Yes, it has been a while since my last blog so this one covers three months hence the title.
When the sun came out at the beginning of April it was hard to resist it’s lure. Sunshine and warmth were, after all, the reasons we came to Spain. Our Easter visitors were able to enjoy a couple of days of reasonable sunshine and a paella by the beach at Guademar before leaving us to resume work on the pool and outside space.
The longer, warmer days brought vivid colours to the landscape which became covered in wildflowers on a scale I can’t remember seeing in England since I was a child. Yellow, purple, red, lime green, pink and blue flowers lined the roadsides and filled the fields and rough ground around the valley and to emphasise that Spring had truly arrived there were birds courting everywhere and making a joyful noise about it too. The trees in the orchard shook with the strength of avian passion to such an extent that I began to wonder if the developing almonds would survive the spring let alone make it to harvest but by the end of April a sense of peace descended on the orchard once more. This sense of peace may have been due to the awful weather that was to strike but I am getting ahead of myself.
My mother and stepfather came to visit for a few days in mid-April and had a glorious few days of sunshine. For the most part they sat on the terrace enjoying the warmth, the views and our builder finishing off the work outside. After they left Steve and I headed up to Segorbe to help celebrate our friend’s birthday in wonderful sunshine and we were confident that the warm weather was set for the summer.
Not so. The wind got up, the clouds came over and it rained. A lot. Although May was a disappointment weather wise, when the sun did come out it was a good deal warmer and brighter than the English version. We checked the long range weather forecast avidly as we were expecting friends at the end of May and beginning of June who were desperate for some warmth and sunshine after the grim English Spring. We popped back to England at the beginning of May to see friends in Frome and at the school where Steve used to work and had a lovely time. We flew in over Poole Harbour at sunset – gorgeous and had fun trying to remember to drive on the left. Back in Spain we accepted a couple more bookings and continued to wait for better weather.
Back in January I had been to a gym in town to try and set up some Zumba classes. I hadn’t had any response to my initial visit so I went back to follow up and was pleased if slightly taken aback to be told that not only were they interested but they had promoted Zumba in their newsletter telling members that classes would be available in April. I was asked to give two demonstration classes which were well received despite my nerves and it was decided that I would start with two classes per week. I learned the Spanish for relevant parts of the body; knees, heels, arms and hips and hoped that along with the words for faster, slower, left and right I would manage. My Spanish had improved greatly but the biggest challenge remained and remains understanding Spanish spoken at speed. I am better at saying I don’t understand but it continues to be a frustration. The telephone is especially difficult with no visual clues to help.
Throughout May we concentrated on marketing, getting our website up and running http://www.steveandjudith.wix.com/fincalosgatos and a Facebook page dedicated to the business. We also placed an advertisement on the Spain made Simple web site. Having got these in place we felt able to approach Tabitha Symonds of One Off Places http://www.oneoffplaces.com to see if she felt our property was suitable for her site. Tabitha features some incredible properties so we were delighted to be featured ourselves and within a week had accepted a booking for July. Our former estate agent Teresa, at Olive Grove Estates http://www.olivegroveestates.com continued to recommend us to her house hunting customers and a booking came through her. I am grateful for the knowledge I gained from the marketing department at Rosemary Conley Head Office which I try to put into practice in our new venture.
By the end of May the weather was starting to improve and our friend Wendy had a sunny few days with us and a good rest. James had better weather at the beginning of June and even swam. Steve of course was swimming daily but, chilly mortal that I am, it took until later in the month for me to really enjoy the pool. Now in mid July, a dip is an essential part of each day particularly if we have been working outside.
The olives are swelling, the almonds are ripening along with the walnuts and we have had a glut of nisperos, figs and now cucumbers! We made jam with the nisperos and I am going to do the same with the figs and make chutney. We eat lots of cucumbers fortunately but I am hoping to pickle some for winter and am looking forward to a larder filling with produce as the summer continues. We have guests in the apartment, bookings in the diary, a marketing strategy and employment with other prospects in the pipeline. We took a big risk, have worked hard and are reaping the rewards. We are living the dream.