Category: Miscellaneous Topics


There is no room for individuals if you plan to visit the Patagonian Icecap. Every day has it’s own difficulties. The terrain is tough and the weather can be extreme. When the going gets tough then you need team players and cool heads. And everybody can have an “off day”, when the rest of the team need to assist. Fortunately we had a great team with us. Thanks to Chiz and Reu Dakin, Clive Fenn, Mick Mcgregor, Peter Syme, Ian Tupman and of course my partner, Kiersten Rowland.
17 February / Miscellaneous topics
In fact, life becomes very simple. You sleep, eat, drink, move, travel, find shelter, eat, drink and sleep. In between we take photographs of our incredibly stunning situations. I slept the sleep of gods with many many hours of dream like quality sleep. Mind totally clear and focused. And of course you do enjoy the return to “civilisation”. The “Quilmes” beer, the malbec wine, the bed, a proper toilet, the home comforts.
As the dawn on a new year breaks it’s a good time to reflect on the past 12 months. 2011 has been unforgettable in so many ways. There were ups and downs, of course (it is the mountains after all…..ha ha!), but experiences in the Sierra Nevada and Patagonia have shown me some insights I thought I’d share with you. 1. You can make a difference to your world no matter how small it seems!
14 January / Miscellaneous topics
Whilst researching into my Cameron ancestry my father, Duncan Hartley came across a heirloom kept by a cousin, Ian Cameron. It is a snuff box that his family have always thought belonged to a family member who was present at the battle of Culloden. It is engraved with the initials DC. Our own research suggests that an ancestor of ours called Donald Cameron (aged 16) was present at the battle. It is a horn snuffbox with silver and wood engravings.
12 December / Miscellaneous topics
Mid-life crisis? I had mine at 45, so that must mean I’m going to reach 90! Yes, at 45, I walked out of the well-paid Financial Directors role and turned to that great passion of mine, the mountains. I had been training as a mountain guide on a part time basis since 1983 so it was a logical move. Now for the dream? We ran trips to Scotland and the Alps.
Went on a half day birdwatch trip with run by Ian and Steve. They are a fairly new company that have set up their birdwatching tours base in our spa town of Lanjaron. We met at 10am outside a bar in Lanjaron, there were 9 of us in total in 2 4x4 vehicles. We drove a short way outside of Lanjaron to a town called Padul and down some tracks to a wetland area (yes a wetland area in Andalucia).
Sadly my first dog, Rocky, died on Friday 22nd May 2009 after losing a battle with the horrible disease, Leishmaniasis. He was a great dog and faithful companion. I remember coming out to Spain in 2001. My pickup truck was filled with all my worldly possessions, so Rocky had to sit in the passenger seat all the way (illegal now of course). We had some great fun coming down through France and Spain at the motorway toll booths.
39 years on and the song “Working Class Hero” still has meaning, possibly even more so these days. Written by legend John Lennon and made a hit by Marianne Faithfull in 1979 it is a take on the class split of the 1940s and 1950s, and of the 1960s in which John Lennon was famous. The song appears to tell the story of someone growing up in the working class. Acccording to Lennon in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in December 1970, it is about working class individuals being processed into the middle classes, into the machine.
My father, Duncan Hartley, has been researching the family history for some years now. This has been a painstaking and at times difficult task. It has also been a labour of love. There is only one link remaining in a long chain that may extend back to the year 896! Below is his latest research that takes the form of a short story. I hope you find it of interest?
Some thoughts and observations from my recent trip back to the north of England from Lanjaron. Parking at Malaga airport Now this might come as somewhat of a surprise to those of you who hate Malaga airport (and the years of renovation work we have had to put up with!), but we have found the perfect answer with the company Easy Parking What a refreshing change! Helpful, happy staff.
06 January / Miscellaneous topics
I came across this speech after a chance meeting with a spanish girl from Lanjaron, whom I met in the Poqueira Hut in the Sierra Nevada last night. She was trying to translate it from spanish into english. In my opinion these sentiments express it all. This should be sent to every world government leader (and those that are behind them!), every religious leader and the CEO’s of all the Oil, Drug, Power and Defence companies.
02 November / Miscellaneous topics
Some time ago I wrote about the control that Ferrari seems to have over the F1 motor sport world. Today, unsurprisingly, we go to the last grand prix of the season in Brazil with the title race still undecided. What are the chances of every GP season in the past few years always coming down to the last race? Forgive me for being cynical but by keeping interest in the championship going does the revenue increase?
