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

 

6. Off To Meet The Architect.

Friends have asked me, ‘How is the cave coming along?’ My honest answer is, ‘I really don’t know’.   We are making progress albeit very slowly with tiny steps.

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My latest trip to Spain was for a dual purpose. I needed to meet with the architect and builder to discuss alterations and extensions to the original plans we had been given when we purchased the cave but most importantly, to discuss the boundary of our land.  If you recall from my previous posts the deeds for the cave still have the original map detailing the plot as it was back in the Flintstone days.  Plots of land had been verbally exchanged, (farming land for extra scrub land), but nothing was put down in writing and no alterations had been made to the drawings.  This apparently happens a lot in Spain and according to our solicitor – nothing to worry about.   I sit here with crossed fingers!  The new updated drawings would then be attached to the deeds of the cave to make everything clear and legal.

As the builder spoke no English, (but had most lovely eyes), and the architect very little, Matilda agreed to meet up and help out. Matilda will be overseeing the reform of the cave when we are in a position to begin.

The temperatures were in the late 30’s as we walked around outside the cave, but as we went inside the cave, the temperature dropped to a lovely 20 degrees. That is what cave life is all about.  Cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

As we walked around it was getting more and more obvious that some of my plans for the reform would need to change. The builder was not happy with the idea of digging into the cave any further than had already been done which was rather disappointing. However, the lounge area that I had imagined to be on the left hand side of the cave was achievable pending planning permission. This is where we are hoping Matias, the architect, will be worth his money.  Matias was born in the area and worked within the planning department until recently when he moved towards the coast. If anyone can get plans passed we are hoping he can.

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The lounge area will be designed to appear as part of the cave apparently – I cannot wait to see the plans.

The urgency of the drawings to mark out the land has been put back slightly as the planning offices close during most of the month of August so it is unlikely that we can get anything finalised until September. Hey ho, so be it.

So yes, we have moved forward but….as I say, it does appear to be with tiny steps. But, as I always say, those tiny steps all add up and in this case add up to us living in a cave. The problem is that the older I get the less patient a person I am, especially when I have set my mind at something.

The second purpose for my trip to Spain was to give my granddaughter Megan a holiday. Megan has been revising none stop for her exams so I wanted to give her a break away (and for her to see the cave in person). Ryan (Megan’s twin) has also had exams but he had flown off to celebrate with friends on another Spanish island.

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So, it was decided to have a girlie week with me, Megan and Sharon (Megan’s mom). We had a lovely 4 days near to the cave. I did all I could with the people I needed to see and we toured around the area visiting villages and shopping centres!  We found a wonderful centre close to Granada which had every shop you could dream of in a surrounding that was second to none.  It truly was amazing and one that I will certainly go back to.  You could certainly make a day of it even if you don’t shop.  The last 3 days of our trip we decided to move nearer to Malaga Airport as we had an extremely early flight home.

We chose a converted nunnery about 10km inland, which was a lovely spot in the mountains, but I must admit to feeling a little pleased that we had chosen the Granada area to live.  When you are not so near to the coast you get great daytime temperatures, cooler nights and ….no humidity! Wonderful.

Now we wait for the drawings to be completed and continue to advertise the 5 bed house and 2 bed apartment in Cyprus.  Spain awaits.

Here is another little video we made during our last visit.  I cannot wait to show you a video when the work begins.  It will be amazing –  I hope.😉

5. The cave will be known as…..

Name for the cave will be……..drum roll!

IMG_3689You may think that naming a cave is an easy thing to do. Well, it’s not!

The reasons for naming our cave were discussed in blog 4 but in a nutshell…..because there are no streets, roads or avenues in the campo (countryside) especially in our area which is aptly named ‘Cuevas del Luna’ (Caves of the Moon). This particular area is vast and has many cave dwellings dotted around. Tracks meander around the plateau, some are fairly flat with a good surface but others are very weather beaten and only accessible with a 4 x 4.  We have to cross over a stream/river to get to our cave (no bridge, just wet wheels).

