Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Wednesday 22 September 2010

To buy or not to buy..

Yes, that is the question at the moment. We have seen a house we like very much. It's not what we thought we were looking for in that it is not surrounded by lots of land that might be 'yurt-worthy' but it's a house we could live in immediately, it's in an area I love, the children would go to a very nice school -  and it's about the right sort of price - and now that we're here, those things seem to be our priorities.

And we suddenly find ourselves very afraid of making a definite decision. To make things worse, the pound took a sharp drop against the euro today - I check everyday and in the last week the drop makes a difference to us of about £3,000 which is not insignificant. So, we are hanging on a bit longer to see who gives in first - us or the seller. It's always a case of who wants what the most, as we have found out with the buyers of our house. In that instance, it was us who wanted to sell more than they wanted to buy and we took the hit in terms of the price we were prepared to accept. I can only hope that the same will apply here.

Enough of that - in due course, we will make our decision and we will have really know it's the right one for us. This morning, we had mentally moved in and decorated for our first Christmas there; now we are not sure.

But didn't I say enough of this!!

I went into Valladolid on my own today to 'orientarme' - a good Spanish expression - and spent a good two hours walking around, window shopping, looking at the amazing architecture and people watching. There is always an immense amount of faffing with sweeping brushes and mops going on around you  - I don't know if it's just in this area or whether it's a general Spanish trait but I have noticed that wherever I go, someone nearby is sweeping or mopping or generally cleaning something in a fashion close to obsessive. I had thought that Cesar's mother was an atypical example because she never stops for a second - bustling here and there with either a brush or a duster in hand - her energy is boundless. She's not overly houseproud - it's not that - but it matches the need the Spaniards seem to have to talk all the time too. And they all talk at the same time - or seem to - without appearing to stop to listen. I will take note when I return to England to see whether it's the same there but I just never noticed before....... Anyway, this morning, there was definitely more broom activity that I have been used to seeing around Huddersfield! I have started doing quite a bit of it myself, just because I feel I ought.

I must away to bed very soon. Each morning, Mateo gets up first, then Cesar and they leave to walk down to the bus stop together, which is across a huge dual carriageway and we are not happy about him going alone just yet; then I get up to prepare the younger ones for school and we then walk down to their bus stop - to go in the opposite direction - where I am now able to greet and chat with about 5 other mums, including one woman who arrives with her SIX children!! I was amazed enough at that, but was informed by one of the other that there are two older ones as well, who go to another school. The woman has 8 children!! And they are all lovely - the youngest one is only one month old. And she comes down smiling and cheerful every day - and I feel ashamed for being stressed at all when mine play up a bit. Then the bus comes and we load our respective children on, wave them goodbye and then I walk back up the hill again - at liberty to sweep the house for a few hours to my heart's content! Our children stay for lunch so can't catch the bus back - I go to fetch them at around 3pm. Today they came out full of happiness, Ruy in particular has many friends already - Romy more excited that she'd eaten everything AND had ice-cream for lunch today. A girl who loves her food. By the time they've done their homework and been swimming, it's time for bed again in preparation for another day - time is flying by!!

So, that's where I'm off to now. It's another balmy evening - last week it seemed as though the weather had taken an autumnal turn, but today has been 30 degrees and very sunny. It's rather nice - but the question remains.... to buy or not to buy. 

Thursday 16 September 2010

This week - somewhat relieved and a birthday!

On Wednesday this week, Mateo started school in Spain. I have been more anxious than I care to admit in the weeks leading up to this day but I am so glad to say that I needn't have worried. At least if the first day is anything to go by.
First challenge was getting up early in the morning - achieved.
Second challenge was getting to the school on time - achieved.
Third challenge was surviving the period til he got home - achieved.

And a huge relief to see him coming out of school, chatting away to another boy and looking perfectly happy.

And today, Thursday, he went on the bus and came back on the bus on his own and we had only a minor blip over the homework he had to do... he never did like homework but I had sort of hoped he'd make an effort for the first week or so...still, it's done and he's ready to face his last day of the first week.

Tomorrow, Friday, is Ruy's birthday and he'll be 9! He's so excited and has been counting the days for the past two weeks and can hardly believe that it's now just about here. He's had a few cards arrive from England and Romy has made him a lovely one - and we plan to go bowling in the evening with his cousin. And he had his first - and probably last - Corrida or bullfight this week as a birthday 'treat' - no gory pictures, I promise.

