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Archive for June, 2007

This is a photo of my kitchen stove ………… The house was owned by a very elderly man who, on his death, requested that the house be given to a Sisterhood of Nuns in Teruel. Clearly on his death his body was simply dealt with, and nothing else has happened since that day … as you will see as the blogs progress!
The kitchen still has his flagon by the fire, and his old coat over a chair. the blackened back of the fire place shows where he would have cooked. There is an old cupboard with greasy stained old cooking implements … and how he washed things up I will never know as the house has never had a water supply …..

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Children don´t care if the beds aren´t made : Beds are for practicing handstands, roly polys and making dens …………

Children don´t care if the floors are dirty : Floors are for humungous train track layouts, skateboards and rollerblades ……..

Time spent ironing is always wasted

Food is for eating, but best if used for sculptures or artwork first …..

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MY NEW PAINTING!!!

This one is called “Neighbours” and it is inspired by the villages all around where we live. I have tried to upload it into my Art Blog, but for reasons I simply cannot understand, the technology available to me won´t have it.

However, I am just THRILLED to see this picture online – and there is a wonderful story behind it ………..

I discovered not so long ago that I had to have FOUR, yes FOUR fillings. I had not been to a dentist in the UK in more than four years, and that was the result. Totally depressing, especially as I am absolutely HOPELESS about dentistry.

After visiting a recommended dentist with my son, and being utterly traumatised by the experience, I checked myself into another, across the road. Truly the cleanest, smiliest place imaginable and I thoroughly recommend it.

Well, after the first filling (requiring 40 mins for TWO injections to take effect before I was calm enough for him to start drilling) , I left in a tizz totally forgetting to pay! On my second visit, I was flapping about this, but the dentist said to me that he had visited my website, and liked my pictures so much that he wanted me to pay him with a painting, rather than with money! HOW COOL IS THAT!

So this picture is now awaiting to be positioned on the wall of Dental Siete, Clínica Lopez Olivas in Teruel! And what makes me rather smile, is that it could be two rows of clenched teeth – and that was NOT deliberate!!………….

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Having made reference to the fact that I have written a blog about owning a ruin, I thought I should therefore actually write the blog about it ……

Last year (2006), when we first arrived out here, already knowing how exquisitely beautiful this area was I started the hunt for my very own piece of Spanish Paradise. I already knew that property was well within my reach as I had done some researches during our 2005 visits and was thrilled that we could own our own home with enough space for all we needed for an affordable price. I could hardly wait as people told me of their various places that were on offer.

And boy, did I see some country piles. Literally. Shockingly wrecked piles of broken stones, non-existent roofs and views into the house opposite, and all at the most imaginative and totally unjustifiable prices. My heart utterly sank. I had put so much effort into the process of moving, fought for a long and precious year through the courts to get leave to bring my son here for the education of a lifetime, and that year of delay had allowed house prices to double, and in some parts of Rubielos, triple.

It looked as though my hope, and a HUGE part of the Dream I wanted to live, could simply never happen.

And then one day, a friend of a friend came to see a “possible” purchase with me to give his view. He made all the right mutterings to the greedy beyond belief owners, and then as we left, said to me “it is far too much money and will cost you twice what they are asking to renovate it.” So I simply said “then please, Javier, find me something cheaper, because I have looked and looked and looked and I CAN’T find it!”.

I truly never expected to hear another word, but bless his heart, he came back to me about a week later and said “I want to show you a house – it needs work”.

And we went off to Fuentes de Rubielos – the most beautiful, tiny little village where the school had 9 children, the bar above cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast, and the houses create a crescent moon at the head of a several hundred mile valley that stretches out into the distance. We parked behind several buildings as Javier said that it was easier to walk the last bit – it was a steep descent down a road wide enough for a car, where at the bottom the road ended, and the view stretched out ahead for miles and miles and miles. I simply stood, holding the railings, breathing in this amazing sight.

