April whims

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All of a sudden it is end of April! The winter and early spring have been so nice and calm here in Alicante and even if the nights are cool, the days have been filled with sunshine. Until the easter holiday – the most celebrated holiday in the catholic Spain – that came with stormy weather, heavy rains and thunder that lasted over the whole easter. We felt guilty – our Swedish friends who came down for a break from work and studies were disappointed as the sun was well hidden behind dark clouds and rain kept pouring down… while the weather in northern countries was unusually summer-like. The only amusement we could offer was the spectacular thunderstorm around the valley that we followed from the panorama windows. We imagined all these large Spanish families in their drafty houses, wearing woolen socks and cardigans around the big dinner table filled with tapas, paella and lots of Spanish wine. Our house is luckily built according to nordic building norms so we can keep our feet warm by just switching on the floor heating…

The rain also meant many cancelled traditional easter processions through the streets of many towns that require lot of preparations to get all the spectacular dresses ready and rehearsals for carrying the valuable statues through streets filled with spectators. Spanish communities are very good at preserving their traditions. I can imagine the disappointment of children and adults looking forward to the big happening of the year… Lots of checking the weather forecasts I guess. The easter traditions in Spain are taken seriously but younger people and families also use the Semana Santa (easter week) for vacation at the coast. For northern people the easter holiday is more about food and meeting family and friends than about religion. We do not bear in mind that Jesus was suffering on the cross, we eat our easter meals without compassion. However during the rainy weather we used our new gym with a crosstrainer, treadmill and table tennis to punish our sinful bodies…

The rain, said to be the worst in several decades causing flooding, damaged cars and property, gave a nice boost for both the old and new plants in our garden as well as the nature around. The old orange tree is full of blossom and smelling divine! Also the fig tree promises some harvest.

While it has been quiet and peaceful inside the house, outside there are lot of more or less noisy works going on… Spectacular planting projects have been done where enormous palms have been lift up and planted with help of a crane truck. Charlesworth Gardens is the contractor who helps us with the big garden project. As the plot is on a mountain slope, the garden is planned in different sections and levels. The watering of the garden, which is necessary here due to very long dry periods, has been planned already when building the walls and structure in the garden with many water outlets where to connect the automatic irrigation system. It is exciting to follow the process even if it will obviously take some years before the plants will develop and build that lush greenery we are looking forward to.

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The other major project is the pool. The old one, traditional 5 x 8 meters swimmingpool was leaking. We decided to go for a new design and new tiles. We are not much swimmers so we wanted to adapt the pool to our needs and build different levels in the pool, where you can sit with a drink or lay down partly in water and relax in the sunshine. What we have noticed about our pool area is that during the low season most of the poolside is in the shadow of the trees growing just outside our garden, in the national park. In high season the pool is in full sun and the water temperature goes over 30 degrees. All this has been taken in planning. We just hope everything will turn out well at the end…

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Inside the house things have been moving on slowly… It is depending on our “laziness” as it takes great effort to get us out of our comfy house to visit numerous shops in order to find chairs, tables etc. Luckily we have got good help from a local interior company, A-Style and Carmen in first place, who have helped us to sew curtains, custom-make headboards and find some nice furnitures both for indoor as well as outdoor use.

We both are very satisfied with our bedroom in Scandinavian style situated on the highest floor with a generous bathroom and walk in closet, consequently also having an¬†amazing view over the coastline and mountains. It feels special to fall asleep to the sea of lights and wake up when the rising sun colors the mountains on the opposite side of the valley in pink. I’m happy and proud that my visions turned out so well…

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Well, some progress has been made with furnishing but still lot of details as bedside tables, bookshelves, paintings etc missing. However we are going to speed things up in May as we are expecting lot of guests to Alegria party that is going to happen 1st of June! We will invite everybody who have been helping us with this project in one or another way and our neighbors, friends and family of course. More about the party in my next post! Bye for now!

 

September in Spain

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Rain pouring down…

We were warned about the heavy rains that usually occur in September but it is difficult to believe it when the sun is always there, sometimes after some morning haze over the sea. Sometimes the sunbeds are moist when you go out on the terrace before the sunbeams reach over the mountains. Now we and our new house have experienced these massive showers – when everything gets flooded and the soil is swept away from your new flowerbeds, still waiting for the plants. One morning I woke up to a dripping sound in the corridor and found that someone had placed a bucket under the roof window ūüôā Our building leader says it was a good rain-proof test.

But the Spanish nature is well prepared to take advantage of these showers and in only a few days everything starts to grow and bloom hysterically. I’m already making plans how to collect the valuable rain water that does so good for the garden!

Even if there is more “important” stuff to organize/decide at this stage I cannot keep away from the garden shops (just for planning purposes) and end up dragging home lots of plants and sacks of soil. Luckily I have had my friend Nina here who gives me good help. So consequently I have started some small plant projects using old pots left at the property and the new built-in flower beds.

