This year we flew into Granada for the first time, we knew it was a lot closer to the cave but had never tried this run previously, we are definitely coming this way again at every available opportunity. We picked up our pre-booked hire car from AVIS who were very helpful and didn’t try to hassle us in to buying upgrades or extras, the car was better than adequate (bearing in mind we always use the cheapest cars we can get our hands on). We were out of the Airport within 1/2 an hour and on the road. The scenery along this route is amazing, you’ve got the edge of Granada City then the Mountains of the Sierra de Huetor and the snow capped Sierra Nevada followed by the Red and Orange, Outer Space like scenery of Guadix and then finally the Altiplano in the Baza Region – We arrived at the cave within 1.5 hours.
On arrival we heard from the locals that this was the coldest spring they could remember and that it had been snowing overnight in Castril, we ended up getting getting handed three days of cold winds, cloud and light rain. This then picked up and turned to intermittent sun and cloud.
A few weeks before our arrival we were informed by Clive that he had found some issues with the chimney, basically some of it had collapsed. It was around the chimney where my initial water leak had appeared back in 2014 (catch up with the original Story Here). To cut a long story short, this area of the cave had been left until last and when attempting to fit the new woodburner the mantelpiece collapsed bringing with it a big pile of mud,clay and stone. I hasten to add that I didn’t like the existing fireplace so I was somewhat happy to have it worked on. I am very happy with the outcome and it is nice to get some more organic curves replacing harsh straight lines.
This visit also saw the last few bits of furniture being delivered from the UK, stuff I’ve had stored firstly in Devon and then in Merseyside since 2013. The Cornish Methodist Chapel Pews for the dining room, a double mattress, a Moroccan brass table, an odd hall stand, pictures, lamps and various other bits and bobs to scatter around. Finally the dining room looks like a useable part of the house rather than a dumping ground and walk through to the other half of the cave. Clive had also fitted the Candle Lanterns that I converted to electric in the kitchen and got all the electrics working in the master bedroom. I would like to add here that for the first time ever It actually feels like a home rather than just a place we go on holiday.
We spent the last two days in Granada City, right in the heart of the Albaicin at an apartment with a roof terrace that looked directly over the Alhambra and Mirador San Nicholas (Check Our Apartment Out HERE, it is well worth a Look). The owner asked us to meet at the edge of town so her husband could guide us in, which is just as well as we would never have made it otherwise. The route went from normal road into winding single track cobbled streets that reminded me of James Bond car chases, we only had a small car but it was still pretty hairy after the luxury of the empty motorway. This area is a fantastic place to explore and we spent our time doing nothing more than bar hopping around colourful shady streets listening to and watching the large variety of buskers and street performers who seem to mainly be working hard in the sunnier plaza areas. We found some lovely interesting shops, bars and restaurants all dotted about in the maze of tiny streets….. I don’t like towns in general but I love Granada and even after the second visit there is still heaps to explore !
I always suffer a complete sense of gloom at this time of year in the UK, partially because I know I won’t be going back to Spain until the spring and partially because I know it is going to get darker and wetter here for the foreseeable months. It’s usually about now that I will start practicing learning Spanish again, I find it much harder to concentrate between Spring and Summer because I am always too excited about flying out again. So this week I have been back on DuoLingo and also catching up on the British TV shows about people moving to Spain (A Place in the Sun, A New Life in the Sun etc). These little things just make me feel closer to this part of the world that I adore.
Anyway…. Yesterday I was having a little break from moping and spotted a facebook post from Cuevas Helena which is about 15 minutes from my place, talking about a TV show that they were featured in.
Channel 5 – Our Dream Hotel. This is a great watch if you are interested in Cave Houses (or of course holidaying in one). Lovely to see such passion not to mention a fantastic finished cave. I am always grateful to see Mt Jabalcon too as it reminds me of another home 🙂
We arrived for our second visit this year the week after the Fiesta, this is the time that the whole village seems to go in to limp mode, not surprisingly as the whole place will have been buzzing for the previous couple of weeks.
We were greeted by the newly built hot tub step/counter that Clive had built, I had asked if he would be able to build a step with maybe a place to put drinks and my iPad so there was somewhere within reach to change music without getting out (I love being able to leave things in his capable hands and know that he can grab an idea and run with it).
