During May guests at Cantueso were able to join in the village festivities in celebration of "San Isidro" an annual event lasting several days with lots of fun for all ages.
San Isidro Labrador is the patron saint of Periana and once a year the inhabitants celebrate a successful harvest with a procession through the streets taking several hours and after which the parties start.
The history of the procession is said to date back to a time when a there was a poor summer with little rain and a resultant low yield harvest. The local farmers paraded the statue of St Isidro though the fields and afterwards the harvest improved and subsequently the grateful villagers were inclined to give their weight in grain every year in thanks.
This is the basis of the procession which today stops under any balcony in the village displaying a decorated shawl or blanket, and the householders pour sacks of wheat into the waiting carriage below. The image of St Isidro, adorned with spikes and red and white carnations is specially constructed so that grain poured from above passes through a funnel into a hopper below. This hopper holds about 500 kilos of grain and when full is put into sacks which will eventually be sold and the proceeds used to defray the cost of future celebrations.
Years ago only the rich could afford to donate wheat (never any other grain) as many families only had enough for their own families, but nowadays many villagers are pleased to take part as a thanks for their families health and prosperity.
The procession was previously in the control of four stewards and their wives always newly married and childless. However it now usually needs ten to fifteen stewards to carry the statue and it is they who control the day’s events and work throughout the year planning and organising.
The original statue of St Isidro was destroyed along with the church in the Periana earthquake of 1884 but subsequently replaced, and during the civil war it was hidden by a quick thinking villager and so survived those troubled times.
Apart from the religious events, Periana has its local holidays for all of the days that the pilgrimage lasts for. From first thing in the morning till the early hours of the next day there'll be more than enough time to taste some of the region's products, eat with friends, drink some wine and enjoy a whole range of acts and events that have been prepared.
On Saturday the finale, called a Romeria, starts with a procession from the village centre down to the shores of Lake Vinuela. In the lead there are Spanish horses and decorated tractors and even a cart drawn by Oxen. The villagers, many in traditional dress, follow on foot singing and dancing, no doubt in order to work up a thirst for the drink stops along the way. After a good few hours they reach the lakeside and there is music, dancing, BBQ´s and lots of fun lasting well into the night. And for the hardy few the procession returns the next day, albeit at a slightly slower pace, as of course it is uphill!
You can see the latest view of Periana and Lake Vinuela from the live webcam at Restaurante Cantueso or go to the main web site.
Frequent travellers also know that at busy times you can find the car collection desks very busy and waiting an hour or so is no fun especially if you have young children. One solution is to leave one person to collect the luggage whilst the other goes to the car hire desks. Even if there are going to be other drivers that need to sign later it gets you to the front of the queue.
The on airport car hire desks have been moved yet again and are now below the arrivals floor (follow the signs) and have a new check in system. At the desk of your hire company you will see a small computer screen to the left of the counter or on the post opposite, you need to answer a couple of questions and it will then dispense a ticket. This ticket number is your turn in the queue displayed on a larger screen and will direct you when your turn comes up to a numbered desk. All six companies there have the same system.
You will be directed to the garage entrance and after passing a security guy will not be able to return. So don’t leave anything behind and check the paperwork before leaving the desks. One problem with the form filling is that you are asked to sign on a tablet and then they print out the document that will have your signature on it. So you have signed as ok before seeing it!
Finally when you get the car check for scratches or dents that might not be shown on the paperwork. There will be a diagram which should be marked. If there are more go to the office in the car park if open and get them to amend it. It is dark in the pick-up area and if you miss something always telephone the office when you see it and normally they will accept your word. Sometimes late in the day the office will be closed so you will have to e-mail the company with a photo of the damage.
How to get to Periana: See our website which has detailed instructions and maps. And when you get to Periana if you are going to Cantueso you can even see a video of the journey from the entry into the village to our car park. It has been described as a video for those who found the paint drying videos too exciting, and we cannot disagree, but it does give the driver an insight into the sort of roads and roundabouts they will encounter. These videos can be found on the How to Find Us pages of our site.
Satnav: Please be careful as if you use a post code the areas covered by the numbers are vast and you could end up anywhere within twenty miles. Shortest route settings will also take you a way we don’t recommend via the motorway towards Granada. It is very winding and not at all pleasant for the passengers. The solution is to print out our instructions, or set a “stop off” in the satnav of Velez Malaga, which should make sure you go up the A7 motorway.
Periana by bus or Taxi: yes it is possible by bus but it means going into Malaga and then catching a bus to Periana. There are only a few each day.
By Taxi: It will cost about 100€ to Periana (more at weekends and bank holidays) but be prepared to explain where it is. Show them on a map and it will jog their memories. They charge by the kilometre and are well regulated so you should not get ripped off.
