An Accidental Spy is a book I was compelled to write. It started when I
went on a walking holiday in Spain in the Andalusia region.* For some
reason I felt absolutely compelled to go on this particular holiday even
though at the last minute my husband was unable to go with me
because of the demands of his work.
I wasn't sure why I was being drawn to this particular area but I knew
that I had to go. My husband went off on his business trip and I went
to Spain. We were a walking party of fourteen and the essence of the
holiday was that we would not only walk through dramatic
countryside ablaze with wild flowers but that we would get to know
the authentic Spain. So we ate food of the region cooked in the
traditional way and drank the local wines and breakfasted in
workman's bars where plenty of olive oil and garlic featured at
breakfast and sometimes dined at Inns which were not a normal part of the tourist route.
On one such evening we went first to see the ruins of an old castle set high up on a hill in one of the white hilltop villages or pueblo blancos. The winding path took us through poppies and wild flowers in profusion. Next we were to visit a shrine to St John and I rather expected this to be a wayside shrine as we wound our way down into the little village. It wasn't, it was a white washed chapel with big wooden doors.
We went in and I was hit by a wave of emotion which quite stunned me. I was immediately aware that something terrible had happened here at some time in the past. I could visualise the chapel as it had been with bullet holes scarring the doors, windows smashed and above all blood running freely over the stone floor. All I could think of was to say a prayer and leave to join the rest of my party of walkers who were setting off to walk to the Inn.
Then I saw it, a plaque on a street wall which commemorated I think six men who it said were martyred there in the course of the Civil War in 1936. That explained my feeling in the Chapel.
We arrived at the Inn, which had served weary travellers for over a century, and yes, that too appears in the book.