Category Archives: The House

Swim… & watch the stars at night

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Do you dream of swimming beneath the stars? #villaforsale via @Spanish_Valley @HiddenAndalucia

There’s nowhere more beautiful

Is this the most beautiful time of year here? I think so.

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There’s nowhere more beautiful #villaforsale #HiddenAndalucia Find us at Instagram via @Spanish_Valley

Doesn’t this make you smile?

Are poppies the most cheerful of wild flowers? They are one of the first to appear here, and are still nodding to us as we pass by in late summer.

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For sale: €595,000. To buy, click here

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Who doesn’t love poppies? #villaforsale #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley @HiddenAndalucia

How we found the house

I recently re-read our ‘list of requirements’ written when we first started looking for a house in Andalucía. The keywords were: peace, quiet, private, nature, quality, seclusion. Well, we certainly achieved that. the valley 14-5-12white lace and yellow spikes 1-7-14Many things on the list we didn’t get: for example, we wanted a garage, and we definitely wanted mains water, gas and electricity. The house was found for us in 2008 by an Andalucian property search company, after a year of viewing houses around Andalucía – from Antequera to Gaucín, Granada to Ronda. We purposely avoided the coast and any major towns, concentrating on villages and country houses.

[photo: Europa Alpacas]

[photo: Europa Alpacas]

I remember our first sighting of the house we were to buy. Unusually, our property searcher had not visited the house first as it was not actually on the market: in true Andalusian fashion, he had been told that the owners were considering moving. We had learnt early on in the process that looking in estate agents’ windows would not find us a house, instead our property searcher made contact on the ground with local ‘fixers’ in bars over many cups of coffee. Local gossip, a friend-of-a-friend…yellow wildflower 28-4-11So we drove one August morning down this long track, past olive trees, our excitement growing. Down the hill, around the corner, and in front of us lay this secret valley. In truth, we were sold from the first sighting even though the house most definitely did not tick the majority of boxes on our ‘list of requirements’. We didn’t want a building project – we took over one [below in 2006].

[photo: Europa Alpacas]

[photo: Europa Alpacas]

We wanted mains utilities, we didn’t have one service connected. We fell in love with the valley. And we have the most fantastic views, serenity, and nature on our doorstep. view from the terrace sofa 25-8-13the big walnut tree seen from the terrace 7-8-13So it is with heavy hearts that we are selling our house. For further information, click here.

5 to remember
una lista – a list
las necesidades – the requirements
el aislamiento – the seclusion
un garaje – a garage
una finca – a country house


Wind, there’s no escaping it in southern Spain. Travel along the major roads and coastlines and you will find molinos on the hillsides. They are elegant things, architectural almost. Spain is a leader in wind and solar energy, our house is energy self-sufficient using wind and solar energy. We live without power lines. turbines in distance1 10-10-14turbines in distance2 10-10-14turbines in distance3 10-10-14Click here to read our adventures with solar and wind power… turbines in distance4 10-10-14here to read about our solar-heated water supply… turbines in distance5 10-10-14… and here to read how we live without mains water, taking our water 100% from a spring. turbines in distance6 10-10-14turbines in distance7 10-10-145 to remember
un molino – a wind turbine
el viento – the wind
eólico/a – wind-powered
autosuficiente – self-sufficient
cien por ciento – 100%

The biennial ‘spring’ clean

Every other year there is a wet muddy job to be done. Our water comes from our own spring, rather than the mains supply. Yes, it really does spring up out of the ground, or rather into a ‘sink’ at the back of house. From there it is piped into the storage tank. Every other year, we clean out the sink and cut back the vegetation.

This is before… roses and ivy 8-5-14And this is after… spring - after1 26-7-14And this is the job to get it from ‘that’ to ‘this. First, remove the pot plants and cut back the rose to reveal the sink… first, cutting back the rose 26-7-14… a look inside the sink, full and muddy… inside the spring2 – before draining 26-7-14… fix a tube to the outlet pipe to divert the running water coming from the spring… inside the spring1 - tube to drain the water 26-7-14… shift the water in the spring the old-fashioned way, with a jug, into trugs… trugs of muddy water and gravel 26-7-14… admire the clean, empty, spring… inside the spring3 – empty 26-7-14In the process, we cut back the red rose bush and discovered a wall we didn’t know was there. Not to mention the rose trunk, as big as a man’s forearm! the rose’s trunk 26-7-14wall we didn't know was there 26-7-14Click here to read more about our life, living without mains water.

5 to remember
casi todo/a – Every other year
un lavabo – a sink
la vegetación – the vegetation
un cubo de jardinería – a trug
old-anticuado/a – fashioned

Living with solar-heated water

Our hot water comes courtesy of the sun: that’s the assumption, isn’t it, when you install solar water panels? That was our romantic assumption when we installed the system.

This is true, for eight months of the year. The fact of the matter is, there is simply not enough continuous light throughout the winter to reliably heat enough water to supply a household. Even in Spain. With the best intentions, we have found it practically impossible to be 100% solar-reliant for hot water. solar water placas 1-5-13So, we have a two-fold system. From April onwards, we switch our system to solar. We have four panels, placas, mounted on the kitchen roof [above] which heat the water in the storage tank in the boiler room [below]. These placas are designed specifically for this task, and are not to be confused with photovoltaic panels used to generate solar electricity. solar water tank in boiler room 1-5-13From November, we switch the system to our gas-fired boiler [below]. boiler for the winter 1-5-13Our standby gas supply consists of 10 35kg tall bottles of bútano, butane gas, which are stored in a locked cage at the side of the house [below]. gas store 1-5-13We have a contract with a local supplier which delivers to our area twice a week, on average we need two deliveries a year of five bottles [our hob is also gas, the oven is electric]. The bottles are connected in two groups of five on a switchable connection, so one set is used at a time. We have never run out of gas, or hot water.

The placas on the kitchen roof are loved by the sparrows, who use the supports as nesting sites. So, solar = environmentally-friendly and sparrow-sustainable! And the geckos live in the gas store.

5 to remember
el calentador – boiler
el envase – gas bottle/canister
la sala de calderas – the boiler room
un contrato – a contract
una entrega – a delivery