Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Monday, 31 March 2014

A year on...

Just over a year ago, we'd just started negotiations to buy the house we're now living in. I had it in my mind that it was at the end of February that we'd seen the house, but it was at the beginning. As I was driving home from a class the other day, there was just a fuzz of pink showing on the almond trees that line parts of the road and the sky was blue and bright. Spring was just returning after a cold and damp winter.  A year on and time for a little reflection methinks...



Escher



































The house had been on the market since we first arrived in Alcala - but at a price that excluded us looking - but I had liked the look of it from the start. Indeed, I had driven out to Villalobos three times during our first two years in rented accommodation.  Each time, I'd get about half way and decide - no, it was just too far out - only on the last time did I find the house itself. I guess knew deep down that we'd always end up living here.

Now, the journey is a well-known route of twists and turns, occasionally made stressful by a large car coming towards you - most people drive as though there is no one else on the road, but thus far, we've avoided contact; it's a route that Mateo has walked several times just because he felt like it; it's the route the little local bus follows like clockwork twice a day, taking the children and other village folk to and from town and the schools - often a full and jolly load.
We planted a few trees last year and recently, FR has planted another dozen trees in the garden and on the land - including cherry, almond, fig and walnut. They're all young trees so it's going to be a while before they start to be productive, but it's so lovely to think they're in and growing and putting forth buds and blossom.
We've had some ups and downs in the past year but our house has done a sterling job in keeping us cool in the summer months and warm and dry in the winter ones. Until we can sort out the outside and the entrance to the house, we will have to accept that dust, dirt and mud will enter every time we do. I have become accustomed to sweeping the kitchen floor and seeing half of it wander off again - ants and little beetles are in all the gaps in the tiles and no matter what I do, I can't keep them out. A key reason why I won't be making chocolates to sell any more - certainly not this year - not while Pippin is a puppy and running me ragged either!

We'll have to take small steps in improving the outbuildings as our budget is small and precious but FR has already dug foundations for a new summer kitchen/store room which he plans to start when the weather improves. We discovered that the roof on the outbuildings contains asbestos and so will have to be professionally removed - an expensive job - but one that will have to be done. I rather fancy having a Zentangle Barn. Maybe not this.....




Our darling Darwin is buried at the top of the land on the corner and I certainly have a little chat with him now and then. There's another smaller set of stones, which is the last of the hamsters...we found her in her food bowl, sunflower seed still between her teeth and we hope she died happy...
But Pippin is making himself an integral  family member and whilst trying to train him not to chew anything and everything in sight, it was absolutely the right thing and the right time to have found him. 

I've settled into a routine of teaching young children in their own homes - mainly siblings - and love reading, singing and playing with them. We make our own versions of 'Snakes and Ladders', draw pictures to go with Nursery Rhymes, make up wild and wonderful new animals or play counting games. I often find that the time flies by. There may be a big change afoot though - more of which later. Can't say anything just yet....

Our neighbours have not been as bad as we were led to believe but they are not good. It's a shame but they are a problem family and on more than one occasion, we have been caught up a little in their problems. Sometimes the problems are not so little...However, it does amuse me that they call FR 'el inglés' - the Englishman!!

We know many of our village neighbours and I can chat away with them about this and that. One thing they always tell me is how polite my children are - yeah! The Spanish don't say please and thank you as a matter of course. They're not rude but it's not their custom to require the expressions that I take for granted and which were instilled in me from childhood. Whenever I meet the parents of  my children's friends, they are always super-impressed by these little courtesies that spill from my children unbidden. We might not always mean them or even think about them but I have come to value a 'thank you' when I get one. And I have on occasions found myself thinking that the whole of Spain needs some training in customer service...but then the general public are so incredibly kind, friendly, generous and willing to help ..I do wonder why they can sometimes turn so rude when they are behind a desk or in a shop...strange.

I chose the two images by Escher because I love his work. It's not Zentangle but it reminds me a little of the complexities that it's possible to achieve in this new art form that I have discovered this year. I am totally hooked and there's nothing I like better than sitting down on my sofa and drawing - maybe watching an episode of 'Judge John Deed', or with a favourite film, like 'A Room with a View' or 'The Princess Bride' or just sitting at the dining table on my own, filling page after page with tangles. I love that my workshops have found several converts - some of whom are so good and talented that it makes my jaw drop when I see what they have done - and we meet every two weeks. It's probably the fastest two and a half hours in the week! Such wonderful concentration and focus. Yes, this is the year I discovered Zentangle, and I won't ever forget it!
On my tangle blog, you can see a recent tangle I did of the outline of La Mota. I think I shall do several more - it's such an iconic image and the tangles are perfect for it. And here are some spirals.



