Tag Archives: Spanish countryside

Horse Corner in April

Is this the greenest spot in our valley? This is Horse Corner. So called, because in our first year here we went for a walk one day and turned the corner along the track and found a friendly horse tethered in this place. And I can understand why he was so happy: knee-high fresh spring grass, plus wild oats and wildflowers, predominantly yellow charlock.

It is common in the countryside here to see a horse tethered on a long rein in a patch of luscious grass, alongside a track or a patch of wild ground. They are often moved daily, seeking out the best grazing, and often in a field of stubble after the wheat harvest. Quite a few of our neighbours own horses and they are treated as precious creatures, groomed and decorated and ridden quite some distance to romerías, local festivals in the summertime.

Typical romería

Most Andalucian villages have their own romería [above] taking place on their local saint’s day. The day starts with a walk to the saint’s shrine, a slow procession through the countryside, everyone dressed in their best, the horses with plaited manes and tails, bridles and saddles highly polished. The day ends back in the village with stalls, food and fairground rides, and usually continues into the small hours.

5 to remember
el caballo – the horse
precioso – precious
la silla de montar – the saddle
la brida – the bridle
la melena – a horse’s mane

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lush and green: Horse Corner in April #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gq via @Spanish_Valley

My Top 5 books about Andalucía

Recently I read a post by fellow blogger and Brit in Spain, Alastair Savage, reflecting on his favourite books about Barcelona. Challenged by Alastair to do the same exercise for Andalucía, here’s my choice. I have avoided ‘general’ books about Spain such as Giles Tremlett’s excellent Ghosts of Spain, one of Alastair’s picks, and have concentrated on Andalucía. Read Alastair’s guide to Barcelona books here.

‘Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucía’ by Penelope Chetwode
Penelope ChetwodeI love my secondhand copy of this slim book for its pale blue cover. Penelope Chetwode, wife of poet John Betjeman, takes a circular ride on her horse Marquesa, around the countryside between Granada and Úbeda in Andalucía in 1961. Charming, quirky. Read my full review of Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucía here.
‘Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucía’ by Penelope Chetwode [UK: Eland]

‘South from Granada’ by Gerald Brenan
Gerald BrenanDecades before ex-Genesis drummer Chris Stewart bought a house in the Alpujarras, Gerald Brenan lived in Yegen. This is the Spain of the pre-Civil War, contrasting extreme rural poverty with the beauty of the surroundings in the mountains south of Granada. Read my full review of South from Granada here.
‘South from Granada’ by Gerald Brenan [UK: Penguin Classics]

‘Andalus’ by Jason Webster
Jason WebsterPart travel book, part memoir, Andalus tells how writer and journalist Jason Webster explored Spain looking for its Moorish heritage. After Andalus Jason Webster went onto write other travel books about Spain, each of which I enjoyed, before writing his Max Cámara crime novels set in Valencia. Read my full review of Andalus here.
‘Andalus’ by Jason Webster [UK: Black Swan]

‘Driving over Lemons’ by Chris Stewart
This is the Big Daddy of living-in-Andalucía books, with Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence it invented a new genre. Now part of the ‘Lemons Trilogy’ comprising A Parrot in the Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society, this is the first and best about life on a remote, hill farm. True isolation. Read my full review of Driving Over Lemons here.
‘Driving Over Lemons’ by Chris Stewart, #1 The Lemons Trilogy [UK: Sort of Books]

‘Death’s Other Kingdom’ by Gamel Woolsey
Gamel WoolseyThe American writer Gamel Woolsey was married to Gerald Brenan. This slim volume recounting their days at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War can be read in one day. She watches Málaga go up in flames from their villa at nearby Churriana, worrying for their safety and that of their neighbours, and what will happen to everyone. A very personal account. Read my full review of Death’s Other Kingdom here.
‘Death’s Other Kingdom’ by Gamel Woolsey [UK: Eland]

5 to remember
un paseo circular – a circular ride
el patrimonio moro – the Moorish heritage
verdadero aislamiento – true isolation
el escritor estadounidense – the American writer
ir en llamas – go up in flames

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
My Top 5 #books about #Andalucia https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2jh via @Spanish_Valley




April is a wonderful month of anticipation, when Spring works its magic and there is something new to see every day. Such as these new buds, unfurling. Their necks not strong enough to stand straight, as if they are shy. Do you recognize them?

They may look like aliens, but they are the buds of the Common Poppy.

[source: Wikipedia]

5 to remember
la anticipación – the anticipation
despliegue – unfurling
el cuello – the neck
tímido – shy
los alienígenas – the aliens

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Aliens: what are these flowers unfurling in Spring? #Nature #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29t

Buds, on the verge of bursting

It feels like waiting on the edge, of a sunrise or sunset, of an eclipse. The buds on the trees here are on the verge of bursting, but it hasn’t quite happened yet. They are fattening, getting rounder, with that teasing glimpse of green where the casing starts to burst. Some trees are nearer than others. As always, the walnut will be last. First will be pomegranate, cherry and acacia.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
se siente como – it feels like
en el borde – on the edge
en el borde de – on the verge of
burlando – teasing
como siempre – as always

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Buds, on the verge of bursting #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dN via @Spanish_Valley

A walk on the Thyme Track

Walking along the Thyme Track into the wildest part of the valley, where the slopes are a dense mat of shrubs and thorns, away from the cultivation of olives, we encountered a reminder of the durability of nature. The stumps of olive trees: one old and gnarled; another twisted and dried; a third burned, presumably by the farmer. The fourth gave us the answer: new growth sprouting from an old tree stump, hacked, felled, burned, but still alive.

Elsewhere along the Thyme Track, signs of spring are everywhere. Green grass covers Horse Corner. The view to the other side of the river is not so clear, partly-hidden by new leaves. And the viburnum [aptly called durillo, ‘tough one’ in Spanish] is flowering.

5 to remember
denso – dense
nudoso – gnarled
quemado – burned
en otra parte – elsewhere
parcialmente oculto por – partly-hidden by

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Gnarled, burned and felled olive #trees: a walk on the Thyme Track #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dY via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Skylark

How do you spot a Skylark? Well, it’s a bit bigger than a Sparrow but not as big as a Starling. And it’s brown. The best bit… when it sings, or in alarm, it raises its small crest. Its song really is the sound of the countryside in spring, look for it in open farmland and heath. Exactly what we are surrounded by here. It is the song of the male that is most famous. Hovering at heights of 50-100m, seeming like a dot high above, he sings an unbroken melody while he rises, circles and hovers. Normally he warbles for two to three minutes, except in mating season when he may sing constantly for 20 minutes at a time.

Listen to the Skylark sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un poco más grande que – a bit bigger than
pero no como – but not as
el sonido de – the sound of
más famoso – most famous
una melodía ininterrumpida – an unbroken melody

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-


Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How does the Skylark sing? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2hu via @Spanish_Valley



Fifty Shades of Blue #25

Blue sky, wispy mackerel clouds. April 19, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Blue sky, wispy mackerel clouds #Weather in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bg