Living in Spain, warts and all

Posts tagged ‘kennels’

Deborah Who?

Almost like Doctor Who but much less famous and far more dangerous! And, regrettably, incapable of time travel, or I really wouldn’t be sporting these wrinkles…

Fourth Doctor and the TARDIS by LinusL

Sooo – a big HELLO to any of my previous readers who haven’t yet shuffled off this mortal coil

I, in a moment of celebratory fervour, made a New Year’s resolution to renew my acquaintance with the keyboard. OK, I will hold up my hands and confess that I’ve left it a while to action this lofty declaration. Especially since I made it in 2013.

But apparently people occasionally still read “Bitten by Spain”, the book. Who knew? Some even buy it, although this latter group is but a very tiny subset of the first.
So perhaps it can be inferred that maybe people still enjoy sitting in their fave book corner, reading about my various struggles and calamities and thanking their own personal Divine Being that they’re not me!

To that end, I have made a firm promise to my current literary line manager, the inimitable Jack Scott of the fabulous “Perking the Pansies” (book and blog) fame. I promised that I will once again resume the weekly blogging. I have resolved to keep that promise, and have further resolved to hold fast to that resolve. As far as circumstances allow, that is…

First, I guess I owe some sort of explanation for my prolonged lassitude, and so I’ll try to present a brief resumé of some of the larger of my pathetic excuses for having vacated these hallowed halls for in excess of two years, as follows:

1) John finally resigned from the Fire Brigade in December 2012 to join me full-time in Spain in running the kennels business (esPerro Residencia Canina de Lujo)

Given the normal strains of colliding periodically whilst living two fairly separate and very different lives (see The Part-Time Wife….), the 24/7 exposure has left us arm-wrestling ever since:

2) We lost three members of our canine family in uncomfortably rapid succession – first, the gentle and elderly Lady Jade, followed by my partner in crime and fall guy, the giant Marcos, and finally the slightly mad and always hungry Qivi. Each and every one of them tore my heart to shreds, but Marcos – aaahh, Marcos – I still haven’t quite got over losing him, and I’m not sure I ever truly will. I wrote about him almost constantly, and was lost without him…;

 

2008_05060004

 

3) Of course, a leopard doesn’t change its spots, and so I am still prone to farcical accidents. There have been a few in the last couple of years, including a car crash which was really, really, really not my fault in that I was T-boned on my road by a guy ignoring a clear give way sign. I also managed to break my wrist when I fell from a small step-ladder whilst reaching too far (which was entirely my fault). But I topped all mishaps thus far (ever in my life, that is) with the latest, which I will report to you in a more leisurely fashion at a later date. Suffice it to say that I currently have full use of one arm only, which makes typing a slightly more tedious and error-prone exercise;

mummy

4) The kennels business turned out to be a high-performance beast – it roars like a lion and did nought to sixty in two seconds. A business with no let-up, I ran it pretty much single-handed for the first year, leaving me scarcely time to draw breath until John arrived.

At which point we (The Management) found that we had very different views about marketing, pricing and various other aspects of the thing. So we called a management and strategy meeting (a.k.a. the afore-mentioned arm wrestling contest) and I was subsequently voted off the board. So John now runs the business (and is, indeed, making a fine and splendid job of it) while I fill a back-up role in the accounts and information technology departments, which leaves me a lot more free time and therefore little excuse;

and finally,

5) My outstanding son and his utterly wonderful wife became pregnant last June, and so I have been travelling much more.

I am currently, therefore, writing this from the UK, as my first grandson Oliver was born last Thursday. Of course, it wasn’t without its hitches – Rache has married into my family, after all – and he was in fact delivered by emergency Caesarian with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and had to be resuscitated. They are all fine now, though Rache will need a few weeks yet to be considered fully recovered, and the family unit has already meshed nicely. I am more than blessed to be here with them and able to share so much of it.

Oliver, mum and dad 12 03 15

 

I only hope devoutly that I’m not a bad influence, and that Ollie doesn’t mean to go on as he started…

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The Bitch is Back

Forenote: I did actually write this four days ago. I posted it to my WordPress account (which has mutated somewhat since I last used it), lulled into a false sense of security by the invitation on the front page to make a new post. I typed it, edited it, tweaked and polished it, added a diagram, hit ‘publish now’ and was met with an error message and the complete deletion of all my work.
So I have sulked until now. Sorry.

 

My excuses for my lamentable lack of productivity of the verbose kind in the last six or so months  are manifold. I shall, for anyone interested, regale you with them now.

1) I have a rather incapacitating herniated L5-S1 disc (lower back) that precludes me sitting in one position for too long;

2) Point (1) has resulted in a plethora of medical appointments and the incalculable amount of time involved in actually trying to procure these appointments.

