Now Showing - Creed

If you want a film that literally packs a punch, Creed is the latest installment in the legendary Rocky series of films, that sees Sylvester Stallone back in the ring.

Adonis Johnson is the son of the famous boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died in the ring  in Rocky IV. Adonis wasn't born until after his father's death and wants to follow in his footsteps. He seeks a mentor, former heavyweight boxing champion and friend of his father,  Rocky Balboa.

Rocky eventually agrees to mentor Adonis and they hope to get a title shot. But whether he is a true fighter remains to be seen.

As a no- holds-barred sports drama, this is every bit an exceptional crowd pleaser with a lot of heart, plenty of amusing jabs to the ribs, and an unexpected but emotional haymaker to the gut. And a lot more.

Creed shows today at the Cine Goya Puerto Banus at 8pm and 10pm. Tickets are €4.50 today (Dia del Espectador) €8 on other days.

Property of the Week

This week Planet Marbella's property expert has picked out a recently reformed three bedroom, three bathroom townhouse in the secure beachside community of Dominion Beach just five minutes drive from Estepona and its port.

The large lounge/ dining area leads out onto a private terrace with BBQ.

The basement has been converted to make an extra bedroom with en suite shower room.

Upstairs are two further bedrooms both with en suite bathrooms. The master bedroom also has a small private sun terrace.

There is a spacious roof terrace with covered area and mountain views.
PRICE: €325,000. Contact Peter on 670 015 202. emial

Romanticising and Relaxing at The Riad

It may seem  a strange concept to grasp, but even Marbella residents get stressed sometimes. And when the hectic Marbs lifestyle gets too much, those in the know head out to Tarifa to do some serious destressing.

Just over an hour from Marbella, Tarifa is well known as a chilled, laidback location and the kitesurf Mecca of Europe. With the clear and crisp (if cold) Atlantic Ocean rolling in, beautiful white beaches and a chilled vibe, Tarifa feels a thousand miles away from the Puerto Banus bustle.

I've been making regular road trips to Tarifa since I was a teen in the 80s when, Guardia Civil “wake up calls” aside, we would spend summer nights sleeping our battered old cars or in the pine forests.

But I haven't spent much time in Tarifa in winter, so when I was treated to an early birthday present at boutique hotel The Riad in January, couldn't resist.

The Riad is located just off the centre of Tarifa's historic old town, in a beautiful 17th century building.Rumoured to have once been the residence of the Knight Commander of Tarifa, the building also belonged to the Catholic Order of Charity (Orden de la Caridad), and a stone symbol of the Order that was unearthed during the restoration work, is now mounted in the lintel over the entrance door. The façade, with its ornate geometric painted frescoes, retains the historic and cultural character of the building.
While The Riad's original features have been preserved to maintain its character, the building has been enhanced with modern cladding methods such as polished cement in the communal spaces or beautiful Moroccan stucco, known as tadelakt, in the bedrooms.
Having stayed in Rihads in Marrakesh, I immediately recognised the signature style of the hotel's small pool and central courtyard. The ten bedrooms are all tasefully furnished and decorated, each with its own unique look inspired by understated Moroccan style.

Our room's four poster bed was extremely comfortable and if you fancy a little more pampering, The Riad also features an authentic Moroccan hamman or steam room, the only one to be found in Tarifa while massages can also be arranged. The hotel lays on an impressive breakfast spread in the morning, and, purely in the interests of research, I felt duty bound to enjoy the locally baked chocolate cake on offer. (And go back for seconds).
Service was friendly and unobstrusive, so when you stay at The Riad you really do feel as if you are staying at a very chilled out and stylish friend's house.
The Riad also features a superb roof terrace, with views arcoss the town to the church and castle, perfect for a sundowner after a day on the beach or maybe a nighcap after an evening in one of the many great bars and restaurants in the Old Town.
The Riad are currently offering a romantic break deal that includes a night in a superior room, breakfast buffet, cava and petals in your room, an hour in the Hamman for just €120.
With Valentine's Day just days away you are looking for a relaxing and romantic stay in Tarifa, I can't recommend The Riad highly enough!

The Riad
c/ Comendador, 10 11380 TARIFA

T. 856929880

Refugee Dinner at The Boardwalk

Did you know that just €15 provides a baby in a refugee camp with food and shelter for three days?

This February The Boardwalk restaurant in Marbella is raising money for the children of Syria with Asociación Palmira.

