Rally Driving

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Three days of unseasonal rain in mid-September indicated what would happen when the rain really starts, that is the barn will leak, wind will drive water under the doors, the bathroom will be a lake, and the track will dissolve. I watched the track dissolve with considerable distress because the farm is isolated. It is a 90-minute walk to the main road, a three hour walk to Zahara. I need the track in order to move a car up and down it.

About 300 metres of track is on the property, curving down at a 45 degree angle from the house at the top to the place where a gate should be. The pictures don’t tell the story. It’s basically a mix of clay and rock with gullies and olive fields to either side. Beyond the non gate there is another gravelly drop, a tight bend (clay) over a culvert, a long stretch on a slant with tall, tough vegetation down the middle and big holes for the wheels to slot into, a wide mud bog bend with a deep red mud under water chaser, and eventually a blind summit made of sharp rocks, some deep, broken, concrete drainage channels, and the all clear of the schoolhouse and junction. As drive up you see nothing but sky; as you drive down the numberplate is sheared and sparks come off the underbelly. The track is partly why the farm was affordable.

After this there is a tarmac road, popular with tractors and vans pulling trailers of hunting dogs, which winds, and winds, and rolls over the mountains several miles to the road to Seville. It would all be easier to navigate in something other than a right-hand drive Peugeot. I didn’t much like driving on the wrong side on roundabouts, bends, motorway slip roads at first.

I couldn’t recall the advice given for navigating the track in bad conditions, and so this first rain had me puzzled. Was it roll it in neutral? Or put it in second and step on it? I don’t know. I got halfway up sideways and then, feeling that I had had enough, left the car under a tree where it sunk into the soil.

I hiked the rest of the way (with 10 litres of water and 2 litres of wine), collected wood, lit a fire, and sat down with a drink. It was at this point one of the cats trotted by with its first catch, a mouse flushed out of its flooded hole. I made efforts to herd him and his captive prey outside but he wasn’t having any of it, given the rain. I tried to relax and enjoy the wine while the life and death struggle continued behind the settee, in the bathroom, the bedroom, up and down the stairs . . . audible even over the interminable singing competition that is always on the one television channel I can get when I can get a channel at all.  Much later, afterwards, I went and dealt with the aftermath, swearing and whimpering as I gathered the remains and padded outside into the wet dark to send them flying over the wall. It’s been a day of challenges and I’m glad to see it over although there will be much more in the way of killings and rain to come.


3 thoughts on “Rally Driving

  1. Steve Keenan says:

    So evocative, as ever. It’s started pissing down here too. Somerset already flooded. And we heard our first mouse in the roof last night – need to get a cat. Hope you survive the first winter (of course you will). But what happened to that potential grape harvest?

    • Thank you! (from one bog dweller to another). I may tire of frying eggs over the open fire in pyjamas and rubber boots, and climbing on the roof in the dark to fetch the aerial, but it’s warmer here than in the marble mausoleum that was the house in the village, so winter survival prospects looking pretty good. How’s the farming? The grape harvest?? It’s been reduced to foul smelling liquid and is currently secure in a vacuum sealed vat in the shed awaiting your visit.

      • Steve Keenan says:

        Ah, yes. We’ve got a lot of foul smelling liquids here too. None of them drinkable, sadly. Mostly belonging to the farmer next door

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