The Lure of the Mercadillo

Costa del Sol MercadillosEverybody loves a market!  Ranging from outdoor flea markets to open air food markets, the mercadillos along the Costa del Sol have evolved over the past 30 years from being places where locals bought their fruit and veg to becoming an essential part of life for foreign residents.

Historically, the local markets were where the farmers came to sell their livestock and agricultural produce and, although not typically known as ‘farmers’ markets’ anymore, the most popular ones still have a dazzling array of delicious food items for sale. Today’s markets are a feast for all the senses. They have become a place to appreciate the eclectic mix of cultures, to meet and greet neighbours and friends, to partake in the buzz of local gossip and to soak up the atmosphere.
[Read more…]


L. S. Lowry – A Visionary Artist

LowryLaurence Stephen Lowry is one of those artists that have the same effect on your senses as Marmite; you either love him or hate him! There is no doubt that the quintessentially British artist is a household name and that his pictures of northern life are instantly recognisable, although for some he only came into popular recognition through the 1978 UK number one hit single “Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs” from British music duo Brian & Michael (who?).  We all remember the song but do we remember who sang it!

Although Lowry is probably Britain’s most popular artist, his work has often been misunderstood.  Not only did he paint the mill towns and cities of the industrial north-west for which he is so famous, but he also produced many soulful landscapes and a number of masterly seascapes which are perhaps his greatest works. [Read more…]


Andalucía – Still a Golfer’s Paradise

andalucia newDespite the country’s economic problems, Spain still ranks as one of the top destinations for golfers. The recession has hit the property market hard and there are plenty of golf developments built during the past five years where unsold apartments and villas stand as empty reminders to the financial crisis. However, there are more than 300 golf courses throughout Spain, with over 120 alone in Andalucía, where the sunny fairways and immaculate greens haven’t wavered in popularity for golfing tourists.

Some of the most prestigious courses in Spain are located along the Costa del Sol, otherwise known for good reason as the Costa del Golf. There are also a host of other value for money courses that offer visiting golfers the opportunity to play amongst beautiful surroundings where attractive group discounts can be found.

The exclusive urbanisation of Sotogrande, situated in the area of San Roque at the western end of the Costa del Sol, boasts several courses that would have any seasoned player salivating at the prospect of playing them. [Read more…]


Culture in Andalucía

DFAS logoDFAS de la Frontera is a vibrant and friendly cultural society in Andalucia offering members and visitors a platform from which to enjoy high quality art lectures presented in English and the opportunity to socialise with like-minded people. Whether interested in fine art or not, the lecturers enthuse and enthrall the audience, ensuring they come away with a new appreciation of the subject.

Soon approaching its eighth season, DFAS de la Frontera is an associate society of NADFAS, The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies which was founded in the UK in 1968. Meetings are held at the San Roque Golf and Country Club, Km. 127 (A7), on the third Wednesday (unless otherwise stipulated) of the month at 11.00 a.m. between October and May. Fascinating and stimulating digital presentations on a wide variety of arts subjects are given by NADFAS accredited lecturers with the finest credentials in their specialist fields who have been flown out from the UK. The Programme from October 2013 to May 2014 starts with L.S. Lowry, 16th October, and finishes with Lee Miller, incorporating an eclectic mix in-between ranging from French Expressionist Painting, Raphael, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, John Ruskin, Hellenistic Art, and the inspiration of Venice on art and music in 18th century London. [Read more…]


Writing Groups – to Join or Not?

SWAre you a budding novelist, or perhaps you have already written a draft of your potential best seller and want to know what to do next?  Maybe you haven’t written anything other than the shopping list before now but you have an idea for a plot and would like to get it down in some form before you forget.

Writing groups are an ideal place for you to meet other writers, learn the craft of writing (because it is something that can be learnt) and gain inspiration from like-minded people. There should definitely be a writing group somewhere near where you live. Have a look at The National Association of Writers’ Groups, an association with an impressive list of patrons: Sir Alan Ayckbourn, CBE, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, Rt. Hon. Lord Radice, Gervase Phinn, Lord Bragg of Wigton, Lord Fellowes, Tony Warren, MBE, Jilly Cooper, OBE, Prof. David Lodge CBE, Rt. Hon. Lord Healey, CH, MBE. There is a regional directory listing groups that are situated around the UK as well as news of festivals and competitions held throughout the year. [Read more…]


The Spanish Passion with Gin

A refreshing gin and tonic, once the staple drink of the older members of the British middle classes, has found a new following and become the trendy tipple in bars and clubs around the world.

