Boy Dog has the right idea.
View from the window, New Year’s Day 2014
2014 started in Cornwall with a very wet bang. We’ve been in the grip of some of the worst weather we have experienced for many, many years. Sea walls have been breached, coastal towns flooded, roads impassable and the emergency services have been working at full stretch; the sound of sirens flashing by on the A39 outside our house come with metronomic regularity. Although not as bad as the Armageddon predicted by the media it was still pretty grim. Apparently there is more to come with the Polar Vortex due to sweep our way once it has finished with the USA – did you see the pictures in the media of Niagara Falls freezing? Amazing stuff!
However, all has been calm and peaceful con nuestros. In fact we had a lovely Christmas and start to the New Year. Christmas, as always, was spent with just us. We made a resolution when we first got together that we would not be haring all around the country visiting relatives or friends, generally getting stressed out over what should be a quiet and reflective time of celebration. For thirty Christmases that resolution has stood us in good stead. The only thing missing this year was The Eldest, who is now setting his own traditions with The Girlfriend and had a fun time in Spain slicing and dicing his fingers for Christmas lunch.
On the plus side, our Boy Dog had a wonderful time. He always gets soooo excited when Christmas comes; he susses out which pile of presents are his and on the morning itself sends himself into a mad frenzy of barking and paper ripping. We were very, very worried the week before as he had shown definite signs of deterioration, he was lacklustre, tired, not willing to engage, and just wanting to sleep cuddled up on top of one of his humans. We had to have “The Talk” as to whether it was his time. However, The Youngest put his finger on the problem: me and Himself (clumsy grammar – sorry) had been out of the house 14 hours a day for nearly a fortnight working. Boy Dog was missing us. Once we were home and settled back into our routine he bucked back up to the funny, feisty little chap we know and love. And, of course, we feel guilty as all heck.
In our house the Christmas/New Year celebrations extend well into the first week of January as both The Youngest and I (better grammar) have birthdays a day apart. Great timing for present buying actually as we actively encourage the family to hit the sales to get us more present for their money – works a treat each time! Over the last few years, Himself has always set up a birthday trip; previous trips have included: London, Monmouth and the Wye Valley, Oviedo, Reykjavik and Venice. This time though we wanted to get back to our home in Spain, unfortunately that didn’t work out – the cost of return plane tickets was a trifle exorbitant no matter how we planned it and Brittany Ferries doesn’t start sailing to Spain until the end of February or beginning of March. Interestingly, LD Lines (ldlines.co.uk) is now running a ferry crossing from Poole to Gijon and is very competitively priced – although, to be honest I really didn’t fancy the Bay of Biscay with Hurricane Hercules strutting its stuff. Himself is going to do more research on using LD Lines for future trips as Gijon is much more convenient for us; if they can offer dog friendly cabins they would be onto a winner.
2014 is going to be a time of change for all of us: The Eldest is setting out this week with The Girlfriend to travel around South America and has plans for their future – as long as it includes grandchildren for me and Himself we’ll be happy! The Daughter is planning on moving back to Bristol as Cornwall is sadly lacking in job opportunities for recent graduates and The Youngest is planning on joining the RAF. So me and Himself need to sit down and discuss our future as well….big, scary stuff!
It’s finished! We have a lovely new roof over our heads! Friends of ours very kindly kept an eye on the work in progress and emailed photos of the finished article. How smart is this? Look at the quality of the craftsmanship, that’s all hand finished, we can’t wait to get back to road test it!
The plan is to go back for a week in January to sort out a few bits and bobs – Himself has to take his bike in for a service and we need to see The Eldest before he departs to South America with his girlfriend for an adventurous few months – and to have a bit of R &R after Christmas; always a busy time of year for us.
Our time here is drawing to a close for now, later than normal, and it is getting harder and harder to leave. This year we have seen the seasons change and the snow on the Picos melt and return.
The house has undergone significant changes with the installation of a wood burner in the sitting room, the water supply sorted out, improved electricity, a new shower and a new roof. We have cleaned and decorated and have made a home.
