrived at Teba during the Reconquista when the Christians recovered al-Andaluz from the Muslim kingdoms. Sir James fought in the Battle of Teba in 1330, holding the stronghold of Teba against siege by the moors. At the tumult of the battle it is said Douglas caused chaos by tossing Robert the Bruce’s heart into the fray.

The castle at Teba [photo: Wikipedia]

The castle at Teba [photo: Wikipedia]

5 to remember
el corazón – heart
el moro – moor
el castillo – castle
la estatua – statue
la batalla – battle