Working with schools and the local community the popular restaurant in Marbella is collecting shoe boxes filled with stationary, toys, sweets, scarves, hats, underwear and children's clothing. They are also hosting an event on February 26 at The Boardwalk to raise further funds to ship the contents to Syria for refugee children.

To donate a shoe box simply follow these simple steps.

1. Fill a shoe box with stationary, toys, sweets, scarves, hats, underwear, socks, blankets, toiletries (not liquids) or children’s clothing

2. Label the child’s sex and age on top of the box

3. Sellotape a 2€ coin to the top of box to assist with postage fees

4. Drop off at The Boardwalk on or before the February 25

The event is being organised by The Boardwalk's tireless Kara Robertson "I wanted to do something that could help children on the ground in the camps on the border with Syria, " she told, " and as a Mum myself I wanted my boys to get involved so that they and the other kids in schools and colleges on the Coast can appreciate how fortunate they are. If they get involved with this now, hopefully they will grow up to be better adults".

Join the team at The Boardwalk on Friday, February 26 for an evening of drinking, dancing and most importantly donating and help the children of Syria. Tickets are 50€ per person and includes a three course set menu, welcome cava, half a bottle of wine per person, live music plus help a refugee child with shelter and food.

Travel - Vidi, Vici, Venice

The Venice Carnival, Europe's most famous, is in full swing this month. Giles Brown remembers his visit

Getting off the waterbus from the airport at San Marco Square in the middle of the world famous Venice Carnival is a magical experience, and I defy anyone with a pulse not to be excited on their arrival.

Napoleon famously described the Square as the drawing room of Europe and at midday in Carnival the place is a bustle of nationalities. Although it is quicker to take the bus in from Marco Polo airport, the valporetti (water bus) is much more atmospheric and packed with costumed carnival goers - and atmosphere is what Venice is all about.

01595 red and yellow venice 04
Marco Polo airport itself is the same as you would expect anywhere in Europe - if the great Venetian explorer had set out from here in the 21st century, he would have wondered where the romance of travel had gone (probably sent to Grand Canaria with my luggage, thanks to Iberia)

The best way to get your bearings and take in Venice when you arrive is the valporetti (waterbus) route 1. This takes you all the way along the majestic Grand Canal on a craft that is noisy, smoky and has worse shakes than a hack after a Christmas function. Top tip - get a travel pass but be warned, you´'ll need to get your sea legs sorted out. The Grand Canal is an aquatic ballet with water taxis, ambulances and police boats zipping by looking very sleek.

Venice is still a working waterway, so there are boats ferrying all kinds of goods from beer deliveries to building materials to the unfortunate rubbish barge. Imagine a version of Blade Runner set on water and you get a general idea. And in between are the gondoliers filled with Japanese tourists taking videos of everything, and somehow managing to avoid being rammed, sunk or simply run over by the other traffic. Riding the valporetti may be atmospheric but they tend to crash into the jetties full of waiting travelers with an alarming noise. It mayprobably the real reason that Venice is sinking....

The Grand Canal is a working waterway, in the same way London must have been 100 years ago. Opening the shutters on that first morning was an experience akin to watching an 18th century painting come to life.

Away from the canals, Venice is everything you've been told it is and more. Decaying gracefully, it´s not unusual to find snazzy designer label boutiques such as Prada and Gucci situated in a building that looks as if it might fall into the water at any moment. Venice is full of contradictions like this - where else could you find a shrine to Christ in the Communist Party offices or statues of Mussolini's Blackshirts in the tourist shops?

The streets are teeming with people, even more so during carnival, and don't worry if you get lost - so are half the crowd around you. The reassuring fact, however, is that Venice isn';t that big, so you'll get to your destination eventually.

The other thing that you’ll notice about Venice is that there is a lack of advertising. No posters billboards or any Americana and even McDonalds and Burger King are discreet. Annoyingly, however, groups of tourist stop at every bridge to take photos of the poseurs in costume, so you'll have to squeeze your way past. I overheard one prices less comment. On sighting the Bridge of Sighs across which prisoners were marched to begin their sentences, someone remarked, "It's not very big, is it, the bridge of size..."

01590 bridge of sighs and gondola01618 carving by bridge of sighs

Venice is a living art history museum, overflowing with world-renowned collections such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Accademia. The islands of Murano and Burano are world famous for their glass and lace making respectively, but Venice is full of too many tasteless glass and mask shops that range in price from 10 euro cheapies to pieces that cost over €1500.

