Tag Archives: house

April 2018….. the collapse of the chimney and other nicer things (a couple of Days in Granada)

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 ! 

A bit of information about our Cave House

I often have people saying “you have a cave ?, where do you go to the toilet?, does it have stalactites/mites?” etc etc. so I thought I’d post a bit of information about it.

Our cave has 13 underground rooms, 2 rooms built on the front and another separate block built room in the yard. It also has a covered verandah. Because it used to be 2 houses it still has 2 front doors but the caves are connected inside via a passage that was dug out more recently.

Front Aspect

The door on the left of the picture by the Barbecue is a cave store room (which probably used to be home for a Donkey as there is an old feeder inside) this measures approximately 4 metres x 2.8 metres. Moving to the right is the extended part which houses the shower, toilet, bidet and washbasin plus a utility area. The covered verandah measures approximately 3.5 metres square and although I’m not that keen on the look of it, it’s great for being able to sit outside on warm evenings even when it is raining. You can just see the first front door in the left hand side of the verandah. To the right again there is a covered pathway about 1.4 metres wide all the way to the right hand end. You can see the second front door just to the left of the tree. The jacuzzi is at the far right by the tartan blanket. In the right of the foreground is the other building which is basically a small room about 3.5 metres by 2.7 metres with light and electric.

Cave Plan

At present there are 2 x double rooms (the one on the right is almost 6 metres long), a single room and a twin room. 2 lounges, kitchen, dining roon, breakfast room, 2 dressing rooms, shower room and the room I call the Music Hall which is inside the second front door and contains my stereo and a sofa. On the plan the tunnel that connects the dining room with the music hall is where the two original caves were connected.

Most caves (that I have seen) seem to be laid out in a similar way where one largish room is cut out first and then other rooms are cut out to the left and or right and then carrying on forward in a similar fashion. Our cave has signs of this but I guess because they were originally side by side they were limited as to directions they could dig.

I love the look of traditional caves like Danny and Josie’s see One Foot in the Cave but after spending time mooching about under the verandah, I’m pretty glad it’s there (even if I wouldn’t have bothered with it).

anyway that’s a little bit of information about the cave itself…… please ask if you want to know more.

The Week after Fiesta in Cortes

Late August 2016

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.

Orce Pool

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 🙂

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 Clive hadn’t stopped at the barbecue but had also removed the ugly shelving in the shower room and replaced some parts with wood giving it a lot more of an organic feel (I was Very Happy).  I sorted everyone out with their rooms and set about drinking a nice cold lager before we headed off to the fiesta. The fiesta was very busy, there was people everywhere and of all ages. I love the fact that families spend time together in Europe much more than they do here, Babies, Toddlers, Teenagers, Parents & Grandparents all enjoying each others company and not being embarrassed by each others behaviours. I imagine it’s down to having a little more respect for each other ?

I also got the jacuzzi (it arrived on the previous trip) fired up and that was a rather odd experience because I had imagined spending family holidays splashing about in it.

This was to be the first holiday ever and the last holiday for about a year, during this period  there was a lounge collapse disaster and I found love again <3

I apologise for the rubbish fiesta photos below…..

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 I heard it again and just happened to glance up at the drain from the canal (a channel that leads water away from the roof so as to stop it working it’s way into the cave) and saw something move. I went to investigate and there was a small black and white puppy, probably no more than 10 weeks old. I brought it down and we fed it some food and let it wander about while we got on with unloading and moving stuff around. That evening I heard the guy from next door arrive home and tried to explain (with next to no Spanish) that the puppy had appeared in our canal and he took it away.

Note: unfortunately the Spanish don’t treat dogs or pets in the same way as the majority of brits do, a large percentage of people see them as pets until they outstay their welcome because they have grown too big, the school holidays have ended and the kids don’t need this amusement in their lives anymore, they don’t work to their full capacity because they are too old……etc etc etc. I would love to see this change and it is changing but far too slowly.

So day 2, shower at Bob’s and back to work unloading.
Most of the furniture is roughly where we are wanting it and we need to make space for the other van load that is arriving around midday tomorrow. Then the crying puppy in the canal starts again…… again we bring him in and let him roam about, he seems calmer than yesterday but spent all his time hiding behind things and under things….. The guys turned up at around 2:00pm with the second van full of furniture.

To be continued……..

 

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 🙂

 

 

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 my estate agent who said “not a chance, there was no debts on the house and we will sue the electric company if need be”, this was my first foray into debts and legalities.  Feeling pretty disheartened with the whole affair I took some happiness from the fact I was introduced to Clive (who is now my favourite builder in the world) I said to him that the electric company had us over a barrel knowing we were stuck in a house with no electric, Clive said something along the lines of “If it was me, I would just light a candle and read a book”……

Although the place was now clean it still smelt vile so we arranged to go out for a couple of days in the December armed with 4 gallons of white wine vinegar to counter the urine smell (It’s easier to get large quantities in the UK) but also to get our solicitor to start on the case with the electric company. This trip was far more enjoyable as our wonderful builder Clive had taken some steps to losing some of the squared off features that we hadn’t liked. Clive has been a key part of this project and I would have probably given up ages ago if it wasn’t for his help and his laid back calming attitude 🙂

NB: we never opened that bottle of Champagne ………

Moving (maybe a little too) Quickly


In mid September 2012 we put in an offer on the Yellow Cave in Cortes de Baza which was rejected so we went a little higher and the offer was accepted

Oh My God…… what have we done?  excitement, anxiousness, fear, excitement and more fear were the main feelings that day.
We had a fair bit of the money ready to use but we also had a fair bit more tied up in tat, gold and silver that would need to be cashed in on, then it dawned on us that we would have no money for any of the work that needed doing so we set about borrowing some extra from family. We would need NIE Numbers, a Spanish Bank Account, a Solicitor and the owners were very keen to sell quickly as they had already moved out.

