Granada is rightly famed for its beautiful sunsets but I thought this equally spectacular sunrise, taken from my terrace at 8.30 on an October morning, would be a fitting image for my first blogpost. Welcome and congratulations on finding your way to this site. I’ll be writing about life in Granada and giving some background to my soon-to-be-published novel, Secrets of the Pomegranate.
Granada in winter means dressing in layers that have to be repeatedly taken off and put on again. This morning, as usual in January, it was below freezing and with tiled floors and no central heating, the house was COLD. A few hours later, I was sitting with friends in the sunny garden of Quique’s bar, near my house in Sacromonte, feeling my face beginning to burn and wishing I’d worn a T-shirt instead of my thermal vest so I could take off my jumper. Quique is a retired flamenco dancer, always elegantly dressed, often in a white suit and cravat with a carnation in his buttonhole. Decorating the walls of his cave are large, close-up, black and white photos of the lined faces of his mother and grandmother, who were also flamenco dancers in their day. Until her death a few years ago, I used to regularly see his mother sitting at one of the tables in the garden, solicitously attended to by Quique. Often she would appear absorbed in the music, adding her own accompaniment with the palmas, the rhythmic hand-clapping of flamenco. Paintings by local artists as well as all manner of traditional gypsy artefacts adorn the rest of the wallspace above and around the bar. In the garden, classical or flamenco music issues from a speaker but at a volume that’s relaxing rather than intrusive. It’s a great place to while away an hour or two absorbing the ambiente of Sacromonte and watching the sun set behind the Alhambra.
Now it’s evening and cold again – at least in the parts of the house my wood stove doesn’t reach, like bedroom and bathroom. In the salón though, the heat is enough to bring the geckos out of their hibernation. If I get up in the night, I’ll often find a gecko or two on the wall, revelling in the warmth of the still smouldering fire. The downside to this contrast of heat and cold is chillblains – a problem I vaguely remember from childhood but never since – not till I came to Granada. Now every winter my fingers are covered in itchy red swellings. However, when I look out at the mountains, sparkling white after heavy falls of snow this week and clearly defined against a deep blue sky, I think: I can live with chillblains.