Autumn Has Arrived

Where did the summer go????  Well the new guest lounge was finished in time for my brothers visit and we are pleased with the end result.

Dining Area in Guest LoungeGuest lounge sitting areaNew guest lounge

After that I carried on freshening up the outside terraces with a new lick of paint and sealed all the joints between the floor tiles outside to try and avoid any leaks when the rains start this year! Phil has been busy painting the front of the house this month and boy does it look different now it’s all white!  The locals all seem pleased it’s looking nice and fresh now.  Fingers crossed if it doesn’t rain tomorrow then Phil will get the final coat on and our scaffold will come down.  For the top half we had to borrow some scaffolding from one of the locals as it is 3 floors high and Phil also needed to fit guttering to stop the rains soaking the walls.  He managed to get all the top half finished in a week as the owner of the scaffolding needed it for another job and we were glad that bit was done.  Our scaffolding is high enough for the rest of the painting and Phil’s been doing it in between sat work and the odd day of rain.  Once it’s all done I’ll post some photos.

We had an upsetting experience in August just before the local fiesta began – Fred, one of our beautiful dogs, became suddenly ill and after taking him straight to the vets we discovered he’d eaten some poison.  He was a the vets all day but that evening when we went to see him (thinking he’d managed to get it out of his system) we discovered he was in a very bad state and had been on various drugs all day and Valium but the poison was taking it’s toll and it was 50/50 he’d survive the night.  We had to make the hard decision to put him out of his misery as we didn’t want him suffering any more than he already had.  It really upset us and Ginger (his sister) was so lost without him.  It’s taken her a while to get her confidence back but now she goes off with one of her “friends” during the mornings and then comes back and spends the rest of the day with us and stays tucked up inside every night.  When she comes for a walk with us she doesn’t stray too far ahead and waits for us.  We just hope the same fate doesn’t befall her, but living in the “campo” we have to accept these things can happen (as it has to many of our Spanish neighbours animals).

Phil has now acquired a new (well second hand) off road motorbike to go off exploring the miles and miles of tracks around here.  He’d been promising himself one for a long time but wanted to wait until we’d got most of the big work out of the way on the house.   Looks like the mountain bike will continue to gather dust now!!!

Well that’s all for now – next blog will probably be Xmas!!

Hasta luego

Mel & Phil

Plastering The New Guest Lounge

At last we (or should I say Phil) has started to plaster the new guest lounge!!  I’ve done my part by spending the last week slowly picking away at the walls to remove all the old lose plaster and paint in order for Phil to pva the walls and start plastering.  Slowly it is beginning to take shape and I can visualise what it will eventually look like.  Once Phil’s finished the plastering then I can get on and paint the walls once it’s all dried.  We’ve had to crack on with the work on this room as my brother and his girlfriend and her young son are coming over to stay with us for 10 days and as we only have one guest bedroom & en-suite finished we need to make the guest lounge into a temporary bedroom for Lewis.  We have until 18 July to get as much done as possible and all being well we’ll have it ready for their visit.

Until last week the weather has been hot and sunny but this last week has turned quite cool and today we’ve had a torrential downpour (had to take the drain cover up on little terrace as it was filling up like a pool!).  Fingers crossed the sun will be out by Wednesday and we’ll be hotting up again.  It’s unusual to have this much rain in June and glad we’ve finished most of the outside work as this time last year we had started taking a roof off!!  We would have had an indoor swimming pool then!

We’ve been kept busy with our digital satellite & terrestrial tv work and so have to catch the few days here and there to carry on with the work on the house.  We are glad we are busy with tv work as there are a lot of people out of work here.  As long as we can keep ticking over we’re happy.  We get a lot of work inland in the Jaen & Priego de Cordoba region as there seem to be quite a few Brits still buying houses up that way due to better prices – more for your money.  It’s quite a drive up there but beautiful scenery and we get to see so many new places.  Beats sitting in a city traffic jam on the way to work!!