15 October / Miscellaneous topics
Thought I’d upgrade my phone to one of these new smartphone things. “All singing, all dancing”, they said. “A few clicks of the mouse and your up and running”, they said. The reality is in fact very, very different. I Justified the whole thing on the basis that I would need it for work and to keep in touch with emails etc when up in the mountains. Amusingly, I also said that we could use it to obtain up to date weather forecasts when out on multi day trips in the Sierra Nevada.
05 October / Miscellaneous topics
Yes I know this sounds unbelievable but you can actually watch Rhinos here in sunny Spain! OK. So the Rhinos in question have 2 legs, there’s 13 of them and they charge into one another like the real thing. I am of course talking about the Leeds Rhinos, who won the Super League Grand Final last night after beating St Helens 24-16. We had a fiesta here at my cortijo with some friends and my daughter.
12 September / Miscellaneous topics
During the long hot summer months here in Andalucia, I’ve been watching the english BBC series, “Masterchef”. I am always surprised by the small amount of food these, “Masterchefs” seem to serve. Coming from a middle England, Yorkshire background in the 1960’s, we always got served meat and 2 veg. Stodge, whether it was mash, chips or tripe and onions, was always slapped heavily on an already bulging plate of food.
07 September / Miscellaneous topics
It’s not often I interupt the quiet life of Andalucia to get involved in the high power games of professional sport. This time however I make no excuses, so allow me the space here to be a bit of a “grumpy old man”! The Belgium Grand Prix run today is one of the highlights for me of the racing calendar. Great circuit, always eventful, good scenery etc etc. It usually rains too, which always makes for an interesting race and levels the playing field for all teams.
04 September / Miscellaneous topics
Great skies last night enabled me with my cheap digital camera and rather shaky hand (after too many vinos) to get these shots of the moon rising over the hill above our casa. See photo albums for more. The photo below shows the moon rising. In the top right hand corner is a bright star. This is NOT a star. It is the planet, Jupiter!
Paneer cheese with vegetable curry I’ve just discovered how to make cheese, well, Indian cheese actually. Called Paneer. It shows I’ve not got too much to do when all Ive got to worry about is either (a) will England manage to bowl out South Africa and win the 1st Test, or (b) will my newly made paneer cheese set properly! Simple this cheese making lark, actually.
Yes, 44 years is a long time, as long suffering England fans will vouch for. They are not far behind, as its 42 years since they last won anything! Our Bavarian friend, Herbert, still smiling! Anyway, Spain deservedly won Euro 2008 last night beating the dogged Germans 1-0. We were in our local bar in Lanjaron, the Flower Bar. As you can imagine the whole place went mad!
It seems to me that the amount of fox related incidents is increasing in these mountains. I remember when I first came out here some 10 years ago that they were shy, retiring creatures, that you sometimes caught a glimpse of early in the mornings, or late at night. Not any more! Some high level traverses of “Los Tres Miles Integral” some 4 years ago suggested problems were mounting. We had breakfasts stolen overnight and were disturbed by noisy packs.
Nothing really to do with Spain or my Blog really, but it’s my blog so here goes! Ive just heard that the Chinese are looking for tents for the victims and those displaced by the earthquake. All the tents that we buy as mountaineers these days seem to be made in ………………. China!!!! Am I missing something here? Isn’t the answer to stop making the tents for us in the first place and concentrate all production efforts on the home front?
The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun. (Alex Lowe) To qualify for mountain rescue work, you have to pass our test. The doctor holds a flashlight to your ear. If he can see light coming out the other one, you qualify. (Willy Pfisterer) The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too. (Hervey Voge) Together we knew toil, joy and pain.
Well you could have written the script yourself. It’s happened before hasn’t it? Worst bit was scoring first. Why is it that millions around the world watching on TV know that the worst thing you can do is sit back and defend all the game whilst our football master tacticians don’t realise it? Just look what happened to the Spanish when they played Portugal? We made a good Portugese team look very good and when you give them so many opportunities to get crosses into your penalty area or shots on target then the probability is that one of them will end in a goal.
One day Dennis and I decided to build a climbing wall on the new storehouse building. Armed with bolt on holds from the Granada climbing shop we set about the task. Problem came with top bolt/attachment point as we needed to get on the roof. Dennis held the ladder whilst I climbed the overhanging tiles onto the roof. Whilst I tried to assemble the bolts Dennis arrived behind me ….. like Heinrich Harrer (on the north face of the Eiger of the Hinterstoisser Traverse) he’d forgotten that from above you couldn’t see where the ladder down was and so effectively our retreat from the roof had been cut off.
