25. ‘Lockdown’ within cave land – part 3.

download-2It’s now day 12 of lockdown in our cave home.  

We have had days when we have been happy, sad, worried, bored, busy and thoughtful but thinking about it, can’t we say the same for our normal everyday lives too.

As some of you know, I am usually out and about working hard getting our rental cave ready for guests to enjoy and ensuring they are well maintained.  However, I have not visited the caves, Cuevas de la Paz, for 12 days and that’s a strange feeling!   I miss them!   If, like me, you are forward planning to take a short break when this strange time is over please take a look at http://www.caveholidays.com. There are other great rental properties within our area where you can stay and I highly recommend you take a look at the places you can enjoy and the new experiences you can have within the Altiplano.  You may get an idea of what our area has to offer from the website. It is a beautiful place.

So, my time has been spent, like many others, doing the jobs that get added to the ‘when I have time’ list which in reality, would normally stay unticked.  I’ve emptied drawers, batched cooked, cleaned, sorted out clothes and generally slowed down.  This is not a bad thing but I do wish I could have friends around to witness how clean and tidy our cave is now. 

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When our doors are once again open, the house will have returned to the ‘almost tidy’, ‘as clean as you are going to see it today’ and ‘more dog hairs then I care to think about’ cave then I would honesty like but…. If you are friends you will understand (I hope).

I have also taken more time to read posts on Facebook, which for us living in a small community, has been a vital source of information during our 12 days. It has also on occasions given me a few great laughs with the funny words and videos that are out there.  It has also been the biggest source of rubbish just like our newspapers can be on occasions.  We do have to consider each post with care and decided if we believe it or not ( looking at the source of the post is a good guide for me).

I found this on FB recently which for me epitomizes what I mean about false information and I absolutely love it.

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Just a heads up The Ministry of Defence have been told to be on standby for complete UK lockdown as of Sunday evening at 6pm… No one is to leave their home’s unless you work in Front Line Retail or the NHS and have brown hair.

I heard this directly from my neighbour Trigger who is best friends with a guy called Boycey.  Boycey knows a guy named Del who drinks down the pub with his uncle Albert.  Albert was in the Navy during the war so knows his stuff.

Please pass it on.

On the more positive side I do enjoy the posts that make me smile or perhaps make me think (I’ve been told that using my little grey cells is a good thing).  I  found this on FB today posted by a friend and its is just perfect – could not have put it better myself!

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           Do we say ‘we are stuck at home’ or

           should we say ‘we are safe at home’. 

         One word makes so much difference.

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Today on day 12 the Horton household have chilled out.  Not doing that much, just pottering about and smiling at all the good things we have around us.  John’s highlight was popping to the chemist for my hayfever pills and his own prescribed medication.  My day was made even brighter when I spotted the crowd gathering around our bottom gate. 

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Now it’s time for a spot of TV for even more relaxation.  Tomorrow is another day when I may get started on the painting of the dining room walls…… or not….. I may just make these for the garden.  My choice is endless.

Thats day 12 in cave land.   Take care everyone and stay smiling.

24. ‘Lockdown’ within cave land – part 2.

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Today we are on ‘Day 8’ of our lockdown in cave land and … it’s Mothers Day.

My last blog was posted on day 4 when I wrote about how lucky I felt being in lockdown in such a lovely area with the room and space I have around me.  Now, 4 days later, my thinking has altered slightly.

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I am beginning to realise that it is not how big your castle is, how large your garden may be or the number of places you can hide in that makes lockdown more bearable.  On day 8 I am more inclined to say, although size does matter, it’s the state of mind we have that is my new number one.

As human beings we tend not to like being told that we cannot do the things that we have taken for granted all of our lives.  We all know that this lockdown makes total sense and may totally agree with the rules that we have been asked to abide by but…. deep in the back of our human minds we don’t like the thought of not being allowed to do the most normal of activities.  It is so easy to get into a negative frame of mind.  We are all human, it will happen, to some more than others.

