Within a week or so, quotes starting arriving for the various building works that we urgently needed to do. So far we’d been lucky with the weather. Although it had become cold at night, each morning the sun would burst through the cracks in our bedroom shutters, heralding the start of another warm, sunny day. By now it was early November and it was only a matter of time before the weather changed. We needed to get a bathroom and kitchen installed as soon as possible. It is one thing cooking and washing outside when it is warm, quite another when you are ankle deep in snow.

barney-rubble-two

Yet again we turned to Paco and Antonia for advice. Paco poured himself a whisky and earnestly studied the building quotes that I’d handed him. I could tell from his expression that he was not impressed with the figures that we’d been given ‘I’m going to make some calls Lottie’ ‘We can do much better than this’ and with that he whipped out his phone and started to make some enquiries.

artichokes-on-chair-kitchen

In the early days at the house, we had nothing to cook on save a tiny, one ring camping stove. Antonia popped round most days to see how we were getting on and was amused by the various buckets in the yard and piles of clothes that I was hand washing in the traditional outside washing tub. She never enquired how we washed ourselves, but I think she guessed it was a strip-down job in freezing water in the yard. One morning she told me to come over to her house. Out in her garage was a white cooker, which she’d been cleaning. ‘This is for you if you would like it?’ ‘The oven doesn’t work and it’s old but you can boil up hot water on it and it will be easier to cook on’ I was so taken aback by her kindness that I burst into tears ‘You silly woman’ she said giving me a hug ‘It’s nothing, you are my neighbour’

nevin-squalour

Having a cooker back in our lives made a huge difference. We bought a gas bottle and for the first time since we’d been at the house we had the luxury of hot water for washing ourselves, our clothes and for the washing up. The cooker was initially installed in the old outside kitchen, but depending on where the builders needed to be working, it moved to various parts of the house and even outside for awhile when the rubble and dust in the house got too bad.

artist-two

terracota-pots-and-pans</a

Paco and Antonia were not the only ones that bent over backwards to help us, other folk in the village also started to give us things. Bags of tomatoes, green peppers and pomegranates started appearing on our doorstep. Gifts of wine, tapas, a box of persimmons and then, a spate of hares. The first hare was gifted to us by one of the local hunters one evening when we were in the bar. He went out to his Landrover and came back inside with the unfortunate creature in his hands. Fortunately Irishman and I are a dab hand when it comes to skinning bunnies. Both brought up in the country, we are used to the nitty gritty of rural living. Within the hour, the hare was skinned, gutted and jointed and prepared for dinner. Word of our enthusiasm for game soon traveled round the village and in no time we had a glut of these furry critters being gifted to us. There is only so much rabbit and hare that we could face eating in a week and so in the end I had to ask Antonia if I could store the surplus in her freezer.

pomegranates

hare

One lunchtime there was a knock on the door. It was Manolo. The very same Manolo whose car, our car had run into on our first day in the village. ‘I’ve got a present for you Lottie’. Now, it needs to be said that we never did pay Manolo for the small amount of damage to his brother’s car. Antonia was adamant that another few knocks and scratches here and there on the beat up car was not going to be the end of the world. So we took her advice and left things as they were, namely that we’d sort it out ‘mañana’. I was therefore a little nervous when Manolo turned up saying that he had something for me. Was this going to be a case of ‘Beware of Greek’s bearing gifts’? He opened up his jacket and there, nestled under his arm was the most divine puppy that I’d ever seen. The colour of caramel, it’s coat smelling of milk, it’s tiny tail wagging….Oh how could I resist?

snow-in-olive-groves---las-pilas

winter-foliage

42 Comments

    1. I don’t think it’s possible to compare the two. I’ve had some great neighbours in London, really fab neighbours but in general, I think in a village it’s easier to be community minded because you are so closely joined at the hip. Let’s be honest, you can’t live in a village and FART without someone knowing your business! Pete and I have a project which we are starting in March, it is our way of saying ‘Thank you’ to everyone that has helped us here in the village.

