Tag Archives: Spain.

A time we’ll remember.


A time to remember and one we’ll definitely not forget. A time we’d never imagined would happen within our lifetime, in this modern age. A time that we were seeing unfolding in other countries, but couldn’t believe it would come to us, that was on their news, ‘The them & us’ thought process was in full flow. Then it did, then it arrived, then it was consuming our lives.

I am writing this post for me, for my family to store in our keepsake memoirs. To read in the future when we need to look back on or remind ourselves what we’ve lived through, what we’ve survived, how vulnerable we were and are. Controlled movements, business breakdowns, families separated, but also what we’ve positively gained, what we achieved and how I see our lives will change.

Although as I type on an unusually cold and wet May Day (12th May 2020), we are still in Fase 0 in Malaga province of Spanish Lockdown, I will write in past tense, as after I have written this, I hope to not read it for years to come, because quite frankly, I am sick to my back teeth of Covid-19, the politics, the false news, the speculation. I just want to go back to normal or as we’re preparing for it ‘THE NEW NORMAL’

On Friday 13th March !! As I did my last hike, unbeknown to me, and stopped for a cafe con leche at a rural venta, and soaked in the view, the news of the Covid-19 Pandemic and changes were unfolding around me. “Difficult times are coming,” said the bar owner and we just stood and stared.

My youngest daughter was in college in Malaga, rumours were spreading of the impending Lockdown, social media was in a frenzied state, people were travelling whereever they could, to be where they wanted to be. My son travelled up from Gibraltar, for our last reunion, only to be called back within 12 hours. Bars, restaurants, public transport, schools were closing, and then BOOM by the end of the week-end, here we were in Spain in the strictest Lockdown in Europe.

Business bookings started cancelling left, right and centre, tourist and catering industries folded overnight. We watched as our numbers of infected rose, we watched as other countries restrictions seemed to be flaunted and not adhered to, as WE had the army on the streets even in rural mountain villages. Police stops became a norm, with those stopped having to prove their reason for travel, walking or even stepping outside. Heavy penalties for those without justifiable reasons. No outside exercise for 7 weeks. This was like something out of a movie.

Flights stopped, the skies were pollution-free, the world’s countries borders closed, nobody could travel anywhere. My eldest daughter Sasha was put on Furlough from her career at Birmingham airport as air travel was no more, her visit to come home to the mountain for a break was gone.

As realisation sank in and we all tried to adapt to our lockdown lives, motivation to start was on a high, we would get up every day, exercise, make a plan, be productive, focus on the future, be positive, blah, blah, blah. Homeschooling for every child, including our Nell in her first year of Bachillerato in Spain (16), video lessons, WhatsApp group chats, virtual projects, hats off to her college they kept the school routine as well as could be expected. Then the rollercoaster of emotions starting running and the RAIN came. Our Spanish blue skies left us, and our blue moods hit us.

Colleagues, associates and friends rallied round to encourage each other, chivvy each other up, find ways we could grow in the future, damage limitation was in full force. Lack of empathy from some was hard to deal with and one had to learn to scroll on by frequently as the social media posts, opinions and comments went on overdrive. Virtual and life long friends and family not as badly affected financially showed great support and encouragement and to this, we shall never forget.

Food and drink played a huge role in everybody’s coping mechanism, comfort food needed every day, never before bakers were appearing, newbie foodies sharing their creations for all to see, camaraderie for me in its finest form. Food shopping, limited to once a week and only to our nearest shop, meant we had to be more creative in our menu plans and ration some foods, to save for special treats. We were determined for the weekend to have a different feel to the week, which meant 2 bottles of wine not one 😉 who was I kidding?

As the weeks passed 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9, the smallest of changes were made fortnightly, no work allowed, essential workers only, not more than 1 person in the car, emergency travel only, in the later weeks and after far too long for many stuck in apartment blocks with no outside space, an hour exercise a day no further than 1 km from your home. Gloves and masks became the imperative addition to the wardrobe, and the weekly long-awaited trip to the shop actually was never enjoyable.

