Sunday, August 29, 2010

The end of a mini era

It is about two years ago that we went up to a meeting at La Pedrera to be told that one of our neighbours, Darren and his wife Hazel would be taking over the running of the bar at the Albergue.

At that meeting, Dareen outlined his ambitious plans which sounded very interesting. Along the way there would be a loyalty card for regular visitors to the bar, fish and chips on Fridays, regular live entertainment, a market on Saturdays, an auction on Fridays, line dancing lessons during the week along with the already running darts and pool competitions. We would have quizzes, theme nights, fancy dress, race nights and a revival of the Bruce Forsyth game, “Play your cards right”.

Menus for the restaurant were to be revised including a new Sunday lunch menu and full English breakfasts in the mornings. We were even invited to attend a food tasting session where we sampled some of the new items that the chef would be preparing.

To keep us happy, Darren went out of his way to book excellent entertainment for the venue that covered everyone’s tastes and organised special events for charity where several of these acts would appear “free of charge”.

The couple worked really hard to make the venture a success; late nights, and early mornings – always with a smile on their faces, they were the perfect hosts. Fully committed to the project, Hazel even took over to keep the food coming when one of the chefs resigned.

In the meantime, the proprietor José and his wife Maria took a back seat. They had done their bit in refurbishing the place in a style they thought would attract clientele.

However, In our opinion and it is only our opinion, José made some huge mistakes along the way.

Pam and I kind of liked the rural style of the Albergue before José turned it into a dark and gloomy night club with a myriad of flashing lights that gave some people headaches. We liked the openness which José transformed into different areas for dancing, sitting and lounging. We liked the fact that you could go up there for a simple menu del dia and know that the food would be good. Most of all, we liked the fact that it was a place where Spaniards and Brits could enjoy each others company.

It wasn’t all bad though, Pam and I did like José’s outside entertainment area apart from the fact that the BBQ smoked out the entire bar. Actually, if I am being picky apart from the BBQ, the tiles on the dance floor were lethal when it rained and the stage was an acoustic nightmare but the concept was right and we did have some great nights up there.

Sadly one of the residents living nearby complained about the noise one night and José decided to close it down. That neighbour has now moved away but it is too late. To be honest, it was probably loosing money so I imagine José wasn’t too put out.

So what will become of the Albergue now? José says that the darts and the pool will continue but does not seem to have committed himself to anything else as yet. My belief is that there are not enough Brits living on the estate to continue with the project as an English bar. In truth there never was.

My gut feeling is that José may well want to run it as a venue for younger Spaniards. It has after all, the right ambience for a night club with its lighting system, dark interior and José likes to play the music loud (too loud for most of the British residents liking). I would not be surprised to find that the “swinging sixties” gives way to the incessant drum and bass beat of a Spanish disco.

And what of Darren and Hazel? For sure, this will have been a period in their lives and their children’s lives that they will never forget. Thankfully for them, living In Bigastro will return once more to the semblance of normality they enjoyed before.

The couple both worked damned hard to make the venture a success and to please as many folk as they could. Perhaps we didn’t always support them as much as we ought to but then “clubbing” was not what we signed up for when most of us retired to Bigastro. Even if it might not always have seemed the case, we very much appreciated their efforts and wish them both a great deal of success in their future ventures.

From all of us, a huge thank you to Darren and Hazel for all you did for us.

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