Hot Tub Step
We had arranged to put on a Barbecue for Bob and our newly found friends Rachel and Sean on the Wednesday so it was all systems go, mainly because I love the idea of getting together with people but I’m not actually that bothered about getting together with people. I am somewhat introverted ! I can’t really be bothered with having too many people around me and I don’t feel I need many people around me, all said and done though It was a great evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I totally enjoyed the company of people who If I’d been them I probably would have said “aww sorry, I’m cutting my nails that day”. The Barbecue was a success not because of Bob’s barbecue skills or Rachel’s Schnapps but because of my Cous Cous (that I always get from Lidl) :-). As well as Schnapps Rachel brought Daisy along (one of the street dogs she had rescued and the reason we met in the first place) Daisy was looking very happy with her new pack, she also brought Lenny who is from what I can make out a six foot tall puppy crossed slightly confusing himself with a teenage human, anyway enough of that.
This was to be a pretty boring holiday because the weather was lovely and nothing out of the ordinary happened in the way of “set backs” so we made the most of it and visited the local communal swimming pools.
First up was Los Olivos, I think it cost 2 euros each (for as long as you like) and we had to put up with about another 20 or so people.
Los Olivos Pool
Next we headed to Orce for the pool (the one with the fish) which was equally busy.
Finally Cortes which was again very busy…..
Cortes de Baza Pool
This was to be the first time I really thought about adding to the decor since splitting up with my ex-wife.
I found a guy on eBay who printed canvas prints so I had some album covers copied and then I found some cheap album frames for real albums so I now spend a lot of time in charity shops looking for album covers to put in them. It’s quite nice not having to worry about the condition of the records themselves as I’m not likely to play them as all my music these days is digital.
Album Cover Canvasses
The First REAL Album Cover (Hats off to the Spaghetti Westerns)
All in All this was the most normal and straightforward trip to the cave 🙂
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 News)…. I did everything as quickly as I possibly could so as not to waste any more of Clive’s time. He kept soldiering on with bits and bobs but the water never emerged, It turned out that my wonderful friend Mat KT and her colleague Kari had been chasing and chasing the water company (but as we know it takes two weeks to get a phone answered in these parts) Soon it was August and we were booked to arrive ourselves…. so I had to explain to Rachel that it would be slightly less like Glamping, she took it in her stride and I bought a couple of solar showers as a sweetener. We arrived during the Fiesta as planned and the water still wasn’t on, Mat said I should go to the office and try and converse with the water people, I wrote down some basic bits and bobs in spanish and headed off to the office which turned out to be closed until the end of August.
So that was that….. we went to the village water fountain daily and filled up lots of plastic bottles daily so we could make coffee, wash up and flush the toilet.
Midweek we had booked a night in a Hostel on the coast in San Jose so we could investigate some of the Spaghetti Western sets. I’d figured out that we could drive almost all the way to the set of 1960’s Burt Reynolds Movie Chino (also the setting for Straight to Hell) This was accessible from one of the old roads alongside the A-92 after about 2 miles of potholes we arrived at a massive pile of rubble and decided to walk the rest of the way (about a mile as the crow flies). Three Issues here: 1) The crow flies straight and dilapidated Spanish lanes don’t. 2) Walking what turns out to be around 3.5 Miles each way in 45 degrees is a lot harder than it sounds. 3) No Water in the badlands of the Tabernas Desert is a stupid idea.
We did it and got some mementos and then headed down to San Jose, the Hostel was great and had running water so we both showered and headed into town, for a bite to eat and strolled back with the idea of a relaxed evening. 9:20pm and the place was thrust into darkness (not just the hostel but the whole town) this was fine for about 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour but then it started getting really hot as the Air Con had obviously stopped (something you never have to think about in caves). The Electricity finally came back on at around 1:00am and we were able to settle.
The following morning we visited Cortijo del Fraile and Albiroques where loads of Spaghetti Westerns were filmed then head back up the A-92 to have a look around La Calahorra Station and the setting of “Flagstone” in Sergio Leone’s movie Once Upon a time in the West. It was lovely to get back to a cool airy cave 🙂
I spent some more time trying to figure out what would be the best way to renovate the collapsed ceiling and when Clive came over we decided that the most economical way would be to backfill the fallen rock and build a retaining wall thus reducing the length of the room by around 6 feet (to be honest it was always a little long for my liking anyway). This also eliminated the need for a skip to dispose of the rock and of course the work involved wheelbarrowing it through the cave and down the yard a distance of probably 50 metres.
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 update)