Muerte e Impuestos…

… which translates from Spanish as “Death and Taxes”, which is in itself a paraphrase of Christopher Bullock’s line from the The Cobbler of Preston written in 1716:

“’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes”.


Well all I can say is that Bullock had never been to Spain or he’d have added solicitors and notaries to the quote. By now regular readers will be well and truly confused. Well I shall try and explain.


Cóbdar is a small village of 140 situated in the Sierra de los Filabres in the Spanish province of Andalusia.


Nearly forty years ago my partner’s father moved to Spain, initially to Mallorca, but later he moved to the small Andalusian village of Cóbdar in the Sierra de los Filabres where he happily lived for about twenty four years before succumbing to old age just a few weeks ago. For my partner the news of his passing produced both visceral grief and a great sense of relief. The grief being a natural expression of sadness at loosing a parent and the relief that the anxieties of his predicament regarding Brexit were over and that he was able to pass away in his own home with his partner by his side. The feelings of grief were nothing compared to depths of despondency that ensued when trying to navigate the murky waters of the Spanish legal system. The long and the short of it is that in Spain everything bureaucratic in nature requires the use of umpteen solicitors, legions of notaries and of course taxation like you would not believe. Spanish solicitors charge like a wounded bull, being a Spanish notary is a licence to print money and the government has a tax for just about every eventuality. Just when you feel that navigated the system in it’s entirety then you find out that if your inheritance includes any property – no matter how small a share – then you have to write a Spanish will, whether you are resident or not, so you can inflict the whole process on your descendants. A Spanish inheritance is the gift that keeps on taking. It is not surprising that nearly 40% of Spanish inheritances are passed over.


Cóbdar is laid out more formally than other villages in the region. Although small and isolated it continues to be a working village.


Brooke and Helen walking along Río de los Molinos in Cobdar. Cóbdar is situated at the base of a mountain that is quarried for marble. The marble gleams white in the sunlight and can be seen in the background of the picture.


Helen taking a break in the shade under an olive tree. Cobdar, Spain.


The Rabit man’s house on the edge of the Andalusian village of Cobdar.


Every time I think of the situation I have the mental image of Basil Fawlty erupting in rage and frustration.

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly

A photograph to illustrate one of the most mis-quoted pieces of poetry.

The Spider and the Fly  (1829)  by Mary Howitt
The Spider and the Fly (1829) by Mary Howitt


“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the Fly, “to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome – will you please take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

“Sweet creature,” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead.”

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, –
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head – poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor – but she ne’er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Mary Howitt

Canon EOS550d, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro, Canon Speedlite 430EX with Stofen Omnibounce. Exposure: Aperture priority, 1/100 s at f/11.0 ISO 800.

Not wanted

Not Wanted

It’s that time again when the annual fox cull takes place here in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia.

Strobist info: Key light Canon 550EX fitted with 1/2 CTO and 1/4″ grid. Fill light 430EX through a brolly. Both speedlights triggered by Canon ST-E2.

Please note that this foxes head was found by my dog while walking. I certainly do condone the use of gin traps or any other form of inhumane practice. No animal was hurt in the making of this photo.