So, what do you need to consider when naming your cave? In my opinion there are three main considerations:-

1. Is the name unique in the area of your cave?  If there are other dwellings with the same name it will make postal deliveries, and the like, very confusing and will certainly cause you unnecessary difficulty.
2. The name may sound great in English but does it sound as good in Spanish? Do the words roll off the tongue and are they easy to pronounce?
3. Does the name suit the cave or the area? Some may think this unnecessary, but I am not one of these people. I believe the name should be a reflection of the area or there should be some connection to you.

I’ve received many great suggestions from friends and family for a name of our cave and each one has had the three points applied to them. One by one, each name failed on at least one of the points except for two names which I loved.

The first name which passed this three point test above was ‘Cueva Blanca’ (White Cave). After trawling the web I could not find any other cave within the area with the same name, the name flows in the English and Spanish language, the cave will be primary white in colour and, it appears to suit the area. Cueva Blanca was looking promising however, another area of Benamaurel/ Baza is Cuevas de la Blanca which may cause confusion in the future.  This is where my wonderful granddaughter Megan came into the discussions and threw a few of her own ideas into the ring.

One of Megan’s ideas stopped me dead. A name that, after a little research, was not found in the area, one that did roll off the tongue in both languages and a name that was one of my loves, both in food and aromas.  Cueva de Limon (Lemon Cave)


I love my lemon tree within my garden in Cyprus. Each fruit is free of pips, juicy and huge. Lemon curd, lemon juice, lemon slices, lemon drizzle cake, lemon for salads, lemon to remove lime scale from kettles – the list goes on and on.  Lemons have so many uses I am still learning of more each year.

When we eventually refurb the cave, and begin life in Spain, I can picture the lemon trees growing within the garden area and the smooth, white and curved interior walls of the cave accented with lemon colours and perhaps kitchen cupboard doors looking refreshing in a pale lemon colour.

The name is just perfect and one that I love so…..’Cueva de Limon’ it is!

4. How Do You Name A Cave?

How Do You Name A Cave?  That is not an easy questions to answer!

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Naming your cave is a necessity if it is located within the Campo, (countryside), in rural Spain like ours.  There are no roads or streets only dirt tracks, and miles of them. Tracks that do not show up on any sat nav or map. Hence the quickest and easiest way the postman can identify you with your address is by naming your cave. Don’t get me wrong…. you will not get a delivery once a day or even once a week. Certainly not! You go to the local post office (which could actually be located in a butchers shop, tapas bar or a local business office) and sort through any post they may have. Apparently, I have been told that neighbours, (and I say that in the widest sense of the word), will be asked to pop the post round to you if they happen to be passing!

Our original idea for a name for our cave was a good one we thought , Cave of Dreams’. We came up with the name because the web site is called http://www.makingdreams.me.  We truly believe that the cave will become our dream home and we are absolutely in love with the whole project.   So…. It sounded just about right to us. Cueva de Suenos our cave of dreams.  However, looking on the internet I found at least 3 caves in the same area with that exact name.  We would be looking for trouble and lots of confusion too so… we had to rethink.

Lots of suggestions came up and cast away just as quickly. Then I thought about the style of the cave I was looking for. I want white, smooth, curvy walls, nothing straight, nothing rough and only white. How about ‘The White Cave’. Immediately I went back on the internet and found nothing in the area that was similar. Or….how about ‘Cave With A View’?

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It certain does have a view all around and one that we love. This started the ball rolling, we had lots of thoughts for a name.  Now comes the hard part, which name to choose and which name would be appropriate for our dream cave?

The White Cave – La Cueva Blanca.
Cave With A View – Cueva Con una Vista
Cave With Views – Cueva Con Vistas
Cave of Poppies – Cueva De Amapolas
Our Cave – Nuestra Cueva
Cave of Susanne – Cueva de Susana

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I will let you know soon, but if you have any suggestions (clean ones please) get in touch. X

3. Cave Living. Why?

 

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Our cave!

Cave living – why?  Caves have been home to mankind forever. We have all seen pictures of ‘cave men’ huddled around an open fire whilst they look out for predators trying to join them in the safety of the cave. In more modern times these caves have become homes that we would recognise today. Within the Province of Granada in southern Spain there are thousands of cave dwellers, or Troglodytes as they are fondly known, who’s families have lived in caves for hundreds of years.

