17. The Builders have left the cave!

DSCF4865.jpgThe builders have left the cave…. for a short while anyway! We do have other jobs on the list for them to finish but, for now, we have a respite. And, so do they!

I must say that I am extremely happy with the results so far. If you recall we have 8 separate areas around our cave.  So far we have concentrated the work on areas 3 and 5.  The rest of the land is work in progress!   The builders have worked from my computerised designs which have been tweaked here and there by me and/or Miguel (our Spanish builder).  Sometimes dare I say it, the tweaking has improved the overall look and/or enhanced the areas uses.

For now, within these two areas, all that is required is for me to add the finishing touches.  I’m not going to rush this final stage as we plan to use the areas and see what it is that is needed or desired.  Shade is one of the main finishing touches, especially in area 3 at the rear of the cave.  There simply is none but, you may have guessed already, I have a few ideas in my idea box located in my head!  The patio at the front has wonderful shade from the original trees and again early evening as the sun drops behind the cave and down from the sky.

Secret Garden (area 3)

The first picture was taken of area 3 (now named Secret Garden) when we purchased the cave and the second photo shows the rear of the cave.

Many changes have been made and the landscape has change considerably. The following pictures show how it is now.  We need to add extra grey gravel, there will be a few extra plants and trees scattered around over the next few months and, as I have said above, some shaded areas, but I want to live with it for a while and decide what type of plants and shade, where to put them and how many I want.   Then it’s shopping time again. Sorry John but…..

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Front Patio (area 5)

This photo was taken of the front area of the cave in its original state.  It was used as a large car park with a couple of trees overlooking the views.

Here I pictured three built up areas – one being the main area to be concreted and used as a seating platform and the other two for ‘show’. I was looking at putting cacti in one and pots and art in the other. The main patio was to be higher than the other two, but once I had marked the areas out with my trusted paint aerosol can, I realised that this main area would be too high.  We are already in an elevated position so any higher and we would be sitting with the Gods.  So after a little tweaking we came to the end results.

I am so pleased with the finished patio design.  It is the perfect place to sit and watch the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening, watch the bee eaters and the woodpeckers go about their daily duties and sip a long cool drink in the shade of the trees.

From here we have a beautiful, peaceful view where your eyes and imagination can wander, for hours, around the hills with their secret empty caves.  It is a great spot for our three dogs Charlie, Barney and Alfie to sit and look out for intruders (i.e. the farmer with his tractor or the shepherd with his goats).  Alfie is our new pup.  I say pup but he is growing at a good rate of knots.  At 10 weeks he was 17 kgs.  More about him later!

Whats next?

If you recall, our cave is in two halves.  The second half of the cave needs to be repaired and made good so that we can turn it into a holiday let giving us a little income.  This will be the next main project and will begin on Monday.  The builders need to yeso (plaster) all through and repair some of the walls that have saltpetre in them.  Once that is complete I need to design a ‘Spanish’ kitchen, shelves for the bedrooms and built in seats for the lounge and dining room areas.  The rental cave will have two roof patios which are now complete and will be used by our guests. They give wonderful views and privacy, I just need to furnish them to a high standard and add a few plants!

In the rental cave I am thinking along the lines of the designs below. The finished look will be different but it gives you an idea of what’s going on in my head!

When the yeso man has finished this side of the cave he will complete the work outside by coating all of the exterior walls of the cave in capa fina (exterior plaster) giving the outside a cleaner finish and new look.   Then…. we have other areas of land that we need to work out what to do with.  Do we have turkeys (2 were advertised recently and John was very keen!), do we have a veg patch (only if Chris is here to water daily!) or….. The list goes on.

But for now, I am happy to sit and consider how to advertise our soon to be holiday cave next door.  I need to look at why people would want to stay in the area, what they would be looking for and what their needs may be.  Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.  So far, I believe that people come to this wonderful area for one of four reasons.

  1. To experience living in a cave.
  2. Explore the wonderful area around and its many nature reserves, lakes and interesting villages.
  3. To enjoy tapas (well, that’s me anyway).
  4. To relax in an area of beauty and tranquility with a good book and a glass of wine.

Our cave is in just the right location to do all four and much more so hopefully we can provide something for everyone.  We are so lucky to have found this spot.

Once the next phase of the work has begun I will be happy to share the progress but for now it’s back to plans and measuring tapes.

Please, please, please follow my blog by adding your email on the top right hand side of this page.  You will then be alerted when any updates are made.    It only takes a moment – promise.  Thank you for reading and taking part in our cave adventure.

Love, peace and happiness to you all.

x

 

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16. The builders have landed.

The builders have well and truly landed in Puente Arriba!

