THE FINCA – GETTING THERE!

17th September 2010

We returned from all our revelling to find our project at the finca had a first floor and part of the roof and everyone talking to each other. RESULT!

The completed first floor and the start of the roof

One third of the roof

Working with a view

Flat roofs over the dining room and library

 

The lower floor walls

17th October 2010

Arrival of energy and water purification components

Items for the water heating and energy system have been delivered

– Two biomass boilers (fed by olive pips and almond shells)
– Batteries
– Bio diesel back up generator
– Water purification plant

 

The solar panels are yet to come.

 

Sliding the energy equipment into the "Energy Control Room"

Chris levelled the floor of the Energy Control Room and has painted the walls with a plasticised paint to ensure a dust free environment for the equipment

Preparation for the second part of main the roof

We have an "inside" to the house!

We would like to say that the team are working harmoniously now – but that would be tempting fate!

Looking from our bedroom to the hall

Up on the roof!

Looking into the lower floor entrance and the disabled suite

The last part of the roof

 

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REBELLION, REVELS & REPASTS

……WE TAKE OFF!

End of July 2010

After receiving endless reports and emails from all the professionals on the finca – each one complaining about another we shouted ENOUGH OF THIS – and took the step of writing to each member of the team to remind them of their contract obligations and that we are their clients not their mediators.  We told them that due to this situation we had decided to “absent ourselves” for a while and expected them to resolve their differences through mutual respect and professional communication.  We became only available for serious emergencies and took time off from the project for 6 weeks.  BLISS!

THE BIG SIX-O

We went to the UK to celebrate Scarlett’s big birthday with friends and family and had a ball.  We:

*attended a family reunion with Scarlett’s family on her father’s side near Dunster, Somerset – so wonderful to be with them after more than 3 decades.
*stayed and dined with Vivien and David Holmes in Cheltenham – special quality time with dear friends
*picnicked with our daughters, grandchildren and one son-in-law at Cliveden House, Taplow (near to where Scarlett grew up) – what a joy to see so many of the grandchildren together
*stayed the night there and had dinner with Scarlett’s life-long friend Teresa Taylor and another friend Jane Russell
*had a great time tasting amazing food in London at Maze, Grosvenor Square and Pont de La Tour, Butler’s Wharf
*took part in a photography session to celebrate both Teresa and Scarlett’s 60th (their birthdays are a week apart)
*then went to Cambridgeshire and stayed with June and David Kelway – precious friends for 41 years
*dined at the 2 Michelin starred Midsummer House in Cambridge – a fabulous experience
*Tried our hand (for the first time) at clay-pidgeon shooting – with mixed results!  Chris hit 38 out of 40 – Scarlett needs more practice!

Scarlett, our grandchildren, daughters and one son-in law at Cliveden House sending off wishes with ballons,

Scarlett later shared the thoughts she had when freeing the balloons with our daughters: “It would be unnatural for my birthday not to have had a tinge of sadness for me.  However I have reached 60 before losing my father and aunt so I was thinking just how lucky I am.  I was hoping that both of them are happy and at peace.  I was hoping that all of you continue to thrive and be content, that you continue to support each other and that Chris and I continue to enjoy a long retirement in good health to see our grandchildren grow and achieve in their own right”.

Chris "controlling" photo session to celebrate both Teresa and Scarlett's 60th

AS IF THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH ….

We got back to Spain exhausted and very happy and spent the rest of August just relaxing at home, being tourists in Granada and heading for the beach.

23rd August 2010

Glynn, Scarlett, Billy, Willow, Ship's Mate Brian, Teresa, Chris, Jimmy, Antonia and Anne

 

Ocean Kiss anchored off Cantarrijan beach

At the end of the month we joined friends and family for a terrific sailing day off the Costa Tropical, meeting up with more friends for lunch at our favourite beach, Cantarrijan, near to La Herradura. We have sailed with Michael Harwood before – he always makes sure everyone has a great day.

Cantarrijan from La Barraca restaurant

We were delighted that that friends Anne and Glyn Snelling and Antonia and Jimmy Connell were able to join us on the yacht. Alex and Jenni Swan and their boys and Lyn Baker and Elaine Crawshaw joined us for lunch at La Barraca a great beach restaurant. It was very special that Scarlett’s friend Teresa was able to be with us from the UK as well as our daughter Bridie, her husband Martin and our Spanish based grand children Willow, Billy and Lucia. Much sangria was drunk and ice cream cake eaten!