These are my general and unspecific thoughts after a year in our home. I love to go out in the garden, despite there being still so much to do there. I love the sun tracking from one end of the house to the other during the day. I love going out at night and looking up to a sky so full of stars it seems like a painting. I love the birdsong in the morning. I love walking around the countryside and breathing in the different scents along the way. There's not much I don't like....and that's not a bad reflection, is it?

Why do you love YOUR house - new or old?


26 comments:

  1. Hello Annie,

    Well, it seems that Life is very good in your new home despite the irritations. It is so heartwarming to read of your delight in the simple pleasures of Life and to turn the difficulties into challenges which then, in turn, become achievements. It is not easy making a home in a foreign land, we know that only too well, but when one takes stock of all the reasons that one made in moving from one country to another, it gives a great sense of satisfaction to know that one has overcome so many hurdles and survived. We wish you many more happy years in your home.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jane and Lance. I can hardly believe a whole year has passed since we first moved in. Sometimes, it feels like yesterday that we saw it for the first time and others days, it feels as though we've been here forever.
      I feel mostly settled in Spain, though as I think of growing old, not just older, I wonder whether I will want to return to England. I don't know yet. I suppose it will depend on my children. I have some friends who are having to return and I don't envy them at all, so I guess for now, my heart is here.
      Axxx

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  2. Agghhh...my first comment, which took ages to think through and write has just vanished off the screen.....agghhhh.
    Here goes again...I love the idea that FR is the Englishman.....mmmmm, interesting. But mostly, I love this incredibly heartwarming post. You sound so settled and happy to be where you are. The madness and excitement of finding the house and having that first spring, summer and autumn there was so intense. It feels to me as if Darwin's outrageously sad leaving marked the end of that exciting phase....and although Pippin's arrival, and clearly all the hard work that it seems to entail, is exciting and new....you are the old hands now. You have seen all the seasons from your beautiful home, and now being there is exactly the right thing to be doing. It is a lovely post, and I love the fact that I can just see your amazing kids, surprising the neighbours with their politeness and good grace.
    I am interested in the next phase that is alluded to......dont keep us waiting too long, and continue to enjoy every minute, as it happens, because that what it sounds as if you are able to do. Looking forward is good, reflecting on the past is good, but I know you are just brilliant at enjoying now. Heaps of love Jxxxxxx

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    1. What a lovely comment, Janice - you know how it is here so I think you've hit it on the head in your summing up. As we move back into spring, it's lovely to see plants from our first spring popping up again, and some of the new ones making their way into maturity. We had blossom on the trees that FR (the Englishman!) planted last year - apart from one that died - and the new trees are sprouting nicely.
      Mateo doesn't have much good grace in the mornings but makes up for it on the return journey! Ruy is always polite and cheerful. But the bus driver and his wife, who is the attendant for Alberto, the little boy with special needs who travels in and out to school on the bus, absolutely adore Romy.
      I'll tell you about the next phase as soon as I can. It's not directly house-related though.
      Today has been just gorgeous!
      Axxx

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    2. Anyone who doesn't adore Romy must be completely barking. x

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  3. I am fascinated and surprised to read about Spanish lack of manners! I went on holiday to Spain, as a child with my parents, in the late 1950s & early '60s when everyone behaved with grace and charm - well, shop-keepers, hotel staff and the like did. One of my best treats, after noticing how beautifully coiffed the local girls were, was to have my hair cut in a local hairdressers (my Mum could speak Spanish which made life easy) and how welcoming and friendly the staff were to an eccentric English family who wanted join in local life! Could that have been because we were tourists and not locals?

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    1. It might be the reason you first suggest as if you join in, all is great!! But it might just be that the Spanish are generally warm and welcoming - they are just not taught please and thank you as children and so don't use it as we do. I do know that you can enter a shop and the person there can be quite happy to carry on their mobile conversation, or avoid all eye contact when you need help or keep a queue waiting whilst they continue to chat with the person they've just served. It also seems quite acceptable for office and bank staff to get up and close their 'station' when they feel it's time for their coffee and toast whether there's a queue or not - all of them go together! Deeply frustrating if you were next in line.And as for those in bureaucratic positions....well, the term 'job's worth' was coined for them. They'll send you away to photocopy toilet paper if they can!!
      But - they're also funny and friendly and utterly charming. I bet you got a wonderful haircut too.
      Axx

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  4. A lovely post, beautifully illustrated with some fantastic tangles. What talent! I particularly like the one of La Mota as you have skillfully turned your tangle into something more concrete. There has got to be a market out there for this type of work. Can you imagine Chenenceau or Chambord in tangles?

