The moment she saw the tiny plot of land Persephone loved it and I knew immediately we had found our new home. We flew back to England and quit our jobs, put the house on the market, and began to draw up our plans. I had never lived abroad before and didn’t really know what it entailed but I was determined to find out. However, it was much more complicated than I had imagined.
When we returned to the Lecrin Valley, having safely netted a cool 2.3 million for our home counties house, we began to restyle our brand new, really old, authentically constructed humble Andalusian cortijo. I had hoped we could rely on Diego who was living in a tied cottage on the edge of our humble 14 acres. He had lived there for 94 years and I figured he probably knew one or two things about the land. I sure as heck didn’t know how to begin with him but I was so going to find out.
Our two sons Bunty and Jessica soon made friends with Diego, so that was good. It meant we didn’t have to bother too much. They used him as a pet and asked me to make him a collar and leash. I didn’t have a clue how to do this but I was not going to give up without trying and I soon fashioned one out of an old dog collar and leash I bought in Granada.
Persephone and I began work on the house. We didn’t know what we were doing but by Thursday afternoon it was all done. We just needed a man from town to come over and fit our Sky dish. I had made the dish myself out of old abandoned kitchen equipment I’d found in one of the deserted farm houses. I didn’t really know how to make it but I just gave it a go. It’s incredible how empty the houses here in the valley have become and the former occupants have left all manner of tat lying around.
Diego died so we bought a lovely new dog. The boys named him Pedro but I could tell something in our new Spanish idyll was missing. I didn’t know what it was but I sure as heck was going to find out. One evening, as Persephone and I were driving golf balls over the lemon trees from the new range I had skilfully assembled on the roof of Diego’s old shack I had an idea. Pers had been pestering me to put in a full 18 hole course but I had patiently pointed out to her many times how disrespectful to the local cultures such a monstrosity would be. When you step into an alien environment and live a new life amongst simple native folk it’s essential to remain sensitive to local customs. And besides, cricket would be better for them.
So that was it then. I was going to build a cricket stadium. I didn’t have the first clue about building cricket stadiums but I wasn’t going to be beaten by the nay sayers. Within days I’d lain the square and established the boundary ropes and using flotsam and jetsam I stole from nearby farms I had soon erected a couple of stands and some rudimentary floodlighting. Of course the lighting had no electricity supply as yet but that was ok as I wasn’t planning on any day/night games for at least a few months!
The inaugural test match between the Ex-pats and the Locals was a triumph. I won the toss and elected to bat and we racked up a whopping 783 for 2, declaring just after lunch on day one. I’d never played before but I was focused as flip and was delighted with my personal knock of 405 not out. Bunty and Jess soon had the farmers in a tizz and we skittled them all out for a meagre 17 runs. It looked like victory was assured, but then disaster struck. It started raining.
I never knew it rained in the Lecrin Valley. No one had told me but the locals seemed to know. Many of them had umbrellas. We didn’t have any wet weather gear at all and I didn’t know what in heaven’s name I could do about it. Nevertheless I soon chiselled us all a set of sou’westers from old roofing tiles I took from a neighbouring cortijo.
On the fifth and final day of the test the rain relented and a massive crowd of 36,589 crammed into the stadium to watch the denouement of the game. I had of course asked the farmers to follow on and we soon ran through the batting order a second time with little or no fuss, bowling them all out for 9. Bunty took 7 wickets in one over and finished with match figures of 15 for 4. We had won our first match by an innings and 757. I don’t know how we did it but at last we had finally been accepted by the natives.
Now as I sit out on the terrace, the low thrumming sound of the nuclear power station I constructed in the back garden in perfect harmony with the rhythms of the night, I’ve no idea what happened to those local cricketers and I can’t really be bothered finding out. They moved away some time ago. They sure as hell wouldn’t be able to afford the house prices round here any more so they’re better off out of it. Still, as I often comment to Pers, we bally well like it here and that’s all that matters.