Arriving back from the UK on a late January morning, the stunning sapphire sky is a sight for sore eyes. The mountain is still a subdued green but the almond trees are in blossom and the pastures are tinged a buttercup yellow, hinting that spring is just around the corner. The weather over the coming weeks will determine the almond crop’s fate; it needs to be dry and mild and the wind kindly, for pollination to succeed.
Work has finally begun on the Gaucín-Manilva road. Or at least a sign has gone up and two men direct traffic on a tiny stretch of road nearby. The infrastructure improvements are due to take 18 months although some cynical villagers hazard that the purse may run dry before the works get anywhere near Gaucín.
The breeding colony of Griffin Vultures nesting on the ridge of La Crestallina are incredible enough to deserve a tale of their own. On a balmy day like this they are out in force and I count twenty or more of the spectacular birds circling overhead as we skirt the northern end of the range and begin our descent to the river. Crossing the bridge and starting to climb back up to the village, the Genal beneath us is still swollen from the December floods, and the dam with its bathing pool under the bridge has been completely swept away. The final ten-minute drive follows the zigzagging curves of the mountain until – sweeping sharply left at the last Gaucín sign – we are confronted with a Cubist patchwork of white houses clinging to the mountain opposite, the castle ruins imperially dominating the craggy horizon.
Disgruntled by our absence, the house is chilled to its bones and it will take some time for the roaring wood-burner to bring our home back to life. But in sunny corners it is warm enough to enjoy a coffee outside and by late morning the back of the patio door is warm to the touch. Rain is forecast later in the week, so for now I am greedy for every precious stolen minute of the late winter rays.