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  1. When I moved here, my first stove was gifted by a neighbour, the oven didn’t work. It sufficed for five years, then I bought a luxury model… I am still using two gifted shelves and a prep counter. Generally, neighbours are cool.

    Love your photos.

    AV

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    1. You obviously know the score AV and have been at the receiving end of Brazilian benefactors. i’ll be writing more about the bountiful gifts that have been given to us – oh how they have enhanced our life. Gas fires, wood burning stoves, honestly, we would have been lost without them – these folk are so kind. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I had Antonia’s stove for 5 years (well maybe less, it is quite old!) but so long as it works, I’m more than happy. If we need to roast anything, we do it on the fire but it can be a bit hit and miss! 😀

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      1. Indeed I do. I probably landed in my current situation five+ years ago with less than you. I literally had the clothes I stood in; my previous house was totally destroyed when the neighbour’s caught fire. I was lucky that my PCs and some bits were at work that week.

        AV

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      2. What a terrible thing to happen to you and I can totally sympathise. I wrote yesterday about the house fire that we had years ago. We had nothing! every stitch of furniture, clothing and the children’s toys were destroyed in the fire. But you know what? The kindness of folks saved the day – I think we are both very fortunate to live amongst such kind, generous people. Pete and I have been really blown away by the village and the people here. We never expected anything and yet, people here have taken us into their hearts and been so incredibly generous. Now we worry constantly how we can pay everyone back!

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  2. Heaven, again, to read. I’ve just cooked a fresh rabbit from our landlord. I wasn’t brought up in the country but I have no compunction about chopping up and eating. Luckily, I didn’t have to skin it but when it took it out of the plastic bag, I had forgotten that it would, of course, be whole, and was taken aback for a second by the staring eyes! Beautiful were the eyes but disappointing to eat the body as there was barely any meat. Man or beast, the world is starving.

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    1. Yes, there is not a lot of flesh on these fine creatures. For future, try padding bunny out with prunes. I make a great stew with rabbit, prunes and a generous glug of red wine. Hare is different, it’s much more gamey and needs something stronger so I use celery, various fresh and dried herbs and, juniper berries which add that Je ne sais quoi to the flavour! Lordy lord! I should be writing a bleedin’ foody blog!! xxx

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      1. Ah, but we’ve had much plumper rabbits from him before. I did my cider and mustard magic on it. Prunes is a good idea. I always forget about prunes and meat. My mother used to do a mean beef with prunes.

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  3. A fun read again Lottie. Doesn’t the kindness of others take you aback sometimes.? They can take you in like one of their own when they see you’re very like them in nature. Hurry up now and tell us he name you’ve given the puppy.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    1. This where my new name, gifted to me by a fellow blogger comes in – Cliff(e) Hanger. Hold your horses, and your puppies, and all shall be revealed soon!
      Yes, the kindness of others is something else – nowhere is perfect, but this village is a shining example of how life in a community should be – Pete and I need to find our way of paying back..we are working on it 😀 Hugs from ‘almost’ the birthday girl!! XXXXX

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  4. Boy, the stories keep coming, it’s wonderful. You have really brought us all into your adventure. What a great village. Brings a whole new meaning to “waiter, there’s a hate in my soup”.

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    1. It’s a great village. We have to keep on our toes all the time, it’s quite exhausting! Tomorrow, the daughter of Tetas Grandes is coming to dye my hair….i think i need to write about the village nick-names soon!!

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  5. What a lovely story! I’m sure you will take photos of all these characters once you feel more settled there 🙂 We all want to play ‘guess which Juan’

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    1. George, I have 100’s of pictures of my village friends, my only problem is, that I don’t want them to be cross with me for putting their faces on-line! I’ve got a great post coming up about the village pig killing but i’m not sure what photos will be acceptable…..:D

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      1. I didn’t think of that-of course Lottie, its better not to post portraits/photos, you never know. Its different for tourists. Regarding the pig killing I reckon the vegetarians will be reminded of why they don’t eat meat and the meat eaters deserve to see where it comes from…not a supermarket

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      2. Well, I agree with you. The village matanza was something else – i’ve got some great photos but not for the faint-hearted. I need to think about that post, and what photos I include. It’s gruesome, and fascinating – a celebration of village life.

