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The view from the back

My blog is about our move to Spain, to be exact it's about the intergration of a techno junkie and his lovely wife of 30 yrs into 18th century Spain.

Great sadness
Saturday, February 24, 2018

As I write this my heart is breaking and with the greatest of sadness I inform you that after 34 years of marriage the love of my life my husband Big Lad passed away on 7th February from a heart attack caused by an asthma attack. As you will gather there will be no more posts from him after this. 


The Good Lady Wife


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A very dry time in a very wet campo
Thursday, December 22, 2016

I don't really know where to begin with the on going trials and tribulations of our life in Spain , I'm sure that some of you will have real horror stories after the last weeks of bad weather some may have lost a loved one or a home all of which will make my moaning seem petty but it's been a long two weeks .

My father has been for a week arriving as always under a black cloud along with his partner and her sister . The black cloud got darker as the lovely wife drove them home from the airport a two hour run for her with them spark out as the rain started . 

From that point on the mood and sky's grew darker , why do families feel the need to visit when they don't really want to share your reality ? 

We don't drink much and we don't go to the bars at all these days so when a declared drinker visits the remote parts of the campo to a fairly dry house the mood is strained from the get go . The added bonus of on off electric , the loss of Internet access , English radio and flooding all around us and rain being blown under the roof tiles and doors is just whats needed to put the petrol on the fire . So the added double bonus of no water for three days of their visit and the rambler cutting us off from the shops was the tipping point . 

No need to go blow for blow but it was a very long six days during which the pump house flooded and seized the pool pump , a three metre wide sink hole appeared in the turning area , the wood burner was stocked so high by dad that the tiles got so hot that they flew off the wall and smashed in his lap . The rain run under the doors and I fell on the wet in the kitchen and then the water heater packed up and needs another . 

So no hot , no cold , no net , no electric, wet all over followed by constant Brexit arguments if we had some I think I'd have a drink ! 

after six days of roast dinners and mash in the mid after noon, our constitution turned inside out with boiled root veg with no seasoning or onions , garlic , herbs etc etc etc the water was still off and buckets of pool water were besides the toilets , the sun came out and the rambler ran dry and it was time to take them on to Benidorm their navarna !  they gave me the address of their apartment and I added it to the tomtom . The lovely wife loaded them up and set off to follow the route apparently to the constant intrusion of mind him , watch him etc after three hours they arrived on a street in Altea ? This isn't it ! He said the tomtom is wrong ! So after checking the address in the favourites against the paperwork it would appear that they have arrived at the billing address ! So 3 hours 45 mins after setting off the lovely wife finally dropped them Off . 

On with the dance toons and a ride back to our cortijo still with no water and hit n miss electrics . We now have our mains water back on after five days but it's not clean as its being taken from a lake untreated until they can get the repairs done . 

The water was returned just in time as the smell of chlorine was in every room and some of us were running out of clothes , the boiling of pool water is probably very dodgy as it smells a bit but it did the pots well we never needed to find out if agua con gas works in the kettle as the last bottle of plain was enough to get us by. 

Our chickens are settled in ok and are just staring to lay a little , quite a surprise considering the time of year and the weather we've just had a week in the cortijo was disturbing so the same in a wood box must have been like a biblical flood . So they are made of strong stuff and we are eggspecting great things for Easter ! 

DeeDee has and still is under the weather , we had her at the groomers down the vets and she came home with a new style and kennel cough . She's on tablets now and starting to look up so she'll be ok soon enough

Our daughter arrives tomorrow for Christmas her first off work in 14 years and as such our first together for the same time and our first in Spain so from the lows to the highs Galasa and Endesa willing .

Seasons greetings to you all and may your wishes come true . 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Well we've had a very full cortijo this last week with number one daughter popping out to see us and we now have a full compliment of guests in chickenopolis . 

The arrival of our daughter fell on the back of the guy working on the small bedroom / office consequently the room had been emptied into our guest room so the lovely wife was running frantic to redistribute the stuff we have accumulated since we arrived . Forty two months ago our whole life was distilled to 18 m3 of van space but now we have stuff a room full of it and just like the last lot of stuff we got rid of, its all essential of course. 

The room is now much warmer as the recent high northerly winds have proven and it's another complete room , could just do with a furniture upgrade , I think we'll loose the single bed and go for just an office , maybe some fitted units from IKEA . 

Whilst this was on the go indoors the task of the chicken ranch was still on going outside . This seemingly small job has been a complete pain it has gone on and on and on , mainly due to my poor mobility and the insane amount of flies that have been around very day from mid morning on . By about 2pm we've had enough , the lovely wife has a head net but I can't get on with one as my glasses mist up. 

The netting has been dug in and a suspended net roof is in place the walls painted and the gutters run. The hutch has been built with nesting boxes and multi level perches and all over a self cleaning floor . The girls have a balcony and a ladder down to the driest bit of dirt you've ever seen , they have indoor feed , grit and water and the same outside with logs and stumps to play on and swinging apples and lettuce to chase , all was set. 

TThe lovely wife and number one went down the agri supply and picked out eleven russet hens of shall we say mixed heritage all around twenty weeks so the guy reckoned and to be fair they have small pale pink combs and that's in line with 16 - 20 weeks . To keep them in line she picked up a cockerel again mixed heritage possibly with some game cock roots as he sports a large blue green tail . He's the only one with a name "Lenin" in a little homage to the good life  

They all arrived and were installed without an issue and the next morning they finally wandered out at nr lunch to explore the grounds , all seemed well they liked it so much that come bed time the call of the boutique lodgings was not enough for them to climb the stairway to heaven. 

The lovely wife had already read ahead in our chicken keepers manual that this could happen and if required you should pick up your girls one at a time and place them on a perch as some may not be used to perching ? This is not so easy when their bad boy lover is running around trying to keep them away from the local police sweep at curfew . 