See also our blog entry regarding driving licences:
All of us at Cantueso are animal lovers and as long as your pets are well behaved we can allow them in our cottages and on the restaurant terrace. We would invite you to look at these well behaved dogs who have the best of table manners.
In case you are now feeling hungry look at our complete menu here.
1. A geocacher hides a geocache, lists it on Geocaching.com and challenges others to find it using the Geocaching app or a GPS device.
2. As a minimum, geocaches contain a logbook for finders to sign. After signing, finders log their experience on Geocaching.com or with the Geocaching app and earn a reward in the form of a digital smiley.
3. Some geocaches contain small trinkets to exchange. If a geocacher takes something from the geocache, they replace it with something of equal or greater value.
4. Geocaches are put back where they were found for the next geocacher.
Who are geocachers?
More than 6 million people call themselves geocachers. There are geocachers living in nearly every country on Earth. Geocachers are families with children, grandparents, technogeeks, photographers, hikers—anyone can be a geocacher. Geocaching offers a broad appeal, in large part because it’s bound only by a location and someone’s imagination.
Where are geocaches found?
Geocaches can be in the forest, parks, urban locations—nearly anywhere you can think of. It is common for geocaches to be placed in storyworthy locations. Most people in North America and Europe live within a short walk of at least one geocache.
A good place to hide a cache?
How do you hide a geocache?
A geocacher chooses a waterproof container and a location to hide it. Once a geocacher has accurate coordinates for their chosen location, they submit it for publication on Geocaching.com.
Geocaching provides a set of guidelines for geocache placement. The guidelines include
important rules that keep geocaching fun (and legal) for everyone involved.
Now we all know so let’s get started it sounds like fun. No doubt like we did you will log on to the Geoching website and enter your own postcode to see what is nearby. We were amazed and would like to hear about your experiences.
And just in case you wonder what a cache looks like, Dirk and Netty have sent these pictures of two that they discovered. They are rather elaborate and at the other end of the scale you might find a simple plastic box, but good fun all the same.
We decided to spend a day out in Nerja and having looked at the options decided to visit the Donkey Sanctuary and the Caves at Nerja.
Nerja Donkey Sanctuary
The Nerja Donkey Sanctuary has sadly had to close since this was written but animal lovers can see some of the original donkeys at El Refugio del Burrito. See www.elrefugiodelburrito.com for details. It is about 45 minutes drive from the coast near Fuente de Piedra which is famous for its Flamingo Lake.
The World’s Largest Stalagmite
Entrance to the caves cost us €8.50 per adult and €4.50 per child (although children under 6 years of age are free). Audio guides are also available for hire, which explain the history, geology and facts about the caves. You enter the caves by walking down a wide staircase and instantly feel the cooler air underground. The cool air of the caves was a welcome change from the hot and sunny weather above ground.
The Large Chamber Used for Music Concerts
It takes around 30-40 minutes to follow the well-marked path through the various chambers, including the large chamber which is used to hold music concerts in a spectacular setting. Keen amateur photographers would no doubt enjoy taking advantage of the spectacular scenes and unusual lighting in the caves.
The caves are very well signed from the motorway and from the centre of Nerja – from where it takes no more that 10 minutes to drive. Right by the entrance to the caves is a restaurant (which serves very nice ice creams), gift shop and a shaded picnic area and children’s play park. All of which means that it is possible to spend a very nice half a day in and around the caves, if you include lunch in the restaurant or take your own picnic.
The birds seen in and around Cantueso itself have been seen either in April or September. Obviously some of them are summer migrants and will only be seen from April to September, others are resident and can be seen all year round.
Residents include Collared dove, Blackbird, Sardinian warbler, Great tit, Blue tit, Spotless starling House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin and Goldfinch. Crested lark is the default lark in the area but do not rule out Thekla’s lark which occurs as well.
Summer visitors include Cuckoo, Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, House Martin, Swallow, Red-rumped swallow, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Woodchat shrike
In summer it is usual to see eagles and other birds of prey from Cantueso. These occasionally hunt the valleys on either side of the complex. Expect to see Bonelli’s eagle, Short toed eagle, Booted eagle, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel in season. Griffon vulture is a possibility as well.
The walk along the old railway line to Ventas La Zaffaraya can also be productive. As well as common residents you can expect to see Griffon vulture, red-billed chough, black wheatear, stonechat, corn bunting, raven, peregrine, and in spring and autumn migration anything may turn up. I have seen spotted flycatcher, redstart, whitethroat, golden oriole and turtle dove.