Teresa, Willow and Scarlett’s birthdays are within the same week – two are 60 and one is 10 – its sometimes hard to tell who is what!

Returning to the yacht - Antonia boarding the Gemini

All aboard!

One of the many highlights of the day for Scarlett was to swim from the yacht to the beach – and back after lunch – with her best friend and our eldest granddaughter!  Another special day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willow

Scarlett and Willow in a racing each other around the yacht Willow won by half a length!

 

We thoroughly recommend Michael Harwood and his wonderful yacht Ocean Kiss.  If you are interested go to http://www.sailthemed.org for more information

 

 

 

 

 

6th ANNUAL DINNER WITH HUGH AND PAMELA WARWICK

Early every year we receive an email from Hugh.  Hugh and Pamela come to stay with Antonia and Jimmy Connell at El Cortijo del Piño each September, Hugh loves to paint with Jimmy and Rafael, another regular.  Each year Hugh books us to provide a celebration dinner for Pamela’s birthday and we enjoy the company of the three men and their wives.  He always leaves the menu to us which is a grand challenge – particularly as we have all year to think about it!

This year we have discovered the wonderful restaurant Maze, in Grosvenor Square, London.  The three meals we have had there this year were the inspiration for our menu. Some of the recipes for this dinner are on the Casa Amelia Website.

THE ANNUAL WARWICK DINNER
2010 MENU

Chilled Pea Soup
with parmesan ice cream and polenta tuile sandwhich

Salad of cured salmon
with white Japanese radish (Mooli), red radishes, fennel, coriander and orange

Coq au vin
with potato purée, caramalised onions, tarragon emulsion and bread wafer

Chilled rice pudding
with cherry soup

or

Marinated peaches
with basil sorbet and strawberry jelly

Coffee
with petit fours

FINALLY AFTER ALL THAT A REST WAS IN ORDER

5th September 2010

The view from our room

To ensure a good rest Chris took Scarlett off to a secret location as his birthday treat. The secret did not last long! We went off to Mauritius for a week and generally relaxed in the wonderful luxury of the Oberoi and its exquisite environs.

However we did not laze around all the time as we attended a really enjoyable Mauritian cookery course (the recipes are on the Casa Amelia website) and spent a day at the second oldest race course in the world watching the races – and making a profit on our bets!

At Cookery School in Mauritius

 

 

A stunningly beautiful island, Mauritius and its multi cultural population are fascinating proof of the benefits  of living in an environment of mutual respect and harmony.

We returned to Spain restored, relaxed and ready to see the Finca Project once more …..!

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9th JULY 2010 – LOSS

 

9th July 2010

LOSS

Peggy Angela King – née Hazelton (Auntie Peggy) 1917-2010

Having lost her father in January Scarlett had to come to terms with the loss of her lovely Auntie Peg who died in the Residencia Tropical in Almunecar on the 9th July. Known to everyone as Auntie Peg, Peggy Angela King née Hazelton, flew for the first time in her life and came to Spain to live with us at the tremendous age of 90. She was the only sister of Scarlett’s mother (deceased) and had no children so Scarlett (an only child) was her only blood relative. When she came to us in August 2007 she had been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was that she had 3 months to live. It was a real testament to her determined character that she persevered for 3 years!

Auntie Peg and Scarlett were very close as Scarlett’s mother was a career girl and Scarlett stayed with her aunt during school holidays at her home (for over 60 years) in Keynsham near Bath. She was a great influence and certainly made her disapproval known on the many occasions that Scarlett did something outrageous. Always the lady she gave the appearance of being very mild and gentle but she had a steel backbone and knew her mind!

She had two long and happy marriages to men quite a lot older than herself who both had adult sons. Her first step son Alan is now 90 and lives with his family in Australia and her second stepson Richard is in his 70’s and living in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

It was a wonderful privilege to have so much unexpected time with Peggy. Scarlett learned a great deal about her roots and is very grateful that she was given the opportunity to give back a little of the love she received from her aunt all her life.

Peggy’s body was cremated in the beautiful Crematorium at the Alhambra, Granada. Her ashes were taken back to Keynsham and scattered in the parish churchyard by family and friends.

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Food Food Food…. and team dynamics – June 2010

Well its been a while – but then a lot of steel has been moved and concrete has been poured since our last blog posting.

