29. SOLD – broken our own record!

How lucky are we!

Our success at selling properties started when over 14 years ago we decided to sell our cottage, office premises and 2 businesses back in the UK.  We wanted to relocate to Cyprus but imagined it happening in 6 months to 2 years allowing us time to sell.  However, fate had other ideas and everything sold within 2 weeks!   The cottage was sold unbelievably quickly,  it Soldactually went through within 11 days, that’s from viewing to final completion.   Yes, 11 days, honestly.  He was a well known footballer looking for somewhere to stay in the area whilst he was seconded to another local team.  Apparently…. the whole cottage could have sat in his lounge within his permanent home!

Then, after 11 years in Cyprus, we decided to relocate to Spain the same thing happened.  Both our Cypriot properties, Villa and the beautiful rental apartment sold very quickly,

within weeks.  It was brilliant but quite scary as we had nowhere to imagesmove into.  If you have been following our story you will know that we had purchased a beautiful unreformed cave.  A cave that was certainly not livable. So the search began for a cave in Spain that we could actually move into.

Now we are selling again but, I hasten to add, not our home.  I love my cave home far too much.  As I had explained in the last blog (28), we are looking to slow down and not work so hard.  I sometimes feel that I am playing catch up everyday and getting nowhere.  So, the decision was made to advertise our 6 rental caves on Facebook.  Well, I was absolutely amazed at the  overwhelming response I received within the first 24 hours.  It was a complete surprise.

186674951On the same day as the advert went live I answered a message from one couple who actually told me they were so interested that they were driving over as we “spoke” to take a look.  We agreed to drive up and meet them so at least they could look inside and….. they are now the new owners – or will be shortly. images Contracts have been signed today, deposits paid but, due to their work commitments abroad, they will be unable to take over officially until 1 April 2021 (may make that 2 April for obvious reasons!)

We cannot be any happier, for us as sellers and for Debbie and Bryan as purchasers.  They are an absolutely lovely couple and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will make a roaring success of the business.  The ideas they have will only help the business to continue growing making it even more of a success than it is now.   Please don’t forget that bookings for Cuevas de la Paz continue so if you would like to take a look please visit http://www.caveholidays.com.  When the sale is finalised I will keep you up to date with the new web address giving you choices for your future holidays in cave land.

How do we feel?  Being truthful… quite sad in as much as we have worked hard to get the business to where it is now but I also feel a huge relief as I can now put my energy and time into Cueves Limòn which is our rental cave next door to our own cave.  Up until now it has only been used for family and friends although it is fully licenced for tourists.  Our hesitation has been about our three dogs that share the outdoor space.  Should we separate the outdoor area or advertise for dog lovers only?   We decided on dog lovers only!  So, a new launch of the website for Cuevas Limòn will be happening very soon ready for the 2021 season.   This will keep me busy enough but in a more relaxed way if that makes sense.

Take a look at http://www.caveholidaysspain.com but please remember it’s not quite ready yet as there are lots more photos to add and plenty more to say.  However, it should give you a taste of what’s to come.

So… please bear with me as I finalise the website of Cueva Limòn.   I am truly looking forward to sharing our own piece of cave land with some great people.

Again, congratulations and a huge welcome to Debbie and Bryan.  We look forward to good times together.

Stay safe and keep following.

Sue

28. Semi-retirement? Yes please!

Lock down has made an impact on all of our lives and that continues throughout 2020.  Personally we have had time to re-evaluate our own lives, our workload and what we truly want for our future.

Our house2

I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed being at home, building benches, tables and pottering about trying to make our waste bank into something that resembles a rockery.  I have loved it.  We do have a rather large cave and lots of area around us so there is always something to be done.  My ‘to do’ list never gets any smaller.  As soon as one job gets crossed off another two get added.

I would never have dreamt that I would have said that at the start of this year.  We were working hard to build the rental business up at Cuevas de la Paz (CDLP) which were doing so well.  Rentals were coming in and I was kept very busy – all was looking great for 2020.  Then Covid-19 hit giving me time to sit and think.

It has made us realise what is important, what we need to live a comfortable life and what makes us happy.  We have everything we can possible want right on our doorstep.  We have a lovely home that has been reformed and designed to our liking, we have a second cave next door, (Cuevas Limón), that has been reformed and designed with the view of renting out for holiday lets and we have our wonderful life in cave land.  CDLP was certainly an extra bonus but its success has been our/its downfall.  This sounds a little odd but that is what has happened.

Cuevas Limón (our cave next door) has been fully licensed for a while now but because we have three rescue dogs that share the outdoor space we were in two minds of what to do.  We have now decided to begin advertising the rental from January 2021 but… only to dog lovers.  I am still working on the website so it’s work in progress but take a look and see what we have to offer http://www.caveholidaysspain.com

imagesWe are both of a certain age and want to look forward to a slower pace of life, as we had in lockdown.  So the decision was made 24 hours ago to advertise the sale of CDLP.

