bare tree mountain above capi 300x225 RAILROADED



As you get older… and you will, (I think it has to do with the movement of celestial orbs), you may find yourself with an urge to do ever more offbeat things. I suppose that it’s a feeble attempt to deny the inevitable, to prove to yourself that you are not really decrepit, whereas it is manifestly obvious that you are. I have to admit that with the passing of the years the scope of my intellectual and physical activities becomes more limited. I can spend a pleasant hour, for instance, sorting out the cutlery drawer in the kitchen. Identifying the utensils correctly from their morphology – forks, knives, spoons and so on – and putting them in their appropriate places, gives me a profound feeling of intellectual satisfaction; nor can I deny the pleasing physicality of the job.

For a little more excitement and stimulation I might move on to the larder and shuffle the eggs around a bit. Each day Ana fetches the eggs from the chicken-run and puts then in the egg-box. She puts them at the back so that the oldest eggs are at the front. When cooking, I take them from the front – the older the egg the better it peels, if you’re boiling it. From time to time the front gets empty and the back gets full. This is when I exercise the full power of my brain to sort them out into the correct order. The extreme fragility of the egg adds an agreeable frisson of risk and danger.

Thus do I spend my days, and I count myself most fortunate. Sometimes though, you find yourself in a compromising situation: you’ve been railroaded, laid on the line. I have no memory of how it happened but it’s there now and there’s no way out: the ‘Acompalia’ thing, and the ‘Integral’. It’s like this: for some reason, I happen to be the vice-president of an outfit called ‘Acompalia’. I think it was because I just wanted to be president of something. (You can find out more about this curious urge by reading my forthcoming book, ‘Last Days of the Bus Club’, published by Sort Of at a knock-down price on June 4th.) Bus Club cover 201x300 RAILROADEDAcompalia is a group of people from round these parts (Granada mountains and coast) who, rather quixotically in these most economically unpromising of times, have set out to raise a million and a half €uros to build and run a hospice, a thing undreamt of in the province of Granada, and, indeed, in most of Spain. I admire enormously what these people are doing, and thus it was that when in their unaccountable wisdom they asked me to be their vice-president, I eagerly acquiesced.

My conditions for this prestigious sinecure (imposed by myself) were that I would never but never attend a meeting, and I would have nothing but nothing to do with decision-making. (What sort of a vice-president is this?, you may be wondering.) All well and good, but a month ago I was informed by some of the more active Acompalia members, that, in order to raise money through sponsorship, I was billed to do the “Integral”. So what is the “Integral”, and how would one go about ‘doing’ it? The Integral in this case is the totality of the peaks in the Sierra Nevada above 3,000 metres… and to ‘do’ it, you climb them… all twenty one of them.

I must be bonkers. I am going with one ‘Fit Nick’ for company and encouragement, on June 15th. There’s no way out of this one. I aways used to think that one ought to do at least one crazy thing a year – once I walked from Córdoba to Granada in July – but now I’m not so sure; if all goes belly-up, who will sort the cutlery and the eggs?


Oh, and of course, if you want to check out Acompalia… well, it’s www.acompalia something or other; there are not so many outfits called Acompalia.

14 Responses to “RAILROADED”

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  1. Comment by Joan Bridgland — June 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm   Reply

    Hello Chris

    I am in the middle of Last Days of the Bus Club and am enjoying it immensely. I read the first 3 during my recent visit to Almunecar in the course of 4 weeks. Especially interesting as my son Lewis ( Bernaldo de Quiros – Spanish father) has recently moved to the Minchal and is living much as you do, except in a yurt. He and his family are loving every moment, despite the suicidal road to get there! The friend building the yurt is someone I think you know, a German called TomTom? So much in your books mirrors his own experiences, and made me laugh out loud, he a little more ruefully! Good luck on your walk on the 15th – hope you survive it!

  2. Comment by Sarah Strupinski — July 2, 2014 at 3:28 pm   Reply

    I am very much enjoying your reading of the Last Days of the Bus Club every morning this week on Radio 4. Thank you. SS

  3. Comment by David Constable — July 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm   Reply

    When I was at school, many years ago now, one of the books we read as part of the English Literature curriculum was Laurie Lee’s “Cider with Rosie”. I was immediately caught up in the story and the style of writing. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered the authors other books and had the chance to read them. Having read “As I walked out”, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the descriptions of 1930’s Spain and I continue to re-read this book at every opportunity. This also lead me to look for other books about Spain and ultimately to “Driving over lemons”. I am now reading “Last Days” and was interested to see that Laurie Lee was also one of your inspirations.

    It is this fascination that has led to the desire to eventually move to Spain and I am lucky in that my family share this with me. Hopefully we will eventually be able to relocate.

    We prefer the Valencia region around Moraira and Denia to Andalucia (my wife doesn’t like driving through mountains!), and love exploring the villages and towns looking for the local bars and restaurants. Even the likes of Benidorm can hide some cultural treasures.

    I think you are correct about age and the desire to fo off-beat things. I have often considered trying to replicate Lee’s journey, possibly for charity, but don’t believe that I am currently healthy enough (I finished Chemotherapy for Bowel Cancer in September 2013 and am currently undergoing regular scans). So I hope everything went well for you on the “integral”.

    I hope “Last Days” isn’t the last time we get to read about your life in Spain.

