Side view of the house and part of the garden. :: VANESSA MELGAR
Mike Winn says he fell in love with Ronda because it is a very authentic town or, as he puts it, “it’s so real”. Its streets are not decorative just to please the tourists. “Even though it is an incredibly lovely place it is not over-exploited, it still breathes reality,” he says. Four years ago, after having travelled all over Europe, Mike spent a holiday with his family in a house which is situated between Ronda and Arriate, called La Huerta del Noque. After enjoying the sunshine and the silence of this corner of southern Andalucía, they returned to their home in London with fond memories of the happy days they had spent there, full of harmony and relaxation. Coincidentally, or maybe through fate, some months later as he was flipping through the pages of the Sunday Times, Mike noticed an advertisement which said: ‘For sale, El Noque, villa in Andalucía’.
And from one short visit came a fruitful relationship with this part of the world which has continued for three years of frequent visits, now that he and his wife are enjoying their retirement.
La Huerta del Noque (elnoque.com) is more than one hundred years old and the old traditional house has now undergone major modification, retaining the structure but updating the concept of an Andalusian farmhouse. The property, which sits amid the different shades of green of the surrounding countryside, has seven bedrooms (six en-suite), a spacious lounge-dining room with a fireplace, a kitchen and a cloakroom inside.
Outside, there are three dining rooms, a bar-kitchen, and a building which houses the showers and lavatory of the swimming pool area. A warm sense of simplicity reigns inside the house, thanks mainly to the use of wood in almost all of the rooms and the predominance of neutral tones. Here, the countryside is the main feature and the house is the place from which to watch and enjoy this marvellous spectacle.
The entrance to the property, along a lane which is filled with colour in spring, ends at a grand wooden door, the anteroom to the patio in front of the house, where there is an old fountain that may originally have been a well. The whitewashed façade with its wrought-iron grilles and ivy reminds visitors of an Andalusian white village. The only sound is the song of the birds who are preparing to nest and the water falling in the fountains and the Moorish-style troughs.
Passing through the entrance door to the house is like entering a place of rest for the senses. Here, nothing is overdone. Every piece of furniture, every cushion, every lamp has its place and has been carefully chosen by the owners with the dedication of building a cathedral. The main room, the lounge-dining room, is full of light and is an area in which rustic charm (from the solid wooden furniture and tiled floors) is balanced by the large windows and the freshness of white fabrics, the same colour that has been used to paint the ceiling beams and the walls. There are just a few accessories, which provide the perfect aesthetic touch without changing the sensation of simple charm that greets guests. The note of colour reflects the great passions of this British couple: music and literature. Dozens of books and discs crowd the shelves in the living room. Mike adores jazz and is even a DJ on the Internet (therealenjoymentofjazz.com), where he shares with others this passion which has led him to accumulate more than 20,000 discs of this type of music since he was 16 years old.
The dining room leads through to the kitchen, which is in cottage style, decorated in white and with a dark wooden worktop. Similarly simple, but with a more romantic and occasionally feminine touch, are the bedrooms. The principal bedroom has a canopied bed and some antique furniture. Others have a fireplace or dressing table and almost all of them have their own bathroom. White and cream are the main colours of these rooms, a serene and balanced decor which is highlighted by basic but high quality textiles. This same atmosphere is reflected in the style of the outdoor areas and it brings cohesion to the decor of the home.
The swimming pool is another lovely part of the house. It boasts a bar and kitchen where barbecues are often prepared and a building with showers and lavatory for swimmers; between these are three different covered dining areas, making it unnecessary to go back into the house on days when it is a pleasure to be outside. This is one of the family’s favourite places, especially for Mike, who likes to make the most of the sunshine, reading a book on a sunbed in the garden. No doubt as he does so, a track from Duke Ellington’s ‘At Newport’ album will be playing in the background.