What do I personally do to combat my own images-1human failings – especially on this particular mothers day?  Please remember, I am not saying my way is the right way but sharing what appears to be working for me …. so far.

1.   I am taking it day by day.  I am not looking towards the end of lockdown (now extended to the 12 April) as for me that appears to be too many days away from today.  In reality it’s not but…

2.  I am not planning my day’s activities.   Instead I give myself something to aim for.   Today images-4for example I would like to spring clean my bathroom.  You notice I said ‘like to’ and not ‘must do’.  This gives me a get out clause if I decided to do something else.  There is always tomorrow!

3. I am actively researching places I would like to visit when this is all over. images-12 It may be several months away but I am getting excited about the not so far off future when I can tour around.  I enjoy planning where to visit, where to stay, what to see, history of the different areas etc.  It doesn’t have to be far from home.  There are so many beautiful places to visit within Spain and I would love to see as many as I can.  A night here, a weekend there…. sounds good doesn’t it?

4.  I am trying to keep in contact with the outside world.  I try and talk as often as I can to family and friends by messages or phone.  I have images-6also enjoyed the many live events hosted on Facebook over the past few days.  I have watched exercise classes to great music sessions from people coming together, (not literally of course), from all over the world.  People are talking, performing, sending jokes, sending recipes – simply communicating with strangers.  One particular event yesterday moved me to tears reminding me that we were all in this together.

5.  For me personally, I do not want to stagnate.  Yes, it is great to have a sofa day but I images-7know that the more sofa days I have the less positive I get.  I need to see and feel that things are getting done.  It may be painting the dining cave walls or simply sorting out a drawer. Whatever the task – I do need to feel a sense of achievement.  Others may not need this but, I know that I do.  

6.  There is a lot of bad press out there.  We have all read it and have been affected by it.  However, there is also a lot of great news out there to.  images-9  Speaking to my son Chris today by phone – he commented how positive it was that people are thinking about others and offers of help are spreading far and wide.  I couldn’t agree more. The different ways that people are offering help and sharing with others is amazing and seriously makes my eyes leak.  It doesn’t need to be much.   A simple text to someone you have not spoken to for a while saying ‘hi’ may be all it takes to make that person’s day a better one.  We often have no idea what other people are going through, and  we may never know, so I try to be kind and reach out whenever I can.  But, again, we are all human and we must not forget to consider our own personal well being.  We should never be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t forget that. 

7.  I remind myself of the things I do have and not what I don’t.  My life is good and I don’t need to be reminded of that fact very often.  To whomever it may concern – A little less curve balls thrown in my direction would be good though – please.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, keep positive and keep planning for the future.  Most of all keep talking.  images-11

Hugs to everyone especially to all moms on this very unique Mothers Day.

23. ‘Lockdown’ within Cave Land

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The Corona Virus is affecting everyone all over the world.  The majority of people have had and will have more restrictions placed on their everyday activities as the days go by.  Some more than others.  We are presently on day 4 of our lock down in Spain.   ‘It’s not been that long’, you may say.  I would agree but it is harder for some than it is for others and we have to be prepared for the original 15 days enforced restrictions to be extended further.   This is not going to be a quick fix.

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We sit here in our cave discussing how this is affecting our lives and what hardships we will have to endure.  We will not be able to visit friends and family for a while, won’t be able to go for a meal at the local swimming pool in Los Carriones or a coffee at Emilio’s.   We won’t be able to go to the garden centre or my favourite mall in Granada.   We will not be able to go for a drive out to the lakes or explore nearby towns and villages or chat with the friendly postman as he sorts through the packages in the back of his garage.   Ok, so that is how it is going to be, for us.   Not to bad you might say.  Yes we are confined to our home boundaries (with the exception of going food shopping, vets, bank, fuel, (only one at a time and strict regimes in place when you get there)), but we are truly lucky to have what we have around us.  Our own personal hardship is not that great – so far.   

We then started thinking about how it could be affecting other people near and far who may not have the things we have.  

