It was my birthday, and we were travelling back towards Sotogrande for a return sit with our friends Toots and Tiger Lily and their furry feline companions. Sad as it was to farewell the lovely Lucy and her parents Jim and Janette in the cave house, we were happy to return to another beautiful location with familiar friends.
The day was very wet for driving and we missed seeing the snowy Sierra’s as we drove past Granada, stopping briefly to wander around a mall in search of a gift and lunch. It’s pretty sad when you resort to Burger King for your birthday lunch but it was one of the few choices open before 1pm, and you knew it would be quick and easy before driving again. ( We did go out for a delicious special dinner that evening; nice to treat ourselves to something special rather than the budget options we try to keep to. My lobster salad was awesome… and dessert too!) At least, as we headed further south, the rains stopped and we were able to enjoy glimpses of the Mediterranean. The temperatures rose to double figures and the sun came out which lifted our spirits.
As a repeat sit, we knew the routines and natures of the dogs and cats, as well as the area around. It was lovely to be greeted by the exuberant dogs as we entered the gates and settled in. These two just loved their walks and Tiger got very impatient if you took your time getting ready, snapping at your shoes as you tried to tie your laces and barking to tell you to hurry up, while Toots ambled off down the driveway, confident you would catch up soon. One morning, we took them out in the car to a walk about 20 minutes away. They knew the routine and were very well-behaved in the back of the car, Toots’ head looking over the back of the seat, but poor Tiger was much to small to be able to enjoy the view. The walk along the canal was flat and easy, and paved so no-one had muddy feet at the end of it.
The next day, Chris and I had to go out to stock up on groceries and made the mistake of opening the car door too soon; both the dogs were in like a shot, expecting another ride out. There was no way Toots was leaving either… from the back seat she moved to the front and then it was quite a mission to remove her; she was stubborn and planted her feet and body making it very difficult. Eventually we got them both out, with a promise of another ride out later in the week.
The week passed without too much drama other than a small hiccough with the security system that we eventually got sorted and the electric gate locking us out after a walk one day so we had to climb over these 2 metre high barriers to return home (the dogs crawled under the fence as they always did). Saying goodbye this time was a little harder as we knew we would not be returning to these beauties, but we have great memories of our time here.
We had a few days before reaching our next housesit, and were able to visit Gibraltar as it was only 20 minutes away from the port of Sotogrande where we were based. Remembering to pack our passports, we drove south to this British enclave. It was really strange to hear a range of British accents in the shops and to be charged for everything in pounds (thankfully we were able to use credit cards for all our spending that day).
We started by catching the cable car (actually a gondola) up to the “top of the rock” for amazing views over the town and to the Spanish coastline, as well as Africa. We had a stunning day and the sunshine made everything sparkle. The Barbary macaques that live here at the top are fearless of humans and heights, hanging off branches over steep drop offs and looking to grab you or anything you have a hold of. They sneak up and suddenly you are aware of being touched or inspected. My map of the area was snatched from me, but I always kept a very secure hold of my phone, purse and clothing!
The Skywalk, a glass platform (opened this year by who else but Luke Skywalker himself aka Mark Hamill) overlooked a drop-off to sea level and, worryingly, part of it was roped off because of some seriously cracked glass! The macaques didn’t care and sat on the glass balustrades without a worry.
We had opted for a one way trip up the cable car and so were faced with a long and, at times, steep but picturesque walk down the mountain to Gibraltar town itself. Both of us pondered the wisdom of this decision as we took it slowly down to protect knee joints. (And I definitely regretted it for the next two days as I hobbled around feeling quite sore in my joints!)
One of the benefits (?) of housesitting is the British TV we get to see, and I got sucked in by the pre-Christmas advertising for Marks & Spencer’s Christmas goodies, so we tookadvantage of stocking up here in Gibraltar, collecting Christmas pudding and cake, mince pies and chocolate treats to keep for our celebrations in December…(hopefully they will last that long!)
Leaving the south of Spain behind, we drove north, stopping at the delightful hillside village of Frigiliana before a last gasp beach location in Almunecar.
Staying off peak, we got a good deal on accommodation and enjoyed a beautiful sunset sitting at a beach bar, sipping on cocktails. I even managed a swim in the hotel pool that was heated to an acceptable temperature and the outside temperature was also quite pleasant.
Now we were headed inland to enjoy rural treats again – our next three housesits take us through to after New Year.