We were so impressed with the decor, the food, and the friendly staff, that we have returned every time over the last two years, the owner, who has become our friend, Fernando always gives us the best rooms (one of them has a magnificent gold four poster bed) and from the very beginning, just before leaving, he has always given us a gift.  Casa-Babel+R

We learned that he inherited this beautiful home from an Aunt and has spent a fortune making it into a fabulous hotel.

Fernando used to come to have a chat with us at the end of our evening meal, and one time we mentioned that we did not understand, why we could not buy really good mature orange marmalade in Spain, every type we tried was far too sweet, yet we know all the best mature marmalade is made with oranges from Seville.   He explained that the Spanish do not like bitter things, they far prefer everything sweet.

The next time we stayed, we were presented with a jar of homemade bitter marmalade for breakfast and it was so delicious we asked if we could buy some, but the chef had only made so much, and apparently did not want to make anymore.  Fernando told us he had grown to like it too, yet just as we were leaving he gave us a full jar as a gift.  We each get a hug every time we see him.

We were surprised again at our next visit, as at breakfast the waitress presented us with marmalade, made especially for us, and we were given it to take with us.  But in addition, Fernando had already given us the hotel perfume and after shave, with his compliments.   Sadly, we did not see him that time as he had family commitments and arrived just five minutes after we had left, but we exchanged a few messages during our drive to Marbella.

We now always take a Swiss speciality to give Fernando.  We both really do not know how this friendship began, we liked him from our first meeting, but I did mention one time that he does not need to keep giving us gifts and his only comment was "some people are very special!"

What Next?

There has been a need for us to adapt a lot as mealtimes are really different from those in the UK.  For example,
in restaurants lunch is around 14:00 in Marbella, but in Winterthur by that time the chef would be going home, as the Swiss have lunch around 11:30 to noon and then they close at 14:00.  In Marbella lots of shops close at 14:00 to open again at 17:00 then they stay open till about 22:00.  In Winterthur they close at 12:00 and start again at about 13:30, but then close at 18:30. 

I am now 79 and find it hard to believe that I am this old, whilst writing I have enjoyed looking back over the past, and it seems amazing that we left the UK so many years ago (the beginning of December 2002), but sadly during this period, both of my parents passed away.  I am so glad we were able to be with them for a good many years. 

Trudy's mother Josephine is still doing well at the grand age of ninety-eight, and it is only very recently that she has suffered from short term memory loss and some confusion.  Everyone imagines that we spend our time relaxing, but we seem to be so busy, and we hardly ever have time to just take things easy. 

Apart from having done as much as we could for our parents, we have to take care of our two properties, keep track of our bills, bank accounts and correspondence at each location.  

But I am not complaining, the only problem is the inflated cost of living in Switzerland, that means we are not able to have much help for cleaning, or in the garden.  As we are older, we do find it harder to do everything ourselves.   

Whenever we feel that our funds available are becoming low, we will sell an antique from our collection.  So, we have kept in touch with certain dealers and auctioneers, especially those that we have had a special relationship with.  Some are friends that we have known for many years and each of them are so knowledgeable (in no particular order); Neil Davey, Richard Marchant, Robert Hall, Clare Chu, Hugh Moss, Roger Kerverne, Douglas Wright, Paul Moss and Asaph Hyman. 

But now having completed this story so far (January 2020), I am going to concentrate on the future.  Who knows although I am eighty this year, one day there might still be some more to add, I do hope so!   

Part 2 
Started writing in March 2020

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