HALLELUJA – The Finca is finished and open for business

RETREAT, RELAX , RESTORE, REVIVE

Apologies to our readers for leaving it so long to update the blog. Many thanks for all your emails of concern relating to the lack of news coming from the Finca. We have been on such a journey and have needed to put all admin and communication on the back burner and push and push to get the project finished. We have been flat out from early morning until late at night and have not had any uninterrupted time long enough to sit down and write anything!  As a result we have lost weight and aged about 20 years!

We managed to persuade the builders to move from one area to another so we could follow with furnishings and finishing touches and we have finished the house almost at the same time as they finished the pool.

We are therefore delighted to officially announce that we are open for business. We have received out first guests, starting with press, then family and then clients. We have held several cookery classes and two Flamenco evenings – we are off!

ALL IN ALL…

In hindsight the construction work has gone relatively smoothly but has just taken much longer than it should have done. Any delays due to bad weather have been minimal and the main cause has been down to lack of direction and control over the builders by the contractor. His lack of attendance at the site has been marked and in the circumstances the men have done remarkably well – but very slowly – sometimes it has felt like pulling teeth!

INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE

Progress was not helped when the men left the finca – refusing to work because they had been asked to clean up the site. It was a real mess and becoming dangerous to everyone working there.  A requirement of the contractors contract was to maintain the site in good, clean order.  The architects reported every week in the official “Libro de Ordenes” that the site did not meet standards and health and safety were at risk.  Scarlett then insisted that the men cleaned up.  They refused and left even after it was pointed out to them that they were in breach of their contracts and that there were plenty of out of work builders who would be glad to replace them. We were required to give them 3 days to return to work but they returned the next day, apologised and cleaned the site before starting work again.

FURNITURE MOVING

In June we hired two vans and with the help of our lovely Inma and three Spanish lads – Oscar and Angel and Inma’s son Jonathan, plus two good friends Elaine and Lyn, we moved furniture and belongings from a garage we rented nearby.  Before they saw the garage the boys asked how many trips we would do – one or two? Their faces were a picture when we opened the garage door! We had stored all the contents of our family home and barn in Oxfordshire , the house we rented in Albunuelas, the contents of Chris’s laboratory plus boxes and furniture belonging to Scarlett’s aunt and father. The garage was packed to the rafters and it took two days and 14 trips to move it all.

We had a few “moments” with one of the hire trucks whose breaks did not seem very good – particularly when the truck was full and on a slope. Hill starts were somewhat heart-stoppingly dangerous! Getting it round one very tight corner in the middle of the village was a challenge and Chris, having failed to get round, passed control to Oscar (who had no licence). He managed to get the vehicle round the corner beautifully, then in his excitement he hit a parked car just a few yards further up the street!  The repair added 400 euros to the removals bill! Men!

Angel continued to work for us for some time after that.  He must be about 6ft 8in tall and built like a bean pole.  For short people like us he was a godsend.  We called him the “living ladder as he could put things away on high shelves without the need of steps!

THE STARS

Boris our project manager has worked hard to keep a grip on things – even when they have not been part of his remit.  His outrageous character has luckily been balanced by his determination to finish the project. There is no doubt in our minds that the project would have been far harder and far less hilarious without him.

Boris persuaded us to let him do the plumbing …. To say he persevered is an understatement.  It was not all plain sailing! The outside tap on the terrace was connected to the hot water system (the plants we watered with it, before we realised, are just recovering) and he had to dig up a bathroom floor to find the connection and reconnect everything. Two of the toilets have been in and out faster than a fiddler’s elbow and one still leaks.  But practice makes perfect and the last toilets he fitted in the house went in at the first time attempt and are working perfectly.  Fingers crossed!

Boris’s desire to build motorways on the Finca has taken a bit of controlling.  He has a way of waving his arms when talking to Eloy the digger driver that implies that large areas should be cleared completely and flattened.  Scarlett woke up after siesta one day and was horrified to find Eloy removing a beautiful rock which she had planned to be the centre of a rockery.  We really did not want to remove any more rocks – having had our fill of that exercise last year when we had to remove the giant in the middle of the planned area for the house.

