If it hadn’t been for Colin Snout, I’m not sure that we would have discovered Fort Bravo. I first went there by accident last November. It was the day that I’d arranged to collect Colin from the dog rescue charity. Rather than driving the 600 kilometres up to Alicante, it was agreed that we would meet halfway, somewhere around Almeria. I was given an address for a petrol station in Tabernas. Nothing seemed untoward until I printed out the directions. On studying the print out I discovered that Tabernas is in the middle of nowhere; it is a desert.
Earlier in the morning I’d dropped Irishman off at Malaga airport for his flight back to the UK. When I checked my phone, I realized that I had no Internet connection and very little credit left to make calls. I hoped that the 245-kilometre trip to the pick-up point would go without a hitch. All was going fabulously well until I took the road off the motorway at Almeria and found myself driving through desert and scrub.
I started to wonder why I’d been told to meet up in such a desolate location. As I left the coast behind me, the small road was soon surrounded by wilderness. The further I drove and the more minutes that passed, the worse my fears became. My imagination started to go in to overdrive. There was no doubt about it, this was a set-up. I was about to end my days at the hands of an axe murderer. I arrived at the desolate parking spot by an old garage, turned off the ignition and waited. Tumbleweed blew across the lot and dust settled on the car windscreen. By now my heart was racing, beads of sweat poured down my brow – it was 2pm. I was on time but where was the axe-man?
Five minutes passed, then ten. Something was horribly wrong. Despite the location, mercifully there was some signal on my phone. I rang the number that I’d been given and waited. ‘Hello’ said a cheery voice ‘Is that Lottie? ‘Yes, yes it is but where are you?’ I was still not convinced that at any moment, the Grim Reaper wasn’t about to bellow ‘Here!’ just outside my car window. The cheery voice replied ‘I’m here at Junction 456, where are you?
‘I’m in a desert. Hang on; I’ll be with you in 45 minutes’ – I’ve drove like a bat out of hell all the way back to Almeria.
To this day I still don’t know what went wrong with the directions that I was given but it’s of no importance because as many of you will already know, that is the day that Colin Snout came in to our lives. But the point of this story is that in the course of my wild goose chase across the desert, I came across an old spaghetti western set called Fort Bravo. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would make a perfect backdrop for one of Irishman’s films.
Fort Bravo is a magnificent set and definitely worth a visit. It is still occasionally used for filming but in it’s heyday during the 60’s and 70’s it was the backdrop for films such as ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and many, many more. More recently it was used for filming an episode of Dr Who ‘A Town Called Mercy’ It costs 17.90 € but is worth every penny and is open from 9am-6pm. Entry fee includes a ride round the set in a mule cart and an opportunity to watch two shows during the course of the day.
There is a Can-Can show at 12.30pm and a Cowboy shoot-out at 2.30pm. Irishman and I arrived first thing as we wanted to avoid crowds. The first mornings shoot we had the place to ourselves but it was busier on our second visit. I’m not the world’s greatest camera girl but I think we’ve made some nice work together. Irishman is looking at the rushes and about to start the lengthy editing process. The photographs are a reminder of the fun time that we had there.