Throughout October we had spectacular weather, blue skies and real heat from the sun which made the cold showers we had to put up with while the boiler was being moved acceptable if not enjoyable. The start of November brought cooler weather, chilly nights and some rain that was clearly needed after the long hot summer Spain had experienced this year. Fortunately the boiler, in its new position in the utility room provided hot water aplenty and the wood burner, once we had worked out that we needed to open the flue in order to prevent black smoke from filling the room, provided warmth and comfort in the evenings but we awoke morning after morning to moody skies and increasingly strong winds which culminated in four day long storm.
The wind whistled and howled around the roof and the rain blew in through the odd gap around the windows. Leaves were stripped from the almond trees and whirled around the terrace collecting in drifts and piles in the corners and landing in the pool. On my birthday the storm was at its worst; we had to move the bed twice during the night and find old towels to mop the floor as the rain was driven by the wind into the leak in the roof which rapidly turned into three leaks and we were woken by a strange clattering noise which we couldn’t identify until later in the day when Steve spotted something which proved to be the lid of the barbecue lying at the bottom of the pool. A length of guttering, part of which landed near the car, was ripped from the side of the house due to the ferocity of the wind. Our insurance agent came to see us about some damage to the house that had been sustained in the gota fria which had occurred before we arrived in Spain and in gloomy tones informed us that the weather was most unusual for the time of year. “In Spain, we never go more than three days without seeing the sun”.
The weather took its toll on our plans for our apartment as the person who will do the initial work for us was unable to finish his previous project so we had to content ourselves with doing some market research on Face book to find out what items could make or break self catering or bed and breakfast accommodation. We had an amazing response from family and friends and felt happy that we had already considered and implemented most of the points raised which ranged from “large and comfortable bed” to “sharp knives”.
The return of the fine weather saw us return to outside concerns such as the pool which has been empty for three years and consequently needs a lot of attention. The skimmers and filters are not working efficiently and we have discovered that much of the pipe work has deteriorated and must be replaced; some fairly easily as they are above ground but some are below ground requiring the removal of paving slabs, concrete and a large amount of earth. The large volumes of concrete and earth in the wheelbarrow that we found in the grounds when we arrived caused the wheel to deflate and refuse to stay re-inflated. We bought a new wheel from the co-operativa which looked identical to the original wheel but on fitting it proved to be fractionally too small causing the wheel to fall off when the barrow was loaded. “Welcome to Spain” is what people say when you relate these tales of woe and frustration. We have now bought a new wheelbarrow and I have learned the word for wheel barrow – carretilla.
We have been waiting for some documentation from our solicitor which would enable us to go to the ayuntamiento (town hall) and get our “Padron”. Without this we do not officially exist in Spain but now we are officially registered as residents of Sax and will be able to more easily do various things like buy a car. Excitingly we also have a licence to burn and are planning a large bonfire. We have plenty to burn as we have started to prune the almond trees, many of which have not been pruned for some time. The trees in the local area are beautifully maintained and have a classic goblet shape with three or sometimes four main branches that are smooth until they explode in a fluffy cloud of leaves at the ends. Most of ours have suckers around the stem and a very ragged outline looking unkempt and tatty. We have pruned about 25 trees to date and our technique is improving all the time. We started out quite hesitantly but have learned to be ruthless in the quest for the perfect outline. We shall see in the spring whether our efforts have borne fruit and more importantly – almonds. There are still almonds on the trees and Steve has taken over as chief nutcracker. I am scouring the internet for the perfect macaroon recipe – no macaroon is a bad macaroon although my first batch were a little scorched underneath, but the crisp outer shell and chewy inside I am searching for has eluded me to date. I think it has something to do with oven heat combined with egg white to almond ratio and am determined to persevere until macaroon heaven is reached or we die of a surfeit of almonds.
We are very much looking forward to our first visitor from England. My sister is due to visit in a couple of weeks and we are keen to show her everything we have done and everything we are planning as well as Sax itself and our favourite restaurant which served us the best patatas bravas I have eaten in Spain.
Today we walked to the top of the mountain behind the house. It took us an hour of fairly hard uphill walking but the view from the top as well as the sense of achievement made the puffing worthwhile. On the mountain with us were the hunters and their dogs who often visit on a Sunday shooting, we presume, rabbits and game birds. Disconcertingly on our way down the mountain, a shot rang out very close by. It was like being in a western as the shot echoed round the valley and we spotted the hunter walking through the undergrowth with his dog bounding joyfully at his feet. The mountain path is fairly well travelled with walkers, cyclists and the occasional motorbike so we guess and hope there are rules as to which direction the hunters shoot in. Surely there are. Welcome to Spain!