Monthly Archives: April 2012

Building a new house…. virtually

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I’ve been playing with a new piece of software I found on t’interweb.  Sweet Home 3d is something Google threw up for me.  I’ve tried a few of these programs, even before I had an actual house of my own to design – well I am a girl after all.  These programs allow even the most amateur of designer to play grown-up dolls houses!  This particular program has a host of furniture and house features ready to download.  It also allows you to import from other similar programs like Google 3D Warehouse, meaning you can find even the most odd of features for your virtual house.  Sweet Home 3D can also produce photos of your masterpiece as well as videos in the form of virtual visits.

So I’ve been playing with my new found software and my first order of business was to attempt to create a virtual representation of Casa San Jorge as it is now.  Of course, my house has wobbly walls and a dogleg that only seems apparent from the outside – inside it feels relatively straight, so what I managed to come up with isn’t exact,but it kind of works.

Here’s what I’ve managed to generate so far:

Ground floor

First Floor

Pretty cool huh?

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I’m so excited (and I just can’t hide it!): St George’s Day hails new beginnings

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Some of you might remember my January post where I talked about secret projects in the offing.  Well, yesterday we finally signed on the dotted line and bought our very first house – ever!  I say house…. that may take a little imagination. We’ve actually bought an old cortijo (farmhouse), which hasn’t been lived in by man or (thankfully) animal for a VERY long time.  It needs a bit (that may be optimistic) of work, but we are both sooo I excited about the project I can hardly explain myself.

After a few months of waiting and some very useful, “I think I might know who owns that,” conversations with some Spanish friends, we finally had our appointment at the Notary in Almeria, to sign the deal.  It seemed fate that it should fall on St George’s day.

The trip to the notary was an experience.  We had our trusty translator with us (Spanish Speaking Steve of Super-sonic Hearing) and our other Spanish friend, who is conveniently friends with the vendors with us to help.  Well I say help, I think Steve may have only come because we promised to buy him a Burger King whilst we were up in the big smoke – we don’t get out much round here – does it show?

So we all (the seller, her brother, her solicitor, our Spanish friend Tere, Supersonic Steve, my husband and I) cram ourselves into a room filled with dusty law tomes and boxes of files and a notary who wobbles his head when he writes.  (Steve and I notice this quite early on in the proceedings and have to spend the rest of the time looking at our feet in case we start laughing.)  The notary reels of all the clauses and caveats, every nods sombrely even though he pronounces my middle name as Louse not Louise, we hand over a cheque and sign on the dotted line.

Next, we all filed out of that room into another room, on the recommendation of the Notary (who is a government official) to complete the rest of the transaction in CASH and away from official eyes.  Completely bizarre, but apparently very common practice here.  You agree a price, then you agree the price you’re going to officially declare, then you pay the rest in cash and no one is any the wiser.  Now, we’re no strangers to bargains (read dodgy deals) but the fact that this happened in an official’s building, just not whilst he was watching is almost laughable.  Still we did get an amazing deal on the house, so I guess it’s a good thing.

I’ve shown these pictures to friends and family who’s reactions have varied from “wow, how exciting being able to do it all from scratch,” and “blimey that’s gonna be a lot of work,” to “why the hell are you buying the Blair Witch house?”  Ho hum.  I hope the chap who came up with that comparison will eat his words when it’s all finished!

So here we go, presenting Casa San Jorge (could we really call it anything else?) in it’s current- slightly unloved – state.

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Do yourself a favour – do someone else a favour

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“As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma.”

– Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

I’ve mentioned karma before when I was discussing what happened to me on my Easy Jet flight a few weeks ago.  After what happened at the weekend, I’m absolutely 100% convinced that it exists.

My Mum is visiting at the moment so we decided to go out for the day on Saturday.  We made our way to the beautiful village of Castril in the Province of Granada.  Though it’s (sadly) not the main focus of the post, it is so beautiful there, I had to share some pictures:

    

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Breathtaking scenery and some tapas along the way – what could be better?

Anyway, on with the story:  After our lovely walk around the village and a stop for lunch, we decided to make our way back.  Stupidly I let Mum navigate and somehow we ended up on a single track in amongst some seemingly deserted olive and almond groves.  We took it slowly and were enjoying taking in the amazing countryside.  All of a sudden, a little old spanish man can careering out of one of the said groves shouting and waving his arms around like a madman.  Our initial thought was that we were trespassing so we stopped and put our best innocent foreigner faces on.

It transpired that although it wasn’t clear whether we were trespassing or not, he was much more concerned by the flat tyre he’d just acquired.  The poor old bugger had one of those old Renault vans that seem to be de rigueur over here along with a brace and jack set that was probably older than me.  He’d obviously been struggling along on his own for some time judging by his sweating and wheezing as he told me all about the stone he’d run over in order to get the flat in the 1st place.  Add that to the sandy ground he’d parked up on and the fact the jack was sinking into the ground rather than lifting the van up and he was getting nowhere fast.  Now I know I’ve explained several times that I’m not a car person, but I can actually change a tyre and know how to use all the equipment and everything – I usually just choose not to.  In these special circumstances though I had to help.  I told him to stop using his wheel brace which wasn’t actually gripping the wheel nuts – just making a scraping noise and spinning round and set about getting mine out of the car.  I got a flat stone from round one of the trees and put it under my superior jack and set about helping him.  We had a bit of trouble with a few of the wheel nuts and inevitably ended up stamping on the brace to get them moving but we got the old and very flat tyre off in a jiffy.  I was slightly concerned by the state of the spare, but at least it would see him out of his in-the-middle-of-nowhere field and home safe and sound.  New slightly dodgy tyre on and a gap-toothed smiling Spaniard waving us off, we made our merry way back to the main road.

Feeling very pleased with myself and feeling that we needed some sort of reward for all our good deeds, I decided not to go straight home but to head into our nearest town to order a well deserved take away.  2 hours of fairly high speed driving and we arrived outside the one and only curry house in the vague vicinity.  I parked up, we got out and it was then that Mum happened to glance back at the car.  You’ll never guess… or maybe you will.. we had a flat tyre!  It must have gone just as I parked because it was flat as a pancake and there was no way on God’s earth I would have been able to drive it very far in that condition.  Bugger!  Ah well, I’d already changed one tyre today – what difference would another make?

I had to move the car since the flat was against the pavement so I drove very gingerly into a side street and set about getting the spare out of the boot.  I set up my jack and started undoing the wheel nuts.  I almost managed it, but got stuck with the last one.  Lots of huffing, puffing and swearing ensued.  I tried everything – different starting positions for the brace, kicking the brace, kicking the wheel, literally jumping on the brace to get it to move.  Still nothing.  Just when I thought I was going to have to call home and admit that I was too much of a girl to change my own tyre (I was quite secure in the knowledge that my earlier tyre changing experience would not have swayed the judgement) an old man who’d been sitting outside a tapas bar watching me shuffled over to offer his assistance.  Cue a bit more huffing and puffing.  Eventually the stubborn nut wound free and we jacked the car up further to get the new wheel on.  Phew.

Luckily the curry was also ready and since I’d ordered and the run off to change the tyre, Mum was left to pay for it!  Shame!  He he he.

So there you have it.  The moral of the story is “always do someone a favour, you never know when you’ll need one yourself.” (and you might get a free curry thrown in for good measure too!) 🙂