11 Jan Cortijo El Curato
Here I am sitting in the coolth of the living room in Cortijo el Curato. This translates as the Parish Farmhouse – although the Curate’s Farmhouse would somehow be more intriguing and suggestive …….
Our cortijo is a modest, squat little house, its stone-clad walls blending quietly into a south-facing hillside. Quite unlike its blousy neighbours, grand, conspicuous residences like wannabe Moorish palaces or Texan ranches. Our little casita, with its natural stone honey-colour, sits apart from these mansions with their rendered walls tending to magnolia, their square towers, and multiple verandas. Mind you, our unassuming little abode does come with his and hers shower rooms – so there!
From a distance Cortijo El Curato looks old but was built only about 20 years ago. We are told an old cortijo did once stand here, most likely a solitary homestead surrounded by olives and almonds. One big room the whole width of the house provides living and kitchen spaces, deftly partitioned with a bar-style counter. High beamed ceilings slope gently from front to back, so the sense of space created by height in the living areas eases back in the two bedrooms behind. One of these is an essential storeroom and the rescue sleeping quarters for disturbed nights, episodes of domestic disharmony and afternoon siestas. Wooden doors, tiled floors, a wood-burning stove, all very rustic.
But, don’t be fooled, there is some serious hi-tech kit concealed within these four unpretentious walls. The kitchen is a dream. Oh, to take it home with me. It is smugly Smeg-ed. White goods? Forget it, these are sleek and sexy black goods, dream machines, the appliances of science, much, much more intelligent than me, shiny, new and beautifully inviting. I had Smeg down as Scandinavian but discover it’s an Italian make and the acronym is a terrific improvement on the full title – Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Gustalla – that part of Italy where there’s a lot of German spoken. Oh it’s all very confusing. Or if you want to be even more underwhelmed – the Gustalla Emilia Enamel Works – but GEEW is less memorable, no? In any case, one is a bit breathless at the sight of these glistening, bewitching babes in the kitchen and they tend to render you brainless to boot as you, discreetly at first, press one exquisitely designed but understated control after another to see if anything happens and gradually build to a lot of knob-pressing as you despair of ever being able to turn the thing on. Something about all this that harks back, does it not, to a first date (no, that should be second, at least) and all that panicky fumbling with the underwear)? Ah, back in the day….
Fortunately, unlike those early romantic adventures, there is a whole drawer full of instruction manuals in at least fifteen different languages to guide you through how to use your induction hob and your super-intelligent oven with, wait for it, bottom ventilation. However, in an odd but somehow reassuring lapse from technical wizardry, the cortijo’s kettle is the slowest in the entire world. We guess this is because the owners use the extravagantly-shaped coffee maker (of the George Clooney variety, which we don’t like (unless operated by George Clooney)) and have abandoned in favour of a cafetière, known in these parts as a French Pressing, purchased at one of those strange emporia stocking everything from plugs to panties, plastic flowers, Mickey Mouse towels, and lawnmowers and run by someone from somewhere far eastern, for a mere €8. Phew, given time for the kettle to boil, we’re in business.
Out front, a little canopy runs the length of the cottage facing south and with a table and chairs one side of the front door and coffee table and loungers the other side, for contemplating the view and listening to the silence and the odd cheery chirrup from a very tuneful bird. It’s paradise of sorts and we’re starting to feel at home. The internet signal is strong and we’re all hooked up. There’s a Smart TV that defeats us completely, but we will probably spend the evenings reading and remembering what life can be like when liberated from the small screen and its grip on one’s daily routine. I have the Guardian online to keep abreast of the news and views and we have podcasts of the Newsquiz and Paddy O’Connell so what else do we need?
Well, the Artist could do with his Muse, and that’s a whole other story….