Mi Pueblo: Pinos del Valle

MEL2015_2_Fotor

by Mel Kidby, Casa Molino, Pinos del Valle

How did you discover the Lecrin Valley?

We saw an episode of “A Place in the Sun” on UK TV back in 2003/4 and loved the look of the place being very similar to where we’d lived back in the late 80’s in South Africa.  We were getting itchy feet again and looking for a new challenge –  Spain appealed to us being just a 3 hour flight back to the UK, so visits to family and friends would be easy compared to our days of living in South Africa.

Continue reading “Mi Pueblo: Pinos del Valle”

A Place in the Sun comes to the Lecrin Valley

It’s been a very exciting week in the Lecrin Valley, with the arrival of Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun. The crew has been filming in the area for a new episode featuring a British couple who are thinking about buying in the Granada Province.

A few weeks ago we got a very exciting call from the researchers, asking if we could help the crew look for houses in the Lecrin Valley and suggest existing local expat residents to interview for the show. No problema!

Danielle Gouwens at At Home in Andalusia quickly got to work shortlisting suitable houses, while we set up interviews with a few of the local expats, including Louise Spink from Restabal’s Vinas de Vera,  Cathy King from La Tasca Restaurant in Niguelas and the lovely Molly Sears, author of the Piccavey blog who lives in Granada.

Laura HamiltonThe team, headed by popular presenter Laura Hamilton, visited 5 houses in total, of which three were in the valley – in Chite, Albunuelas and Pinos.

Now we just have to wait for the show to air to find out if the couple, Pauline and John, decide to buy in Granada, but everyone’s had a great time in the process!

We’re hoping that the show, which will probably broadcast in January, will encourage more people to visit or buy a home in our lovely corner of the world, as well as bring welcome business to the local bars, restaurants, cafes and activities.

Next week the show will be filming in Motril, so the Costa Tropical will also get a look-in!

A Place in the Sun

Channel 4 A Place in the Sun

At Home in Andalusia

https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Tasca

Mi Pueblo: Chite

by GYM HALAMA 

In 1970 I lived in the hills behind Marbella with the Australian Architect Donald Grey, who was building villages along the coast in the traditional Andalucian style. He opened my eyes to this fantastic landscape, taking me to Ronda, Seville, Cordoba and to Gerald Brennan’s Yegen in the Alpujarra mountains.

My dream was to return one day and make it my home, and in 1991, on a ten day holiday, I found a little house in Chite, remortgaged my council flat in World’s End, London and moved down permanently in 1995.

With enough to live on for six months I found jobs gardening, cleaning and decorating. I painted at my easel for a year and put on my first exhibition in Durcal, gaining commissions and selling enough paintings to encourage me to keep going. I drifted back into the film business which was booming, and was able to make a life for myself here.

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The village is quiet, because it leads only to the orange, lemon, olive and almond groves, and is surrounded by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is brilliantly located, 20 mins from Granada with masses of history and culture, 30 minutes from the beach and skiing in winter, and the Alpujarra villages with their flat roofed dwellings are less than an hour’s drive away.

I love the Arab influence of this part of Spain: I am transported by the music and dance,(coming from a dancing family) walking around the Albaycin in Granada and everywhere I look, the unspoilt mountains are a backdrop wherever I go. There have been some wonderful old characters milling around over the years: “The man with long arms” and two very short brothers with a mule, one of which I have painted several times. When he asked to buy one of these watercolours, I gave him a more than reasonable price for it; he took out three rusty old nails from his pocket and handed them to me as a deposit! : ” I’ll take these to the bank immediately,” I said.

My newest fan is a parrot who sends me wolf whistles all the way to my door as soon as he hears me park my pick up by the church!

While Chite doesn’t have any shops (except my Camel Stop) or bars of its own, it is walking distance from Lecrin with all its bars, banks, shops, pharmacy, supermarket and petrol station.

If you are a drinker, (I gave up ten years ago) after a few glasses of mosto, you can walk home in fifteen minutes and clear your head.

The locals are as friendly as any other small rural community and money isn’t the prime incentive here. I have been treated over the years, first with suspicion (a woman living on her own) and later with respect, and even though I will always be a “Guiri”, my immediate neighbours accept me as a hard-working, eccentric artist and I’m happy with that!