After a bit of fuss and our amateur status as chicken wranglers confirmed all were tucked up in the love shack for the night . This is thankfully a declining trend as they learn to climb the ladder at sunset un aided , I still believe they sell eggs in the Lidl ? 

It was good to have a project were we all came together , all three of us just as it used to be . Well I say all three I should say four as DeeDee has been around all the time getting in the way and sitting on every pile of dirt we dug out and her head down every post hole . 

I'm sure she would cause havoc if she could get to the girls and we're  not fooled by her quiet watching  , to give some separation from her stares we have fenced off a section so that DeeDee has no direct line of sight and the plus side is its made a dead handy veg patch to boot . 

So the place seems a little more alive and each day is now started by Lenin our cock singing in the morning glory . 






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What a week !
Friday, October 28, 2016

Well it's all over , there may well be no more ? What are we to do for the future ? 

No I'm not still whining about, our income that's been torpedoed by the GBBO  ( Great British Brexit Order ) I'm mean the other GBBO that was won by my fav the shy and fellow holder of low esteem Candice. 

As Mary is put out to grass in the meadow with the black sheep and Paul is sent tupping in another place , Our pouting, lippy sporting bake off queen is set to make a million  quid this year so it would appear that the real winner really is candice not the tupp , as his million is over three years , but he does get to keep the tent. 

So well done Candice and if you ever need any eggs let me know ! 

Well that's assuming we ever get chickenopolis finished , this week we've had the guy in doing the bedroom and as you can guarantee things have not gone smooth . 

What is it with people (and in that I include us  ) who can't make an agreement in Spain ? Is it the heat , the laid back nature or the " we re in it together " mentality but nothing ever is as it was . 

We agreed an amount for insulation, plaster, stain , paint and a course of tiles at the base of the walls months ago , we wait and wait to get him here and then when he starts he says he didn't know we wanted paint & stain ? Oh and also materials are extra. Then we get my tile cutter won't cut your tiles can I borrow yours ! 

Regulars will have guessed Also that this is one of the guys we have classed as a friend and feed a few times, I've had it with this crowd they are crap , sorry but they would drive a priest to swear. I don't want to appear the tight arse by getting written contracts but I'm fed up off getting ripped off . 

The lovely wife ( and that's what I call her so get off my case about it ) had been trying to get a mobile contract instead of a PAYGO , the first place said that the deal in the yogio ad was for existing contract customers with any company not her ? And it would be 29€ a month not 21€ the second down the same street said the same , even when the ad and web site did not make any distinction. So she went to the next town and tried in the same store for the same offer a nice English speaking woman  said she would do the deal no problem ? But they don't have the phone until the 1 Nov ? Outside the offer period ! 

When she got home I suggested that the lovely wife went back the next day and do the deal and collect the phone next week this she did , only to be told by the same woman that the contract type is no more and that she would have to pay the 8€ a month extra as well as having the 29€ higher contract ! What ! 37€ for a phone that's years out of date and more data and calls than we could ever need . 

WHY ! 

If you don't have a contract you have to pay the 8€ to buy the phone for the first 24 months , OK , but that's any bodies contract and any phone ? Not just yogio 

SO , a vodaphone customer walks in with a 10 yr old phone and pays 8€ a month less than a double yogio PAYGO customer upgrading after forty one months loyalty to a yogio contract ! Mad , all of which is not in the T &  C of the ad or as I can see in the web site So they can get lost as well ,  May be they just know our builders as they recommended the shop and we're just seen as easy ! 

Had another go at the lawyer this week also as he still has not produced our deeds even though he said they were ready in May , this is now 41 months I have told him he has until the end of the month and then I'm instructing another to recover the deeds and some costs , I know with him it's plain old incompetence as every one says the same apart from the estate agent who recommends him. 

What a week , the lovely wife also scraped the car in the consum car park on a post , arrrr . Luckily the post had rubber on it and the big mark T cut off at last some good luck , we need it this week as all the hassle has seen things a little strained at times . 

We've had a little rain this week and with it a dust fall again , I'll be glad when the wind turns more northerly as at least it's cleaner . I cleaned to pool and yet again after all I said it started passing back a very fine silt I'm at my whits end with it I find it so depressing when it looks grubby , I don't mind the work , it rewarding cleaning it but only when it looks clean afterwards ! So more jolly gel an ill do it again today. 

I've now not been out of the place since May and after a week like this I'm not sure there's anything worth looking at anymore the place is so crooked it's ridiculous, so soon dark nights , log fire and Tv may be next year will be better , but here will no doubt be the same old screwed up place. 

What is it with all the flies ! I'm off I really have had it this week !  

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What about tomorrow ?
Thursday, October 20, 2016

After months of procrastinating over the work required to finish our home , whilst we were deliberating the details we have ran out of " there's another fine day tomorrow " and our efforts to build chickenopolis are now being hampered by rain. This would be the same rain that the gutters we've , sorry I've not fitted, should be carrying to the drain that does not yet quite reach our deposit tank, to be  ready  for the gardens .

There may be another day tomorrow , but is tomorrow going to be as good as today ?

This is going to be very true very soon for us as our monthly euro exchange deal comes to an end and the renewal options are a long way from our last arrangement , being about €0.28 per GBP less, thank you Brexit . The disasters in the UK are still to arrive but for us the days are not looking better tomorrow. a position i suspect will be true for some now and many more within the year.  

In between the showers we have painted the walls around the chicken garden , these have been bare render since the build and we have with the great bravery of the lovely wife a top the scaffold fitted the gutter to the rear of the car port and run the down pipes to the drain that will on one of the tomorrows  terminate in the deposit tank.