We have them everywhere. Front, back and sides.  Our land has been occupied by thousands of bricks, tons of sand and diggers galore not to mention concrete wagons.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, just the opposite.  Miguel, our Spanish builder, lives a stones throw from us in the village.  He knows more about our cave, and land around us, then we do.  He has been absolutely fantastic and we cannot recommend him highly enough.  My basic Spanish is growing slowly but I can now tell you the Spanish names for doors, windows, concrete, seats, etc etc.  It is amazing how much you pick up when trying to communicate what it is that you want.   Miguel has been sooooo patient. 

How does all this building work make me feel?  It’s a mixture of excitement, trepidation and all out fear.  Excitement as we see our plans taking shape and can now visualise the different areas and the uses of each plot.  Trepidation as we may have missed something out or should have changed/tweaked an idea, which for now, to late.  Fear of getting it completely wrong and that is something only time will tell.

I have experienced all these emotions several times a day over the past 4 weeks.  However, I do believe the fear has reduced and moved into trepidation.  Hopefully trepidation will soon begin to reduce and move more towards excitement.

The secret garden is looking great as I see my computerised drawings being formed.  My only trepidation here is whether we have enough concrete areas planned out but…..  my confidence is growing a little each day that we have.

The front area is in full flow with block work being laid, concrete being poured and garages being built, not to mention the patio areas above the garages.  My trepidation for this area of our land has, as of yesterday, been worked out.  It was not about the layout as I am very pleased with the shape and size but whether the seating area would have been too high.  The cave is already in an elevated position so raising the seating area by 3-4 blocks would take us up into the trees and nearer to God.  Luckily I relayed my concerns, with the use of a translator app, to Miguel and the seating platform has been reduced in height.   Concrete is now being poured as we speak and it’s looking great.

The garages for John’s bike and our car are both huge and will be wonderful spaces for us both to utilise.  John has been known to complain that I take over any past garage space with my ‘stuff’ (garden tools, power tools, items needing storage) so this is perfect. We both have our own garage space to do with as we please.  The roof patios are taking shape but I cannot take a look as yet as the concrete wagon is still pouring.  I’ll have to wait until they have all gone home and take a peek.  I do feel a little trepidation as to how they are going to look but……   I continue to enjoy our surroundings and especially the beautiful walks down by the river with Charlie and Barney.  I’ve just returned from the river walk, and as usual, have come back refreshed and smiling.  The poppies are out at the moment and are everywhere.  Just amazing.  We love Spain.

As you can see we are close to the end of our work outside.  I believe I have just seen Miguel punch the air with glee:-)  It will then be ideas time.  How do we fill the spaces we have created?  We already have a tennis net, a table tennis table, petanque set, sun beds, hammock, barbecue and a variety of seats to place in the areas not to mention the 3 mirrored silver display balls, 3 wicker cacti and a penny farthing!

Exciting times ahead.

15. The Land.

I know what I want but, as usual, I don’t know quite how to get it – yet. I do have lots of ideas for our outdoor spaces which we have around the cave but sourcing materials, (without breaking the bank), finding good workmen with space in their diaries and working around the restrictions of the local council is enough to keep me awake most nights.Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 12.08.26.png

Saying that, I do enjoy the planning and designing although some of my ideas have received funny looks and worried expressions from my better half.  As John and I have been married for over 22 years I am quite used to John’s reactions and I know he will enjoy the end results just as much as I will.  I hope!

Our land around the cave is an odd shape but this is not at all bad.  To help me plan how to use each area I have broken the land down into 8 sections.  Each section will have a different use and unique look.  Some will need money spending and others very little so as to allow nature to continue her work.

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The Plan……..

Area 1 is a strip of land full of grape vines that runs along the side of a small church called Ermita del Salto and stretches to a neighbours olive grove. I have absolutely no idea what to do with area 1.  It’s a work in progress for my brain.

 

 

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The same applies to area 2.  It also has grape vines and scrub.  The only immediate plan is to re open the driveway, (on the right hand side of area 2 just out of the picture), that runs from the church along the back of our property so that we can gain access to the rear for log delivery etc.

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Area 3 has a definite plan and has already been named ‘the secret garden’.  This space will be where we will chill, devour barbecues and enjoy company.  The hillside to the left and top edge of the area will be enclosed by a white wall giving it a walled garden feel.  I would like a large stone table under a covered construction to give shade during the heat of the summer, comfortable lounges and swing seats. Perhaps a couple of hammocks to laze away the afternoons. Well, we are in Spain and the afternoons are for siestas!

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Area 4, which is thin and curved and stretches to the track, will be left for nature to continue to live and grow.  It’s in a dip and not very user friendly so I am happy to let nature carry on her work and give the birds and local wildlife somewhere to rummage and shelter in. The right hand edge of this area (next to the cave) will have a roped fence to help mark the edge of the cliff face and give the edge a distinctive look.

