Update – As you would expect, not too much has been happening due to it all being virtually finished. The weather has been too hot in any case but we have had an outside sink built in the dirty yard. It’ll be used for potting and cleaning and I’ll get a photo of it later. I’ve managed to buy a load of wood to build the pergola thing in the courtyard and hope to start on that whilst the temperatures have come down somewhat. But, Mrs M decided to gather up all the old material we had laying around and with a number of old work blouses of hers and she cut them down into strips. We’d bought a new sewing machine for just this sort of thing, to sew them back together to make the following. Mrs M admits she has no idea how to use it and was relying on a recent guest to show her. I though opened my big mouth and mentioned I had a skill set that I had so far hidden from her. I was able to sew with the machine. I was thrashed around the kitchen with a wet tea towel for a while as she exclaimed “Why didn’t you say so! There have been loads of things for years I want to make!” She eventually calmed down fortunately otherwise I’d still be in the dog house.
So, I gathered up all the strips and put them together and with some backing material made these –
They don’t look right just there as we had the perfect place for them. So with a recently made mattress cover as well they went just here instead –
Later yesterday I was treated to the full majesty of Mother Nature. It was a nice end to the day –
It's starting to look like paradise and with a live-in seamstress to boot! Having spent so much time in places like India, the Middle East and Africa, you of course know that using a sewing machine is a man's job in all of those countries anyway.
You're able to look at that sunset every night? It's absolutely gorgeous.
What will you do now that everything is in place but the pergola, and you'll surely make short work of that. Is it time for a part-time job as a Wal-mart greeter? Not that you're that old. Not that you have Wal-marts near you. I'm just trying, and failing, to make a helpful suggestion.
mich, the list compiled by Mrs M seems to get longer and longer every day.
breeze, I can't see that exact sunset every day obviously, but as the front of the house faces it I'll see good ones all the time. I don't know why but we get better ones than normal quite regularly. The suggestions are welcome and I will consider most things that don't require too much effort to do.
The last couple of mornings has seen me building the pergola, if that’s what you call it. First I put a line of wood, called I think a plate, across the front of the house. The gap in the wall plate you can see is where there is a vent for the bathroom in one of the downstairs rooms. -
Then the posts were put in to the brackets previously installed in the floor of the courtyard. The posts had to be lined up to be vertical and all in line. Cross pieces then connected the posts to the wood on the wall and the posts to each other. This formed a bit of a frame whereby the lattice wood could be fixed on top -
All the lattices were put up and fixed down and some bracing placed from the front section to the posts. The small wedges need to be yet removed from the bottom of the posts where they lined up the post to the vertical in the metal base bracket, plus a small cover of wood needs to be placed around each foot to cover up the aforementioned metal. Other than that it is about done. The shadows make interesting patterns -
Each year the man who we bought the house and land from harvests our olive trees. We only have half a dozen or so and I'd rather he just has the benefit of them rather than me having to go to the trouble of looking after them. But, each year he brings us our 'share' of the olives, now made into oil. This belatedly is what he gave us this time -
Some time ago I posted a photo of the workshop that was under construction. I don't think I said much more about it.
This is how it was -
There have been a few smaller things happening recently but not much due to having an influx of guests. I've now started to catch up on stuff. Unfortunately I decided to slice off the top of my knuckle a few days ago and have had to restrict what I'm doing otherwise I get blood all over the place. We are having the builders back on Monday, I'll come to that in a minute, so I thought I'd write a little update.
