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Authors: Victoria Twead

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Two Old Fools in Spain Again

Two Old Fools in Spain Again

Victoria Twead

New York Times bestselling author

Two Old Fools in Spain Again
is the fourth book
in the ‘Old Fools’ Series.

Also available in Paperback and Large Print editions.

The Old Fools Series


Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools

Two Old Fools ~ Olé!

Two Old Fools on a Camel (New York Times bestseller)

Two Old Fools in Spain Again



The Complete Old Fools Trilogy (1st three books)


For all the amazing people, particularly

my wonderful Facebook friends and members of

‘We Love Memoirs’
, who have supported and

encouraged me to finish this,

the fourth in the Old Fools series.


I thank you all for your support and

for making me laugh, even when things

were going a little awry.

1. Families

Churros - Spanish ‘Doughnuts’


here was mould on the walls. Green and white fluffy random blotches decorated the ceiling in most of the rooms. The mirror in the bathroom had begun to rust and the beds and curtains smelled musty, as did the clothes hanging in the wardrobes. Old Spanish houses need to be lived in, need to be aired, or the damp takes over.

Our home had missed us while we were away for a year working in the Middle East. When we flung open the shutters to let the fresh mountain air flow through, I could almost hear the house sigh with relief.

But living with mould and rust was far more attractive than living and working in Bahrain, a country in turmoil, rocked by the Arab revolution. Joe and I were home, back in El Hoyo and no clumps of mould or damp mattresses could spoil our joy at being in our own house and sleeping in our own bed again.

“Bleach,” I said, more to myself than Joe. “That’s what we need, gallons of it. That’ll put a stop to the mould.”

If the house was bad, the garden was worse. Very few of my plants had survived the heat of the Spanish sun without water. The grapevine thrived, its ancient roots buried deep in the soil, but my flowerbeds and pots contained nothing but crisp, dry, brown sticks marking the places where shrubs and flowers had once bloomed.

“Don’t you worry,” I said to Regalo.

She was the only chicken to have survived, in spite of Paco’s care, while we’d been away. Now she was relishing the freedom to wander freely about our overgrown garden. She didn’t reply.

Regalo, the last remaining chicken


“I’ll get this garden sorted out in no time. And we’re going to get you some new sisters to keep you company. You’ll be the oldest, so you’ll be Top Hen.”

Regalo had been the youngest of the flock, pecked and bullied by the others. It was ironic that she would now have a flock of her own to rule. Regalo looked up at me, head cocked to one side, then resumed her task of tugging out the weeds that flourished between the paving stones.

“I’m just popping round next door to see if Carmen has any bleach,” I said to Joe.

He grunted and scratched himself, deep in concentration as he flicked through the manuals, trying to figure out how to reactivate the TV, dishwasher and Internet, all of which had refused to work since our return.

A curtain of chains to keep out the flies hung across the open door of our neighbours’ house. Passersby couldn’t see in, but anyone inside had a clear view out.

, Veeky!” called Carmen, inviting me in.

I pushed the jangling metal curtain aside and entered their neat little house, already sniffing the wonderful aroma of something cooking.

Bianca, dozing under the kitchen table, raised her head briefly, opened one brown eye, wagged her stump of a tail and sank back to sleep. I remembered that she’d had eight puppies while we’d been away. It didn’t seem two minutes since she’d been a puppy herself.

Carmen wiped her chubby hands on a tea cloth and kissed me soundly on both cheeks. She looked flushed and hot.

“I have made
and there is fresh coffee. Sit down and I will pour you a glass.”

I was always impressed by the delicious edibles that Carmen could conjure up on her one gas-ring stove and open fire. Being summer, the fire in the kitchen was not alight, but the kitchen was still very warm from her cooking session.

Carmen looked well. She was a few years older than I, but her face was still unlined and her round cheeks were rosy with health. Although she carried too much weight, she was never clumsy, but worked quickly and efficiently in her tiny kitchen.

She poured coffee into two glasses and sat down opposite me.

“You have lost weight,” she said, looking me up and down.

I nodded. Bahrain had had that effect on both Joe and me.