The dogs have thoroughly enjoyed themselves and we have watched our little Girl Dog grow into a fun-filled young lady and overcome her shyness with strangers, as well as be amazed at how adaptable and downright brave our Boy Dog has been in coping with the challenges thrown in his way.
We’ve spent time with The Eldest and met his lovely girlfriend. We’ve had friends come and visit us which has enabled us to show off the wonderful Asturian countryside, beaches, mountains and people.
We’ve also travelled to France and returned briefly to England all of which has served to show us that here is where our hearts are happiest. Here we can be who we are, freed from the constraints we have made for ourselves in the UK.
However, we have to go. I have promised Himself that I won’t make a scene and cling onto the gate posts (nor sob piteously as the car heads out of Spain) but will be calm and serene secure in the knowledge that we will return in the Spring. Please?
We are having a new roof put on, the old one has been in place since 1976 when the house was built so is well past it’s use-by date. We found the company we are using a couple of years ago on a walk up the road. They had been renovating a hunting lodge and the work they had done was real high-quality craftsmanship so we booked them to do some bits and pieces for us and were chuffed with the speed, skill and price. So, as the roof had been leaking for a while and we were running out of buckets for the loft we bit the bullet and called The Boys.
Thankfully the weather is still wonderful as we’re covered in tarpaulins ready for the tiles to go on. The outside is a building site and getting around the scaffolding needs the litheness of a teenage limbo dancer but our blind Boy Dog is negotiating all obstacles with panache and style.
We aren’t the only ones undergoing structural renovation, take a look at our neighbours’ website http://www.elgransueno.es This boutique hotel is just up the road from us and we’ve been lucky enough to have had the guided tour; it is going to be absolutely amazing when it’s finished In time for Easter 2014. I would suggest early booking!
Well, it’s beginning to finally look like Spring is here. The sky this morning is a lovely china blue, with nary a cloud in sight, and when I took the dogs for their daily constitutional there was a hint of gentle warmth in the air, which is very welcome as for the last week we have had an Easterly wind which was bitingly cold. Things are looking up!
It’s been a busy week, starting last Friday (I know not strictly this week, but near enough) with the Daughter coming home for Easter carrying enough washing to start her own laundrette, an appetite for home cooking and a head full of her upcoming university Finals. She’s a great girl and is going to go far. After she graduates she plans to move to Edinburgh to work for a while in the Voluntary Sector (paid work, I hope).
The dogs went crazy for her, the Boy Dog does a fantastic yodel, hitting several notes that have not yet been identified, and sets off around the house at high speed leaping stairs and humans alike in one bound. The Girl Dog wags her stumpy little tail until you think she’s going to take off and wears the biggest grin you can imagine all the time the Daughter is home. The house always feels that little bit emptier when she leaves – mainly because she has nicked my toiletries and clothes and been packed off with a kitchen full of food.
We also went out for dinner on Friday with some friends to a wonderful Nepalese restaurant, the Kathmandu Palace in Truro. The food is incredible and the staff knowledgeable, helpful and downright charming. Where else can you get them to add extra chillies to an already hot curry?
Monday saw the start of spring cleaning which, despite my best efforts at trying to wheedle my way out of it (tried it all…knee still not working properly, bad back, it’s too cold, can’t find the vacuum cleaner, it’s our wedding anniversary dammit…) but Himself was having none of it. I now have a sparkly kitchen where, get this, I can actually find things! Next up, the bedrooms…
I’ve spent a fair bit of time, too, playing with my new iPad. Now, I’m not a techie person and the only geekie stuff I’m into is sci-fi related – Star Trek, Dr Who, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaimon, Stargate – but I have become totally addicted to this thing. The sexy, slimline shape, the naughty speed with which it downloads stuff, the temptations of free apps….and, if I remember how to input the information properly each time it will also tell me where to be and at what time but without nagging! It even has a little man inside it to answer questions who doesn’t get offended if he’s ignored! Himself could learn from him.
There’s a new haiku on the Writing page.
The photo is of a storm coming up one of the valleys of the Picos de Europa.