On the good days, typically when the sun came out and we could breathe in the mountain air, I’ve loved time spent with my youngest daughter Nell, in normal circumstances and she would be no different as a 16-17-year-old, there would be no way she would spend 24/7 at home especially on the side of a mountain. We’ve laughed, pranked, Tik-Tok’d, exercised, worked together, hugged and cried. A time I shall be eternally grateful for. Regular Video calls helped keep spirits up for elderly parents in isolation on the U.K, family WhatsApp groups kept the banter alive.

Is the end in sight? I can’t see that, but there is a glimmer of hope in the numbers of infected, the majority of Spanish residents have followed the rules and observed the reasons, obviously, there’s always the select few who think they’re are above the law, and jeopardise things for the rest of us. The summer of 2020 will be most unusual, will we feel free or safe to enjoy the beach, eating out, meeting up with friends? We will just put it all behind us and move on? Will we stay in our cocoons and just be content with our families, enjoying the simple life? Time will tell!

I long for the days our border will be open, and we have freedom of choice to fly or travel to other countries, not even for holidays but to visit family, the feeling of not being ALLOWED to, even if necessary and an emergency is hard to bear and we pray each day we won’t have to be put into that situation.

I thought I’d list a few of the activities that we did during our Lockdown, things to kill the boredom, keep the grey matter, things we’d never done before, our time wasn’t wasted, we definitely learned the simple things in life can bring the most joy and happiness :

  • Made my first Youtube cooking video.
  • Baked dozens of loaves of bread. Hunted for flour and yeast, like everyone.
  • Played Monopoly.
  • Did a very difficult jigsaw. (took 3 weeks)
  • Online Yoga.
  • Plank challenge, lasted 10 days 😉
  • Dalgona coffee, had to be done.
  • Decorated
  • Up-cycled
  • Pruned our olive trees.
  • Made fire.
  • Created weekly meal plans ( definitely too much time on my hands)
  • Didn’t buy diesel for 8 weeks.
  • Dug ourselves out of a landslide.
  • Cried live on Instagram.
  • Had to buy logs in April !!! was freezing, had a fire in May !!
  • Had my first doctors’ appointment by phone in Spanish.
  • Was only the T.V in the U.K on the evening news.
  • Had an article featured in the newspaper.
  • Tik-Tok’d
  • Karaoke’d
  • Zoomed.
  • Became and essential service.
  • Tidy every cupboard and draw (they need doing again)
  • Enjoyed watching the wildflowers left to bloom.
  • Drank too much, ate more.
  • Didn’t run out of Loo Roll. Now that ladies & gentlemen is a WIN 😉

How the years have flown.

How the years have flown.

It’s our ” Living the dream‘ anniversary, or that’s what we thought and called it when we left England many moons ago, lock, stock & barrel.  Yes, it’s our anniversary of  ‘ The good life‘ on the mountain. Evolution, of our family growing up and changing throughout the years and embarking on their own futures and decisions. Evolution of our land & home, simplifying now where we can, having fulfilled our dreams and tick boxes of owning every farm animal, pigs, goats, chickens, horses…. being self-sufficient, with our veggie patch, almonds and olives, learning the hard way through successes, our own organic extra virgin olive oil, failures of dying plants due to lack and no water through the summer months, & upset of animals being killed by Mr Fox and stote, we’ve bought that T-shirt and worn it.  I’m happy now with my Olive orchard, hard work but rewarding, my back door herb and lettuce garden, and wildflowers and gardening to suit the terrain.

We still look at our view and think WOW, we still are grateful we live on the side of a mountain Wow, we still can’t believe that we have 3 bilingual children Wow, 2 now adults using their life swallows and amazons life experiences to enrich their futures.


Always work to do.


Mini Chef.

Times have been tough, but wouldn’t they have been anywhere? That’s life ! Bureaucracy drives us nuts, but we work through it and hold our heads up high.  My ‘little’ Foodie passion is steadily and organically growing into a business I am proud of, sharing our lifestyle, local produce, customs and traditions.  We welcome people from all over the world to have a glimpse of rural mountain life, we cook for celebrations and occasions, people will remember for years. We have made many like-minded friends always with a common theme of eating, drinking and making merry.

