So much has happened in the world politically, and none of it good, such that I lost the will to blog. What is there to say, as the madness of a “hard Brexit” looms and the Trump presidency bites, that has not already been said by many others far more eloquently than I could say. I escaped it all last week for a brief holiday walking and cooking in the Alpujarra Mountains of Granada, Southern Spain. This is not an area of Spain I knew at all (having had many holidays in the Barcelona region as a child, it was my first Spanish vacation since I was 19). The area has a fascinating history, including a period of occupation by the Moors, and this influenced the religion, architecture and food. At one time Christians, Jews and Muslims worshiped together in the local church which seems remarkable in the current climate: much of the world appears to have forgotten the ability to be tolerant. The area is very quiet, exceptionally beautiful and the sun shone in February. The benefit of winter sun when you are suffering a grey British winter cannot be overstated. We stayed at the wonderful Las Chimeneas guest house (lovely accommodation, wonderful home Spanish cooking and great hosts (Emma and David); https://laschimeneas.com/index.php?page=home)
Our room is on the left, the view on the right!
The holiday was organised by the fabulous “Manna from Devon” (http://www.mannafromdevon.com/) led by David Jones and his trusted helper Louis. It also included Sole’s cooking from Las Chimeneas which gave us a real understanding of local food, as well as more general Spanish cuisine. A highlight for me was tasting through the “Bodegas Barbadillo” range of sherries, wines which are currently much under appreciated and under valued, with their dry Manzanilla (especially the aged version) being fantastic with tapas and many of the dishes here (a new discovery for me in wine and food pairing). The citrus fruits were out and there was a Lorange tree (oranges and lemons on the same tree; see below).
Plenty of long and reasonably challenging walks kept the weight down, but I did wish I had bought Eddy with me as the cycling here would be fantastic (lots of climbs, good quality roads and little traffic) so I hope to return with my bike this time next year especially as the weather in Cambridge now is snow and ice, so its back to the turbo trainer for me! It was painful to leave the glorious weather, the almond blossom and the sunsets in Spain for snow. The holiday also bought together a great bunch of people and we had a ball with lots of banter and laughter.
On my return to the UK I find Wales have lost to England in the rugby (again), research funding has been reorganised in the UK (hopefully the new council will be able to lobby strongly for UK science, as a hard Brexit may well mean a total loss of EU funding (a disaster for British science)) and I miss the sun already. It also reminds me how much I love being European. Still Speed reminded me (again) that my traveling is not something he approves of, even though I tried to persuade him that Almeria was well worth a visit….