Sunday, December 10, 2006

Feel the Heat

Winter time in rural Spain can be surprisingly cold. Even houses just a few years old do not have insulation incorporated in the fabric of the building. Tiled floor surfaces which are so pleasant on a hot summers day can be a nightmare in winter.

Our house came with a half built chimney in the lounge which is single storey, the previous owner told us that the chimney was functional which it wasn’t. During the cold spell of last winter; the construction workers employed on the house renovation would open all the doors and windows to let the dust out whilst they worked. As the days passed the nights were getting colder and colder, and I had to sleep fully clothed and with two Nordic quilts on the bed.

I bought firewood and built a fire to try and take the chill of the room and prevent it from becoming damp. The fire looked fine and the heat it gave off was lifting the room temperature by a few degrees it was almost comfortable. Having solved one problem I needed to address the next issue which was hunger. I was living without a kitchen and eating breakfast cereal and sandwiches everyday was becoming a chore. It was nearly11pm and I knew that if I rushed I might just make McDonalds in Figueres before they closed. Fast food not very wholesome but at least it was hot, problem solved I felt warmer already.

As I drove back home, I noticed that the wind was getting stronger with each passing moment, and in the course of my short journey a full blown Tramontana had developed. Opening the door to the villa revealed a new problem, the house was now filled with smoke. The embers of the fire were extinguished to stop it compounding the problem. The Tramontana had prevented the smoke rising up the chimney and instead the fumes spilled into the living quarters.

Tramontana or not I had to ventilate the house and so had to open all the doors and windows. I stood outside learning all about wind chill for what seemed an eternity. Finally at 2am I was able to secure the house and retire to bed for another miserable night.

The house has come a long way in a year, and we now have an inset wood burning fire, it is unspectacular but functional and efficiently burns such firewood as we have.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Taking the plunge

The steps have been given two coats of black metal forge paint, the treads are non slip. Getting into the pool is easy enough but getting out is a little harder, I'm thinking about a boat ladder that would hang over the side wall but will have to look into how that could be anchored.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pool painted

The pool after two coats of paint looks better than we hoped for, tommorow we will give it a third coat.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pool progress

These simple tools and a lot of elbow grease are working wonders. With a little luck and fair weather which doesn't seem to be a problem at the moment, painting should be possible soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pool renovation

The algae killer was hard to find everyone tries to sell a large container of pool wash at 40 € a time. The one we needed cost only 2€ and was very effective although it took two days to kill off everything. After the chemistry it was time to scrape off the dead algae and then scrub the walls with a stiff brush. Another powerwash and once dry the pool should be ready for painting, thankfully it will be blue not white!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


This is a fossilised cat I found while clearing out the debris in the pool, I have added it to the compost heap. Catastrophe for the cat but no idea how, when or why it was in there.

Clearing the pool

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stable completed.

Final coat of paint applied and it's time to put the climbing plants back in.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Stable and pool

Once rendered we were able to paint the stable, workshop and pool exterior. The diference it has made is incredible.

Although the pool needs a lot of work on its interior before we can think about using it we believe the work will be well worth it. Paco says the concrete is sound, so we will clean off the algae with a purpose made chemical. Then we will remove all the loose paint and dirt with a power washer before painting it.

It will be too late in the season to think about filling the pool but it should provide welcome relief from the summer heat next year.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Blue sky

On another day with a clear blue sky trhe Villa is looking well. The weather forecast often shows cloud around the Pyranees however our area must have more blue sky days than the rest of Catalunya.

Friday, February 17, 2006

It's all in the wrist!

Paco has triumphed once again! I was sceptical about the amount of material available to him, although I had scoured every bit of the garden to rescue fragments of the 'piedra'.

Always confident of the result, Paco has even surprised Christian with his workmanship. He has effortlessly worked the un-yielding material around the curve of the stairway.

Once the mortar is dry the excess will be brushed away with a wire brush, before the surface is sealed with a silicone based sealant. I will add that to my list then!

Later still

Once the workers leave the site, I sieve the sand heap and fill two barrows full to the brim. I have placed a large board with pieces of 'piedra' on it within an easy reach of the steps. When you are paying by the hour it is important that the 'artiste' is not kept waiting.

West side story

Paco and Christian have tiled the exterior of the steps to the east and west terraces, underneath the tiles they have matched in the 'piedra'.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Further steps

The steps at the kitchen door at the rear of the house were a big problem, but Paco extended them to the corner making them more useful and tidier at the same time


The steps at the front of the house have been tiled to match the interior tiles, the entrance is therefore much improved. Designed to curve to the left the steps posed a few problems for Paco as he worked on them. Keen to show his mastery of his craft he will render the sides of the steps; and he suggests that if I can find enough fragments of the 'piedra' he will also match the steps to the stone on the rest of the house. He might be showing off now!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


A simple coat of white paint transforms the wardrobe interiors. They are fairly large and solidly constructed, but like the rest of the inbuilt furniture dated and need to be replaced. Because of the design of the house replacement bedroom furniture will probably also be built into the same spaces as it occupies at the moment. The location of the windows and doors in each room somewhat limits placement of cabinets.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The stable

There is a stable block for three horses plus storage. Constructed from concrete block with pine beams to support a roof lined with pine. The roof is finished in corrugated asbestos sheeting which as well as leaking; sheds rain water into the plunge pool which adjoins the rear elevation of the stable.

The elevated water tower will eventually feed water through an irrigation system to the land. At the base of the water tower is a workshop.