A Clean Sweep
It was spring in southern Spain and a walk up the valley of the Arroyo de las Colmenas (Stream of the Beehives) took me past largely neglected groves of fruit trees and cork oaks. Eventually, the head of the path came out on a knoll and situated at the top of this was an abandoned farmhouse. Beyond, further up the hillside, were old talc mines, now a rubbish-dump for local communities.

The derelict farmhouse, Cortijo del Colmenar, still retained much of its roof, particularly that portion over what was formerly the main living area. Standing intact against the west-facing wall of this room, and surrounded by a variety of debris, was a beautifully sculptured chimney breast. There was, however, nothing to suggest that it was anything other than ordinary, in the sense of being typical both of its period and locale.