Here is the front of the workshop now with some wardrobe doors I've made and had to paint -
It is fitted out inside and having had a hard usage. One day, when I've got nothing to do, I might even tidy it up. The bench on the left was actually the first thing I made several years ago and I'm now fitting some old kitchen worktops on to it as the old top is mostly wrecked with holes, paint and gouges in it. Normally I pull it away from the wall when I'm working on it -
It is 'L' shaped and behind the green door to the right is the paint and nuts and bolts and stuff -
On the wall to the left are the only motorbikes I am now allowed to own, so says Mrs M -
I made a thing we call a step drawer. It's fine and was needed to just store yet more things we seem to accumulate -
The mantelpiece/fire surround was a fairly easy thing to make. Painting it took longer than making it -
We decided that we'd have a low wall built at the back of the house, that's why the men are coming on Monday. The idea is to tidy up the bank of earth and with a view to planting some bushes, flowers or whatever just there. It'll extend about 15 metres from the wall we now have but won't be as high. The hose pipe you can just about see is actually our mains water supply that comes all the way from the village across the fields, a good kilometer or so away. I'll try at last to get that buried as well. A machine will come that will do some digging out for the foundations and I hope he doesn't decide to cut through the pipe as he does so. I'll probably watch him closely -
We also may have a bit more drainage done closer to the pool arches as there are a few small cracks appearing as the ground settles over time and probably because rain water runs down to it from the hill and undermines the foundations to a certain extent. I'll see what happens on Monday.
And hot water bottles when it gets really cold. The kitchen, as it is used quite often, stays the warmest in the house. I lit the fire last week to check it was ok after the summer but as the weather is still relatively mild, low twenties every day and bright sunshine, we don't yet need it. As a 'just in case' we can use an apartment in the nearest town that has normal heating if things get dire.
New things turn up all the time k2. I've had a bit of a surprise this morning which I'll post about later.
Thanks for the compliment Casi. The olives are pressed just a kilometer or so up the road. There is a small factory that does it. The oil is fine enough, a bit better than average really but still good enough for drizzling over salads. I've seen the neighbour yesterday and today collecting some of his olives by hand and I'm told the real collection starts on Monday. Then it will be done more on an industrial scale.
The workers came this morning at 8am to start work and shortly after the digger turned up. He made quick work of digging out for the bottom of the wall. The problem, as always, is there isn’t enough earth to dig down any distance and the bucket kept scraping along the large rocks just under the surface.
However, we needed the machine for one more thing. Look at this picture. Something wrong, huh?
Yep, a bloody large crack. I’ve been watching it over the summer. It’s on the arches close to the house that are around the pool. The foundations on that area are subsiding. I thought initially it was because of water coming off the hill and undermining it. But I found something different. A secret room.
As the house became bigger many years ago additional storage rooms were built, and in no particular order. Over the intervening period parts of walls have collapsed and roofs fallen in and then covered up any access. What none of us knew was there was a small room right on the top edge of the building where there was also a small store shed. The shed was turned into my battery/electrical room. At the side of it, and not noticed as it was well and truly blocked up and covered, was another area. The arches were built on the edge of it and they were falling in to it. Truly, it wasn’t noticed by any of us and I’m sure I would have spotted it as I was there when the arches were done.
I was told it was found and nipped out to look. It was about three by two metres and completely empty. I went and got my camera just as the digger man started filling it in. You can see how big the rock is –
And that is it in the hole/room –
It was decided to fill the rest up with stone and concrete. Just at the side of the house, from an angle I don’t think you’ve seen before, is a gully. Water drains down it all the time as there is a spring I think I’ve mentioned sometime before feeding in to it. Many moons ago I posted about the cave and tunnel nearby which would be to the left of the photo. Here are numerous large boulders we’ve dropped there from all the other works. The digger grabbed quite a few –
The hole was mostly filled in and the long process of dropping concrete in began to tie it all together –
This will be finished off tomorrow. It didn’t leave them with a lot of time to do much with the wall. This only needs a couple more rows tomorrow though –
The blocks, I know them as breeze blocks, will be left bare for now. We could paint them but then you can’t do anything else with them like cementing on facing stones. We will fill the back up with soil and plant plants that will grow over and down the front of the wall anyway. That leads me to something about money and the cost of things. I’m sure you’d be interested.