First we want to thank everyone for putting comments on the blog – they do so help shore us up in the difficult moments!  Be assured everyone, while we have difficult times we are enjoying ourselves – it is a great retirement project and is drawing heavily on all our years of experience and knowledge which definitely have not gone to waste!  Hearing from you from all over the world brings you nearer and gives us that lovely warm feeling that every one needs from time to time!

We also have some balance to the challenges of the finca – food, of course. We do have fun with that!  We have been busy during June which culminated in the beautifully arranged and very professional Art Exhibition on the 3rd July at our friends’ Ann and Glynn Snelling’s beautiful home overlooking the Lecrin Valley. Work by professional artists James Connell, Caroline Cary, James Park, Paul and Sylvia Kopacek was very cleverly hung and the inauguration of the first of what we hope will be many of these events went with a swing – and a lot of wine and Casa Amelia tapas – check out our website for the recipes – they are coming soon!

……THEN THERE APPEARED TO BE WAR AT THE FINCA

The month of June was both horrendous and fantastic at once. Anyone who has done a management or team building course will know the classic theory developed by Bruce Tuckman relating to the stages of team building. We have hopefully seen the end of stage two!

Stage One – Forming – bringing a group of people together who may or may not know each other to create a team to execute a specific task or project.  In this stage everyone tends to be polite and helpful to each other while individually they are sizing each other up and forming judgements about their colleagues.  Everyone is driven by a desire to be accepted which means that serious issues are avoided and people focus on who does what, when to meet etc. In short it is the stage where conflict is avoided.

Stage Two – Storming – is the stage where the opposite is true!  This stage is both disturbing and simultaneously potentially productive.  There is no doubt it is necessary. Individuals can only be nice to each other for so long – and the important issues put aside in the Forming Stage need to be addressed. Some people’s patience breaks and conflict over both minor and major issues ensues. This is the time when good manners and good behaviour often leave the room. There is a lot of “throwing the toys out of the pram” and expressions of blame.  This is the stage when individuals behave as  if they are at war – winning or losing battles – and they look for structural clarity and rules to prevent the conflict persisting.

In June we saw two surrenders, stupendous battles and attempts to blame others.  We have not seen such tantrums since our daughters were teenagers – and we counted ourselves lucky we had had that experience – it prepared us well! This situation meant we needed to spend a great deal of time talking to individual team members to find a way forward and being very, very firm about our decisions……. grrrr …. no fun AT ALL!

Stage Three – Norming – Having gone through the battles (with or without casualties) teams usually understand each other better, and structural clarity and “rules of engagement” emerge.  Over time mutual respect for each other’s skills grows and individuals listen to each other and allow opinions to be voiced.  Pre-conceived ideas are changed and individuals begin to work as a mutually supporting team.

Having laid down a few of our own “rules of engagement” …we live in hope!

Stage Four – Performing Not all teams reach this high spot!  It is when individuals work interdependently and flexibly together and sufficient trust exists to empower independent activity.  Group identity and loyalty are the main characteristics of this stage.  The fact that the team are not focussing on inter-group battles means they are able to divert their energy to the project in hand….Halleluya!

Bruce Tuckman revisited his original work some years later and added a final stage:

Stage Five – Adjourning This is about completion of the task and moving on.  Individuals will be proud of their achievements and pleased to have been part of a successful team, the job done they move on.

There is a sense of loss at this stage – and some people describe this phase as “Deforming and Mourning”.  We can’t quite understand that feeling right now – the thought of finishing the project, saying goodbye to the dust and machines (but not all the people) is very appealing!

27 June 2010

HOWEVER DESPITE EVERYTHING WE DO HAVE A LOSA!

The losa (or base floor of the house) is at last finished.

The first task was to put down fine sand, compact it and top it with two layers of plastic.

Then to construct the network or cage of steel rods that reinforce the floor and pillars on which the house is built. This cage is lifted off the plastic with spacers so that water is not conducted through the concrete.  The owner of metal company who laid the steels had a major wobbly when it was pointed out that his men had laid a whole series of hoops directly onto the plastic.  The fact that he has done thousands of houses that way and that he had 40 years of experience probably reinforces the reason that the majority of houses in sunny Spain have damp problems and most houses in wet Northern Europe do not!  The Spanish have actually recognised this and changed the norms – but Jesus Ferralla had not embraced this.  Hi ho, more delays – but it was worth it to know it was done properly.

All the steels for the pillars needed to be lined up and their axils correctly placed – this caused more disagreement and bad humour.  However finally it was done!

