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follow our finca story

The beginning July 2016

July 2016

Here we were at last in our beautiful mountain finca, all prepred to start our new life and adventure. The setting was spectacular and the potential of the property was unlimited. We were excited about creating our new business welcoming guests to our holiday cottage/casita and teaching garden design courses here as I had in London.

Needless to say everything was not going to be quite so easy as we had imagined. To say that the first few weeks were a baptism of fire is probably not too far off the mark!

Within days of moving in we soon realised that there was barely enough electricity for us, far less for the guest cottage/casita and that the opening of the guest accommodation would need to be put on hold until this was resolved.

However at least we knew that this could be resolved relatively easily, unlike the realisation that there was barely any water either which would be much more challenging to sort out.

Discovering just how serious the situation was sadly took the bloom off moving to our beautiful new home, Every day we had to use the back up generator for several hours to ensure that we had enough electricity to wash our clothes, ourselves and to prepare our food. The generator was old, noisy, dirty and exhausted from over use! We were running a fridge, washing machine a freezer, lights, water pump, and a small tv plus our mobile phones but there just wasn't enough electricity for these items far less the other things that were in the house like a microwave, dishwasher and a tumble drier. We struggled to understand how the previous owners had installed all of these energy hungry appliances when there was so little electricity! Living off grid was something that was going to take time to get used to!

Fortunately we are both the type of people who can tackle challenges head on and were not too fazed by the journey ahead. Little did we know what a rough ride we were in for.

August 2016

The house in the landscape in July 2016

The house in the landscape in July 2016

At this point our Spanish was pretty basic and the thought of attempting to communicate our brief for the house to a Spanish builder s another worry. We were keen to employ local people and it was really important that they understood that we wanted to do things in a certain way using local & sustainable materials.

We were very lucky in those first few weeks to be introduced to some friends of a friend who had lived in nearby village for about 10 years. They in turn put us in touch with a fantastic solar engineer who could help us resolve our electricity problems and also their English builder and his lovely team who were all Spanish, local and were all happy to help us.

September 2016

September brought new challenges that could not have been anticipated.

As soon as we could, we took our design proposals to the town hall to discuss everything with them and to hopefully to apply for planning permission to complete the proposed works to the house. asap.

It had always been our desire to convert the covered porche next to the casita into a large kitchen, dining and living area with a woodburning stove for our guests. The views from there are great and locating a kitchen there would enable us to have 3 bedrooms in the guest cottage and sufficient space for 6 guests.

Little did we know how difficult it was going to be to implement some of those plans!

The architect at the ayuntiamento/town hall was very supportive of our need to extend our existing electrical power provision and he was happy to assist us in resolving this.

However, he also explained that the proposed upgrade of the Natural Park to National Park and our proximity to it, meant that everything we proposed on the property would be subject to strict planning criteria as it would in a conservation area or areas of outstanding natural beauty ( AONB’s) in the UK.

October 2016

October began with the shocking news that our 16 year old son would not be going to the international school that we had planned. I will not go into details here but they have possibly done us a massive favour as our son has now started in the local village school with no Spanish whatsoever and it will probably be the hardest year of his life but he has decided that that is what he wants to do. It was a very brave decision and we know that long term it will all be fine, however the next few months are going to be exhausting for him.

November 2016

By now

solar panels on day 1

solar panels on day 1

The courtyard and covered porch next to the casita

The courtyard and covered porch next to the casita

The solar provision on day 1

The solar provision on day 1

The house with the Sierra de las Nieves National Park behind

The house with the Sierra de las Nieves National Park behind