February 2011

‘There aren’t enough hours in the day’ …..bollocks!   If there were more I can only surmise that I’d be awake for longer and therefore get proportionally less sleep.   As things are right now when we are not working our ‘spare time’ is taken up by La Rectoria.   And now our antennae are more acutely tuned as the pace of work continues on relentlessly.

Our principal task this week was to finalize our choice of paint for the upper floors…..white.  Easy enough, but as any of you who have had to undertake this exercise before will know, there are quite a mind boggling array of shades of white.  Our architect and builder had already selected and applied three samples to the wall in the hall on the top floor, none of which we liked.  Sowe took ourselves down to the paint shop where we chose three more samples which Goretti duly applied.  An hour or so later and with the paint dry our choice was made and we have plumped for Umbra Weiss….a kind of white.

Meanwhile work on what will soon by our home – the basement –  is forging ahead.  The dividing walls that need to be erected are now largely in place and the windows are now beginning  to be fitted.  Minor amendments have been made to the position of some windows at our request as we want to maximize the views and vistas.   Light fittings are now looming as the next major decision to be made and less importantly but something I want to make a start on this year is the planting of one or two more fruit trees.


Winter has but flirted with Catalunya this year.  Last Sunday we spent a sun splashed day in the garden continuing to cut back the neglected hazel trees which line the edge of the lawn.  In the bright, warm and intense ‘winter sunshine’ I had to strip down to my T-shirt as temperatures touched 20°C.  Not hot, but then again it is only the beginning of February.  And as I drove home from work on Friday afternoon spring spoke by way of pink and white blossoms burdening trees in the majestic splendor that says that a new year of growth and vitality is all but here.

Talk of Spring may well be premature but  our evident and continued impact on this fragile Earth was illustrated further this week by pollution laden (sm)fogs both here in Barcelona and in Madrid; exasperated by an anticyclone hanging over Iberia.  We await our flight to the hills of Catalunya!

La Rectoria is something of an old darling of a relic and we want to keep as a much of her idiosyncratic character as we can.  Stones, beams, wooden pegs, nooks and crannies are being left as far as possible to tell her story.   And so this week a seemingly small and insignificant window has been retained on the main stairwell, looking out on to the terrace between the house and church.    We surmise that in the past it enabled occupants of the house to scrutinize would be visitors prior to bidding them in, or not as the case may have been.  We want to keep this vista as one of a number of oddities which adorn the house.

In turn, with thanks to the design gene of our architects we are adding the occasional quirk of our own.  The latest of which can be seen in one of our bedrooms , where a series of random openings have been made in the bathroom wall.   The idea is not one of voyeuristic  opportunism, but is to enable natural light to enter the only bathroom that will not have a window.  The ‘windows’ will  be screened with adhesive slides that will depict varied scenes that may be seasonal or otherwise.  These will be changed at intervals depending on our whim.   Thus, while sitting on the ‘John’ you might be distracted by, photo’s of landscapes, people or places, poetry or whatever.   I remember BBC Radio 4 used to have an early morning slot ‘Pause for thought’.  We hope this might provide a similar distraction to future guests in bedroom 4.

Our ‘normal’ Saturday routine….of driving up to the house, pottering around and casting an eye over the previous week’s work was ignored today.  Instead Goretti and I hired a transit van and headed for Barcelona to pick up a guest house quantity of bedding….duvets, pillows, sheets and other bedding paraphernalia.    Again the ‘homework’ had been carried out beforehand – comparing the prices, the quality and range of products of a number of retailers and dare I mention the service too.  Yes, that human element that is involved in any transaction; how to engage customer so that you indicate some intention to help them or at worst…piss them off.  Regarding the latter point, it is reassuring that good service can still be found and it does not cost a penny, cent or euro more.

I won’t hesitate to mention our retailer of choice in this instance; La Perla Gris.  A smile.  Can I help you?  Good product knowledge.  They might only sell domestic linen (also ladies undies next door!) but they are all ‘on the ball’ and compared to their much bigger national counterpart, shall we call them ‘The English Cut’, the contrast could not have been greater in terms of customer care.  I hope we will do the same for you.

Meanwhile up the road, the first window has been installed in the basement where our kitchen will be.  On the floor above, the service door has been opened and the metal curtain fitted.

On other seemingly mundane fronts we are making progress on our logo and on our website.  Thoughts are also turning to light fittings, dining furniture, beds and number of other things that might have slipped my mind for now.