Then we had the concrete to mix.  It is not possible for a ready mix concrete lorry to reach the site.  This raises many issues – the key ones being:

  1. Additional labour required and associated costs
  2. Additional equipment required on site, associated costs and the qualification of the men to operate them
  3. Maintenance of consistent quality of the concrete produced by hand as material quantities are more difficult to control

Reg and his great team overcame them all and over a period of 3 days the men worked in soaring temperatures and produced and poured 159 cubic meters of cement to make our foundation – SO exciting!!  We now wait with bated breath for the results of the tests on the concrete.  Probes were taken and they are tested at various intervals up to one month to ensure the mixture was correct and the quality is up to standard for the 10 year building guarantee.

30 June 2010

One little slip….

The men went off for a break on the first day.  Chris was still at the finca and heard a strange rumbling noise – only to see – to his horror – one of the large mobile cement mixers heading downhill towards the barranco (ravine).  The driver had forgotten to put the break on when he left.  BIG discussions about health and safety ensued after that little error!

10 June 2010

NOW WE HAVE A COMPOST LOO!

Chris has built a compost loo for the garden.  Mmmm we hear you say!  It is brilliant, uses sawdust instead of water and and will over time and through the production of humanure provide us with compost for the garden.  We should emphasise that this takes time and care – see the Humanure link for more information.  Chris has moved seemlessly from dentistry to carpentry – from very small things to much larger things and is showing a real skill and enjoyment in his creations!

13 June 1010

TO MANY COCKS IN THE COOP

We have a little bantam hen who is getting quite old now.  She is much smaller than the other hens and keeps herself busy by sitting on everyone else’s eggs. However she seems to have a knack of choosing male eggs to sit on and over the past two years has hatched out 5 cockerels.  Needless to say (and the girls among you may agree) a ratio of 1 cockerel to 3 chickens is really too much. With the help and expert guidance of David Edge from Semilla Besada – a wonderful eco home and farm above Lanjaron – Chris was taught how to quickly and humanely despatch two of the cockerels.  These were immediately plucked and pulled and put into the freezer.  Coq au Vin will follow!  Chris has to finish off two more but wants to “buy the right knife for the job” before he does it……..mmmmm!

27 June 2010

WE HAVE REPLACEMENTS

No sooner than we despatched the cockerels than the bantam hatched out 5 more chicks.  It is too early to say how many hens or cockerels!!

THEN THERE ARE THE KITTENS

The tabby kittens born in our patio in Albuñuelas are growing, becoming very domesticated and come with us and the dogs to the Finca.  Last time they came with their friend Purdy who was staying over with us for a few days.  She is 100€ siamese type princess that Chris calls Hiss and Run because that’s what she does – a lot – when she is miffed.  She is the softest, silkiest ball of fluff ever.  The two “camposinos” are in awe!

NEXT…. July – Pillars and walls (we hope)

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The road to hell ……?

1st Week of May 2010

The area for the house is finally clear …….but Challenge Numero Dos is upon us.

Eloy has left the building…….  Our favourite man has steadily and unerringly picked away at the rock and redistributed it around the finca.  Removing the rock was a hard and very non environmentally friendly thing to do.  Taking into account all the alternatives and bearing in mind we have to keep to a budget, in the end it was our only option. Having come to terms with this we were ready to start to build – however fate and the mayor had other ideas!!

Week commencing 10th May 2010

We have mentioned the access road to the finca before …. well the planned mass meeting of suppliers and labourers never happened (no surprise there!). Instead first Boris, then our solicitor, Rafael de la Rosa, visited the mayor to point out that the project has Ministry of Tourism approval, that we have paid the Ayuntamiento a huge amount for the licence, that the maintenance of the road is the responsibility of the Ayuntamiento and that we were not responsible for the damage to it.  In addition, in an economic crisis, there was a group of men standing around doing nothing and all receiving social security, who could be working if the construction materials were delivered.

The mayor’s response was words to the effect  – “F…. the English – if they want the road repaired they will have to pay for the materials”.  Charming.  So we did – in the interests of getting the house finished.  Scarlett, with advice from Rafael, is keeping a list of points that we will pick up later – apparently we have 20 years in which to do so!

As it turned out the estimated 1500 euros worth of materials was reduced to about 300 euros when Sergio (the lorry driver who is delivering the materials) agreed that the road was safe enough when only one key area of damage was repaired.  He is happy to drive the materials over the other damaged points. This means we can sort out the issue of the road with the Ayuntamiento later – Hallelujah!

