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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