  4. Comment by Chris — July 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm   Reply

    Staying in a cortijo near Órgiva with my wife, CarrIe, and 2 daughters. Having travelled around Spain and having been lucky enough to have worked and lived (and gone to school) in Madrid, we are really enjoying being back and the Alpuharas is living up to expectations. We loved ‘Driving Over Lemons’, a perfect introduction to life here. Thanks

  5. Comment by Patrik Schumann — August 24, 2014 at 9:49 pm   Reply

    Hola Chris, I’m always pleased to discover the occasional tidbit about you. Can’t wait for your book about botanising in Morocco. Ran into David in Mairena Oct 2013, exploring backlands for old fruit & nut specimens and land for our own place. Even got a small rental car down to yours from the hill above, but didn’t want to overstep like our drop-by Sep 2009. Hope to come back next April 2015 to start semi-arid tree crop center on friend’s cortijo near Tabernas. Meantime putting high-desert edible plantscapes and orchard-gardens in New Mexico into others’ care, bringing toddler to grandparents in California, starting Mediterranean/ sub-tropical rare fruit, botanical garden, oak woodland initiatives. Will intermittently throw you a line hoping to follow up that first connection. Best, Patrik of ecOasys

  6. Comment by Barbara Smith — April 30, 2015 at 10:50 pm   Reply

    Have just finished Last Days, Wonderful stuff, you made me laugh and brought back happy memories of my own few years living in that glorious country.

  7. Comment by Laura — July 16, 2015 at 1:36 pm   Reply

    Hola Chris from along the mountains (and semi-desert) a bit.
    Thank you for your Last Days of the Bus Club book – love reading about your life in the Alpujarras.
    But this book in particular tweaked an idea in my head about your sheep…. I’m a mad knit and crocheter who has recently learned to spin….you get where I’m going with this…I would love to spin from the fleece of one of your sheep! Is this something that is within the realms of possibility? Laura x

  8. Comment by Michelle — July 29, 2015 at 9:59 am   Reply

    i have thoroughly enjoyed reading your books and have found your blog fascinating. Why have we not heard any more from you since 2014?

  9. Comment by Patrik — August 23, 2015 at 12:47 am   Reply

    Congrats! I’m still hoping to read something more about your herb collecting adventures in North Africa. Or perhaps meet you again on our next acequia land & old fruit tree recon from David & Emma’s in Oct 2015. Last time, in April 2013, we came scraping down your back road in a rental, but were too flustered to impose. We’ve branched out from Albuquerque to San Diego, and I’m starting a drylands tree-cropping center near Tabernas. Ciao, Patrik & Camila & now Pablito

  10. Comment by Dianne Gungor — October 4, 2015 at 9:27 am   Reply

    Hi Chris, I was just wondering if you no longer update your blog? Hope you don’t mind me asking. I can appreciate it must take time and effort to do to please mere readers like me. Is there another way of finding out if you are working on a new book etc.,
    Many thanks Dianne

  11. Comment by Rachel — October 17, 2016 at 10:35 pm   Reply

    Thank you so much for “railroaded”. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. I happened upon your blog when recommending Driving Over Lemons to a friend. Timing was perfect. Another friend was trying to dissuade me from moving to Spain, I told him fine and went back to sorting my forks and knives….

  12. Comment by Colette — December 12, 2016 at 8:45 pm   Reply

    Hi Chris,

    A friend mentioned your books (which I admittedly haven’t read, but will look for now that I know about them), when she heard I was housesitting in the Alpajurras, she thought my description of the area was similar to yours!

    We are up a dodgy 3 kilometre track just outside of Torvizcón on the A348 to Cadiar, so it was with some delight that I learned of your books about life here.

    We move on to another housesit in a few days in Sierra Cabrera, Almeria, but our three weeks here (albeit wet and a bit cold at times) living off grid have been wonderful and we will hopefully do another housesit here in the future.

    Until I read your books, I have your blogs…and they are thoughtful and give people such an insight into living as it should be; simple, humorous, emotional and totally in touch with the land and the animals we share our planet with.

    It is nice to meet you…if only electronically :-)

  13. Comment by Cynthia Smith — January 15, 2017 at 11:54 am   Reply

    Love, love LOVE your writing! Am deeply settled into this bus club book at the moment—thoroughly entertaining and I learn so much as well. My husband and I have a blog about living in our motorhome and traveling about Europe in the winter. We will spend our spring and summers on the Dutch canals in our boat. We believe this to be a good balanced life for us. My question is who designs your book covers? My husband wants to publish our travel adventures on Amazon and we love your covers and want a similar style. Many thanks Chris for all you do to put a smile on my face and joy in my heart! You are a treasure to be sure…

  14. Comment by Rita — December 13, 2017 at 9:11 pm   Reply

    Dear Chris,

    Although you don´t remember me, I do, and I always will. You came a few years ago to my school in Granada to present your book “entre limones”. I´ve been wanting to write to you for a while and I´m glad I now am.

    I was only a kid when you came so I don´t really remember much of the presentation of your book but I do remember something you said. I hope my memory isn´t failing but I believe you told us that you met your wife at a party you didn´t want to go. After that, you encouraged us to go to every single party.

    So, you may be thinking why on earth I am writing to you. This summer my best friend and I were meant to go partying somewhere but I wasn´t really feeling it. Nevertheless, something (or someone) was telling me to go. It then popped on my mind something I had forgotten, which was your quote.

    I then decided to go to the party. I somehow met someone wonderful, charming and endearing. Going to that party has been one of the best decisions Ive ever made.

    For that, I want to thank you.

    By the way, his name is Chris too!

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