What has happened over the past few days? Well, we weren't disrupted in our travels by the ash cloud - not on the way and not on the way back. I hardly got chance to show off my ability to say its name!
However, I think I expected something quite important - not explosive or erupting - but some defining understanding about how our move to Spain might start to pan out and make sense. I think I may have mentioned in an early posting that I am the eternal optimist! Like the ash cloud that never materialised, we have returned not really knowing too much more than before we set off....
On Saturday, Mateo and I were up at 2am and had a trouble-free journey to Valladolid from London Stansted airport on Saturday morning. We then had a lovely chilled day with 'los abuelos' (Mateo's grandparents/FR's parents) and early to bed.
On Sunday, we got up in good time to travel to La Urz, via Leon, where we left Amelia (abuela) to go to her great-niece's first communion. FR's father came with Mateo and I to La Urz and the journey up to this village was wonderful - partly because of the fantastic, clear blue-skied weather and partly because of the empty roads and glorious views. We turned off a main road at Riello and headed up into the mountains along a fairly narrow and wiggly single track road to see what it was about La Urz that FR liked so much.
The village of La Urz spreads up the hillside with the houses there connected fairly erratically by little winding streets. Some houses open directly onto these streets, others had gardens and outbuildings in front of them. We were greeted outside the big white house by several friendly neighbours and some children, who were charming - clearly, they had been expecting us although the person who knew we were coming had been summoned to her brother's birthday lunch at a village elsewhere.
The house itself is big and needs much work - as I'd expected - but I am not taken by it. If location is everything, this house is not in the right one. I feel that however much work was put in to make it beautiful, (which it could be) it would never quite work.
Undeterred, Mateo, Cesar Snr and I spent the next 6 hours there, during which time, we were invited to lunch (which we declined, having brought a picnic) though we accepted the invitation for coffee afterwards. We were also taken to see another house that is for sale in the village at the very top of the hill - whose location is absolutely perfect but which is somewhat out of our price range as things stand. The view from there was fantastic - not that you could guess from my mediocre photography!
We couldn't see inside the house because no one was expecting us and the owner - well, the four sons of the original owner - live far away. From the outside, it was difficult to see what it might be like inside, though Israel - who was giving us the guided tour of La Urz - said that it had four bedrooms and a new kitchen on the first floor, with an undeveloped ground floor and some outbuildings. The surrounding land is full of apple and cherry trees and there are some pines and oaks also part of the property..... perfect really, maybe, possibly....?
We met the man who keeps bees and makes honey - and we bought a big golden pot from him; we went for a long walk to a look out point where we could see snow on the mountains; we looked in several other houses (inhabited) and saw others that were uninhabited, but not for sale. Mateo disappeared with the other children and had a wonderful day, finding fossils and salamanders and playing in surrounding fields and countryside.
Here are the children 'hunting' a salamander and one of the fossils Mateo found.
The village has an incredible aura of peace and tranquility and I did not want to leave. It is without shop, bar or convenience of any kind but there is a community spirit amongst the fairly small number of people who are there all year round. There are many lovely houses that are empty for about half the year because the owners are older and go to live with their sons or daughters during the hard winter months......I really didn't want to leave, but I'm not sure there will be somewhere there we can go and live!
We are now trying to think how best to progress our plans - any ideas anyone!?