Red Squirrel, Grey Squirrel

England, Spain

Pretty much exactly three years ago, we were in Málaga, and yomping up the hill towards Castillo Gibralfro, the fortified castle which protected the city for centuries, and shown in the header photograph.

Part way up, we were charmed to be accosted by the local red squirrels, who very politely skirted round any visitors they met, asking for nuts.

This cheeky chap clearly stole the hearts of these two teenagers.

Let’s move in just a little closer ..

…. and closer still …

I thought of this little charmer when I was posting my Monday portrait of that irritated grey squirrel I met at Fountains Abbey. This was the ideal chance to compare the two squirrels who each lived on historic sites. They’re more different than I at first realised.

Those ears. Those eyes. They’re quite different, aren’t they?

And what about the tails?

Here they both are, back in their respective trees:

For Patti’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #190: Close and Closer

An Upset in Málaga

Blogging challenges, South Korea

We were just strolling up one of Málaga’s neighbourhood shopping streets, when we saw this:

What’s up here?

Murder most foul?

Someone up to no good?

The aftermath of an uprising?

How upsetting.

Luckily we soon realised.

These up-ended legs belonged to a plaster mannequin.

The shop where they’d come from was having a makeover.

It was going up-market.

Selling to those Uptown Girls.

Square up

Farewell, Mainland Europe

Blogging challenges, Spain

This isn’t a great photo. But it’s cleverer than you think. Here is the all-but-full moon, framed by the empty circle at the top of this artificial Christmas tree (universal, apparently, in civic displays throughout Spain) in the centre of Málaga.

We’re here for our last night. Tomorrow, we return to England for the last time as EU citizens. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

But the moon is shining brightly for January Light

Ragtag Saturday: Rus in urbe in Andalucia

Blogging challenges, Spain, Wildlife

Rus in urbe.  Signs of the countryside in town.  We spent a lot of our time in Andalucia, particularly in Córdoba and Málaga, hanging over river bridges staring at bird life, or gawping into trees to see what we could see.  Here’s a bit of a rogues’ gallery….

Cormorants on the river Guadalquivir…

Egrets, ditto.

Herons – or perhaps always just the same heron?  Fishing, always fishing.

A poor swallow (Was it a swallow?  Help me, someone) trapped in the synagogue in Córdoba, endlessly flying impotently towards the light, the incontestably glazed windows.

Then it was parakeets.  We’ve moved to Málaga now.  We could hear them all the time, squawking in the palm trees.  But this pair had time to bill, coo and preen.

La Concepción Botanical Gardens were at the edge of town.  But still definitively Málaga.  I offer you turtles…..

…. toads…

and – not from the Botanical Gardens – the inevitable herring gull.


And if it’s red squirrels you’re after, you’ll just have to read my last post.

As usual, click on any photo to view full size.  This is my entry for today’s Ragtag Challenge: rus in urbe.

Squirreling a snack

Spain, Wildlife

We’re back in England now, back to temperatures of under six degrees when we’d got used to nearer twenty in Spain.  Back to rain and wind instead of sunny breeze.  Still, I can sit and sort my photos out.

The view up – looking towards the Alcazaba: the adjoining castle to Gibralfro.

Here are some from the day we slogged up the 240′ to Castillo Gibralfro in Málaga. Part way up, we came upon this enchanting scene.

I know the arguments about the potential dangers to both humans and wildlife from too-close contact.  But these two Spanish children are not likely to forget, or be unaffected by this chance encounter with this little squirrel: or to resent the fact that he charmed the greater part of their mid-morning snack from them.


And here’s the view coming down.

Click on any image to view full size.

The Mandolin Players of Málaga


We’d been for a good meal with good wine in a cheerful local tapas bar. Now we were mooching contentedly round town, remarking on the fact that here we were, without coats, scarves and gloves, watching people enjoying themselves at outdoor tables in early March.

Music? Is that music? Oh yes, over there at that bar.

We were in one of the biggest open spaces in town, Plaza de la Constitución, and there at Café Central, seated at several pushed-together tables were about fifteen men with fifteen mandolins (or similar. We’re not experts), a double bass and a bit of percussion, making music.

They strummed. They sang. They joked and laughed. They were there to enjoy making music together. As an appreciative crowd gathered, they sometimes got us to join in too. Thank goodness for Guantanamera. Everyone knows that one.

Someone in the crowd bought them a round of drinks. We all cheered and clapped. Fifteen men of a certain age had made a pleasant evening special.

I bet they’ll be there next week. Same time, same place.

Botany and a bus ride


It seemed to be a long time before we found the right bus going at the right time to a terminus in the right place – beyond Málaga’s city limits. But we got there. La Concepción Historical-Botanical Gardens.

We quite enjoyed hiking round its Mediterranean landscapes, and visiting a desert-scape of giant and vicious looking cacti. We took a long forest walk with spacious mountain views one way, and a panorama of Málaga the other … and sadly, the motorway grumbling and roaring only just below. We agreed the place was lovely, worth exploring… but just a little under-loved and under-resourced.

We had lunch outside in the sunshine, and thought we might go home.

Thank goodness we didn’t. We had circled the outer edges of the gardens and failed to explore its heart. Here were subtropical glades, bamboo forest, tumbling jungle waterfalls. Shady, mysterious, quiet and only disturbed by birdsong.

Two Country Mice had a very enjoyable day.

A Spanish candidate for Jo’s Monday Walk. It’s Thursday but never mind.

Jo’s Monday walk

Con Happy End


It’s about to rain. But it’s been a good day. A favourite breakfast followed by a walk round Málaga’s 1000 year old port.

Then we found ourselves being unexpectedly tested: a walk high above Málaga, on a steep winding path taking us up 430 feet to the Gibralfaro castle. It’s a 14th century edifice, but once upon a time, in Phoenician-Punic times, this site was used for watching over the town, and the ships sailing in. So we did that too.

After that, to mop up the rest of the morning, we explored the market.

We’d earned our lunch. So we did what we always do. Watched where the workmen go. They have a nose for the simple establishments that cook good traditional food just like grandma makes, and at a good price. My fish couldn’t have been fresher.

And here’s what we spotted on the way home.