I spent a few days searching the net for info on the complications of getting NIE numbers and read some awful stories on EX-Pat forums about people waiting at Alicante Police Station all day just to be told their paperwork wasn’t correct then having to go back the following day for another long wait. I got in touch with Sean to express concerns and he just said “Don’t be silly, stop reading forums, I’ll sort that out for you and a Bank Account, just get the money in place”.  So it turned out I may as well have been self diagnosing an illness on google.

So we booked flights to arrive on the 11th November a Sunday when everywhere is closed (there is a theme here), we rented a Cave in Cortes called Cueva Peralta (link at the bottom it out if you fancy a Cave Holiday) from a guy whom I now consider a very good friend. We had arranged to meet with Sean on the Tuesday to arrange NIE numbers and sort out the bank account. This couldn’t have been simpler, Sean drove us to Baza armed with paperwork, we popped into the police station to drop it off, went and had a coffee and returned to find newly printed NIE Certificates waiting for us. We then headed to the bank in Galera and must have had to wait for all of 13 minutes to get that sorted out.
Finally we arranged to meet Sean and Mat KT the following day to sign contracts at Baza Town Hall….. Totally Painless (so Far).

Baza, Andalucia

Wednesday 14th November, The Big Day !
we all arrived at Baza Town Hall and we met the owners who seemed ok and then we handed around passports, signed things and dutifully listened to the notary (we also nodded a lot)….. Then it was done, we were handed the keys ! The one thing I didn’t pay too much attention to at the time was the now 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”……..
I was far too wrapped up in being the proud owner of a Spanish Cave.

 

Links:
Cueva Peralta (Self Catering 2 Bedroomed Cave House in Cortes de Baza)

Spanish Inland Properties (My Favoured Estate Agent)

Hole in The Hill (one man’s dream of life in a cave)

So this is a blog about my Dream of Living in a Cave House in Rural Spain.

In August 2011 my (ex)wife and I rented a villa in Albox, (Almeria Province) for a holiday and were so taken by the area, the landscape, the people, the food and of course the sun that we thought it would be a lovely place to try and buy a property. At this point we were just toying with the idea of being able to getaway on family holidays as and when we fancied it and eventually have the scope to retire to this beautiful part of the world.

The whole idea of a more laid back pace of life (not that I mind working) combined with extra sunshine and nice cold lager had us sold on this
idea from the off…

Fuente Nueva Cave House View

When we returned to England I got on the case figuring out what we wanted from a property, where ideally we would have liked it to be situated and of course how we could possibly afford to purchase one.
Initially we looked at villas and townhouses but villas (British owned ones in particular) seem to mostly be like miniature mansions with delusions of grandeur which didn’t and still doesn’t interest me. We also wanted to get away from the larger towns but be able to pop to a shop or a bar if we fancied it. So we started looking into village properties with at least 3 bedrooms and a little outside space for the possibility of having a splash pool installed in the future. Having rented a villa that had air conditioning we had also decided we would definitely need that on the list. After a few weeks of Googling and trawling Estate Agents websites I found a couple of companies that specialised in Cave Houses and after my initial shock they started looking pretty interesting because although they all have similarities (they are underground etc) no two are identical.

Some of the selling points for me were:
Cave Houses generally maintain a temperature of around 16ºC thus eliminating the need for air conditioning although they do want heating in the winter. In the past as families grew they would just dig out another room, I must add that I haven’t tried this.  Although they are dug out of the ground caves have electric and running water (well some do as I found out later).
Refurbished caves will often have a fascia at the front that makes them look more like a house than a cave.  They vary in style and state from totally refurbished with swimming pools, extensions and more than one floor to a basic “Hole in The Hill”.

 

A holiday in March 2012 to the Costa Tropical convinced us that although it was lovely we’d rather be in a quieter more rural location.
So in August 2012 we rented a Cave House in Feunte Nueva (Granada Province) with the idea of having a look around Cave Country.
The cave we rented was lovely but it was a bit of an eye opener sleeping in complete darkness and missing a thunderstorm because we hadn’t heard it.
One day we had a look around in Galera and purely by accident found the office of one of the Estate Agents whose site I had been trawling on and off for the past year Spanish Inland Properties, we popped in, introduced ourselves and arranged to be shown a few caves that were within our budget the following day………….

I intend to slowly update this blog with some of my own stories of how my (not very well thought out) plan went…… this will include purchasing the cave, my divorce, loss of job and home in the UK, problems with water companies, electric companies, previous owners and the lounge collapsing…….. It’s been a test but it’s also been totally worth it 🙂