Cross the valley to Alcaucin and walk up the valley into the mountains to the nature reserve and you will find many of the above species as well as Jay, Coal tit, Crag martin, Great spotted woodpecker, Alpine accentor and Wood pigeon.
El Torcal is an hour’s drive to the North-west (see also.) As well as spectacular limestone scenery it has a good range of birds including Griffon vulture, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock bunting, Blue rock thrush, Black redstart, Sub-alpine warbler and Melodious warbler. Another thirty minutes North to Antequera brings you close to the breeding flamingo colony at Fuente de Piedra lagoon. A lot of what you will see there depends on time of year and water levels, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area.
Cross the valley to Alcaucin and walk up the valley into the mountains to the nature reserve and you will find many of the above species as well as Jay, Coal tit, Crag martin, Great spotted woodpecker, Alpine accentor and Wood pigeon.
El Torcal is an hour’s drive to the North-west (see also.) As well as spectacular limestone scenery it has a good range of birds including Griffon vulture, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock bunting, Blue rock thrush, Black redstart, Sub-alpine warbler and Melodious warbler. Another thirty minutes North to Antequera brings you close to the breeding flamingo colony at Fuente de Piedra lagoon. A lot of what you will see there depends on time of year and water levels, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area." El Torcal, so much more to see than just birds!
If you are flying in and out of Malaga the Guadalhorce reserve is only 5 minutes drive from the airport. It is well worth a couple of hours en route to Periana, or leave early and check it out before you drop the car off. It has a wide variety of wetland species and is a migratory stopover in spring and autumn. The list of species is long and varied and includes White-headed duck, Kingfisher, Marsh harrier, Yellow legged gulls, Black winged stilt, Glossy ibis, herons, egrets, ducks, waders and terns – including Gull billed. The reserve is good for breeding warblers including Zitting cistacolas. In summer it is very hot, there is very little shade, and if water levels are low there will be fewer species. However in April, May and September anything can turn up on migration to and from the Straits of Gibraltar. Google Guadalhorce and you will find a lot of trip reports with a lot of stunning birds, including a feral flock of Monk Parakeets.
Like many other photographers and artists Kees found that the light in spring time Andalucia has a marvellous clarity, ideal for landscapes with mountain backdrops or lake views. Early mornings can offer sultry mists before the sun has burnt off the dew and at the end of the day there are sunsets to keep the shutter working. During the day there are lots of birds, wild flowers, insects and the ubiquitous olive trees which are so much of a feature of our area. All of the photos below were taken either from the terrace of the cottage where Kees and his wife stayed or close by.
Kees is a very talented professional photographer and examples of recent work can be seen on his website at: www.kees-laurijsen.nl
......and for the technically minded the equipment used by Kees was: A Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the following lenses: Canon 24-70 F2.8; Canon 70-200 F2.8; Canon 100mm macro F2.8 and Canon 50mm F1.4 For the macrosa tripod was used.
Preparations for summer seemed to be dogged by bad weather and our refurbishing of the pool at Cantueso Cottages has only just been completed. This 12,000 € project is going to put a stop to water leaks which have plagued us for the last few years being both wasteful and expensive. Many leak tests and other investigations were carried out but in the end we decided the only solution was to completely reline the pool and this has been done by Clima Pool Centre from Nerja, one of whom had the unenviable job of working up to his chest in cold water for much of the time. Now it is finished we have a brighter blue colour and a non slip children’s shallow area. And as I write the weather is giving us some glorious days. Take a look at our webcam and see for yourself.
Another part of our complex to get the winter upgrade treatment has been the crazy golf area where we now boast a large 14ft trampoline, sand table and swings with much needed shade so that mum can sit and watch the little ones at play.
At Restaurante Cantueso we only cook Paella to order after 24 hours notice as it cannot be prepared in advance without losing lots of delicate flavours. In a previous blog post we detailed the great influence that the Moors have had on Spanish culture, architecture, agriculture and of course cuisine. See “Sugar the lost crop in Periana”
You can see a graph of the lake levels here. and then select La Vinuela from the drop down box. The line going almost vertically is the current level and is a good indication of the speed with which the water levels rose. Another interesting weather source is one we have mentioned before run by local man Harry Happe. His site www.malagaweather.com is one of only two in Spain that does manual forecasting rather than computer predictions. His site is a mine of weather information and even has links to a tracking chart that shows live flight arrivals to Malaga airport. And when you get bored with aeroplanes you can also see a similar chart tracking ship movements along the coast.
Final note for those of you, who like me work in “old money”, where the Spanish sites predict rainfall in litres per square meter this equals 1 millimetre. Therefore 25 l per sq/m = 1 inch.