Why do we feel so lucky?

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We have a large cave in which we can spread ourselves around.   As our rental cave next door is empty we are free to use that space if necessary.  By adding both caves together we have in total 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 kitchens 3 lounge areas, one dining room, an office,  a gym, 2 garages, numerous patios and a huge wood store.   That’s enough space to find a quiet spot if you need one.

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There are many people in Spain who live very happily in their smaller apartments or homes.  However, being confined within that space can be hard for some, especially now.  In normal times people live their lives and everything is generally ok especially when you are happy and content with what you have and with the person(s) you are living with.  But, what if you are already in an unhappy relationship or the thought of not being able to leave the confines of your home is very limiting and depressing?  I cannot imagine how difficult that must be.   There must be many people in this predicament who, on day 4, are counting every second with dread.  All I can say to anyone who may be in that situation is to use friends via any communications method you have, find something to do that you enjoy or think about things that make you happy.  From me to you – I send you all a huge virtual hug.

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We have our own land around our cave so we and and our three dogs can freely roam and potter in the fresh air.  We also have the added bonus of lovely scenery all around us. 

Many people do not have that luxury and have little or no outside space in which to escape.  We have sometimes thought the land we have is a little problematic regarding upkeep and trying to think of ideas of what to do with it but … I am, on day 4, so pleased we have it.  Weeds and all.

With today’s communications network we can keep in touch easily with family and friends far and wide.  We use WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype etc etc which is all becoming increasingly more important as the days go by.  They keep us in contact with the outside world and obviously with our family and friends.

Some people do not have these luxuries.  They may have a mobile phone and tv but little else.  Don’t get me wrong, that is enough to keep in contact with people but we feel spoilt for the choices that we have.

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We live in a sparsely populated and rural area where few cases have been reported.  In fact, we have had no reported cases within our immediate area to date.  So far, we are healthy (relatively of course.  John still has his heart problems and I seriously need to lose  the weight which has piled on recently).  So why are we as worried as we are?  That is the question being asked by some back in the UK.   

Because we are!

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How many times have I heard ‘but it’s just like the flu’! For me it’s the same as people’s attitude to smoking ‘dope’.  For many it’s a case of feeling good for a short time while you enjoy your homemade joint.   Good for you!  That is your choice and you are free to do what you want with your life.  However, for others, and there are many, it causes mental health issues. hallucinations, horrid nightmares and paranoia.  I have seen it happen so many times to so many people around me over the years.  The same attitude is being applied to this virus.  This virus may just be a walk in the park for some but for many it has and will continue to be painful, disruptive due to being hospitalised and even in the worse case scenarios causing loss of life.

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We like most families have people we deeply care for who have a medical condition which this virus poses a great risk to.  We have good friends who need hospital treatment but cannot get it now as the hospitals have no beds or are closed to regular appointments.  It is causing such distress to those who need to carry on with the treatment they were receiving and now are in limbo not knowing if the lack and delay of treatment will cause them to get worse or halt their own recovery.   It’s not a happy position to be in.   I don’t want to lose any one of these people due to others not taking precautions and treating this virus as ‘the flu’.    I’ve just been watching on TV the scenes at a popular coastal area of Spain where Brits are acting as idiots and only interested in drinking themselves stupid while they happily socialise in the streets.  It does get to me.

Getting back on track,  we are lucky to be locked down where we are, but I do ask everyone to consider the consequences of what they do especially in the next few weeks.  The UK may not yet be in lockdown, but it is coming I am sure.

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So, day 4 comes to an end and I’ve planted the flowers I purchased last week, watered the trees, moved 3 pallets that you apparently can see on Google Earth, brushed the dogs, done the usual housework and washing and now I am going to sit down with a cold drink.

Cheers everyone and please please please keep safe.  For you and everyone around you.

20. Has it really been two years!

On the 16th October 2017 we began a brand new chapter in our lives.  We were moving lock stock and barrel from Cyprus to Spain.  We landed in Alicante with 4 large suitcases thinking we had a plan!  Well… you know what happens to plans don’t you!