While all this was going on sufficient materials were delivered to:

1. Make the “Control room”, outdoor lavatory and oil tank.  The oil containers were also delivered.  We are now the proud owners of a large block built “shed” where all the elements of our energy and heating systems will be housed, plus 6000 litres of storage for domestic heating oil (more about energy later).

2. Fill and compact the areas each side of the rock on which the side walls of the house will be built.  Plus have the necessary quality checks carried out and certifications and paperwork issued to confirm that the “compaction factor” is within the required reuirements.

3. Compact and prepare the site ready to receive the “cleaning concrete”, metal reinforcements and the base floor of the Casa Rural.

Oil containers/tank

Control Room

The site for the house

Energy

During the month we have had several meetings with a local company to talk about energy and waste water disposal.  Their engineer, Fernando, has designed heat and power systems for us based on alternative energy sources.  The energy system consists of solar panels, batteries and a biodiesel generator.  We can source biodiesel that is manufactured locally and meets all the necessary EU standards.  The hot water and central heating will be fueled by a biomass boiler fed by olive pips and almond shells sourced in the valley.  All waste water will be channelled through a water purification system that will produce water clean enough for irrigation of the garden and trees.  Very GREEN!!

1st June 2010 – Site Meeting

We have not had regular weekly site meetings in May so it was good to see the team together again.  However it was a long meeting as there was a great deal to talk about.

It was agreed that the next steps are for Reg to lay a layer of fine sand over the site and then cover it with two layers of plastic.  The steel reinforcing grid (due to arrive on Thursday 3rd June) will then be laid over that – followed by 45cms of concrete through which all the drainage pipes will be placed.  This apparently is the way that the Spanish create a foundation.  This meets all the necessary norms required – and saves us money too as the original plan was to lay 5cms of “cleaning” concrete instead of the sand.

We are now 9 weeks late on the time schedule.  However Reg is still aiming to finish Phase One by Christmas.  That would be soooo great!

Hooray – at last we are starting to build the house.

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GOING, GOING, GONE – The Rock goes

…….Well physically anyway.  The matter of the appalling survey remains to be dealt with!

THURSDAY 22 MARCH TO FRIDAY 30 APRIL 2010 The Disappearance Of The Rock

Like an El Bulli recipe the Rock has been “deconstructed” and is being reconstructed in other areas of the finca.  Nothing will be wasted – it will provide hard core, walls, rockery gardens, and decorations around the site.

Hasta luego to the Rock as we knew it……

TUESDAY 13TH APRIL 2010

Back at the house in Albuñuelas

Chris found a big surprise.  One of our “Patio” cats – who have made their home in our patio and enjoy our hospitality (ie food) has given birth to 4 beautiful tabby and white kittens.  Mother cat, who previously never talked to us or stayed around if we were in the patio is now incredibly friendly and wants lots of attention, stroking and love.  The kittens have opened their eyes and their mother allows us to hold them.  We are grooming them to move to the finca and become farm cats!

Materials Have Started To Be Delivered…..


While Eloy continued to patiently pick away at the Rock the materials for building the casetas (sheds) that will house the generator were delivered.  The generator, that is needed to power the crane, and the crane are due to be delivered very soon.

FRIDAY 16TH APRIL 2010

Reg’s Team

Martin, Jime, Serafin, Javier, Oscar

The boys met the mobile Health Check Unit to have medicals as part of the Health and Safety Plan required for the Project.

MONDAY 19TH APRIL 2010

Site Meeting

We had rain for several days and the site was a mud bath so the site meeting was held in Boris’ office in Lecrin.  It was a very noisy and somewhat bad tempered affair and it would be fair to say that there was a robust exchange of views…..!  The outcome was that by the end of the day we had a solution regarding the Rock and the position of the house to which everyone could agree!! WHEW!

Dear Eloy just continued work despite the rain…………  Thank God for a steady soul.

Redistribution of the rock….

MONDAY 26TH APRIL 2010

Site Meeting

A much more amicable meeting where we moved on from the Rock and started moving forward to make the final documentation so that Reg can start his whole team on Tuesday 4th May to begin the foundations (Monday 3rd May being a holiday).

CHALLENGE NUMERO DOS

We mentioned some time ago that Scarlett had written to the Ayuntamiento and sent a copy of the video she filmed of the damage, caused by Ayuntamiento lorries, to the road leading to (and past) the Finca.

