Archive for Visitors

What some very nice folk said about us…

solstice 2010

As the sun sets on the summer solstice here at Los Gázquez we thought you may like to see what some very nice folk wrote about us…

GUEST BOOK (just click on it and see)



Scaling the ‘Tree Of Ben’


summer09naomi-163-version-21“Hi Simon,
How are you? We’ve been a bit out of touch with the world recently, just parenting really and dealing with winter!
I’ve also taken a month or so off blogging at Notes from Spain, as I started on something quite unexpected, learning to draw! I was always the photographer in the family, my sisters the artists, and was convinced I couldn’t draw a thing, until I found the famous ‘Learning to Draw on the Right Side of the Brain’ book by chance and all that has changed - I am now obsessed with drawing! If you are interested you can see some of it at - bear in mind I have only been at it for 2 months, and post absolutely everything, the good, and slightly less so, so do scroll down through it all!

Anyway, I was saying to Marina the other day “what I’d love to do is to go on some sort of art retreat, I bet they don’t exist in Spain” (we recently came back from a yoga retreat in the deepest mountains near Cazorla), and she reminded me of you guys (how could I have forgotten!)”


“Hi Ben, I love your drawing, especially the more idiosyncratic stuff like the rear view mirror sketch. Are you aware that you are composing pictures in the same way as you would a photograph through a viewfinder? What I call the idiosyncratic stuff is your creativity and I wouldn’t want to interfere with that, but, we can definitely help with the drawing, composition, perspective mediums and a few little techniques which will excite you”.

So, Ben and Marina (plus baby Leo) are down here at Los Gázquez from Marid next week. They run the fantastic NOTES FROM SPAIN . travel . life . culture web site which includes language courses, forums, a blog (Lonely Planet Travel Award 2009) and a most fantastic Podcast which you can find on iTunes. Well, we thought we could do a little drawing blog project to  make the most of his visit and whilst he is here he plans on doing a podcast which is great. But where do we start…

img_8607Scaling the ‘Tree of Ben’

Not Drawing but Painting - a pencil is just another way of applying pigment

Three days making art for Ben Curtis.

By his own admission Ben doesn’t consider himself to be an experienced artist. Some may consider his skills naive or just basic. However Ben has a want to make art. In his own words he ‘wants to learn to draw beautiful things’. So, for Cortijada Los Gázquez this is an opportunity to teach drawing outside of conventional thinking. To teach drawing our way is to break down all the pre-conceived ideas as to what drawing really is.

Why teach drawing away from conventional thinking?

I consider Ben’s work to be unique. It possesses all the qualities you would want from an artist. His vision is distinctive and fresh, his drawing tells a story and I know Ben’s work will be more evocative of time and place than a thousand conventional art works. To teach orthodox conceptions of perspective, for example, would be trying to rob Ben of everything that makes Ben’s drawings Ben’s.

What we aim to do is augment Ben’s vision. What we will teach are ways of seeing. For example…

Sorry, you will have to wait for the next edition of Scaling ‘The Tree of Ben’ blog post.

Or better still come and find out for yourselves.


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Mountain Bike - Los Gázquez

faisal bikingFriend of Los Gázquez, Faisal, has just returned to the States after a weeks mountain biking in the Sierra Maria around the cortijada. Kindly he has made a contribution to our blog to give a little review for all you mountain bikers out there…

Mountain Biking around Los Gázquez

Cerro El Gabar is possibly the highest point one can cycle to near Los Gázquez. A double-track trail heads north west from the road circumnavigating El Gabar.  The double-track averages 9% and is 2.7 miles from base to peak.  A few spots at 15% with loose stones present a technical challenge on the ascent and potential excitement on the descent.  The descent easily reaches 35-40mph between switchbacks depending on nerves and willingness to apply power.  The top of El Gabar presents an opportunity for a complete panoramic view of area….

Faisal's Gabar 500Sierra de la Muela can be cycled at least two ways.  The steepest trail on La Muela is the unmaintained double-track heading southeast along Barranco del Salar.  The trail grade frequently reaches 16% on loose stones, resulting in a challenging ascent requiring low gearing.  The descent can be performed in excess of 40mph depending on nerves and line selection.  A spot of deep loose gravel can raise ones heart rate a bit on the descent if hit a bit sideways at speed.
The main road climbing and then descending La Muela along the Taibena presents an opportunity to take the challenge either on the ascent or the descent depending on the direction taken.  If ridden from west to east, one frequently climbs at 10% and descends the other side at around 5%.  Taken in the opposite direction, the 10% descent on relatively smooth double-track can easily result in 40+mph.
The best way to reach La Muela from Los Gázquez is the rough double-track descending from Larga to the main road between Cerro Gordo and Cerro Moto.  The double-track averages a rough 10% with spots at 15+%.  Itís a semi-technical high speed descent given the track conditions.

