Scheming & Dreaming. The Latest From Your Iberian Correspondent.


Your Iberian Correspondent has been somewhat remiss on keeping up with her Rioja Diaries. Four months has lapsed since the last entry; enough time that were I a hamster, I’d have produced five litters of babies by now and girding my loins for a sixth.

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But, as it so happens, I am not a hamster; I’m an errant diarist whose fingers over the past months have been in a number of pies, both metaphorically and literally. In short I’ve been busy with other projects.

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Now that I find myself sat once again in front of a blank screen, it’s hard to know where to start. Bloody Sunday, my last post, gave a toe-curling account of what happened when a group of unexpected visitors descended upon us. Since then we’ve had an almost constant stream of visitors who mercifully have all been either family or friends and their visits planned weeks, indeed months ahead leaving us plenty of time to hide pee buckets, blow away cobwebs and do a much needed shake and vac.

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Let’s start with our latest venture, Atelier 88. This baby is as you will see from the photographs, a work in progress or should I say hiatus since right now, nothing is happening except a long wait to hear back from the council on getting our plans approved. Assuming that all goes through, we hope to have this new and exciting project up and running for Spring 2016.

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For the past year, Irishman and I have been looking for somewhere to set up a residential Artists studio and Print workshop. Initially we were looking for somewhere close to home, ideally within walking distance of the house but our search yielded nothing of any practical use and we decided to look further afield. In February we found the perfect place from which to set up our business; a tumble down house in arguably the prettiest and most ancient part of Alcala La Real, fifteen minutes drive away.

I’m loath to use the word ‘plan’ since Spike Milligan once famously said ‘If you don’t have a plan, nothing can go wrong’, and I’m inclined to agree since ‘there’s many a slip ‘tween cup and lip’ but since Pete and I are determined folk, we are going to pour our hearts and souls in to this project and get this show on the road.

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Once the space has been fully renovated, the purpose built studio up and running and the large courtyard landscaped and planted, we will be open for business. Our aim is to run residential art courses for part of the year and be open for Bed & Breakfast all year round.

Renovations here on the house in Las Pilas de Fuente Soto are almost complete. There’s still a lot of interior painting to be done, I’m still having to use my bucket at night and, the roof is still up to its old tricks when it rains but, it’s definitely feeling like home now.

The garden is awash with pots of geraniums and herbs, some of which have been kindly donated by friends and neighbours, and I’m dreaming about the heady day when I can splash the cash and buy some magnificent pots to plant lemon trees round the patio.

When I’m not tending to the garden, playing hostess with the mostest or meeting up with the architect, I’m working on the illustrations for my children’s book Matias & Marcela. There, I’ve said it! Now that the cat is out of the bag, I really do have to make this book work or I’ll look a fool and we can’t be having that.

Photograph courtesy of Kim.
Photograph courtesy of Kim.

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I’ve had the idea for ages; an illustrated book about a couple of mice and their adventures. I was inspired by a walk that I do regularly along a path through the olive groves outside the village. In the middle of nowhere, just off a dirt track is a tiny, stone built shrine dedicated to a couple that I imagine are someone’s parents or grandparents. Inside the pristine whitewashed shrine is a small alter with flowers and candles and on the wall is a plaque saying ‘In memory of Matias & Marcela’. What perfect names for my mice.

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51 thoughts on “Scheming & Dreaming. The Latest From Your Iberian Correspondent.

  1. SO great to read your update. I was beginning to wonder why they had stopped. Your house looks amazing…so inviting and cosy! Also fantastic to read about all the projects in the works…the studio sounds amazing…and I can’t wait to hear more about the children’s book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I promise to post some pictures from the book when I’m finally happy with them! It’s still in its in infancy, lack of confidence is holding me back but, I’ll get there and, I have one of the world’s best art teachers at my beck and call to advise 😉

      I’m thrilled that you like the house. We love it here and it is very cosy. Perfect for two bad mice! 🙂

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  2. Love hearing from the Iberian correspondant and seeing the housedeveloping. Can’t wait to see the B&B renovations and the first residents arrive for the art school. Its been your dream for solong, fantastic to hear it is all starting to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a bit Holy Moly! Sometimes I think the same myself; I wonder if it’s madness taking on a decrepit house and sinking the last of our savings in to it. On the other hand, we desperately need an income. Fingers and toes crossed that we can pull it off!

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  3. I wake up on a sunny Sunday morning, have my strong coffee at hand, and find a new post from Lottie! How sweet is this! Love the photos and progress notes. And a B&B – ooh! Travel plans!! 💗💗💗💗💗

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  4. Lottie, it was a long wait, but well worth it. You’re simply amazing. I admire your ambition and stamina. I adore your house! (But I don’t think I could do without indoor plumbing… hence my admiration.)
    The scene is breathtaking. If the artist school turns out half as beautifully as your home, it will be a wonderful place. Mega-hugs! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Teagan 🙂 thrilled to bits that you like what we’ve done. We’ve got to pray that our budget can stretch to working wonders on the new house. We’ve got the vision, now we just need a lottery win! 🙂

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  5. Your home is so beautiful and inviting! It has a calm and relaxing demeanor. Congrats on finding your art studio/B&B…can’t wait to see how that turns out, bet it will be just as lovely as the house. As for the book, it’s a wonderful undertaking, perfectly named. You can do it! Have an awesome day, Lottie.