CARPENTRY

We have been delighted with the work of Julio Reyes our carpenter from Lecrin. The doors and windows he has made for us have been superb and we are delighted with them. We have two huge arched windows in the entrance hall which have been glazed with temperature controlling glass to maintain the temperature inside the house.  It took 6 men to carry each pane and put it in position. It was heartstopping to watch this happening as they were all moving along one plank of scaffolding – ugh!

Just wish he would come and finish the mosquito doors for the kitchen though…

Our grandson Jasper (5) made a wonderful addition to the cloakroom door…..

METALWORK

There has to be a balance and sadly Belfran the initial company we used for the metal work and railings on the house proved themselves not up to the job.  The quality of their work was simply not up to contracted specifications and within one week of being installed the paint on the railings was peeling off and the iron was rusting.  In addition they could not understand the need to adhere to the law which requires railings to be made 10cm apart.  Their’s was anything from 9-14 cms!  Needless to say they were not used for the second phase of the work and we then found a wonderful man from Lanjaron called Jorge who has done a fantastic job – even making a prototype of the moving pergola he later installed over the main terrace.

PAINTWORK

Miguel our painter and decorator has to be the most patient man in the world. He has painted the whole of the interior and all the railings with only occasional help from his son. He works steadily and quietly from early morning until sundown and has done a fantastic job.

ENERGY AND HOT WATER

Instalaciones Durcal have installed the energy system which provides electricity and hot water.  We have solar for electricity which is backed up for heavy usage by a massive biodiesel generator.  The hot water is provided by two biomass burners that we feed with almond shells. After a few teething problems the system appears to by functioning well and Chris is developing a relationship with the various, somewhat temperamental, pieces of equipment in the “Boys Room”. This is the building where everything relating to energy is housed .  Every man who visits the Finca wants to see it! The guys of ID have come at a moments notice when things have gone awry and now its all working we rather miss them!

WE ARE TOTALLY WIRED!

ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION

We have had a couple of problems with the electrical installation but Jose Luis and Viki have been quick, patient and hard working to resolve them.  Things have settled down now and everything is working well.  We wish they would come and put the plugs into the island in the kitchen and cover off the unused “emergency lighting” points though!

TELEVISION

Mel and Phil of Telly Addicts have done a great job and installed HD TV and DVD facilities in every guest suite .

WI-FI

Keiprint from Granada have created an wi-fi network using Apple Extreme in the house so guests have easy and free access to the internet! We also have a laptop available for guest use.

GARDENS

ITS OFFICIAL ……..WE HAVE BEEN CERTIFIED

Organic that is…!  After 3 years of testing and form filling we have been certified organic and all our fruit and vegetables meet requirements,  Hooray!

Giles and Terry have continued to maintain the fruit and vegetables and keep the finca tidy while we have battling with building the house.  We have been able to use our own home grown ingredients for the cookery classes and meals we have had.

We are now working to landscape the areas around the house with paths and planted areas but we have decided we cannot plant anything else until the rain starts (usually October) and the temperatures drop.  We took a risk and planted quite a lot of plants about a month ago but have lost some of them so we have decided to wait

PETER

We have been really lucky to meet Peter, a German with landscaping experience and particular skills with natural stone. As if that wasn’t enough he is a trained chef! His apple strudel is fabulous… and he is living on the Finca in our caravan! His touch can already be seen everywhere.  He quietly goes about bringing order to the chaos that was a building site.  He has laid out flower beds around the house and edged them with stone from the land.  He is now making the stone floor of the patio and water feature outside the guest kitchen. When we removed the rock to build the house we left some of it on the edge of what will be a shady patio.  We have built a water tank at the base of it and are planning to make a water feature on one side of the patio.  Peter is making a floor using black and white stones in the style of the work found all over Andalucia.

