Viva la Casita! Ten years of living off grid in the hills above Spain’s Costa del Sol

IT seems hard to believe but this month marks my tenth year of living at the Casita del Lago, a converted smallholders’ cottage on the edge of the La Concepcion reservoir.

I use the term ‘converted’ roughly because, being off grid, with intermittent power, floods, no fridge, television or Wi-Fi, plus a fondness for candles, many have remarked that I basically live in the 17th century.

Located in splendid isolation at the bottom of a 1.5km track that hugs the hills and has accounted for the demise of four cars over the past 10 years, life at the Casita has certainly been varied.

I vividly remember my first night when, unused to the sights and sounds of the campo, I was convinced that the rocks falling into the water was the sound of Swamp Thing coming to get me (they were mountain goats prancing along the far bank) and that the blood curdling cry (foxes, as it turned out) was one of its victims.

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RELAXED: Giles in his garden

When my neighbour’s Boxer trotted down the track and bounced through the open terrace doors, we both howled in fright at the sight of each other and fled to opposite ends of the property.

Since that shaky start, however, I have got used to living in the middle of nowhere. Let’s face it. People are more likely to be afraid of a bald and bearded 50-something who lives on his own by a lake. It’s a basic serial killer scenario.

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HEATING: Giles next to his sit-in fire

As an aside there are two rules for any DVDs that I watch at the Casita. No horror movies and nothing that involves a cabin in the woods…

Not to say that I am on my own all the time.

The lake is a popular spot for Russian fishing enthusiasts – who combine late night angling with heroic vodka consumption and the occasional burst of mournful singing. Followed by more vodka.

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POWER: Giles with the generator that powers his home

There are also the jeep safari tours who promise to show clients the ‘hidden Spain’ or ‘wild Andalucia’, the latter being particularly apt if they rock up at the lake before I have had my second coffee.

And then there are the Sunday visitors, the most memorable of whom was the family that decided to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings by bringing a mobile karaoke machine and letting their four-year-old sing Despacito in a never ending loop.

Despite all of these minor moans, I count myself incredibly lucky to live here. And who knows? Perhaps I will mark my first decade here by sorting out the Wi-Fi! 

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