WIshing all my friends, viewers and followers a happy 2020

The single most impressive feature of our lives since we purchased our mountain finca (smallholding) in southern Spain, and becoming part-time farmers in 1993, is how it dramatically increased our awareness of the passing seasons. A perception intensified by having planted the best part of a thousand trees, and then watched as they gradually transformed our immediate environment.

While there are many sobering aspects to the passing of the years, we have found both solace and joy through the metamorphosis of our humble hilltop. Hopefully, it will continue past a good few new years yet!

The house and finca in the summer of 1995, two years after our move to the Axarquia region of Andalusia, and 18 months after completion of the house. Some of our new trees can just be made out, such as the young cypresses lining the edge the drive. At this point, the farm comprised primarily the existing north vineyard (to the lower left of the house) and almond trees. We relied totally on solar energy and rain water, collected in a large tank constructed beneath the house…
…and this is virtually the identical scene taken this Boxing Day in the winter of 2019. The north vineyard is still there, and some of the almond trees, plus the cypresses are now 25 years older – and taller. However, in 2004 we were finally attached to mains electricity (and the Internet) allowing us to set up a remote control irrigation system and thus plant orchards (mostly olive, citrus and avocado) and a garden of sorts, and to surround ourselves with tall trees.


  1. I grew up in an school in Hershey, PA for boys who lost a parent and were in financial need. Eventually, my mother moved to the community, and I dug up a small tree in the woods in the fall after the leaves were gone and planted it in her barren back yard. I thought it was a quick-growing maple, but it turned out to be a slow-growing oak. But years later when I returned, the owners at the time had a child’s swing hanging from it. The tree is now quite large and was still there when i passed through the community last September.

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    1. I was going to suggest it was an oak! Just thought, if one’s going to plant a single tree in one’s lifetime it should be an oak. And what a touching story. Interestingly, of all the trees we planted here ONLY one is an oak – an evergreen cork oak in our case, although never likely to grow quick enough within our lifetime to support a swing.

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  2. Emma & I have Fond memories of enjoying the fine single malts on your lovely terrace with Zep blasting across the valley at full blast xxxxx Happy New Year
    all the best for 2020 Emma x / Martinx

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  3. What a wonderful story of growth, beauty and maturity of your house and finca and of your marriage. You are very special people. Happy New Year to you both.

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  4. Wow! This is truly beautiful. What a wonderful note to end on for this year. I am currently learning the importance of patience and allowing things to grow in their own timing as I continue to nurture them. I often find myself comparing my writing to the growth of a tree or any plant. It has been a trying process, but I’m hopeful that remaining in the light and nourishing it, in time, it will sprout and create a life of its own. I hope you and Dido have a wonderful anniversary and start the year off refreshed!

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