I’ve always felt at home on the Continent. Maybe because I watched too many old movies set in Italy and Spain, or maybe because my parents died when I was young; but the truth is, I’ve always wanted to be part of a lively, extended Mediterranean family!
Well, that dream is now part of my life. Through marriage I have become the adopted son (for almost the last 10 years), of a very cohesive and loving family. During the last decade we’ve spent many happy Sundays all together at the family’s summer house, deep in the chestnut woodlands by the edge of the village of Cartajima, near Ronda in the Alto Genal of the Serrania de Ronda.
Here, even in the summer, there is an abundance of water, filtering down through the dramatic limestone rocks, keeping everything lush and green. These valleys and hillsides are covered in chestnut trees, and in the autumn this is one of the few places where you get to enjoy the seasonal pleasures of golden leaves. The chestnuts, or castanas, are still harvested and are made into savoury dishes and sweet treats. You can see some autumn images in an old post here.
R’s father maintains a ‘huerta’, or small vegetable garden here. Vines, plum and fig trees edge the expansive plot, planted with beans, strawberries, peppers, aubergines and more.
There were 18 of us for lunch yesterday, a big BBQ, with lots of fresh salads. There is a fresh water pool for cooling down and shaded terraces – it’s a pretty magical place.
The village of Cartajima is tiny, high up in the sierra. It’s a great base for walking in the spring and autumn and has a small hotel and a few bars. It used to truly be part of the hidden Andalucía, but with the growing popularity of the neighbouring village of Juzcar (read an old post here) the ancient village of Cartajima is being discovered by a new generation.