Pow. Another grey dawn breaks over London. Well not exactly, because it started fine and sunny but has now morphed into that dullness and absence of light generally associated with this city. A slight contrast to my recent experience down in the olive groves of Andalucia (again), as shown here in our breakfast view – a taster before we braved the blinding light outside.
Every morning for two weeks we rose to this golden light and limpid blue – just once some white fluff poked its head over the distant sierra, but never developed further. In fact when flying in to Granada, the nearest airport, the peaks of the Sierra Nevada were still dappled in snow – and this was early July. The contrasts are extraodinary, particularly when the temperature shoots over 35 degrees, despite the fact that we’re about 700m up. When El Terral (an oven-dry summer wind from Africa) blows, then it’s time to retreat. I love that change of rhythm which comes with shutters down and a couple of hours devoted entirely to the benefits of the siesta in a cool, tranquil interior.
Late in the afternoon we would re-emerge energised, read on the terrace, chat with neighbours (the last mule-owner in the village lives opposite, minus the beast), sample a few brevas (early figs) straight from the tree, go for a walk or a drive through the olive groves, head to a nearby town for a tapa or two – salmorejo, an unctuous chilled cream soup of juicy tomatoes, garlic, a few drops of local vinegar and oodles of top virgin olive oil, being a big favourite of mine, closely followed by jamon serrano (in the absence of jabugo) and a chunk of mature Manchego cheese.
With a sublime view of a baroque church thrown in and a glass of Rioja or chilled fino – a bone-dry sherry from Montilla which is the local tipple – it’s hard to beat.
Much later, back in the village, a steep climb uphill took us to the local bar where a cheerful bunch of locals hung out in the cool of the evening. The odd kid on a bike hammering down the main street is about the only action, but who cares? Another fino and then it’s time for a long sleep, dreaming of olives, figs, tomatoes and sherry – the basics of life down here.
And what about the olives to go with the manzanilla? any good? How are they harvested?