All photos by kind permission of the Periana blog http://www.perianaypedanias.com/
The recently opened museum is a little off the beaten track, tucked away in a back street of Colmenar, but well worth the effort to see and learn about honey. A good starting point is the 15 minute film in several languages which introduces the visitor to the beekeeper’s world, charting its history going back 8000 years, and describing the complex work of the bee. You can then wander around the museum which has lots of interactive displays, exhibits and finally a shop which sells honey, beeswax, soap and other associated products.
The museum has been set up by the Beekeeper’s Association of Málaga who proudly display the eight types of honey which have been awarded their “Seal of Quality.”
Einstein it seems noted the importance of bees and is quoted at the museum as having said:
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”
It is a good thought provoking quote even though it seems he never said it!!!
Never shy to extol the virtues of Restaurante Cantueso and the view we have just secured a premier advertising site at our local garage near lake Vinuela. It is the only petrol station for miles around so we know that it will be seen by lots of people as they leave, and we just hope they keep driving up to Periana to see us.
Periana is very much a farming area and the three hundred or so families that grow olives have had beautiful weather for the harvest, which runs from November to March, but unfortunately lack of rain means the fruit is much smaller than normal. And considering they only get one crop and hence one pay day each year it matters.
The trees and shrubs are so confused that they are flowering about a month earlier than usual. These pictures were taken a week ago at Cantueso and we fear that a frost this month will upset things for the real spring.
The self-styled Longsufferers’, a walking group from Northern Ireland has spent a week at Cantueso for a second time. The group is comprised of retirees who nonetheless undertook a number of quite extensive walks in the Periana region. “Peter the Walker” as we know him, says: “Members see Cantueso as offering classic walks with stunning views direct from the doorstep, the flexibility of having individual and group-prepared meals as well as the restaurant service, combined drives and walks within a reasonable distance and a great pool to unwind in after the exertion!” Peter also told us that a number of the group combined their week at Cantueso with stays further afield including Seville, Cordoba and Granada.
Many other visitors to Cantueso enjoy our prepared route guides and we all have Peter to thank for his kindness in preparing them. We hope to add to them in the future.
Please also see our web page giving more details about this area of Axarquia and other walking links.
Another special day is coming up in Periana with lots of festivities as the village comes out in force to celebrate this special crop for which the village is justifiably famous. The day will see competitions and entertainments all day in the main streets and continues well into the night.
The most important competition is the Concurso Gastronómico when anyone can enter a special dish in which the main ingredient is Peaches. It is always strongly contested and there are three prizes of 100€, 200€ and 300€.
Last year more than 5000 people came to the village and this year is bound to be just as lively. A stroll around the streets filled with the scent of peaches is bound to get your taste buds moving and suitable food and refreshment stalls will be available.
A little Peach History: It is thought that a resident brought the first seedling to Periana after a visit to Argentina 200 years ago and it thrived in the wonderful climate and fertile land. As the crop developed it was taken to neighbouring villages on the backs of donkeys and eventually became popular with buyers from Murcia and surrounding provinces. However it was not until the last half of the 20th century that the crop came to prominence being appreciated for its taste, aromatic scent, soft velvet skin, colour and culinary versatility and by the 70’s a good year would yield as much as 4 million kilos.
Sadly as so often happens in agriculture, the crops were affected by pests and several years of drought which led to a steady decline in production. This continued until about ten years ago when market demand encouraged growers to plant more trees and the municipality started to promote peaches once again. Hence this year is the ninth in which the village and visitors will get to party the night away.
If you have time come up and visit us at Restaurante Cantueso where Carmen our chef is sure to produce some very tempting dishes, and whatever you do, don’t forget to buy a box of these special fruits to take home before you leave.
The EHIC is available free of charge from the NHS website and is valid for five years. As it is just that long since they replaced the old E111 many of you may have one that needs replacing. When going on line to the NHS site make sure it is not one of the many sites which offer an express service for a fee. They are not official sites.
Whilst the Ehic is your first line of cover you should not forget to take out travel insurance which will offer much more help when serious accidents occur. If for example you need repatriation or have to go to a private hospital which will not accept the Ehic.
Please see also our website for more information regarding travelling around Axarquia.
For travellers in search of authentic experiences, this tradition is ideal. Cordoba's streets and plazas are a delight to explore, but the city's private houses--many hundreds of years old--shelter beautiful little corners which are waiting to be discovered.
Cordoba's patios capture the essence of Andalusia in a tiny space, isolated from the rush and hurry of modern life and whilst they open in the first week of May many displays remain during the rest of the summer.
Our photos were taken two weeks ago after a very severe winter and will no doubt continue to flourish with better weather. From Cantueso in Periana it takes about 2 hours by car and is an easy drive.
