Twelve Grapes

The novelty of pooing in a bucket wore off sooner than I had imagined . I’d rather hoped that the entertainment factor would see me through at least a few weeks but in fact it was less short lived than that, a matter of hours and already I was fed up having to use a bucket. Little did I know that it would be mid December before the toilet was finally installed and I could reign supreme on my porcelain throne once more – the bucket was to remain a feature of our lives for almost 8 weeks.



The bliss we both felt when the toilet was finally plumbed in was indescribable. And not just a toilet but a bidet, a shower, a washing machine and HOT water! And following on from the excitement of being able to wash in hot water and sit on a loo, was the joy of having a kitchen. For weeks I’d been washing the dishes outside in the yard and cooking in whichever room was least full of rubble but now at last I had a proper, Spanish cocina. Things at that point were really starting to look up until; we had news from the shipping company.




The Spanish port authorities at Algeciras were not happy with our Indonesian paperwork. They insisted that we get a form signed and rubber stamped by the Indonesian Embassy in Madrid. They also wanted over $1,500 extra to be paid for the shipment of our household goods from Jakarta and transport costs up to Granada. This was not a happy situation. Both Irishman and I were devastated as we’d been planning on spending the last of our savings on going back to London and be with the children for Christmas, now with these extra costs we could no longer afford to go.


I felt quite blue around this time. Even the sound of flushing toilet couldn’t raise a smile out of me and for a while I wondered if we’d been quite mad to think that we could live solely on Irishman’s teaching pension. At least we’d got phase one of the building works done, the rest would now have to wait until we’d sold our house back in the UK. But having to tell the children that we wouldn’t be able to see them at Christmas nor be able to buy them any presents was miserable.



I’m not sure if this applies to all of Spain or if it is just here in olive growing country but Christmas is not really celebrated here certainly not in the way that it is the UK. In fact if it wasn’t for the fact that half way through December the local council put up a string of lights across the village street boldly wishing the village ‘Feliz Navidad’ you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just like any other time of the year. Of course Christmas comes at the height of the olive harvest and since both men and women work at the harvest, it leaves very little time for anything else. New Year’s Eve however is a big occasion and one that we felt hugely honoured to be included in by our neighbours, Paco and Antonia.


Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge NYE fan, in fact most years I’m tucked up in bed by 10pm with a book (and glass of cava, well it would be churlish not too). But this year things were a little different. A very glamorous Antonia pitched up on our doorstep on the morning of the 31st December with a hand written invitation to have dinner with the family that evening. ‘See you at 9pm’ 9pm? Hell, that was very nearly my NYE bedtime what was I going to do?

Irishman had been working on a painting for Paco’s 50th birthday and we decided that it would be nice to give it to him that evening. Paco was very happy with the painting of his cortijo and we felt very touched to have been invited to join in the family’s New Year celebrations. Antonia’s five course meal was delicious, and we were having such a good time that it seemed like no time had passed at all before Irishman and I were taking part in the Spanish custom of eating one grape at every stroke of the clock at midnight. You never know, the novelty of eating 12 grapes at midnight, could turn me in to a fan of New Year’s Eve after all.