I’ve acquired a new mode of transport – a motor scooter!!!  It’s a 125cc so nice and nippy and I got it at a good price from our local Fishmonger!  It was his wifes but now they have two little children she didn’t use it anymore and so was selling it.  It only has 3,000km on the clock and is like new.  It’s been well looked after and had it’s regular services.  I never thought I’d be back on 2 wheels again and it’s a little different from riding a proper motorbike but once you get used to it, it’s so easy and comfy to ride.  Back in the day when I was a hardened biker I wouldn’t have been seen riding a scooter, but now the years have passed I’ve mellowed and am happy to have my own transport again! (Years ago my dad had a scooter and I have a photo of me as a baby sitting on his knee whilst he perched on his scooter, so perhaps it was destiny that one day I’d have one too). It’s ideal for nipping into Durcal for the local market and for getting around the valley.  Not sure Phil is too pleased I’m back on 2 wheels again but I’m certainly not burning rubber – nice sedate pace for me now!
Well that’s all for now folks.

Mel

IMG_00011.jpgNew Scooter

Fiesta Time Again!!!!

Where has the time gone!!!  Doesn’t seem 5 minutes since we added our last entry and now we’re almost into May.  This weekend is the Fiestas de la Cruz in honor of Santo Cristo del Zapato – patron saint of Pinos del Valle.  On Saturday 1st May there will be the Romeria de Carrozas – when all the locals dress up their trailers, cars etc with flowers etc and parade around the streets.  Many will be dressed in traditional dress and friends and family will flock to the village for the fiesta.  Later on Saturday afternoon there will be the big free Paella feast and later on that night live music.  The village has been well spruced up in time for the fiesta and the sports area at the top of the village (where the festivities take place) has been painted and is looking very smart.  Sunday 2nd May will see the floral offering outside the church in the upper part of the village and many crosses will be decorated around the village for people to view.  Then later that night there will be the big firework display followed by more music and dancing well into the early hours.  Finally on Monday 3rd May the framed picture of Christ will be taken back up to the newly built hermitage and the village is invited to follow it up (not a walk taken lightly as it’s a steep climb and will sort the weak from the strong!).  Those that manage to make it to the top will be rewarded with food and drink to fortify them for the downward journey!

On the subject of the hermitage – it’s been well over a year since it was destroyed by lightening (see our post 1st March 2009) and finally the village has gathered enough money together from donations to have it rebuilt and after walking up there for an inspection the other weekend we can confirm it’s looking very smart now and there appears to be a viewing point which has been created behind the building.  The views from up there are stunning and well worth the tough walk up.  (Attached a few photos – more to come after fiesta)
Work on the house has been progressing (albeit a little slowly due to us being busy with our satellite/digital tv installation work – which is good considering the current economic climate) and we can report that the new floor is in, the new staircase built, dividing wall taken down to create the new guest lounge and now we need to start thinking about plastering the ceiling and walls.  However first the walls need “picking” to get off all the loose plaster or paint to prepare them – a killer on the arms and wrists!  Poco a poco as the locals say – little by little.

The weather has now warmed up considerably and the smell of orange blossom is wafting around the valley – beautiful.  The roadside verges are full of colour with the spring flowers and after the abundant winter rain everywhere is looking lush and green.  My clematis on the patio are in full bloom and looking gorgeous and for the first time since I bought it, my lilac tree is in flower and smells heavenly.

We’re looking forward to our friend P visiting very soon and hope she likes the new bedroom and ensuite which we finally finished at the start of the year.  She’ll be the first to try it out! There’s quite a bit of work done since her last visit so lots to see.

Well that’s all for now folks – more updates soon.

Mel & Phil

Deocrated FloatDeocrated FloatNewly Decorated FuenteNewly rebuilt hermitage

Work On The New Guest Lounge Ceiling Starts

Work has started again in earnest and we have ripped out the old Azotea floor which also forms the ceiling area above what will be the new guest lounge.  We started just over 2 weeks ago and it’s been hard, dirty, dusty work but by the last weekend in January we had the old floor up and the old beams out and now (first weekend in Feb) we have the new steel and concrete beams up ready to fill in and cover with concrete.  Fingers crossed, and all being well next weekend will entail 2 days of solid concrete mixing by myself and Phil laying the new floor.  Once that’s all done Phil can fix up the shuttering to cast the ramps to the new stairs which will lead up from the lounge to the top floor and guest terrace.  It’s our last REALLY BIG JOB to do on the house and everything after that will seem insignificant (although there is still loads to do!). Fingers crossed by end March the main structure will be finished and the new steps can be put in (the ramps need a month to set properly).  We need to get this work finished as soon as possible as it’s all part of a project we’ve had to have drawn up by our architect to approve and legalise all the work that we’ve done on the house so far.  An unexpected cost but we’ve had to get it done.  Hopefully by the summer we can start working back on the hallway downstairs and try to get the walls all plastered and it looking less like a building site.