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INMA – OUR DIAMOND

We are so fortunate to have Inma still with us.  Her patience, flexibility and willingness are incredible.  Over all this time she has cleaned after the builders (repeatedly), taken cement off the floor tiles, moved furniture, cooked meals, organised the lads and most importantly been there!  Inma has worked with us for over 10 years now and we don’t know what we would do without her. What a star!

VISITORS

While we were in Vietnam we spent a wonderful night on a junk in Halong Bay in the company of a wonderful couple Roselyn and Michel Billaud.  We were so thrilled when they came to visit us here in Spain.  We had a wonderful few days getting to know them better and can’t wait to see them again….Roselyn’s energy is breathtaking – they are both such fun!

Our first clients John and Angie Clifford came for a night and a cookery day .  We felt very touched they would come to us as Angie herself is a cook!  She has a wonderful blog at http://angieskitchen51.wordpress.com .  We look forward to seeing them again.

We have also thoroughly enjoyed seeing daughter Louise and our grandsons Harry and Freddie  who came for a week and (apart from exhausting us with their antics) were responsible for inaugurating the swimming pool which was finished during their stay!

Louise when she spotted La Finca for the first time

We thoroughly enjoyed a week long visit by dentist friend Tony Caen, Helen Steel and their son John. We introduced them to Alex Swan, Jenni Richards and sons Charlie and  Zak who have a house in Saleres and the children really hit it off. We all went sailing on our favourite yacht, the Ocean Kiss, with Michael Harwood for a wonderful day of sailing swimming, eating and drinking.

Jenni

Alex, Jenni and Zak

Michael and Jackie

Tony

Charlie and John

Chris

Helen

ANIMAL VISITORS

One Sunday morning we were attempting to clean up the site and Scarlet heard some very strange noises, that could only be described as stomach rumbling and burping, coming from one of the designated bathroom areas at the back of the lower floor.  Convinced there was a drunk man coming round in there Scarlett ran to find Chris.  When we went in together we found an old nanny goat – whom brave little Rocket managed to herd out of there and off the finca!

For about a month a beautiful grey dove lived on our window sill and pergola – we called it Paloma.  Unbelievably Paloma allowed the cats to sit next to her and sat under a table on the patio while Chris was actually repairing the table with hammer and nails!  It was wonderful to have this wild creature being so confident with us and made us feel that tranquility was at last returning to the Finca after all the upheaval we have put the land through.  We were so shocked to walk into one of the suites and find blood and feathers everywhere – White Tail one of the cats was leaving and Paloma was huddled in a corner of the room still alive.  We picked her up and stroked her and she cooed at us.  We found and lined a basket to make a soft bed for her. She died within an instant of being laid in the basket. We were devastated.  It took a lot to forgive White Tail – who we had to remember was only behaving naturally.

THE ANIMALS

The dogs love living here and although all three are no longer in their prime they are doing well despite all the problems associated with old age – blood pressure, lumps and arthritis!  Despite this they love having visitors here – particularly when they take them for walks!

The cats couldn’t believe their eyes when they arrived and, having been practically full-time house cats in Albunuelas, were only seen for breakfast (theirs) before they went off hunting.  We received the gift of one mouse daily in front of the caravan.

Now that the house is quiet and the noise of cement mixers and jack hammers has abated they are all finding corners in the house in which to relax…

JUST SO THAT YOU KNOW (AND CAN TELL OTHERS PLEASE!) …… THE FINCA OFFERS

To see the Finca as it is now have a look at the Blog Post titled the Finca Slide Show .

  • a tranquil place to retreat, relax, recover and revive from hectic and stressful lives in first class accommodation in spectacular surroundings
  • a wonderful venue for special events, weddings, reunions and group gatherings providing everything required including:
    • accommodation
    • catering
    • music and entertainment
  • a convenient location from which to enjoy:
    • the buzz and culture of Granada
    • the ski slopes and facilities of the Sierra Nevada
    • the unspoiled National Park beaches of the Costa Tropical
    • help to plan your holiday:
    • reservations to visit the Alhambra
    • photography, language, painting and cookery courses at La Finca
    • walking, horse riding and sailing days
    • tapas tours

FACILITIES

All rooms have comfort as the key priority and are decorated using textiles and artifacts bought in our travels all over the world.

