Twas the week before Christmas: Fri, Jan 02, 2004

Hope your Christmas and New Year was successful. Quiet here as usual, not a lot happening. They (the Spanish) seem to regard 5th January as more important for some strange esoteric reason. One nice tradition they have is that on the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve you have to eat a grape every second for 12 seconds. Now because in a former life I was an accountant, my quick and sharp brain calculated (within 10 minutes) that I needed to eat 12 grapes in total! What they forgot to tell you was that the Spanish use very small grapes to perform this feat. I was armed with the muchos grandes grapes I could find. At 7 seconds past midnight my overstuffed mouth was bulging and I was gagging for air and at exactly 8 seconds past the hour the contents my mouth had been flung to all corners of the room! Little bits of green slime covered each wall. It was like a scene from Ghostbusters! You can’t take me anywhere can you?

Had my first winter clients in the week before Christmas. Did it go well? OK I guess, but they did think we were a bit strange at Spanish Highs. Let me elaborate……………………

Sunday - Pick up clients from airport. Give them usual bullshit about the area etc. Tell them Dennis, my business partner based in Alicante will be over that evening. Show them the villa and promptly lock myself out of mine. Visit Antonio to see if he has any spare keys, he doesn’t. One client happens to be an insurance claims inspector and manages to break into my villa by using a paint stripper (far too easily for my liking). Dennis phones from Alicante to say he’s been delayed and will be with us tomorrow.

Monday - Day in the snows of the Sierra Nevada. Dennis my business partner, based in Alicante, phones to say his electrics are all out and he can’t leave just yet, but will be out tomorrow. In the evening Tracy and I try to light the Aga cooker for the first time this year. After a couple of hours I feel a bit woosy. As I’ve only had a couple of glasses by this time I think its a bit strange. Clients arrive for meal. All of a sudden Tracy collapses in bathroom and hits head on floor. Passes out. Clients and me perform emergency first aid and then spend the rest of the evening monitoring condition. The evening meal burns and is ruined. Tracy recovers but has extra head and is very lightheaded, dare I say dizzy? She goes to bed while clients and I investigate. Problem is that previous occupants of villa used olive wood to light Aga. This left a black tar-like resin inside the oven. After many months of build up and 3 seasons of not being used the resin smouldered when ignited and produced large quantities of carbon monoxide. Very dangerous!

Tuesday - Tracy ill and mega headache but generally OK. Day skiing in the Sierra Nevada. Dennis my business partner, based in Alicante, phones to say his son is ill and he can’t leave just yet, but will be out tomorrow. Skiing with us is Bernie. Bernie is a 63 yr old Englishman living in Lanjarón. I’d convinced him in front of my clients to come out for a day with us. He hadn’t skied for 15 years, but I told him it would be OK and he’d have a great time. Guess what?……after 2 hrs skiing with us he wobbled a bit and then collapsed in the snow! I had to organise the ski paramedics to take him back down the mountain to the base station. Both the medics and myself thought it was due to the altitude that had affected him. Anyway, 2 days later found him attached to a drip in Motril hospital with double pneumonia and there he remained over both Xmas and New Year. Clients wonder what’s going to happen next?

Wednesday - Big snowfall and can’t make Poqueira Hut even on snowshoes, due to depth of snow. Dennis my business partner, based in Alicante, phones to say the snow is too bad and he can’t leave just yet, but will be out tomorrow.

Thursday - Day in the snows of the Sierra Nevada. Dennis my business partner, based in Alicante, phones to say he has actually set off! 6 hrs later he phones back to say its too wet for his motorbike and too slippy so he’s returning to Alicante. He will be out tomorrow. Clients think I’m making it all up about a some mythical character called “Dennis”

Friday - Dennis turns up! I win bet and clients pay up.

Saturday - Clients return home saying they’ll be back and they haven’t had this much fun in ages …………… oh…the walking was OK too!

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