Jo is a sun worshipper and spends much of her free time on the beach and writes from first hand experience. She includes a wealth of information on each beach and will guide you to: lively beaches, those ideal for children, secret coves, the best beach-side bars and restaurants, or even a nudist beach.
No doubt many readers will be as confused, as we sometimes are, regarding how Axarquia, Costa del Sol and Andalusia all fit together.
Andalusia is a Spanish Autonomous Community with regional government and has the greatest number of inhabitants of any region. It is sometimes called the Lake District of Spain having over 300 lakes and reservoirs. See our blog on Lake Viñuela.
It has a benign climate boasting 3000 hours of sun per year, with many kilometres of golden sandy beaches and those beautiful natural ports which have made it a safe haven for navigators for centuries past, and now plays host to many thousands of tourists from all over the world.
COSTA DEL SOL
Within Andalusia is the COSTA DEL SOL (The Sunshine Coast). It is that part of the Southern coastline of Spain which stretches from Gibraltar in the West, to Almeria in the
East. The Northern boundaries are not always easily defined and here in Periana we are sometimes said to be “Inland” Costa del Sol.
Axarquia is a district (comarca) within Andalusia. It stretches from Malaga to Nerja along the coast and inland as far as Alfarnate hence we title Jo's beach guide La Axarquia (Costa del Sol East).
The route particularly the stretch from Periana to Ventas de Zafarraya had some serious inclines and Swiss engineers were involved in the design of a rack system to enable the trains to climb to 1000m above sea level. This part of the route was truly alpine, often encountering seriously bad weather, and it is a tribute to those early engineers that the route never in forty years of service encountered any serious accidents. At its peak over 500 people were employed on the railway and there were stations at Vélez Málaga, Periana, Ventas de Zafarraya with halts at Trapiche, La Viñuela and Matanza.
The demise of this railway and many others like it has been put down to several factors, both economic and social. After the civil war (1936-1939) and the Second World War, the railway was in much demand carrying loads of sugar cane and other crops to and from the coast, but slowly the introduction of cars and buses lead to a loss of passengers and freight. Then came the increase in tourism, with a concomitant migration of people from the villages to the coast, and the need to fund many projects along the Costa del Sol, led to a lack of capital spending on the railway. Eventually what should have been a franchise until 2015, was wound up by Royal Decree in 1959. The railway closed the next year and the tracks were removed. After less than fifty years, a form of transport that had replaced the mule trains of old was itself displaced by “progress.” As fuel costs make travel ever more expensive one can only imagine what could now be made of a scenic railway passing through some of the most attractive landscapes in Spain.
As mentioned above, the old track is now the access road to Cantueso Cottages and Restaurante Cantueso. As you leave Periana and turn right onto the unmade road, the building with a yellow wall on the left is the old station. It is now used occasionally in summer as a boarding school. In the other direction the track also provides a spectacular walk from Periana to Ventas de Zafarraya, a walk of some 11 miles.
Just before you turn into the drive at Cantueso the old railway track carries on and after a mile comes out onto the Periana-Puente don Manuel road just below the Perimetal factory. Not to be driven in winter after heavy rain!
At Cantueso we have a guide available for the Ventas de Zafarraya walk with maps directions and photos.
The lake is well stocked with fish (Carp, Trout and Bass) and sailing is allowed but only with non-motorised craft. Fishing licences are required and need to be obtained in Málaga with lots of bureaucratic hoops to jump through and not really practical for short visits. Some people say you need to take an examination before being granted a licence but the Costa del Sol tourist office says otherwise.
The department for more information is:
Provincial Delegation of Agriculture and Fishing in Málaga.
Avenida Aurora, 47
Tlf: +34 951 038 200
The following site gives more details on fishing in the lake but you are advised to check the latest situation with the office above.
For further information regarding the villages that surround Cantueso please see the “Things to do” section of our website. You can also check the current view on the live webcam at Restaurante Cantueso.
The baths are sometimes described as Arab, Moorish or Roman and no-one knows for sure how old they are. Certainly they were in use during the latter half of the 18th century and fulfilled the Koranic obligations for Muslims which obliges them to wash before prayer. I n the 18th and 19th centuries visitors were the nobility and high society from all over Spain.
The medicinal properties of the spring water also attracted many people with skin problems and the brave can still bathe in the water which is a constant 21 degrees centigrade all year round. This temperature is about four degrees above the average for the area and means the baths can be classified as thermal. The underground supply constantly refreshes the pool and its sulphurous smell can be observed from quite a distance. Recent studies have shown the waters to contain: sulphites, chloride, calcium, sodium and magnesium and has a flow rate of .3l/sec.