WOW.  we did not expect such a response so quickly.  We have had so many people wanting further information we were rather taken aback.   One couple came to look within a couple of hours of me advertising on FB.  We did really like them and talks continue.  Other messages have been discounted as we have decided against the ‘Rent to Buy’ option.  We have been warned by a few people not to go down this path as it can be very troublesome for both parties and that is what we are trying to get away from.   There have been other cash buyers wanting to continue with information which is great.  So…..watch this space… it’s all looking promising.

Would you say I was daft if I said that I wanted the CDLP to be bought by people that shared the same dreams  and passion as we had – well yes we are daft and a little mad but at our age we are allowed.

Stay safe, stay happy.

 

 

26. Lockdown within Cave Land – part 4

IMG_20200503_100635We are now in our 9th week of lockdown – 59 days to be precise.  What has that meant for us?

For the first couple of weeks we just got on with it.  What choice did we have?  But then there were days we lost our positivity and needed to kick ourselves in the butt.  Thankfully it hasn’t happened that often and as I have said before, and will say again, we are lucky to live where we do in such lovely surroundings and scenery.  It really does help to be able to sit outdoors and enjoy what we have around us.

We are trying to keep busy and that is not difficult at all.  The hardest part is finding the energy each day.  There is so much to do and our ‘to do’ list is never ending.  I have painted in several areas of our cave house, built two tables by the back door, we have a new front door step, everything in sight at the front of the cave has been jet washed  (including the cane furniture), made a pair of concrete wellies, updated the sign post and …. we are trying really hard to keep up with the weeding.  This last task is the one we mostly fail with. Weeds just grow anywhere and can be inches tall overnight.

 At the moment we are still unable to go food shopping together and we can only go to our nearest shop.  It’s not a deal breaker but John and I have different tastes and what I would purchase is not necessarily John’s first choice (or second come to that).  He is a vegetarian who likes ginger, marzipan and nuts (my worst nightmares) and I am a meat eater who enjoys ribs, marmite banana toasted sandwiches and chicken curries (Johns worst nightmares).   We are very different in our tastes that’s for sure.  So over the 9 weeks my solution has been to take pictures of the items I would like John to get for me.  Generally it’s successful but sometimes not….  it can be exciting to see what I get.  We are trying to stick to the rules and go shopping only when necessary not only because we have been told but because we feel safer not going out.

As of last Saturday I can join John on the daily walks with the dog.  We are allowed to go for a walk within 1km of home and to walk together has been good for us.  We do not have specific times to go out as we are in a small populated area so have the freedom of going out at a time that suits us.   It is good to see the spring flowers, especially the poppies we have all around, and to feel the warmth of the sun as we amble along with the three boys.  As fate has it we have rain forecast for this week but the sun will be back soon.

Other than not being able to take a drive out in the car, or go to our favourite bars and restaurants, its life as usual for us accept that our rental business has obviously been put on hold.   This year was to be our first full year and it started off better than we expected.  We had so many advance bookings we were over the moon.  However, from March the cancellations have poured in.  We have accepted that business will be slow for the rest of the year and money will be tight but so many others are in the same position.  We are not on our own.  Hopefully we can all enjoy our freedom and breaks away in the very near future.

If you would like to plan ahead, please take a look at our cave rentals.  Go to http://www.caveholidays.com and choose a cave that is right for you.   I will be happy to answer any questions you may have or pass on information about our area in cave land.

imagesStay safe everyone and one day we will look back and hold our heads up high and say we did it.  We got through it and came out of it.

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.

IMPORTANT INFO. PLEASE READimages-1.jpg

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.

22. ‘Semi retire to Spain’, they said!

Is it me or does anyone else feel that 2020 is racing towards 2021 at great speed?

It is now a full 12 months since we opened our cave rentals, Cueves de La Paz (Caves of Peace), to guests.  What a year that’s been!

Before we arrived in Spain we lived in Cyprus for 11 years where we had a modern rental property so we came here with a good basic knowledge to start us off – or so we thought!  I knew the first year, (and probably the next two after that), would be a steep learning curve.  We now know that the knowledge and wisdom we had gained in Cyprus was kind of useless to us here in caveland Spain.

Why?

Location – The apartment in Cyprus was close to several lovely beaches and had 180 degree sea views. It was located within a holiday hotspot. The apartment had two large bedrooms with spectacular views. Guests had use of a shared gym suan and a large shared pool with changing room, (being only a small apartment block the pool was often private).  It was contemporary designed with a roomy feel.   We were continually booked with UK guests looking for 7 to 14 days holiday accommodation each year.

Here in Spain, our cave rentals offer a completely different holiday.  Caves provide quite an unusual experience, (you need to sleep in a cave to find out why). We have tried to keep a traditional Spanish feel to the interiors whilst adding all mod cons.  As the caves are within the Altiplano area of the Granada province, the location has a completely different feel and provides a contrasting type of holiday.  The area is not particularly a holiday hotspot especially for the UK market as Benidorm or Malaga may be…I could go on but I think you get my drift!

Advertising – In Cyprus we received all our bookings from Owners Direct but here in Spain this particular site appears to be fruitless (again, perhaps targeting the wrong holiday market).   After trying several other companies we are finding that Booking.com gives us the majority of our bookings together with our own private advertising on facebook and blogs.

