Two Roads Diverged …


My response to Irishman’s ‘I could live here’ was played very carefully. Inside I was bursting with excitement. What had it taken to change his mind so quickly? He’s not one to bow to pressure so easily. I was expecting it to take at least a month to wear him down, to get him to agree to my new plan. By my reckoning it had taken just a nine hour car ride, a good dinner, a scenic car ride and a trip to a beach; already he was putty in my hands. How terribly, terribly, clever I must be I thought smugly to myself. The trouble is ‘I could live here’ and actually finding somewhere affordable and lovely to live are two separate things. I’d one small victory up my sleeve but there was still a mountain to climb in terms of making it actually happen.

My original plan of campaign had been to spend four nights at the Chinese laundry and the last three nights somewhere in Asturias. Asturias was also a possibility re The Change Of Plan. The entire week had been meticulously planned with various meetings with estate agents and viewings. I think we had about ten houses that we were going to see. Now that Irishman seemed genuinely quite keen on the idea of relocating to the north, I started to worry that maybe I’d jumped the gun a bit in terms of looking at houses before we’d even put our own on the market. Still, we were up here now and we were about to visit our first house.

I shall never forget my first impressions of the Red House. We left the country road and turned down a narrow lane surrounded by forests and fields. It was like going back in time. We passed a woman herding her cows wearing a smock and straw hat. Her skirt was held up with baling string. I liked her style A Lot. The cows had bells round their necks. I’m an absolute sucker for things like that and the landscape was dotted with oranges, reds and yellows and gold from the autumn foliage. It was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. We drove on for another five minutes or so and then the tiny narrow lane through the forest diverged in to two, and we, we took the right one. Through the trees I could make out the back of the house. The setting was like something out of a children’s fairytale book.

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We hadn’t even got out of the car and I was already, in my mind making an offer. It’s not the first time that this has happened to me. Years ago I had exactly the same feeling going down the bumpy track to Gillbeck Farm. I adored that house and I had exactly the same instinct for this one. The estate agent grappled with a bunch of keys and eventually managed to get the door open. Irishman held the door open for me and I stepped inside. I was smitten. I remember turning round to him and saying ‘Welcome Home’ and that was that, we both instantaneously knew that this was the One.

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Photograph courtesy of Immobiliaria Nexonorte, As Pontes.

The house had been empty for over fifty years. It had been on the market for over a decade. Aside from one water tap, and the most basic electrics (one plug socket, two light bulbs) that’s as far as modernisation had gone.  I squealed with delight! Upstairs was a little more modern. The walls in the bedroom area had been plastered and there was one large bedroom and two small ones all adjoined to each other. It was like looking back in to the past. We walked round trying to figure out what lead to where, it was mostly animal living quarters and just the kitchen area with the bedrooms above. My mind was in overdrive, I already had an idea of what I’d like to do, where I’d like to put things, what I’d like to grow in the garden. Irishman was a little more sanguine, I knew that as always he’d be thinking about money. He’d had bats flying around him while he went to investigate the barn for studio space. I was fantasising about what I’d do with this room, that room, where I’d put this, where I’d put that. It was utterly ridiculous allowing myself this fantasy but sometimes good sense doesn’t come in to it.

IMG_0113In my excitement, I’d forgotten that there were also fields with the house. Four and half acres, not exactly Southfork but certainly enough to have some livestock and certainly some chickens.

IMG_3975.JPG IMG_2684and a fabulous Hórreo, granary.

IMG_3646We must have spent over an hour at the house, both of us lost in our thoughts. I was so happy to have found a house like this I couldn’t bear to think that we might not be able to buy it. I thought that the best thing to do would be to talk to the estate agent and be totally honest with him about our situation. Hearing that we hadn’t even got our own house on the market probably wasn’t going to inspire him with much confidence but if he knew that we were seriously interested then maybe, just maybe he’d bear with us while we worked out what to do. Irishman and I were going to have to do some serious thinking, we also needed a lot of luck on our side.

IMG_E2966.JPGTo be continued very soon…

12 thoughts on “Two Roads Diverged …

  1. Love, love, LOVE it! Gorgeous photos, engaging and fascinating writing. Oh, how we’ve missed you. So happy to see you back, dear Lottie xoxo

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  2. Beautiful. I don’t know there, but my experience from the part of the country where my father comes from is that houses might be years and years on the market and never found a buyer, to the point of collapsing and being destroyed (that’s happened to quite a few houses in my dad’s hamlet, Paradaseca (https://www.tripmondo.com/spain/galicia/ourense/paradaseca/) Not all the pictures belong, but… And well, I can see you got it, so well done!

