Another Year…..Another Disaster or Two

Feb 06

Another Year…..Another Disaster or Two

Around Christmas 2014 I started planning my first visit to the Cave with my new partner, I spent far too much time trying to convince her that she would like it even though it was more than likely going to be like some form of Glamping but without the Glamour. A roof, some furniture, water and electric but no mod cons. Then in the January of 2015 Clive my builder got in touch to say there had been a leak near the chimney and the front room had flooded, the water had mostly gone but it had left the whole place damp and mouldy. He was happy to fix the leak and get on with tidying around and was able to start work in the February. Clive’s first visit brought with it disaster, the Lounge Ceiling had collapsed dumping about 2 tons of rock on the Leather Corner settee that we had previously dragged all the way over from Devon. He sent me the following photo….. I spent a few months fretting about the whole situation as I had been told over and over to keep caves aired when you are not staying in them but I had locked it up and left it since the previous August. Clive said he was happy to pop around and open and close windows/doors etc when he was nearby and to make a start on the other work while we decided the best way forward with the collapse. A month or so later when he was starting work Clive got in touch to say the water wasn’t running and he couldn’t find the meter (that will because the water company had removed it). Somehow in my endless list of stupid moves I had not setup a direct debit with the water company so I was in arrears, there was no water and Clive was left unable to do any serious work. So i tucked my tail firmly between my legs and got in touch with Sean at Spanish Inland Properties to see if he could help me sort it out, A couple of weeks later he got in touch with me and arranged for me to pay the outstanding bills and setup a direct debit (Great...

Read More

Just Some Trivia…….

Jan 25

Just Some Trivia…….

In June 2013 I stumbled across an old friend on Facebook called Tania who had grown up near me in Devon, I hadn’t seen her since around 1984/5 as she had spent several years travelling. We got chatting about cave houses and it turned out that she was due to rent one in Spain in the August, It turned out she had booked a place in Cortes de Baza of all places. I didn’t think much more about it until early September when I saw some of her photos and it turned out she was there with her family the exact same time I had been there and she had stayed in a rental literally three doors away. We chatted about this and then one of her friends called Rachel got into the conversation who it turned out had met Tania purely by accident in Madrid a few years previous and it then turned out that I vaguely knew Rachel’s Ex-Husband….. to cut the story down a little Rachel and I got chatting, swapped numbers and hit it off rather nicely. After a few weeks of chatting we decided we should meet up so the following weekend I drove the 250 miles from Devon to Merseyside and everything went well, after around six months of driving up and down the country I moved to Southport and the rest as they say is history. The main problem with this was that the cave didn’t get visited at all for a full twelve months…….(I’ll explain the problems that arose in the next...

Read More

The First Holiday

Jan 20

The First Holiday

August 2013: my marital status was well and truly over, I’d spent a couple of months in hiding, licking my wounds and sofa surfing. I decided I needed to visit the cave properly on a holiday after all the effort that had gone into getting the place…… where do I start?  Facebook of Course 🙂 So I put a status on Facebook asking for a travel companion, typically I got next to no response. The first was from a friend who runs a tea tent at festivals…. although she was into the idea of a break she couldn’t get around having time away in the middle of the festival season. I was then contacted by another friend who was able to squeeze the dates in… It was on ! I was crawling out from under my stone and attempting to use the place as it was intended (or as I at least had intended). The plan was to go for the Fiesta (weekend before last in August). I had heard that Cortes gets really busy during fiesta and the population swells to around four times it’s usual amount which by my reckoning would mean there was likely to be 30 or 40 people on the street at any given time of day or night. We flew out from Exeter to Alicante which was novel as I had always flown from Bristol in the past. Driving to the cave was interesting as I was with somebody else and therefore I almost certainly spent too much time explaining that it was going to be fun even though it wasn’t by the sea etc etc. On arrival I was greeted by the barbecue that had been made from the remains of the old kennels. I love the barbecue, it was one of the silly ideas I had about having my own bar with a pizza oven and then got embarrassed about thinking it was a typical British thing…. a bar with spirits and a couple of lager pumps, a tv with sky sports on 24/7, a place for fat red people with their skin falling off to congregate and a place where I could be the landlord…… fortunately Clive had excelled my expectations tenfold. On entering the cave it turned out that...

Read More

Delivering Furniture Pt. 2

Jan 10

Delivering Furniture Pt. 2

We unloaded the second van full of furniture and scattered it around the yard so we could figure out where it was all going, the puppy spent all his time hiding in, under and amongst everything he could find from rugs to boxes to his final spot in the bottom of the cooker. By the end of the day most of the furniture had found it’s home and I set about hooking up the stereo (which was more important than eating). I heard the guy from next door arrive home so I took the puppy back again but this time he was trying to tell me I could keep it as I desperately tried to explain that I was going home in two days time and certainly couldn’t take a puppy with me…… I dread to think what happened to that dog but like to imagine he lives happily somewhere. So after a long day moving furniture we set off to get some food and a few cervezas from Bar Jairo happy in the knowledge that it was all coming together nicely. The following day we met up with Clive and planned out some other jobs, the first one being how to get rid of the pile of bricks that used to be the kennels. Clive suggested that if we wanted anything building then it would make sense to keep hold of them but all we could think of that wanted actually building was a barbecue. Then I got carried away with the idea and thought I’d like some kind of a bar. Not a typical Brits bar with with a Union Jack, a fridge full of Carling and a TV with Sky sports on but an outdoor cooking area with a counter to eat at. We were so pleased with his work so far that we were more than happy to let him take the reins and come up with something. On the final day we popped over to Baza to get some more keys cut and  pick up a few bits to leave for next time we were over (never has buying toilet rolls and washing up liquid been so much fun). The weather turned grey and cloudy in...

