Moving to Andalucia

Moving to Andalucia

So we’ve finally done it! We’ve been talking about moving to Andalucia for years!

I’m writing this post from my new home in the foothills of the Alpujarras. An area of stunning natural beauty, 20 miles from Granada and the same distance from the sea. Already I feel less stressed and more optimistic.

What’s the story?

We bought a run-down cortijo just outside Orgiva seven years ago and brought it back to. life, slowly and painfully! The previous owner had been a keen gardener but had let the garden run wild in the six months between agreeing on the sale and finalising. What that means in Orgiva is death for any plant with shallow roots and a swimming pool full of green sludge populated by the fearsome scalapendra, a poisonous, very aggressive, centipede-like predator.

We spent nearly two years rebuilding the house and the garden is still a work in progress. We opened the house as a holiday let five years ago and used it with increasing frequency ourselves. We fell in love with Spain and particularly Granada and out of love with the UK which appears to have gone completely mad. Brexit has done many things, none of them good but it has sharpened my resolve to stay European.

We spent a couple of years shuttling back and forth, bringing work out to Spain but the expense and the complexity of running two houses in different countries started to become tedious. My mother died in 2021 and with her my last ties to the UK.

So, we decided to move to Spain full time.

This comes after a very successful year for Helter Skelter, but we felt that ultimately we wanted to remove ourselves from the UK to seek out other opportunities further afield. I’m not getting younger and I have no appetite to wait for the national nervous breakdown to resolve. The UK is in a bad way now and it may take generations to recover. I simply don’t have that much time.

The garden has been a battle – we’ve removed two of the three elephant grasses that had become home to a variety of unwelcome visitors – a litter of feral cats one year that multiplied almost in front of our eyes. Pruning overgrown olives, oranges and oleander has produced a pile of rubbish the size of a tennis court. Burning garden waste in southern Spain is illegal for most of the year for the very good reason that sparks set fire to the dry hillsides. So only after the rains come in December we get a licence to burn.

It’s been a learning curve and I’m considering doing a website devoted to Mediterranean gardens. It’s a different style with different problems. Wholly different to the traditional English garden.

The most obvious difference is in the watering. Where in the UK we use sprinklers and hosepipes, this is woefully inadequate in the Alpujarras. The Moors, when they settled here in the eighth century, introduced irrigation channels bringing the melting snow water down from the Sierra Nevada. These channels are still used and every week we flood the garden for an hour, encouraging the plants to grow deep roots so that they can survive the summer drought.

Of course I have to earn a living too and that’s a challenge in southern spain.

Non-photographic work can be done remotely for the most part. I’ll still have to visit the UK periodically to see clients and the move will mean losing some of the photography work I’ve been doing, but not all and the shortfall is amply made up by the website design and SEO work we’ve built up since Covid struck.

The hope is that I’ll pick up photographic work in Spain, my experience with drinks and real estate in the UK should be transferable and I’m keen to get going. Moving to Andalucia is an exciting opportunity.

So I’ll be posting a lot more work from Spain in the coming months. And of course, organising the workshops I’ve been promising myself for the last couple of years. Covid allowing I’ll be able to go to Les Rencontre d’Arles Photographie 2022 if it goes ahead!

Happy New Year to all my photography friends and anyone who has chanced across this website in the past year or so – we’re getting over a 1,000 views a month now which is great. Expect a lot of new content in the New Year and of course a lot more photography!

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