She pushed a plate of
across the table towards me and I selected one, still warm, dropping sugar as I bit into it. A few plates of these and I’d soon be back to my old plump self.

are the Spanish equivalent of doughnuts, similar in shape to the horns of the
sheep found in Spain. They are completely lacking in any nutritional value, extremely fattening and deliciously irresistible. The villagers often served them for breakfast with milky coffee or hot chocolate.

“How are you enjoying being back in Spain?” asked Carmen.

“Oh, it’s great to be home,” I said, after a sip of coffee. “It’ll take a little while for us to sort everything out, but we don’t mind. Our boxes haven’t arrived from Bahrain yet.”

We’d sent the boxes on to Spain a week before we’d left ourselves. As soon as we had the Internet working, I meant to track them and find out where they were.

“Joe’s trying to get the TV and other stuff working and I wondered if you have any bleach I could borrow? I’d like to attack the patches of mould that are all over the house.”

“Ah, yes,” she said, leaning sideways and pulling a yellow bottle from under the sink. The kitchen was so small, she didn’t need to get up from the table.

“Thank you,” I said. “Now, tell me about Sofía. Do you think this boyfriend is The One? How did they meet?”

“Yes,” she nodded, beaming. “I think he might be The One. Paco, he does not believe it, because we all know how picky Sofía is. But me, I think Alejandro is The One.” She paused, lost in thought, probably dreaming of future grandchildren.

“And how did they meet?”

“Sofía and young Alejandro have known each other since they were children. Can you believe it? He was right under her nose all the time. Paco went to school with Alejandro’s father, who is also called Alejandro. Alejandro and Paco have known each other since they were boys. Of course Alejandro is a millionaire now, but we have always been friends.”

“Sofía’s boyfriend is a millionaire’s son?” I asked, surprised.

“Yes, but he is also a solicitor. The family have machinery shops, a chain of them across Spain. Young Alejandro looks after the legal side of things. They have many houses, one in the city and some in the country. They have a house in El Hoyo.”

“They do? Which one?”

“You know the house with high walls, below the square? The one with big gates?”

I knew the one. Most of the houses in the village were ancient cottages, like ours, but there were a few grand ones hidden behind walls, occupied only for a few brief weeks in summer. As one walked past, guard dogs barked a warning. I’d always thought it was unoccupied.

“They don’t use the house much,” said Carmen, reading my thoughts. “But they have workmen who feed the dogs and animals.”


“Yes, they breed rabbits for the pot and chickens. And the gardener grows vegetables. Now that young Alejandro and Sofía are together, we have a very good supply of rabbit, chicken and eggs.”

“Sounds like Sofía has found an ideal husband!” I observed.

“You will meet Alejandro and his parents,” she said. “They spend more time in El Hoyo now.”

“And what about the Ufartes?” I asked. “Maribel is having another baby?”

Carmen nodded, then pursed her lips and lowered her voice. “Yes, she is... Between you and me, I do not think everything is going well with that family.”

“Really? Why not? They were dancing in the street last night. And the twins seemed fine.”

“Mark my words, I can see problems.” She leaned forward and beckoned me closer, as though eavesdroppers might hear. I could feel her hot breath on my face. “Lola is back!” she hissed.

“Lola Ufarte?”

“Yes! Well, she isn’t really a Ufarte, she’s Maribel’s sister. Did you know she has already been married twice?”

“Really? Has she?”

“Oh, yes. Mark my words, trouble follows that girl.”

As I absorbed this information and opened my mouth to speak, the metal curtain swung aside, making me jump. Paco blustered in, a bunch of white rabbits dangling from one fist. He was not a large man, but he filled the room. A young dog bounded at his feet, rushed to sniff me then sat panting beside Bianca. Further discussion about the Ufartes was at an end.

“Veeky!” Paco roared, throwing the corpses on the table with a dull thud. “How are you? And Joe? Carmen, prepare the pot! I have been at the house of Alejandro and I have rabbits for you to cook. Veeky, would you like one? There is too much here for us.”

I glanced at the limp, white bunnies and tried hard not to think of Snowy, my first pet at the age of seven.

“Thank you, no,” I said. Then, fondling the spaniel’s soft ears, “Is this Bianca’s son?”