The baths and associated buildings fell into disrepair in the last century and it was only after the purchase of the property by the Periana Council, about twenty years ago that repairs were undertaken.
The authorities in Andalusia now promote these type of baths under the name “Thermaland” and have decreed that they will “work towards promoting the touristic exploitation of mineral and thermal springs, and to renovate other abandoned baths.”
Thermaland was funded with 200,000€, 90% of which came from an EU grant. The grant was designed to take advantage of growing health tourism in Europe and has enabled the baths and other buildings at Vilo to be renovated.
The hamlet of Baños de Vilo is attractive particularly in springtime with the surrounding land covered with wild flowers and a short detour will bring you to Guaro the source of the river of the same name. The river Guaro is important for the area in that it is the main supply for Lake Viñuela which dominates most views of the valley surrounding Periana.
After a narrow entrance into the village of Guaro the road opens out and there is plenty of parking near the source of the river. A noisy waterfall at the base of the mountain wall directs the water flow down the river to the lake below.
There is one restaurant in this otherwise sleepy village where you can obtain refreshment and enjoy wonderful views of the valley.
To find the baths from Cantueso go to the village, turn right at the roundabout and then take the road towards Mondron. Just after leaving the village boundary there is a fork in the road and it is best to keep left signed to Mondron. After a short while you will see the turning right to Baños de Vilo which is signed, but not very prominently. You will then find the baths on the left after a short while. The road is quite wide at this point and parking on the road is possible. To also visit the village of Guaro continue up hill and follow signs, about three kilometres more.
For other trips around Periana see the “Things to Do” pages on our website.
Last February we hosted over three thousand flamingos on Lake Viñuela just below us, they were no doubt en route to join their friends on Laguna de Fuente de Piedra a little further north. This famous lagoon is about an hours drive away on the A45 near Antequera and has the largest breeding colony of great flamingos in Europe. Eight to 12,000 pairs and many other species such as: gull billed tern, slender billed gull, kentish plover and montagu's harrier all breed here. Best to visit before June as the water tends to dry up in the heat of summer.
Here at Cantueso Cottages in Periana, Spain we have taken steps to minimise dangers not only with a high specification pool fence but have also adapted some of our cottages to make them more child friendly with stair gates where needed, bed guards, electric socket protectors, elimination of dangerous chemicals, and enclosed terraces to enable toddlers to play within a secure area. More about this on our toddlers page.
Travel companies have been curiously slow to catch on to the needs of travellers and all too few give you a search option of “secure pool” but if you look around you can normally find one that does.
An excellent NHS website regarding summer safety for children can be found here:
“Summer is a great time for children to get out and experience the world around them,” says Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at RoSPA. “You do need to be aware of safety issues, but this isn't a reason to stop children enjoying activities.”
The website emphasises, as we all should, the importance of letting children have fun and not to get too obsessed with being as safe as possible, rather than as safe as necessary.
A short video of the Pool fencing at Cantueso can be seen here.
A wonderful day out from Cantueso in Periana is a visit to the tiny village of Riofrio (cold river) about 45 minutes drive away, and a Mecca for lovers of caviare or if your pocket won't stretch that far, to a plate of trout. There are fourteen restaurants within the village of only 300 inhabitants and they are host to over 400,000 visitors each year, all thanks to the well stocked river and local fish farm.
There has been trout fishing in the river recorded for hundreds of years but it was not until 1964 when an enterprising family came in search of the perfect waters for their fish farm that the full potential of this natural resource was realized. The cold, fast flowing water comes down from the Sierra Nevada and provides an ideal place to grow not only brown trout (500,000 kilos each year) but also Mediterranean Sturgeon. They normally have 98,000 sturgeon in their pools, separated by age rather than size, all thriving in the most perfect environmental conditions.
Riofrio caviare can be found all over the world in Michelin starred restaurants or corner shops for the wealthy such as Fortnum and Mason's. There, Cold River Caviare retails at £50 for a 30g tin half the price of wild beluga which is becoming much more difficult to find. But why so expensive if it is farmed?
At Riofrio they are proud to be the first and possibly the only certified organic sturgeon farm in the world. They have shunned the use hormone supplements in the fish diet, preferring to let them grow naturally and more slowly. In this business patience certainly must be a virtue as sturgeon only mature between the ages of 15 and 20. Up until the age of about nine the females cannot be told apart from the males. At maturity the females will weigh around 30kg and will yield maybe 4.5kg of roe
When the fish are thought to be ready to spawn the “farmers” use modern ultrasound scanner technology to check. Harvesting the eggs too early will result in dry eggs which have not yet absorbed the crucial fat from the fish's body. Too late and they may lack definition and structure. When seen to be ready the fish is then sacrificed in what is almost a surgical procedure. After being stunned the fish is operated on by one of the staff who dressed in suitable surgeon like attire removes the eggs. Millions of them for further refining and washing in salted spring water. Finally the caviare is placed into tins and allowed to mature like a good wine for three to six months.
