Pleasures and duties


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.



Ridgeback adventures


A month has gone and I am back in Albir, this time with Per and our 6-year-old  Rhodesian Ridgeback Uzanna. We took along our darling to be able to stay here longer, to enjoy the sunny weather and nice walks in the neighborhood.

We were a bit anxious before the flight but everything worked out better than we could hope. Our main concerns were that the travelcage would be too large to fit into the plane or that Uzanna would refuse to enter the cage at the airport… Luckily we managed to get the 42 kg dog in the cage, on the second try… We arrived in Alicante in the middle of the night. We met Uzanna at a special meeting point where she was sitting in the cage and waiting. Of course she was overjoyed seeing us again but showed a great dignity waiting for the luggage and walking out from the airport building.  Uzanna was excited – everything smelled different – we spent at least 15 minutes to find some grass so she could pee but the ground was dry with no grass and she just kept on seeking for the right place. After several tries we gave up and packed the dog and all our stuff in the rental car. Uzanna was exhausted after the trip but when we arrived to our temporary home in Albir she jumped out and happily examined the house. After some time she could relax and we left her sleeping downstairs in a sofa.

Next day we visited a pet shop and found what could be the most cozy dog bed ever… Uzanna loves her new bed and has already adopted to the life here – the sunny weather is so right for an african dog like ridgeback.


Of course we visited our house, casa Alegria, directly in the morning to catch up and meet our builders! Lot of work has been done with piping, drains, electricity, ventilation etc. The kind of work you will not notice when the walls are closed and painted. The most visible work however was the Great Outer Wall that finally is ready! It looks really impressive, what a great job they have done!


The past days we have been meeting suppliers of different services like security, water cleaning system, elevator etc, and running around in lots of shops looking for tiles, bathroom equipment, doors, kitchen, furniture, beds etc. There are so many materials to choose from and decisions to make! Already from the start we decided to change several windows and sliding doors. Now finally the works are coming to the end and the new sliding doors will be installed the closest days. I really look forward to that – it will make a huge difference in the livingroom area! We reuse the old living room windows in the basement floor that is going to contain a guest apartment and a training room.


This weekend we will be happy to meet both our girls here in Spain! It will be so much fun to gather the whole family here and finally show our daughters the house we have bought! So far they only have seen it on photos. Even if the house is not so nice yet, it will be interesting for them to see the work in progress and make plans for furnishing etc. We hope they will love it! It will also give them an idea how big effort it takes to build an own house – and how big fun it is!





Work in progress


Finally I found time for an update! The last month has passed mainly travelling: wonderful vacation in Thailand with our girls, exciting visit in Singapore, a few days at home in Sweden, repacking and finally off to Spain to check the building status.


I took a late flight to Alicante and was picked up by our friend at the airport. Arriving to our temporary Spanish home in the middle of the night, I went to sleep without knowing what has been done at the house. As I’ve been involved with building business for several years now I know it takes time to get all permissions etc in order and start the works on building site. Therefore I was positively surprised meeting so many people wearing helmets at our house! Of course, for any inexperienced person the site looks like a total mess and catastrophy – the process has just started – but I know very well that the main part of the time consuming work will be carefully hidden behind the tiles and wall paint.


The most visible progress was made with the stone walls. We had to move the 90 m long outer wall  just one meter towards the house in order to leave space for a sidewalk by the road. This was a requirement from the townhall that we had to accept to be able to get the building permission. This made things much more complicated and costly, as the angle of the ground got even more steep and additional walls were needed to create terraces for plants and pathways. The inner walls are made of original outer wall stones that have been saved when the wall was taken down .



We are really lucky to have good leadership for our project: we have a Swedish talking project leader who has a team of experienced builders, hand-picked for different tasks. We decided not to engage a big building contractor of several reasons of which the most important is to have total control over the building process and possibility to communicate directly with the builders. If we had contracted a big building company I could not go to a worker and say “stop, this is not correct” even if I saw things going totally wrong… The decisions would need to be taken high up in the hierarchy leading to time loss. Now I feel free to hang around at the building site thinking, visualizing, measuring and taking photos. Below our project leader giving instructions to the electrician, our foreman in the future kitchen and the installation of the small cabin for builders.




Any normal person would like to be done with this part of the building process as fast as possible while I wouldn’t like to miss any part of it! I even like to hear the sound of the machines drilling holes for pipes for drain and water – from the distance though… I was terrified when I saw that the guy working with the drill machine didn’t use ear protection!

During this short visit – only five days – I focused on going through the whole house with the foreman and deciding details concerning inner walls, doors, windows, bathrooms, stairs, outdoor lights etc. I also decided and marked out on the drawings all the spots for lamps, spotlights, power outlets, fans, TV-s and AC-s. Those were handed over to the electrician who immediately started to work with wiring. I spent hours choosing tile samples for floors and bathrooms. And I still had time over for morning walks, nice lunches and dinners with our Swedish/Spanish friends! I was amazed by the climate – we were sitting in the sun enjoying nice food and wonderful views in a mountain restaurant the middle of January! Looking forward to relax on our south-facing roof terrace next winter!