Javier coughed behind me and said “this is the house” – pointing to the house immediately behind me – the house that no-one could EVER build in front of, that would ALWAYS be blessed with this view of unspoilt paradise. To this day I can remember that first moment, those first impressions, and my first feeling of “oh my Goodness I am going to DIE” as we looked around it! Now you will understand the photo I have put at the top of the page!! That´s it!

The ceilings were propped up with wooden posts as the beams were cracked and splitting. It was pitch dark, the wiring was twisted fibre threads and the floor covered in about three inches of dust. But Javier took me in and we went up and up, visiting each of the three floors in turn, each one about 35 square meters so not big, but each with the largest side facing that view. We even had to kick a door down to see into one of the rooms where I later retrieved the most exquisite pale lime green antique pottery bread making bowl!

To say this house is a project is the understatement of the century, but it was a total bargain. I had been looking at wrecks with a price tag of 75,000€ upwards, and Javier told me that the Nuns who owned this dear little house wanted 15,000€ for a quick sale. So I am the proud owner of a piece of paradise at the end of Calle Los Hornos (Baker Street!!) – and will find a better name for her once I have managed to fund her renovation – and no suggestions such as Sherlock’s Finding thank you!

I LONG to renovate her in order to be able to rent her out when I am not there – but I also long to preserve a part of her “just for me” – so I have, for a year, been thinking and mulling over the possible way of creating something that can be a good rent producer for holiday lets, while also maintaining my own magical space…… and finally I got there the other day and can now see exactly how I want her to be – a ground floor with two double bedrooms with a wetroom type bathroom, an open plan first floor for cooking, eating, living and loving the view with a balcony, and then a lockable door to my Crow’s Nest retreat on the top floor where I will have my white muslin and wrought iron bed with fairy lights, a loo and basin, the world’s tiniest art studio and the final quarter – a tiny, perfectly formed roof terrace!

Watch this space (I always say that I know) – but as time goes by I will, I am sure, get the permissions I need, the plans drawn up, and the project begun ………………………

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In the process of packing, tidying and turfing, I came across the most wonderful piece of history the other day – it was Zack’s 2005 scrapbook.

I decided when we very first came to Spain in our gorgeous Fiat Ducato Concorde motorhome that we should chart our journey, so armed with a Collage kit, cheap felts and a lot of glue, we set about sticking and scribbling and drawing a page a day to remind us of our wonderful adventure.

Looking through it again, I was reminded of the middle part of the “christening” we had here – Spain’s way of whetting our appetite as to what was to follow. It went like this :

We had spent a few days with a travel bug in Ampolla – the rice growing peninsula that pokes out above Benicassim and below Tarragona – neither of us being very well it was a great place to park up and recuperate. When we were better, we set sail, so to speak, for this very village – Rubielos de Mora – for the simple reason that it was en route to Teruel and I had seen something about Teruel on the television!

We looked at our map, and decided to take the more direct route through the mountains – Morella and then down down down through Nogeruelas to our final destination. It all looked SOOOOO easy!

We set off, great roads (of course – we were still in the Community of Valencia!) – and then found the road we needed to wind down to Rubielos – it went vertically up a mountain beside us with hairpin bends all the way! Not to be daunted, the tarmac being smooth, clear and fresh, I set off with my son at my side.

Ten minutes of uphill but decent driving and the signs changed – Welcome to Aragon in effect – and OH MY – at that immediate point, so did the ROAD. The tarmac stopped, the road narrowed, and the cliff edge suddenly had no barrier.

I have never gulped so hard in all my life. There I was, “totally in control” with my just five year old little boy trusting in my every decision, teetering on the edge of the worst road I had ever seen, thousands of feet up, with absolutely NO means of turning my 6m wagon around! There was nothing for it – onwards and upwards and forwards it was, clenching the steering wheel until my knuckles ached, singing songs my father used to sing as we bumped and lurched our way through the potholes.

But the moment that utterly split my knife edge stomach knots was when we rounded a corner – and I MEAN a corner, and there in front of us were hundreds and hundreds of sheep and goats all coming straight at us!! There was no road to be seen for the bobbing woolly mass of movement! So we simply switched the engine off, and enjoyed the show.

