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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.

Villages, Social Centre or Gossip Shop ?
06 October 2016 @ 13:00

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 .


Like 2


STEVEE said:
08 October 2016 @ 11:04

Contrary to the editorial we are now 40 months into new lives !

bruca said:
08 October 2016 @ 19:45

Thank you for a long and entertaining post! We lived in Spain a few years ago and did the dinner party circuit. Our worst was an ex pat who turned up with an open bottle of rum that was obviously watered down! good company but bad manners.

STEVEE said:
08 October 2016 @ 22:09

I think I know him lol .

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