Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Monday, 14 November 2011

Where to go on Sunday

... if you live in Jaen, it's a little overcast and you've already put a chicken in the oven for lunch...

A simple decision like - let's just pop into Jaen for an hour or so this morning - is an option only because just about one year ago, we came and spent a week in the province of Granada. We came to investigate whether it was an area we wanted to live having spent six months planning (and three months looking) for our dream home in northern Spain. It just didn't happen, so we came south. We all absolutely fell in love with the place and although we have ended up only almost in Granada, we're near enough to have the sense of satisfaction that our decision-making week has paid dividends. It was a glorious week twelve months ago too.

We have passed the Sierra Nevada many, many times whilst it had its icy covering between January and late June but never went close enough to step in the snow - the pull of the sea and the tides was stronger. And then, from July onwards, the glory of the snow literally melted away and left - well, mountains; unsnowy mountains. Nice enough but not as majestic, not as stunning, not as appealing - not to me at least.

On Monday, I took Darwin for our usual walk up through the pines towards La Mota and when I was almost at the top, paused to rest take in the view - and had my breath taken away when I saw the snow had returned and my mountains were once again back to their dramatic selves.

Go on, look carefully...there they are

A glorious view


We've had several days of mild, clear and sunny weather which has made us all feel good about autumn in Andalucia. So blasé we were about the good weather, we decided to stay at home on Saturday and 'do chores' like cleaning up the house and getting homework out of the way, so that we could set off early on Sunday morning and spend the daylight hours in the Sierra Nevada, with our sunglasses on to avoid the glare of the bright sun on the new, white snow.

Except Sunday was not sunny. It was overcast, grey and rather windy. We poddled about - this is a real word, used rather excessively in my family as we do it a lot, meaning to amble around without any real purpose and we do it until someone thinks of something more sensible to do - it helps. We poddled about until FR said, let's go to Jaen instead of Granada. So we piled into the car with a bottle of water and the ubiquitous bag of crisps and the dog and headed off to Jaen, capital of the province in which we live.

Many years ago, on a journey between Valladolid and Malaga where we were living at the time; long before there was a motorway, FR and I had stopped in Jaen for a picnic lunch. FR has contested my memory and has many times said that the occasion I was thinking of took place in Jerez. We both agree that we stopped outside a parador* at the top of a big hill and ate the best chorizo ever and drank a very powerful bottle of tinto which catapulted us into a very deep sleep in the car. Much to the disgust of the parador management who felt we were making their car park untidy. As we drove through the streets of Jaen up towards the parador, my ability to remember every relevant detail of the scenery convinced FR that it was indeed here where we had drifted off. This time, the car park was so full we couldn't stop but we found a space at the bottom of the hill and enjoyed a lovely - very bracing - walk around the castle walls of what was once an impressive hilltop fortress in the time of the Moors.

Ancient walls

These places always bring out the archer in Ruy...

And after scrambling about for an hour or so, we drove back down the hill to the town centre because no one can go to Jaen without visiting its stunning cathedral. Started in the late 16th century, but not completed until the late 18th century, it is Renaissance in style with much visible symmetry and classical columns. It has relatively little of the Gothic about it - no flying buttresses anywhere! Very different from many of the other cathedrals in Spain and a style apparently much copied in South American countries.

 And a detail from over one of the entrances.

Romy was fascinated by this one, which shows a heavenly warrior fighting off the "baddies trying to get in", in her words. 

And then, resigned to the fact that our chicken would be more than well cooked by this time, we called in to a bar for a tapa, where I swear I had just one San Miguel but which had such an effect on me that I barely remember staggering walking back to the car (must remember to eat more breakfast!) and had me dozing all the way home, though I do remember noticing that the clouds had cleared and the Sierra looked particularly beautiful in the distance...!

We ate our chicken - thanks to the fact that our oven never reaches the temperature it should - and then I fell immediately into a deep siesta - even though a siesta should be more of a post-prandial nap, but hey, I have a busy life - and didn't awake until it was already dark.

And that was our Sunday - one year on after making the decision to live in this gorgeous corner of the world and where I still feel the need to pinch myself from time to time to make sure it's real.


  1. A gorgeous post, Annie, which has just taken me ages to read as I had to go back to read the previous post about your week in Granada. :-) Both scenery and architecture are so spectacular that it's easy to see why you love living there. Glad the chicken was still edible at the end of it all.

  2. Hello Annie:
    How lovely that you feel such excitement about where you are living. This has been such a successful move for you all and there is so much of interest to explore and discover near where you live. A perfect Sunday, topped off by a delicious roast chicken!!!

  3. Thanks for sticking with it, Perpetua! Well done - two of my longer posts, I admit, but glad you like what you have seen.

    Jane and Lance - it's true, I love living here with a capital L and sometimes, can't quite believe it! (The chicken was a tad dry to be absolutely honest, but we were glad not to have to start cooking from scratch!)

  4. I always enjoy your photos but these give me a great flavour of where you live - my husband would love those mountains! Great that you are a year on and feel so positive about your move. Notification of the new post arrived by email - so your solution to my question worked perfectly!

  5. Thanks Kerry - glad you enjoy the photos. It's really not difficult to take lovely pictures around here as it is quite wonderful. The Sierra Nevada does defy description though - it's certainly beyond my words, other than - 'Look!'

  6. That cathedral is a glorious building!

    How wonderful that you were able to realise your dream and live where your hearts took you.

  7. This sounds and looks like a really nice day of "poddling" about. Overcast days are often my favorites especially when a siesta is involved. Love your landscape photos of the snow covered Sierra Madres. Soooo beautiful! Glad the chicken didn't fizzle it's self in the oven. Tapas sounds good! I am jealous :) I believe the detailed carving of warriour in battle your daughter liked is of St. Michael the Arc Angel. Just guessing. But, almost sure.

  8. Thanks for your lovely blog, Annie; I can see why you wanted to live there! Loftily snow capped mountains, beautiful architecture, rich and rugged landscape; I loved those photos of your family on the rocks, so tangible. Mountains make a big difference, don't they? When I was travelling backwards and forwards between Milan and Turin you could see the Alps all the way, a comforting and inspiring presence; maybe it is the same for you, that you feel better knowing the mountains are there. Your cathedral is so classy! Just the right shade of creamy golden stone, just the right amount of turrets and windows and so on. In fact, I would say it's one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've seen. It is so perfectly well-balanced; I've been looking at architecture on the internet to try to discover what it reminds me of, but all the things I thought it looked like are not the same at all. I think sometimes when something is very perfect, it reminds us of the perfection of other things and we think that we are remembering something else, but it is just that what we see resonates on some inner level and creates a false feeling of memory, like an echo bouncing back from perfect acoustics. I don't know! I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to say, though!

  9. What beautiful photos! I love snow capped mountains.

    Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. email!!

  10. Hita - I've decided I'd like you to write my blog for me! You've said just what I would like to say about perfection. It certainly resonates when I read it. Thank you. Axx

    Allyson - welcome and thank you for popping by! Axx


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