Sorry Ive not been in touch sooner but I’ve been very busy during this winter. Needless to say I’m quite fit but having had 40 out of the last 55 days up in the mountains I have developed a back problem. Suppose its something to do with carrying backpacks around the hills all day. At the moment, “Ginger” our latest Canadian “woofer” is massaging it back into shape. Don’t get any funny ideas because shes a very homely 55 year old.
It’s a funny ole world isnt it? Stood in the middle of Lanjarón main street last Tuesday was certainly a somewhat surreal occasion. In one hand I had a ham sandwich as my other held a plastic bowl with blood covered scalpel. Cowboys rode past and loud Flamenco music blared out. Tourist cars passed by unaware of the unfolding drama! Let me elaborate……………. Kings Day is the 6th January. Its the day the Three Kings visited Bethlehem and gave presents.
More blabberings from Andalucia…………… I’ve seen some wonderful sights over the years. Walking and climbing in the mountains has provided me with some dramatic and spectacular sights. Even so, last Friday, I was totally unprepared for the view I was to find. I had ridden the lifts upwards from the Sierra Nevada ski centre. The top chair to the summit was cold and exposed as a icy cold wind blew ferociously into my face.
Ever wanted to parade up the high street in a £150,000 Ferrari? Fancied buying the smallest, best pixel, sexiest, digital camera on the market today? Wanted Armani suits to strut your stuff in? Ever imagined showing off your brand new Rolex watch? Well have I got news for you? I’ve got the ultimate, must-have item the world has ever known!. You can keep your bloody BMW’s, stuff your laptop computers, stick your luxury mansions where the “sun don’t shine”, cos I’ve got …………………… a hammock !
Well, gone and done it now haven’t I? With temps well up into the 30’s I felt the time was right to become ………. the typical Brit abroard! Went down to Motril on the coast and had head shaved, bought 2 sun beds and retired to the poolside. Look a bit like Grant Mitchell in Eastenders (oh dear, what have I done?). There I sat for the rest of the day drinking beer or sitting in blow up armchair in the water.
Buying a house in Spain has proved an enlightening experience. Briefly, on the day of purchase, both buyer and seller go down to the Notaria with all the documentation. Then you go through a routine whereby all parties and about 3 staff from the Notaria’s office babble all at once for about 3 hours. After the fuss dies down you sit in front of the Notaria (a very good looking Spanish Señorita) and she reads through the contract while your translator tells you what’s happening.
Got stopped by Guardia Civil Traffic cops yesterday. Didn’t have registration document for car with me so I got fined 60 euros ….bugger! Nightmare really. Leo wouldn’t stop barking at them and they were getting annoyed at the racket he was making.Then when they let me go they insisted Rocky and Leo were in the back of the truck. Thats all very well but Leo and Rocky don’t speak Spanish! Just as I began to set off they both jumped in the front again.
It could only happen to me! The other night I picked my daughters up from the airport at Malaga. During the 2 hr drive back to Lanjarón I told them how wonderful the area was, how lovely the people were, how cheap it all was. What beautiful views you could see, if it wasn’t dark! I related tales of history ….. of battles between the Moors and Christians. Told them about El Cid.
After waiting for the last 3 weeks for a telephone line to be installed, the little man from the telephone company arrived. He duly had a good look round for 15 seconds, spent 10 minutes asking if he could mate Rocky with his black Labrador, then said : “The telephone. It’s not possible today. The house is too high up and we cannot run a branch line the 20 metres from the main line”.
Wow…I’ve just had the hottest day so far. The temps reached 42 degrees in the sun on the terrace this afternoon! This is only January….what’s it going to be like in June? Going skiing with Jack in the morning at the Sierra Nevada ski area. Really looking forward to it. Made a bit of a mistake this afternoon. Had to try on my ski boots and make sure they fit my skis.
Yesterday I became a proper Spaniard and bought ¼ of a pig (well a full leg anyway) that’s hung up from the kitchen ceiling. The meat is cured at a village called Trevelez high up in the hills. Its fantastic..melts in the mouth. Also hung up are rows of red peppers linked on string. Looks really rural my kitchen does now! Anyway, last night Leo started jumping around most excitedly. I saw he had something in his mouth.
Greetings from Andalucia! Nice thing is that the email/internet connection between my laptop and my Spanish mobile works a dream (via infrared connection)! Movistar, the Spanish mobile network is light years ahead of BT. There I was expecting a load of hassle and I just turned the things on and …received all my mail. I now feel that I have connection with the outside world and the world Ive left behind in the UK.