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Area 5 is immediate in front of the property from where we have wonderful views of the Bad Lands and river below.  The amount of wildlife you can see whilst sitting here is just amazing and one that we are both going to enjoy looking at during a quiet afternoon or summers evening.  A few minutes ago, I went to take the picture you can now see and two herons came swopping down towards the river.  Fantastic.   In this area I plan to have 3 raised sections.  2 lower levels for pots, a bench and perhaps the odd bit of art and the third raised area which will be a step higher, for comfortable seats where we can sit and enjoy the scenery and especially the sky at night.  Because we have no artificial lights around our area the stars are simply amazing.

Area 6 and 7 are lower down towards the track and are separated by a second driveway, (shown in black).  Again, these areas are work in progress for my brain.

Area 8, which begins at the church, continues over the cave to become our roof.  There is not a lot we can do with this land as the natural grasses that grow here are protected plus we would not want to change it anyway.  It looks natural and is in keeping with the cave.  The only change that will appear here are two garages to the side of the cave (on the right hand side of area 8) which will have patio areas on the roof for our privacy and sun.

We do have two further parcels of land (shown in green) that we own but they are not exactly user friendly as they are both on the other side of the road/track.  We may find a use one day but….

On top of all this we have to grade and make good 3 drives, make two Cave rooms, one for the car and one for John’s bike, build a shelter over the kitchen door area, fence the whole perimitor to keep Barney and Charlie safe, replace 4 front/back doors and 7 windows and ………I think that is enough for now.  My plans change on a regular basis so I will keep you updated, I promise.

 

 

14. The decision has been made.

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The decision has been made.  We have both agreed to sell our original dream cave.  It has been a hard decision in many ways but after weighing up all the pros and cons it was not complicated or difficult after all.  We should sell and put our energy into the new cave home (Casa Cueva) in Puente Arriba.

At the beginning, some of our friends and family thought we had gone potty buying such a project as the original cave, never mind at our time of life.  In some ways they were right but nothing ventured……  As life has a habit of doing to us all, it took us down a different path.

Yes, we are of a certain age and I for one am not as active or as proactive as I used to be.
I would be a fool to pretend otherwise.  The meticulous planning that I have completed so far has been extensive and I will admit, exciting, but it has been mentally tiring too.   The other issues are with the usual stress we all go through with the red tape, local authorities and fighting with work men to achieve my own ideas for our home.  These issues  are just the tip of the stress mountain.  I really don’t want that in my life.  The dream – yes it was a great dream and I will never regret it but I am being realistic and want to enjoy the rest of my life, no matter how long or short, enjoying the Spanish life style and weather.  As I say that we are having snow storms and cold weather, but we know it will not last.  Cross fingers.

Our latest purchase in Puente Arriba is going to be our home.  All our efforts are going into making it as comfortable and homely as we can.  If you have been following our saga you will know that the cave is in two parts. The first half is in a fair to good state and is certainly livable in but the second half needs lots of tlc.  It is going to take time and a great deal of thought to get to the stage were two become one.  But, that is our aim.

Then we have the land around our cave – 10,000 sqm. in total.  I need to look at each area and every aspect of the different and varied layers to ensure that the land around us is used to its best advantage – that is to say for our best advantage.  Seating areas with views, to a secret garden, they all need to be carefully planned and thought about and then thought about some more.

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That is where I am at the moment.  I have ideas. Some will need to be tweaked and others discarded but that’s half the fun. The first priority is to fence our land, (shown here in red), so that our two  rescue boys do not wander off to say hello to the local shepherd and his flock or find food in the neighbours kitchens.  The fence will also curtail the numerous local doggie visits we get each day – leaving presents behind is fine but I must confess to not wanting those kind of doggie presents outside our cave door.

Saying all that the dog population are friendly and they all welcome each other and play which is kind of nice but I just don’t trust our two boys not wander off so….fence it is.

In my next blog I will take you through some of my ideas for the outdoor spaces and walk you around the land.  Hope that you are enjoying our adventure, our ups and downs and our new challenges as we continue or journey with life in Spain.  Thank you for reading.

13. Something to cross off my bucket list.

If you are thinking of buying a shelf or a type of unit to house a DVD or Apple TV, you may think of visiting B&Q or Ikea.  I certainly have on many occasions.

fullsizeoutput_33c0However, when you live in a cave, as we   do, there are other options.  You could attack the cave wall with a hammer and chisel and carve yourself a shelf in the rock wall.  I debated long and hard about this option; the thought of how deep the recess would need to be to house all the electrical devices was not that appealing to me.  Chiselling out a hole in the wall is not an easy task especially as the rock can be very solid, a hammer may not crack the nut!  I have also been reliably informed that a small hole creates masses of debris by our lovely neighbour Steve.  He should know as he has a few recess shelves in his own cave.  So, what other option do I have?