We have now found new vigour and have got the rear wall of Chickenopolis and two sides all erected and have all the materials to hand to finish this five star accommodation with the exception of a roof, this im told is essential as our ladies like to do their thing in the shade, privately.

We've been having some difficulties with the pool this summer, the long dry spell , massive farm land reclamation projects nearby and near constant winds have caused lots of dust clouds that have lead to twice weekly cleaning and ph swings. The dust has been so fine ending as a light brown slime on the bottom . According to the pool shop a very common story this year .

So just clean it you say , well I have over and over running the jolly gel almost constantly and it was getting clean but lately it's been less impressive after each clean ending with a light haze that's very apparent at night with the lights on .

The final straw was the other day when for some reason it was cloudier after the clean then before ? The debris must have been passing through the sand and back in a cloud . Back washing after vac'in as usual cleared lots of dirt but it took several days for the pool to clear with the need for even more jolly gel .

On line research lead to the buying of 125kg of glass filter media and the simple job I'm told of swapping the sand out . The theory is that you can vac it out with a wet dry vac . Now this is true but a 12L vac is no help as it needs a lot of emptying and is easy to clog , but as its all we have and there's no room for scooping then we dig on in a hot and humid pump room, sweating like mad wondering if I should have got someone in but no we need to save where we can, so I'm told.

The results however are worth the efforts and the cost as the water is crystal clear and has a sparkle never seen whilst using sand , the cleaning intervals are back to weekly and to be fair it could go longer if needed and the ph is stable , who knows the connection but the results do speak for themselves .

The lovely wife's mate and her fella finally arrived days later than expected and did just stay for coffee and a catch up as all outside tours were off due to the rain ( wasn't raining when they should have arrived ) they said they loved the place but we know it's not to their taste as she's a clean freak and he's all minimal so a Cortijo on the campo is not for them and they both like the restaurants, nightlife etc found on the playa's , they even had to rush off as they had dinner reservations at 7pm , how very British .

Matt n Cat called in as they had seen the new paint from the rambler and we had a beer and a chat about chickens. apparently chickens and pigs are the thing in rural Thailand, that and a random pack of wild dogs all hanging around the house, ( Mmm feeding wild dogs ? , I knew someone was )  so maybe just like dogs n kids help you make friends the same could be for chillies n chicken. a match made in the kitchen ?

You know , getting some paint on and the gutters up , seeing the lovely wife so happy to show off to her old work mate and having another bottle of beer with Matt n cat this has been a better week . Maybe the imminent arrival of these chickens has been the kick in the pants I've needed .

May be tomorrow can still be better than today ?

                                          Well spiritually if not financially NLN !

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Hens & Friends do we need them ?
Thursday, October 13, 2016

As if we don't have enough to do , once more we are having a little excursion off the hallowed list of jobs to do. Whilst clearing the dead weeds and builders rubble behind the car port prior to putting up the car port gutter , we sat to have a drink and allow the flies time to settle and rest their wings.

The lovely wife , looking at the 25m2 cul de sac of space we had cleared declared , this would be a good chicken run ! WHAT ? I don't disagree but where did that come from ? The lovely wife came from a rural background, during our courting years in the early eighties , Her family had all sorts of small live stock and poultry and a massive allotment style veg garden more at home to a Manor House then a large cottage producing most of their own veg , salad ,milk , eggs and poultry .

So it would appear that whilst the lovely wife was collecting some plant feed from the agricultural merchants she spotted the hens and had been brooding on the idea . So there we have it , the lady has spoken after the gutter will be a chicken garden and coup for ten hens and Lenin the cock, We're going in the egg business ??

The next day was to be gutter and paint the walls , at 11:30 that night the lovely wife got an e mail from an old friend who was here on hol in Murcia and wanted to call the next day for coffee !

The lovely wife all excited replied straight away that we would love to see her and her fella and we'd do lunch !

Now Monday is our market day so the lovely wife was up early brewing coffee well before light , stripping beds putting the washing on then off to market at first light to get some salad and sliced meats inc the pata negra ham , for yet another meat plata .

Back home and out with the Hoover , then the duster , then the steam mop , new bedding in all the rooms ( what sort of visit is this ? ) by now it's noon , has she replied I asked ? Are they coming ? What time ? Of course their coming ! Do we have 5 mins or a few hours ? I don't know ! Well ring her before you have a heart attack ! Ok . No answer !

Then where's DeeDee ? Out ? She had slipped the gate at some point ! The magic of the electric motor no longer amazed , the rather slow cycle time was an opportunity ! The great escape was on ! Just like hanging off the truck she clipped around the car and away in the chumba right under the lovely wife's nose !

So now two hours of wandering the rambler looking for DeeDee , just as we give up she trots through the gate knackered ! As if nothing happened.

The phone rings , it's 2:15 , panic they must be at the garage , but no , they haven't set off yet   They can't find our place on the Garmyn . No shit were on the rambler even the post man struggles .  ( just remembered something from the summer re the Corrios , new post needed ) they can't apparently put in a place without a full address inc post code ?? Can you find the AV7 ? Then head to Lorca when you exit the tunnel your 20 mins away , OK . Right lets have lunch !

At 3:45 the phone rings again , I'm on the A31 ! Where ? Near the big bull ! iPad , map you've one 2 hrs the wrong way you need the AV7 south ? Ok .

5:15 the phone , we're back at the apartment ! WHAT ! . I might try again latter this week , the lovely wife as gracious as always said ok . I won't say what I thought and said all that excitement , work for what ? If I was going somewhere I would GO if at all possible they never even asked if we had gone to any trouble , nar no trouble just cleaned the whole place , been shopping , bought perishables for four got all expectant . SNAP ! If she calls again I'm busy she's not calling here this week . Oops . On the upside meat platter for four for tea ! .

