Last Saturday, 5/5, I had a small party – I’ve been invited to several since I got here, so it was a chance to return hospitality, but more importantly it marked the end of the beginning, a target date to have things ready, all the rubble cleared. I moved in on 3rd October and I was carrying the last bags of debris to the town bins at 2 in the morning six months later. It was a long slog!
I’m no cook, and my renovations have provided a kitchen smaller than either my home office or my bathroom. The catering was the simplest – a picnic theme, an assortment of help-yourself fillings and a range of fresh breads from the bread van. I pre-warned him on Friday in my best Spanish – every day I buy two 8 inch rolls (at 90c for both, the easiest and cheapest way to do lunches for myself and buddy / builder Nick) and on Friday I said fluently “mañana cinco y rosca y baguette” (tomorrow five, and 8 inch bagels, and everyone knows baguette, right?)
I didn’t add ‘por favor’ because I have a complex about that, we Brits are known as por favors because we say it too often, the Spanish find it hilarious. My Spanish is still terrible, in part because the local dialect cuts the ends off words so learning ‘proper’ Spanish doesn’t help much. Even something as simple as buenos dias, here, is pronounced ‘born-dia’
So that was the base catering, the dozen guests brought tapas-type items and quiche and dips, and in the end it was quite a spread, and a lot of fun. The grass matting was still being laid until 9 pm the night before, and I was still frantically tidying the last bits when they arrived promptly at 2, help, they live here and they don’t keep Spanish time??
It was only when they left that I could, for the first time in six months, savour the sheer pleasure of looking at the atrium. It’s a long narrow house with a long narrow atrium / terrace and when that’s empty, it catches the heart and the imagination – well, it caught mine. On the 3rd of October I unpacked the camper van into it and around a week later my furniture and boxes arrived and near-filled it and ever since it has been the heart of the building operations and has looked absolutely horrible for six months. Some day (phase three) it will be tiled properly again but in the meantime I’m loving the grass!
In a way the terrace photos below illustrate the six months best, but perhaps that’s only because it was the last job finished. The terrace was a series of long shallow steps (the first photo is at their worst, from the top looking down). Now there is a levelled section big enough to hold a table and chairs for sundowners, with the ‘welcoming arms’ curved retaining wall a nostalgic flashback to my childhood. The plumbing to the laundry is well old so we carefully built in new piping so that if or when the original pipes spring a leak, connecting a new supply won’t mean digging the whole thing up again.
So now I’m basically ready for guests. The trick is sourcing the writers, walkers, cyclists, hikers, poke-around-exploring travellers who want accommodation in a typical Spanish town near the beaches of the Costa Tropical and Granada and the Sierra Nevada in a slightly quirky house. No problem, eh?