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Victoria Twead

Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales From A Spanish Village: Two Old Fools And A Delivery

Posted by: Carole on Friday January 17, 2014 (04:39:35)   (6316 Reads)

Victoria Twead

It's an uncomfortable feeling being without passports. We applied a month ago, and paid a hefty fee to have them delivered by courier. Had we filled out the forms correctly? Were our photographs acceptable? Had the passports got lost in the Christmas mail? Were they destroyed in the terrible floods that the UK suffered recently? Receiving mail has always been a bit of a problem in El Hoyo, as it often arrives on the Fish Van or needs collecting from the Repsol garage at the bottom of the mountain.

One cold, but sunny morning, we heard a commotion in the village.

"What's going on?" asked Joe.

We could hear shouts, and a large engine revving.

"I've no idea," I said, shaking my head.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales From A Spanish Village: Two Old Fools and Passports

Posted by: Jamie on Sunday December 29, 2013 (22:17:27)   (2819 Reads)

Victoria Twead

The reason we wanted extra burglar bars fitted, and doors replaced, was because we were planning to visit Australia this winter. We wanted to leave the house secure and watertight. We had contacted our builders in March, thinking that would give them plenty of time to complete the job.

Nine months later they finally turned up to begin work in earnest. But things never go smoothly in our village. Their arrival coincided with a major overhaul of El Hoyo's sewage system and a resurfacing of the main street. Unable to bring their equipment to our house, the builders shrugged and disappeared again.

"I guess we should check our passports," I said to Joe. "Then we can book flights as soon as the building work is done."    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales From A Spanish Village: Two Old Fools and Builders

Posted by: Carole on Saturday November 16, 2013 (04:39:47)   (3075 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Way back in March I contacted our favourite builders. We needed a new back door, a new terrace door, and front door burglar-bars fitted. None of it was urgent but we wanted the work done before the following winter. Our present terrace door lets in the rain and we need burglar-bars fitted before we leave for a holiday in Australia.

"We'll come and look at the job next week," said Julio. He's the boss, Romanian, and fluent in English and Spanish.

They arrived in June to take measurements. We chose the doors and burglar-bar designs, and were excited about getting the work done. A week later we received an estimate and agreed on the price.

"It'll be nice to get it all done before our family come in August," I said to Joe.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales From A Spanish Village - Two Old Fools And Spots

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday October 16, 2013 (13:18:02)   (1584 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Nobody likes being covered from head to toe in big red blotches, and I'm no exception. Unfortunately, that is what happened to me this month. Some kind of allergy maybe? I felt fine but looked like I'd been stung by a swarm of bees. And, of course, it had to happen when our village was holding its annual fiesta.

The fiesta always begins on the Friday, at midday, when Geronimo beats the church bells with a hammer for a full minute. He then clambers down the church tower and lets off loud fireworks in the village square. I didn't need to show my spotty face in public to appreciate that these sounds signal the start of El Hoyo's fiesta.

Our village is tiny, but at fiesta time hundreds of people arrive and cars jam every street.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Two Old Fools And Garbage

Posted by: Carole on Monday September 16, 2013 (00:52:32)   (1893 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Since we moved to our Spanish mountain village, we’ve discovered that the Spanish are incredibly resourceful and find ingenious ways to recycle items that Brits happily throw away. The previous owner of our house used an upside-down frying-pan to cap one of the chimneys to stop the rain coming in, and sparks flying out. Itʼs a little quirky but works perfectly well. So we kept it, giving it a new coat of black paint every now and then.

Walking in the countryside, one soon encounters gates barring entry to private property. Closer inspection often reveals that many of these gates are home-made and can be quite elaborate. One such exists, close to our village, half way up a mountain. The owner has fixed two metal bed frames, with springs and all, to posts. The frames meet in the middle and are padlocked together making a very serviceable portal.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Two Old Fools And Homesickness

Posted by: Carole on Saturday August 17, 2013 (02:05:11)   (2035 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Joe and I have never once suffered from homesickness since we moved to our tiny Spanish mountain village back in 2004. We adore everything about our life in El Hoyo; the people, the weather, the food and the slow pace of life centred around families.