The second option is to build out into the room.  It could be a shelf or a unit but no…..when you live in a cave the obvious thing to do is to build a rock to house your gadgets.

So, how to build a rock?  This is something I can honestly say I have never thought of before.  I have built steps, arches and fireplaces but never a rock!  I came up with a plan  to use breeze blocks and chicken wire.

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A visit to the local builders yard and a walk around the cave grounds gave me all the material I needed.  I haphazardly arranged my building material in the corner as near to the design that was in my head. Then I rearranged them and then rearranged them again. This went on for a few days.  Eventually I was content with the overall shape and set to work joining the full and half bricks together with a great deal of Yeso.  I wanted to leave two flat areas on the top so that I could place tiles to form a platform for the gadgets.  This was to be my cave shelves.

At this point I realised I did not have a tile cutter which was to be an important piece of equipment but a trip to our local town Baza sorted that.  Tiles cut and sited and the job was done.  It may not be perfect but I really don’t care because……I did it!

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Was it easy…no it wasn’t.  It was time consuming, thought provoking and a little back breaking but I would certainly take a few short cuts next time and I have learnt a lot about building a rock.  All I need to do is to finish the paint job on the wall.  Job done.

Something to cross off my bucket list.

 

12. Can I see a light at the end of the packing boxes?

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Front of the cave house

Can I see a light at the end of the packing boxes?  All I can say is that it’s a good job we have so many rooms in our new cave house.

The cave property has been excavated all the way through the hillside to give a front and back to the cave house.  Two long corridors take you down from one side to the other.

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Rear of the property

 

You may also recall that it has an added bonus of being easily separated into two private dwellings or kept as one, albeit one big one.  We live in the first half as there is work needed in the second half to make it fully habitable.   This second half is still quite full of packing boxes which all need sorting. Some items will be used, others repacked for future use and some for a local dogs charity to be used as they see fit.

The whole cave structure looks like this;-  bano = bathroom, Cocina = kitchen,  domitorio = bedroom, comedor = dining room, sala = room, salon= living room, recibidor = reception room, bodega = winery!!

Back of the cave house.

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Front of the cave house.

As you can see it is quite a network of rooms.  To make this property into two indepentant units you would need to lock/block off the middle bathroom,  (third room at the front of the cave as seen on the bottom row of the diagram).  Each half would have a front entrance and a rear entrance all of its own.

The number of rooms is fantastic but what we will use each one for is, and will be for a while yet, working progress. It does initially depend on whether we use this cave property as our main home or separate the cave giving us two rentals. We said we would give ourselves a couple of months to live and relax here but I can see after only a few weeks that we are here to stay. We love it. Not only do we feel relaxed and at home but the potential here is endless. The cave has so many connotations and the outside space is mind boggling. Secret gardens that lead to a quant church, the path leading down to the river and the three driveways all need careful consideration to what we do next and how we use these quite different spaces. Imaginations can run wild.

We have started work in the cave within the living room space.  This room is the first room on the bottom row of the above diagram.  We have so far had the walls ‘re-plastered’.  It was not actually plastered but Yeso’ed but you get my drift.  There was not much wrong with the old walls but they did not have a great finish to them and as Yeso is only a couple of euros a bag we thought ‘why not have the room as we would like it’.

The old large wood burner that sits majestically within the fireplace works brilliantly and throws out so much heat but it is showing its age and the door mechansism is faulty.  So, in a couple of weeks we will have a lovely new estufa (fire) and the old estufa will be placed in one of our secret gardens to be used as a barbecue (your idea Chris so get your thinking cap on please).

As I write this update I am working on ideas for the lighting in the lounge. I am leaning towards replacing the old wall lights with roof tiles.  Roof tiles that have been doctored. By doctored I mean drilled by yours truly.  Here are a couple of ideas I would like to use.

I may get more adventurous as the time goes by but at present I am happy with drill holes that appear haphazardly to allow some light to get through. I have seen tiles with such intricate patterns in them but it may take some planning and a few trials before I can begin to get to that standard. But, if you know me, you know that I will keep trying and one day……

The ceiling light is a challenge for me.  You may recall me saying that I do not like such lights and rarely use them.  I think I am going to have to leave it be for a while and see how the lighting works during the winter and spring and which type of lighting I do actually use in this room.  I have seen a lovely candle holder made of iron used as a ceiling light in our lovely neighbour’s cave which took my eye.  Steve and Sandra, watch out, it may just go missing, you have been warned.

