Tag Archives: huescar

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 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 the afternoon adding to the feeling that we were coming to the end of an exciting trip, that evening I loaded up the old gates from the kennels and my tools and we got set for the return journey. I remember feeling sad to be leaving but also really excited about the next visit which would be the first trip for an actual holiday.

First thing in the morning we threw our cases back in the van and headed off in the direction of Santander for 10 hours, this time though we upgraded and got a cabin for the journey back across the Bay of Biscay as we both really fancied some sleep…….. I definitely recommend cabins over reclining seats, not because they are flash but because you aren’t surrounded by loud drunken people.

This was to be the last time we visited Spain together, in the May of 2013 we separated which entailed me losing my home, my job, my wife and that side of my family.
I spent several months not knowing how to continue and I ended up living in my friends spare room for about 8 months (If it wasn’t for a couple of very good friends I don’t know what I would have done). I’m not going to dwell on this or go in to it too much but I realised then that things had obviously not been right for some time……..

The Lounge Finished (wait till you next see it)

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 ………

A Day Trip with Sean and Mat

 

On the 3rd of September 2012 we arrived in Galera to meet our estate agent Sean, he said he had 5 caves for us to look at….we headed off on the A-330 but had to stop for some petrol at a little garage where the lady who greeted us must have been at least 90 years old, her Guard Dog (who was also getting on in years) barely lifted an eyebrow and certainly wasn’t coming out from under his bush to investigate us further.

First stop was a cave that was owned by a couple of artists (somewhere along the road from Galera to Cullar), it was a great place and finished beautifully the only problem was that it was smaller than we were hoping and there was no amenities nearby.
Next we headed for Benamaurel (a rural village with about 300 bars). Here we met Mat KT who has since helped me immensely in my seemingly endless path of mistakes (Thanks Mat). The cave here was really nice  It had amazing views up the rambla (riverbed) and it had a reasonable amount of space indoors and outside. The main thing that put us off this property was it had shared access with a neighbour and had other caves in every direction including one that was directly below and it’s chimney was in the garden of the property we were looking at. It was however great to get an idea of the contrasts between how remote and how on top of each other these caves can be.

The next trip took us to Cortes de Baza (a sleepy place that reminded my of the Comic Strip Presents A Fistful of Travellers Cheques) to see a large “YELLOW” cave (that I had previously seen on the website) This place was really big, originally two houses that had been knocked through into one, It had a big secure courtyard with a lovely big Ash Tree in the middle. This cave was our favourite so far as it had plenty of space and was about a five minute walk to the village, the only thing it was lacking was a view….. but it did need some work doing, nothing serious just things to make it more like a home and less like a cattery, there was a big area of purpose built kennels for dogs and cats that would have to go.

Onward, this time to Cortijo del Cura to see an “ECO Cave” as we were running recycling centres in Devon at the time this cave sounded the most interesting as it featured Hemp Brick for Insulation and some new fangled heating system. This was another nice cave and had some lovely rustic wooden features but again it was very small and was nowhere near a shop or more importantly a Bar….. The would be next door neighbour here had a Jacuzzi that was set in it’s own cave looking across the valley which would have done nothing more than make me envious every time I went past.

 

Our final destination was Huescar.
Huescar was the only village on this trip that we had visited previously and not particularly liked (for no reason that I can think of). The Cave here was Massive, It had a few really big rooms with really high ceilings, It also had a big outdoor area that had stunning views  across the Rambla and onward to the Sierra de Castril Mountains. This property also had another separate cave that was in need of full refurbishment. Overall loads of space and loads of scope for  the future but all these things cost money and we weren’t really taken with Huescar anyway.

So we headed back to Sean’s office in Galera, said our farewells and promised that we would be in touch………..

We were both thinking about the “YELLOW” Cave in Cortes de Baza….
and then the questions started: how many people could comfortably stay in it? could you put a pool in the yard? could the kennels be removed? would the two “craft rooms” be better converted back into bedrooms? would it need an extra toilet? how many cars could you park at the front? etc etc………