In the last photo I posted yesterday you can see the wall of the back patio. This was made out of concrete and faced with stones. We initially thought of carrying that stone on with the new wall. However, we must have forgotten how much it cost. To build using the breeze blocks costs us 22 euro a square metre, plus tax. The new wall will cost us 264 euro. The rent of the machine plus driver for one hour and the cost of his time to get the machine to us and back is 70 euro. Labour for everything and cost of cement for the wall is another 100 euro. As the arches wall has been paid for a long time ago and as now it is subsiding, we are not paying anything for that work. It is down to the builder, as he knows and is quite happy about as the quotes he gives us are a fixed price. If anything goes wrong or he hits problems, it comes out of his profit and pocket with anything he does for us.
The point of this is that to cover the wall with the same facing stones would cost us 900 euro. Yeah right, I’m really going to do that aren’t I? No, I’m not. A few dozen plants for a couple of euros each and a bit of growing time and you won’t see the bloody thing anyway. May take a couple of years but I’m not complaining.
Tomorrow the workers say they are having a late start, 10am. Why I don’t know but it still leaves plenty of time to finish off. Also though, and at last, apparently the solar electricians have promised to turn up at 8m to finally do the job I wanted them to do. I want them to connect up the pool solar panels to the house batteries, with a switch in it, so that over the winter those panels can also charge up the house rather than the pool pump batteries which I don’t really need for now anyway. Originally I specified a separate system but I’ve realised I was wrong and when the pool is winterised I have some panels doing nothing.
The wall has been 'finished'. That means it's been built but something needs doing to it over time to soften the just built look. The mains water pipe I've re-routed to behind the wall and it'll be covered in soil in due time and lots and lots of plants haphazardly placed to obstruct the view of the blocks -
The hole has been filled in and eventually we'll do some planting on this area as well -
Lastly, we have had a new arrival. A mate for Lancelot. He is the cock that guards our front wall. He has been a bit off colour and lonely lately and we thought he needed someone to cheer him up. So Esmeralda has turned up -
I hope to get some wood this week and start on making the breakfast bar. We'll see. The solar electrician turned up this morning. He said he'd be here at 8am and so it was 10.30 when he arrived. He hung around for five minutes, looked at the job and said he'd be back later today or tomorrow with the parts and stuff to do it. I told him we'd been waiting 2 months as it is and his office is waiting for us to pay a previous bill, which we won't do until this job is completed. I'll let you know how we get on.
Work has obviously quietened down a lot at Casa Mark, especially as we've been away quite a lot. But I haven't forgotten my tools completely and I've been pottering with a couple of things. Firstly I made a breakfast bar out of an old kitchen worktop, some floor boarding and railway sleepers. The mosaic tiles on the front are left over from the swimming pool. The chairs I could say I made but actually bought from IKEA......
We needed something to go round the top of the outside steps to stop you falling off into the olive trees in the dark. That was easy enough to do....
Eventually I managed to get round to filling in the niche in our bedroom with a wardrobe for Mrs M. Bless 'er, she's only been waiting for three or four years. She's currently packing to nip to Colombia for three weeks with a friend and to meet up with some old friends there.......
The next thing I'm going to start whilst she's away is a desk and bookcases in one of the bedrooms we use as a study. I'll be buying the wood for that this week and I'll set upon it with gusto.
tod, she has lived there and still has friends there. We adopted our three kids from there and I/we spent a fair few weeks there arranging it with the authorities. Neither of us were ever stopped or felt unwelcome. Saying that though we didn't travel all over, just a few places. She is flying via Amsterdam and then direct to Bogota. No USA at all.
One of about the last larger things to do was to sort out the study with a desk and bookcases. It was just a blank space an needed something doing with it. The centre larger section on the wall will be filled in with pictures/photos rather than books and stuff. So I did -
Ah yes. Cables. Well, it's like this.............. the nearest power point is on the back wall down on the left hand side. The computer is behind the left hand desk door. I actually had to couple everything up before putting on the desk top and the left hand bookcase and the small one at the bottom. If I ever need to connect or disconnect anything I've got to unscrew the small left bottom case and crawl in through there. I hope I never have to.
I have some old Lonely Planet guides that I can give you.
If I am ever able to design a place myself, I will either have an electrical socket every metre along the wall or else have at least six plugs at every power point. I am so sick of these multiplugs that I have in almost every socket in my apartment.