The damage is worsening to a point where many of the lorry drivers needed to deliver materials to the site are worried about safety.  It would be very easy for a heavily laden truck to tip and fall down the slopes that border the road approaching the finca.

The Lecrin Ayuntamiento are responsible for the road and its maintenance.  They are maintaining that it was the lorries of a neighbouring Ayuntamiento at Restabal who caused the damage and that until Lecrin receives payment from them they will not commence even temporary repair.

The issue is primarily between the suppliers and the Ayuntamiento.  However if the suppliers cannot pursuade the Ayuntamiento to act quickly then we face either a significant delay or we will need to take action ourselves.

No-one wants to approach the Mayor and are scared of upsetting him.  Our neighbours at the Finca also have problems relating to the broken road.   Plans are afoot to organize a meeting en mass with Salvador, the mayor of Lecrin.  So all the project workers, suppliers and the camposinos will hopefully attend to show just how many people are affected.

It is such a typical example of the power of the Mayor in a Spanish village and the completely nonsensical way the Spanish approach problems ………hopefully next week will see some action.  Hi ho…..!

In the meantime we are innundated with eggs,  peas, broad beans, chard, radishes, early lettuces, onions, and a fantastic first crop of artichokes … Life is GOOOOD!

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CHALLENGE NUMERO UNO

WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH 2010

Additions To The Team

Contract signing and Tapas

Our smaller contractors (electrician, metal man, plasterer and carpenter) came to the finca for a beer and some tapas and to sign their contracts.  It was a pleasant couple of hours as the sun went down and gave us the opportunity to meet more of the men who will work on the house.

Thanks must go to Rob Westwater our clean-living lawyer (and happily a long chalk from the coke snorting example whom we sacked several years ago).  Rob has helped us ensure we have contracts for each and every person working on the project.

Jose Luis (Electrician)

Julio (Carpenter)

Antonio (Metal Carpenter)

Antonio Miguel (Plasterer)

Much to Scarlett’s delight our plumber is a woman – Encarna.  Sadly we have not managed  to get her in front of the camera yet.

Challenge Number 1

The Rock (after four days of drilling)

Well the idea of securing the site (which was the next thing to be done after our last blog posting) has gone into the long grass while we sort out rather a large problem – the ROCK.  It stands 3.0 mtrs high, 21 mtrs ling and 14 mtrs wide and sits in the centre of the lower ground floor taking up approximately 50% of the area.

Eloy spent up to the Easter Weekend (Thurs 1 to Sun 4 April) clearing the area around the rock. He actually worked on Easter  Thursday and broke the pick attachment on his digger so has not come back!  We ran into him using his other digger, working for the Ayuntamiento….mmmmm!

TUESDAY 6 APRIL 2010

Site Meeting With Oscar (Geological Surveyor)

Discussions with Oscar

Oscar is the man who did the geological survey and actually failed to identify the rock.  To say it was difficult to warm to the man is an understatement, particularly as he appeared to see the situation as an opportunity to demand more fees. The Geological Survey cost a whacking 4531€ and we believe we were justified in expecting a follow up visit gratis  – particularly when there is clearly a problem.  During the meeting it transpired that one of the the probes (marked on the plan in the survey report ) was shown as being right in the middle of the rock.  In fact it was not made where it was shown on the plan.  It was made to the side of the rock and thus showed soft earth.  The fact that the purpose of a geological survey is to help decision making seemed to conveniently pass Oscar and the Architects by…..

As well as “seeking advice” (see the Learning Centre Point 1) we are now looking at two options:

  1. To take the top off the rock, dig down further in the soft earth each side of the rock and fill, compact and cement these areas to the same level as the rock.  More complex but potentially cheaper.  However this option requires more visits by the dreaded surveyor and probes into the compacted areas to ensure they are solid enough.  The quality controller – a very nice girl called Inma would also charge for the apparently necessary additional visits.
  2. To dig down to 4 mtrs over the whole site – which includes removing the whole rock.  Simple but very time consuming and costly.

Calculating which option is the most cost efficient is now becoming the next challenge!  We should make the decision before the end of this week.  In the meantime if Eloy deigns to turn up there is plenty of work for him to keep him busy.

Meanwhile….

Work goes on at the finca.  The chickens are laying like crazy, and the weeds are growing after all the rain we have had.  The summer kitchen needs a springclean and the vegetable terraces and fruit trees need attention.