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    1. Over the years I’ve had so many ideas for children’s books and I’ve never done anything about getting them down on paper. Hopefully this time I can make it happen! Thank you for your kind words and vote of confidence xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You have been a very busy lady as always! I LOVE the names for your mice! Fab. U. Lous. I’m sure they’re wonderful mice who have amazing adventures. Cannot wait until you’ve been published

    Your photos are gorgeous as always and as everyone agrees, your post has been well worth the wait. Welcome back xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great to hear from you again. An art college and bed and breakfast. I wonder how CS will cope? Any good logs lately? Loved the photos, just when we were thinking of settling in Bali: up comes Spain. Iyt is a nck on neck race between both.

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    1. We love living here in rural Spain. Bali is beautiful but here in Andalucia I get the peace and space that I crave. The landscape is beautiful, the food is wonderful, the people enchanting……have I sold it to you yet?

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  8. Your home is beautiful Lottie. I see you are driving the local workmen up the wall 😉
    I really hope your plans bear fruition soon my friend and success follows.
    It’s just started to rain here. Boy we need it ! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve got rain too! and it’s been a tad chilly the last couple of days. Where has summer gone? we had 39C a couple of weeks ago. Most weird. Thanks for your lovely comment – keep rooting for us, we are going to need it! xox

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      1. It is weird weather. Last night I had the wall heater blowing, but tonight is quite warm so not necessary. Still rooting ! xox

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  9. Such good news all round. I remember shake and vac! And the hostess with the mostess. I have a sneaking feeling this will all turn out perfectly for you. And it all started with a lightning fast trip from Jakarta. Want to swap back? No? Oh well. When is the book signing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, ‘Do the Shake n’ Vac’ and put the freshness back! I wonder if they still make it? with tiled floors throughout, it’s more a case of sweep and mop here.
      Your vote of confidence for our new project is much appreciated – Thanks, Andrew 🙂 I’ll post a copy of Matias & Marcela over to you when it’s finished.

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  10. Well, ok, that one went through. WP makes me so angry. I’ll try one more time.

    Your post made my Sunday morning and I was so happy to see what you and Pete have accomplished in less than two years. The house looks so inviting and very much shows your artistic decorating abilities. It is no wonder that you have a steady stream of visitors.

    I especially like the potted flowers set against the beautiful blue tile, the dining table and chairs, the dreamy bedroom setting and, your painting of the iris.

    The new house in Alcala La Real will come along in no time as well and I’m sure the anticipation of getting the studio and the B&B up and running is of upmost priority.

    And, I’m so happy that you have a children’s book in the works. I hope you’ll have that completed in no time and that we in the states can obtain your book. I love the names of the mice- Matias and Marcella. The names have a musical sound and children will certainly remember the names. I know that I will. 🙂

    ~Yvonne xxxx

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    1. Yvonne, thank you for your lovely comment. I’m so glad that you like the sound of all our plans. It’s been a very busy spring and summer here, lots going on – the days seem to fly past. Matias & Marcela are still in their infancy but when I have the time I love nothing better than bringing them alive on paper. I’m juggling around with the drawings right now trying to evolve their characters – it will come if I don’t lose confidence.

      I shall email you as soon as I have some time. I’d love to hear what you have been up to. Big hugs xxxxx

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Lorijo. I think we all have a novel in us somewhere. It’s just finding the time, the energy, and the discipline to get it out there! Discipline sadly, is not my forte! 😀

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  11. Yay, Lottie’s back in town…so to speak. It was so nice to see and read another post from you. You and Pete have done wonders with your place. Is it turning out as the vision you originally had or has that vision evolved with the work? Probably the latter. I am sure you will be just a successful with the new studio.

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    1. Thanks, Steve. It’s actually turned out better! I think the trick has been, us having to juggle the work with not a lot of money – having to really budget has forced us to think more carefully about what we do and where and what to spend the money on. Hopefully we can achieve something similar at the town house. In fact if we are having paying guests, it will have to be perfect. My hope is that we end up with a really cosy, comfortable place for people to stay, work, eat and rest in.

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  12. Nice to hear from you again, Lottie. The house looks great, the plans for the atelier are amazing (or the non-plans..) and I’m sure the book will be fabulous. I hope to come for a visit in the future. Best of luck and don’t be a stranger!

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  13. Wow, projects galore! Super exciting. The atelier obviously has a wee way to go yet but I love its character. And yes, they are perfect mice names.

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