The weather this winter has been very wet again and the reservoirs are virtually full – first time in 3 or 4 years so at least there will be no water shortages this year.  The valley is looking very green and the almond trees are now all in blossom and they smell wonderful.

Fred & Ginger (our 2 adopted dogs) are well although they went missing for 2 days and so far only Ginger has returned – she’s left Fred somewhere up in the hills above the village but I’m sure he’ll be back later as he’s not eaten for 2 days so will be very hungry!  They go off from time to time on their little expeditions into the hills but usually turn up again when they are hungry.  They usually spend a couple of days then just sleeping in the house while they get their energy back and then get bored and go off again!  It’s a dog’s life and we are the doggy hotel!

Well better go as things to do but will put an update on here again when we’ve got a bit further with the building work.

Hasta luego

Mel & Phil 😉

Start taking upper floor out Floor outNew concrete beams go inNew ceiling in

Autumn is here – where did the summer go????

Well we enjoyed a hot summer with July and August being very hot but it’s cooling down now and we are enjoying temperatures in the 20’s which is perfect for working outside or walking in the campo.

We’ve spent the whole summer taking off 2 roofs and replacing with a combination of roofs and terrace areas.  We first tackled the part above the old bathroom area and boy was it a mucky job!  Very dusty with years of muck and airborne dust to remove and the old cane beneath the old tiles.  We eventually got it all off after a week and one of the locals who owns a dumper helped us remove the rubble and dump it into the 2 skips – worked out just the same as hiring a dumper from Durcal but with the added advantage we had an extra pair of hands helping us.  We finally got the new concrete laid and the new roof/terrace area sealed by early August and then we started taking the roof off above the kitchen.  Luckily this was a little newer construction so there was already a solid concrete base below the tiles so it was a matter of removing the tiles and dwarf walls and then rebuilding new ones to form a new pitch and putting new tiles on.  Phil managed to get all the new tiles fitted and finished a day before the weather broke and we had a week of thunderstorms (thankfully no where near as bad as previous years).  So far no leaks so fingers crossed it stays that way.  Phil’s now rendering walls and has built a new storage area on our terrace.  The next job is to finish off the otherside and get the rest of the terrace tiles down above the old bathroom area.  Once all that is finished we can resume the work inside the house!  We still don’t have a new front door yet and I don’t think that and the new porch will materialise now until later in the year or early part of next year.  Phil has a plan of work in his head and I just go with the flow!!!  I’ll say one thing – replacing roofs is a great way to keep fit and lose weight!

Ginger & Fred spend most of their time here with us now and as I predicted Ginger had pups!  5th August at 2am the 1st one popped out (in our house) and the last one was born at 5.15am.  Needless to say both Ginger and I were pretty tired!!  The pups have grown into beautiful dogs (3 bitches & 3 dogs) and are now 7 weeks old.  We have thankfully rehomed 3 of them and are just trying to find homes for the other 3.  We have posters up in both Spanish and English in the local bakers and bar and some in the bars in Lanjaron.  We’re due to put some more up in a local bar in Restabal and also at the Vets in Padul.  Fingers crossed we will successfully find homes for the last 3.  Pups at 5 weeks old

We are going to take Ginger to the vets to get her spayed so that we don’t get landed with any more pups and we’ll also make sure both Fred & Ginger have their inoculations to prevent parvo and distemper (as they’ve probably never had these injections when they were pups).  It’ll be interesting trying to get them into the car and into the vets as they are so used to running free.  Our neighbor has said if we are ever away he will make sure the dogs are fed as we’ll have to leave them outside so at least we know they won’t go hungry and when we are at home they’ll be able to come back into the house.  Fred even has his own big floor cushion now after he started making himself comfy on the leather sofa (he ended up on there with Phil & Ginger during the fiesta when the rockets were going off – absolutely scared stiff!!!).Safety in numbers!

