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To reach our cortijo, you turn hard right off the main road that winds up to the village and meander for about a kilometre across the hillside. You pass a couple of fields, one planted with olives, the other with almonds. About 16-20 almond trees in evenly-spaced rows, tended occasionally; they don’t need much attention this time of year, I suppose. When we arrived a couple of weeks ago, a single tree had started to blossom. It stands in the centre of the field, like an actor delivering a soliloquy in a theatre in the round. The rest of the cast...

The little house where we stay, Cortijo El Curato, is a delight. And, frequently, a frustration. Small, stone-clad, squat against the hillside, you have to look hard to see it in among the spacious, white- or magnolia-rendered pseudo palaces that sparingly populate the neighbourhood. They tower; the cortijo nestles. They look new; it looks old. They look ornate; it looks simple. But appearances, as we all know, can be deceptive. Come in the front door (well, the only door, in fact) and the impression of simplicity is maintained as you look right into the sitting room end of the single public...

We walked today, a walk we’ve done at least three times on each visit here, so today we clocked up perhaps number 7 or 8.  It’s a walk with all the right ingredients - spectacular long views and fascinating close-up detail. The Route of the Mines (Ruta de las Minas) runs for about 8km through landscape of scarred beauty near the village of Bedar, where we are staying. Iron ore was wrested from the hills here for about 100 years up to 1970. In the far distance the hills intersect each other reaching inland to snow-topped peaks. In the near...

I did a quick Google search on mistletoe having concocted a story as we drove through France past trees laden with its parasitic pom-poms. Here’s a landscape smothered in mistletoe so, I conjectured, maybe the tradition of kissing underneath it started in France. I was surely onto something. After all it was the French, was it not, who invented kissing? Google is quick to dispel dreams and disabuse you of such whimsies. But there is a story, albeit a bit less French et beaucoup moins romantique. Beyond the botanical basics of a plant that emerges in seed form from the alimentary...