The last few weeks: Sun, May 18, 2003

Had a few interesting times these last few weeks. Firstly, I had some unusual clients, a couple of Hells Angels whose names were Sean and Clare. Both dressed in black and were covered in tattoos. Clare wished to be called and known as “Bear” (for some obscure reason). She was covered in tattoos of Bears. Everytime I pointed out some of the magnificent mountain scenery (over 3500 metres high!) they kept insisting it was very much like the Peak District, only not as interesting. When I showed them a huge 4000ft face covered in snow and ice they said it was like Mam Tor in the Peaks. They talked a good game but unfortunately their ability did not match their words and it took them 10 hrs to climb a peak that has taken all other clients this year no more than 7hrs to scale. They even thought Granada looked very much like Sheffield! Yes….. we get all sorts here but Mr and Mrs Bear were unique!

Also done something that it has taken me 48 years to attempt…….getting on a HORSE. My good friends Alistair and Harry visited for a week and together with Tracy, who is an experienced rider, we had a 4hr trek in the mountains. Once I’d figured out how to start, stop and turn the damned thing I became a bit more confident. We enjoyed fantastic views from the saddle as the scenery round the Alpujarras is very much “Wild West”. The horses are very surefooted and were very competent at climbing and descending steep mountain tracks over long drops (didnt do too much for my old ticker however). By the time we descended back to the stables my rear end was very sore, my neck was glowing red with the sun and I was walking bowlegged. Might do it again someday.

Other news ……….my local bar has just started selling hand pulled Guinness! Not sure if it’s because of me and my frequent trips there! After a day in the hills it’s a great place to stop and enjoy a cool pint. Just like the Peak District isn’t it?

The grounds of the cortijos are becoming a bit of a strain. Didn’t realise just how much I’d taken on here. Every time it rains, which thankfully isn’t often, the weeds look to have grown a foot overnight. Hard work keeping the whole thing at bay. Also not too sure what to do with the fruit trees i.e when to pick etc. Its all a bit new to me. Have got a gigantic cherry tree in full swing. I estimated that it’s probably 15 cherry pies and 10 jars of cherry jam worth! But how do I harvest them when the bulk of the cherries are 30 ft above the ground?

The temperatures have been getting close to 30 degrees C for the last few weeks and it’s getting hotter. The locals tell me there will be no more rain now until September. I must say that its great to wake up every morning and not worry about the weather. It’s very consistent.

The new cat, Cato, is doing nicely. Got a shock last week when I went into the cortijo and found the cat’s head in Leo’s massive jaws! Thought Leo was wanting a small snack before his dinner. Needn’t have worried though, because Leo is in fact very gentle for a big dog. He’s besotted with Cato. Think he’s fallen in love actually!

Rocky and his “Cojones” (spanish for Testicles) are about to be parted if he runs away again. As soon as he gets let out in the morning he jumps the wall and goes off to find a 6 inch high midget bitch who lives next door. Don’t think its love …. just lust. I’ve given him one more chance before he gets the knife (ouch).

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada