Week 58: Heat
We have everything here for the perfect holiday – except the absence of responsibilities. So we went away to Spain for a few days to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We stayed in the Subbéticas, in Andalucía, in a lovely small B&B that we’ve stayed in before (Casa Olea), and which I’m sure we’ll stay in again. The landscape here is high and wide open under big skies, unlike our cosy corner of the Algarve. Every hillside for miles around and on into far distances is combed with lines of olive trees: regular grey-green dots on an undulating fawn background. It’s as though an army sergeant-major went to art school and tried his hand at pointillism.
This results in a lot of olive oil, much of which was until recently exported, often to Italy, to be bottled and sold with an Italian label – though the small print will have declared the oil to be the produce of several countries – because Italy has always had foodie kudos that Spain lacks. But the area, Priego de Córdoba, has had its own DO since 1999, and now increasingly markets and sells its own oils with their distinctive flavours.
Among the many things we love about Casa Olea is Ruby the dog, a stray who adopted the owners. She’s a quiet, longish-haired, honey-coloured dog, whose joy is to go out with the guests. She greets the prospect of a walk with a wild run towards your legs, throwing her front paws wide in a gesture that lands somewhere between a dog-hug and a genuflection. The twist of her torso at the last second ensures she doesn’t make bodily contact, but then she comes back and presses her flank against your shins to show you her affection is real and not a tease.
We are still waiting to be adopted by a stray or given a puppy. Good try by Horse, but he knew we couldn’t have him long-term, and so did we.
We met our friends Hazel and David in Seville in extreme heat (more than 40°C) and brought them back to our home in Portugal, where we woke up on their first day to be greeted – blissfully and unexpectedly – by overcast skies. It had clearly been extremely hot in our absence. For one thing, a little-loved, neglected plant on our front veranda had given up the ghost. The plant pot had housed two garden candles, left by the previous owners, and they had softened and curled over on themselves. So soon after enervating Seville, this welcome dull day allowed us to spend an easy afternoon at the beach, swimming in the jade sea. After just a few days away, we had missed our home, and we loved being back. The considerable differences between Spain and Portugal continue to fascinate us; to lump the two countries together is a mistake.