We had already purchased our hole in the ground, our total restoration project, in the Cuevas de Luna area of Benamaurel.  I had fallen in love with this cave from the moment I saw it in the distance as we were driving down the very long track towards Hablacon (or privately known as ‘Sue’s Rock’).  The plans I had made in my head and on the computer were many, this lovely hole would become a home with a difference – something special.

We knew that it would be at least a 12 month project what with planning permissions, architects and building works etc. So, in the meantime, we were happy to look for somewhere else to live whilst the work was being done.  When it was time to move into our dream cave we could then turn this second property into a holiday rental  giving us a little income during our old age.

If you have been following my blog you will know that we had a few twists and turns during the first few months of our new adventure in Spain.   Before we arrived in Spain we began the process of purchasing these caves in Rio de Baza however, the owners decided at the last minute, not to sell!  At the time we were devastated (and homeless) but, with hindsight, that was the best thing that could have happened!

To cut a long story short, (please read the previous blogs if you want to know more),  it was not long before we found another cave in Puente Arriba.  We moved in to our forever home on 29th November 2017.

Not that it started off as our forever home.  No, this was going to be our future holiday rental but, I fell in love, again.  I love the way the caves, (it was one and now divided into 2), went through the hill giving us two front doors, 2 back doors and lots of windows giving us light; we have lots of land around us which we are still trying to decide what to do with it all; I love the views we have of the river and valley looking across to Baza while we sit on our patios or roof terraces, I love the walks with our three dogs down by the river (I say dogs but I have a sneaky suspicion one is a polar bear), I love that we have neighbours but feel alone and private.   

In my next blog I will attempt to tell you about our favourite places to visit, to eat, to shop and those places where you can ‘just be’.   If anyone has any questions they would like to ask please get in contact and I will try and help – if not I hope I can direct you to someone who can.  It has been quite a learning curve for us both.  Well it would be wouldn’t it if you ended up becoming an 8 cave family!

Please take a look at our traditional holiday rental caves, (but with all mod cons), Cuevas de la Paz in Los Carriones at www.caveholidays.com and our second cave property Cueva Limon at Puente Arriba which has a more contemporary feel (with many hidden extras like secret gardens and private roof terraces) at www.caveholidaysspain.com. Both sites will  give you a taste of what cave holidays can be like.  I truly recommend you try cave holidays for yourselves but be warned – they can become addictive!

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Cuevas de la Paz is up and running and has proven highly successful in the 6 months we have been open.  We thought that now the main summer season was over bookings would slow down but they continue to come in.

 

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However, Cueva Lemon, although fully licenced, has not yet been advertised as we have to think about our three dogs.  We may need to advertise particularly to dog lovers until we can get our heads around the logistics of having someone on holiday here.  Plenty of time for that, it just means that family and friends can enjoy the open house a little longer.

Over these past two years we have had to jump over many hurdles especially when dealing with the authorities. Whether it’s your residency, driving licences, health, licences or permission to do certain works, we have certainly ‘been there and done that’.  Experience has taught us to go to the professionals in the area that you are working within.  There are too many ‘I can do thats’ here in Spain.  On two separate occasions we have travelled down the ‘I know a man’ route and both times it has caused more problems than it should have and both costing us more money because of it.  We truly believe in trusting your solicitor, accountant (qualified) and local Spanish builders to know what has to be done.   It makes life easier, less hectic, fewer worries, (although you cannot completely eradicate them no matter who you use), and we like to sleep easy at night knowing we have done our best to comply with all the different and varied rules and regulations there are around us.

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Another important factor for us here in Spain is friends.  We knew no one when we arrived.  I am proud to say that over the two years we have gained a good foundation of friends, both English and Spanish.  Over the last 18 months we have had family and personal problems that have been greatly eased by the support of good friends.  The kind of friends that drop everything to look after your dogs and home, who send messages of support, promise to bring gin (even if it isn’t quite up to scratch and I’m still waiting;-)) and those that you know you can pick up the phone to and shout for help without having to think twice.   We have been very lucky to have found you all.  You know who you are. 

