October 31, 2015
ANY DAY NOW the first snows will blanket the summit of one of southern Spain’s highest mountains — just a short distance from the Mediterranean beaches where (hardier) folk swim all year around.
La Maroma, soaring 2,068 metres, is the highest peak in Málaga province — and probably the closest thing to a holy mountain in these parts.
In the days before refrigeration the neveros (literally, “snowmen”) would trek to the top of Maroma to seek snow and ice. This they would pack hard in straw and load it in esparto baskets on the backs of mules. Transported to the coast, the ice was used to cool drinks or make ice-cream. Read the rest of this entry »
June 23, 2015
Picking the right title can make all the difference when your book goes on sale. But how do you find it? The possibilities are endless, as David Baird discovered.
What do these phrases have in common?
Sunstruck, Fiesta fever, Follow that mule!, Whitewash and olives, The vintage years, Is there a Spaniard in the pueblo?, Everything under the sun, The blossoms of spring, The sunshine life, The donkey that roared…
Answer: they are all suggested titles for a new book. Read the rest of this entry »
May 6, 2015
“The cliffs and mountains soaked up the sunsets like red sponges and the distant ragged edge of the sierras shone blue as a blunted saw.” Thus English writer Laurie Lee described the coast of southern Spain when he travelled along it in the 1930s.
Much has changed since then but the region retains a magical quality. With around 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, the Málaga and Granada coasts have attracted visitors and settlers from colder climes.
Surprisingly, however, until recently there was no English-language guidebook giving in-depth information about the Axarquía region and Granada’s Costa Tropical. Then “East of Malaga” was published, filling the gap. Read the rest of this entry »
February 14, 2015
WE’RE ALL ESCAPISTS AT HEART, dreaming of another life in another place without the nagging worries that go with our daily routine.
However, if you take the big step and launch yourself into a new life, a “simple life” in a totally different environment, it can turn out rather more complicated than you expected.
In the case of one not-so-innocent Britisher, his escapist dream turn turns into a dramatic adventure with sinister surprises lying in wait.
Don’t Miss The Fiesta!, a thriller set in a Spanish village, takes the lid off the surprises that could await a stranger in an outwardly tranquil Andalusian pueblo. Read the rest of this entry »
January 22, 2015
For more than 50 years residents of Spain’s Granada province have known where to go for the finest fresh trout. They have flocked to the restaurants of Riofrío, a hamlet on the main highway between Granada and Málaga, to eat trout nurtured by a fish farm.
Trade is still brisk, but — unbeknown to most visitors — just a few metres away from the trout tanks a whole new industry has been created. While not abandoning the trout, the Piscifactoría de Sierra Nevada has invested in a big way in producing top-quality caviar. Read the rest of this entry »
October 8, 2014
NOSTALGIC for the old days? Well, maybe not, after reading David Baird’s latest novel. The author vividly captures the atmosphere of the so-called Pearl of the Orient thanks to his years working in Hong Kong as a journalist — both when it was a British colony and later when it returned to Chinese rule.
From the first lines of Typhoon Season, you’ll find yourself on a roller-coaster ride, encountering a body floating in the South China Sea, a missing heroin stash, a doomed love affair, corruption in high places…
After years away Clive Spillman is returning to Hong Kong. Memories flood back as not-so-heroic hero Clive Spillman reflects : “A crazy time to visit. The air would be as thick as soup, the humidity overpowering.”
Even as the Cathay Paciﬁc Jumbo banked over the South China Sea for the approach, he wasn’t sure why he was returning…. Read the rest of this entry »
July 27, 2014
WANDER along the seafront of a certain lesser-known Spanish resort and you will find a phallic-looking structure bearing a small plaque.
It honours a penniless youth whose writings helped put the town, Almuñecar in Granada province, on the tourist map.
“Laurie Lee? Who he?” Spanish visitors may ask.
But in his native England Lee is a celebrity — and this year the centenary of his birth has been celebrated with special events and the publishing of new editions of his books. Read the rest of this entry »