Spain in particular has taken the bygone G&T and turned it into an art form where it is known as Gin Tónica. The spirit now boasts its own menus dedicated to different brands, where quite often the tonic is abandoned in favour of more unusual mixers. [Read more…]


Barcelona Gaudi’s City

“Barcelona” – you can hear the beautiful operatic voice of Montserrat Caballé complemented by Freddie Mercury’s dulcet tone as they sing the chorus to this song that was chosen as the theme for the 1992 Summer Olympics held here. Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, is indeed a jewel in the sun that shimmers and glitters, showing off the architectural legacy left by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926).

No visit to Barcelona can be complete without visiting Gaudi’s greatest work, La Sagrada Familia Basilica, still under construction since 1882! Gaudi’s distinctive style, with its curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, organic-like forms and colourful designs, is instantly recognisable and provides a feast for the eyes. Be aware that you should book tickets for many of the attractions beforehand, especially for La Sagrada Familia where the queues can be extremely long. Also be alert to the fact that prices are not cheap and that to visit the Basilica and the Towers costs 19.30 Euros (August 2013). Other Gaudi attractions include Park Güell, featuring buildings, sculptures, and tile work designed by Gaudí as well as his old home, now open to the public as a small museum. Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (formerly known as Casa Milà) are the other two must-see Gaudi sights. [Read more…]


Gibraltar – A Concise History

Gibraltar has been called many things – quirky and quaint amongst others, but whatever you think of Gibraltar there is one word that it rightly deserves – fascinating! What is undeniable is the sense of history that pervades this rocky limestone outcrop on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, living and working side by side in an area that covers just 6.5 kilometres.

This eclectic mix of people cohabit in a multi-religious society that is based on a mutual tolerance bound together by their cherished status as British subjects. As of July 2011 the population count stood at approximately 28,956.

A tour around the streets of Gibraltar showcases the many diverse architectural styles that are testament to the different influences throughout its history from the 14th century Moorish Castle to the Genoese style patios and the constructions built by the British military. The name Gibraltar derives from “Tariks Mountain,” after Tariq-Ibn-Zeyad, the Muslim conqueror who invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711. The Moorish occupation of Gibraltar between 711 AD and 1309, and then again between 1350 and 1462, makes the occupation of Gibraltar by the Moors the longest in its history. The Keep of the Moorish Castle is instantly visible to visitors to Gibraltar as it stands overlooking the town from its strategic position on the side of the Rock. The Tower of Homage is the most visible part of the Castle and one of the last remaining remnants of Moorish architecture in Gibraltar dating from around 1333AD when Abu al-Hassan recaptured Gibraltar from the Spanish. [Read more…]


NADFAS – Culture and Art in Southern Spain

Culture is alive and kicking in Southern Spain for English speakers who have an interest in the fine and decorative arts.

NADFAS (the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) is an arts-based charity founded in the UK in 1968 by Patricia Fay. There are now over 340 local societies throughout the UK and Mainland Europe, three of which reside in Southern Spain, with several other societies situated in New Zealand and Australia. There is also a society in Gibraltar, GibDFAS, now in its second year. The main objective of the organization is the advancement of arts education and the appreciation and preservation of artistic heritage, but without doubt making friends, socialising with like-minded people, and having fun are top of the agenda. [Read more…]


Driving in Spain

Here are a few guidelines about driving regulations in Spain – some of which you may know already, and some of which might be a revelation to you!



It might be obvious, but in Spain you drive on the right (the opposite to the UK).

Legal Requirements

At all times motorists must have in the car:

2 red warning triangles – in the event of breakdown or accident, these must be placed in front of and behind the vehicle.

A spare pair of glasses – if the driver wears glasses

A spare wheel

A full set of spare light bulbs, and the tools to change them

A reflective jacket

A certificate of insurance – whether a hired car, or a if a UK registered car, your UK insurance certificate (generally only valid for a stay of less than 3 months)

Further requirements:

Seat belts are required to be on at all times in the front and back seats

No child under the age of 12 should be in the front seat

Small children must be in an approved child safety seat in the back

Do no talk on mobile phones when driving. It is forbidden – even if pulled over at the side of the road

Using an earpiece is also prohibited, but is allowed to be used with a completely hands-free unit

You must be over 18 years old to drive in Spain

Remember that speeding fines are on the spot for non-residents. The speed limit on Spanish motorways has reverted to 120 kilometres per hour (kph) after being dropped to 110kph in February 2011 in an effort to educate drivers that higher speeds consumer more petrol.

Safe driving!