My writings are getting more sporadic on here over the years, a few reasons for this; procrastination, I always find other things I should or think I should be doing,  but once I get going I think, “Why don’t I do this more often?” Then there’s my brain fog, Hashimoto’s induced, which has really affected my vocabulary and ability to think what to write.  Hey ho, I have the memories, experiences and thanks to social media, I’m an IG’aholic @larosilla, I can share in other ways.

Our life here still surprises us, often flabbergasts us,  we are still learning the idiosyncracies of living in a different country, habits, mannerisms and morals, but when the going gets tough, our terrace and view awaits, our table is filled with visiting family and friends and my hiking boots are itching to be worn and mountains climbed.


Viva Espana, Viva La Rosilla !




Never will I tire of ‘Tapeando’ with friends and family, this is the art and I like to call it that, of enjoying Tapas from one place to the next. A small bite and a copa de vino or Jerez, standing at a bustling bar, or in the market. Maybe indulging in a little lengthier time and sitting at the table an ordering, yet just another to fill the spot, or to sample the new delicacy or gastro tapa to be served.

From simple but tasty local cheeses and olives to mindblowing molecular gastronomy to please the most die-hard foodie like myself or Masterchef in the making.  Malaga delivers on every count, and never disappoints with new innovational bars, alongside cultural and historical institutions of food.

A recent visit with friends, with slightly aching feet, we decided on a one-stop Tapas lunch at the renowned El Tapeo de Cervantes this intimate and cosy restaurant, which is located in the heart of the historical Malaga centre, just steps away from the Cervantes theatre and Picasso’s Plaza Merced, delights with its traditional interior and extensive and exceptional menu of Tapas.

They offer tapas of every guises and taste, listed in an informative way so diners can create their own perfect ‘Tapeo’, if overwhelmed by the choice and you don’t know where to start, let the professionals choose for you.  We did this, not overwhelmed persay, but with 3 differing tastes, we thought let’s go out of our comfort zone and see what they serve.

WOW – Course after course arrived at our table, tapas and raciones (larger plates) of seafood, fish, pork and, duck, enjoyed with a chilled Albariño and a robust Ribera Del Duero.  Each exquisitely plated and served with flair and introduction.  As each dish was delivered there was a moment or two or me wondering ‘How much is this going to cost’…I was paying 😉  But on the delivery of the bill, feeling very indulged and complete, I was delighted – 3 people, 6 Glasses of wine, copious tapas. 65€ !! Perfecto 🙂  Not many cosmopolitan cities in the world, where you can experience that luxury and service on that budget.

Leaving the restaurant on a chilly but bright winter afternoon, we needed to walk off our long lunch, obviously taking in Picasso himself and taking the obligatory photo for my friends, to complete their whistle-stop tour of my inspiring and beautiful city of Malaga, with promises to return.



Malaga Cooking & Culture Tours.

Humble abode & horses.


I can’t believe it’s over a month since I’ve written, well I can actually, time has flown and life has been hectic, good but hectic.

Food creations have been a little on the back burner and lifestyle more upfront.  I’m not saying we haven’t indulged, we have but on a more makeshift and mend, rustic style.  Cooking on open fires, eating alfresco, picking salad leaves from the patch, shopping day by day.  Why ? because we had our first guests renting La Rosilla for the season, and we pack up and move to our much humbler shack on the mountain.  It is very picturesque but has no electricity (hence no posting) and only cold water, and washing up outside, think camping but with a roof over our heads !  Fortunately the weather was kind to us, which made life a great deal easier.

Whilst living out of our suitcases, our kitten that we are hand rearing, has grown from strength to strength now nearly 6 weeks old, he is weaned and starting to explore , keeping the dogs entertained and us of course.  I’m now thankful that the sleepless nights of 2 hourly feeds are over, and proud that we have succeeded in the task .  He has traveled with us over the last 6 weeks, wherever we’ve been, the beach, parties, camping and to work.

Rizzo and Nutty

Rizzo and Nutty

Our mountain animal menagerie is growing again.  We have another pony on the way, that we have rescued.  Inca will be joining Tika on the mount, for TLC and a better life.  I too have got back in the saddle after 25 years, my nerve or bravery seems to have diminished though .  I’m hoping my confidence builds as I get used to it again. I’m looking forward to hacks and rides with my little daughter and exploring new paths ,tracks and vistas, with a picnic or two.

