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GB Triathletes in Cuevas del Almanzora

28 Jan

You will notice that I haven’t been posting much recently – the minute the family left after Christmas, I started cooking for the triathletes at the Kinetic PB training camp  and just finished last night!   It was fantastic fun, if a little tiring – 6 nights a week for girls and boys who had been training virtually all day long and therefore came back hungry and looking forward to some home cooking.

The camp has really taking off with triathlon teams from Manchester and Scotland choosing to train here, mainly because of the dry, sunny weather.  It can be chilly first and last thing, but during the day you can get 5 or 6 hours of lovely warm weather- a little different from theUK!

The latest athletes to make it out here are the GB Triathlete team who are manically training for their busy season ahead and what is after all an Olympic year.

We have high hopes for medals at the event which is to be held at Hyde Park this summer and so shall be watching out for any familiar faces!

I, too, felt like an athlete, but of the culinary kind – racing to shop, cook and serve substantial and tasty meals that I thought they would enjoy – they were an amazing bunch to cook for – no complaints and hardly anything they didn’t eat and so made life very easy from that perspective.

They had a gruelling but enjoyable time here – the roads are amazing for cycling (they went up to Seron – twice -an hour away by CAR!) – I think they loved the rugged scenery, the blue skies and the great location of their camp.  They even swam in the man-made lake at the camp – freezing at this time of year, the sea at Garrucha (crazy), but mainly used the indoor swimming pool in our local town of Cuevas.

Running, of course, is made easy, due to the lack of traffic, endless hill and mountain.

In the next weeks, they are all off to various parts ofSouth America– I can’t pretend that I am not envious, but only of the travel part – I am no athlete really!  We wish them all the best and hope they will be back again.

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Trialthon training in Almeria

20 Sep

Up by the dam at Cuevas del Almanzora is a huge man made lake and clubhouse which was built in 2004 for the rowing and canoeing events of the 2005 Mediterranean games. The thought of rowing and canoeing in the desert has always made us chuckle.

After the Games it just sat unused –we couldn’t believe what a waste it was – until earlier this year Kinetic PB run by Oliver Watts took it over to launch a very impressive triathlon training camp. We met Oli when some friends came to stay and one of them wanted to hire a bike and found him on the internet.  So we thought we would get in touch with him too as we thought it may be of interest to people who stay with us.

The Tri Lodge (10 minutes from here) is at the centre of all training activities – obviously it is ideal for winter training when the UK is pretty grim so makes a brilliant base for athletes.

The lake (or swimming channel) is pretty impressive at 1,150m long and 115m wide offering controlled environment swimming right next to the camp HQ and Kinetic also have their own indoor swimming pool.

Cycling in Almeria is already recognised as one of the best places to train, again particularly during the autumn and winter months as we get so much sunshine during the days.

Oliver is very helpful and obviously enjoys what he does and has a great atmosphere going up at the Tri Lodge along with the equipment and facilities.

Several top coaches work up there during the year but you’ll have to visit the website for a full schedule or just call Oli direct at Kinetic PB.

For those of you who live nearby, do go up and take a look – it is so great to see this structure being used for something sporty!  It is only around 10 minutes drive from Cuevas itself.

Kinetic PB telephone number: +44 (0)7976275503

El Canadas Bar & Restaurant, Cuevas del Almanzora

19 Aug

My cousin April is with us at the moment, with her partner James and part of their fantastic brood.  James has triplet boys and April has one of her daughters here too.  They arrived a few days ago in an absolutely brilliant motor home, taking their time and stopping nearLeonto stay with some friends.  We all decided we needed a night off from cooking and cleaning up and we also wanted to go somewhere low key and away from the crowds.

So, what better place than the “brasa” opposite the castle in Cuevas.  April and James have been here before, and like us, they love it.  Ok, you don’t get a sea breeze ( neither the cocktail, nor the literal one) but what you do get is the most fantastic array of grilled meat – racks of pork ribs, spicy pork kebabs, quail, chorizo and morcilla (black pudding) to name a few things on offer here every night of the week, every month of the year.  Add a huge salad and some fries and all the kids are happy as well as all of us too.  In August when everyone else is at the beach, they are delighted to serve us.

Not a word of English is spoken here but lots of great and friendly service.  It is a family affair, with mama doing all the cooking over a roasting open brasa – no mean feat in 90 degrees!  Whatever you order here, including drinks, always seems to come out at around 15 euros including a tip.  They also seem to have cottoned on that us “visitors” like reasonably decent wine with their food, and now serve very good white and red rioja, previously the wine, it has to be said, was undrinkable and only came in the house red variety!  There are some fabulous photographs of Cuevas del Almanzora in days gone by (when there was a proper river flowing through it!) so take a moment to look at these wonderful momentos.