At Riofrio they are also keen to explain that they use every part of the sturgeon: the flesh is smoked, marinated or tinned; the oil goes to the pharmaceutical industry and is used in cosmetics and food supplements; and even the grey skin finds use in Italian handbags.
How to find Riofrio.
The village is just two minutes from the A92 motorway which runs from Malaga to Granada. From Periana you take the road towards Mondron A7204 and shortly after passing the olive oil factory above Mondron there is a right turn signed to Alfanarte. Follow this along a pretty but winding road. Through Venta del Rayo (watch out for massive speed bumps) and just before the motorway you will see a left turn signed to Riofrio. It is easy to miss as the biggest sign is that of a hotel but if you do end up on the motorway go in the direction of Malaga and take the first exit to Riofrio.
If you avoid July and August you will not find it crowded, and in autumn and winter it is still very attractive with walks along the river and surrounding area well worth doing. The temperature however is always several degrees colder than the coast, in fact last week when I came by at 8 o'clock in the morning it was zero degrees, so take a coat.
Even in winter there are still several restaurants open and you will be amazed at how many ways there are to present trout if you don't fancy caviare.
The first thing you must do is appoint a non-drinking driver or get a taxi, as it can be a little alcoholic. Tapas tasting is thirsty work.
We recommend that you start about midday and expect to take three or four hours.
The starting point is in the Alameda Principal opposite the train station. There is El Corte Ingles the large store on this side of the road and plenty of nearby parking.
Start to walk up the Alameda Principal (turn left with your back to the store) and cross the bridge and as you pass the flower stalls in the centre of the road look out for no 18 which is the oldest bar in Malaga called, La Antigua Casa de Guardia. Stop for a drink and notice they chalk your bill on the counter in front of you, and make sure you don’t move along when it is time to pay or you may get your neighbours. They specialise in sweet Malaga wines but other drinks are available. They also serve shellfish but save yourself for later, as it gets better.
Continue to walk up Alameda and you will come to a pedestrianised street called Marques de Larios. This is the start of the tour. Up the street after a few yards on the left is a smaller street called Calle Marin Garcia. In front of you is Lo Gueno a very small bar. Get a drink and a tapas or two. Cheese and ham are their specialities.
Next continue up Larios and almost at the top, on the right, is a small street called Calle Moreno Monroy. Towards the end is my favourite bar called Orellano. Here you order a drink and you will get the first small tapas free. You will see many others on display and you should order one, two or even three more with maybe a glass of wine or two. You don’t pay until you leave but no need to panic, as it is not expensive. One tapas to try is Tortillitas de Camerones (shrimp tortillas). Often this is so popular that you have to stand outside.
Now you are getting the hang of it move to our next favourite. See street plan if you have one or ask for Molina Larios. The bar is called La Rabana. It is a newish building with tables inside made from old barrels, or sit outside if warm enough. Their tapas is good and they also have a bar menu with Camembert cheese or ham croquettes and Serrano ham platters. There is also an excellent restaurant up stairs if you are really hungry. The house wine is very good as are the loos!
After this stop and if you are still hungry or thirsty find some more bars of your own, but if coffee and cakes are fancied we have a final stop.
Go back to Marques de Larios and there is a lovely coffee shop called Lepanto about half way up on the right. Muchos calories.
Many people are surprised to learn that Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and a typical harvest can yield almost a million tonnes, of which almost half comes from our Axarquia region.
Much of this is extra virgin olive oil, which is basically the juice of the pressed olives with the water removed. It is the highest grade and to qualify its acidity level must be less than 1%.
The village of Periana is surrounded by olive groves where the Verdial variety is grown producing an oil of the highest quality. The climate, soil, method of cultivation, and production processes all go to create “oro verde” or green gold. A golden yellow oil with intense bouquet and sweet fruity flavour, gentle on the palate, ideal as a dressing or for cooking.
The Periana Olive Oil Cooperative is situated in the centre of the village and has over 800 families as members who in turn look after over 300,000, centuries old, olive trees. We at Restaurante Cantueso are proud to be members of this organisation
Periana Gold has been awarded many accolades from around the world and continues to be milled at low temperatures via a mechanical process and without the use of any chemical additives. Tours of the factory are possible and there is a small shop selling olive oil and associated products. Their website may be seen here.
