Tag Archives: Renovation

Restoration Period

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Now the builders Paco & Ivan the joker are helping on the house, things are moving at a cracking pace. Indeed, I have discovered it’s best not to say, ‘maybe we could have a window here . . . ‘, and then drive into the village to get supplies, although the floor to ceiling window on the second floor is dramatic. The pipes have been laid in the bathroom (I think) and I have found a bath, or rather a bath that isn’t being used as a trough in a field. Windows and doors can not be fitted  until I provide them and I can’t begin to get them until I know what size they need to be; Paco and Ivan, twirling their mallets, insist they can be any size. Any size that can fit in or on a Peugeot 206. I redouble my efforts to find a suitable them in the classified ads after seeing paw marks in the mud of the house, and a snake sunning itself beside the newly installed toilet. I opted for a chandelier for morale and have now put the first 8 coats of paint and plaster over some of the old walls. White obviously – the local hardware store sells crimson, sapphire, buttercup yellow and orange paint, sells every shade in between, but people only ever buy white.

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Housework

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The farm is one of five carved out for the sons of a local landowner a hundred or so years ago. No-one remembers what its name is, or when it was last lived in, although it has most recently been used for storing partridges, and as an easy-come, easy-go roost for swallows and house martins (and much more). The long barn with its elaborate tiled floor was used for hay; and the great fireplace played its bit in the annual matanza – or pig killing, the highlight of the farming year.
At least the walls and roof are sound, and it has plenty of water in its own well. There are many decaying Andalucian farmhouses and cortijos in the fields around here, and they’ll never be replaced. Growing olives and raising goats keeps things ticking over, but don’t cover the cost of major structural repairs. Some people stay put and let the place crumble around them; more – as happened here, many decades ago – retreat to the nearest village, get the benefit of heating and a social life, and use the old farmhouse for storing tractors, camping out in the summer, or cooking lunch (as demonstrated above by Fernando’s cousin, Fernando, who I found rustling up a revuelto of eggs and the wild thistle).
I don’t want to change its thick-walled central core as much as clean it, add a bathroom, turn the second floor grain store into a bedroom, rewire. The kitchen is basic. There are a lot of complicated decisions ahead, but right now the priority is mucking out so I can move in at the end of the month. So it is that my days are spent editing and evenings until the light fades, in a mask and rubber gloves removing dark webs as thick as tweed, carrying buckets of water from the outdoor tap, and scrubbing walls and floors with fizzing Salfumant agua fuerte. I find an old red tiled floor underneath the packed mud. Once it’s too dark to see the walls, I reward myself with a wash and glass of manzanilla at the bar. It’s a kind of living.

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