Satellite tv work has been a lot quieter over the summer but in light of all the work we’ve had to do on the roofs it’s been for the best – we’ve had work coming in but not been swamped.  It’ll start picking up now that we are getting into the autumn/winter and over here in Spain, just like in the UK, they are moving over to digital tv and the analogue signal is being switched off.  Some areas will change over in December and the rest of Andalucia by April next year, so we may start picking up more antenna work then.  We are lucky living in the upper part of the village as we can pick up the Granada transmitter and get 26 digital Spanish channels and so have a choice between Spanish or UK TV.

Talking of TV’s – our tv blew up for the 3rd time (the other 2 times was back in the UK whilst it was under extended warrenty and didn’t cost anything to fix) and we decided it was time to buy another (it was 10 years old but had an excellent picture) so we’ve gone for another Philips tv but this time the 42″ LCD Ambilight and can’t believe how great films look on a bigger screen with the ambilight.  Just need to get a 2nd hand Sky HD box now so that we can watch BBC & ITV in HD and hopefully the box will arrive in the next few weeks from our supplier back in the UK.

Well that’s about all for now – hope you all have a good autumn and if you fancy a short break then Spain is still having some lovely warm weather and as I manage a few houses in the village, can arrange property rentals for you.  Fingers crossed by this time next year we’ll have at least one bedroom & ensuite ready to rent out but Phil’s not promising!!!!!

Hasta luego

Mel & Phil 😉

Autumn in Pinos

Where has the summer gone? It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since I was putting a note on the blog about the Fiesta and now we’re about to start Autumn!

The fiesta went off with a bang – as is usual here in Spain – loads of fireworks, lots of visitors to the village, music, dancing etc. We had some friends over for a BBQ on the Saturday and later on we all went down to the entrance of the village to watch the spectacular firework display – the best yet! After that we all walked back up to the church square to watch the Banderas and majorettes – a very good evening and great company.

We’ve now finished the new small terrace off from the lounge and the metal stairs are installed and we can now access the top terrace from there. The next job to start once that was done was the refurbishment of the other small terrace at the front of the house which is above the main staircase. We started this in August and had the centre of the house open to the stars for a few weeks whilst we got the new concrete beams up in place. We can now report that it is all finished and watertight again and much better now that the old lightwell has gone and we have new glass blocks in place to give us light. It should be a lot warmer this winter too as the old lightwell used to let loads of cold air into the house. Phil is just adding the finishing touches to the terrace area with some rendering on the walls and the final top coat and then I can give it a coat of white paint and it’s all done. We’ve fitted a new double glazed glass door leading from the Azotea (3rd floor room) out on to the terrace – it’s a lot better now as the old wooden door wouldn’t close properly and it used to leak water when it rained. We’ve put a temporary tarpaulin cover over the small area between the new refurbished roof terrace and the old roof which needs replacing next year and hopefully this should stop any leaks over the winter.

The weather has definitely broken now and the rains have arrived with a few storms but when the sun comes out it warms up pretty quickly and after a few hours you forget it rained. There have been some pretty fierce storms inland in the Cordoba, Sevilla, Madrid, Valencia areas with a lot of flooding and storm damage but fingers crossed we won’t get hit with the same sort of storm we experienced last year. Thankfully we had another delivery of sand and a skip for all the building rubble delivered before the rains started so that was a stroke of luck and after 2 days of backbreaking work the skip was filled and the sand moved to outside the house.
We’re off to Gran Canaria at the beginning of November for a weeks holiday and really looking forward to it. We have been invited to join our friend and her family at their flat in the south of the island and we are hiring a car so that we can go and explore the interior of the island which is supposed to be very beautiful and green – very different to the coastal resorts. We’ll update you on how we get on.

Well that’s about all for now – hope everyone is well and not working too hard.

Hasta luego

Mel & Phil

Summer Has Arrived!

Hola everyone and apologies once again for the tardiness in updating our blog.

