a little summer retreat in Las Alpujarras

We just got back from our week’s escape in rural Spain, where we stayed at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia, southern Spain.  The holiday was scheduled to coincide with me finishing my job (hurrah!) and to mark the start of a new chapter in my life.  From my last post you can gather that things didn’t get off to a great start, but The Amazing Molly was determined that we would have our holiday!  Once we escaped Malaga airport, we were on the road, and the scenery was fantastic.  Even in summer, there is snow on the highest peaks, and I grabbed this snap from the car:


We both wanted a true escape for a week, so we booked a stay at Cuesta Vinas, a casita (small house) situated outside the small village of Valor.   After a very difficult journey, the place was a sight to behold:


The location is about a three hour drive from Malaga airport (or a slightly shorter journey from Almeria airport, but that was the flight that we missed) but be warned that there are lots of winding roads to navigate, and the property is at the top of the steepest driveway I’ve ever seen!  It’s not for the faint-hearted.  Luckily I had a reprieve from driving and Molly did a great job.

The owners, Ginny and Jeff, have a property on the same site, and they were incredibly friendly and helpful.  I fell ill on the second day (clearly a bug that I’d carried from ol’ Blighty) and Ginny brought over a selection of remedies to help.  They also have two lovely dogs:  Lottie and Josh.  Josh is a sweet old fella, and Lottie would often saunter over and make herself comfy on a sunlounger, checking out the view from the terrace.  She happily amused herself, paying little attention to what we were doing.  She clearly didn’t get bored of the view, and neither did I.  She made her way in to quite a few of my photos:



The property is situated a mile or two outside the town of Valor in the Alpujarras.  The Alpujarras is the region made famous in the book, Driving Over Lemons by Christ Stewart, which documents the story of a couple from the UK who bought a derelict farm in the area.  I’d personally not heard of the book before, but there was a copy in the cottage, so I enjoyed reading more about the area.

One of the highlights of the property was definitely the swimming pool.  It’s up a track on the next terrace above the house, so it’s completely private.  I’ve never seen a pool with such an amazing view; definitely movie-star quality.


yes, this is the actual view from the actual pool

yes, this is the actual view from the actual pool…

Because I was ill we had to cancel some of our plans (including a day trip to Granada) but we did venture in to the market at Ugijar, about a 20 minute drive from Valor to stock up on provisions.  The area has a long-standing market tradition, where the markets take place in the towns and villages in the area on set dates each month.  The market in Ugijar is held on the 5th and 20th (regardless of the day) and so coincided nicely with our stay.

The market stalls are set up along several different streets in the town.  It’s very much aimed at locals (there were few tourists) and so there were a number of stalls of basic clothing, shoes, etc.  Nothing too dissimilar to the local street markets here in London.  However The Amazing Molly and I were thrilled to discover the stalls focusing on our favourite thing: nibbly food!

There were more varieties of olives, nuts, dried fruit and sweets than I’ve seen before in one place:





Back at the house we also made good use of the the clay oven, which was definitely a new experience for me!

pizza oven

photo from molly

You’ll notice the rather black edges of the crust in this picture; I was a bit impatient and put the first pizza in before the coals had died down properly.  Oops.  Nevertheless I ate the middle bits, and the next pizza was perfect.

This was definitely a different sort of holiday for me:  there were no city wanderings, no yarn shops, and no knitting!  I suppose it’s good to get a break from my usual travel itineraries though, but it is hard to plan a holiday of essentially doing nothing.  It’s definitely worth it though.