OK, just one - not too gory.

Cesar has bought a gorgeous birthday cake and whilst we must have brought around 50 candles from England, collected over the years from various birthdays, they are, of course, packed away in a box somewhere in Valdepolo, so we'll have to buy yet more.  It seems that everything we need just now is in a box too far away to readily access - this week, we've needed card, children's pumps, Mateo's scientific calculator, a specific pair of shoes, dictionaries (though I should have thought of that before!) and my wok. And candles.

Now I must go and blow up lots of balloons - we always have balloons for birthdays - in fact, in our house in Huddersfield, there was nearly always a few stray balloons hanging around in corners, behind sofas or under chairs.. left over from one birthday or another.

The tradition continues.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Settling in...

I have had a very indulgent morning - I stayed in bed whilst everyone else got up and listened to 'Saturday Live' via my computer and the internet; then I had a bath in the half-sized version that seems to be the norm in many Spanish homes; then I had a very leisurely breakfast and whilst Cesar took the two youngest to the swimming pool, I went shopping. I said good morning to two neighbours and met and kissed two family members who were also out shopping; I also used my 'Dia' supermarket card to collect points on my shopping; came back; took a telephone call from an old friend of Cesar's - then cooked lunch for us all. I feel very much at home just now!

It has helped knowing that Ruy and Romy have started at a lovely primary school and can catch the bus there in the morning and stay for lunch afterwards. They have both enjoyed their first couple of days and seem to have settled very quickly. The headteacher is a pretty charismatic, relaxed sort of man who is a musician, which is great as there is a big emphasis on singing and enjoying music for its own sake. When we arrived in the morning, there was a loudspeaker playing some celtic-type music and then when we collected them, it was definitely jazz! Jose Luis took the new starters into school himself and as Romy was at the front of the line, he held her hand and off they disappeared into the school, without a backward glance! I am relieved that they are sorted for the time being.  I was less happy having visited Mateo's school but we went and looked at a couple of others too around here and they are all pretty much the same - big, modern-looking blocks, mainly concrete, uninspiring - reminded me a bit of the sort of inner-city schools I saw in London and there were about three within spitting distance of each other. Condesa Eylo Alfonso (!) has a good reputation and we know it's not forever - Mateo is quite happy to give it a go - and he will start on Wednesday this week, not Friday as I thought. He'll be able to take the bus and the only negative is that the school day starts at 8.15! Negative because we are not good morning people - none of us!

We had a phone call from the estate agent in Aguilar de Campoo yesterday too, saying he had 'found it' - another house for us to check out, but we can't go until Saturday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he's right - because whilst I am feeling more settled here, I really want us to be in a home of our own as soon as possible. I know Cesar wants to build a house and find a piece of land to do it - and if we could find it soon, I would like that too, but there are very few bits of land available for sale - and not that many houses either! At least we know the estate agent has us in mind.

We have spent the week visiting the Fiestas and Feria in Valladolid.

The Feria is a big Fair, with a huge wheel, pretty impressive rides, loads of dodgems and stalls and food and noise - and has been full of people every night. There has also been five nights of amazing fireworks - the last one was last night - and was the loudest and most impressive of the week.

I think we were a bit overawed when we first arrived!!

I didn't have one of my own, but I did pinch quite a lot off the kids! I love candy floss!!

Waiting to go on a big ride!

And they're off!! What you can't see is Romy's little face - she wasn't quite sure whether she had enjoyed it or not....

We all like the dodgems best!

What I have always liked about Spain is that despite the enormous number of people in the streets, there is never any threat of violence. People of all ages are thronging together - groups of old people, families, groups of young people, couples - and everyone laughing and enjoying themselves and stopping to talk to others along the way. It is the difference we were looking for when we came here to live. It is impossible to imagine the same atmosphere in Huddersfield lasting from 8pm through to 2am - if it starts off well, something changes as the influence of alcohol takes hold. Despite being out so often this week and until late in the night, I haven't seen any one who was obviously drunk - not one person. And yet, all the bars are open and stalls selling wine, margaritas and beers are all around in the fairground.

