New Years Eve
Despite my best intentions, the festive red knickers that I’d ear marked for last night’s celebrations never did make it out of the knicker draw. Neither did I get round to making the lentil stew and, worst of all, the lucky twelve grapes assigned to each of us for the chimes at midnight, are still in their bag in the fridge. So much for Mrs Nev’s stab at NYE Spanish style.
On a positive note, I did produce a cracking dinner. Well, part of the dinner at any rate. A crackling dinner. My slow cooked belly pork was a triumph; Wilma and Colin thought it second to none. Alas, the same cannot be said of my Irish Cream Tiramisu. This creamy gorgeous, calorie laden confection was to have been the star of the show, a fitting and sweet finale to 2016 . A treat that Pedro had been looking forward to all day. In my hastiness to rush out and buy a bottle of Baileys, it quite slipped my mind to procure the other two essential ingredients, mascarpone and sponge biscuits. Dessert was therefore a simple liquid affair, served straight from the bottle, sans accoutrements.
Good old Janus. There he stands at the doorway, looking back at the old year, looking forward to the new. A bit like our cats except at least Janus makes up his mind at midnight whereas the cats are still undecided. ‘In? or out?’ I hear myself muttering for the ‘nth time before one goes one way and the other two shoot upstairs, only to change their minds five minutes later.
I went out drawing yesterday. There’s an idea for a picture that I can’t get out of my head so I headed to the church at the bottom of Calle Real to make some preliminary sketches. As I was walking back up the steep hill to our house, I found myself reflecting on this past year. As years go, it’s been one of the best. It’s not been the easiest, nor the most straightforward, but hands down it’s certainly been one of the most interesting.
As many of you know, Pedro and I bit the bullet in February 2015 and bought an ancient derelict house in Alcala La Real. It was in such bad condition that not even the town’s rats or mice wanted to live there. Grotty though it was, I could see that it had great potential for a place to run our business from. Pedro was less sure and didn’t share my enthusiasm. There was plenty of room, good outdoor space and I loved that despite years of neglect, the bare bones of the house hadn’t been ruined. All the original features were there, it just needed a bucket load of money chucked at it, time and, patience. The bucket load of money was the scary, hard part. To bring this old building back to life would cost us every penny of our savings and possibly more. Was it a risk worth taking? Somehow I convinced Pedro it was.
After months of waiting for planning permissions, renovation finally work started at the end of October 2015. Earlier that year I’d received an email from Channel 4 asking us if we’d be interested in being a part of a programme that they were making about Brits moving abroad and starting new businesses. Apparently their researchers had found us through this blog. Pedro wasn’t happy about the idea but I thought it was great. Unfortunately our works project wasn’t going to fit in with the filming for the first series. Would we be interested in being in Series two? ‘Yes, Yes’ I said, ‘No’ groaned Pedro.
After a Skype audition and passing muster with the Casting Director, filming started in April. It was terrifying at first. Having a camera trained on you and no experience of ever being in front of one, I didn’t know what to expect or, what to do. Should I pout or suck my cheeks in? Did I look fat? Was my bra strap showing? Should I play Mrs Sophisticated ( impossible( or, should I try to be cool or even ditzy? My imagination and nerves played havoc. There was no script and no monetary gain, the only incentive was that maybe, just maybe this might put Atelier 88 out there on the map. But as the camera and the weeks rolled by it became easier and soon we had both taken filming and all that went with it, in our stride. After eight months of being followed, the final shoot was done at the end of November when our first paying guests arrived. We’d only finished the final touches on the house a couple of weeks before and so it was a huge relief when everything went without a hitch. Up until then I’d been worrying about whether we’d have enough hot water, whether the boiler and radiators would work and whether the new mattresses really were as comfortable as the lady in the shop had said they were.
We’ve had quite a few guests staying since then and although the laundry side is hard work, it’s a lot of fun meeting new people and seeing this old house come in to its own. I pinch myself that finally after all the ups and downs and months of angst, we’ve finally arrived and are doing what we set out to do. Getting the Art and Printing courses organised is the next thing on the list to tick off but things are looking promising for April.
And speaking of which, the etching press arrived last week. A monster sized crate was delivered from the workshop in Barcelona where the press was made. It was so huge and so heavy that it had to be airlifted over the roof tops by crane. It’s still sitting outside in the yard because we need some serious manpower to manoeuvre it in to its final resting place in the studio. Needless to say neither of us can wait to start printing.
Here’s wishing you all a Very Happy, Healthy and Creative 2017. If you want to know more about what we are doing, special offers, art courses and more, please Like and Follow our new Facebook page Atelier88.
We will be posting our #Atelier88 news and updates there and also on Twitter @Atelier88Spain
As soon as the website is live, I shall be posting a link here and on our Facebook page. Things have been held up because both our laptops have had problems and we’ve been computer’less for a while.
The second series of Channel 4’s A New Life In The Sun starts on January 3rd at 3pm – Pedro and I make our entrance on 16th Jan .
Atelier 88 website: www.atelier88.es