June in the Axarquia is a beautiful month. The weather is warm but not yet baking. The land is still green and there are masses of wild flowers.
Stands of bright red Poppies, daisies, wild roses, oleander, clumps of tiny blue wild iris, huge ball-like alliums, and white garlic flowers.
Around Villa Amapola the air is thick with birdsong and the humming of bees collecting pollen: thyme, rosemary and orange flower are some of the delicious varieties of the famous local honey of the region.
There are hoopoe birds, with their striped bodies and crests of plumage, swooping swallows, blackbirds, yellow wagtails, cuckoos, woodpeckers - and tiny owls that emit a sort of electronic beeping sound that makes visitors check their phones for incoming messages!
The almond blossom has finished by now, but the olive blossom is just beginning, and the pomegranate trees are bursting with bright red flowers.
On a warm spring evening, the scent of jasmine is intoxicating.
This is a perfect time to enjoy the natural beauty of the region. The weather is cool enough for hillwalking, cycling and horse riding, but it’s still warm enough to dress lightly and enjoy an outdoor picnic, taking in some of the breathtaking scenery.
The hills below Mount Maroma, dotted with olive trees and topped with picturesque white villages, sweep down towards Lake Vinuela with the Mediterranean glittering in the distance.
If you take a stroll along the country tracks you'll see donkeys, horses, goats, sheep and sometimes oxen with great horns pulling old fashioned wooden carts with huge spoked wheels.
It can feel as if you've taken a trip back in time, the pace of life in this part of Andalucia is relaxed and leisurely, and some things are still done in the way of the old traditions.
Wine making, hand pressed olive oil, goats and sheeps milk "manchego" cheeses - all are made as they always were. The local food is like the local character - strong and colourful!
Try a refreshing tomato Gazpacho or the almond soup "ajo blanco", a plate of the delicious Iberican "bellota" ham, home made tortilla, salty lamb chops cooked on the barbecue, anchovies in oil and vinegar and of course the Malaga speciality of “fritura” - deep-fried battered mixed fish - sort of like the English fish and chips, but with a Spanish twist!
Spanish red wine, especially Rioja, is famous and excellent quality, but in hot weather the local Rose wine is cooling and refreshing, with notes of peach and melon. Tinto de Verano "summer wine" is a refreshing mix of red wine and iced lemonade, Sangria adds a dash of spirits and pieces of fruit, and is a deceptively heady mixture!
A visit to the white villages makes a pleasant day trip. The ancient Moorish outpost village of Comares is perched atop a vertical hill and from a distance resembles a fairy castle!
Every Spanish village has a selection of bars and restaurants offering tempting tapas, and there is usually a local fiesta with parades, costumes, stalls and music at one village or another, if you fancy sampling a little local colour! People are friendly and love children, and if you can speak a very few words of Spanish the locals will be keen to chat with you and answer your questions.
We hope you'll come and visit this beautiful and vibrant part of Andalucia, and see for yourself how special it is.
Not just a place to come and lie by the pool (although you can do that too, of course!), but a place to explore and discover a whole new world of colours and flavours.
from Villa Amapola