Gym Halama is an artist and special effects (FX) and interiors painter who has worked on countless commercials, films and music videos, as well as creating amazing backdrops and themes for events and parties. She runs The Sandpit Club in Chite (barrio bajo) as a venue for events and gallery space and also owns The Camel Stop, in C/ Carniceria in upper Chite, which is an Aladdin’s cave of reloved furniture, artwork, vintage jewellery and clothes, nik naks, decorative knobs and fixtures, ornaments and all sorts of other interesting things. Open on Tuesdays or by appointment.    To read more about Gym Halama, go to www.gymhalama.com.

More about Chite:

Chite is one of the Lecrin Valley’s smaller villages with only around 300 inhabitants. It’s built on the side of a hill leading to the orchards below that lead down to Lake Beznar. Separated into two barrios, the barrio alto (upper) and barrio bajo (lower), the village winds down from the mirador seats at the entrance of the upper village with incredible views down to Lake Beznar and the dam, past the plaza and down calle San Segundo into Calle Fuerte or Carniceria until you start on the sharp descent into the lower barrio, past the church and into the orchards beyond.

Chite’s recent claim to fame is Jose Guerrero, the artist, who grew up in the village with his siblings and grandmother, but there are a number of historic buildings dotted around the village: Three ancient mills that date back to the Moors and one even to the Romans and one which then became part of the Spanish Inquisition, el Molino de la Inquisicion. There is also a 500 year old house that was previously used by the Spanish Royal Family as a holiday residence and an old moorish castle, the Castillo de Morisco.

Mi Pueblo: Restabal

This is the first in a series of mini articles from local residents to give you a picture of what each village is like…

Mi Pueblo – Restabal, by Danielle Gouwens

Let’s start with some facts: Restabal is a smallish village in the municipality of El Valle, together with Saleres and Melegís. It’s set in the heart of the ´Lecrin Valley´, which apparently means the “Valley of Happiness”, although there are some other thoughts as to its origin. They say the Valley was given its name by the Moors and I reckon it’s one of the most appropriately named areas of Spain!

Restabal has a population of 517 inhabitants (last count!) and is situated at an altitude of 541.1 meters above sea level. The inhabitants of Restabal are called Restabeños and even have their own dialect (Restabalín).

The village has three fiestas: San Cristóbal y Nuestra Señora del Rosario in December; a 3-day celebration in honor of Santa Ana around the 26th of July and on the 13th of May the Romeria de la Virgen de Fátima, with a procession the following Sunday, culminating in a big picnic with lots of food, drink and dancing.

We also have three monuments and the remains of a Moorish castle, although if you’re thinking of paying it a visit, be warned, there’s not much left!

The Beauty of Restabal

Every time I drive back from Melegis towards Restabal, I’m always filled with a mixture of happiness and pride, because it’s such a lovely setting with the pine forest in the background and the white-washed houses popping in the sun surrounded by orange groves and views down to the embalse de Beznar.

Daily life

Daily life is very easy going. In the morning you greet the farmers on their way to the campo to tend to their vegetables and orchards, donkeys pass in the streets as if the industrial revolution never happened around here, and there is always a friendly welcome in the local supermarket – actually there are three of them.

A variety of people visit our village, both Spanish and international and having my office in Restabal I am often in the privileged position of welcoming people who have never been to this area before. Almost without exception, people fall in love with the area and our little pueblo.

Things to do

Apart from long walks in stunning scenery, which I personally love to do, the area is also great for cycling with some fantastic routes all over the valley, but many around Restabal itself.  At the weekends particularly, you see a great many cyclists making their way through the village with the odd one or two stopping en route for a quick drink on the roadside at Arcos De Manuel or Bar Jovi.

The sports ground/campo deportivo at the top of the village often stages parties and events like Flamenco evenings, but like most things in Spain, they don’t usually start until around 11o/c at night, so make sure you have a siesta first!

As all the Lecrin Valley residents know and appreciate, Granada is pretty much on our doorstep and the beaches of the Costa Tropical are only half an hour the other way, so we’re in an amazing position of both rural life and closeness to the city and coast.

Restabal is a beautiful village with a warm heart and very friendly people, breathtaking views and surrounding scenery.  Ultimately I wouldn’t be anywhere else. It’s a place I feel very much at home and although we´ll always be the “guiri” (a colloquial Spanish name used in Spain applied to foreigners), in the good sense of the word, the more time you spend here, the more you end up feeling like a true Restabeño!

Danielle runs real estate agency, At Home in Andalusia (www.athomeinandalusia.com). 

Additional pics taken from El Valle Ayuntamiento website: http://www.elvalle.es and http://www.adurcal.com