The house search continues, the sale of our old one is going forward OK so far and we are comfortable here in La Flecha, Valladolid for the time being. I think I should say that this afternoon, Cesar and Ruy are going to see the Toros - the bullfight - at the Plaza de Toros in Valladolid. Mateo does not want to go - Romy does but I won't let her. Ruy understands what is going to happen but I am a bit concerned that he won't like it at all - or worse - that he WILL like it! I have been once myself and it is definitely a spectacle, impressive in its pomp, ceremony and colour. I am quite surprised at myself for not disapproving of it in principle but I don't and do watch it on the television - though I am not keen to go again to a live one. It is being stopped in Catalunia but I suspect this is more on political grounds than humanitarian or animal rights ground.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Suddenly it's September...

I have started to write a post several times this week and then stopped. Very possibly I am now so relaxed that doing anything at all is just a bit too much effort ....or it could be that I am trying really hard not to tempt providence or get carried away... or put things in writing before it is the right time... but what the heck... this week we have accepted an offer on our house in England. There, I've said it. I know it doesn't mean we have sold it; I know that these things take time and there is room for any number of problems but I DO so hope that the sale will go through and go through smoothly.

And now you can wish and hope for me too and I already feel better for sharing the news rather than keeping it to myself.

This week we have also heard that the children have been allocated places at schools near here in La Flecha - Romy and Ruy will go to a newly built school about 5kms away which is a bit of a pain as I'd really hoped they could go to the school here but it's apparently full. This doesn't surprise me as there has been so much building here in the past 8 years or so that there simply must be a lot more children. Hence the new school nearby - we are going to go and have a look and meet the head next week - the new term starts on 9th September. Mateo has been allocated to a school whose name it is going to take me all term to remember - hang on whilst I check again - it's Instituto de Educacion Secundaria Condesa Eylo Alfonso. Mateo will never EVER remember it!  They don't start back until 17th September, which is a Friday and seems a bit strange to me, but that's how it is. Mateo is resigned to going to a new school and knows that he wanted to come and live in Spain but of all of them, he is bound to feel the most nervous I guess; Ruy is pretty cool and will fit in easily because he's sociable, plays football and has already made friends with the kids who play in the plaza; Romy, bless her, is really looking forward to going although a bit frustrated that she will have to start again in Year 1 as 6 is the statutory school age here. It's a big thing for them and I too will be pretty nervous next week and the week after when Mateo starts.

In the meantime, we are still going back and forth to Aguilar de Campoo - last time, we camped there for a few days and had a great time. It is not a particularly well run campsite but it is in lovely situation, amongst the pines and was nice and quiet while we were there (apart from us, of course - our children are rarely quiet!)

One of the days, we checked out access to the coast and it took just one hour to drive up to Santander and the lovely beaches there - we ended up on one call 'La Tagle' and although the day started out rather overcast, it was a perfect beach day as it was warm, not too hot and the sea was fantastic.

Mateo, Ruy and Romy are the three figures in the middle of this picture

In the tent one of the nights, we played 'I went to market..' and it was most amusing - I can even remember our final list and will put it here for posterity! We went in this order - me, Romy, Ruy and Mateo - just so get a feel for how their minds work!

I went to market and I bought -

A pig;
an orange;
some strawberries;
a stick;
a can of peas;
a flower;
a horse;
a rabid penguin;
a sack of potatoes;
a stack of rainbow paper;
a husky;
a fishbowl;
a fish to go in it;
a tent;
a turnip;
a shadow demon;
some batteries;
a roof for the house;
an intergalactic space station;
a mysterious egg
AND a green bag.

This must have been the point when Romy had fallen asleep because we stopped. A pretty good list,  I think!

And tomorrow, we are going back to view some 'terreno' or 'fincas' which are areas of rural land as Cesar still really wants to build a house for us on a site where we could eventually put some yurts for holiday use. It will take us a while to get permissions to do this sort of thing and we don't want to buy land that we can't use as we wish, so there's a long way to go. However, we are still looking for a house just in case the 'right' one is out there - I have already seen it, but it's not what Cesar was looking for - but bear this name in mind .... Puentetoma. There's a house there I like very much and we're going to see it again tomorrow too...

And suddenly it's September!