I find it hard to believe that it is more than a month since my last post. Life has been unbelievably busy, with us commuting between Fuente Amarga and Cantoria. For three weeks we stayed at Dave and Lesley’s. They had called it house-sitting, but we knew they were being kind, and saving us hundreds of miles commuting to deal with the daily questions and decisions about the restoration of Cortijo Limonero.
Jose Manuel and his team have continued to work at a quite astonishing pace. Gaspi and his sidekick have installed pipework throughout the house, in case we later decide we need central heating to warm us through our dotage. Mario and Rich have subdued a large section of the orange grove, aided and abetted by Geoff on chainsaw and Dave with his lifetime of expertise in all things fencing. I have made a start on the chicken palace, between the many and varied queries the house throws up.
Having not known how to pronounce our names to start with, Jose Manuel has got his tongue around Lynn (easy) and Geoff (took a bit more time) Now, whenever a question arises, my name rings through the air, somehow sounding more charming with the Spanish edge to it. “Lean! Lean!” shouts Jose Manuel, and I scoot around the building site looking for him, and pondering on just how unsuitable that epithet is.
I could regale you with stories of disasters and chaos, but that would be less than honest. We have hit one or two slight snags, inevitable when dealing with an old Spanish farmhouse, but nothing has really been a great problem, and the one or two changes we have had to make have been small, and have actually worked out better than the original plan.
As time has gone on, it has become more and more apparent that we have been blessed with the best builder we could possibly have hoped for. His attention to detail, his good humour and unflappability are the stuff of legend. He will point out something he has uncovered, ask us what we think, give us several options, tell us what he believes is the best solution, and is always scrupulous about telling us if there is a cost implication involved. His workers keep time as accurately as the finest of atomic clocks, and they are obliging and cheerful.
As I suspected, one of the most exciting parts of the project has been the breakthrough between the kitchen and what used to be the bathroom. We were delighted that it proved possible to make a lovely wide opening, and with the creation of the huge larder under the staircase, we have a great space opened up and ready to become the heart of our new home.
Jose Manuel has been painstakingly tiling the walls in the hall, kitchen and office. We have chosen beautiful traditional Andalucian-style tiles,fresh blues, yellows and whites for the kitchen and hall and pretty peachy beige and blue for the office. Poor Jose Manuel has had to shave a tiny sliver off every one of the pretty border tiles in the office, as they were fractionally larger than the rest of the tiles, and he did not want to make a less than perfect job of it. “Yes, it is more work,” he shrugged, “but it would be ugly otherwise.”
The bedrooms have been created out of the large, square space upstairs. With the help of a free piece of design software, I have been able to show Jose Manuel almost photographic pictures of what we want, and he has done a great job of turning them into reality. Currently, we have three bedrooms and two bathrooms up there, with the ceilings plastered, walls plastered, tiles in the bathrooms, and all the plumbing and electrics in place, waiting for sockets and switches, toilets and basins. Next week, all being well, concreting and tiling the floors upstairs will begin.
I will spend some time putting together a proper progress report on the garden and chicken palace as soon as I have the time, but for now, here are another set of pictures of the work. If you click on any of them, they will open up as a larger version, and you can then click through the gallery by using the ‘next’ button at the top right of each page.