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When I came here alone one evening in beginning of September I was totally blown away by how everything had changed since I left this place in the end of July. Even if all the big jobs were done in July, everything seemed to have just fallen on their right places! The doors were there, the bathroom furniture installed, the staircase in natural stone…. just amazing. Everything was tidy and the view through the clean windows was stunning. I was wandering around in the house, sparsely furnished, airy, with wonderful warm lighting. It was overwhelming to see my ideas realized, all the materials and surfaces I had picked among hundreds, every light positioned according to my wish – everything felt just “right” . All has been made with such precision, feeling for the handicraft and material, you could see the quality in every corner, on every step! I felt great admiration for our building team, for the stone cutters, for the carpenters who had realized all our ideas and wishes. It seemed unreal but still so wonderful to know that this place now was our home for coming years, where we would love to spend most of our time.

 

 

A week ago I met my husband Per, who left the house in the end of May and hadn’t seen the progress in live since then, at the Alicante airport. He came with Uzanna who was a bit confused and nervous after the hours spent in the plane in her cage among other “special luggage”. At the same time I said goodbye to my brother and his wife visiting me one week and helping in getting things in order.

The biggest change since last time has occurred outdoors, all the outdoor tiles done, piles of material and rubbish gone, terrasses ready for sunny days and soft evenings with family and friends, flowerbeds and soil waiting for plants and fruit trees. It will be a pleasure to furnish and decorate every space in and around the house! My family seems to be as happy as me. A new chapter in our life just started.

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The next post will be about the white piano above! Bye bye until then!

Pleasures and duties

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In the end of February finally our girls Clara and Elsa came to visit us! It was such a pleasure to have the whole family including Uzanna gathered here in Spain! As we love good food, we spent considerable time at different restaurants tasting spanish food in differnt forms (literally). Wonderful happy days together!

The girls were excited of course to see the house and the possibilities there – even if everything still looks like a big mess for anyone not initiated in the secrets of construction technology – and delays. Luckily the new windows arrived just a day before and gave the living room area the lift it needed. We had also an inspection team on visit – also they seemed happy about the progress made so far!

 

I have always wondered how that kind of huge sliding doors can be transported and installed – must be almost impossible to lift these. Now having seen the process with own eyes I realise that almost everything is possible… The secret was that the frames were installed first and when the thick window glasses arrived they were quite simply fit in the frames! Of course for that at least six strong men were needed.

 

While the builders are busy with completing differnt tasks in casa Alegria, me and Per have been around looking for ideas for kitchen, bathrooms and furniture. We have decided the material for floors so the tiling work can start as soon as the floors are prepared with heating system.

To fill up the empty holes in my daily routines including morning and afternoon walks with Uzanna, planning and visiting building and furniture stores (which are closed between 13:30 and 16 for siesta), I decided to take a 3-week intensive course in Spanish. I would not say I regret the decision but I now clearly remember the feeling of going to school with homework not properly done… Luckily my teacher is very understanding and sweet and I really enjoy the lessons. I already start to get some feeling for the language but at the same time I realize how much different it is to learn a new language at an age of 55. Last time I was in my twenties. Patience is what I (and my teachers) need.

 

 

Searching and planning

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Yesterday we had¬†guys from¬†a local window factory¬†taking measures¬†in the house¬†as we are going to¬†order new sliding doors to the living room and windows to some other rooms. In general, except for the two panorama windows in the sitting room,¬†the rest¬†of them are¬†planned mainly to¬†close out the sun….¬†The Spanish people traditionally prefer to close their windows with shutters while we from the Northern hemisphere want them as big as possible.¬†Luckily the architect¬†agreed, somewhat reluctantly,¬†to change some of these¬†on her drawings.

The windows in Spain¬†are often covered with grids. These have naturally a special preventive purpose but they can also look really beautiful! Right now I’m quite fixed about everything concerning¬†Spanish ironwork. Therefore I felt blessed¬†to be invited¬†to visit¬†the workshop where the windows as well as the grids and balcony rails are produced – mainly¬†in¬†the traditional way. A lot of interesting stuff there!

 

The work with the big outer wall is continuing. With the building permission we also got the liability¬†to move the outer wall¬†one meter¬†closer to the house to give space for¬†a sidewalk. That was indeed a very big work and¬†now we need to make the wall even higher and longer… At the same time the work with garden replanning is going on. Because of the¬†location on the hillside, the level differences are big and the old stairs etc must¬†be taken away.

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Tomorrow we are flying back to Stockholm. The three weeks spent here in Altea/Albir have just flown¬†away. I already look forward to¬†be back here in January! Meanwhile¬†we are¬†going to spend some nice time with our families and try not to think too much about the building process here ūüôā¬†Wish you all the best!