A chance meeting at the village Spring found some new neighbours , Matt n cat, cat is short for something Thai . They live further along the rambler and are trying to get a Thai market garden going and are currently growing hundreds of little plants , hence the water as it's free if you don't mind filling bottles . Matt makes his run a couple of times a day filling ten litre water bottles in his trailer.

We told them that were always looking for hotter chillies, as the ones in the market contrary to the traders protestations , they Are not very hot ! Later that day they rock up at ours and produce a bag of frozen chillies from their own stock! Well chillies will open many doors at ours and as these past muster even frozen, so now then out with the wine and on with the chatter, Here's to a red hot new friendship.



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Villages, Social Centre or Gossip Shop ?
Thursday, October 6, 2016

To bring you all up to date I've put together these posts as one, yes its long but these cover our year so far in a subject order rather than a dairy style once up to date I'll revert back to my usual rambling rubbish in a more chronological order, ( win 10 thesaurus on LOL )


Summer 2016, invites or the lack of.


Well it's our turn for the dinner club but as number one daughter is still here and Willy has his daughter here we have decided to give our enclosed  BBq area a work out and have a house warming for the dinner club plus the builders and their families sixteen in all .

The BBq area is about 70m2 all enclosed with olive netting , we have lighting , sound and a tiled table for eight, plus a comfy sitting area it's a real bonus in a summer evening . It's also something we did our selves , we are working on the planting as we want it to be lush with jasmine etc we have four large ones so far and the scent in the evening is thick .

The day arrived and number one had done ten different salads with pasta , rice , quinoa , what ? Etc to go with the spicy pork skewers , burgers , hot dogs n chicken portions all kicked off with pitchers of mojito' s and Bob Marley .

The evening was a success as all seemed to have a good time in to the small hours let's hope this is a turning point, as there always seems to be a bit of a doo somewhere in the village so we hear.

During the evening I asked one of the guys wives if she would model for me as part of my photography course ,( not like that ) she agreed as she had also wanted to ask about family portraits and pictures of their Cortijo. We arranged to visit to see their place and discuss locations, they raise horses out in the hills .

Our trip to theirs was punctuated by way markers on the trail made of piles of rocks in the shape of people some with faces some without . Left at the couple , right a the man in a top hat, all these little abstract figures at every split in the trail on and on 10km off the road to a house on the hill defiantly off grid lol .

What a spot , and as you'd expect very rustic . Our oak beams are shaped and regular theirs are olive trees with branches all lovingly cleaned and oiled. We enjoyed a sit in their fly free veranda and watched the sun go down over a glass of wine. A photo shoot was arranged for two weeks later followed by a BBq . A Result , we've cracked it , were on our way , our cog is in gear .

Well the gear box or whatever was duff because the invite was postponed due to Colin getting shingles and is yet to be restored and photographic course stalled again, I've been told you can hire young ladies on the outskirts' of town?  Disappointingly our dinner club amigos thought that our house warming did not cover our turn and we needed to arrange another dooo ! What a frisking cheek ! In the interests of good will we agreed to invite the cheeky buggers another time.

It came to light that Lucy one of our dinner club amigos was going to be sixty and her cheap husband was not arranging a doo , so in the interests of good will we invited them around for lunch and threw a party with Willy and her best friends Mary and Stewart. I baked quiche , bake wells, mini fruit tartlets with crempat and a cake , the lovely wife laid on a large Plata of hams and salamis with our olives and almonds . For a party game I printed things that happened on that day over the last sixty years and rolled them up in to drinking straws, we took turns to draw and read . A good time was had by all bar one , that will teach him to say my house warming didn't count ! his birthday girl unwittingly delivered the killer blow by saying across the table when opening cava number six ( for sixty. ) " I hope he's paying for all this " I grinned and he looked lower then a ladder snakes trail.

Whilst calling Paul to arrange our dinner night I got into chatting  about the F1 and he was complaining that he can't go to Willies as usual  due to his builders and as he won't have a large dish for himself he can no longer get C4 and attempts to watch via an android box but the band width is so poor it's often not worth the effort but it's free. I suggested that they came to ours and we watched together , the offer was accepted ( is there a pattern ? ) the lovely wife enjoys the F1 as does Lucy it is a dinner club F1 club .

The time arrived the next day beers in the fridge crisps n nuts out , an hour after the show started just before lights out Paul n Willie turn up but no Lucy? , beers ? Nowp eh? just pop , OK. all very quiet , mmmm half Hr later Lucy arrives , beer ? No just water ?? . After the race with less banter from all than me and the lovely wife can usually muster alone they left , hardly a crisp touched ?

I have since found out from Willes daughter that Paul n Lucy were having a DINNER PARTY for friends and they had left Lucy to do the prep ! as such didn't want to add drunk n disorderly to being awol .

The week after we held our dinner night , the lovely wife producing a superb lamb tagine with homemade pitta breads as the new item , I made baklava to follow. The usual suspects arrived and a enjoyable night was had right down to the brandies and amoretto .  Let's hope our cog stops slipping soon.

As no reciprocal invites seem to be in the air at the moment we decided to invite don and his new fiancée Jackie to dinner , as dons a British food guy  the lovely wife made a steak and potato pie with suet pastry , for pudding I made a pear tart with Frangipane topping ( we still have almonds lol ) and the best vanilla ice cream ever, you know the one in the red tub from lidl , if you don't you have to get Some . We had a lovely evening and I'm sure they're going to be very happy.  

So that was our summer of invites, as the ones who have managed to stay wake might have noticed from May to Sept there was only one event of the dinner club but we managed to feed half the village. 