We are now in July and I’ve been here 2 years already! Work on the house has moved on quite a bit and our new kitchen is now finished and in full use – it’s wonderful and spacious with beautiful granite worktops – something we could never afford back in the UK.
The lounge, bedroom and office have now all been redocorated and pictures put up on the walls so everything is now finished on that side of the house.

We took off the old roof next to the lounge area and have made the area into a lovely small terrace which we can now access from the new lounge and Phil has built a lovely little water feature to give us the tinkling of water when the weather is hot. As I type this we are waiting for the new metal stairs to arrive and be fitted to give us access to the top terrace – hopefully this should be later this week. Once they are fitted Phil can finish off the floor tiling on the terrace and it will be ready to use. Phil’s fitted an automatic watering system so that makes it easier keeping the plants alive in the heat (we’re averaging 35 degress or more now so things dry out quite quickly).

Start of New Small TerraceOur newly finished small terrace

The next job to start is to renew the flooring of the small terrace at the front of the house and get rid of the old lightwell and put something in like glass blocks to let the light in but keep the cold out in the winter.

Well that’s about all for now – the work carries on and one day we’ll be open for business as a little B&B but until then the satellite tv work keeps us ticking over.

Have a great summer whatever you do and wherever you spend it.

Hasta luego

Mel & Phil 🙂

Spring Has Arrived

Well it’s been nearly 3 months since our last update and Spring has arrived here in the beautiful Lecrin Valley. Almond blossom has adorned the hillsides and the scent whilst out walking has been beautiful. The spring flowers are now appearing and the hillsides are looking green and fresh – perfect time of year to visit. The temperatures are on the up and it’s great for walking and mountain biking as it’s not too hot.

We managed to get a days snowboarding in during January when my brother visited and we had a great time. As we’ve been busy with the house I think that will be our only trip this year but it was good to know that after 5 years of no snowboarding we still remembered how to do it!!!

Work on the house is progressing well and at the end of January we moved into our new lounge and bedroom! It was great unpacking boxes of ornaments and belongings that hadn’t seen the light of day for the last 2 years – it was like Christmas all over again. It’s heaven being able to use our new ensuite and not having to negotiate the steps up and down to the old bathroom.

We are now working on the room which will become our new kitchen. All the plumbing and waste has been installed along with the conduit for the new electrics. Phil is currently tiling the floor area prior to us installing the new units. Once this is done it’ll be a trip down to Ikea in Malaga for the new kitchen. Although Phil hand built our last kitchen in the UK he’s decided to go down the Ikea route this time for speed as it was a lengthy job building units from scratch and we have so much more work ahead of us still. Fingers crossed we’ll have a working kitchen installed before our friend arrives for her holiday at the beginning of May.

Once the work on the kitchen has finished then our next job will be to remove the old roof above the store room in the old mill area – another skip will be required me thinks!!! We’ll be doing as much of the outside work as possible during the summer and then from October onwards we’ll move back to the work inside the house and hopefully start on the new guest rooms and their en suites.

The satellite work is quiet at the moment but that is expected due to the time of year and also the current economic climate in the UK. We are looking at other options to earn a crust but our main efforts are being channeled into the work on the house. The sooner the work gets completed the sooner we can start running as a B&B.

Well that’s all for now folks and all that remains is to wish you all a very Happy Easter.

Hasta Luego

Mel & Phil 😉

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all and hope you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2008

Christmas for us passed by quietly and we had a nice lazy day opening presents, watching a bit of tv and taking a nice walk in the winter sunshine around the olive & orange groves
surrounding the village. As we decided to eat early evening we didn’t BBQ the steak as it
was dark and nippy up on the terrace and so cooked in the kitchen and relaxed afterwards by watching a film.

26th is back to normal here in Spain (no Boxing Day) and so it was back to work on the house and Phil doing more plastering. The weekend just before Xmas we filled a huge skip with building rubble and then moved a load of sand back to the house from the top of the village. Took us 2 days of hard graft but satisfying when it was all done. We shouldn’t need any more sand for a while now as there is a massive amount to keep us going.