We have three double family suites and one double disabled suite.  Every suite has their own private terrace and all suites and terraces have uninterrupted views of the Lecrin Valley.

Two of the guest suites are suitable for families, each having one bedroom, a sitting-room with two double sofa beds, a dining area and en suite shower room

The other two suites are each open plan bed rooms with sitting and dining areas and en suite shower room shower room.

Each room has a television with integral DVD player

There is a fully equipped guest kitchen so guests can choose B&B, Half or Full Board or Self Catering with the option of additional meals as required.

All guests have access to a large paperback swopping library, free wi-fi, laundry service and fresh organic vegetables and fruit grown on La Finca.

Our professional kitchen is already producing delicious meals for guests and visitors.

In addition to the facilities in the house outside there is a large swimming pool with sunbathing areas, formal gardens and 10 acres of wild land bordering National Park to enjoy.

EVENTS

We are busy making plans for Christmas and New Year and will be advertising Christmas and New Year holiday break packages at the Finca as well as Special Christmas lunch Day and New Year’s Eve Party.

Watch this space……….!

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12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Rosa Rebagliati said,

    Dearest Scarlett & Chris, my warmest congratulations, reading your blog has brought tears of joy to my eyes. I am so very happy for you both!!! I hope to see you soon.

  2. 3

    Jacqui Byrne said,

    Hi guys, wow, what an amazing achievement. The Finca looks just fantastic and well done for your perseverance. My goodness, watching your blog, you’ve been through so much and I am sure there must have been times you wondered if you would ever succeed. I take my hat off to you both. Hope we can get out some time to see you – it would be great to catch up with you both. Love to you both Jacqui and Tony x x x

  3. 5

    Mark Nevile said,

    Dear Scarlett and Chris,
    What an AMAZING transformation……Sophie and I vividly remember the “tour” before any of the work had started, and your incredible vision of what you wanted.
    What an achievement, we are all very much looking forward to coming out and seeing “the dream”…..and introducing you to Charlie, now 5.

    All our fondest love

    The Neviles

  4. 6

    Lala Ema said,

    Wow…Scarlett, it looks amazing ! Congratulations to you both and to the whole staff por supuesto……I can’t wait to see it in person ! 🙂
    Besitos
    Lala

  5. 8

    Dear Scarlet and Chris…

    Wonderful slide show !! Love the swimming pool!! what an acheivement!! A dream come true. Cant wait to come again!!

    With every blessing
    Angie and John

  6. 10

    Dear Scarlet and Chris

    I am so happy for you a dream come true

    Angie

  7. 11

    Dave and Margy Aus said,

    HI Guys Congrats and best wishes from down under. Very happy for you both and you must be so happy that all the stress that we builders put on you is behind you now.

    • 12

      Hi both of you

      How lovely to hear from you! How are you both and how is Alan? Please give him a hug from me and our love.

      Yes it is incredibly peaceful here – the cats are coming into the house so we know things are getting settled again.

      Here is a link to a slide show so you can see the interiors and exteriors as they are now.

      https://casaamelia.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/la-finca-photo-gallery/

      I am getting down to marketing and organising foodie orientated events now – we have interest for Christmas and New Year holidays so keep your fingers crossed!

      We did have a mad idea that we would be able to take a trip to Oz in the spring – but that ain’t going to happen! We are of course penniless and need to be here to look after the place and get the business up and running! Poop!

      There is nothing for it – you will have to come and see us instead!!

      Lol Sxx

      Scarlett Farrow

      Finca del Castillo Arabe Murchas 18656 GRANADA Spain

      Tel Finca: 0034 958 068052 Mob: 0034 659 14 28 26 Email: scarlettfarrow@me.com Website: http://www.newcasaamelia.com


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