When night falls, Venice lives by half-light. The only illumination is from the magnificent chandeliers that you see inside the few inhabited apartments. The lack of light give Venice Renaissance atmosphere, and carnival goers in costume make it even more so. You can imagine intrigues being plotted; dangerous liaisons in candle lit rooms and scandals in dim corridors. No wonder Elton John keeps a house here.

01435 grand canal night

Eating out is the same as anywhere else, and if you avoid the €20 coffees in St. Mark's Place, it can be as cheap or expensive as you want. As night falls however, Venice empties of people as the day-trippers leave on their ferries, and you can walk across a deserted St. Marks Place and across the Rialto Bridge, where lovers embrace in the near dark. Luckily there is more action to be found around the university in the funky San Margarita area and I slid into the excellent Bacaro Jazz bar near the Rialto, which was friendly, away from the crowds and holding happy hour. I was tempted to try a Bellini, Venice's signature drink, but settled back with a cold drink and even cooler jazz. Venice at carnival had been a blast, the city like a cultural theme park, but I wanted get back to Marbella and feel solid ground again!

Something for the Weekend - Marbella Rugby and Football teams in action

It's a busy weekend for Marbella's rugby and football teams.

Trocadero Marbella Rugby Club travel to Seville for the away leg of their quarter final ofof the Liga AON de Primera Division Andaluza. They will face the Club Amigos del Rugby, one of the oldest in Andalucia. Trocadero Marbella Rugby Club have yet to lose a match this season, and a good result will put them in the driver's seat for the return leg in Marbella (TBA).

At the Bahia de Marbella ground (opposite the hospital)  the Under -18 side will take on Universidad de Granada. The match kicks off on Saturday at 2.30pm. Entrance is free.

Meanwhile Marbella FC (whose "on the ball" media department have still to reply to my emails. I may have to go down and kick some balls around) rake on Linares Deportivo at Marbella's Municpal Studium on Sunday at 5pm. Marbella FC, under Russian owner Alexander Grinberg currently lie seventh in the Segunda Division B with Linares Deportivo mid table in 12th. Hopefully new signing goalkeeper Alex Franco (pictured) who was unveiled this week will be able to mark his debut with a clean sheet.

Tickets are €12 general entrance, €8 women and pesioners and children between the age of 13-18 pay €5.


Now Showing - The Danish Girl

Wednesday is the perfect day to catch a movie, as the dia de espectador deal means that all shows are €4.50

Showing this week in English is The Danish Girl.

In Twenties Copenhagen, Danish artist, Gerda Wegener, paints  her own husband, Einar Wegener as a lady. When the painting gains popularity, Einar starts to change his appearance and named himself Lili Elbe.

With his feminist passion and Gerda's support, Einar - or Elbe - attempts one of the first male-to-female sex reassignment surgery, a decision that turns into a massive change for their marriage, as Gerda realizes her own husband is no longer a man or the person she first married.

The Danish Girl shows at 22.00 on Wednesday and Thursday

Property of the Week

This charming rustic- style three bedroom, two bathroom townhouse is situated in the centre of one of the most famous picturesque Spanish white villages on the Costa del Sol.
Access to the property is restricted to residents and is up a steep, narrow, cobbled street. There is ample parking in front of the property as well as a small internal garage.
Entry to the house is through large double doors into a hallway, from here steps lead up into the large lounge /dining room. This room has a terracotta tiled floor and beamed ceiling. Windows look out onto the street and there is a central wood burning stove.
The compact kitchen has a fridge, electric hob and oven and a washing machine.
From the kitchen stone steps lead down to a small open patio with BBQ and a unique feature cave room built into the rock face.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, the master with en suite shower room and built in wardrobes, the double bed guest room and a single bedroom sharing a bathroom. There are electric wall heaters in the bedrooms.
From the master bedroom there is access to two split level roof terraces which both have fabulous views over the village and surrounding countryside.

Price €150,000. Please contact Peter on 670 015 202. email

The Aztec Legacy - Continuity and Change

The latest Benahavis Decorative and Fine Arts Society (BDFAS) lecture takes place tonight in Benahavis Town Hall. 

The Aztec Legacy: Continuity and Change considers the brutal and bloodthirsty people, who also acheived breathtakimg creative achievements.

