Living in Spain, warts and all

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!”

Lucky me.

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Comments on: "The Good, the Bad and the Snuggly" (11)

  1. Wow. Typically testy, runaround Spanish bureaucracy, a surprise destructive hail in the midst of the (usually) oppressive heat of August, and an obnoxious visiting parrot who would literally bite the kind hand temporarily feeding it. This post has it all. I should have brought popcorn when I sat down to read!

  2. comments are somewhat surplus to requirements, so here’s a metaphorical hug – now then Sam, ‘Pick up thy musket!’

  3. kentgirlinfrance said:

    Wow! I was somewhat miffed at pea sized hail flattening the geraniums here in France last Thursday night, but in the grand scheme of things it was NOTHING compared to the battering you’ve received. Still, as I know you have so much time on your hands (she joked) I’m sure the clean up will happen quickly.
    Keep smiling xx

    • Oh yeah, don’t mind me – I’m sure I can go without sleep for at least 72 hours without ripping off someone’s head.
      The fly nets are back up, as I said; the canopies can wait. I have yet to sweep all the gravel back uphill to refill the drainage canal at the side of the drive. Oh, and to stick all the leaves back on the trees, of course.
      The car will need a full paint shop job, which is bound to be more complicated than is absolutely necessary, but forewarned is four-armed (for some inexplicabubble reason) …

  4. Hah and Yay! Pure unadulterated literature Deb! A joy to read and savour and apart from anything else, a moral tale of patience winning out! A truly beautiful post, captivating and exciting! I love it! The struggle goes on, but one more battle – the Tussle of Toadie Woman´s Grasping Grail – has been won! One day it would be lovely to travel down and visit your kennels as well as read the NEXT book, even as I await the pleasure of the first one. I´m very happy for you. Go on and do great things – once you get shot of that Mr. Pedro in exactly the same way that Señora Toadie was shut into the hamper of forgotten miseries. I´m off to read your beautiful prose again.

    • Why, thank you, oh Kindest One. I do take that as the highest compliment, coming as it does from one as skilled with the quill as you are.

      Visit – yes, you must! But why wait? Come next week with a strong pair of work gloves, some obligatory Caterpillar boots and a shovel, and make yourself useful, godsdammit!

      As for the NEXT book … well, maybe I could stitch together this lot at some point?

  5. Me again. I can´t help feeling that Sra Toadito, witch that she is, has unleashed elements upon you for defying her Weltanschauung (beware of possible inaccurate spelling). Apart from the fees to pay is the Sturm und Drang tax. However that´s all by now, so onwards and upwards. I look forward to the rest of your saga which is veritably Icelandic in scope! xxx

    • Sí – és la bruja-ha!
      It had crossed my mind that she may well have been muttering her encantos over a cauldron during almuerzo …

      I feel I must contradict you regarding your final point. Iceland has very limited appeal to me; I regard most of its stock with suspicion, given my preference for real food. And while I probably qualify for Saga membership, given that I am now half a century old, I think I’d rather eat my own feet – pretty much in line with Iceland food, in fact.

  6. […] I have another parrot boarding with me this week. Mr. Pedro, I have already had cause to mention (The Good, the Bad and the Snuggly ), hates me with a vengeance. Despite constant protestations from Chris, his owner, who assured me […]

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