It was 2008 and a typical June evening in the UK, overcast and raining and we were watching “A Place in the Sun,” featuring properties in Asturias. The scenery was stunning and after revelling in the programme, we looked online for more information and the sort of prices expected in different areas. From the internet, we established that the rainfall can be similar to the UK, it isn’t called “Green Spain” for nothing and the scenery is every bit as good as was seen on the TV. I’d only just reached the grand young age of 50 and Mrs S was a little behind me but we thought about holidaying as we got older and the rainfall scenario didn’t score many points. That said, neither of us likes to just sit in the sun and bake but we did envisage wanting to be warm. So, we booked a week in September in Asturias and a week in the hills away from Malaga in the November.
We arrived in Asturias and found our bright blue hotel, a short stroll from Arriondas and ventured out from there each day. We had a hire car and as I drove around, Mrs S would gasp repeatedly, not, as you might think because of my driving on the wrong (right) side of the road, or because my hand had missed the gear stick and accidentally stroked her leg. She was gasping at the sheer beauty of the surroundings. Mountains sweeping down to beaches, rugged coastlines, thick forests and empty roads, it was jawdropping. Every turn seemed to bring new delights and further gasps. I have to say that we didn’t actually look at any houses at all, as we were too busy marvelling at the countryside and the weather was glorious for 6 of the 7 seven days, which was very good apparently.
We stopped off at Guadamia, on the coast, not the beach I must add but to the rocks that stretch up from the sea. The sea has carved out holes below sea level and pushed upwards, so that when the waves come in, the water is pushed up through the holes, erupting at the top of the rocks. Sadly, it was a calm day but we both agreed it would be a place to visit again, if there was a bad day. We woke on the 6th day to a wet and windy welcome, smiling we almost said “Guadamia” at the same time. Off we drove, full of expectancy and we were not disappointed in any way at all. Obviously Mad dogs and Englishmen also go out in rough weather as well as the midday sun because there was only a strange couple there, giggling like children and big smiles on there faces, us! It was fantastic, waves crashing against the rocks, spray everywhere and us, just out of soak range. I was filming and Mrs S was directing by saying, “Don’t you think we should move back a bit? ” “We’ll be fine” I said and no sooner said, than we were done, not by a wave but by the fall out from a wave hitting the rocks below, sending a wall of spray all over us. We looked at each other and burst out laughing maniacally, who knew getting soaked could be such fun?
We took a drive to Covadonga, which is a beautiful place and while we were walking around, I saw a glint of light from high on one of the mountains. “It can’t be a car” I said but there it was again, further along. We decided to drive up and away from Covadonga to see where the road might lead. It was a team decision, so no blame could later be attached. Up we went and were treated to view of Covadonga from higher up, it looked superb as we climbed higher.
The road narrowed and Mrs S found herself on the outside facing very little in the way of stopping a vehicle careering over the edge but for some low stone blocks, which may or most likely, may not stop said descent.
“Could you move away from the edge a little” she
I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about Mrs S, so I will confide that the answer was infact a) but perhaps with a hint of desperation in her voice. I made an effort to move over a few inches but that’s all I could manage and that’s when it happened. A nice bright shiny milk tanker appeared coming the other way. Apparently Mrs S reviewed the highlights of her life in a quick flashback, whilst I braked, and felt the cold trickle of fear running down the inside of my leg. There was no way we could pass each other, so imagine my surprise and Mrs S’s shock, when the tanker kept driving towards us. After banging my right hand on the inside of the car door, looking for the gear stick, I quickly learnt how to reverse a left hand drive Fiat Panda someway down a steep slope, find, what can only be loosely described as a passing place and watch the reflection of Mrs S’s horrified face on the side of the stainless steel tanker as it flashed past. Edvard Munch had nothing on this.
This time, we looked at each other and there was no grinning or laughing, just pure unadulterated relief. That said, the view was spectacular. There wasn’t really enough room to do a three point turn and so we drove on up, hoping upon hope that there wouldn’t be another tanker on it’s way down. We never did reach the top because the next passing place seemed larger and I asked Mrs S if she thought we should bale out and I think she’d said “Yes” before I’d even finished the sentence. So, discretion took over and we were soon making the trip down to what we considered safety and with Mrs S enjoying the luxury of no sheer drop outside of her passenger window.
Feel free to drop in again in the near future, when I’ll have part two of how we ended up in southern Spain.
All Images © 2008- TheSlowWalkers