Bye for now!



Searching and planning


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 🙂 Wish you all the best!

Searching for railings

IMG_4469 (2)It was a stunningly beautiful day today – the first cloudy day here in 3 weeks. After a visit at BigMat where one can find all kind of building material I took a long nice walk in the old town of Altea to get some ideas and inspiration. Altea is a cosy small town with lot of narrow streets with inviting shops and restaurants as well as beautiful views over the neighbourhood from the ancient part of the town, located on a hilltop.


Our house has a unique look as it is formed after the curve of the street. The architect designed and the estate agent advertised it as a modern house with balcony railings of glass but for me the house feels more like a functional villa of thirties. We want to give our house a much softer, more classical, look. However the challenge seems to be finding the balcony railings that will match the house and make it look ageless. As the house has large terraces, it is obvious that depending on the choice of the railings the outcome would be very different…

Followingly, the last days I have been mostly looking upwards when walking on the streets, risking bumping into fellow pedestrians, trees and poles. Here I post some (balcony rail) photos from Altea 🙂


Tomorrow will be a day off in searching for material, equipment and fittings for the house as most of the shops are closed on Sundays. Instead one can visit the Sunday market in Albir that offers a wide range of products, many of them local.



Settling down

The day before yesterday we “checked out” from Magnus and Lindas fancy and comfy house just 200 meters from our house – thank you for hospitality!! – and moved in to a cosy spanish house that we are renting during the building process.

Carrying in our stuff we got a little panic as the house felt ice cold even though it was sunny and warm outside.  We all have heard about the poorly isolated mediterranian houses where you have to wear wool socks and warm clothes indoors during the cool season. As we were expecting our friends, who are sharing the house with us, arriving later the same evening, we rushed to the Spanish version of Jysk to buy lot of warm cosy blankets, pillows, candles, slippers and rugs. The terracotta floors were icing cold. The last thing you expect when coming to Spain is to freeze…


Luckily the situation could be solved the day after when the landlady sent technicians to adjust the radiators and fix all other small issues in the house. The house is warm now and really cosy, even if the beds are of slightly different dimension (135 x 190 cm) than at home (180 x 220). As we can see our house from almost every window here we can keep an eye on the building process from the pool 🙂


It is very easy to adapt to the daily routines here in Albir. Normally we start the day with morning walk to Albir lighthouse. It is a 6,5 km walk from here and back via nice streets then along a nice pathway high over the sea thru the pine forest on the mountain slope. On the way we pass our house and check the current building status. The days we feel for more challenge we climb up to the top of the mountain where you can see the lighthouse as a tiny dollhouse.


On monday we are going to have a building meeting to make more detailed plans and get started. As a great relief for our new neighbours the noisy work with the driveway is now almost ready – the chopping sound has woken them early in the mornings…



Alegria – happiness

Today me and my husband Per bought The House. The house on a mountain slope at the Mediterranean that I’ve always been dreaming of – with a lush garden with olive and orange trees where you don’t have to cover roses and dig up perennials for winter. Even better, this house is a building project and at least twice as big as the house of my dreams. It will take lot of time and effort but the house will truly be “ours”.

We signed the purchase contract already for some months ago but now everything has become real. We also became aware of the Spanish way of dealing with paperwork; the final contract was signed in the office of Notario Salvador Fernandes. To be a Notario in Spain means that your future is secured – every single deal and contract needs to be approved by a notario to be legal… The final purchase process took what felt like ages – so many papers to sign and circumstances, risks and possibilites explained to us  – at some point I counted nine persons sitting around the table… The buyers (us), the seller (with a power of attorney from his wife that was missing from start but could luckily be found after half an hour), legal representatives, bankers, personal advisors etc. We could not do anything else than let the bureaucracy take its time. Everything was in Spanish.

We got the content of the purchase contract transleted to us. The traditional name of the house, we were told, apart from the street address, is Alegria. Hearing that I almost got tears in my eyes! Alegria – meaning “happiness, joy, playfulness, fun” – is a song by Cirque du Soleil that our girls Clara and Elsa love since old times when they were small. This song brings back wonderful memories from our trips around the world. Among ohter places we visited Las Vegas where the girls became fascinated by Cirque du Soleil shows and ever since then the mystique of this beautiful song – Alegria – follows us. This must be a sign from above!

With a wonderful tickling feeling I go to sleep. I already look forward to tomorrow! We will move to a nice house close enough to keep an eye on the building process that is already going on! Below some photos of our house – Alegria – as it looks like now…