In between Christmas and New Year we had a few satellite tv installations to keep us busy
and New Years Eve was spent tucked up inside with a few drinks, and as Spanish custom goes I stuffed 12 grapes into my mouth at midnight to ensure good luck for the forthcoming year! Not easy trying to keep up with the church bells and not choking!! We then watched the New Year celebrations on the tv back in the UK and the huge firework display in London – after which it was off to bed ready for another day of work on the house!

My brother is coming over to stay for 12 days on 3 January and so looking forward to having him here with us. We are taking him into Granada for the 3 Kings Procession on the night of 5th January and then the next day we are off to the Conchar Mosto Wine Festival – should be a good day!! After that we’ll play it by ear – have fixed up some rock climbing for him with another English guy who lives in the valley so he’s looking forward to that. We might also get a chance to go up to the ski resort and get some snowboarding in. There is some rain forecast for later this week which means some more snow higher up which is good news.

Work on the new living area and bedroom is progressing steadily and fingers crossed by end January we might be able to move into it – the new log burner keeps it lovely and warm.

That’s all for now folks – hope you all had a great Christmas and best wishes to you all for 2008.

Mel & Phil

December Already – Where Has The Year Gone???

I can’t believe it’s December already – the year has flown by and it’s nearly Christmas!! I’ve been very good and have written all our Christmas cards and bought all our presents and wrapped them ready to deliver. Well I’ve had to be an early bird as we are flying back to the UK on 13 December for a few days to visit family and friends before Christmas and to hand out cards & presents. We’re flying back on 18th to spend a quiet Christmas here in Spain and of course to carry on with the building work. We’ll have a quiet day on the 25th and plan to BBQ some steak on the terrace and relax (fingers crossed the sun will be out). Then no doubt we’ll be back to work on the house on 26th.

As far as the building work progress goes – we now have the new bedroom, ensuite and lounge/diner built – the walls have been plastered and given their first lick of paint and Phil is just finishing off the tiling in the ensuite and will be ready to fit the new bidet, toilet & sink before we fly back to the UK. We bought our new Estufa (Woodburning Stove) a week ago and it is now installed and working – it’s lovely and warm in the new part of the house and we’re really looking forward to moving in – however it won’t be until Jan/Feb as we have to do some other work first on the new garage door before we can finish the rooms upstairs. Still it will be worth the wait. Once all that works finished then we will start on the new kitchen which I am really looking forward to. Once that’s done then we can start on the main part of the house for the guest rooms. My estimate now is that it’ll be another 2 years before we are completely finished and can finally operate as a proper B&B but there’s always a room ready for family & friends who what to visit us. We keep plodding on – poco a poco (bit by bit) as our Spanish neighbours say.

The weather this autumn has been quite mild and when we have sunny days they are usually warm in the sun but a little chilly in the shade. The nights now are a little nippy and we’ve been using the gas heaters now since mid November in the main part of the house and they are enough to keep us warm. We’ve had some more rain recently which has given a good dump of snow on the mountain tops and the Sierra Navada ski resort opened on 1st December. We are hoping in Jan or Feb to go up and try out our snowboards again – it’s been 4 years since we were last on them so I can imagine there will be more time sitting/kneeling in the snow than actual boarding but it’ll be good to get back into it. At least we’ll be able to go in the week when it’s a bit quieter – the weekends are manic (apparently).
The satellite tv installations are ticking along steadily and helping to keep us fed and watered (well wine rather than water!).

We’re looking forward to the forthcoming Conchar Wine Festival which takes place in the Village of Conchar in Lecrin Valley and this year it is being held on 6th January. We’re hoping the weather is warm and sunny like last year as it makes it a great day out. You buy your Wine Festival Mug (large or small depending on preference/or if you’re driving) and then keep filling it up with the local Mosto (young wine) for free! There is a band playing spanish music, food freshly cooked on a big BBQ and young and old have a great time. There is lots of dancing and chatting and families come from all over for a great day out and to meet up with old friends. So if you are in the area on the 6th or fancy coming over for the festival we can highly recommend it.

Not a lot else to report so we’ll bid you adios for now and update you on events and the work on the house in the New Year.

Have a great Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2008.

Abrazos y besos (hugs and kisses)

Mel & Phil