We were promised painted ladies as we formed a circle on the outskirts of Turre. We set off under the bridge along the Rio Aguas. Across the fields, Turre Church came into view. The high speed train track ran along the other side of the river bed.
There were clouds and it was misty, but when the sun broke through it was warm The runners soon caught up with us. There were others enjoying the Spanish countryside. Cyclists and trial bikers.
We walked over the river bed and into a ditch, to get out we all had to clamber under the sluice gate, dogs too. As we headed back we noticed quite a few dry bones.
We did see a few painted lady butterflies, apparently earlier in the week there had been thousands, they are on migration to North Africa.
We arrived at the bridge we notice the runners were already back, fortunately they had left us some of the wonderful home made mince pies, there was even a carrot cake to celebrate the 7th Anniversary of the Indalo Hash House Harriers.
We enjoyed annual holidays in Southern Spain – for a couple of years we visited an apartment complex in Mojácar, we loved the Moorish style and the spectacular views even the lunar landscape away from the coast. At that time, in the early 1990s few people had heard of Almería, let alone visited. The area was markedly old fashioned, at the airport, luggage was taken off the plane and placed on shaded racks and there was no autovia or motorway.
We usually hired a car and ventured up and down the coast and inland, in May 1995 when a friend suggested contacting someone advertising farmhouses for sale in the Almanzora Valley, we couldn’t resist. We looked at three possible projects all of which could have been moved into after bathrooms and kitchens had been fitted. We loved the area and drove up to Baza, another day we ventured north of Albox, along empty roads up towards Velez Rubio, dreaming of a new project in Spain. When I say we, there was our family, John, Jane and our three teenage children.
Through the summer our thoughts kept returning to Arboleas and we wondered whether we could actually make it real. In October Jane had an opportunity to visit Mojácar with her parents, the plan was to stay in a hotel and to meet up with the entrepreneur Gordon Condrey to have a look at some more properties. We actually went back to one of the houses, at Los Gibaos we were pleased to find out that a couple had moved in, they turned out to be friendly and very helpful. Back at the hotel in the evenings my Dad felt that a renovation might be too big a job, a ready to move into house too expensive, which left our best option, to buy a cheap ruin and have a modest holiday home built.
We viewed two in Los Carrascos, with Diego Oller Jimenez, we had all squeezed into an old red Clio. The first, a single storey old school overlooking the Arroyo Aceituno, in a small hamlet of farmhouses, the school had not been used for many years. It needed a bathroom and kitchen and vision to see the finished article, the roof was intact, but it didn’t have much land, although it was surrounded by almond trees. It had fantastic views.
The second property was a large stone farmhouse sadly it’s roof was in a poor state of repair. On entering the property, it felt quite dangerous, the whole place had been empty many years.
There was a pigsty and animal sheds, it did have around 800 metres of land, water and electricity connected and it stood on an elevated position near to an asphalted road. It was fabulous, the potential was outstanding. We took video and loads of photographs and returned to England, full of excitement.
We showed John, who had stayed at home and looked after the kids, all the images, he fortunately trusted our judgement. We contacted Gordon Condrey saying that we wanted to buy the ruin and asked him to draw up some plans for a new house.
John and I returned in February 1996 to complete the purchase of the ruined Cortijo , including obtaining non-residency and visiting the Notary. We then finalised the plans for the new holiday home.
In May, John flew out to Spain to check on the progress of the building work.
John took this final photograph in October 1996, with part one of the house completed. The rest is history, which has affected hundreds of peoples lives.
We met at the coach station in Vera, with one hare, who was going to run, it was obvious that might mean trouble. We were then set a quiz on the spelling of whisky or whiskey! The trails were apparently marked in white matt paint, the walkers were told to follow the markers and instructed that when we had gone past the stable we were to ignore the big R as that was a check for the runners. The temperatures were beginning to soar as we set off in different directions. We walked by Lidl and under the bypass, we then saw our first check marker, it all looked very hopeful.
We then made our first mistake by not following a marker and ended up at a closed garden centre, after about twenty minutes we got back on track, but by now we were behind the runners. The views to the sea were pretty, there was a breeze and we then made our next mistake, we followed a white marker, this looked hopeful as the track wound its way by a stable with horses.
We continued on, following another marker, I heard a lot of gunfire to the right and some interesting rock formation caught my eye, so I moved nearer to the edge to get a photo, there on the valley floor were the runners, making a fast exit. We met up with the hare, who informed us we should have ignored the marker, that had been just for the runners, although it was identical. We needed to go back to the main track to the stable.
We retraced our steps and continued along the dusty road, we saw no further markers, but reassured ourselves we were not lost as the runners were heading down a ridge in roughly the same direction. Ahead was a broken down shack with a corrugated roof, apparently this was the stable we were looking for, although there were no horses, scattered on the ground very dry hard brown lumps and straw was evidence there had been at some time. I asked the hare where the big R was and he pointed across another field away from Vera. We followed slowly after the runners, we then came to a larger track which looked like it headed back towards the town, by now the runners were dots on the horizon even further away. We had been walking for over 50 minutes, unanimously we decided to make our own trail back to Vera.
We saw this delightful dog on the way, it’s ears were large and hairy, not unlike donkey’s ears, but when I tried to get a photo the dog was shy. We also passed another stable with horses!
Back through the underpass, we waited around half an hour for the runners to return and the circle, another eventful, hot and interesting Hash.