“Yes, I will teach him to fetch the birds when I shoot them next season. He is a good dog, like his mother.”

“What’s his name?”


A curious name, I thought, then realised he was probably called ‘Jacky’, which would sound very much like ‘Yukky’ to my English ears.

“I just popped in to borrow some bleach,” I said. “I must go. I have cleaning to do and Joe’s trying to get all the appliances working again.”

I grabbed the bottle, thanked Carmen, said my goodbyes and left.

Out in the street, the Ufarte twins were sitting on their doorstep like mirror images, heads together, brown legs stretched out. I remembered something.

“Girls!” I called. “Come with me, I believe I have something for you inside.”

The twins jumped up and skipped over, following me into the house.

“What is it,

“Is it something from Arabia?”

“TV’s working,” said Joe as we passed him in the living room.

In the kitchen I picked up a bag and handed it over to the girls. They wrestled it open and squeaked with delight at the set of five wooden camels, each one in a different pose, ending with a tiny baby camel. My mind briefly shot back to our visit to the King’s camels in Bahrain and how we’d gazed with awe at 450 camels, all in one spot.

The twins scampered out and as I scoured at the mould with Carmen’s bleach, I wondered again about Lola Ufarte. The last time we had seen Lola was just before we left for Bahrain. She’d been notorious for entertaining the males of the village and had finally run off with the foreman of a building gang. I guessed that hadn’t worked out, but why did her return spell trouble for the Ufarte family?

That evening, we stood on our roof terrace watching the sun sink behind the mountain. The sky was stained pink, the distant sea shimmering with the sun’s dying rays.

Poor, lonely Regalo had already put herself to bed. I’d watched her enter the coop and pace below the roosting perch, stopping at intervals to crane her head, eyeing the perch as though this was the first time she’d ever seen it.

She then returned to her feeder and ate some more, before standing below the perch again, trying to decide whether this was to be her roost tonight, or not. Still undecided, she checked out a few other places where she could sleep. Finally she climbed the ladder having decided the perch was best after all.

I never could understand this chicken ritual, because chickens are creatures of habit. They always sleep in exactly the same place every night. Why bother to check out alternative spots when they’ll always end up in the same one? It would be like us trying out all the beds in the house before finally climbing into our own.

Because Regalo had been bullied, she always slept on the outside perch. Being the lowest in the pecking order, the others had never allowed her to roost inside. Even though she was the only remaining chicken, with the entire coop to herself, she still chose to sleep outside.

I sighed and shut the door of the coop. Next week we’d drive to the horrible chicken shop and get her some company. Following a last preening session, Regalo sank down, tucked her head under her wing and slept.

Joe and I leaned on the roof terrace wall. “Well, it’s not been a bad day,” Joe said. “At least I got the TV working and the dishwasher’s fixed.”

We watched the procession of villagers in the distance walking along the road, up the hill out of the village. This was a regular evening affair, a constitutional where neighbour would greet neighbour and dog would greet dog.

I squinted, trying to identify the individual villagers across the valley in the failing light.

Paco didn’t normally bother with the evening constitutional, but I could see the round figure of Carmen and her daughter Sofía, walking arm in arm. I recognised Little Paco in a knot of teenagers.

“I can see the Ufartes,” I said. “Carmen told me today that Lola Ufarte is back. She seemed to think that was a problem.”


“I’m not sure. I didn’t get the chance to ask.”

The older Ufarte boys were growing tall. They kicked a ball ahead, while the twins walked with another little girl of their age. The adult Ufartes walked in a line across the road. Maribel waddled a little, weighed down by her unborn baby, one hand clutching the hand of the little boy we’d nicknamed Snap-On more than a year ago. Snap-On had grown sturdy and was finally willing to walk by himself, which must have been a relief to his mother.

Maribel’s husband and her sister, Lola, walked side by side, with the smallest Ufarte between them. Even from that distance, I could see that Lola’s skirt was extremely short and her hips swayed as she walked. Every now and then, Papa Ufarte and Lola would swing the toddler into the air. It was an unremarkable family scene, but the shared act of swinging the baby between them was curiously intimate, and excluded Maribel, sending a little chill down my back.

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