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i can't tell you how bad it was...

04 Oct, 2016

So first up in the renovation was joining the two rooms via a doorway. I was worried the whole building would collapse, I think Ian was too, the difference being he had the confidence to re-build it whereas I didn't! It took two days of hammering and  chiselling by hand, the removal of 5 barrow loads of rocks. The walls are two foot thick and packed with rocks then filled with earth. Centipedes dashed from their slumber and legged it as Ian broke through the wall. My bedroom and most of my belongings were soon caked in a layer of dark brown dust which we both breathed in by day and I had an extra dose at night also. My plan was to camp in a tent firstly. It was winter and i had camped in -5 conditions in the UK but I hadn't reckoned on the wind. The "tramontana" arrived which is the name for the northern wind and translates as 'beyond/across the mountains'. It terrified me to my very soul and arrives like a train, rumbling in and gathering speed, up to 100mph. There was no way I would survive in a tent in those conditions as it was bad enough inside, and so I made my home indoors, come what may. Sometimes they lasted for days. I never want to experience them again. I had to collect the two deckchairs from the dry river bed half a kilometer away and many other things were collected by the wind and deposited elsewhere! Anyway, I digress, the wall bashing was underway, it was a great success and eventually Ian reached the other side without the building collapsing! Result.

The start...

Almost done! and this is the side my bedroom is on! 


And this is how I was living, and so began my epic adventure!  

Rules. That is all.

03 Oct, 2016

Builders mate rule #1. One cannot possibly paint the front of ones house until ones hair is straight.

Rule #2 builder may not start work until rule #1 is completed.
Rule # 3 builders mate remains in authority or, 'the Boss', at all times, even if builder feels exploited!
😀 happy days!

​On it like a car bonnet.

03 Oct, 2016

Ian was mortified when he found I was sleeping on a mattress on a concrete floor. I told him the divan had to be ditched as it wouldn't fitted on the over-laden van. He immediately took me to town, where we bought some wood, (nearly died at the price!) and within two hours he had built me a bed base. How lovely of him! It was so much warmer with the mattress off the concrete floor.

The building of the bed base. 

The bed completed. 

Ian was even more baffled as to why someone would choose to live like this…! And we wandered about and he told me all the things I needed to do. He offered to do the work for me and agreed a price and he was off. We spent a couple of days  hanging out in builders’ yards. I think he thought it would be easy for me to order ‘skrim’ in Spanish, when I don’t even understand what it is in English. I, of course had to agree to be a builders mate…not really knowing what this entailed. He would say things like, ‘I am just going to plaster the reveals’. Apparently, he did just that and I nodded enthusiastically, but between you, me and the gatepost, I still have no idea what a reveal is! But I can confidently say I have a plastered one!! The next day a lorry load of materials arrived before you could say 'know what i mean darlin' (learning London builder speak!) and he set to work in earnest. It’s a man’s world, and I would be dispatched to buy something and the guys in the shop would say ‘no you don’t want that you want this’, so I would return home with many things Ian hadn’t asked for only to have to return them and do as I was told! Bad builder’s mate. I am learning though…

Deliveries! And work commenced...

She’ll be running round the mountain when she comes…

03 Oct, 2016

Ian arrived late in the afternoon. He spent a couple of hours driving a 30 ft very expensive motor home round the lanes,’ scratching the f*** out of it’ in his words. He didn’t pay attention to the instruction I gave him and got more and more lost. We rang each other frequently and he bibbed his horn which I could hear, we just couldn’t find each other. Helga got battered, and he got stuck down a lane and broke his back light, I was running round the mountain wearing a headtorch and getting lost myself and after two hours, we had to admit defeat and he had to spend the night in the local caravan park, I had to find my way back to the house in the dark!. We agreed to meet at the bottom of the mountain at first light and I would walk down (5 km) and guide him back. He cussed and swore, well, like a London builder really, and we arranged to meet the following day. This was no mood improver for him, although the ‘right road’ was wider than wherever he went the night before, but the damage was done! I cheerfully offered to buy him some t-cut!

​Diamond Geezer

03 Oct, 2016

Ian, it transpired, is a builder. He bought his motor home, Helga, (something to do with a large rear end! Bloke joke!) to travel about Spain, Portugal and France. I invited him to stay at my place, since he was self-sufficient in his van, and perhaps give me some advice as to how to progress. I really liked his way with people. I observed him on the ferry, he called all the women ‘babe’ and ‘darlin’ in a non-offensive way, and people really shone in his presence because he made them feel good. As I want to run workshops here, I thought he would be a great person to have on a DIY one because of his positive vibe. He was also very loud and had a presence hard to ignore. He said he would like to visit and would be down my way in a couple of days. I was chuffed to bits I had bumped into him and we exchanged numbers. 

After two nights on the ferry, we arrived in lovely sunshine. When the helpers left, it suddenly got very dark very quickly, and cold. I have to say it was a bit grim. I had forgotten how bad it looked inside the house. The one tiny window with no glass made it feel even colder, though I am sure I will be grateful come summer! Everything except my torch, a few candles and mattress was now packed in the shed next door, which, in my absence, had been robbed, the locks of both doors gone. There were piles of leaves everywhere, the wind whistling about blowing them all around.The little white dog and I hopped on the mattress on the floor (my divan base was too large for the van) in our new casa and slept soundly for 12 hours. 

LWD on our first night. 

I was pleased to see the sunrise the following morning and we wandered about enjoying it. There is a goat farm over the fence and I could hear the tinkling of the bells as the goats set off to forage. I moved some boxes about and found a few things. A camp stove. A mug. A tea bag. It’s the small things… I collected some firewood to use in the open fire place later, not wanting to get caught out again with no wood. My neighbour Joan stopped by to check who was about. He was lovely and whipped his chain saw out and chopped up some dead wood. We had a cup of tea together. Everything seems so much better when you have tea and wood! I put the solar panel out to charge and we were sorted. Lighting the fire at around 4pm was one of the highlights of the day. The little white dog and I could then sit on the mattress in front of the fire and stare at it for the rest of the evening. How mesmerizing is fire? Most satisfying.

I was thinking I might just walk in to town the next day as I should really hire a car. Stuck halfway up a Spanish mountain without transport is probably not wise. Or I could just buy a couple of chicken. The theory being, with eggs and herbs and an open fire, I wouldn’t ever have to leave! As I was entertaining myself with my thoughts, the phone rang. It was Ian! He said he would be arriving the next day. No chicken yet then! “Make sure you get here before dark” were my parting words.

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