Their shimmering city, build on a lake, was the Venice of the New World.

Lecturer Chloe Sayer will explore the contradictory aspects of their civilization along with the cultural legacy that had survived.

Tonight's lecture starts at 6.30pm Entrance is €12 for non memembers.

For more information visit

Casita del Loco!


A couple of years ago I had what could be termed a 'lifestyle' change and, as part of a process that involved clean living, regular meditation on life's big questions (which for once didn't involve Eva Longoria) and more self help books than are proabably healthy for one man, took the opportunity of moving away from the bright lights and various temptations of the coast.

At the time I was living on street known to my friends as desperate lane, as it contained all the distractions that a (not so young) man could desire. They included a gym, corner mini market, Indian restaurant, Chinese restaurant, mechanic, a bank with cash machine (perfect for making late night withdrawls) and two 'alternative' clubs.

So when when the chance came to move into a friend's lakeside cottage near the pueblo blanco of Istan came along, I leapt at it. Reached by a two kilometre track that runs down the side of Marbella's emblematic La Concha mountain – and I do mean down, in an Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom kind of way – the Casita del Lago sits in splendid isolation. And I do mean isolated – as the house is off the electric grid (I use a generator) and pumps water from its own deposito. I also have no internet at the Casita, which often has visitors staring at me with blank incomprehension. “How can you survive with no wifi'” they ask.

Well, it's quite simple. I first started working in media in the late 80s when desktop publishing was the hot new thing and we sent copy to newspapers via fax machines. I even dimly remember using a Telex to file a story to London on one occassion. And while I may not have wifi at home, I do have a fancy new smartphone that has more bells, whistles and computing power than was used in the Apollo Moon shots, which means that can check my emails. Admittedly I have to check them from my terrace as those old Spanish walls are built about eight foot thick to defleck the ferocious summer heat. But it does mean that I can stay in contact with the outside world (I can hear the editor snorting at that last sentence by the way).

Although my location may be seen as idylic, a good friend pointed out that as a single guy the Casita had one drawback. “You live 11 kilometres up the twisting Istan road, down a track on the side of a mountain, to a house on its own, by a lake. You'll never get a girl back to yours. Or if you do she might not be the type you want to stay over”.

He had a fair point, but a few weeks later in December I received a call from a girl I was somewhat keen on. “I'm at an office bash in a Santa outfit and I'm getting a little typsy. Do you want to meet up for a little ho ho ho?”

I was down from the lake in a shot.

Collecting the young lady – resplendent in her Santa outfit – I hurried back up the road. When we turned onto the track, she looked at the Casita, glinting in the moonlight, on its own several hundred feet below and miles from the nearest neighbour. Then she looked a me, and uttered the immortal line.

“I know. I don't really know you that well, do I?”

Mind you, it's not just female guests who can get the willies up at the lake. A few years ago I was a judge at the Marbella Film Festival, which entailed watching about 12 films over a weekend. The last movie was called Warhouse, which I assumed would be a boy's own style shoot 'em up flick. I therefore wasn't really prepared for an army of demons to appear - scaring the whatzits out of me. I then had to walk out across the gardens to turn the generator in the pitch black. Which was when the cat decided to launch a surprise attack on me...

Then there have been the various run ins with other flora and fauna. I've had the neighbour's guard dog leapt through the patio windows to say hello (I was chopping onions at the time and almost lost a finger). Plus there was the time I ran over a wild boar at some ungodly hour of the morning. My Spanish friends asked me why I didn't go back, fling it the Freelander, and have the mother of all BBQ's the next day. I explained that it wasn't that big a boar and I didn't want to come face to face with an enraged Daddy boar at 4am. I had enough of that in my teenage years dating in Marbella.

But my biggest bugbear – excuse the pun – has been wasps. I received the most painful sting even in the history of mankind (well it felt like it) when one of the little bxxxxds got me on the inside of the big toe. My cries of pain caused the local wildlife to stampede. And only last week I indulged in a spot of total fear and head slapping when another wasp flew into my hoodie while I was enjoying a little winter BBQ. A friend remarked tha I must have looked like a ninja, but ninjas are meant to be as silent as the melting snow on Mount Fuji. I certainly wasn't...

Despite the 'unique' challenges that the house presents at this time of year, with the cool crisp winter mornings and the log fire blazing merrily away, I won't really want to live anywhere else. Although I might rename the house to Casita del Loco...