Family, Friends & Guests

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It seems now we have ticked off visits from friends and family so far.

We had Nigel’s sister and hubby, Nigel’s brother from Canada with his son, Nigel’s brother from Ireland with his daughter and as yet nobody from my small family. I am awaiting eagerly my two kids, 20 and 25, to make room in their busy lives for their crazy mum. I guess I have to wait till Christmas.

Instead I had my friends, which I count as my family, here. In March Jani from Germany/Ireland, in April Fiona from Ireland, in July Sabine plus kids from Berlin and Angelika and Elaine also from Germany (yes, we are namesakes and her daughter has the same name as my daughter! They are Ireland fans and have visited there many times).

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But now we have turned our casa into a B&B and receive paying guests through booking.com and Airbnb. This enriches our lives (and pockets) through different minded people. So far we had a Spanish photographer, a Spanish lifeguard, a Spanish fire-fighter is booked to arrive tomorrow. We had a Spanish lawyer-doctor couple and two cyclists, one from Germany and one Dutch. Another Dutch couple is staying with us for a few days and then it’s back to the Spanish. Soon we soon need a third bedroom!

We also discovered a new visitor attraction: Christopher Columbuses ships!

Together with my friend Sabine and kids we had a good look how he managed to first secure money and ships from the Spanish king and set about his many voyages. The Santa Maria, Niña and Piña have been rebuild and actually set to sea and are now ankered just outside Huelva at la Muelle de las Carabelas. His first expedition took place between 1492 and 1493 and his ships were astonishing small considering his ambition to discover East-Asia but landed in the Bahamas instead [see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_(Schiff) ]. Columbus, or Cristobal Colon, as the Spanish call him, was not even Spanish, he was born either on Corsica or in Genua, nobody really knows and therefore Italian. First he asked the Portugese king, but he wasn’t keen to give him the money necessary for his expedition so he went begging to the Spanish king and queen, Ferdinand II. of Aragón und Isabella I. of Castillia, who adopted him subsequently as their Spanish explorer. He is partly buried in the Cathedral of Seville. His bones were transferred back and forth to Cuba, probably a few getting lost on the way or sold off, who knows.[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Kolumbus ].

French Dresser Project

The last piece of restoration here was the ‘French’ ‘antic’ dresser we obtained from our scrap merchant for €110. It was completely black and still had evidence of previous use in a restaurant or pension, as I found six pepper and salt dispensers in it and a few napkins. So I went about painstakingly stripping the paint off. This was a madness-inspired task as the wood is deeply grooved. So I used a spatula and screwdriver to get the paint off in those grooves. And of course it has insets and two handles missing. But I took my time and the result is pleasing to the eye (at least mine). It now looks a bit multi-dimensionally, as the paint has three layers and a bit of black from previous use of the brush. I chose the colour to pick out the slight green centre of the tiles and it looks alright in our bedroom.

The Transformation

When we came here first, the property had not been lived in for nearly 6 years. The olive trees were abandoned and the house was in bad shape. All wiring had been ripped out together with light fixtures, plumbing and who knows what else. Then, just before we returned from Ireland, all windows and doors were taken. This was done professionally, over several days before we bought the property. Naturally that all impacted on the price. So we had a big job on our hands to clean up, restore, rewire, replumb, and order new doors and windows as well as installing our very own, off-the-grid photovoltaic system for generating electricity from the very generous Spanish sunshine.

Before we bought the property:

And after our efforts:

The worst place was the en-suite bathroom. It was dark and sported an unfinished concrete bath. It seems it was built as an after-thought, as underneath the sides were tiles on the wall. As we already have a bath in the other upstairs bathroom we wanted a nice, generously proportioned walk-in shower. So the bath had to go. Nigel painstakingly chipped away at it and carried bucketfuls of rubble out. Then the floor and walls had to be smoothed out, plastered and tiled. It isn’t everybody’s dream bathroom, but for us it is a great achievement and it reminds me of the Gaudi-style. Why straight and even if you can play with form and colour? I even refreshed and painted up some tiles for the skirting board and these complete the look.

Step-by-step:

 

Our brand-new doors upstairs are now also painted and we had our first B&B guests, Bego, a very talented photographer who was here to take pictures of the ‘Saca de las Yeguas’, running of the mares (more about that in the next blog), and a very young couple.

Next up is my friend from Berlin with her two young sons, so this is holiday time and fun after all the intense time of work, frustrations and difficulties to get everything together.

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