This week-end we took part in our first Romeria, (Spanish Horse Fair), along with our friend and teacher Sharon.  We were the only female riders amongst many Spanish men and their stallions !! A great day riding and partying, flamenco and traditions with local musto, embutidos , paella and snails !!!! for all those who rode.


Nellie & Me :)

Nellie & Me 🙂


So once more settled back in at La Rosilla, I can re-focus and get creating again .  Recipe books out and being browsed, to get back on my #cookfromthebooks wagon challenge with menus being planned for guests and visitors.  The veggie patch is growing well, and courgette flowers almost ready for picking and stuffing, vine leaves fresh and green too will be hopefully ready to be harvested at the weekend to be turned into delicious dolmades.  The first figs our Brevas, and plumping and turning colour nicely – Oh the joy of mouthwatering home-grown ingredients.

So from us all at La Rosilla humans and animals, Spencer, Rizo, Fanny (dogs), Baba, Rocket, Nutty (cats) Tika & Inca (horses) and Hens aka lovely ladies.


#Cookfromthebooks Week 11 Spring flowers and Aga’s


I am experiencing many firsts over the next two weeks, definitely testing my personal strength and mind and something I am sure once I’ve completed I will look back on and say, it was a doddle, well hopefully that’s my plan 😉 !

I have flown from Spain to care for an elderly gentleman for 2 weeks in beautiful Sussex, an area unknown to me, I’m a Warwickshire lass, it feels very south.  Obviously not as south as the Montes of Malaga, but still South.

I’m staying in a country cottage, down a quiet country lane, in a village like a grew up in where everyone still says ‘Good Morning’, many with a plum in their mouths 😉 Very Dibleyesque.

All though bitterly cold, (my blood must’ve thinned) it is so lovely to see all the spring flowers lining the villages, fields and hedgerows, whether the sky blue or grey these flowers lift the spirits and give hope. I’ve filled a jug with cheery daffodils for my bedside table, a pretty sight first thing in the morning, when the dawn chorus has woken me so early !!!

Leaving ninos behind and OH in charge of our life of chaotic but wonderful, mountain mayhem is the hardest part of my experience, also knowing that I’m in the same country as my folks and No 1 daughter, but further in hours away then a flight to Spain, so won’t be able to see them is a challenge too 😦 The social demons for some !!  of Facetime, Facebook & whatsapp will be my daily salvation and my connection with my ‘Real’ life 😉

It is though a pleasure to be spending time with someone who at the ripe age of 89, loves to wine, dine and socialise, I think some one I will aspire to be like.

So I may have left my kitchen behind, but my La Rosilla apron came with me and when the going get’s tough I’m going to cook myself through it.

Here we come to the Aga, always on my ‘One day & wish list’ having spent many a day warming myself around friends Agas, when living in the U.K, a real feel of ‘The heart of the home’ but never having cooked on one I’m finding it’s a learning curve, a happy learning curve.

After waiting for my eggs to boil for what seemed likes yonks, I realised my pan was on the simmering plate, not boiling plate.  My chicken roasted to perfection, almost like in a dutch oven, and my bread, now that made my day, home-made bread and Aga’s they just seem like a married made in heaven.

So my #cookfromthebooks , book this week, I think will be getting a well deserved airing.  Aga Cooking ‘The contemporary recipe bible for all Aga owners’ by Amy Willcock, not so much for the recipes, I haven’t browsed them enough yet, but as a guide to remind myself what goes where, and how to cook what.  Do you know one of the best things about the cooker is it’s ability to do the ironing ? and of course warm your bottom and hands after a walk in the cold 😉

My recipe is one I use a great deal at home, when I bake bread at the week-end, so this was my first attempt at bread in an Aga, I had to improvise on mixing bowl and scales, there wasn’t any and no bread tins, so a Le Creuset pot, was the chosen recipient.  I bought the fresh yeast with me from Spain I don’t think you can beat the fresh stuff 😉

Sun-dried tomato and seed bread.

