Saturday, January 29, 2011

A lovely trip to Gaucin and Ronda

It was a great surprise to be invited to our friends, in the beautiful white washed village of Gaucin, in the mountains north of Marbella, for a get together, for friends with alpacas. Jane and John have moved into their new stunning home with views across to Gibralter. I could n't wait to catch up with great friends, and of course have a nosey around their new place, which is now finished. Alan and I saw the new house whilst finishing touches were being done! As usual there was a beautiful lunch for us all, with a drop of the ole vino! Good times!

John and Jane's gorgeous new home

Can you spot the rock of Gibralter?

Beautiful little girl!

What a house!

We were also lucky enough to be invited to stay that night with two of our closest friends, although sadly not in distance, Mike and Linda. It meant that the following day we would only have a journey home of three hours rather than four! We had a nice meal out in the evening in a well known chain of "restaurants" that cannot be named for risking Linda's reputation! She was happy to eat inside, but was ready to make a dash for the door if need be ;-) We chatted late into the night, and had such a lovely time. Thank guys, can't wait to do it again! And I must say we love the way your menagerie is growing. It was two dogs, which has now grown to four dogs, plus your gorgeous chickens, and extremely handsome cockerel!

Mike and Linda's handsome donkey's

Number 3, Sally

..... and number 4, Jack

Blood test practice

Since the end of last summer we have been trying to start the journey of our little farm being classified as Brucellosis and Tb free, which gives a status of M4 T4, I think thats correct! The fact that alpacas are so rare in Spain, and particularly in our area, OCA the Spanish version of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) are really unable to make up their minds what to do with them! We have had numerous conversations with our vet regarding this, and are no where near starting the process. In January this year the laboratories all closed, for two weeks, as they were changing something... computors or machines, goodness knows what, but this was nationally! Although Andres our vet, who I am very pleased to say reads my blog now, decided it maybe good to do a practice run. Any alpaca breeders will confirm how very difficult it is to take blood from an alpaca. We have watched numerous youtube videos, which we have sent Andres links to the best, and he and us have all researched online.

>Alan and I have done huge amounts of alpaca "cuddling" to try and make them more relaxed and less likely to jump in the air at the point of the needle making contact, or more likely trying numerous times to find the vein. So one morning we got the boys all in and started with the most relaxed boy, who is known to us as Marcus, it's actually not his name haha. We have two gorgeous grey boys and we have called them the wrong names since they arrived to us. So now Eduardo is Marcus and Marcus is Eduardo! Bless them, they don't care at all :) Well Marcus stood calmly and still for around 10 minutes whilst Andres prodded and poked around trying to find the vein in his neck, he was an absolute angel. Andres also tried on Eduardo but he was far more jumpy, so we gave up on him for that day! When Andres comes back to do the blood tests to send to the lab he will bring clippers with him, as their fleeece is really thick at the moment. Recenly we have been cuddling them, and holding Alan's electric razor under their ear's to get them used to the noise too. Hmmmm I wonder how many other alpaca owners in the world have done that, or just us two dafties :)
We are now mid February and the last time we went to see Andres about blood tests was aproximately two weeks ago, whilst we were in him consulting rooms he had a phone call from OCA, and he translated back to us that if the animals were cows or goats they would know exactly what to do, but alpacas are so rare they have no categories for camelids! Now they are all discussing it further and there maybe someone else, maybe a vet from OCA or an "important" person to oversea the bloodtests especially the Tb skin test, or maybe just our own vet, who knows! Maybe March now! This year..... please!

Marcus, what a star!

It's good to talk!

Well you may or may not know, Alan and I live a pretty secluded life here, in a beautiful part of inland Andalucia in Spain. Untouched completely by tourism, and there are very few English people around us. We, well I should really just speak for myself and say I love our life style here, if only I could afford to see the family a little more often, life would be pretty near perfect. Living here we chose not to be in an ex pat community, and although we have a handful of English friends, apart from meeting in the post office or in the local supermarket, for a catch up we don't very often get together. It's not that we are miserable buggers, we all chose to be here, living amongst the olive trees and Spanish farmers rather then in a built up area eg. Benidorm, or Torremolinos. If that is your choice, then that is great for you, however it is a very different life style to what we have!
I'm digressing as usual...... when we do get together with friends, it makes it all the more special. We had a double whammy recently when we met up with Kev and Sue who are moving here permanently later in the year, in the local hotel for a drink, then we introduced them to Pat and Pedro our other great friends, who live around half an hour away. They got on great, and Pedro told them if they needed any help he would always be there for them. Kev and Sue went back to their house to carry on with some work and we joined Pat and Pedro for lunch. It is wonderful to have some great friends, already here, and more moving out shortly. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Well Christmas is long gone now, sorry it has taken me so long to blogger my wonderful time!

The Lead up to Christmas....

As you may have read in my last update, we had dreadful rain leading up to Christmas, and our little bridge leading up to our house had been washed away. Thank goodness this had been repaired, and our next worry was whether or not Frankie would be able to get here to us, due to the snow in England. For a start the flights were being cancelled left right and centre, plus of course there was the predicament of getting to Gatwick airport. Thankfully Frankie's big brother and his lovely lady, took Frankie under their wing and were adamant she stayed at their house the night before the flight. Mark had already arranged to take her and Kaci to the airport, so it saved him the worry of also getting to Peacehaven, and then back to the A23. Alan and I had to check the departures before our drive to Malaga the following morning, and hope and pray, all would be well.