Amenities – In Cyprus the gym was very popular and was a booking incentive for many of our guests but not here in Spain.  The cave gym has been ‘played with’ for a few minutes but not actually used as a gym.  Guests were amused but not excited by the equipment.  So, we have now decided to relocate the equipment to our own home, I’m not saying it will get any more use now but all the good intentions are there.

The swimming pool in Cyrus was well used by most of our guest for 6-7 months of the year.  So, we have considered adding a swimming pool within the large garden area.  However, with the diverse weather we have here on the Altiplano we feel that the weeks in the summer where the pool would be utilised to its full potential does not justify the cost of installation and upkeep and would not increase our sales to take theses costs into consideration.  Instead we advertise the local village swimming pool which is minutes away and is one of the best in the area but, again due to the cool nights, it is only open from the end of June to the end of August.

Language – One of the main challenges we face, particularly with our guests is communication as the vast majority are Spanish citizens.  We are both attending lessons and can now communicate on a basic level which is ok however, we intend to improve our Spanish with each guest we welcome to our caves.  Our guests appear to appreciate that we do try which is great and we are thankful that they in turn try and help us as much as possible when explaining about jacuzzis and gas bottles!  

IMG_3690Maintenance – The general repairs to caves can be totally different to houses and apartments for obvious reasons. A cave is a living thing, it needs air circulating around and caves especially need to be lived in.   Ongoing maintenance is a must in most properties but without doubt one of the most important jobs when you have caves.  This keeps me very busy and I can honestly say that I do not have smooth hands any more!  Sorry John but that’s life!

But, the future is looking good – We have most certainly learnt a lot during the last 12 months and I know we have lots more to learn.  However, I will say it has been fun (mostly😎).  We have received wonderful reviews from our guests during the first year and had the honour of meeting many lovely people.   The lovely comments we receive keep us moving forward knowing that we are getting most things right.  Hopefully this will continue throughout 2020 as our diary begins to fill in.  Watch this space.

For more information about the cave rentals please take a look at http://www.caveholidays.com

 

 

19. Cuevas de la Paz are finally ready for guests.

 

What can I say…. it’s been hard work and it’s given me more grey hairs than I like to admit to but, we have achieved our goal and can now open the doors of Cuevas de la Paz to our guests.

When we purchased our own casa cueva we did not intend to buy anything else.  We had (and still have) lots to do to transform our large cave into a home and a separate holiday let.    However, whilst sitting with a cup of coffee, up pops the bargain of a lifetime on my Facebook timeline .   The selling price had been dropped dramatically and we had no hesitation in wanting to know more.  We quickly arranged a viewing for the next day knowing that others would be interested to.  We had been determined not to rush into anything but, once viewed, we soon realised that these caves were ‘too good to be true’ at the reduced price.  They were full of artifacts collected within the farming region and with a little TLC could be up and running quickly.  Once we had looked over each cave twice we both decided to take a risk.  We jumped in with two feet and the caves went off the market.

There are many quirky things in these caves but one ‘adornment’ in particular has people coming up with lots of ideas!  One cave has two iron rings above the bed!  We were told by the agent that these were used for the animals when the caves had been shelters for the local goats.  We will leave you to decide whether that is a true fact or an addition made by a previous owner for other uses!

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Our next decision was whether we left the caves as they were, (already a going concern but being trueful, they were dark, cluttered with various items and not that appealing), or should we give the caves a makeover.  After several conversations with my loving accountant husband it was decided to start with plastering (yeso) the lot rather than patch the walls up!  We knew that this would give a cleaner and a more pleasing look to the interiors.  Once you start looking around you find other things to do don’t you? – well we did!

The large expanse of barren car park appeared to be a waste of land.  So we decided to make a smaller car park at the top end with its own gated entrance and the rest of the area into a walled garden and seating area.

Then there was the bedding, toasters, towels, patio area and how about making the store room into a new gym.  To cut a long story short we have spent more than we intended to but, isn’t that always the way?

DSCF1040Gym? Well why not. Some people do like to ensure their fitness does not deteriorate during their holidays!  We have tried to cater for most tastes with 5 different machines – treadmill, rowing machine, bike etc and a small set of hand weights.

The immediate outside area has been stripped of its tangled ivy and replaced with seats.   We have added a budha or three to give a calming and relaxing feel to this outside area.  It is now an ideal place to sit with a morning cup of coffee.

We are now happy with the new revamped look of the caves and the area they sit in and any further work can be completed when and if.  I need to get my hair coloured and my back mended before we do anything else!

The area we live in is varied  and beautiful with great walking paths, magnificent lakes that we have around us and old abandoned caves to explore.  It is truly beautiful and so vast – you will have to return again and again to see it all!

To see the other transformations, especially of the interior of the caves, please take a look at the Cuevas de la Paz website.     www.caveholidays.com   Any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank you to all our friends and family who have given us encouragement and offered help during this time.  It has been much appreciated and we will never forget you.

 

 

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.