3) The luxury boarding kennels esPerro, which opened after years of battling with building materials (hence the back) and bureaucracy (hence the attitude), are now fully up and running. This summer I have, therefore, undergone a time-consuming baptism by fire – not only due to the sustained and unnecessarily high temperatures endured in Spain this year, but also as a result of the clamber up the steep learning curve of dog boarding that has resulted in the need for many tweaks in design and the concurrent invention of new swearwords;

4) We have had no rain here for several decades (please note: this changed dramatically on Friday, following my penmanship on Thursday!!) and so I have been obliged to coax and wheedle and point a hose at our garden and crops for inordinate amounts of time that could more profitably be spent elsewhere;

5) Ryanair’s spat(s) with the Spanish aviation authority, together with the usual school holiday price mugging and exacerbated by the UK’s hosting of the Olympics, have conspired to render air fares at such dizzy heights that one is required to sell one’s first-born to afford them. The upshot of which is that John has been here in Spain to assist me practically never.

6) It’s entirely possible that I am a lazy bugger.

All in all, I find myself constantly juggling – my physical bits (to carry out the simplest of tasks, like drive, walk, bend to place dog food at one end of a dog and collect the output at the other, etc) without sending hot daggers of pain shooting through my back and various attached parts, and my time (to take account of feeding and cleaning schedules and medical appointments in far-flung places, all within the framework of the usual crap with which we are all beset). Oh, and the construction of two new websites, the groundwork of a new business initiative, the ongoing beading classes, the promotion of the new edition of Bitten by Spain (the book) plus a new anthology called Forced to Fly 2 (due out in October), of which I am a contributor (the rest of it is very good, though!), the redecoration of much of the house following the earthquake last year and so on and so on….

 

So writing has been relegated to the bottom of a rather large pile. That’s not to say that I don’t continue to write stuff in my head, as it occurs – that has continued apace. But it hasn’t got any further than that for some considerable time. And, on reflection, it’s probably as well, since a Venn diagram of my mind recently would probably look something like this:

Probably best not released

 

But as I was lying on the magnetic resonance bed in the Hospital de la Real Piedad in Cehegín at  09:00h this morning (as I have done for the last five days and have yet to do for the next nine) for my rehab (-ilitación – but telling people that I’m in rehab gives me a small amount of twisted  satisfaction), it occurred to me thus:

In common with the other walking wounded in this place, I am a captive audience. I am staring vacantly around at the cool and reassuring duck-egg blue walls, washed by the aseptic glare of harsh white lights which glint off various instruments of torture physiotherapy. I am listening to mind-numbingly tedious radio emanating from a tinny silver globe, punctuated by the occasional squeak from the equipment interspersed with the odd involuntary fart (which hurts my back terribly, in that I am prone and inactive and the fart is not mine, and for some reason other people’s farts are hilarious and I am therefore heavily suppressing the mirth that desperately wants to burst forth at each apologetic little ‘blaaaat’).

Apart from that, I am terminally bored.

But then I realised that I have a notebook and pen in my bag.

Time to write. Tough luck, guys!

Of dog kennels and goats

We had our fiesta de inauguración for the kennels on Sunday, following a week of frantic activity involving the procurement of vast quantities of food and drink, and the mobilisation of friends with fistfuls of paper to spread the word.

It was, general opinion has it, a great success. We had advertised that gates would be open from 12 noon to 8pm, so of course our first visitor arrived a quarter of an hour early and the last turned up at 8pm on the nose, by which time we were beyond tired and ready for a serious bout of doing absolutely nothing – but hey! In between, we had a good show of visitors, some with their dogs along to check out the accommodation, and we registered a cluster of clients and actually took some bookings on the day, too.

Checking out the kennels

My plans, which had run like clockwork through the preceding week, collapsed like a vampire exposed to sunlight into a pile of dust on the morning of the open day, and I have to thank our dear friends Avril and Iain for slaving in the kitchen getting all the food prepared and out to the tables as John and I fielded the early visitors. Likewise, I am indebted to Andreas, our intrepid builder, who put on his barman’s head and manned the beer pumps for a good part of the day.

Kitchen wallahs

Pedro, our obliging though noisy neighbour, kindly demonstrated the sleeping accommodation for us, after the umpteenth visitor had asked if we would take winter bookings for homo sapiens given that the heated beds and the wood-burning stove would surely render the kennels warmer than the normal unheated Spanish property.

Testing the beds ...

The weather was very kind to us, despite dire forecasts of a rainy day – we enjoyed blue skies with patchy clouds of teased cotton wool and the temperatures were probably ideal. A small problem arose mid-afternoon as the wind suddenly got up and whipped all the serviettes and half the sandwiches away to flap madly across the valley like white bats, but apart from that we were pretty blessed.