I've not been off the land since late May and to be fair don't mind , I'm fortunate the lovely wife would rather shop alone . My reluctance to go to the bar and gossip and fall into the gully that most of the Brits seem to have found of booze n gossip followed by drink driving for some is limiting our / her socialisation . The lovely wife says she has no interest in the bar at night and to a point I believe her but she needs more than this .

To compound ( pardon the pun ) the situation there's been a spate of robberies in the village , yes that's right whilst the British owner is in the bar one guy has been done twice , the last time was whilst he was at his 80th party in the bar. The guarda believe there's a spotter in the bar.

So here we are September and I've not been out of our 16 acres in four months and we've not had any invites , we've decided not to chase the dinner club invites , it didn't fail on our rotation and to be fair we've fed more folk this summer than the Sally Army . We probably won't refuse an invite but we're not looking for them anymore choosing to reap the rewards close to home.


Summer works & What's that smell ?


What's that smell ? Not a common saying around ours any more as being on the campo we get lots of smells but this is more domestic then rural . Urgh during the night the dishwasher had backed up into the shower stall all over the pebble tiles a stinking grey scum , strange I thought we had chicken and salad .

The lovely wife cleaned it up and we dosed with drain unblocker and restored the flow. Those of you who are chronic insomniacs and have received this blog on prescription will remember that these drains have played up before during the works and we know that they are under size being just 50mm but as they are only for grey water and at that time had worked for over a year we left them be, but that may be changing.

A few days later we found the sink running away slow , high summer and dodgy drains , nice. We thought that all the drains for the washer, shower sink , kitchen sink and dishwasher all joined together outside as they all ran along the end of the building connecting on to the new pipe put in during the main works to the new pozo that was fitted as part of the pool job.

Well , we decided to get Don to replace all the drains along that side but it would be a week before he could start . As part of the work the pebbles in the shower would have to go as the new drain would need to be in the concrete below . As we don't use this bathroom I suggested that we make a start by chopping out the old ( 18 mth ) shower floor dig out side find the old drain and set the level with a man hole clean out then work back to the washer and drill for a new pipe to it.

So off we went   Chopping , digging n drilling . The new work was going well but we can't find the old ? As all the outlets are on the outside wall you would expect to find the pipe outside , but no , so we dig deeper , wider but nothing . We run a new pipe to the washer and capped the old joined this via the clear out to the shower and on towards the pool putting in a vent pipe and gathering up the sinks and the dishwasher all without finding the old pipe but lifting the year old patio all the way , not funny .

When Don arrived we both thought the job was half done at least , as we believed we were only 5 m from the new drain put in a year ago and the digging had been fairly easy, although my knees were saying different .  But what a mess piles of muck all over the new pavers .

So Don dived in and continued the job as we turned to relaying the concrete and new pebbles inside . But this was too easy the digging turned serious as the multiple incarnations of this Cortijo came to light with more and more concrete on top of granite rubble in concrete . The five metres took five days two large rock hammers from the hire shop , the first packed up after a couple of hours . En route We did find the old drain, it popped out of the front having run under the tiles on the inside.

The blockage was found , it was a series of joints and bends relating to the temporary moves of the pipe during the pool construction all creating more peaks and dips than the Alps then set in concrete ring beam. What can I say shoddy very shoddy .

When he finally got to where we thought our main contractor had run the new drain to whilst relocating the pozo we found that he had only used 50mm ??? Choosing to run the extra 21m to the pozo in two 50mm pipes the second being for the island sink that was connected to the old kitchen sink pipe.  Why ? Two runs of fifty costs more than one of 110mm, shoddy and expensive after 7 months of work and regular payments that was below poor. As the landscaping had left the pozo at least two metres down it was now digger time !

The digger and Diego arrived the next day and to be fair was quick and so neat he was a pleasure to watch and at 30€ an hour min four hours I watched . But now  we have a whole new system , smell free and quiet all the waste is gone and the paving redone with the addition of a extra bit for the lovely wife to pull up to in the car to unload the shopping so she can use a little cart to get the goods to the door all on one level , a bit like Wigan pier .

You can't do too much for one so lovely .  

Spending so much on a job not even on the famous list took the wind out of some others but we did get some things done. As the windows to the rear were still in need of refurbishment we had the remaining rejas removed and powder coated whilst they were away we did the window repairs and replaced the fly netting then stained , painting the walls around the Windows so as to allow refitting of the rejas . We will paint the rest this Autumn when it's cooler , better for the paint and painter .

We eventually got our 3 day job done , it was to insulate the ceiling and re plaster in bed 1 followed by skirting tiles to help cover the paint shedding caused by the damp ( this is much better now we have gutter and no rain for nine months ) then a full paint and stain , new handles and lights , a chest of drawers and I believe we have our first. Complete room  not bad after thirty months !

We followed this with the same in the family bathroom , less the tiles and we added the wood trim and trellis infill above the sliding cupboard doors and installed a condensing dryer , yes even here it's not always a good drying day ( it's usually the smell rather than the weather that puts the lovely wife off ) so two complete rooms steady on .

We had the ceiling in bed 2 and the en suite insulated and plastered but held off on the decorating as it needs fitted cupboards and possibly new floor tiles as the new non slip ones are very slip . That just leaves bed 3 and that is booked for October for the full treatment .

Bed 5 is just a box about 2 x 2 m adjoining the main bed so we have fitted it out with adjustable wardrobe racking from the IKEA and it's a dressing / storage room and works well I would recommend the system of steel frames and drawers but they have discontinued them at Murcia as we found whilst looking for ideas in bed 2 , they still do it in the uk and it all packs to nothing so if you're still driving ?

Outside I have started to run the drain to the deposit from the gutter but someone took all my pipe and fittings to get rid of a smell so that's on hold for now . DeeDee has been very well behaved and is maturing Nicely barely lifting an eye lid these days when the gate is being used , gone are the days of  grabbing her or firing chews out like a mad man . After over a year of the fence she has never attempted to dig out being content to dig in the spoil from the pool that we hung on to for some reason , 50m3 of Earth and now dead weeds full of dog holes .

