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
|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.
|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 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
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.