IT’S been an eventful summer up at the Casita.
We’ve had everything from long summer picnics to corporate team building events full of hungover Irish executives – who were more interested in the hog roast and the possibility of a cold beer than the activities, if truth be told – to Saudi royal family picnics (no small affair) and a brilliant stag weekend for my friend Tom Schneider.
(The wedding was even better, but I wrote about that before).
But as well as all the great stuff that goes on at the lake, including being able to swim in the water in October, flinging myself off the diving rocks (when, at my age, I should know better) and expeditions on the boat packed with grinning adults and kids, there have also been some problems.
There was a big fire 500 metres to the north of the Casita in May that had to be dealt with by helicopter. I was lucky that the wind was blowing away from the house or it might have burnt down – it was pretty damn close. I still caught idiots trying to light BBQs at the lake in August, but a few choice Anglo Saxon phrases convinced them of the error of their ways.
People still leave litter around this outstanding natural area of beauty, also a huge fire risk not to mention the harm it does to the local wildlife. This has resulted in me stomping around the lake collecting rubbish like a particularly bad-tempered Womble on more than one occasion.
Worse still, there have been random acts of theft and vandalism. My hand-painted Casita del Lago sign was stolen over the summer, kayaks have vanished from secure moorings and, at the end of one busy Sunday, I even found that someone had urinated in one of my boats!
So when I spotted three Junta de Andalucia 4x4s heading down the track and erecting a sign last week, I expected it to read something along the lines of ‘Please look after this unique place, take your rubbish with you, don’t nick anything and for Christ’s sake have a pee before you drive over’.
This being southern Spain, of course, it was none of the above. The sign, which must have cost a few euros to produce, warned us all of the danger of the Mejillon Cebra, or Zebra Mussel. Apparently the little blighters, which hail from the Far East, have been laying waste to the local species all over Andalucia, and anyone using the water has to make sure that their boat, rods or boogie board has been properly cleaned before taking them to the lake.
What’s worse they aren’t even edible, which scuppered my bright idea of opening up the Casita as a Champagne and Oyster bar.
But with all of the other goings on at the lake this summer, I did let out an exasperated cry of ‘Never mind the Molluscs!’