When we first viewed the house, the upstairs was full of clutter. The land was very overgrown, and there were many mysterious articles littered about the place.
While I could not see any reason to keep a crate of empty beer bottles, a broken Michael Jackson child’s drum kit, or a load of broken old bricks, there were plenty of interesting things to hoard.
I found a delightful little brass dish with a tiny picture of villagers and a dog gathered around a barrel buried in one of the overgrown flower beds. An ancient Werthers Originals tin was hanging in the quince tree. They are currently being cleaned up and will eventually find homes around the house.
Some of my finds survived the building work, but upon closer inspection, I suspect they will end up in the bin. Some got broken, but will end up in a mosaic somewhere.
There were also bits of the house that were replaced – roof beams, windows, doors etc. Anything that looked as if it might be recycled was stacked carefully outside. Jose Manuel got to the point where he would ask “Do you want to keep this for the chickens?” as a sort of shorthand for “Are you mad enough to want to keep this too?”
The chicken palace has an old double window recycled as the ladies’ bedroom door, and the old back door to the shed will be modified to be the door of the tower that houses their feed, sawdust and sundries. I have grandiose plans for a mosaic flowing up the walls and over the pointy roof, but they will have to wait their turn – there is so much else to be doing.
I have, however, had fun with a couple of projects already.
First, I tarted up the old plate rack that had been part of the hideous, cobbled together kitchen. It was fairly easy to scrub it clean, fill a couple of holes, sand it down, paint it with some donated ‘chalk paint’ and wax it. It looks fab, and is now home for many of our huge collection of mugs.
Inspired by the plate rack, I turned to recycling the old window from the old bathroom. It was only a frame with a metal grille, but it seemed fairly sturdy, so I set to with the wood glue and some paint. Once again, I used the ‘chalk paint’ and also some black Hammerite for the metal bits. I am more than chuffed with the results, and Guillermo the carpenter says he loves it!
I should say at this point that the ‘chalk paint’ I used is not the famous and wonderful Annie Sloan stuff. As far as I can tell, this stuff is more a standard acrylic emulsion paint with a bit of plaster of Paris thrown in. Annie Sloan it is definitely not. It doesn’t cover as well, is less easy to use, and the finish is not as good as Annie Sloan, but for experimental purposes it is good enough, and waxes up nicely with generic furniture wax. For anyone wanting stylish and excellent results, I would recommend spending the extra to get the real thing.
The latest project has been restoring a tiny, three legged table that was languishing upstairs amid the debris. It is very wonky, riddled with woodworm holes, clearly handmade by a not very skilled woodworker, old, and had its third leg snapped off about a third of the way up.
I had noticed this poor table the first time we viewed, and decided that one way or another I would try to restore it to some sort of usefulness. Time has not been kind to it, and the top and the shelf are both warped, so repairing the leg to make a more or less stable and flat table has been an interesting experience.
The tin of cream paint is lasting longer than I ever imagined it would, and came into service again, this time with an oak stained wax.
I can’t help feeling that this latest bit of silliness may be a step too far, but the Fimo sandal and the knobbly join between the leg stump and the prosthesis are somehow endearing, and there is a weird satisfaction in using one of the many dismembered dollies upstairs to give the old table a new lease of life.
I’m not sure anyone will notice it anyway, and it has been interesting using stained wax for the first time.
Tomorrow we are hoping to formally purchase irrigation water rights, and if all goes well, we shall be very busy outside for the next few days, experimenting with watering the trees Spanish style. I hope to report how it is going soon, but don’t hold your breath!