25 Oct, 2020 @ 10:00
2 mins read

Inside Giles Brown’s off-grid home in the Spanish hills with no electricity, heating or internet

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I HAVE ignored the main piece of advice my mother ever gave me and climbed into the back of a strange man’s car.

As I watch the twinkling lights of Marbella disappear behind me I wonder if the picturesque hills this stranger’s four wheel drive is now bouncing down will be where I meet my bitter end.

Many of Giles’ dates have thought the same, he tells me. Miles from civilisation in the Sierra Blanca countryside, his rustic bachelor pad set-up is peculiar to say the least. Certainly the ex-girlfriend who has lived in his guest house for three years can hardly help his quest for love.

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RELAXED: Giles in his garden

Hidden at the end of a mountainous dirt-track, with the nearest tiny town of Istan still a hike and a prayer away, ‘civilised camping’ is how Giles has dubbed his quirky living situation. 

With a daily radio show on Talk Radio Europe and a long-standing column with the Olive Press, the expat journalist has seen Marbella transform from the cheerful celebrity hideaway of the 1980s to the TOWIE tourist destination it is today. As such, he has decided to escape to the mountains.

An off-grid oddity, Giles’ house is without wifi, heating, hardwired electricity or a functioning fridge. “I freeze my proverbials off in winter,” says Giles as he proudly shows me an indoor fire pit that takes up much of the lounge. 

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HEATING: Giles next to his sit-in fire

Looking around the basic and cluttered kitchen I wonder how he makes his meals: “It’s single guy cooking,” he replies: “Tomato pasta, chicken and rice.” 

“This is what happens when a man lives alone” were the words uttered in horror by Giles’ close friend Emma when she first stepped across the threshold. 

A man-cave indeed, each room is piled high with paraphernalia including a ginormous shuffling CD player that has just started blasting the Sam & Dave hit Soul Man into the otherwise silent landscape. 

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LOUNGE: Vintage TV in the man cave

“I’m like a womble. I just find stuff,” Giles enthuses, pointing to an Apple Mac computer which I suspect is older than me. 

The TV too, partnered with a prehistoric VHS player, is from 1990. Powered by a generator Giles revs up by hand, he spends many of his evenings relaxed in front of films like the Guy Ritchie classic Snatch

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POWER: Giles with the generator that powers his home

Among his eclectic movie collection there is one genre missing: horror. “Anything where someone is alone in the woods is banned,” he tells me. “I can just about handle Jaws.” Cabin in the Woods, meanwhile, is too close to home. 

Rather than knife wielding killers, Giles has to defend himself from nature and the local wildlife. Noisy goats, charging wild boar and a tree that collapsed into his bathroom mid-storm and left the property flooded, are just some of the mishaps the long-term expat has handled in the hills. 

But for all it’s eccentricities, his hobbit hole home is still beautifully situated. Framing stunning views of the Embalse de la Concepción reservoir, olive orchards, eagles and drowsy dragonflies, the area offers a calming escape from the chaos of Puerto Banus below.

VISTA: Embalse de la Concepción

Then suddenly the lights start to blink and the silence switches from serene to scary. “The generators running out of fuel,” says Giles as we’re plunged into darkness. 

With nothing but his cat for protection in the increasingly spooky wilderness, it’s time for me to head back to the home comfort of hard-wired electricity. 

Lydia Spencer-Elliott

GOT A STORY? Contact me now: lydia@theolivepress.es or call +34 951 273 575.

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