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    1. Thanks for this link, Olga. I’ll let you know when we visit. There are so many fascinating and beautiful places to visit in the north west of Spain, it’s so unspoilt unlike the coast in the south. And the people are so lovely too, just as friendly and fun loving as our Andaluz friends and neighbours.

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      1. Keep me posted. To be honest, people are the same all over. My father comes from a tiny hamlet and although there are not many people there, half of them have feuds and don´t talk to the other half, although they are very friendly and helpful towards strangers, that is true. I hope in your neck of the woods they get on better. All the best!

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      2. Thanks, Olga and I will keep you posted. We’ve lived in Spain for five years now and we’ve been made to feel welcome, wherever we go. Very humbling. I know that there are feuds and bickering but that’s the world over in my experience. I have great affection for the Spanish.

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  3. Utterly charming house and surroundings, but…the work ahead? We had an old Saxon farm while living in Holland. It had giant oak beams spanning between the walls. A soaring roof all thatched on the outside. The second we walked in we bought it. We loved it.

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  4. I was so glad to see another post about your old/new red house. The scenery is glorious and I do mean that in every sense of the word. How fortunate you are to have fern growing in your yard and to have an utterly beautiful shrub bloom gloriously with huge bouquets of blue flowers. I tired to identify what the shrub might be but it is just too far away to see properly.

    I especially like that you have four acres. A lot can be done with four and one half acres which should be adequate to grow a huge garden and where you can plant a sizable number of all manner of fruit trees and berry vines. Plus, perhaps you can have a cow or maybe even a couple of rescue donkeys. All of those things will surely give you heaps of amusing material for some interesting stories. I still want to see a book sometime in the future. Have you abandoned the children’s book?

    I must mention again that the area does seem like paradise. The photo of Wilma lying in the path, is adorable with the filtered light casting long shadows. xxxxxx

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    1. I’m smitten with this part of Spain, it is glorious. Not for those that want baking temperatures or constant sun but the landscape and coast are incredible. Regarding ferns, oooo no!!! No, not a good thing at all. Bracken is poisonous to the animals and take over the land. Everything’s getting ploughed up, limed and reseeded. The fields are in poor condition and need a lot of love to bring them back to meadow and decent herbage. They were used for forestry before so there’s roots that have got to be dealt with. We will get there 🙏. Once that’s all sorted we can start to think about livestock. Needless to say that makes me very happy 😃 No, I haven’t abandoned the children’s book, it’s all up there waiting to be written down. I’ve started the illustrations. The house is a shambles right now with electrics and plumbing and roofing going on so when finally it’s finished, that’s when I’m going to knuckle down and get on with it. One of the reasons that I wanted to be here is because I find the place so inspiring. It’s magical xxxxx

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      1. I had no idea that fern or bracken is poisonous to animals. I looked it up on Google and learned that about 8 -10 or so species are poisonous. I was not able to pinpoint which of those species are bad in Spain. But I will take your word for it. I grow two kinds in pots and one is native to Texas and the other is called Japanese painted fern. There is not one fern species that I am aware of the grows in my immediate area. It is too dry and I reckon the soil is probably too alkaline as well.

        It sounds very much like a pretty large project to get the acreage plowed up but it sure can be done. It will be well worth the effort to get nice meadow grasses growing where wildflowers will also grow.

        I am glad the book is still a project for the future. I completely understand that you can not work on a book with all the renovations. It is time and energy consuming. I just hoped that you had not given up on a book.

        I am curious to know how you rounded up workmen for the house. I hope you can write about that. I remember the your posts on “Which Juan, That Juan or This Juan.” Not sure about the exact title but it sure was a funny read. I loved it.

        How far are you from the coast?

        I will take my leave now. I am a too curious sort and need to stop commenting. xxxxx

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      2. We are mid renovation now and I must admit, I’m not enjoying it as much as I normally do. Poor Irishman is totally fed up and I’m beginning to wonder if this project really was a step too far but if we can hold our nerve, I know it will be worth it in the end. Gosh you’ve got a good memory remembering the ‘which Juan, that Juan’ post! That was five years ago! Third house renovation in five years, no wonder im feeling 100! Xxxxx

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