Dream home away from home

Romantic Holiday Hideaway in Gaucín, Andalucía, Southern Spain

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From Christopher Pressler blogspot

Spain is a country of the mind. It conjures up images of pure energy and perhaps joy. The bullfight releases an intensity in the audience of awe and fear, of a deliberate attempt by the Matador to cheat death. The colours of the Tapas on a heated summer evening reflect the sky. The red and yellow of herbed pork with collapsing sliced peppers turns to cooler blue in fish as the air drops. The relief of a late meal without the sun.

On the coast, sat under white parasols the sea reaches the beaches in brilliant white waves, glinting like over-exposed photographs being taken again and again. Large gulls fly low across the bays, exploiting the warm air from the water, not moving their wings but still achieving speed. On the shopping strips the famous and those who enjoy appearing with them dip in and out of names from London, New York and Paris, before chasing the gulls into the mountains in Ferraris.

Up there, in the haze of peaks and snake roads you first see the Pueblo Blancos, the white villages clinging to cliffs like goats. They are in the distance for what seems like hours as the car wills itself to make the ascent. Looking back, across the ravines to the Med the great nautical pyramid of Gibraltar juts upwards, and beyond it the line of Africa. Nowhere else can another continent appear from the sea like a fiction.

The last corner the last bend the final twist in the road and in its shocking white, Gaucin, its ancient castellated casas are in view. For thousands of years the height of this place has given refuge and sometimes failed. A flashpoint between religion and royalties, between beliefs and ideologies. Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors - the horror of Civil War. All have come here for safety or a fight, or gold. Gaucin, ‘hard rock’ is a museum of violence and beauty turned now into happiness.

Simply because it sits so temptingly the town has been a prize. To control Gaucin meant to rule these mountains. To visit it now means to govern memories.

We follow the streets up to our destination. The streets with their aching houses, held up it seems only by the heat. A child peers through the common door blinds. She is dark, beautiful, quiet. Her pink dress floats in the relieving wind of the hills and then, with a blink of white eyes she vanishes. We have travelled this morning from England, a country for so long in competition with Spain for land and ocean. Now, we only need respite from work, from commuter trains, from rain.

The final hill and the car slides into a space opposite our house for this week. Casa Mosaica is on top of the town. Outside it is a long white shadow in the haze as we collect our bags from the car. Its name emblazoned beside the door the only hint at the wonder inside. We wait. Five minutes in Spain is nothing. A local friend runs down the hill with keys and introductions. An artist. I find her immediately special and engaging as she shows us into the house. She is of my other life as an imaginative person. The life that is within. The sustaining existence beyond the deadlines, away from the platforms of King’s Cross.

Inside Casa Mosaica the cool silhouettes of the house, stunning shapes, perfect proportions, and the coordination of colours leave us standing for a moment in silence. Seeing this house for the first time is like holding Faberge. It is an authentic experience. It is a shock. It is moving.

As we walk around the effect is cumulative. Red corridors and brass, darkly glinting. The calmest choice of greens in quiet rooms. High windows onto a garden of pools and reflections. Long terraces under reeds to hide the sun. Polished plaster bathrooms in a colour swept from the sea floor. A bright blue swimming pool viewed through solitary Agapanthus. Generous wine glasses. The kindness of particular breads. The creaking of crickets calling. Cumulative in its detail and care. Casa Mosaica is an achievement of mind over matter, just as are the millions of tiny colours which have created it. We are here.

Yet, I write this back in Cambridge. Spain is a country of the mind. Its images so strong that they are permanent gifts. That house and the country which surrounds it will always be with me.