here’s the best bits of my weekend, in strict chronological order
- crossed the river ebro, it was massive! a burst bank had spilled out over a vineyard
- three more firsts : saw the pyrenees completely white – they’re about 200km away from the road – then got glimpses of snow on els ports mountains and saw some snow covered rolling hills behind Calaceite, hills I didn’t even know existed before.
- in my excitement about raging rivers i went across to the local swim spot and found crystal clear water. the river was high but not overflowing..
- Digging out the ditch behind my shed just seemed pointless without a wheel on my wheelbarrow. there’s nothing efficent at all about lugging earth in buckets from one place to another.
- On the way to the permaculture farm where I was going to couchsurf, the efficient redverde.es responded to my email within an hour. I pulled over under an olive tree to take the call telling me that the waterproof layer I proposed buying was completely wrong for the roof. The correct one is made of rubber, more expensive and this conversation will continue by email next week.
- The first thing I did at Mas de Tapies was watch a lamb drinking milk from a goat. Joris and Monique are doing a favour for their neighbour because the lambs mother didn’t have enough milk for all her offspring. this is a real farm. there’s a horse as well, and chickens, and two dogs
- The house and farm, which they have been working on for ten years, are absolutely stunning. A cottage with three guest rooms, an upstairs lounge with balcony and a massive kitchen of my dreams.
- After a delicious dinner, and feeling really happy to meet some foreigners near me who make a living within the local community (by running english courses, teaching and working in nearby hotels) I headed up to my rustic ensuite room (NOT a couch!)
- My favourite story at dinner was about the time the King of Spain, Juan Carlos himself, spent a night at this local hotel. Noone except the cleaners knows which room he actually slept in – they prepare two and one is a dummy..
- saturday i learnt how to make posts stand up straight. from digging the hole, through mixing concrete by hoe to putting a flat stone underneath the post before you fill in the hole.
- the moving solar panels are on wheels and really are easy to move. the chimney has a vent to suck cold air without causing a draught, the dishwater is filtered with a straw filter and collected before being used for irrigation, the home made goat’s cheese was delicious, the beams had been heat treated against woodworm, these are just a few of the things i have only ever read theories about before. looking at a functioning system is seriously inspiring.
- a conversation about where to put my stove turned out to be crucial. stoves need a hole as wide as the chimney to successfully suck cold air without causing a draft, and it should definitely be positioned the same side of the house as the windows
- Monique told me about four of her favourite places in the mountains, including two stunning but short hikes, and two swim spots i haven’t found myself yet – very excited about checking those out
woohooo is what i generally have to say about a totally inspiring experience. now i must get on with taking decisions about waterproofing materials.