Some people covered a fair distance to support us during the day, including friends from our previous hunting ground some 80km away here in Spain. But we were most honoured to be joined by the unsurpassed blogger Mo of Spainstruck fame and her hubby Ramón and adorable daughter Sara. Mo has been an e-acquaintance (which is a bit like an imaginary friend – someone to whom you speak via the ethernet but never expect anyone else to see) for about a year now, and she shocked me rigid when I put up the general Facebook invite to the open day and she informed me that they planned to drive in excess of four hours to attend!

And attend they did. Now, Mo was one of the very first people to read the second edition of Bitten by Spain (the book) which was published recently by Summertime Publishing. Which means that she arrived knowing far too much about us and feeling as though she was already familiar with the motley crew of animals, el Cabrón, Pedro next door and all other characters that appear in the book. So I found myself in that strange state of anxiety whereby I was petrified of being a total let-down: of having talked us all up so much that the reality is a wash-out, an anti-climax, a nothing.

However, we fed her plenty of wine and a Thai banquet so I think we may have got away with it. In truth, it was an absolute delight to have met them in the flesh, rather than through Mo’s blog, and we hope very much to return the compliment and travel up to Alcalá de Henares some time soon.

Clara turned up on my doorstep on Monday. Still anxious to show us her appreciation of our efforts to apprehend her thieves (The Hills are Alive…), she wanted to give us a trailer-load of steaming goat excrement. Now this might strike you as odd – but last year, we had to buy the same from a local farmer and it cost us 100€, which surprised us considerably at the time but proved, upon investigation, to be the going rate, so her gift is in fact a generous one.

But it wasn’t enough for us to accept it with our profuse thanks – we were also summoned to the goat farm for a grand tour. I have previously put off this visit a number of times, for several reasons: 1) I don’t eat meat, apart from chicken and fish, and so I don’t find a livestock farm to be a particularly attractive venue; 2) Clara can talk the hind leg off a donkey and therefore a visit to her enclave as a captive audience would be likely to take a considerable chunk out of a day; and 3) it stinks. Nonetheless, on this occasion we were not given much choice, as Clara insisted with an emphatic “Venid! venid!”

They boast over 1000 goats and sheep on the farm. I have to confess that I can’t tell one from t’other – they all look like some kind of hybrid of the two to me. A goodly number of the goats were eating from huge trenches full of old oranges, lemons and red peppers, a process which appears to be a close approximation to perpetual motion to me – food goes in the top end, and farts come out of the bottom in a constant stream.

Other goats were inside a large holding shed waiting to be hooked up to the milking machines. Clara showed us the milk vats – 800 litres of milk are collected per day and are then sent off to become cheese, and she tells us the milking process takes about three hours each day.

The next shed was populated by some seventy-odd three/four-month old lambs, still young and clean enough to be considered cute and cuddly. “They’ll be off soon for meat,” she announced. Bugger – I really didn’t want to know that.

The last shed, when the door was opened, contained a smell that hit the sinuses like a huge bottle of smelling salts – the eyes watered profusely, the pain was akin to having red hot needles shoved up each nostril and into the frontal lobe, and the throat automatically closed off to prevent terminal damage to the lining of the lungs. This shed housed the tiny lambs and kids, just a week or so old, and was therefore kept warm – the effect was like putting a sodden nappy in the oven (definitely not to be tried at home). How those poor wee things were still standing – and breathing – beats me! They must have a far sturdier constitution than I.

We escaped two hours later, when Pedro, Clara’s husband, appeared with our gift loaded into the front bucket of his tractor (a proper grown-up tractor, not a wee distractor like ours). Clara clambered up onto the running strip and they took off for our vegetable patch looking for all the world like the Clampetts.

So we now have a rich and fertile (if a little dubious in the olfactory department) plot that John then prepared for the planting of all our vegetable plugs, which I fully expect to reach hitherto unheard-of size – which matters, despite all rumours to the contrary.

A Bit of Imagination and a Cartload of Elbow Grease

Morning, all! And what a fine and fabulous morning it is, too! Bright blue skies, temperatures in the mid-twenties, and a fresh and gentle breeze wafting in the smell of freshly-wet earth and various barbecues up and down the valley. Standing on the terrace, a large mug of coffee in hand and gazing across the valley, I was moved by the sheer beauty of terraces bedecked with almond trees laden with blossom, and was inspired to capture it.

So having made the effort to locate the camera, I went on to take some photos of the barns/kennels today. I therefore give you a quick glance at the very thing that got me blogging, stopped me blogging and then started me off again, with a few before-and-after shots …

 

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Here’s praying that it will soon be open!

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