So as you'd expect we were stunned one evening to find she was missing ! Dug out ! The great escape was on " Tom was through " after much calling and Rock moving to fill Tom in she was back, a complete mystery as to why? so much time had been spent in the planning .

A few days later again missing at bed count , a walk of the fence found Dick another tunnel ! Why ? After an hour of calling she bounced back red hot and as giddy as they get . The next day the why was obvious two strays were seen wandering the fence on the outside whilst DeeDee jumped and barked on the inside .

We get a few strays from time to time as people seem to like our isolation to dump them, we have to be hard and ignore them or we would have dozens . Yes we are aware that local statute says you have to have a min of 3 whilst maintaining an annual average of 5 and they should all be vocal . But that's the one law we are dodging ! Usually the complete lack of water drives them on as its dryer than Mars around here not even any irrigation water. But these were persistent. 

We shooed them away but that night Harry was completed and the escape was made, so a more drastic response was required . The next day we got some galvanised fence and laid it at the base of the main fence to form an L wiring it on to the fence for over 80m then placed stones on top stage one complete .

Stage two get Diego the digger man back and use the 50m3 of spoil to cover the netting and form A raised level area of about 50cm sloping in to the main drive way then cover in another thirty tonnes of rambler stone to match the drive , Dig through that then ! You can't beat me I've got plausible thumbs !

On the day Diego sent Paco with a bigger digger for the same price , what favourable rates after only thirty months of shopping for building materials  ? Happy days . BANG  poooof the big rear tyre popped on the digger , Paco a sole contractor looked gutted he reckoned 700€ for a tyre , ouch .

He lifted the digger and removed the wheel just as someone arrived to collect him ? I'll be back ! And true to his word he was at 5pm with a box van to take the wheel away . No mean feat alone , a wave and I'll be back ! So we settled in to the to have dinner and at 9 pm in the darkness Paco arrived to fit the wheel after a while we heard the digger rev up and off, then with a,  I'll be back ( I think this is his only English, probably from terminator  ) he was gone , the next day bright and early he was back and by lunch the view was transformed and with it Tom , Dick and Harry were no more .

Well DeeDee was confused , wandering where once there was wilderness , where are my holes , my stuff , my buried bones ? I know I left half a rabbit around here ? in a sulk She went and laid under the olive tree in the shade and went to sleep , probably thinking when I wake up it will all be ok lol .

As were blowing the budget on anything other than stuff on the list I got a solar powered gate kit, so now with a touch of a button the gate slides quietly aside , now that does confuse DeeDee. The lovely wife however loves it , no more hopping in and out , dancing with the gate in the heat of the day.


On the more mundane domestic front


life rolls along , DeeDee has been to the hair dressers for the first time as she was looking very hot and shaggy . Her coat had grown quite bristled over the winter and was long along the back , as she's a poor traveller we have some pills from the vet for when we have to take her in . So one happy pill later and she's off , literally for the spa treatment , shampoo , trim , shampoo blow dry what that must seem like whilst being smacked off yer paws I can only imagine but on her return she looked ten pounds lighter and years younger whilst smelling of peaches . Just what every rambler dog wants , I'm sure she'll feel a lot more comfortable as the amount of hair that's gone is amazing . I might go next time instead.

Having had the extra visit from my dad it would soon be time to see the mum in law who was booked in to bed 1 for a month from mid August , sadly it was not to be as through various minor illnesses her medications had become unstable and she had to rearrange . Monarch said they would do a medical deferment of her flights and she could re book any time within a year , great cost ? 100€ ! Re book with what ? most of the money has gone in fees 100€ for a few button pushes disgrace, but the alternative was loose the lot .

so we will get to see her sometime next spring date to be arranged, my mate from when I worked has only just left he and his wife came for a week after they also had to cancel in march due to a inner ear infection that prevented her from flying due to vertigo . she was off work from the NHS for weeks as she had problems standing. I said that if they could make it then I would drop her at the bar and no one would be any the wiser. for their visit they hired a car to save us the bother of fetching them from the airport , wow .. they can come again after many visitors the first to find their own way. whilst here they just wanted to chill around the place and help out . now I'm starting to get giddy and sweat.

i'm ecstatic about the help as there are some jobs at height I can't do any more but on the flip side I'm like a rabbit in the head lights as I'm out of excuses for a week at least.

whilst he was here I could see the stress in him he was here 3 days where he only wanted to complain about work, as an engineer he was part of the teams I ended up managing and you would think he thought I could still sort things out, I've been gone nearly 5 years now , wow 5 yrs that's passed.

he left me a gift, I'm now having dreams about when I worked , paper work , deadlines not ticking something thanks mate , you really need to get out because when alls said

a day here is better than any day in any job .


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I'm back for my fan !
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Forgive me for I have skimped , it's been a good while since I last took to these pages to vent , rant or just update you on us. The lovely wife and I are still here in sunny Andalusia, happy as sand flies and a little fitter , just a little ! Our mad puppy DeeDee and baggy the cat are fit and well and we wouldn't be without them .

As today has been our first proper wet day this year as I recall I thought I would drag myself from the telly and pick up a loose end. I was stunned when I looked in on the blog page to see a comment requesting more ? 

More , more  can you all really handle more ? Well you would think that over the last months that I would have lots to tell , well things have rolled along at a slower more Spanish pace with long periods of reflection before committing to the more dramatic design elements like lights and door handles . When buying ten light fittings for the same room you need to consider the pros and cons like cost and have you Seen the cost  ! 