The tv is now fixed on the wall and the leads and plugs just need to be hidden behind tiles and rock.  The only other idea we had for the lounge area was a charging station which Chris will be finishing off as soon as he returns to Spain.  I wanted one place where we could recharge our electronic gadgets, iPhones, iPads, computers, kindles, apple watches etc etc etc. All the leads and plugs would be in one place and not spread around so you have to hunt for a lead or try to remember where you left you iPhone on charge.  We have the ideal spot in the lounge.  An area that you cannot do much else with.

The last job to do in this room will be to paint the fresh Yeso in brilliant white.  We will then have one room in which we can sit back and be proud of.  Onto the next room which will be ……. I am truly not sure yet as I have so many ideas I have no idea where to start next!

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Some wise person (and not me!) said, ‘The way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away’.  I have made a start and have so many ideas I could fill a cave – our cave!

 

11. At The Moment Life Is………

We cannot say that life over the past weeks has been boring or uneventful. Far from it. I’ve only just stopped spinning.

We have now been living in Spain for 6 weeks, rented 4 different properties and made endless phone calls and appointments trying to get all our Spanish paperwork in order etc etc etc. We have even had problems with a large bank here in Spain who, in their wisdom,  decided to block our account. Why? Well, the head office deemed Cyprus as a money laundering paradise and not bound by EU law!  We had been living and working in Cyprus for the passed 12 years we have all our residency papers, tax registrations and sales contacts for our home and apartment which we sold so that we could move over to Spain. Nothing we sent them has so far unblocked our account. They know where our money has come from and what we are going to spend it on but …no.

It really does not matter in which country you live in, there is always endless red tape and silly errors made by all government departments and head offices.  I think we have seen and dealt with them all (seems that way to us). Living in Cyprus we are used to things happening slowly and being far more complicated then is necessary but in Spain there seems to be another dimension to the mix. Government or local offices may start work at 0900 but at 1030 it’s breakfast at a local cafe, return at 1130 to finish for the day at 1400. That’s a good working day in anyone’s book.

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So, where are we now on the cave front? Let me summarise. Originally we bought our dream cave in the Cueva de Luna area to reform into a wonderful living space. The cave named ‘Cueva de Limon’ is still there and looking just as grand and exciting.

Then our plans grew. As we had sold both of our properties in Cyprus sooner than we thought, we decided to buy a second cave where we could live whilst our original cave was being transformed. This second purchase would give us a base for the short term and, when we moved out and into our dream home, we could rent it out giving us a small and hopefully steady income. After a week of full on searching we found this second cave in the Rio de Baza area. However, over the past few weeks, this second cave has become more and more problematic. The owners, although wanting to sell, would not set a date for completion. Why, I can hear you ask? Pass! After 6 weeks of waiting we decided to cut our losses and restart the search for a new second property.

This time we raised our cash limit and widened our search. We looked at cortijos (farmhouses) and caves. But this time we wanted something fully reformed giving us little or no work to worry about. And then….. last Wednesday, with lots of help from Chris, I found the ideal cave in the Puente Arriba area of Benamaurel. It is larger, fully

renovated to a high standard, has 6 bedrooms at least, 4 bathrooms, half of the rooms are fully furnished (minus a washing machine) and lots of land and secret gardens full with beautiful grape vines. In fact we have approx 2.5 acres or 10,000 sqm of land around us.  Much more cave for our money than the problematic cave – it was surely meant to be. Perfecto!

Today, exactly one week later, contracts have been exchanged and we are ready to move in. How good is that.  Is this a record?

The other beauty of this cave is that it can be used as a large home or can easily be divided into two properties by locking a dividing door. Each side would have its own separate entrances (times 2), a separate driveway and its own outdoor areas. The only work that would be necessary to divide the cave into two would be to fit a second kitchen (pipes are already installed in one of the cave rooms). The rest is all there. One room is so large it could easily be decided into 2 bedrooms with one being en-suite if required. My only reservation in making this property into two rentals is that we may enjoy living here so much we will want to make it our forever home.

357b3b9So, the plan for the near future – we are going to live and enjoy our time in this new cave
357b3b9and make our decisions in the new year. (Yes Chris, your advice was duly noted). We have choices and can be flexible. That is what life is all about – being flexible and making decisions that are right for you.

Life can be tough but it can also be good. At the moment life is……sorry not going to tell you as I really don’t want to jinx it. It’s also called Sod’s law and I really don’t know Mr Sod but he needs a good strong talking to.

Xx

10. We made it to Spain. Perfecto!

22728836_740099056178328_996893290030930417_nHow we’ve survived the last few weeks I will never know.  It has been seriously hard!  Chris, my son, asked me how and what was so hard and I just couldn’t put into words why we felt that way! Perhaps it is our age, perhaps our health or perhaps we underestimated the energy we would need to move lock stock and barrel to a new country, again.  Perhaps it was due to all three.