My first thought upon hearing about cave dwellings was a very negative one. Surely the caves are damp, dark and dirty? How can anyone live in a cave? Yes, some are damp, dark and dirty but often it is not the cave itself – you get houses like that all over the world. The majority of cave dwellers have the perfect homes. Dry, clean and can be added to quite easily by digging out another room. Apparently, not long ago, when a wife became pregnant she would start digging ready for the new arrival. It is not unusual to find an 8 bedroomed cave!

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Until only a few years ago cave living was for the poor and cave homes seen as inferior to the modern town houses. Shepherds and farmers used them for shelter (and for their animals) as they worked. They were dug out of the land often by hand or small tools. Today caves are becoming big business. There are many hotels and restaurants in caves and even churches and council offices. Cave living is on the up and up.

What advantages are there to cave living? The answer is simple – lots!

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2. Off To Buy A Cave!

IMG_4002Off to buy a cave. You don’t say that every day!

Could have been worse…. we could have been buying a teapot so a cave is quite normal in comparison (apparently in China several families can, and do, live in a red teapot).

Travelling to Spain from Cyprus is not an easy task out of season. Usually you have at least one stop off in the UK, France or Bulgaria. However, Cobalt have added a new route from Larnaca to Madrid.  Madrid itself is not perfect for us as it is at least a 5 -6 hour drive to the cave, near to Baza but, we felt it was worth while as we would only be in Spain for a few days before returning to our work in Cyprus.IMG_3690

The flight to Madrid landed ahead of schedule and the drive down to our rented accommodation in Zujar was an easy 5 hours (once we managed to negotiate the exit out of the airport!).   It had been a long day and to bed we went.

Our first full day was to be the admin day.  To buy anything of note in Spain you have to have a NIE number. Continue reading

When To Give Up?

images-3.jpegIf I had asked myself this question a few years ago my answer would have been a resounding ‘never‘!

But….life sometimes takes you on a different path than you expected just to prove that your beliefs are not as stable as you once thought.  Your once certain knowledge to the ‘Questions of life’ can change quite dramatically.  For the better? Not too sure on that one. Ask me in a few years time.

We all know perfectly well that there is good and bad in this world. You cannot turn the TV on or open a newspaper without that fact jumping out at you. However, today I want to talk about the good and bad that can effect our very existence, the good and bad that is closer to home and personal.

We all get hurt by someone close to us. A husband, wife, child or friend – it does not matter who they are. Those closest to us can hurt the most.  Sometimes those that are close, whom are generally caring and kind, want to hurt you in any way that they can. The pain from this hurt is the silver lining of all pains. So why does it happen especially when you truly don’t deserve to receive such hurt?

I have agonised over, digested and agonised all over again, this very question. My conclusion is – I don’t know and I don’t think they know either. Sometimes when a person is hurting badly they will turn against the one person they love and they then become the enemy. All their fears and anger gets channeled onto you. You have caused all the pain and suffering because you did not do…….you have caused this to happen because you should have……I would not feel like this if you had…….the list just goes on and on.

The world does not revolve around one person. Our lives have many factors that we should and need to consider especially when we make life changing decisions. To balance all these considerations is far from easy. Whom do we let down or upset, what can we do to help to balance the scales, how can we make it work for everyone, what do we ourselves actually want to do?  There can be so many considerations to work through and agonise over when a major life changing decision has to be made but… there is one thing for sure, you are not going to please everyone.

couple_communication_errors_281x309.jpgWhen a person channels their anger and hurt at another person who is close to them, feelings get that intense they cannot see or hear anything other than the thoughts in their own head. They wear blinkers and will not accept any action or words that don’t fit into their self made picture of events locked away in their minds. They only hear certain words in a sentence which are then used against you to justify their anger. The problem with this is that everything gets taken out of context and it does not matter how many times you try and explain, nothing else gets heard. You are talking to a brick wall that has gone deaf. Their pain, self made or not, is just far to intense.

Continue reading