500g country grain or wholemeal bread flour

1 tsp salt

300ml warm water with 1/2 tsp of sugar and a cube of fresh yeast, allow to dissolve and yeast to bubble about 10 mins

glug of olive oil

handful of chopped sun dried tomatos

handful of mixed seeds, sunflower, pumpkin etc.

  • In a large bowl put flour, and salt, make a well and gradually add water/yeast mixture, stirring as you go.
  • Add olive oil, and then with your hands bring the dough together and kneed for a 10 mins until smooth and elastic.
  • kneed in the sun dried tomatoes
  • put dough into an oiled bowl and cover with damp cloth or plastic bag, and leave in a warm place (next to the Aga 😉 to prove until doubled in size
  • knock the air out of the dough, kneed a little and then shape to required shape, slash a cross in the top with a sharp knife and sprinkle the seeds on top.
  • leave to rise again for about 20 mins
  • Bake in the roasting oven of the Aga, or in a hot oven for 25-30 mins.
  • You can tell when it is cooked through when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.


Enjoy hot out of the oven, with lashing of butter and bowlfuls of home made soup, perfect for a chilly day.

Until my next AGA SAGA, wish me luck on my duty.

and for my hard work I have been presented with these, that made me smile 🙂


Buen Provecho.




Wedding bells.


I was recently chosen to cater for a young Danish couple’s mountain top wedding here in Spain, a location that was close to their hearts from childhood holidays.  They picked me after reading this blog and seeing that my passion for ‘The good life and food’ suited their personalities and way of life, the Bride a top Pastry Chef and Groom Champion Triathlete.  They wanted a menu that would represent the area, the sea ,countryside and the seasons and above all be fresh and home grown. The wedding was  to be filmed (no pressure there then)  for a Danish ‘Fly on the wall’ documentary, that is following the couples life for the next 7 years.

It was an honor to create for them and the location was breathtaking, high up in Tejeda Montes of the Axarquia, with views to the sea, lakes and whitewashed villages beyond.

Vegetables and herbs were picked form the La Rosilla garden, pork was sourced from my local town of Colmenar and sea food from the abundant coast of Malaga.

A spectacular terrace, had a wedding makeover, and was the backdrop to welcome guests with Harpist and flautist, an array of cocktails were sipped with canapes of, Beetroot Gazpacho shots, Bacon wrapped almond stuffed dates and Goats cheese tostados witch caramelized onions.

brideBefore and After Wedding Planning  team fame

The Danish wedding traditions were followed throughout with Speeches and toasts a many.

The wedding supper, was enjoyed under the setting sun, and through the candlelit night.

A taste of Spain, and another memory moment made.

To have time …


Oh my goodness, I really am sitting here with time to write .  The first time in many weeks, even months that I can think it´s now time to jot down, make note and remember why I´ve been so busy .  Not that I haven´t enjoyed the hectic, manic, crazy summer months we’ve had, but headless chicken springs to mind !

I relish the long summertime the children have off, I love being surrounded by them, grabbing the odd hour or day when we can dash off somewhere, and do Spanish summertime things, beaching, exploring, bbq´ing , entertaining, feria´ing.

Altea by bike.

Altea by bike.

This summer has seen my busiest yet at La Rosilla, I have met and cooked with people from all over the globe, I have catered for folks enjoying special occasions, family reunions, surprise parties and proposals´(she said yes), it´s so wonderful to create memory moments for us and them and learn about traditions from different places, always with one thing in

common, ´Food glorious food´.

Fine dining in Spain.

Fine dining.


What firsts have we done , what have we achieved ?

We met Alpacas, who took me for a walk .

I cooked for 150 people over 4 days from 4 different continents.

We went diving as a whole family, exploring the natural reefs of the Costa Blanca.

Slept on a deflating airbed for 2 weeks.


Guadalest exploring

I gave cookery and culture days to travelers from Philippines, Australia, USA and Belgium.

La Rosilla Spanish Buffet

La Rosilla Spanish Buffet

Entertained like the Von´Trapp family 😉

We had guests hiring La Rosilla from Prague, Holland and England.

Flamenco La Rosilla. Homegrown entertainment.

Flamenco La Rosilla. Homegrown entertainment.

We hired bikes and explored the coastal paths.