La Muela, Chica Muela and the Moon 500Taibena is the valley you can see left of Chica Muela and La Muela in this photo. The mountain biking fraternity is very welcome at Los Gázquez.


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Natural Navigation

Friend of Cortijada Los Gázquez, Tristan Gooley (The Natural Navigator) has a new book. He…

blends natural science, myth, folklore and the history of travel to introduce you to the rare and ancient art of finding your way using nature’s own sign-posts, from the feel of a rock to a glance at the moon.

natural navigator book cover

With Tristan’s help, you’ll learn why some trees grow the way they do and how they can help you find your way in the countryside.  You’ll discover how it’s possible to find north simply by looking at a puddle and how natural signs can be used to navigate on the open ocean and in the heart of the city. Wonderfully detailed and full of fascinating stories, this is a glorious exploration of a rediscovered art.

Tristan is the only person to have flown and sailed single handedly across the Atlantic. He is also Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. But best of all he is coming to Los Gázquez, (at a point we can find in the diary) I shall let you know when.

Tristan’s insight into the landscape will be a fascinating resource for artists. So if you are interested in coming to Los Gázquez at around the same time please let me know in advance.

I wonder if he will need directions?

You can buy Tristan’s book at this shop here.



Bangkok to Beijing by Bicycle


One of our top volunteers at Los Gazquez is now back in his native California getting ready for his next trip. Cycling from Bangkok to Beijing. He is just starting to raise funds for the journey working at ‘Borders’ and selling off his record collection etc.

I’ll use his words to describe his intentions…

If you are interested in participating with this trip, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m looking for a bicycle sponsor, among other things, and am fairly easy to come to agreement with. In addition to that, if you are interested in participating personally (that being your time and companionship) I’m more than willing to tandem during your visit.

It should be noted that my motive is cultural immersion, and not to burn a few kcals. I cycle because it is environmental, economical and, well, yes, healthful indeed. But I’m no cyclist: I don’t sport the nut-huggers, I don’t push 200km days and I don’t (well, trying to make that didn’t) ride the proper bikes. There’s a niche in shoestring travel that I’ve dedicated myself to, and that’s designed to inspire people to do the same.
Aaris King

You can find Aaris’ new blog here.
If he does this trip, which I know he will, something good will come out of it for all of us. Of that I am sure. I don’t know what but watch this space.



La Vida Verde 1 (coming soon)




Jasmine’s Eye

jasmine's daragonfly

Jasmine's cane

Jasmine's mule shoes

Jasmine's sky

Jasmine's turbine

Jasmine's vases and sunset



Dancing Through Self Expression @ Los Gazquez


A mixture of ‘grounding’ and ‘yoga movements’ designed to waken the ‘self’. No previous experience necessary. Our tutor is Julia Dupree from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Alongside these dance/yoga activities here, I (Simon) would be delighted to take people on guided walks through the Parque Natural and introduce you to this special place and all the ecological systems we have built to live sustainably here. Donna has prepared a new menu for the period and we have made a special price for the holiday to initiate this new activity.

Dates are from 20th of July to 14th of August and charged on a day by day basis, residential or otherwise, allowing greater flexibility to those coming from abroad. For further details and prices contact Simon at this blog or web site.



Iyengar Yoga @ Los Gazquez

Yoga @LG

Cortijada Los Gazquez is delighted to announce that we are running a short Iyengar yoga week at our retreat. What is more, if you like, it will give you an opportunity to brush up on your Castellano as your teacher is from Burgos, Elena Tarrago Nunez.

Iyengar style deals primarily with the alignment of the body in a search to achieve a physical, spiritual and mental symbiosis. Iyengar also offers breathing exercises which allow for deep relaxation of the body and mind. And Los Gazquez is the perfect backdrop for such activities unadulterated by noise or distraction occupying it’s place on earth ecologically.

Alongside these yoga activities here, I (Simon) would be delighted to take people on guided walks through the Parque Natural and introduce you to this special place and all the ecological systems we have built to live sustainably here. Donna has prepared a vegetarian menu for the week and we have made a special price for the holiday to initiate this new activity.

Dates are from 27th of June to 4th of July and charged on a day by day basis allowing greater flexibility to those coming from abroad. For further details and prices contact Simon at this blog or web site.



Uncle Dick’s Watercolour Masterclass







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