Someone was certainly looking down on us that day, as many flights were in fact cancelled, and Frankie only had the matter of a 45 minute delay! Frankie was rather nervous of how Kaci would be on the flight, would she be able to keep her still, on her lap through take off and landing, let alone other times, and would she be one of those screaming children on the plane? Frankie chatted to the cabin crew and they suggested she sit near the back where at least Kaci could have a little wander around if need be, and not get in too many peoples way. In actual fact Frankie need n't have worried, she was an angel. She looked at her books and played with her "baba" and finally fell asleep as Frankie pushed her pushchair through the arrivals gate, not a second before. You cannot believe how good it was to see them both!!!

Frankie, Kaci and I had 4 wonderful days together where we chatted and relaxed in front of the log burner. Good job we are chatterboxes as the television broke down, just a few days before. You know what they say "It never rains but it pours!" Well the weather was very bad so we would pop out and see the dogs and alpacas occasionally, in between what the weather forecast called "drenching showers". Unfortunately we were unable to go any further because the torrent of rain once again washed away our bridge. Now we had a new dilema! How long would they take to fix the bridge yet again and, if it took a few days - how were we going to get Chris from the airport on Christmas Eve?

Alan had a cunning plan! Not really cunning, however being a Black Adder fan, any plan has to be "cunning". We still had the cut down tree from the last time the bridge had washed away, so Alan was going to walk up a blooming blooming steep hill, to the end of the track which is approximately 3 kilometres, of which the first part really is extremely steep. A friend was then going to take him to Montoro, where he was going to have to wait 2 hours for a bus.  As our friends were going away to family, they could not pick him up later, and of course the buses are few and far between. From there he was going to get the bus to Cordoba, where poor Alan was going to have to wait another 2 hours for a train to Malaga, The plan was to hire a car in Malaga, wait 4 hours for Chris's flight to land, then drive home. We could then leave the car the opposite side of the river to our house, but we could at least get out and use a car, the other side!

However................. it was not going to be a easy as that, and that sounded hard enough! Alan had been looking at a company to hire a car for a few days, and all seemed ok, until that very morning when he went to book it online, the price had trebled, plus they informed us by email that they would verify if a car was available within 48 hours???! There just had to be another way. In desperation we phoned our friends Tim and Susi, out of interest, as we thought they had two cars.  Thank goodness we were right, and they very kindly said we could borrow their pick up truck. In Spain it is the car that has to be insured, not the person, so we were able to borrow it. Yippee! This made life so much easier. Alan still had to walk the track, and get his lift into Montoro, however he could then get our last minute Christmas food shopping in town, come back home and still relax for a while, before heading off to the airport. Chris and Alan arrived home safely at 1.30 am having had to cross the tree/ bridge in pitch black with only a torch!

Kaci meets the alpacas

... and Arthur the Spanish Mastin


Our rental apartment all ready for Christmas

Christmas day was pretty good weather, and extremely relaxing. We spent time outside with the animals and just relaxed, whilst having a ball watching Kaci opening her Christmas presents. Everything is so very exciting for a one year old.  The smallest book, the new pink food bowls, and of course the talking Winnie the Pooh, but especially the box it came in haha! She was such a joy! Kaci loved the cats, which she has seen before, she was a little nervous of our big dogs, quite understandably, and called Blue and Arthur our big beautiful Masins "Ted Ted's". The alpacas or "papas" she was as inquisitive about, as they were towards her! Boxing Day the weather was beautiful and sunny, so we decided to go to Cordoba Zoo. As we had the borrowed car of course, which had to be left the other side of the river. The morning started by crossing the tree bridge, then brekkie in Cordoba then off to the zoo. We had a lovely day there,and Kaci was really able run quite freely as there were few people there. It is a lovely little zoo, and it was lovely to spend our Boxing Day there as a family!

Anyway the dreaded 28th was looming up when they were travelling back together, and the day before we had made plans to visit friends in the hotel in town for a drink, then the lovely couple who had lent us the car, who have a miniature donkey and miniature pony.  We thought Kaci would love them. So we all made it over the tree/bridge yet again and set off towards town. On route there was a blooming clunk, we had hit a huge pot hole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And burst a tyre grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! Unfortunately the right tools were not in the car to get the spare from under a tow bar, so after about half an hour of struggling, Alan started to walk back to our house to get the tools from ours. A very kind local man, who we did not know stopped and tried to help, but with no avail, but he had seen Alan walking, and went back and picked him up, to take him to our house to collect the tools. Alan had walked over 2 miles with about another 5 to go! In actual fact that morning we had seen people literally drive through the river as it was n't very deep, and Alan decided to do the same and bring our car back. He then took us straight to the friends house, that had lent us the car, and we had to cancel the other friends in the hotel! Alan collected a mechanic friend that managed to change the tyre in just 20 minutes with the correct tools. What a blooming day! We did however have a lovely time with Tim and Suzy and their 3 dogs, and pony and donkey!

Well the leaving day had arrived, and they still had not started working on the bridge so we drove back through the river the following day to take them all to the airport. I decided to drive (after the river crossing) as it helps to take my mind off the "goodbyes" which I hate and seem to get harder each time. Kaci is a dream, in fact she is extremely bright little girl, a total character, even Alan was quite smitten with her. Well that was my Christmas, apart from to say the bridge has now been fixed, the day after they left, let's hope it holds through the rest of winter! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and are taking some time to relax and recharge your battery.

I wish you a wonderfully happy and healthy 2011!

"Christmas Dinner please!"

Got to get into a box at Christmas :-)

Cordoba Zoo

A tired little girl, back home over the "tree/ bridge"

A little ride on Monty? Not too sure!