This really is an experience not to be missed and we go there all year round – in the winter it is lovely and cosy and we sit inside, being toasted by the wood burning grill, and in the summer, we enjoy eating outside and staying late until it gets cool, and mingling with the locals.  Do give it a try the next time you just fancy some great barbeque and salad and a lovely glass of vino.

 

Desert Springs Golf Resort, Cuevas del Almanzora

9 Oct

Sometimes during the week, when we don’t want to go out for the whole evening but we feel like a pre dinner drink somewhere, we pop up to Desert Springs. It is only 10 minutes away and has two options to have a drink or dinner.

 

El Torrente 'Clubhouse' Restaurant

 

There is the clubhouse – it is a lovely colonial style building with a vast terrace running around it so perfect for a late summer evening drink.  We met a couple of our friends there the other night who have a house on the course and as it doesn’t get dark until at least 8.30 pm and it was a wonderfully warm evening, we met on the terrace.   It is a great place to relax for an hour or two with friends and has a good restaurant too where we sometimes go for Sunday lunch.

 

The view from the 19th hole

 

More often. though, we go to the other bar/restaurant, the Crocodile Club.  It is a fabulous building which looks like it could be on an African plain – it has a huge thatched roof and rustic furniture with a terrific view over the deserty landscape, to the sea.  It is lovely to go and meet friends for drinks or dinner – kids are very welcome and they can just run around as there is lots of space and the staff don’t seem to mind.  There is a menu for every taste – from burgers and ribs to wonderful fresh fish, salads and pizzas.  The service is always good and it is just so convenient for us if I don’t feel like cooking.  We go there all year round and there are cosy open fires for the chilly nights from December.  Oh, yes, it also has a beautiful golf course for the golfers among you – anyone can play so long as you have a handicap – if you play with a member you pay a reduced rate (we usually know someone who can sign you in).  There is also a swimming pool and tennis courts for non-residents – that should keep everyone happy!

El Torrente Restaurant telephone number: 950 548 403

The Crocodile Club Restaurant telephone number: 950 548 404

Cuevas del Almanzora

24 Sep

It occurred to me that since I started the blog, I haven’t mentioned our nearest town; it is a nice town too.  The name means Caves and the minute you arrive you don’t really have to ask why.  There are many cave houses here – both deserted now and converted from caves which were excavated thousands of years ago.  The modern ones can be quite grand as they build a normal house on the front and then use the caves as bedrooms as they remain the same temperature all year round – cool in summer and warm in winter.

Cuevas Town Hall

Cuevas has a population of around 12000 people, 99 per cent Spanish – yikes!  Luckily I have continued to drag myself to Spanish lessons pretty much every week for the last two years.  My Spanish is still rubbish but I can make myself understood (understanding Cuevans is a different matter though – I guess it is like someone from Madrid trying to understand someone from deepest Devon).  Anyhow, I digress.  We have a castle, which has a very nice little art gallery (we even have a Picasso exhibited there), a Dam (constructed for the 2005 Mediterranean Games for the rowing events), a motocross arena which happens in August until 3 in the morning, a pub which looks like it could be in Dublin, but is completely Spanish owned and run – they serve draft Guinness – we love it.

Check out this fantastic over the top Cuevas video made by the Andalucia tourist people  

There are little pizzerias, one really good restaurant although I prefer to go in winter as it is indoors, a pretty square with fountains and a children’s playground and a really pleasant bar called El Recreo, where you can sit and have a drink and watch your children playing.  We have markets up at the castle on Tuesdays and Thursdays that sell fantastic fruit and vegetables and then all the usual stuff that markets sell (i.e. mostly ‘toot’ but I have bought a linen dress there for a fiver before now!).  Also up at the castle are a few little cafe/bars; one of which, bar Canada,  is just fantastic for ribs, chorizo, pinchos (little kebabs) done on an old fashioned wood burning grill – order chips and salad to go with it and you have a really gorgeous supper.  Do not drink the red wine though – I believe it comes from the local garage and is completely undrinkable, so stick to beer or G&T’s.  I have never risked the white wine – in fact I don’t think they have it.

We have one or two really good shops – my favourite is the nice lady shop as we call it as I can never remember the actual name but it is full of nice ladies ready to help you! And we have a couple of great clothes shops, supermarkets, and about 14 banks.

The best time to see Cuevas is during the early evening when all the families are out for a stroll and a drink with all the kids in tow – it is the same all over Spain and just something we in the UK don’t really do (because of the climate) but something which is very pleasurable here.