Kerb Appeal


“What is it with all the fancy gates?” I ask from the back seat of the moving Ford.

It’s the summer of 2006, and Sue and I are visiting Extremadura for just the second time. On this occasion we’re using the services of a property agent, perhaps promoting the status of our moving to Spain from crazy dream to just crazy.

“Gates?” He looks questioningly at me via the rear view mirror.

I point out that nearly every rural property we pass has an impressive entrance – stone or stucco pillars, intricate wrought iron gates and so on – but the buildings inside are usually modest, often unfinished or even non-existent. ... read more

Bike Fit


“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”, says the old tenet. Presumably because, if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.

I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to entirely avoid succumbing to such frontier gibberish since 2007, when my bicycle was unloaded from the removal truck here in Extremadura. Until today, that is. Finally, the years and calories have caught up, and that’s why I find myself committing to finally getting myself bike fit. (Happily for the neighbourhood, I’ve bowed to popular demand and so far not bought any lycra). ... read more

Growth Industry

This summer we grew, among other things, courgettes. The dozen or so plants each produced six or more healthy, shiny examples. Although we ate as many as we could, many more were given away to friends and neighbours, and a few finally rotted away on the spent plants. (Shame, I know, but when even the chickens are sick of them, it’s time to throw in the towel.)

A financially successful venture, then? Not really.

The plants themselves were cheap enough at 10 centimos each, but then you need to add the cost of petrol for the rotavator, of the electricity used to pump water twice daily from the well to the huerto, and an hour a day of labour during five or six weeks to prepare the ground, sow, weed, water and harvest the crop, and finally clear the patch again. From a purely financial point of view, buying from the local market seems quite a bargain. ... read more