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Would we change anything – categorically no!  I am a great believer in fate and this is where we were supposed to be.  However, if in the future fate decided that we have to move on to pastures new, then I am sorry but my heels are cemented well and truly in Puente Arriba.  We are here, end of!

18. What Are We Upto Now!

For those of you following our adventures in cave land we have, not one, but two pieces of exciting news to tell you. 

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If you recall we originally purchased a wonderful, awesome and peaceful cave that needed a total reform within the area known as Cuevas de Luna (Caves of the Moon).  The plans I had for that cave were endless.  However, as life sometimes does, we went off at a tangent.  We purchased a second huge cave which had already been fully reformed nearby in Puente Arriba.  We soon fell in love with this cave and the land that surrounds it (or should I say them!).  We have almost completed the transformation of turning our one cave into two caves – One side for us and one side to rent as a holiday let.  All we needed to do to this rental side was yaso (plaster), fit a kitchen and do the final touches to the large lounge and bedrooms.  It already has two fitted bathrooms (one ensuite) and a lovely log burner within the lounge.  

Now we are at the stage where the whole cave has been yesoed and the kitchen has been built so we are close to having the cave ready for guests.  We must wait for our rental licence before we can advertise and that is somewhere in the process within a Granada government office as we speak so we should be up and running for next year.   The rental cave will be known as Cueva Limon (Lemon Cave).  Here is a taster to what the kitchen will look like. Once the painting is complete, we have bright material at the shelves and the washing machine is in place I will quickly update with better pictures.

For those who would like to experience a different kind of holiday, cave living is certainly a great idea and if you are one of the 98% of the human race that has not had this experience I urge you to consider this as a holiday choice.  You may very well get hooked like John and I.

The cave will have access to 2 large and private roof patios and a front patio (shown above) for guests to sit and watch the sun rise from behind the hills and over the river.  There will be sun beds, hammocks and tables and chairs for those that enjoy the outdoor living as we do.   We would also be happy to share our own gardens with our guests where you can enjoy table tennis and boules.

To take advantage of the many wonderful sights and interesting places to visit in the area we can organise 1/2 or full day tours to suit your needs.   If you are considering buying a property we do urge you to tour around with someone that has a little knowledge of the different areas and we are always happy to pass on our own experiences to help you make the right choices for you.

As soon as the interior for the rental cave is ‘dressed’ I will update with more detailed pictures.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

info@caveholidays.com

NEWS FLASH

For those of you that thought we were mad to buy a cave in the first place…… we’ve gone and done it again!  Well, to be precise – we have just purchased 6 caves in all.  We are now an 8 cave family!

These caves are 5 minutes from our home and already have a licence in place for holiday lets. The caves are very different to our own and have a Spanish feel to them due to design and decoration.  We have a little work to do with yeso, lights and accessories but again, we should be up and running by early next year.  As we speak I am preparing a website for these caves so watch this space. They will be known as Cuevas de la Paz (Peace Caves).

I will be happy to provide pictures of the interiors and  any other information as soon as we are at the stage when I feel that we are ready to show the world.  

If anyone would like the experience of staying in a cave please get in touch.  You will have a holiday to remember – promise.  There is so much to see in the area from abandoned caves, fresh water swimming pools, beautiful cave villages and not forgetting the many mountains that surround us.  Whether you walk, bike or travel by car there is something for everyone. But… don’t forget to stop and say ‘hi’ to the local shepherds whilst they attend their goats.  I am always amazed at how the goats are herded by the shepherd and especially the dogs – usually by a nod of the head!  I am thinking of recruiting one of our local shepherds to train our 3 rescue dogs. We need it! 

As soon as the interior is ‘dressed’ I will update with pictures and share the new website for these beautiful caves.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

info@caveholidays.com

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

 

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.

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.

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