I believe I started over analysing , obsessing on the little things when we sat down last winter and for a joke thought we would on a room by room basis list and cost the work still required to call our lovely cortijo done LOL  

Well we ended up at 107 jobs and near on twenty grand and that was doing most of the work ourselves , the black mist wandered down the rambler , the cash was one thing but if it was waiting for us to do the work then it would be over many many months , no short term payday loan here it would be very long term drip feeding . 

The main downer was the thought of months more work and jobs all relying on us the very lovely wife and I . The result a long period of world class procrastinating .

Over the winter my dad and his partner came for a week around Christmas and was his usual cheery self, this is now the third year running they have visited just before his Christmas trip to benny , he always complains that it quiet and too far to the bar but it's what we wanted as far from the benny experience as possible . I think the whole point is that a week with us gets a cheaper flight and 1 week less in rent plus free transfers , or is that just a shade of the black mist ? 

He fooled us all in April arriving alone for twelves days, departing just three before my birthday ? He never goes anywhere alone ? His partner said he was popping out to help great !!! I thought . I thought this is so odd that something must be wrong , here alone , no invite , no bag pusher , something must be wrong , he's got six month to live and he's taken them literally and booked a non refundable flight to tell me at the end of the six months ??? But no it was to be the usual , extended periods of silence followed by evening drinks . 

One of the labourers who worked on the place got engaged whilst he was here and had a do in the bar the whole town were invited it was in the Euro news a really good doooo , as they were just back from the windies it was a pirate night with reggae of course . 

So there we are its spring 2016 and nothings done other than burn several tons of wood and watch lots of detective tv . 

So , for my fan , who by the way is not family as far as I'm aware lol and because I need the therapy provided by your comments I'm back , for a while at least and you will be pleased to hear it's not all criminal minds or SVU . 



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Good Neighbours
Friday, September 11, 2015

Well it's been all go and gone around here the last week or two, DeeDee our dog has now settled to the fencing and since getting locked out for a few hours after slipping down the blind side as we drove through the gate has chosen not to try and escape any more. It must have reminded her of being dumped not being able to get to her bed or food?

As was expected after the wet spring we did have a bumper almond crop much better than last year the guy from the village, our almond guru (as we know nothing other than they are good to eat) was all expectant or excited its hard to tell as we understand very little of what we say to each other and as he has trouble with the 3rs like many of his generation making the translate app not much help but we get along famously. 

As the day drew near for the picking we had a visit from Miguel from the farm across the rambler, the one much loved by DeeDee in her free roaming past. He came to warn us that he had moved on "people "who were taking his almonds and we should look out.

We are used to some loss of both almonds and figs as all down one side we border the rambler and passers by like to shop on their way home, we accept this and as long as we get our share of the figs then the rest are free. The locals any way never take everything obviously not wanting to rock the boat for the future. So we paid little heed to this warning.

the next day we had a trip planned to Almeria to the brico's we would be gone for about 6 hours, yes you guessed we had a visit, although we did not know as even on our return our best trees are behind the Cortijo and not on our route in or out.

The next day was Saturday and as always I was up early having a coffee out by the pool as the sun came up, DeeDee who in the past would have been off roaming the campo by now was safely tucked up in the yard digging. For no reason to me she spun around and started running around barking like mad, she settled her gaze to the little rambler between us and Francis, I couldn't see any thing and assumed that she had seen her old adversary the dark fox returning home so I said to be quite as the lovely wife was still in bed.

a couple of hours later another neighbour José came hammering on the door, now this might strike alarm in most but everything is a panic for José and is usually nothing. José also has a problem with the r's but he can read just not spell, he writes as its spoken so a V is a B and a C is The once you get the code we can usually understand each other.

He had been walking his mom's dog a miniature Yorkshire terrier in our almonds checking out what was to be picked as he comes with the guru and his cousin to pick and had seen ROBBERS, our new word is now el ladrón. So leaving my breakfast behind, not a happy state of affairs they went in the car and I set off on the quad and he was right as bold as fricking brass, nets, sacks and all even drinks and a packed lunch box.

they were quick on their toes and I set off after them across our stony fields, now I'm a big guy and never need to go beyond just offering to take it further if the need arises so to two Spaniards and a Moroccan been chased by me on a 400cc quad was quite an intimidating sight. I eventually caught up with them as they crossed the Camino; they had little to say just asking for their lunch, the cheek!

As you all know my grasp of Spanish is limited but I do know enough to say my almonds, my land, no food and you go. they didn't have a car but knew the game was up and started to walk back down the little rambler, where this cuts through our land its well over 3m deep since the floods and these guys must have been what set DeeDee off as she would have heard them even from 300 m away I presume. I followed behind them to the end of our place and watch them keep going.

on my return to the scene José had tipped out their lunch and water and put the box in the rambler the lovely wife had found over a 100kg of almonds in bags hidden under our over grown olive tree, but more importantly was the mess the trees were battered and there was much more than these almonds missing as I drove around it was clear that about half of our crop had gone and a fair bit of damage had been done. 

By now José's mum had come across and was ranting and raving picking up broken branches and throwing them down shouting something very put out. my loss of pocket money was a loss of wages for her live at home son so one supposes a loss of board to her every one looses apart from the robbers who still had the 100's of kg from the other day and at €1,80 / kg its nice money.

As the lovely wife drove back home she spotted the cheeky beggars coming up the rambler in the ubiquitous white van so she jotted the reg number down and later we wrote a note and went to the local police saying what happened, they weren't interested only asking if anyone was hurt . Why did I expect any different after all it is Saturday afternoon and the football was on TV in the station.