Being close to the growing areas means that the olives can be transported to the mill in very short time, thus helping to keep the acidity down. Olives are a labour intensive crop with little assistance from mechanical aids. Whole families are engaged from the very young to grandparents all helping at different times in the growing cycle.
It is of course an unusual occupation in that there is only one “pay day” each year and then much depends on world prices, as this is nowadays an internationally traded commodity. Sadly the straightened times we live in have affected Spain’s olive growers with prices falling by as much as 25% last year. Over production and falling demand are blamed for this drop.
Arriving in Malaga province by air, you cannot fail to notice the vast areas of olives covering not only the flat lands but also the most severe slopes and always with never ending lines and geometric patterns. The thousand-year-old tree is at the heart of the provinces industry and also provides the key ingredient for Malaga’s distinctive cuisine.
Olive trees are well chronicled in the bible, Greek legends and elsewhere. It was of course an olive branch in the mouth of a dove that told Noah the flood was over, and winners at the Olympic games are crowned with a wreath of olive leaves. The Olive is the longest living tree known and can be up to a thousand years old, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that they live on sap from April to October. The harvest is normally between November and April.
In a similar way to the fig tree, olives seem to thrive when planted in between rocks or with their roots constrained, which considering the terrain in our valley is just as well.
In October it is a good time to make pickled or seasoned olives. The green fruit is not yet ready for the oil factory but can be “sweetened” to make the familiar tasty appetiser often given as tapas in bars. In years gone by stuffed and pitted olives were prepared by hand, but now one machine can do in an hour what previously took ten women a whole day.
Green Olives Andalucian style.
Take a quantity of olives and beat them with a tenderiser mallet or rolling pin. The idea is to break the skin to allow the alpechin to escape. This is a watery liquid and if it remains the olives will be acidic. Soak the broken fruit in a bowl of water for eight to ten days changing the water every day. When they are soft they can be stored in salt water, vinegar or olive oil ready to receive a marinade later.
Produce a marinade as follows:
Mix garlic, salt, oregano, ground pepper, red pepper and oranges and after straining the water add the marinade with fresh water sufficient to just cover the olives. Leave for a few days to absorb the flavour of the marinade. Quantities? Guesswork, according to how pickled you like your olives. A starting point is to make several strengths of marinade and then have a tasting session after a week or two.
Store with marinade and water liquid in glass preserving or recycled jars.
In the event that you don’t get around to preserving your own olives we at Restaurante Cantueso still sell boxes of marinated black olives.
That's better, and let me say straight away our favourite weather site is Meteo Malaga. It is run by a German fellow called Harry Happe who has a weather station situated high above the Eastern end of Lake Vinuela. The site is special for many reasons not least of which is the accuracy of forecasts. Harry claims to be the only site in Southern Spain, with the exception of a USAF base, that does manual forecasts. The others are computer generated. The site has received almost two and a half million visitors since 2003.
At first sight Meteo Malaga might seem overwhelming as it provides so much content. Want to know what the geomagnetic field is doing; check the bushfire index; want to see what shipping is passing along the coastline, just log on and you can see it all and much besides. It will even show you the name of the ship and where bound. Not too sure what this has to do with weather but it is great fun.
More serious stuff is there too and the three day forecast is the most useful to most of us. Harry told me recently that due to the various climatic influences in our little corner of the world it is virtually impossible to do accurate forecasts for more than three days. Other sites which we give below will offer up to fifteen day forecasts!
Another offering from this site is a “severe weather warning” and it can be sent to you via e-mail. It is free to register. Weather statistics and even a graph showing the water levels of the lake can be accessed and last but not least, Harry has a webcam looking westward down the lake and just below this picture is one from Cantueso's own webcam. Ours looks South and it is interesting to see the difference the angle and direction of the sun can make to the two pictures.
On our website we also have seasonal data for rainfall and temperatures.
So what can you expect in Periana in Spring?
A wondeful time to be in Andalusia. Highs of between 18 to 22C, and lows of 11 to 15C. Spring flowers in the hills and perfect temperatures for walking, birdwatching and of course photography.
...and in Summer
You can normally sunbathe and swim almost every day from June to September. Virtually no rain and daily highs of about 35C and nightly lows of 15C.
….and in Winter
Mixture of beautiful clear, sunny days, with some overcast but warm days. Evenings noticeably cooler. Starts to rain late September or early October, and can be heavy but rarely lasts more than a day or two. Daily highs about 20C and nightly lows around 10C. A pullover needed in the day and a jacket at night.
Other weather sites include the following which can be helpful if you need regional forecasts when driving through Spain for example Canalmeteo or Meteored.
Below is an interesting chart showing how the weather is in a typical year. This is for 2009 as later statistics are incomplete. You can see the original and other years her