That night, once settled on our new campsite, my son got out his collage set and started creating an ocean of woolly sheep with cotton wool blobs and stick legs – and then started dotting the page with tiny black dots absolutely everywhere. And when I asked why? “That’s the sheep poo Mummy”. !!!

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I have just sat back and re-read the posts I have put here since I haphazardly started this Blogging adventure whenever ago it was, and I have understood why a friend of mine sent me an email saying “Positive Thinking needs to be upped” …….. It would appear that the blog gets my attention when someone or something gets RIGHT UP MY NOSE!!

Saying that, I am only now seeing that using the Blog as well as my long Catch-up list of emails is another way of keeping in touch – and it may even give the incentive or lunatic encouragement to other single Mums, or anyone for that matter, to have the courage to listen to their hearts and dreams and GO FOR IT.

So I am going to share a little of me here, in the hope of inspiring you – because I honestly believe with my whole heart, that if I could do what I have done, from the non-person I was for the decade from 1993 – 2003, then ANYONE CAN……….

My dream to live in Spain started about fifteen years ago. It was a whisper, an itch ….. It was always the same : thoughts of Spain, coming to Spain – I would meet myself in the thought, or at the airport – but a happier, younger, freer self – and when I had to leave, I always had to say goodbye to that precious, free-spirited self. It was always there. But circumstances, truly awful ones that threatened my own survival, caused me to give up my dream, give up everything I ever believed in, instead compromising myself and my integrity in order to live a complete lie, pretending it wasn’t as awful as it was …..

Until November 2003, when a woman who to this day I trust with my whole being knocked on the inpenetrable shell of protection I had built around myself in order to survive, with a love and belief in who I had been and who I was underneath all the ghastliness – and with her unfailing support and belief, I began the process of setting myself free – free from myself, free from an unspeakable relationship that had brought me to the edge of reason, free in a way I had never dared to allow myself to imagine ……..

And little by little, piece by piece, I started to pick away the broken pieces, dust them down, polish them up, and put myself back together again. Through this process, which was in turns both joyful and agonising, I found that dreams I had long since buried started to pop up – and little by little I found ways of making those dreams come true – dancing til dawn, food fights with my son, climbing little Welsh hills, pancakes for breakfast at the weekend, and even owning my own campervan. Then, one day, THE BIG ONE returned …

THE Dream I had always had for as long as I could remember as a grown up –

The Dream to Live in Spain ……..

And when I whispered it, I felt a flutter inside me that I had forgotten existed. And when I spoke it out-loud, EVERYONE who truly loved me and cared for me simply shrieked with joy, pouring their positive energy into what I thought was an impossible and stupid idea.

With more help than I can possibly either describe or thank enough, the absurd idea began to take shape. Together with my family, friends and support network, we drew the lines around the abstract idea – which bits felt right, which bits felt wrong, which details needed more attention ……

And with every step I took, I grew. With every obstacle I overcame, I bowed down to myself with pride at my new found ability to HANDLE IT. It was, and continues to be, the Adventure of a Lifetime – and I truly believe that there is no such thing as fate now – I found the courage to make my own luck, I have created the Dream day by day, sometimes scary moment by scary moment, but I have learned, and continue to learn that with each new experience, no matter how seemingly hopeless or unresolvable, I CAN HANDLE IT! I BELIEVE in our wild and crazy adventure, in swimming naked in unknown rivers at dawn, in lying on the cold earth watching the majesty of the vultures playing in the eddies overhead with their magnificent grace – and the greatest gift in all of it is that I get to share this with the most beautiful child – my son – who is learning more than I can ever imagine from this experience, good and bad, rich and scary, and teaching me a lot about remembering how to play and trust this amazing world in which we all live ………….

So thank you to all of you – friends I know and friends I have yet to meet – and may you all find your own star to follow – I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

With LOVE xx

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I am dead on my feet this afternoon – and I think I could write a book on the hideous, complicated process of changing the identity of a vehicle from English to Spanish ….. I would have preferred to stab myself repeatedly in the eyeballs with chillis in hindsight …………!!

