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 »
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 »
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 »
June 30, 2013
Between Two Fires — Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, a poignant account of how a village was trapped in a brutal conflict for years after the Civil War, has been setting sales records in the United States.
Since it became available in the Lightning Source edition, which can be ordered through Amazon online, it has been selling steadily to American readers keen to know more about this forgotten war — a war which went virtually unreported due to strict censorship.
The book has won critical praise from across the world. “As exciting as any thriller yet deeply moving, it deserves to be read by everyone concerned with the history of contemporary Spain,”says historian Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Civil War and Franco – A Biography. Read the rest of this entry »
February 22, 2013
HIS EXPLOITS have entertained millions. And they willingly suspend belief as they enjoy the crazy escapades of Indiana Jones in the various films in which he is portrayed by Harrison Ford.
But hold on! Could Indiana Jones have ever existed in real life? Not with that name maybe. But somebody remarkably like Indiana Jones did play a dramatic role in the war against the Nazis.
His name: Carleton S. Coon and when you read of his exploits it seems quite likely that the film character was based on him. Colourful background information, lending substance to this, is detailed in David Baird’s book Between Two Fires – Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras. Read the rest of this entry »
January 1, 2013
“This superbly written book could not be more timely.”
So says Paul Preston, one of the most respected authors concentrating on recent Spanish history.
He is referring to Between Two Fires — Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, a poignant account of how a Spanish village was trapped in a brutal conflict — one which went virtually unreported due to strict censorship.
A new edition of this in-depth investigation written by longtime resident of Spain David Baird is just out. Praise has come from across the world. Read the rest of this entry »
June 27, 2011
With Don’t Miss the Fiesta! journalist and author David Baird (born in Shropshire, England) does a remarkable job both of entertaining and enlightening his readers, writes Miguel Booth, Hispanist, writer and polemicist.
At first glance this engaging book is just a compelling tale of mystery and adventure: Scully, a degenerate British fraudster takes refuge in a remote Andalusian mountain village, bringing with him his baggage of regrets and sordid secrets. But he’s unaware of the mysteries the seemingly innocent village of Benamargo harbors. A hint: The name itself denotes bitterness.
On another level the book is a vibrant fictionalized account of the secret lives of so many real-life Spanish villages which—at the time the story is set, in the 1980s—were still largely trapped between the hammer of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, and the anvil of cruel medieval religious “obligations”.
Read the rest of this entry »