It all started with saying goodbye to some very good friends.  We have been lucky to have a handful of people we could rely upon in Cyprus.  The kind of friends that are there for you no mater what.  We all know that true friends are like gold dust and we truly feel blessed.  Bill and Sue, Dave and Doreen, Hercules and Effi, Gay, Christakis,  just to name a few.

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In the short time we had to prepare for our journey, we made detailed plans to ensure our move from Cyprus to Spain went as smooth as possible.  However, plans can only be as good as the people  involved.  If those contracted to do a job or made promises to deliver don’t, then your plans have to be adjusted.  Sometimes our plans got adjusted on a daily basis!  We have been so disillusioned by others being money orientated, power mad or just plain devious.  We are honest people and pay good money for a fair job – but it is not that straight forward sometimes, is it!

The only ‘plan’ that sailed through the process without hiccup or change was for the accommodation and transportation of our two dogs, Barney and Charlie.  We went ahead of the boys by 11 days.  Annie’s Animal Ark (Anne Parsons) made all the arrangements to get the boys over to Spain, resourced giant crates and kept us informed all the way.  Her fee for the work she did was  not just fair but brilliant.  Then there was Tony and Gina Potter.  Tony cares for visiting dogs in his own home and the boys simply love him.  For us to leave the boys with Tony and knIMG_0817ow that they would truly have a great 11 day ‘holiday’ was such a relief.  Charlie has one mission in life which is to clean everyone and is a fairly confident boy but Barney is, and always has been, a very fearful boy.  Walking  with Barney outside of his own safe domain can be a nightmare.   God forbid if there is a parked car on the street that is not normally parked there.  He would simply refuse to pass this highly dangerous situation and use all his strength to return to the safety of his domain.  Being 38 kilos and having a strong front end (having 2 operations on his back hips made the front half a power pack), if Barney wants to go, you go to.  This is all down to him having a bad start in life in Cyprus as a pup and we were very worried that he would not survive the journey but with Tony and Anne taking charge all went so much better than we could have imagined,  Thank you so much to you both.  You come highly recommended by us all.

 

We have now been in Spain for 2 weeks and each day we get closer to getting our paperwork and general life sorted.  We will have our new car on Friday, (fully insured with a tracker fitted hopefully), which will allow us to return the hire car – hooray!; with a good wind we will be official residents of Baza when we get our Padron at the end of the week, (we need an address which is registered with Baza town hall and, as we could not use our first cave’s address as it is not yet registered with them, we were stumped. However, we should be proud owners of another two caves by the end of week which are registered); and we will have internet in the new caves within a week – now breathe.

full_1535_18511If you recall one of the caves is fully reformed and is almost ready to move into.  This will be our home until our original cave is complete.  Once we are settled in we can work on the front area of the caves to transform it into an area of peace and tranquility with sun beds, hammocks and outside eating areas.  The second cave next door is unreformed, but once complete, will provide us with an additional rental cave for anyone wishing to stay in a truly amazing area.  These two caves will be known as Cueva de la Paz 1 and Cueva de la Paz 2.  (Cave of Peace).

When the contracts for the new caves are signed (we are crossing fingers for the 3rd November) we will have 5 days to clean inside and organise any small repairs that are necessary before we have to move out of our rented cortijo (farmhouse).   I then need to arrange for delivery of mattresses (bases are built in), a couple of chairs, microwave and bedding and we can move in.  Our container from Cyprus should be arriving sometime after 9 November (we hope) so we should have a homely cave by then.  More fun to look forward to!   Chris is flying out hopefully on the 16th so it will be all hands on deck.  Did I say he could have a holiday?  I lied!

We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our future in Spain can begin and I will work hard to ensure we enjoy every minute.  Hopefully the family can come over as often as their lives allow, which will be wonderful for me as I do miss them loads, and it will be something different for them.  New experiences to share and enjoy.

I am ending this blog now as my Cerveza Limon is ready to be consumed.  Enjoy, I know I will:-)

xx

 

 

 

9. It’s Happening…Goodbye Cyprus.

It’s happening.  We have sold our two properties in Cyprus.

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The sale of the house is going through ok after the many meetings and phone calls to get the house deeds amended.   The one missing piece of paper actually arrived and has been approved, stamped and lodged with the correct department.  That left us with the apartment still on the market.   Until, on the day I was flying out to Spain to view other cave properties,  I received a phone call to say an offer had been made on the the apartment. This offer was raised slightly and duly accepted by us both.   Wonderful.   My trip to Spain was starting off well.

In my last blog you may remember that we discussed whether to rent for 12 months in Spain whilst our own cave was reformed or whether to buy a second cave which was  ready to move into immediately. The later would give us somewhere to live for the 12 months and, when we moved out, would provide us with a rental property which would give us a little income.  Win, win.

