During the last month and a bit we’ve been overwhelmed with the day-to-day running of a French B&B, dealt with healthy piles of horse poo and gone one-on-one with some of Morocco’s pushiest operators. It’s already the four-month mark of our European odyssey and time’s going by far too quickly… As I type, the echo of call for prayer is bouncing off the narrow concrete walls outside our riad and I can hear people scurrying home to worship… But more on Morocco next time…
France goes a bit pear-shaped
Our first major stumbling block occurred just over a month ago in the most unlikely of places – the beautiful Ardeche region of southern France. Without going into too much detail, our third workaway in a classic French B&B was all work and no play, so we high-tailed it out of there after only one week. Of course, this also left us with a three-week gap which we hadn’t budgeted for (work stays include free food and accommodation)… But as luck would have it, we were able to start our next workaway almost immediately, thanks to another couple’s plans falling through at the last minute. That gave us a few days to recoup in Avignon, before jetting off to Málaga, Spain in the heart of the Costa del Sol.
Vals-les-Bains – a view worth bottling, but a workaway to forget!
L: The famous Pont d’Avignon. R: Ramparts surrounding the town.
L: View of Villeneuve de Avignon. R: A vino or two at the end of a hard day’s sight-seeing.
Foo Foo the cat, who we met while couchsurfing.
Exploring the Alcazaba above Málaga.
We’ve enjoyed France but boy have we been blown away by Spain! It’s a country with an undeniable pulse and in Málaga things race along at 100 miles an hour. Our most recent workaway though was at a much slower pace in a quaint little pueblos blancos (or white town) called Algodonales in the Andalusia region. For many Spaniards, Andalusia is the authentic Spain and we loved our time with Nicole, Rob and their kids Rosie and Dylan. Nic and Rob run a paragliding school and they asked us to help tidy up their house before they rented it out over summer. We painted, sanded and varnished among other things but our main job was looking after the horses – Spirit and Cherry Blossom, as well as donkey Georgie Brown. Have you ever heard the noise a donkey makes? It’s a little strange…
L: Georgie Brown. C: Dinner time!! R: Spirit.
Siobhan and Cherry Blossom
Our days off were spent potting around the house, enjoying cheap coffee and tapas in town or planning day-trips to nearby Ronda, Grazalema, Jerez de la Frontera and Arcos de la Frontera – beautiful little spots with their own individual charm. We were lucky to be staying in the area of the pueblos blancos as it’s a popular tourist route. Siobhan also made a couple of batches of seville orange marmalade which went down very nicely.
L: Overlooking Grazalema. R: Dog amongst the pots.
Our own personal sherry tour in Jerez de la Frontera – home of Harvey’s Bristol Cream.
L: Home-made marmalade! R: Evening view from Rob & Nic’s house.
The highlight of our stay in Algodonales was seeing the local Romería – an annual religious celebration which the whole town turned out for. It was a vibrant mix of colourful flamenco dresses, sharp traje cortos and free-flowing beer for those on horseback, or in cars and trucks.
Such an amazing experience and we’re still to visit Granada, Madrid and Barcelona… Can’t wait!