Another Year…..Another Disaster or Two

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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…..

Disaster !!!…..

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.

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11 thoughts on “Another Year…..Another Disaster or Two

  1. danny

    Hi Iccy, Just read this latest blog entry and it has made alot of the trials amd tribulations we are facing pale into insignificance. We are now full time in our cave, however last year it was only occupied for a couple of weeks. We left it aired but still returned to a damp cave, with a flaking ceiling and even a couple of small collapses. Its amazing though the difference a couple of weeks of heating and airing have made. As someone else pointed out, its a talking point and something you just can’t make up. Looking forward to the next installment. Danny

    1. Iccy Post author

      Hi Danny, thanks for the input….
      because I am not there regularly flaking ceilings and paint are a norm for me…..oh and regular electrical things like odd lights that stop or start working from time to time.
      I remember when I worked in the health service in a place that used to be a victorian workhouse…. when “Care in the Community” started getting to be seen as the way forward.
      The local health authority started slowly closing it down ward by ward the empty wards had all lost their ceilings before the last wards were emptied (mainly because of
      damp and no heating but it was amazing how quickly it deteriorated) Iccy

  2. Chris

    An interesting blog you’ve got going here.

    What caused the cave in? No pun intended – ok, maybe a little one 🙂 Is it because you didn’t let the air circulate, the leak or is there some other underlying structural problem? We’re thinking about selling up in the UK and purchasing a cave house and it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened had you been in your house at the time…

    Are the caves really that fragile?

    1. Iccy Post author

      Hi Chris,
      good question… and I’ll answer it the best I can.
      My cave sprang a leak near the chimney and basically all the water that should have been channeled to either side of the front fascia ended up entering through the chimney breast inside.
      It was a wet winter and I had not visited for around 8 months at this point (and I had left it locked shut with all doors and windows closed). Theoretically If I had left a couple of
      windows ajar the water could have evaporated but it ended up staying around and making everything damp. Between most of the people I have spoken too it is most likely that the water had got into everything and unsettled it. 6 months afterwards nothing had moved at all… the original “Cave-In” was exactly the same. The floor of the room that originally flooded is about 30cm below ground level so there wasn’t even anywhere for water to run-off. Nothing at all has changed since the cave-in except my builder pops around and opens/closes windows depending on the weather to keep it aired. I was told many a time to keep it aired
      but …. I didn’t.

      I have no issues with visiting and or sleeping anywhere in the cave now and I do still eventually expect/hope to retire there one day.

      Caves aren’t fragile, but it is worth listening to people that know about them…. you will see them collapsed if you look at cheap “Restoration Projects” but this is generally because they haven’t been lived in and then obviously damp gets in (much like it does in houses in uk that are left to their own devices)

      Glad you found it interesting and I wasn’t intending to put anyone off – I love caves 🙂

      1. Chris

        Thanks for the reply Iccy. Glad to hear that the cave in was nothing major, by that, I mean structural (I’m sure it must have been major to you at the time).

        You’ve certainly not put me off wanting to own a cave and hopefully we will be out at some time this year to have a bit of a look around

        1. Iccy Post author

          Haha Yes, It was pretty major to me at the time. But it’s all good now and the room itself has improved greatly.
          And good luck with your search, Have you an Area in Mind?

          1. Chris

            Not really got an area in mind Iccy, not too far away from Lake Negratin, Ideally.

            I keep checking out a few property sales sites – to see what’s out there and at what price but we’ll have a better idea once we’ve visited the area and had a bit of a drive around.



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