Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Getting married again and again and again

Flipping heck it's cold at night here. Not as cold as England but somehow colder. In England you go go out but first put on your boots, cardy, coat etc. You do whatever, get a cold face and hands and then come in where you take off your coat, cardy, boots and, because generally, houses in Blighty are well built, insulated, probably carpeted and have effective house-wide heating. You can be snug and smug looking out of your double glazed windows at the drizzle and slate grey skies. Here, in Southern Spain, in this old finca with thick walls, draughty doors, single pane windows, stone slab floors and one fireplace it's the complete opposite. Outside (in the day) the sun is still pretty hot. It shines brightly in blue skies for 8 hours a day and you can wander about in a tee shirt and jeans a lot of the time. Come inside and you need that cardy, sometimes two, definitely slippers and occasional scarf to keep the blood moving and dew drops forming on your nose. The warmth of the day does not permeate inside and that's great for 9 months of the year but where we are now on Christmas Eve and it's a bit of a challenge. At night its just cold both inside and out. So if you are in England and its damp and wet and miserable. Put on the telly, crank up the heating, maybe have a shower or a poo in your bathroom without appendages freezing and think of us. Shivering by our computers with a blanket on our legs and trying to coax heat from the living room to our bedroom ...... Ah. Sod it! don't worry. We'll just go outside on the roof terrace, find a corner in the sun and drink our 1.59 Euro Cava with some Tapas and just have to make do. 

Mark, Helen, Chris Shady and Rachel - Agua Amarga
So, Christmas. In truth we hadn't given it much thought but there are a few things on. Mark and Helen, the owners are back for a couple of weeks so we spent Christmas day with them. Walking in the mountains, drinks down at the beach and then a sumptuous meal - for which we were not allowed to lift a finger. That goes against the grain but eventually managed.We are then off to Grenada for a few days followed by a few soirees with old friends and some new so it should be good.

So whats happened since I last posted a blog.

Saying our vows
Rachel and I got married. Again. Well, sort of. We decided, when we got married and made our vows on the mountain top in Miyajima in Japan that we would renew these vows every year. A sort of marriage re-evaluation process where we would think deeply about our relationship in the previous year and what, if anything, needed work in the following one. Plainly it's not really that process led and is very much a romantic affair. But we both thought it a good thing to really focus on our relationship at least once a year. Last year in Mexico we were fortunate enough to know Polly. A lovely lady and celebrant who gave our renewal ceremony a degree of legitimacy. And we made our promises in front of new friends on the beach wit the warm seas lapping behind us and palm trees swaying overhead. This year we transformed a derelict ruin at eh side of the finca into our 'Love Shrine'. 

The Love Shrine
We transformed this overgrown, rubbish strewn, jumble of old metal, rocks and plants into something quite lovely. Clearing it all, putting down a floor of flat rocks, creating a copse of white painted Pitas (a woody, tree like growth that supports flowers from a particular cactus), making some wooden structures like tables, seating and a fire pit and then sort of landscaping the area into a flowery garden with serpentine edges beside hard mud walkway scattered with bits of crystal rock. It took hours and was a real labour of love that was worth every ounce of sweat to create. Our close friends Gary and Mel flew over for the weekend to celebrate with us. How lovely is that. Didn't have to pay them or anything!!!! And so, once the sun had gone down, we four and two new friends - Margreit and Jos, gathered in the folly and we said our words. It was fantastic. The night was clear and the sky filled with stars, the folly was lit with tea lights in the Pita trees on the floors and tables. We had tears in our eyes, joy in our hearts, champagne in our glasses and good people to share this with. Thank you all and especially to Rachel.

Dogs. I mentioned the dogs briefly in the last blog. They have become an enormous part of our lives here. Their personalities and peccadilloes keeping us entertained, annoyed or entranced. We watch them interacting for hours and never get bored of seeing them in action. Most of us see dogs in an urban setting. Being led on leads, or running in a park. At most we see dogs doing agility stuff at a fete. These dogs have hundreds of acres of rock, scrub, mountain and valley to play in. 

Christmas morning Mizala Valley
They can be out foraging, hunting, playing for hours and there is no telling where they get to. But, when we walk them or I run with them in this environment you get to really appreciate the agility and abilities of these creatures. Their power and speed, their surefootedness, their sense of smell, hearing and sight and how they work as a pack. We have watched with wonder as they have sprang into action chasing hares or rabbits, been amazed as they have disappeared into the distance on the heels of a fleeing deer, all of them bounding over rocks and bushes as if it were a flat surface. And most recently being shocked seeing two of them in pursuit of a huge wild boar. Who, I am sure, chose to run rather than had to since it was twice the size of our biggest dog and has big tusks to boot. We have come to love these creatures and so dealing with their owner endorsed lifestyle of living as freely as they like has taken some getting used to. Although, what a life! Better, I feel, to have chased deer and ran wild and carefree than to live a more sedentary life in front of the fire. This view point was put to the test when one of their number - Pod - disappeared one day and remained missing and presumed dead for 10 days. During which time our imaginations ran riot as to what had happened. We had given up on ever seeing the little chap when he suddenly appeared - skinny, scabbed, cut and a bit rough around the edges but basically sound and demonstrating that as tame as these dogs are they are still capable of surviving.

The dogs in their playground
We have had Rachel's parents visiting us. They in need of a break from the strains of an impending house move came ready to bath in the perpetual warmth we had spoke of. To sup cold white rueda wines and a glorious and ridiculously cheap little red number we have been drinking. They arrived and almost instantly the weather changed. A cold wind and grey clouds speckled the first few days putting something of a dampener on the mood and even when things improved the temperatures remained lower than before they came. No sooner had they left. The next day in fact. The temperatures went back up, the clothes came off and once again the naked gardener was seen rambling among the olives. Just their luck! Still the wine was plentiful and what they missed out of in the 'basking in the sun' department they made up for by 'basking in an alcoholic fug'. 

Maureen and Dave and photo-bombing Pil

As mentioned we got a visit from friends Gary and Mel. Very pleasant time here. Weather was warm, their company was superb as always and got to climb a nearby peak with Gary.

Its so nice getting visitors to this lonely outpost of civilization so anyone who is looking for a few short days away please come. However, we can no longer guarantee the weather, the wine, the number of dogs or anything that could conceivably go wrong.

Olive grove finished
There's not a lot more to say really. We have finished pruning, cutting and clearing the previously overgrown mass of mostly dead vegetation known as the Olive Grove and made it look like, well, an Olive grove. I nearly broke my neck falling off a ladder whilst putting the final touches on the love folly - bruises, scratches etc as I fell through the trees. Rachel fell down some stairs in the house. Nothing too serious as she landed on her bum - plenty of padding, We have been on nice drives to some beaches, done walks up to look out points have made a few friends Margriet and Jos and Gareth and Andrea and had tapas a few times in a bar in Los Gallardos. Oh yeah. We have worked at our on line teaching presence. Rachel has picked up several students and got glowing reviews and is actually earning some money. Not much money but more than me. I have one student and b ut cannot seem to attract any more. I obviously don't have the charming looks and smile that my wife portrays on her profile....grrrrrr!

So that's it for now. Happy Christmas everyone