Cooked in 11 different kitchens.

a Rosilla On location catering.

On location catering.

Lost 3 stone in weight. (5.2 Diet I thank you)

We hosted a cultural work exchange student.

La Rosilla, summertime ready .  Luxury villa rental.

La Rosilla, summertime ready

We moved out, moved back in, moved out, moved back in.

To write down what we´ve done, makes me feel like a child, on my first day back at school and the teacher saying ´What did you do in the holidays´and I would often and sit and think ´oh my what did I do ?

Well I know I burned the candle at both ends, felt at times I was going mad, ate some fabulous food and quaffed some wonderful wines, laughed, cried, ranted and raved, was surrounded in organised chaos most of the time, but by gosh it´s been a gud´un.

Thanks to one and all who have been part of it …

And now to regain composure, create new recipes, organise upcoming events,  plan my new kitchen, enjoy the cooler climes, build our new fire pit and return to the domestic goddess that I am 😉



Marvellous May madness !


Have I stopped for breath, I can’t remember.  Living to the max, using every hour of the day, dashing in and out of weather, making hay whilst the sunshines – May has been marvelous and complete madness, so a few words and lots of photos will sum up my life on the mountain and beyond this month.

May Madness at La Rosilla

Gardening, tagines, planting, cooking, decorating, exploring, golfing, Portugal, cream cakes, beaches, herbs & flowers, home -made bread, communions, paella, pimms, clouds, haircuts, bbqs, ploughing..

and breathe

Salud !

Ready, steady, sow !


Being able to grow our own fruit and vegetables at La Rosilla, was always top on our agenda when we moved here.  We have had huge learning curves, successes and disasters on the produce front, mostly weather related and  getting used to the seasons and rugger mountain soil.

Last year unfortunately I was unable to manage my large plot, due to a back injury, so I had to watch it go to seed and weed – I did plant a mini plot just by the backdoor, for lettuces, herbs,radishes and peas, so we have still been able to enjoy fresh picked goodies.

This year I’m happy to say, with the help of my young Spanish vecino (neighbour) a day’s hard graft and load of the finest mule and goat manure, our patch was back to it’s former glory and was ready for planting.

La Rosilla Vegetable plot


Nellie and myself have planted and sown, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, courgettes, beetroot, french beans and mange tout, watermelon, peppers red and green, aubergines and carrots.  The herb section has fortunately stood the test of time and neglect, so our lemon balm, oregano, thyme & sage are romping away nicely.

Herbs & flowers at La Rosilla

Nellie has her own area, that she will tend and nurture & pick.

We also have some new members of the family, 4 more happy hens, clucking and scratching and enjoying a life of free wanderings.

Happy Days.



Mountaineering in the morning.


What a great way to start a week, mind you I didn’t think that this morning, when I got up and it was so chilly and the car had  no fuel.  I made a mad dash to Colmenar to rectify this, even though I was spitting feathers as it was 18km there and back in the wrong direction to where I was heading… Note to self * Forward thinking* .

But the shone was finally shining again, and the air was crisp and clear, and today my group ‘Views from the Hills‘ was meeting up for a mountain trek. First things first, we met at El Duende in Los Ventorros, an Aladdins cave of all things calm, Ruth was waiting for us, with fire roaring, hot coffee & delicious mango & apple cake, to give us the necessary strength to go on our way.  New members came along, visitors too, from the Cheq republic, coming to enjoy the dramatic scenery we have on offer.

Boots on, dogs raring to go we began our climb up Mazmullar , following ancient mule tracks, and paths carved out from running waters.  Flora & fauna, in its early stages of re-growth after the recent rains, wild herbs of fennel and lavendar, lined our way.

View points gave us respite and breath gathering time.  The summit a plateau, is home to ancient ruins and caves, used throughout history for shelter and hiding.  We climbed over rocks to pinpoint our homes on neighbouring hills, and marveled at snow on the peaks of Maroma, and the Moorish town of Comares perched high on it’s rock.

Our descent was leisurely, and we enjoyed the warmth of the sun on our faces, returning for a wholesome lunch of homemade soup & bread in beautiful Moroccan bowls, alfresco in November , oh and a little more cake for good measure.