YAY! I finally have in my grubby little paw, as of last Thursday, a licencia de obras (building works licence).
It’s been a long time coming, so please forgive my excitement. And even at the last, the dragon in the Oficina Técnica made me run around the square and do fifty press-ups in each corner.
After signing in triplicate various statements and promises regarding public safety (hah!), site cleanliness (hah!), environmentally conscious disposal of all demolition waste (hah, again!), I was handed a precious form to take to the bank to pay the licence fees and a fianza (bond).
I made haste immediately to the bank and duly transferred loadsamoney into the account of the Ayuntamiento. I then returned to the Oficina Técnica to hand the dragon the receipted form in anticipation of the granting of the licence.
“Did you go to the Ayuntamiento?” she enquired.
“Er, no – why?”
“You need to go there first to show them this and to get a justificante (proof of payment) before I can issue the licence”.
“?” I said. “You are part of the Ayuntamiento and the bank tells me that you will know automatically that the transfer has been made”.
“Nonetheless”, she said, but didn’t expand upon it further. So I had to drive back to the Ayuntamiento (which is next door to my bank) and jostle for parking yet again, just to obtain a note from Sir to say that I had paid and could at last be permitted to receive the Holy Grail for which I have sweated for the best part of a year.
So now we can start officially on the transformation of the barns into luxury kennels. Which is good.
It is August. The temperatures have been touching 40º much of the time, and the sun has been beating down relentlessly from a cloudless azure sky. It was something of a pleasant relief yesterday, therefore, when rolling nebulosity brought in spatters of rain and some cooler, fresher currents: the plants and I all perked up considerably in direct response.
Today, however, has been another matter altogether.
It started with a misty plume hanging in the valley. At seven-thirty this morning it rendered the air almost cold, and I donned a cardigan to venture out with breakfast for the parrots. As I swept the flights, a watery sun broke through the haze and caressed the earth with warm fingers, imparting the promise of a bright and clear morning.
As the day wore on, the air became heavier and more ominous, and a portentous black billow swelled from the horizon, staining the sky like a bruise. Lightning flashes flared intermittently and thunder growled its choleric complaints. Suddenly, at around six o’clock, I was startled by the sound of bullets strafing the house, and was shocked to see hailstones like huge opaque marbles hurtling to the earth and rebounding to head height.
The ferocity of the bombardment was such that the ground was white within a matter of minutes. There was no time to protect, to save. Trees were being stripped of their foliage as I watched; ripe almonds and less mature olives were sheared rudely from their branches and dashed to the ground. The mass of hailstones, collecting on the canopies of the porch on the front terrace of the house, weighed heavily on the material, causing it to stretch and sag, and ultimately to part company with its support frame. The sails were left hanging forlornly as the culpable white balls slid in a great heap to the floor, knocking over the substantial outdoor hardwood chairs during their descent.
Swathes of debris from the camino above the house were swept down the driveway by the force of the hail-melt, leaving bands of strewn stones and pine petioles. My car, exposed fully to the elements, suffered badly. Pocked and pitted by the icy precipitation, it now has an unbecoming hammered finish.
Dear friends Avril and Iain turned up at my gate within ten minutes of the assuaging of the storm, to lend extra hands and some gratefully received moral support. Between us we managed to drop the canopies without further damage, and to staple back the fly-screens that had been ripped bodily from the roof of the porch.
No-one could quite believe that we were witnessing such destructive climatic conditions in August, the height of summer. We mused that we should perhaps ready the nets in preparation for the rains of fish that we might next expect …
I spent some time last week soaking and deep-cleaning the parrot flights, the need for which effort has been completely negated by this weather. I did it in readiness for a couple of incoming parrots that are boarding with me while their owners Chris and Ken, friends from our previous place in Sucina (near the Mar Menor coast), holiday in Portugal.
The two boarders are a cute little cockatiel and an African grey. Oscar the cockatiel turned up uninvited one day on Chris’ doorstep and was named for Oscar Wilde. She has subsequently laid eggs. Mr Pedro, the grey, came to Chris as a pre-owned pet with a few issues, but who now adores both Chris and Ken and is (with them) a snuggly bird, giving kisses and cuddles on demand.
Not so with me, though, He hates the very ground upon which I walk and would tear out my throat given even a quarter of a chance. When I enter his flight, I do so with a strict choreographed dance routine to avoid having a faceful of parrot as he launches himself at me to claw out my eyes.
Pedro is an exceptional mimic, even for a grey. Ken spends a lot of time with him, teaching him phrases, songs, whistled tunes and so on. One of his favourite utterances is, “you’re lovely, are’n’cha?” However, such is his detestation for me that he can’t bring himself to say it in my presence. So he cuts it short, as a special gesture just for me – he glares at me, slits his eyes and says, loud and clear, “you’re lunch!”