Well, during my visit to Spain last week (with our great friend Dave Nelson), I found the perfect 3 bed cave for us to move into immediately and…..it has another 3 bed cave next door which just needs finishing off!   Two large caves, 6 beds, 2 lounges, 2 kitchen, 2 bathrooms and a large expanse of outdoor space all for a great price of €83,000.   The second cave even has stone steps that lead nowhere!!

The properties had been on the market for €135,000 but they had been reduced a matter of days before we arrived.  A great deal of interest had already been received by the estate agents in the area and I was not to sure whether we would be the successful purchasers but…. we were.  The phone call came from Sean at Spainish-Inland-Properties to confirm we were the proud owners, as I arrived back at Birmingham airport.

What a week that was.  Thank you Dave Nelson for going through it all with me, sharing the ups and downs and wearing out shoe leather.  I hope all the great tapas we endured went a little way towards compensation.

In less than 12 months we will have not one but two great and unusual rental properties. I am over the moon.

There may be a little work to do and a certain amount of planning of the outdoor spaces but that is going to be fun especially when we will be living there.  Inside needs a coat of paint in certain areas and each room needs a good clean . The outside area of the new caves is quite extensive. Part of the area has trees which will need to be cut back and hedges that need to be taken out. We will need patio areas, stone tables and benches, hammocks, four poster sun beds….. and maybe a pool? We are undecided about that, (sorry Dave), as a pool is quite work intensive, expensive to run and maintain and is it really necessary? Jury is still out.  We do have a few volunteers keen to help us get settled.  Chris, Dave,  Tracy… fancy putting your rubber gloves on??  Block you diaries for the second half of October!

But for now we have the hard work that only John and I can do.  The planning, arranging, dealing with solicitors, packing and moving contents of a large house and 2 wonderful dogs to Spain. I will admit that it is all rather scary as we do not have a sales agreement for the house signed as yet – apparently that happens on the day of exchange  which is to be 10 October.  This all happens a few days before we are due to fly out of Cyprus on the 15 October.

As I write this update we have had a couple arrived to look at our two cars.  Within 5 minutes they were sold and all within an hour of advertising them on Facebook.  One has been taken away and the other we can keep until the 13 October!  How good is that?  Only John’s bike to go now.  Help!  So far everything has had perfect timing ….long may that continue.

Thank you for following our exciting journey and I hope you will continue with us all the way. x

 

8. Are we in Spain yet?

We may have news – good news!

IMG_4053.JPGWe have a buyer for our house in Cyprus. Well, we have him on one condition and that one condition has proved to be a bit of a hurdle. It is a long story but to complete on the house we need to provide clear title deeds with no conditions.   When we purchased the house we knew that we would need to give a corner of our land to the Pyrgos Council when and if (and it is a huge if) they decide to build a road down the side of our property.   Our corner, as pictured and includes a huge fig tree and two fir trees, would become a 1/4 of a cul-de-sac. Fine. This road is very unlikely to be built but it needs to be recorded that if at such time…. etc etc etc. It has been a nightmare to sort out, what we thought was an easy process has turned out to be a little wrong and that is putting it mildly.

We had two options. 1. To build the 1/4 of the cul-de-sac ourselves or pay the local council an over the top amount of money so they have the funds to do it when and if.   We asked our local Pyrgos council to accept the cash, which had been agreed by the main planning office, and they refused.  This is not the norm so we have been told, as local councils will accept these offers as a matter of principle and because the main planning office has given their blessing.  So why did they refuse us?  Who knows, it’s all a secret.

We decided to go to plan B and look into building the cul-de-sac ourselves. Fine .. no problem at all and it would cost us less money. However, just before we went ahead we were told that the service companies would need to be consulted to where their pipes should be laid in our corner of the cul-de-sac.  That is where it all fell apart. As the road has not been built, and the design of the proposed road keeps changing, the service companies (sewerage and electricity) would not be able to agree to where we should lay their pipes in this ‘may never be used’ cul-de-sac. Stalemate.

So, back to the next council meeting a month later to ask again for their help.  The answer came back, yet again, no. We were at a loss. Why were they refusing us when it is apparently normal practise? This is when the sale should have fell through but as the maybe buyers really want our lovely home, at its rock bottom price, they are hanging on. We tried the council a third and last time but I added a begging letter with our request. The answer came back yes. At last we can move forward.

Yes, a move forward but Cypriot style… very slowly or “siga siga”. What should have taken a day has now gone into its second week because everyone is on holiday (Cyprus shuts down in August) but we are at the last hurdle and have been informed by our local Mukhtar that all is well and it is now being sorted. Our buyer is pleased and all systems are go – well almost – we still need the confirmation from the council in writing, and pay over a wadge of money. But, we must now begin to make our plans so as not be be left high and dry when we do receive the said letter.  Notice I said ‘when’!