Picking day arrived and the guys went to work producing 19 large sacks by the end of the day, the same amount it took three days to collect last year due to the small size and untidy trees. They said that that was going to be about it but would return the next day to see what more they could get by going around the trees on the boundary and little rambler not done last year as they were just too poor to bother with.

this final sweep produced another couple of bags the feeling was we would have been on for 40 to 50 bags, cleaned this would have been about 350 kg not the 120kg we ended up with over €400 lost and my neighbours two days work lost, they kept their part of the unwritten neighbour pact and we disregarded ours, this time next year will see more vigilance.  

The powder coated rejas on the end are back on and the wall is all painted it looks stunning, powder coating is the future and not as expensive as I thought, it's been so much easier to paint and refurbish the windows and fly nets with them off. Now back there shiny black gloss and much better then we could have done with a brush.

The five windows and two doors of the front are away at the moment and the house looks very different like an old friend seen without their glasses it's them but not quite. I know I have in the past complained about the rejas but the Cortijo looks odd without them and the anticipation of their return is building as is the demands from the painting and windows. Our neighbour Paul is helping with the painting as steps / ladders are not for me any more and he's doing a great job.

The tiler has been back and tiled the counter and splash back in the fly free, we went with small terracotta tiles with some traditional blue and cream floor tiles as accents with a rolled edge tile for the counter. The tiler just kept asking when we were getting the tap for the beer or we could put a window in the wall through to an imaginary bar. I have sorted the gas for the paella burner and painted the cupboards underneath so we are getting close to a party just need to sort the lights and we should be good to go.

Well for the last six days we have had heavy rain at some point about 175mm in all and the campo is going to be green for the lovely wife's mothers visit it's amazing the things that get done for a royal visit isn't it!

just before the rain we managed to get a neighbour to use his tractor to re grade the chippings on the front as they were a little too deep in places and people were getting stuck this he did but unawares to me the new grade was above the pump house scupper that drains the floor and as the rain from the pool side runs under the door the scupper was to let it out as well as the floor drain that goes to the front pozo.

well we had a triple whammy, the new grade prevented the floor from draining but directed the rain off the pump house roof inside via the scupper bringing with it loads of mud this in turn blocked the floor drain, well we had a tide line about 10cm up the wall luckily the pump was higher or when the power came on that would have had it.

So I have scraped out the mud and unblocked the drain but need to dig a trench and lay a drain pipe to take the water away next time. It doesn't rain much but when it does there's a mess, we even had it come through the down stairs en-suite ceiling a little, but to be fair it was torrential and being driven towards the roof so its probably got pushed up under the traditional tiles. I'm not even going to look for that until next time.  

Yes, for those who are regulars I did leave the cushions out again, it's not rained for 3 days now and there still wet, I'm so popular.

remember  # good neighbours become good friends. # 

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Bitter Sweet
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Every morning I wake up usually before its light, it's something we started when the builders were in the house but it seems to have stuck. I have now long since got used to the sight of bars on my window and that slade prison feeling is no more but now from within these wall we can get the feeling of tenko as the chain link is now encompassing the front, It's not close probably 50m off and to be fair the actual fence is not readily seen just the poles that glint in the morning sun, however it feels bitter sweet.

It was necessary to keep DeeDee in and out of the slurry pit at the farm but we have lost some of the open appeal of being remote on the campo. I hope like most new things it takes time to feel comfortable in them and at least I won't be bathing the dog 4 times a week any more.

The two guys who put it in, an Englishman and a Spaniard were contracting to the company who made the gates and were all we had been told about regarding builders in Spain. they arrived any where between 9 and 10 am had an hour for lunch in the bar and went at 4 pm. the English guy had a large cool box full of beer so he could stay hydrated whilst digging. All that said the finished job is sound it just took longer than we expected, again thankfully we were on a fixed price so not really a problem.   

The one with a problem is DeeDee, who is currently plodding around slowly realizing there's no more roaming the range, trimming her back from about 500 acres to 2000m2 around the house well just have to make a big effort to keep her entertained and who knows she may even have enough energy left to actually be taken for a walk.

I should really try and follow her, as if; Mo Farrar would struggle to keep up. however she did come home the other day not covered in slurry but honey, her belly was solid and it was all over her snout she slept it off all afternoon, now that would be a good find if there's any left.

On with the sweet stuff we have been picking our figs and thanks to the wet spring they have done really well, to the point we have just had to leave some on the trees for passer byes. We've eaten them, froze them and I made chutney.

Yes I making chutney, my lovely wife is a great cook but when it comes down to playing in the kitchen its down to me or number one daughter who is a chef in the UK.  I used a Nigel Slater recipe from the net and it was very tasty when it was jarred so the promise is that it improves after a month, I can't wait as we have about 5 kg in the cupboard. so infused I made 5kg of tomato and chilli relish using a random recipe from an American website that didn't work well it seemed to have too much of the various vinegars so after 2 hours of reduction I added more tomatoes and chillies and sugar to taste and continued for another 2 hours and it seemed fine when it went in the jars only time will really tell.

as part of the prep for the fencing we had to move the remaining two tonnes of our wood pile into the rear of the car port not really a job for this time of year but necessary all the same, I just need to build a wall around it now it contain it when we add the new load of four tonnes in October.  We went through at least that much last winter it was hard to tell as we were cutting our own trees for the most part. This year will however be a hand in pocket time four tonne being about €350 around here, but the crackle of the wood burner is most satisfying.  

now the builders merchants are back off holiday I have ordered the bricks etc for the counter in the fly free so we can crack on with that and get it tiled, the doors are made and fitted and I must say they look the mutts nuts , not that ours has any . For a first attempt at doors I'm well pleased, I'm not taking orders as the labour charge based on hours taken would be crippling ha-ha.  

We are now approaching the time where we can no longer avoid the painting and have had the first set of reja removed for bead blasting and powder coating giving access to refurb the window and tile the sill, then paint. A process that we will need to repeat all around the house over the next few months, I can't wait.





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