The Hippy, Hippy Shake


God, cow shit smells awful. It’s evening and I’m sat by the stove in the kitchen. Supper has been and gone, candles are lit and cast their glow on the windowsill. I have a mug of Earl Grey tea and Irishman has his PG Tips and after some bickering, the three dogs have finally sorted out who gets to lie where. Ahh, how lovely I think to myself, what a wonderfully cosy domestic scene, a picture of contentment as I settle back to watch the fire and ponder on this blog post. And then suddenly, the stench of cow shit hits me, and yes, if I’m not wrongly mistaken, a definite hint of Eau de Foxy too and I remember that I’d seen Wilma and Baggy playing in the cow field this afternoon. I’m going to take the laptop upstairs and get some fresh air.

So where was I? Ah, yes the Twenty Paws. On reflection, looking back those first few months were quite idyllic really. I say idyllic because at that stage none of the crap that followed had yet happened and though we were living in not very pleasant conditions, at least we had hope and optimism and, a large blue washing up bowl to bathe in. The tricky part was not having a toilet. Five months is a long time to be doing ones business, squatting behind a hydrangea bush. But, as is so often the case with me, at first it seemed like something of a novelty. I embraced my new outdoor toilet regime wholeheartedly in the naive belief that it would only be for a few weeks while the plumbing was being installed. Oh chance would be a fine thing! And whilst on this subject, let me tell you something else about Al Fresco pooping, it’s all fine and dandy on a bright summers morning when, if positioned correctly, the rays from the early morning sun warm your backside and the enchanting sound of birds merrily tweeting encouragement from the branches above entertains you, but oh how utterly, utterly miserable it becomes when a bitter easterly is whipping up your arse and the rain is hammering down. To compound this lavatorial nightmare, my left hip decided after a few weeks that it really didn’t like this new arrangement at all. I realised that in our western culture we don’t as a rule squat and since I’ve only attended one yoga class in my entire life, I’m not one of those nimble, agile, bendy wendy types. Getting in to ‘position’ became more and more painful until one day my hip could take no more and I nearly collapsed back on to .. well, I don’t need to spell it out, you know what I mean. I stumbled out from behind the hydrangeas sobbing, tears of laughter, pain and frustration.

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this before but, prior to our arrival, The Red House hadn’t been lived in for over fifty years. That’s a very long time for a house to remain empty. The only occupants for five decades were a colony of bats and a mischief of mice. No doubt there were probably a few Rattus Norvegicus sculking around too, but they give me the willies so I’m going to blot them out of my mind. The domestic area of the house consisted of one large downstairs room and three rooms above. The rest of the building was made up of two barns, a hay loft, a cowbyre and a milking parlour. Somehow we had to fathom how to turn it all in to one big living, working space on a not very big budget. I adore challenges like this, I love resurrecting old buildings and breathing new life back in to them. I’ll put up with living in discomfort, cooking on a tiny camping stove, hand washing clothes after boiling up saucepan after saucepan of water and even pooping behind bushes with a dodgy hip but, what I won’t put up with and certainly wasn’t prepared for, was being ridden rough shod over by a band of crooked, lying, cheating builders. That’s when the summer of love ended and the winter of discontent started.

32 thoughts on “The Hippy, Hippy Shake

  1. Oh Lottie, how awful. I dread to hear what happened next! You had such positive experiences with your builders in Andalucia didn’t you? What a shame! Sending healing hopeful vibes your way. Take care xxx

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    1. I think this was the trouble! Having had such positive experiences before with building work, we trusted this company implicitly. The experience has been horrible but, we won’t let it break us. Thank you for your lovely comment xxx

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    1. Olga, it’s not been a load of fun but it’s spring now and oh how absolutely stunning Galicia is. Shit happens and we must move on and be positive. There’s lots of good and lots still to do but hey, that’s part of the adventure

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  2. Darn those builders.. but surely you had experience with lazy, cheatin’ blokes down here? 😉 No matter: I can tell that you and Senor Pete have conjured up a little haven for you and your menagerie, notwithstanding those hippy shakes, hiccups and other hurdles! Abrazos

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    1. Amit, we were spoiled before. We’ve never had anything but good experiences with builders here in Spain. It wasn’t the men, it was the rogues running it that we’re the dastardly scoundrels. So many people have been effected by this, it’s awful. Just read the prologue to your book and really enjoyed it. When I’m feeling better heeled, I’m going to buy it for my kindle 💖