It is, without doubt, far easier for a European to change their residency, or to have dual residency, than it is to change the “residency” of a motorhome – and that is what I have been doing my uttermost to achieve.

It all looked so simple to begin with – I went to Trafico in Teruel where I had to pay 60+€ tax and a fee of 17€ to start the process of re-registering (it’s called rematriculacion here for anyone thinking of doing it). That gave me green temporary Spanish plates which I was told gave me permission to circulate for two months, and that I needed to take with me to the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) so I could pay another tax – annual road tax this time of another 60+€. Trafico also told me that I needed to have an up to date ITV – think MOT in the UK and you are about there – only it is the most facile and pointless series of tests that actually make a mockery of the safety of vehicles on the road in Spain if you want my opinion.

So off I went with all taxes paid to the ITV centre in Sarrion – the closest to where I live, with a spring in my step thinking that I was moments away from having my Spanish plates and all done.

IDIOT!!!

After ages, the man who worked there told me that I had to have a particular number – on the V5c In the UK it is K, Type Approval Number – which I do not have on her V5C. On writing to DVLA, I learned that all motorhomes are exempt from Type Approval Numbers, however they helpfully gave me the address of somewhere were I could get a certificate to this effect. The address was for people bringing a motorhome INTO the UK, not for exporting it!

Fingernails getting more and more bitten, I spoke to the wonderful people who sold me the motorcaravan in the first place – South Hereford Motorcaravan Centre – and the lovely Des gave me the number of a local Fiat garage, as my motorhome is a Fiat Ducato – in the hope that they could help me with this number – and ……….. no.

(Not so silent scream) ………..

So I rang Fiat in Teruel, my closest city, and was told that well, yes, they sort of could help, but I would need to take all the papers to them, they would look at them and then send them off to Fiat in Madrid and in 2 weeks or so, I would have the papers ……….. But I NEED TO LEAVE NOW!

Rafa, in Sarrion ITV, had told me that I needed a Homologacion Individual – and I found out today that to have that done would cost me 1,600€ and that I would have to drive to Zaragoza IN the motorhome – 3 hours each way – with my son in school from 9.30 – 1.30pm and then no-one to collect him …..

So instead I drove the motorhome to the coast – to Sagunto ITV – and presented my papers in the vague and distant hope that they would say that everything is in order – BUT – no!

I am still missing one vital and essential and crucial piece of paper – I COULD SCREAM AGAIN! I drove from the ITV centre in Sagunto into the heart of Valencia – NO MEAN FEAT in a 6m motorhome – and tried to find somewhere to park her while waiting for an Inginiero – someone who could measure the distance between the wheels, the height, depth, breadth, attachments, type of wheel, engine capacity, weight, you name it. I found a spot and put my hazard warning lights on, waiting for the police to tell me why I couldn’t park there, and sure enough, just as I was falling asleep, up drove two police motorbikes! So I jumped out and said I was waiting for them as I had been driving around for half an hour looking for somewhere to park – so they let me park in a no parking place! Within 20 minutes (and after a coffee and a pee in the pub opposite), I went back to find ANOTHER police bike circling her with a tow truck alongside!! OH YIPES! He was really nice though – he was actually there to tow away the car behind me and just wanted me to move the wagon in order that he could pull out the car behind! I only found that out after apologising and explaining for about 5 minutes!

Finally, the Inginiero arrived, established within minutes that I was single (!) and did what I mentioned above. He told me about the normal cost for the Homologacion being 1,600€ – and then charged me 120€ for what he had done……… He now has to send that off to some office in Valencia who stamp and officialise it, and he then sends it back to me and with that, I am led to believe that I can pass the ITV without further ado. Saying that though, he also said that my reversing light is on the left, and it should be on the right – so at least I can put that right before I go back and HOPEFULLY get this blithering test passed!

Say a prayer for me = it is enough to make me grey overnight, especially as we want to leave for our summer holiday within two weeks!!!!

Don’t forget to visit the website by the way – or my other blog which is accessed via the website under the link News – http://www.amanda-hamilton.com

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