So we have to assume we have sold. What do we do know?

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Our first consideration is where do we live for the six months that it will take to reform our cave in Spain. Do we rent in Spain? It is an option but we both believe that renting is dead money. Do we rent in the UK? Same thing applies with the additional costs of going backwards and forwards from the UK to Spain, hiring cars and accommodation every time I need to go over to speak to builders or architects.

Do we buy a caravan and park it on our land next to the cave?  We would be on site which would make our lives so much easier.  However, John will need to continue to work and with his ‘office’ and two large dogs, a caravan no matter how large, would not work for 6 months.  A week or two yes!  Our next thought was to buy a ready reformed cave to move into and then, when the time comes to move into our new home, we will have a property to rent out as a holiday home.  There are beautiful reformed caves for €40,000 – €50,000 to be had. This option is our favourite. It will provide us with an income for relatively little money and money that would be invested in property rather than sitting in a bank.  Here is just one example of the caves in the area.

This particular cave is finished to a high standard and is on the market for a little more but with a bit of negotiation you just never know. I really like this particular cave, it would look great with the right interior design, and I cannot wait to see it.

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Another property is two in one.  The first is a well appointed 3 bed cave ready to move in to (white building) with a second cave to the left (brown building) that needs a reform. All for around €40,000!  You just cannot go wrong.

The area we are moving to, Cuevas de Luna (Caves of the Moon), is close to several conservation areas, Baza, Castril and of course the Sierra Nevada, and many popular and beautiful lakes, Negratin being within minutes drive of our area.   With a little interior design we should have little problem in renting and, if family and friends want to come over, we will have somewhere for them to stay. Win win.

As I have said our buyers are in a hurry to move in to our home which makes it necessary for our ‘moving forward’ plans to be organised and ready to put into action at a moments notice.    We need to view properties in Spain, so that if I find the perfect cave, we can begin the process of buying as soon as our house in Cyprus is safely off the market.  That should happen in a week or two and then in and around October, we need to be out – only weeks away.  So, I am flying to Spain on the 5 September to view 24 caves in the area ranging from ‘no work to be done’ to ‘little TLC needed’. By this time the house should be firmly secured in the sale.

I am very excited and freely admit to being totally scared. It is a new chapter in our lives and one that is, in the main, new to us. Caves and Spain. Saying that we have lived in Cyprus for 12 years now and Spain is very similar to Cyprus in the way things work so we are not going with our eyes closed. It is all very different to the UK, that we know.

Now we have made the decision to buy another property in Spain to move into, it makes the next consideration an easy one. What to take with us? We have a 5 bed house here in Cyprus. A 5 bed house will not go into a small 3 bed cave especially when most of the cave furniture will be built in. Seating and beds will all be concrete/brick based. However, now we are looking for a further property (or maybe two if the prices are right) we can afford to take everything with us to help furnish it/them. But that then leads to the problem of how to store some of our personal items and items we need for our own cave. Answer – buy a container. We can use our own container, instead of renting, to ship over and then have that container delivered to our cave. We will have the storage for now and for when we move in.  It will be very useful, of that I am sure.  I have a knack of filling empty spaces so my husband tells me!

The other huge consideration for us is our two rescue dogs.

IMG_0817Until very recently, for animals to fly from Cyprus to Spain, it entailed 2 flights.  This has been a huge issue for us. Charlie (golden colour) would be OK – he would get over the ordeal quickly but we don’t think Barney (white and golden) would. He was seriously abused as a pup and was not expected to survive. Although now he is absolutely great and a wonderful placid pet within the safety of his own environment, due to his bad start in life, he has a few major issues.  He has suffered two hip operations which have left him unable to walk too far and he is a nervous wreck of a dog. He is absolutely fine when there is no-one around or nothing unusual about. When I say unusual I mean a parked car that is not normally parked in our road or a child’s voice which can be heard in the distant garden or a man half a mile up the road walking towards us. He goes into major panic mode and drags us all the way home. Being a 38 kilo dog with a powerful front end, you don’t really have a choice, trust me.

So, Barney would be a problem with two flights.  He would suffer, of that I am sure. However, good news.  Cobalt have just announced that they are to start transporting animals on its flights. Hooray. This means that both dogs have to endure one flight from Larnaca to Madrid. The only downside is that they will have a 5 hour car journey from Madrid to the cave.  That we can manage, as they will be with us and we can stop regularly on route, so it should not be as bad as it sounds. I am really pleased about this news from Cobalt.  It has happened at just the right time for us. It makes the uprooting of our boys much easier and puts our minds more at ease.

So…. We have not yet completed on the house sale, I’ve booked flights to Spain to look for a second or possibly third property, I’ve reserved a container and organised how we are going to move our goods and pets over to Spain. All I need now is money!!  Anyone willing to help out?