Neither of them exactly fits the image we had when we left England, just over eight months ago. Then, we thought we wanted an old place to renovate - somewhere with lots of land and space to keep animals - a place where we could put up yurts or gers, for friends and family to stay in a rural idyll.
My naturally optimistic frame of mind probably made me too idealistic but without this, a more realistic person might never have left British shores! We don't have the money to invest in a place that has everything we want. Land costs more than we'd expected and although the crisis has hit Spain, many people, who have land and old properties, are hanging onto them - probably in the hope that one day they will be worth more. Those who are having to sell as a result of the crisis are, on the whole, those who have taken out a mortgage to buy a nice, warm flat in the city! And we don't want one of those! So - those who are selling are not selling what we want. Those who have what we want, are not selling. Shucks!
We've looked in Galicia, Asturias, Leon, Palencia and now in Andalucia - both in Granada and Jaen. We've looked at many tens of properties. And it's taken us this long to identify our priorities - to sort out what is necessary to us and what we could live without. Top of the list is for our children to have access to their schools. Having attended three schools in the last twelve months, I don't want them to have to move again. This means staying in or around Alcala - which now suits me fine. We wanted land - as much as possible - but this would mean being isolated. We don't want the children to have to travel a long way everyday on the bus - or worse - to have to take them and fetch them everyday from school ourselves. Some of the properties I have seen would have meant a 5+ kilometre drive just to reach a bus stop. No. We know now that we don't want that.
So, what have we seen?
It was a very old house in the historic centre of Alcala. I liked it very much as soon as we entered. It had lovely space, with typical Andalusian tiles on the walls and - hurray - wooden windows, rather than the awful aluminium ones that seem to be prevalent in many Spanish homes. A house that must be at least a hundred years old, with huge, thick stone walls, a cool cellar and an attic with wonderful old beams on view.
It had a patio at the back that was partly covered and partly open with space to grow my tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and potatoes. And apart from the bathroom location, (outside in the covered patio, not the best place, perhaps) it was somewhere we could live in immediately and it had an attic that could be converted to more bedrooms or to an open terrace area.
It didn't have any parking space and it is situated on a rather steep and narrow street - both of which are definitely negatives in Cesar's book - although I did suggest we looked for a garage to buy or rent, which would solve the problem in much the same way as other people in the town solve it. I admit to working on him about the house over Wednesday evening and by the next morning, he had
That was the plan until 10.30am on Thursday.
Cesar had arranged to go out with another agent in town to see a property that had been started but not finished. The owner had run into difficulties and wanted to sell the partly-completed project. I was unenthusiastic, as to choose something like that would leave us in rented accommodation for longer than I could bear to think about. Cesar had always wanted to build us a house but it seemed so impractical and scary to me - and this brought back all those fears. However, I decided to go along to see what it was like.
We both loved the situation, the plot of land was quite big, with room for growing plants and even a few chickens! And our imaginations happily turned the concrete posts into a completed home. (We have good imaginations!)
Whether we'll be brave enough to take something like this on is another matter. Cesar is away in Valladolid just now, so we've both got time to think it through on our own before we decide what to do.
Will we be brave enough to take on a house that currently looks like this:
And will the locals in the village be happy to accept a house that will look like this?
I don't even know if I could imagine us living there! Though I am working on it.....