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      1. Rogues, apparently, can be found in every corner of the globe (as you no doubt discovered while you lived here!)
        Glad to hear you’re enjoying my book.. read on, guapa! xx

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      1. Good to hear, Puff Jr! It’s not been a barrel of laughs in this neck of the woods either but at least my handyman has been doing me proud. And Boo continues to be the companion to beat all others. She sends strokes and hugs to your three as well as to you and the Irishman. I can’t compete on the loo front though I’ve had floods from the upstairs one and discovered a delightful, very local plumber! xx

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      2. Boo is gorgeous. Getting a puppy has really cheered us. Dogs bring such joy, don’t they. Every home needs a delightful plumber! Ours will probably start leaking soon … 😂😂😂 Im going to email you xxx

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  3. We feel your pain (re builders), but that’s another story.
    Sending love to you all from us. Wish us luck selling our Cortijo, and hopefully on to the next project… you’re both too much of an inspiration/bad influence! (How easy it is to blame others for our nomadic tendancies!)
    Hope the hip is soon soothed by being able to use reasonable height porcelain!
    XX 🐾

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    1. From one nomad to another, I hear you! I’m sure you’ll sell your cortijo, it looks beautiful and you’ve done such a lovely job on it. Are you staying in Spain? Xxx

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  4. I’m so sorry to hear. Nasty things shouldn’t happen to happy-go-lucky kids like you and Irishman. Boo hisssss. Your ability to push ahead and salvage the situation is to your credit. I love it that you can make me laugh even when you’re describing dire tragedy. Hopefully you have a fully functioning, indoor loo by now! Poor hip…!

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    1. I have three fully functioning loos! I know! SO spoilt! Boo hisssss indeed, we really weren’t expecting any of that crap to happen but you know, it just makes us even more determined. That said, we really felt blue all winter which is why this post has been so damn long in the writing. When I’m battling the black dog, it’s hard to forge on with any creative endeavour which is a bummer because that’s my raison d’être, these are the things that make me happy Xxx

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  5. Pooping outdoors hasn’t been my thing since my camping days, which have long since past! Your fire sounds cozy with the dogs and a lovely respite, cow patty odor or not (preferably not!). But oh dear, the foreshadowing on those nasty, lying builders doesn’t sound good! Looking very much forward to your next installment xoxo

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    1. Truth be told, I’ve always been a lousy camper but sometimes outdoor pooping is the only option if porcelain isn’t available 😂 I’m happy to report that we now have a plethora of potties and are well up to speed with the plumbing 🙏 next instalment should hopefully be very soon, there’s a lot more to this story! Xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Richard 😊 Yes, we do have a lot of fun but the experience with the building company has been a bloody nightmare. But hey! it’s now May and the inside is finished so now we can get cracking on with all the outside work. Lucky we are both so young and fit 😂😂😂

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    1. Yes, I’d have loved to have known that before we hired the dastardly trio but we weren’t to know the bedlam that was to follow 🙈 hindsight is such a wise old bird 😂

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  6. sorry to hear about your builder’s problems Lotts. Funny you were on C4 today with Le Prof taking great pleasure in teaching the builder ‘we don’t have problems, we have solutions’..

    That aside, this is my first read of one of your blogs since Malaysia – entertaining as ever – love to you both, Eamsy x

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  7. Lottie, it is so nice to read your post today.. It is a treat to read about your adventures. I am late commenting because I took a break from my computer. It seems that rogue builders /scammers are everywhere and it is a shame that you have met more than your share. I can well imagine your frustration of having to deal with no plumbing. I know how inconvenient it is to use the great outdoors. It can be said that you have returned to nature during your three home renovations. I have tried to keep up with the photo posing on FB and I have been impressed by the basket of brown eggs and the rustic interior of the cozy Red House. I hope you will be on a roll and able to find time to post more of your adventures. Wishing you continued success with renovations that are hassle free. Hugs a bunch, xoxo Yvonne

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  8. Oh how I love reading your blogs and seeing you on the TV. You and Pedro are very brave taking on a delapidated building and living without amenities for all those months. Fair play to you xx

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    1. Brenda, what a lovely comment, thank you so much 😊 You’ve made me very happy. I think we are probably more foolhardy than brave but thankfully we’ve pretty much finished the renovation now and can get cracking on with the vegetable garden and sorting out the land. Lots to do but we like a challenge 😂 🙈xxx

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