Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools: A Slice of Andalucian Life (Old Fools Large Print) (Volume 1) 1st Edition
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But, most of all, we enjoy meeting the colourful locals they encounter – both human and animal – as they struggle to make themselves understood and fit in with a totally unfamiliar climate and culture. Old Sancho, Geronimo, Cocky and his harem are delightful.
The book is very well written and really captures the personalities and feelings of the protagonist, as well as such individuals as the teutonically efficient Kurt, her sanguine neighbour Paco and the effervescent, foul-mouthed Judith, not to mention her nine and a half dogs and aged mother.
Approaching retirement, Vicky and her husband, Joe, one day decide to pack up their bags and leave their comfortable Sussex, England home and settle in the village El Hoya, Spain. It is not long before they come to learn village life is full of surprises and quirky mishaps, and with hilarious culture clashes at every turn. When Vicky and Joe unintentionally find themselves chicken farmers, Vicky says:
"Oh, Please! Our Spanish neighbours already thought we were insane, sitting on the yellow sofa gazing at our flock, letting them hop onto our laps, talking to them."
Whether saved by a mule or sitting at a party table in the middle of the road celebrating a neighbour's birthday (and blocking traffic), CHICKENS ... not only paints a warm, humorous and colourful picture of rural Spain, but also tells of how two zany Brits came to fit right in. Light-hearted and full of sunshine. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
I enjoyed Vicky's self-deprecating humor; cameos of her husband Joe's often mulish behavior, were hysterical. I found myself listening for the tap-tap paaaart of Old Santos making his rounds. Loved Mother (a bit like Lady Haversham), and the Gin Twins were priceless. Sometimes I even forgot Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools was a memoir, not a novel. The embedded recipes were neat too--loved that they were merely a link away, and didn't interrupt the story.
Vicky and Joe Twead's unexpected chicken farmer adventures are the hilarious crowning, er, crowing glory of the book. Vicky captures the angst of clueless city folks who suddenly become chicken farmers. Back to the land movement gone awry--replete with a chicken palace. I did wonder if some of those oddly-named birds wound up in the proverbial stewpot. Certainly should've been a fate for Cocky, the kamakazi bantam rooster--as he was always spoiling for a good cockfight.
My usual complaint about ebooks, is that they're always in need of an editor and proofreader, stands unchallenged. There were several sentences in need of a good overhaul, but the occasional bad sentence didn't detract too much from the storyline. Gripe: Vicky, please don't spell lightning correct one time, and then spell it "lightening" the next time. Yes, "lightning" is an old contraction, but "lightening" means something else entirely different--rather, um, placental in nature. Because the book hasn't quite yet made the transition from journal entry to story, I've given it a four-star rating.
Top international reviews
Vicky decided that she and her husband, Joe, would move house and live in Spain because she was fed up of the grey days and rain of England. After a little persuasion, Joe agreed to a five year plan of living in Spain with a clause to return to England if they didn't settle for any reason at the end of the agreed term. This book is the first of a series of six (so far) and covers the move from their Sussex home to a tiny village of just five permanent residents in the mountains behind Almeria, to five years later when they have to decide whether to return to the grey skies of England or stay in the home they've made and with the chickens they love.
We meet their lovely neighbours and makers of home made wine, Carmen and Paco, who through a language misunderstanding called Carmen 'Bethina' for several months. We live through the Fiestas, the dancing, the heaviest snowfall since records began, fallen trees across the one treacherous mountain road into the village, and the antics of the 'Gin Twins'. And the chickens – oh, such fun these caused as well as income from their dozens of eggs each week.
Between each chapter is a recipe for typical tasty Spanish tapas, salad, stew etc., complete with instructions of how to make the recipes. This really is an amazing little book and if you go to their website at victoriatwead.com there is a free section with photographs to compliment this book.
The Spanish themselves come across as delightful, patient and generous people.
I shall not be reading further volumes, just not my sort of travel book.
We are introduced to the characters of the village, including Paco and Carmen from next door, ex pat Judith and her mum who care for a large collection of cats and dogs...
Victoria regales the reader with numerous tales of their adventures among this endearing cast of characters, as they become carers for an increasing collection of chickens, which produce an abundance of eggs which the villagers fight over!
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and plan to continue reading the other books in the series. I also loved the rich assortment of Spanish recipes included at the end of each chapter.
My only encounter with Spain before reading this book was an ill-timed visit to Seville in June when I nearly melted and vowed never to go again. Having enjoyed this marvellous Andalucian adventure, I may have to reconsider.
Victoria Twead writes as if she is chatting to you, the reader, in a relaxed and witty style. She is obviously an observer of people and life, through 'humourous spectacles' and her warmth and that of her husband come through in this book. She is never afraid to expose their naivety about unfamiliar situations, like rearing chickens. She writes about the Spanish and English neighbours with great affection and skill but despite making me laugh aloud on occasions, I was very moved by the conclusion of the book, for I had become attached to the characters in this joyful story.
I can't wait to read the next in the series.
Give yourself a treat, and next time the weather and the world are letting you down, pick up this book, pour yourself a glass of sangria and feel that Spanish sunshine.