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  6. What heart warming neighbours. I love the story of people caring and sharing. The photo of the old thatched chair, the hare on the wall. Great stuff. Irish seems to be creating a mural or something. Amazing couple you are. The bra on the line 14c or 16D? 😉

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      1. A bloody good story. It reminds me of \Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. I did not realise the winters in southern Spain to be so cold. You must have had some ‘moments’ and I am somehow reminded a bit about our first couple of years after landing here in 1956. sleeping millimetres away from frost and weather.
        I just keep looking at your photo of the old chair and who might have sat on it. It looks very old. We have about 9 of those old ones which came with the farm in Holland and travelled with us back to Australia.

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      2. Yes, they are very cold, much colder than I had imagined (I may have to move to warmer climes!) most night it gets down to -5 and we are lucky to get up to 12 most days. The wooden chairs are divine but very uncomfortable – they definitely have an air of Van Gogh about them don’t you think?

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  7. Lord have mercy and great balls of fire. I have been crying tears from laughing so hard. The exchange between you and Gerard had me in stictches. Gee he has good eyes. I had to go back and look at the clothes line to find the bra. Lady you are so dang funny. Several cups of coffee for the bra size after he was trying to guess your size. I have to say Gerard is hoot and a half.

    Now about the fuzzy wuzzy on the wall. It was hare today and gone tomorrow kind of thing. I’m glad that you got all the free hare. I think your village is quite special. Believe me- those people “read” you and Pete from the “git-go” and knew that both of you are kind and generous souls too.

    When you post the hog killing I’ll scroll through real fast and not look at the pics. I did that when you posted the killing of the goats in Indonesia.

    So I hope all went well today. Looking forward to the details of the puppy or CS.

    ~yvonne xxxx

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    1. I’m glad you got a chuckle from Gerard and me 😀 fancy asking me bra size eh?! I don’t think i’m going to show many pictures of the matanza because it is blood thirsty and I don’t want to put pictures of my new neighbours and friends up without their permission – I’ll ask them first, see what they say. there are plenty of the ladies afterwards (myself included) making the blood sausage and chorizo etc. Ive started writing the CS post so it should be out soon! XXXXX

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  8. You paint a great picture of village life. It’s not my experience of small communities, where gossip and bad mouthing everyone seems to be the main occupation, but good to see this kind of community does exist somewhere.
    I look forward to keeping up with your experiences there.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah – I’m sure it’s not all perfect here but so far I’ve not seen any back stabbing or heard any bickering so I do genuinely think that it’s a very lovely place to live. I’ve always loved villages and being part of a small community but village life is not for everyone, especially if it’s out in the sticks like this.

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  9. Oh a puppy!! What fun you & the Irishman will have… not for eating I hope. Your story reminds me, in a neighborly way, of the childrens story called Stone Soup. Do you know it? Oh how the neighbors pitched in… you are really blessed to be surrounded by so many caring souls who look out for your comfort and wellbeing!

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  10. Hi Lottie 😀 I love to read your posts. I am so glad to have found you and not for 36FF reasons 😉 Yes, the locals are generous. They know I don’t cook yet I am handed a bag of green peppers etc. now and again. Can’t refuse !! Ralph xox 😀

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    1. I think that we are both very blessed. I can cook and I love cooking! so none of the bounty was wasted – I can’t wait for the day when I can return the favour with my own veg etc 😀 xox

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  11. Lordy I’m behind. It’s fantastic how you’re both becoming part of the village – I’m guessing that roughing it and rolling your sleeves up (not to mention I’m sure your very charming natural characters 🙂 and willingness to go with the flow) is helping endear you to them.
    Now, onto the other posts.
    PS Look forward to seeing what the mural thingy on the wall turns out to be.
    PPS A puppy!! …

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