Our concern for some time now has been irrigation water. The main irrigation canal was severely damaged by a land slide during the rains – we have been waiting a while and the weather is getting drier.

Organic Vegetables

Martin And A Prize Carrot

Bridie (our daughter) and her husband Martin are doing a fantastic job in keeping the everyday things running.  Bridie has been growing vegetables from organic seed and is proving to have really green fingers.  We have eaten asparagus, carrots, peas, beans, onions and chard already.

Bridie and the Beans

She and Martin have researched the way that by companion planting we can manage our crops without recourse to chemical pesticides or fertilizers. They have planted coriander among the beans, nasturtiums with the chard and marigolds among the tomatoes.  Not only will we have great vegetables – but a lovely garden too.

We make our own compost and have just had a lorry load of mule manure delivered to go around the trees.  It is fair to say that the trees (just sticks really) that we planted about 5 years ago have had a tough time as, apart from irrigation, they have not been fed any nutrients at all. They won’t know themselves this year!

SATURDAY 10 APRIL 2010

We found the water deposit full to overflowing – at last the irrigation water is back and we do not need to hand water the vegetables.  Typically just as we have irrigation water again the weather forecast is promising rain this coming week.

Project Headquarters (The Summer Kitchen)

Thanks to Chris who has made new shelves for the summer kitchen we can use it more efficiently, more often and more comfortably.  Inma (our diamond – whom many of you have met) and Scarlett will give it a thorough spring clean now that Chris has finished his DIY masterpieces and the dust has settled!

Visiting friends

Thankfully friends still visit us at the finca – even with Eloy pounding away at the Rock.  We had a wonderfully sunny day with Alex and Jenni and their two small and cheeky boys Charlie and Zak. It was such a joy to have their help to pick the fresh vegetables and prepare them for lunch…. then later to enjoy a drink with Ann and Glyn Snelling who came to view the Rock and give us the benefit of their not inconsiderable experience in such matters….Winter is over!

Jenni And Her Son Charlie

Another visitor arrived on the 10th April in the form of a white dove.  She seems very tame and has been roosting in the pergola which is attached to the summer kitchen.  It looks as though she is wanting to nest in a basket we have hanging from a beam under the pergola so we may even have babies.  That is of course if we can keep our three cats at bay.  Typically we couldn’t resist offering her food and naming her Paloma so now it looks as though she will be another addition to the family – hopefully she will stay around to see the end of the project and bring us good luck!

The Dove Of Peace and Good Luck?

MONDAY 12 APRIL 2010

Site Meeting

This meeting was an important one.  This time Scarlett produced an agenda and chaired the meeting as we have felt that previous meetings have been somewhat chaotic!  She took the opportunity of outlining professional meeting etiquette and reminding the group that they are all members of a team with a common goal – to complete a project on time and on budget.

Site meeting 12April 2010

Reports were given regarding the position of the project  against the budget and against the time schedule.  So far we are slightly over on both.

Boris then described the two options we have with regard to the Rock.  In the general discussion it was agreed that we should ask Eloy to dig some more holes in strategic places while we waited.  The purpose was to establish exactly where, in the area the house will occupy, the rock lies. Then we can establish our options regarding the foundations. We ended up with a rather large shock.  To one side and back of the main Rock Eloy did not hit rock until he had dug 2.5 meters more (that is -5 meters in total from “ground floor level”).  Then we went to the the front corners and we hit rock at 1 meter.  So effectively at the back of the house we have rock at -0.5 meters which then runs to -5.0 on one side, -4.0 on the other and -4.0 along the front.  So far we have only dug to -2.5/3.0 on each side of the Rock.

The hole to the side of the rock

Needless to say there was a great deal of argument between the professionals as to the best way to proceed.  We agreed on two options.  Boris undertook to cost them by the end of the day so that we could make a decision.

The costings are done but we are waiting for Ana and Jesus to give us their opinion.  In these costings Boris in his inimitable style has actually changed the detail of the options to what he believes is correct – not what was agreed in the meeting. In fairness he is working to find ways to save the potential for enormous additional costs.  However  Scarlett will be having a word……!

One positive decision was that Reg could start to bring materials to the site and build the casetas (sheds) to house the generator and fuel tank ….so the building can begin!

Paloma the Dove sat on the beam above us and watched over the meeting.

Next …..

Will the rock become a natural feature in the house….?!


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