Read More

Delivering Furniture (and the final visit with my wife) Pt. 1

Jan 08

Delivering Furniture (and the final visit with my wife) Pt. 1

March 2013….. Winter in the UK is over (just about) and we are all set for the first ferry crossing and first drive to Cortes 🙂 A week ago I had loaded a man with a van whom we were meeting at Cortes next Wednesday to unload. Yesterday I had collected and loaded another van that we were driving down ourselves via the bay of Biscay. The 22 hour crossing followed by the 10 hour drive seemed daunting but exciting all at once….. It was the first proper step of making the place our own. The satnav had said it would take 10 hours from port to cave and it was exactly that, we left Santander at 12:30 and arrived Cortes at 10:30 in the evening. We were greeted by Bob with a couple of cold lagers for a wind down after the tiring but ultimately straightforward journey. The ferry crossing was a little choppy but nothing serious considering the stories we had heard about the Bay of Biscay and how the ferries don’t run in the winter due to the weather. The drive was ok and it was great seeing the changes in scenery, the worst bit was the fact that as we neared our destination it was dark and I hadn’t a clue about the road layouts (approaching from the north). After a good undisturbed sleep (caves are very quiet) we headed over to our cave, we were greeted by lots of exciting things and in order of appearance they went something like this: 1) the kennels that filled half of the yard were no more so we had gained a sun trap. 2) the kennels were now in a neat pile on the other side of the yard. 3) the electric was on. 4) the strange shelving in the kitchen had been removed and rearranged. 5) the shower room had been revamped. 6) several odd square things had been made into arches and curves. These things were all great, I was happy and this was how I imagined I should feel :-). We got on with unloading and at some point around mid morning I heard a dog whining, it sounded like it was above the cave but I couldn’t see it. A bit later on...

Read More

A Flying Visit

Dec 28

A Flying Visit

We headed over to Spain in mid December 2012 to finish off the cleaning and also to sign paperwork with our solicitor so he could go ahead with court proceedings against the electric company. This trip included 4 gallons of white wine vinegar in the hold and a change of clothes. I remember there was snow on the mountains but the weather was bright and sunny (I was the only person in a t-shirt). We headed for Baza to do the paperwork with the hope that the electric company would back down on the €2300 bill they expected us to pay. I spent a whole day throwing vinegar around, so much so in fact the place smelt like a Chippy which was still preferable to a cattery. It felt a little like things might be coming together, the floors were so clean you could eat your dinner off them (albeit that’s a weird thing to do, give me a plate any day) but the best part was that Clive had come along in leaps and bounds changing square angular things into more organic and cavelike curves and arches. We were only over for a couple of days so we gave Clive a list of things that we would like doing and started thinking about organising the next trip which would be to move stuff in from the UK. The decision was made that we would look towards March or April of 2013 (something to look forward to after the fast approaching Christmas). We had been working at Tiverton Recycling Centre for about 7 years and had taken over the day to day running of Crediton Recycling Centre in Devon for about a year at this point so we were already piled high with furniture, crockery, pictures and all manner of other bits and bobs, all the furniture in we had seen Spain was very overpriced so we decided to collect our own…… the stuff that arrives at recycling centres would very often be far better than stuff I might buy myself (especially for a second home on a now very tight budget). Roll on the New Year 🙂  ...

Read More

The first day of owning a cave (not as exciting as it should have been)

Dec 20

The first day of owning a cave (not as exciting as it should have been)

After leaving the town hall in Baza armed with a set of keys, a couple of tape measures and some paper we headed for a supermarket to buy a bottle of bubbly to crack open at the cave. On arrival I noticed some lumps of wood and chicken mesh laying around the entrance, I put this down to the previous owners having gathered their animals together and presumably having to cage them in their van. Onward to the front door….. I fumbled around with the keys until I found the correct one and quickly opened the door to be greeted by a horrific smell of animals which I can only think would be similar to forcing your nose into a fully fouled cat litter tray (not that I’ve tried this). I was then reminded of the previous owner saying “we’ve had a bit of a tidy up because we have had the animals in the cave while we were waiting to collect them”….. The lounge had been used for the ferrets, the rest of the cave had been used for cats, No Litter Trays or Newspaper in sight!  If this was their idea of cleaning up I’d certainly certainly refuse a dinner invite. The whole place not only stunk of urine and faeces but was covered in it. It took two dustbin bags, a sea of industrial strength cleaning products (plus two solid days of scrubbing) to make it feel like you could even walk around safely. At some point I went outside for a break from scrubbing and sat down under the tree. It was at this point I noticed that the whole of the blue tiled area surrounding it was full of dry cat food and faeces, this required a shovel and another two dustbin bags. What was supposed to be a couple of days being excited and measuring things turned into a miserable cleaning chore. While being overly involved with cleaning I had almost forgotten about the fact the electric wasn’t working, It turned out that the previous owners hadn’t paid their bill and had promised to pay up on sale of the cave (evidently that hadn’t happened). The electric company said they would reconnect if we paid the outstanding €2300. I spoke to Sean...

Read More