My advice is find your spot and wait...
REGULAR readers of this column will recall my tales of travel with long-time friend and one-time band roadie Peter ‘Oaf’ Bromhall – watching wildlife, playing rugby, singing songs, taking photographs and thoroughly researching the food and drink of each and every nation, from Poland to Spain, and from Ireland to Latvia.
On several occasions we literally stuck a pin in the map and booked the flights. Happy days indeed, and a book is in the pipeline packed full of our misadventures, including the following after I had sung at an Irish wedding in Nerja, southern Spain.
Oaf and I had foolishly accepted a challenge to climb the mountains seen here. By the time we reached the tortuous ravines of the Rio Chillar, the sun was already unforgiving and burning up the mist which hung like a necklace around the jagged mountain backdrop.
Three miles up a narrow dusty road, with the lofty peaks looming, my alarm bells rang. Roger Hargreaves, the creator of the Mr Men series, would have had a field day with Oaf and me. We were, in no particular order, Mr Wrong Trousers, Mr Wrong Shoes, Mr Wrong Complexion, and if truth be told, Mr Wrong Body.
The three Spaniards set off like mountain goats, and for the first hour, wherever they could, avoided every gentle slope, preferring to slice vertically through the roughest scrub and rockiest scree they could find. Our unprepared and bare legs were ripped to shreds by thorns, and every insect that could bite, had done. Most annoyingly, our companions carried on an animated conversation as they marched, and one even sang an Irish song to me, whereas I was soon beyond talking. Oaf gasped: “Woody, I know I’m the roadie, but can you not carry your own stuff now?”
With a throat as dry as a Nomad’s sandal, I checked my racing pulse, and began to think playing rugby at my age had done me no good at all. We needed to buy time, and in a scene reminiscent of a good action movie, when a wounded soldier encourages his comrades to save themselves, I sat down, pulled Oaf down with me, and said: “You go on boys, we’ll be okay.”
And off they went, vanishing into the depths of a bottomless canyon, still chatting away.
After 10 minutes’ recovery, and after finishing off what was left of our water, which by then was hot enough to make tea, Oaf and I were able to take stock and look around us.
The place was stunning; untouched splendour of a rare kind, with huge shrubs of gorgeous red flowers, and a forest of wild rosemary which we were suddenly able to appreciate, and in the air, three Griffon vultures. I suppose the big birds could have seen us struggling, but prefer to think they were looking for some other carrion.
When the vultures had passed by, we set off back for the small car park to wait for the Spaniards’ return, and it was here the wildlife came to us, which made me think we should have just stayed there in the first place.
It has always been the best ploy, find your spot and wait. Don’t break the skyline, don’t make any noise, and in future ‘Sean’, don’t climb steep mountains unprepared, when you could be in a tapas bar. We could hear partridge chunnering, and swifts screaming as they wheeled above the gorge, while in the distance, the melodious song of a warbler, which I could not give a name, but there was no such trouble with the red kite, wheatear and linnet which followed.
Our decision to wait and watch, rather than walk and die, had saved the day. More Oaf tales can be found at www. laughingbadger.com.
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop
●● Sean Wood and friend Peter ‘Oaf’ Bromhall on the Balcon de Europa, Nerja, in southern Spain