    I feel that through your writings you've shared both the highs and lows of the past year, and brought your life alive for your readers. Pippin will never replace Darwin but I'm sure he will be a worthy substitute (in the footballing sense)

    Isn't it wonderful when others see in our children some of the things we've worked hard to teach them, before their own unique personalities take over. You sound so proud of them, as I'm sure they are of you and FR. A house can never have too much love.

    I'm intrigued by your forthcoming news and can't wait for all to be revealed.

    Take care xx

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    1. P.S. I'll get round to doing a blog post on why I love my house. Perhaps over the Easter holiday...

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    2. Oh, Gaynor, I think you might be right about those Loire chateux...any iconic shape lends itself to tangling. Watch this space!

      I'm very proud of my children even though I worry that the education system here is one big fail and a negative about life here...the boys particularly are very demotivated in Secondary and not exactly fulfilling their potential at the moment. I hope they'll pull their fingers out when necessary....but they're both capable and sensible. I hope!

      I'll tell all when I can - and in the meantime, I shall be doing some more tangling. I really am hooked.
      It would be lovely to hear why you love your house. In your own time, of course.

      Axxx

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  5. Reading about your poor dear Darwin still brings a tear to my ear, but the arrival of Pippin and the way your lovely family has slotted into your new life in the country brings plenty of cheer. Wishing you lots of fun and laughter for the next year.

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    1. Oh don't, B2B...it's still hard for me to accept. Pippin is definitely taking up my time, though, and I am prepared to believe for a little longer, that his slow learning of instruction is due to all his energy going into growing.
      Thank you.
      Axxx

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  6. A most mesmerizing look back through your past year of adventure, fun, sadness, and growth, Annie. I enjoyed every word of this, with the sense and love of "place" that oozes throughout this post.

    Our house is old, and rambling. Too big for just the two of us, with two acres to tend to, BUT, I do love it for its character, with nooks and crannies and possibilities. I love it for its welcoming aura, giving us room to have grandchildren stay, for gatherings, and for quiet time, as well. I found my muse here, took on some challenges I never thought I would at this point in my life. Then, ah, then there is the abundance of wildlife we are witness to. Now, I must hit "publish", turn the computer off, and wash the floors, caked with dirt, for it is mud season in our neck of the woods.

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    1. Many thanks Penny. I do like the sound of your house - ours isn't exactly big and rambling but it does share nooks and crannies with yours. It's nice to feel at home and safe to take on new challenges. I share your need to wash the floors too!! Axxx

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  7. most people drive as though there is no one else on the road - It's just the same in Devon!
    I am still getting to know the house I'm living in now... so far I like it because it's so light and airy... and has a nice mix of old and new... I will tell you properly what I think of this house come December.
    Meanwhile, keep on enjoying your new life!
    Sx

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    1. I remember driving in Devon...not much room is there? Here, we can be pushed off the road and down a ditch. In Devon, I remember high hedgerows...is it still the same?

      I hope you will tell us a bit more about your new home. I was so taken with your hall tiles that I know I'll love the rest of it.
      Same to you, Ms S. Same to you! Axxx

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  8. This is such a lovely post Annie. It's so full of warmth and happiness, yes tinged with a little sadness too, but that's the way life goes isn't it? I can't believe it's a year already. The time has flown hasn't it? The Turks don't seem to go much on please and thankyou either, which I find a little offputting at times, but like the Spanish, they are very welcoming, so can be forgiven.

    I am so happy for you and your family. This house was definitely meant to be your home xxx

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    1. I think we have seen a full year of life here, Ayak - it's been eventful in many ways and settling too. Yes, the time has whizzed by and is still doing so.
      I think attitude is probably more important than formal politeness - politeness can sometimes be incredibly hostile if used in the wrong way, can't it? Welcoming is always welcoming.

      Thank you for still reading and commenting, Ayak. I always appreciate our little exchanges. Axxx

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  9. Helen Devries2 April 2014 21:14

    That's such a happy account of your first year in the house you always knew that you would be living in one day....and of course you talk to Darwin.
    Pippin sounds a real handful, but at some point he will sort out a balance of power - probably in his favour - and all will settle down.

    People here tell me I'm very formal with the politenesses - but old habit dies hard and, as you say attitude says the most. Substance...not form.
    I still remember the way some of the French used polite forms as a snub...to French lower on the social scale than themselves as well as to foreigners.