Summer in our village is so hot that people rarely venture outside during the heat of the day. But when the sun sinks and shadows grow long, the streets begin to fill. Families emerge from their homes to chatter with neighbours and to promenade around the square.

Children, burnt nut-brown by endless weeks without school, race up and down and yell to each other. Dogs bark and scooters whizz by. Grandfathers sit at tables outside El Hoyo's only bar, playing cards and discussing politics. Mothers stand in groups, all talking at once, with babies on their hips and toddlers tugging at their hands. This is probably the time when I most miss having family around.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales From A Spanish Village - An Old Fool's Birthday Surprise

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday July 17, 2013 (00:59:03)   (1705 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Nearly ten summers have passed since we left England to settle in our little Spanish mountain village.

"What do you want to do for your birthday this year?" I asked Joe.

"Hmm... I think just a day at the beach. Perhaps go somewhere for a meal afterwards?"

"You don't want to do anything different?"

"Nope. No surprises please, I don't want any fuss. Right, I'm off to collect the eggs and I hope they've laid some decent ones for a change."

We have only four chickens now and although elderly, they provide us with more than enough eggs.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Two Old Fools And Feral Cats

Posted by: Carole on Saturday June 22, 2013 (02:48:49)   (1517 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Coming from Britain and moving to a tiny, crazy, Spanish mountain village was always going to be a bit of a culture shock for Joe and me. Despite this being our tenth year in El Hoyo, the shock has not entirely subsided. We still love our life here, have settled into the village, and adore all our neighbours. But some Spanish attitudes are still a struggle to come to terms with.

The problem is feral cats. Why don't the Spanish neuter or spay cats as a matter of course? Cats aren’t popular pets in the village, but even those villagers who own cats don't have them sterilised. When the kittens are born, they are either drowned or turned out. For the survivors it's a hard life and only the fittest, healthiest, most cunning, survive. But even these don't seem to live very long, disappearing without trace after a few years. In England our cats lived nearly 20 years, but village cats are lucky to reach their sixth birthday.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales From A Spanish Village - Two Old Fools And Toilet Seats

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday May 15, 2013 (16:39:55)   (1910 Reads)

Victoria Twead

I guess it was all my fault because there was nothing really wrong with our toilet seat. It was just old, and I wanted a new one. Joe agreed. We’d had it for nine years, since we’d first built the bathroom back in 2004 when we moved to Spain.

Next time we went down the mountain, we visited our local Leroy Merlin, one of a huge chain of DIY stores. We headed straight for the bathroom section and gazed with awe at the dazzling display of toilet seats fixed to the wall. Such choice! Transparent ones, coloured ones, ones with seashells, zebra-print ones...even one that glowed in the dark.

“Just a plain one, I think,” I said at last.

Joe agreed, and we picked out a handsome, black, wooden seat and carried it to the checkout. It cost 35 euros, which seemed rather a lot, but it was a good quality seat, heavy and polished.    more ...


Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Two Old Fools And Spanish Water

Posted by: Carole on Sunday April 14, 2013 (02:43:09)   (1924 Reads)

Victoria Twead

In our part of Andalucia, we’re lucky. We’ve never suffered from a water shortage as natural springs abound. Just outside El Hoyo is a place where locals fill their water containers, and in the next village is a spring, still surrounded by cement basins and washboards where villagers once washed their laundry and exchanged news and views. Water flows freely, day and night.

However, I have one tiny complaint. When we lived in southern England, our water was extremely hard, and our pipes and kettles regularly clogged up with chalk. Moving to Spain, I looked forward to living in an area with soft water. Unfortunately, the water here, although natural, is the hardest, most chalk-filled water I’ve ever encountered. Our kettle becomes lined with a film of white limescale after only two or three boils. I know it’s harmless, but the water is cloudy, and the kettle element struggles against the caked chalk.    more ...