Touching Paradise

Jon N Davies

One-Place Study & Biography

The Little Book is intended to be an introduction to the villa and bungalow that my grandparents built in the mountains above Fuengirola in the 1960s, and where they lived until coming back to the United Kingdom in the late 1970s.

Mar-y-Sierra was the main house, and was constructed in 1963, though as initial photographs will show it stood in a largely barren area of hillside. Over the next couple of years my grandparents would complete the landscaping until photographs will show that the setting has been transformed into one where the residence nestles within a plethora of trees.

This Special Edition englarges upon the previously published Little Book, and allows the landscape-orientated photographs to be seen in greater detail, as well as includes an additional 20 or so photographs, including a section dedicated to their cats, with more space for personal memories and reminiscences.

At least four times in my early childhood I would visit Mar-y-Sierra, and it was as natural to me as driving by car to South Wales to visit my great aunt, or to Biddulph to visit my mother's parents. The memories I have are mainly from 1976, when I celebrated my sixth birthday out there, and 1977, which was the last occasion we would visit.

Touching Paradise by Jon N. Davies

Touching Paradise is available to buy only in paperback, either in the 4.33 inch by 6 inch Little Book of 79 pages, or in the 8.5" by 6" landscape-orientated Special Edition of 114 pages.

Little Book Special Edition


Fuengirola, Andalucia, Spain

Gwilym Davies had been a detective in the Metropolitan Police, and Doris Davies had risen to be a headteacher at a London secondary school. They were my grandparents on my father's side, and in the early 1960s they decided to retire to Spain, which was then opening up and offering good terms for foreign settlement.

They bought land in the mountains above Fuengirola, in the Costa-del-Sol, down the coast from Malaga. There, they and a team of Spanish builders transformed a scrubland wilderness into a magical villa, surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Once complete, the villa was named Mar-y-Sierra (literally Sea-and-Mountains, but sounding much better in Spanish). Its interiors were cool, with marble floors, and the garden boasted a swimming pool, and an array of solar panels.

This photo is colourised thanks to

Mum and little me in the swimming pool, with bright colours

In the early 1970s, our family holidayed at Mar-y-Sierra at least four times. The above photograph of my mother and me in the pool was reprinted from some of the very few surviving negatives, bringing the amazing colours back to life.

Mum and Dad, my sister and me, on the steps of Mar-y-Sierra

Our last two holidays there, in Summer 1976 when I had my 6th birthday there, and in Summer 1977, are the two most memorable to me. I remember the smells, the toys, the TV in Spanish, the garden paths, the orange trees, the pool, the bedroom which I shared with my sister. The above photograph of us all was labelled by my Dad in the album as "Our Happy Family" and was clearly taken by my Grandpa, as my Grandma can be seen in the background.

My Mum died in 2014, and after my Dad died in 2022, it was my job to go through everything in his retirement apartment, and box them up, with my sister doing many other necessary tasks such as dealing with his clothes. As part of this, I sought out every single photo album, box of photographs, and stray envelopes of the same, and scanned in 1000s, in the process realising I had something of an unorganised chronological study of Mar-y-Sierra in amongst them as I did so.

Mar-y-Sierra with its gardens and trees

Mar-y-Sierra gained a second residence, a bungalow built on the land alongside, La Vista (or 'The View' in English) which my grandparents used as a guest apartment. My only memories of it are as being closed up, and opened by my Grandma with a key, and the inside dark in the bright light, of which a few bits filtered in through the blinds.

In the Summer of 2023, I first created a Little Book of Mar-y-Sierra and its construction, then a larger Special Edition, which allowed the landscape photographs to be seen in more detail and allowed me to include other photographs found, or worked out, after the initial project.

Full cover of the special edition of Touching Paradise

Scimitar Edge Authors