Approaching through the traditional narrow streets of whitewashed houses in the middle of the village, you drive up to the front door of an unassuming three-storied building. Step inside and the surprises begin. The layout of each floor makes it seem as though the house gets bigger as you go higher. Stepping outside is like walking into an oasis. Lush grass, abundant greenery, lots of shade and a riot of flowers and fruit-all leading to and surrounding the pool. But there's more. Through an iron gate is an orchard with a large summer house and a tree house for the kids.
The top floor of Dos Hermanas was originally a hayloft only accessible by ladder from the floor below. It is now a fine high-ceilinged open plan living area with its own kitchen and views up the mountain on one side and across the valley on the other.
The House:: The house is a converted village mill with massive walls and beamed ceilings. It is designed for both summer and winter living, with Wi-Fi stretching throughout the house and most of the garden. For the summer, when much of the time is spent outside, on the ground floor there is a quiet, cool TV room with two sofa beds next to a fully equipped kitchen leading onto a partially shaded patio over-looking the garden and the pool. When it is too chilly to have dinner outside there is a second fully equipped kitchen on the 'mirador' top floor with a dining area with views up the mountain, a fire-place and two separate sitting areas. One of these has a small balcony from which you can watch the sun set across the valley.
Dos Hermanas means two sisters and is named after the two sisters who lived here 15 years ago. The outside looks much the same as it did then. It's what we've done inside that surprises. You are in the middle of a village of white-washed houses and around 800 souls. The 'Casa de Cultura' (house of culture) where the doctor holds a weekly surgery, local artists hold exhibitions and those who work on the land come to slake their thirst - is a goat's dropping's throw away. From here, everything else in the village is within walking distance - the shops (both), the bar-restaurants (both), the panaderia, the church.
Bedrooms: On the middle floor there are 3 double rooms, the largest of which has a double bed that can be separated into two singles. There is a bathroom with bath/shower and lavatory on this level.
The ground floor bedroom is a twin room. Since this room is at street and garden level it is also suitable for someone with mobility problems. On this level there is a walk-in shower in the 'bathroom'.
Cars: If you are flying and hiring a car, small cars are best in Spanish villages where the roads can be very narrow. If you're worrying about fitting your luggage into small cars do bear in mind that in the Summer clothes dry very quickly on the outside washing-line which means you can get away with packing a minimum of clothing. There is a washing-machine in the house. There are also books (including cookery books) and children's toys and games in the house.
What do you want to do?: If you want to bathe in the sun and the pool, and eat and drink then Dos Hermanas will tick your boxes. if you want to sit in the shade and enjoy the heat then it's equally good. The fertile Lecrin Valley (lecrin comes from the Arabic for happy) has been fought over since Roman times. Irrigated by water from the snows of the Sierra Nevada and planted with orange, lemon, almond and olive trees, has its own unique climate. It never gets too hot. i.e. it rarely gets over 35C, and usually cools down enough at night for you to sleep well.
If you enjoy cooking then there are lots of Spanish recipes in the house for you to try, and a gas-powered paella pan for cooking in the garden under the shade of a lemon tree. There's a gas barbecue that can be moved around the garden, and a new built in charcoal barbecue by the summer house - this is the perfect place to eat in the evening.
With fridges in each of the two kitchens there is plenty of room to store a big supermarket shop. But you can get most basic items from the shop in the village a minute's walk away. Durcal, a town 10 minutes drive away, offers a good sized supermarket Mercadona with fresh fish and meat, and Granada and Motril on the coast both have hypermarkets.
If you want to use the house as a base and go out on excursions the sea is a 30 minute drive to the south. Granada, 20 minutes north, provides retail therapy, cultural therapy ( visiting The Alhambra has to be booked well in advance but you should do this online from the UK) and more tapas bars than you can throw a cocktail stick at, and fantastic genuine Flamenco at the Casa del Arte Flamenco with exceptional, professional dancers, singers and guitarists. For the children a water park allows them to combine getting wet with mild peril.
Half an hour to the east and you are in the legendary Alpujarras. If you haven't read the legends then they're in the house, including Brenan's 'South From Granada' and Chris Stewart's 'Driving Over Lemons' et. seq.
Seville to the west is within striking distance, but do bear in mind that in summer it's one of the hottest cities on earth.
The heat also has a bearing on the plans of those who want to walk. Avoid July and August since they are simply too hot (unless you get up early), but at other times Dos Hermanas is a great place to start from and come back to for lots of hillside rambles. There are lots of guidebooks and maps in the house.
Malaga and Granada are the closest airports.
Minimum stay: 7 days Saturday to Saturday