Welcome to my blog about my new life in a mountain hamlet in southern Valencia, Spain. I am Jeanne, born and raised in Manila, and educated in Japan, England, and Germany.

How did I end up here? As my husband and I approached retirement, the prospect of continuing to live in Bonn, Germany, or Leamington Spa, England where we had lived before, was not alluring. I wanted to live where there was a lot more sun and to garden in a milder climate.

Our search began over a year ago. We had enjoyed our previous stays in Catalonia, and that was where we started — from the lower Ebro (Baix Ebre), inland to the wine-growing region of Tarragona, and then north of Barcelona to L’Escala. We spent autumn and winter in the fishing village of L’Ametlla de Mar, then decided to look further south. A week’s stay in the mountains inland of Valencia’s Orange Blossom Coast — the Costa Azahar — convinced us that this was where we wanted to live. And eventually in mid-April, we moved in to our mountain cottage.

What made us decide this is it?  First of all, the location is rural yet not remote or isolated. There is a thriving community here. The garden has a good number of mature trees — mostly olive which I have long loved for its fruits and oil, as well as the soft silver green leaves and its trunk that becomes beautifully gnarled as it ages. The cities Valencia, Gandia, Oliva, and Xativa are not far away, as are the airports of Valencia and Alicante. I love that there is a view of pine- and holm-oak covered mountains, and on the drive up and down, panoramic views of the sea and valley below.

There is enough space for dogs. And its green energy set-up – solar panels for electricity and water heating, biomass pellets for central heating — is something I have always wanted. We may add wind power in the future.

I shall be writing about all aspects of our life in this mountain hamlet, beginning with our steep learning curve with caring for the olive trees. Our plot is 700 meters above sea level with mature pine trees, rock terracing, and a score of olive trees that have been in the process of rejuvenation for the last 5 years. I shall also be sharing with you how we fare with community life — finding our way around, getting to know people, getting things done. I shall be posting my discoveries and documenting our other adventures — culinary, cultural, and otherwise — in this part of the Costa Azahar, also known as Comarca La Safor. You are welcome to join me in my  journey of discovery in this lovely corner of rural Spain.

This blog continues my previous blog, Views from Nightingale Cottage, which I had written while living in Bonn, Germany, and continues as well my Year of Grace journal.