Revamping the kitchen, sorting out tax and finances, a lot of twin babysitting ... and I've been invited to try my hand at some interesting projects which I hope to share with you soon. Seems like a perfect time to share the pictures of Malaga that I promised months ago.
But, first, I just want to mention that on the way to the DIY superstores in Brent (a place which could act as a location shoot for a dystopian movie) I passed an amazing house on a dreary road. Surrounded by light industrial and nondescript semis, it was in a ghastly state of repair and partly boarded with corrugated iron. But I knew from its shape and construction that it must be really old, so when I got back I googled around and found that it is called Oxgate Farm. Take a look at the pictures on its Facebook page, specially the ones where they've dressed up the inside. Wow! What an extraordinary survival - and to think Shakespeare himself might have visited. It's very much at risk, and so I've written to the SPAB about it and joined the FB page and I hope something can be done about it. I will keep you posted.
I've chosen some of the Malaga pictures to give you a feel of what it's like to spend a day in the "old town" (as distinct from the touristy bits which look much the same all along the coast). The photos were taken in February, and show why Southern Spain's such a good place to escape the English winter.
So, early one morning, we got up and wandered into the main squares in the town. Felt like paradise after England's grey winter skies. Here's someone having breakfast and reading the paper in the slanting morning sun.
Because it's winter the shadows were long but very pretty.
Always there are little shrines in the wall - and isn't this wall painted up interestingly. I think it must be a Moorish design.
We always eat fish when we go to Spain and this is the kind of stuff we buy for souvenirs.
Yes, Spanish dancing outfits. The twins already have them as their other grandparents have a holiday home in Spain. They don't half look cute in them.
About midday, we strolled down to the port, recently redesigned in striking style with a dazzling white canopy like a snake skeleton. It was like being inside a giant architectural model, all clean lines and glass, a beautiful bit of architecture. You can see the canopy reflections in the shot below, which was taken through a sheet of glass. I love the bright blue and white feeling of it all. It reminds me of my childhood when I would get on a boat often to go somewhere new.
All so bright and twinkly.
Further along there is the wide sandy beach, swept clean, with empty kids' play equipment and nobody swimming. February is February, after all!
There's an old Moorish castle on the hill above Malaga so we went there as the afternoon siesta took hold of the town and all the shops closed.
Past the cathedral en route.
And from the castle, there were wide views over the town. The holiday flats in the background are typical of the places that give the Costa del Sol a bad name, although I expect those who own them have a great view of the sea!
The castle's main structure is restored, though the elaborate interiors have been mostly left plain; I can't begin to think of the cost of restoring those. It's none the worse for it, though, and we were happy to amble round the gardens and pathways and sit in the shady corners.
I wished, though, that I could have brought along my friend Yehuda, a keen amateur bricklayer who would have gone into raptures over this restored ceiling.
When we got back to town, evening was coming on, the clear sky was a deepening blue, the street lamps were on. Things were starting to come to life again.
By 7 PM the streets were bustling with shoppers, the marble pavements reflecting the light from the windows. I bought some almonds from the almond seller who had been sitting there all day. There he is on the left, with his tray of almonds.
And by 8.30 the bars and restaurants were showing a few signs of life. I've never got used to the late eating hours in Spain, and in February the old town doesn't have all that many foreign tourists who keep earlier hours. This is the El Jardin restaurant and bar.
Here's a close up of the traditional Amstel pump on that counter.
If we'd been with friends and family, we'd have waited to eat until the restaurants filled and to hell with the indigestion. But we didn't want to wait, so we set off to find a restaurant where we could eat outdoors, just because it was February and we could sit outdoors....
A fantastic paella and a lovely evening. Guitarists jammed away happily in the dark shadows nearby
And the cats came out to claim the night.
PS. I didn't mention the Picasso Museum, but it deserves a post of its own. Since I can't do it justice here, this video might give you a taste of it, and
here is one of my favourite pictures in it.
It is also a gorgeous building. Look at the contrast of this wooden ceiling with the plain walls and staircase. One of the things I love about Spain is the sense of style.