Sunday, 14 January 2018

The quantum physics of housesitting

Oh, the pressure of feeding the seemingly bottomless appetites of our readership can sometimes be more of a burden than a bounty. We have barely finished one piece of reportage before the pleadings, wheedling and clamor for more begins again. And, whilst I want to just pull the covers over my writing-weary head and lay nestled among the warm arms and legs of my lovely wife and the now cold hot-water-bottles, I have a morning piss to take and a duty to perform. That done here it is, dear readers, I hope you enjoy it. All three of you.

When you look forward in time you do so as if looking the wrong way down a telescope. Time distorts and hours become days and months seem like years. For us the prospect of completing this long house sit was just so. We would learn Spanish - speak it fluently probably; We would stop drinking, eat more healthily and build up a respectable number of on line English clients; We would make friends and maybe even write that bestseller. We had months to fill and things to fill them with. 
Suddenly, however, we are nearing the end and we found that the telescope lied. Time wasn't stretched and, in fact, house sitting time has the same relativity as everywhere else. Irrespective of looking backwards or forwards. You either use it or lose it! 

Don't get me wrong. We don't measure our good use of time by things we have achieved in it. Rather, by the contentment we have derived whilst moving through it. It's so easy to feel a failure if you fail to achieve something. Much better to see the positives, the small blessings bestowed and feel grateful for simply being. There's something to all this mindfulness stuff. 

An inciteful and funny read
The result is that we do not speak fluent Spanish - but we speak some. We are still drinking - but now Christmas has gone (where we drank religiously in honour of baby Jesus), we are drinking far less. Shame really since it almost feels like saving when you pay so little for the stuff here. We actually do eat healthily as long as you forget about the crisps and chocolate and whilst our on-line teaching is not exactly educating the masses. We have some clients and its all on an upward curve (even if there are no warning signs about the steep incline). Friends have been a different story and one best left for after dinner tales in closed company. However we were, for the first time ever, shunned by a somewhat backbiting couple who , no doubt, had views on us once we had left. All in all though, its been a hoot passing time here. Another fantastic experience and a place where we have gathered more warm memories to cheer us when we are too old to do this stuff.

Its a bright day this morning and there was a particularly magical slice of moon lit by the cresting sun as it cleared the mountain tops. The darker blue vignetted to a brilliant shade of powder blue that reminded me of the skies over Japan. Today will likely be like most others. But, since it's Sunday, we will stay in the house so the hunters in the valley don't gun down our furry friends. We will do some computer work, some gardening, maybe go out for lunch then return for a walk and log fire as that same sun dips out of sight again and the stars return.

As I write this the three dogs are on a mat in front of the fire (the embers from the previous night still there - Olive wood is dense and slow burning). Pod and Rosa are lying head to tail with Phil sitting at one end. All three are preening and licking and gnawing legs - some belong to themselves, some to other dogs. It all seems idyllic until Phil decides it's a good idea to sit on Rosa's head, who then jumps up and bites his ass and in the process stands on Pod who growls so there is a seething swirl of tails and teeth and yelps and growls and flying fur and its not so idyllic anymore. I stand up and shout "Enough!". Rosa immediately rolls over in her submissive kick-me-in-the-stomach-if-you-have-to position, Pod scarpers - never one to be caught nicking the sweets and Phil. Phil the instigator of this fracas, gives me that "Wha? What happened? Wasswrong?" look. Dogs huh? We are really going to miss these chaps badly.

On Boxing day we left Mizala in the capable hands of the owners and set off for a few days in Granada. We thought it would be a good break and we hired a nice apartment just on the outskirts of the city. We were looking forward to warmth in the newly built flat and adventure outside. But fate had other plans. The apartment was nice, well positioned and large but the electricity supply was limited and the heaters small and ineffective. In summer this is not a problem but in winter when the temperature is in single figures, with snow on the surrounding mountains and wind and drizzle falling, it's not so good. A one bar heater and one radiator were little match for the elements (no pun intended). And we constantly juggled (not literally - that would be dangerous) the microwave, heaters, hair driers and lights. Trying to get as many appliances working without everything cutting out. Bonkers.

Our first day was walking around Granada which was great. The sun was out and although cold it was bright and fresh and lovely. We had hot-dogs and beer in a sort of tapas place. Standing at a bar wrapped in our coats with side of the place wide open. We wandered the old Arab quarter and throughout the shopping streets and alleys. It's a great city to mooch about. Lots of little plazas and places to stop and views to see and buildings to peek in. The streets in the old sections are quaint and narrow and in the large modern centre, wide and lined with good shops. And, of course, Alhambra stands atop a mound in the middle of it all looking magnificent and picturesque.


Day two we were to walk along the Caminito del Rey. A tramp along walkways affixed to the sides of towering rock canyons. Apparently its much safer than it used to be. But with vertical drops of hundreds of metres it would still have been fun had we been able to do the walk. We drove the 150km from Granada for this experience. Wind and rain lashing the car most of the way. We were hopeful that the weather would improve and sure enough as we got nearer our hopes were met and the sun came out. Hopes that were soon to be dashed by finding that no-one at this fairly major tourist site had put a notice on the website saying that it was closed for a week! Lots of swearing, double-taking, growling and sticking up of the two fingers was done before we headed back home to the still wet, rainy and cold Granada. On the note of 'sticking up of the two fingers' - try it. Its out of fashion but quite therapeutic. Especially if delivered with a screwed up face and the hand going up and down. 

Day three was to be a skiing day. The Sierra Nevada rises to impressive heights just outside of the city. A short drive and there would be piste aplenty. Rather, would have been pistes aplenty had it not rained for a few days and the temperatures only dropped to freezing at night which meant it was both sludgy and wet; had there been more than 20cm on the upper slopes so the rocks were properly covered, and, had the cost of clothes hire, ski and boot hire and a pass for 4 hours not been about £100. Foiled again. We gave up and headed back to Mizala where it had been beautifully hot and sunny the whole time......

New year was fun. We spent it eating, singing songs around the old Johanna like what they did in the war and laughed alot with the house owners. A great evening. New years day and night we spent with Rachel's old Boss, Gareth and his wonderful G&T making wife Jane. They have a flat nearby and we spent time eating tapas and drinking. Finally Christmas festivities came to rest with Gareth and Andrea, a couple we had befriended and were living in a fabulous villa in the mountains near Bedar. Lots of drink (way too much drink) and burnt/undercooked - but still lovely food and a warm bed in a warm bedroom was a good end to the fun. hoorah!

Now we are alone again and nice as it is to have had all these people about its good to be just us and the dogs. Rachel can wear her sad bastard two piece velour, over sized pajamas (really the woman has no dignity) and we can stop showing off and just be us again...

To close. The reason we are ending our housesit a little early is because a dear friend in Japan is in need of assistance and we have time available to give that assistance. So we are off to Japan on the 9th for two months. Effectively to be slaves to her little family whilst she does exciting things like has operations and lies around recuperating and eating chocolate. 

So until next time. Adios mi amigos