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And relax......

After an exhausting weekend of packing, moving and cleaning, we have escaped for a few days to the bucolic tranquillity of the glorious Finca Buenvino deep in the Huelva countryside.

We can safely say that we hate moving.  We have had to compress our belongings yet again to squeeze into a tiny studio apartment, putting a load of boxes of ‘stuff’ into storage until such a time as we can unpack it all in our brand new house. Temperatures this past week have been in the mid 30s and humping boxes around and scrubbing floors is never much fun, and the temptation to ignore everything and lie by the pool has been great.

However, we did allow ourselves a few treats in the run up to the move, and scheduled in two very different cultural events to get us out of a rapidly emptying and increasingly echo-y home.  

The first of these events was the unexpected (to us, at any rate) visit to Granada by Simple Minds. I have always loved Simple Minds, and in my heyday would often wish that I could see them perform live. Imagine our delight, then, when advertisements started to appear earlier this year declaring that Simple Minds was to perform at Granada’s Bullring as part of their World Tour. Sadly, as the time for the concert approached, the venue changed due, according to rumour, to poor ticket sales. The new venue was the Palacio de Congresos, a conference and exhibition space with a capacious auditorium, but rather less charm than the lovely Plaza de Toros.

The concert was fantastic and every bit as we had hoped and imagined, and the group had lost none of its ability to perform live. That said, there were clearly some new members of the group, including wildly talented female drummer, keyboard player/vocalist and backing vocalist.  Jim Kerr, the lead singer, is a couple of years older than me and probably has no desire to leap around like a mad thing any longer, but can still belt out Simple Minds standards and engage with an audience. It was a brilliant gig, and brought back a lot of very good memories for us both.

 Simple Minds in Concert, Granada

Simple Minds in Concert, Granada

The next day, after yet more long, hot hours of driving between Saleres and Moclín with boxes of things that will probably remain in boxes for ever more, we had another treat and a trip to the gorgeous Teatro del Generalife - the open-air theatre in the Generalife Gardens just above the Alhambra. From 22nd June until 8th July, Granada hosts the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza, and the city is alive with concerts, dance performances, workshops and an emerging Fringe. Last year, when the children came out to visit, we booked tickets to see María Pagés Compañia, but 10 minutes before the performance, thunder and lightening sent the audience scuttling in all directions and the performance was cancelled, much to everyone’s dismay.  For those of you who remember, or were lucky enough to have seen the original Riverdance stage show, María Pagés was the Spanish dancer who performed as part of the line-up, and I remember seeing the video of the production and being spellbound by her dancing.

María Pagés and her company returned this year and we were determined to get tickets. Fortunately, there was no threat of a climatic apocalypse and the evening was glorious - clear, not too hot, and just right for dance and music in the open-air. The entrance to the theatre must be one of the most enchanting of any in the world. As the performance was not scheduled to start until 22:30, it was dark as we walked through an illuminated tunnel of soaring cypress trees, with the night sky glowing a rich gradient of indigo through to gold behind. 

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The programme was entitled una Oda al Tiempo (an Ode to Time) and explored through music, dance and song the transitory, permanent and eternal states of time. It was stunning. Traditional Andalucian strains were interwoven with references to the baroque, and the singing was raw and emotive. The dancing was exquisite, and in one particular section María Pagés appeared in this blood-red dress with immense, flared skirt that appeared to control her every sinewy movement. This wasn’t just a dancer in a costume, but a snaking, curling, bending and swooping force of nature. Rarely have we seen dance so intuitive, elemental and expressive.

Back to the real world and a Saturday and Sunday filled with removals. By Sunday afternoon, we had both reached the extent of our tolerance, and had to say goodbye to the lovely Casa Magdalena. We had such a fabulous 21 months in this comfortable house. Everything we hoped for when we initially started on this adventure came to fruition. We shared wonderful times with family and friends, we hunkered down against the colds of winter, we exercised our creativity, cooked, painted, started learning a new language, marvelled at the landscapes, the sights and smells of this beautiful country. So, it was with decidedly mixed feelings that we said our goodbyes, and we simply had to remind ourselves that the next stage of our adventure here in Spain is really only just beginning.

This week, we are near Aracena, staying with friends Sam and Jeannie Chesterton and their family in the magnificent home they created from scratch, Finca Buenvino. Time to switch off and take a breather before we go back to realising our own dream of creating a property from scratch, launching our own new business and embedding ourselves further into this life we have made, and continue to make in Andalucia.

 Fince Buenvino nestles amongst cork trees

Fince Buenvino nestles amongst cork trees

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Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

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