    I loved our last house in France...the bathroom at the top of the little tower where you looked up to the timbers holding up the roof, the high ceilings and tall windows, the plasterwork...and the garden with the islands in the river. You could picnic down there and feel miles from anywhere...

    Now we have the little place we bought as a holiday house...bursting at the seams....which I love for its simplicity, being able to sit out on the balcony all day listening to and watching the birds which nest and feed at close quarters.

    But it is too small: Leo needs somewhere flatter to have his garden, so we are building a house up in the cafetal above this house which we can adapt if he becomes less mobile....and we are busy planting trees for the birds all around the site.

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    1. I've so enjoyed this comment Helen (and I'm not just being polite!) - it has been a happy year on balance and there has been a lot to balance.

      I think I already said how sometimes politeness can be downright rude - and the French can certainly use it that way. The Spanish too but they rarely do.

      Your French house sounds wonderful - I have always preferred French properties to Spanish and was very fond of my own little place that had a lot of character. It's interesting how much I notice the birds here though - at this time of year they are amazing. I bet you get some really exotic ones where you are now. I am most interested to hear about your plans for a new house... and delighted that you're planting trees.

      Hope you'll share a bit more information on that, when you can.
      Axxx

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  10. Hello Annie .. I am just so impressed with anyone who leaves England to start a new life in Mainland Europe.. and you have gone to live where you husband comes from .. I love it. England is not that far away , and I hope that you embrace all.. I think you do ♥ Such great experiences for the children , and maybe one day you might come back , I would stay as long as I could. I would love to sell up and move but that is too scary to my husband, so I said well just lets rent the house out and do something else .. I am gagging at the bit to escape and do something different. Unfortunately my hubby travels for work (Formula 1) so is always away. This was not always the case though, when I married him, he was in the Royal Air Force but never or hardly went away , now he does 19/20 trips a year ..

    My youngest grandson age 9 , said the other day , why do we have to live in England, lets move to France or Germany or Italy .. bless him. He even said , get Grandad to pay for us Nanny and he can stay here ..LOL

    I might not be over here all the time on your blog , but love your posts and thanks for sharing with us . I think it is super . xoxo Anne

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    1. Thanks for popping by when you can, Anne - it's always so nice to get a glimpse into your life too. I think your grandson has had a great idea....
      I am not on my blog much either these days and often go a long time between posts as I am actually quite busy. Hoping to catch up on my reading over Easter. Axxx

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  11. This is such a lovely, contented post, Annie, written from the security of your longed-for home in the gorgeous Spanish countryside. Of course you've had ups and downs - life is like that - but it's obvious from every word you've written how happy you are to be living where you do, even with neighbours who are less than perfect. I look forward to many more posts showing us the changes and improvements you're planning and am deeply intrigued by your hints of big news to come. :-)

    We love our ability to live in three very different places and houses, but our true home is in Wales. Our old Welsh farmhouse has seen many changes since we bought it, but its idyllic location could never change. However, it's quite remote and, as you know from past posts, winter can be difficult there, so some change is on the horizon for us too as we get older. You read it here first. :-)

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    1. Sorry I didn't answer sooner, Perpetua - I read your comment but didn't have time to say anything and then I forgot!
      I think we are all quite happy and settled here and I'm glad it shows. I have always liked the look of your Welsh house...but understand how difficult it could be in future if it's so very remote. I wonder what you will choose to do....Axxx

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  12. Oh Annie, your writing oozes love of your life there! How lovely to read your cheerful and fun-loving prose again. You really are living your dream, or nightmare if you decide to build an outhouse like Escher's : ) I have been out of blog-land for nearly a whole year and so it was fortuitous for me to have your year's progress summarised like that. One point - when you were describing the Spanish and their lack of pleases and thankyous I was reminded of what my stepmother told me about a visit she made to Spain. She said she was staying with a family and thanked the lady who served her supper and the lady looked mortally offended and replied, 'Why are you thanking me for doing my job?' When pressed about saying thankyou in Spain the lady said that she would be really cross if her son were to thank her at a mealtime and that she would say, 'Why are you thanking me - I am your mother!' Don't know if that is a common Spanish attitude or just a peculiarity of this particular character - what do you think?

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    1. Thank you Hita! No, we won't try and build an Escher barn...but I'd love a space to do my Zentangles and the outhouses would be perfect.
      No one has complained here if I thank them but it's not customary for children to be taught 'good manners' as we were and we teach our children. Just habit - here, people do thank each other but don't do it as a matter of common courtesy, in shops, etc. They are more direct, almost always very friendly just not 'polite' for politeness' sake.
      Axxx

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