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.”Pigs might fly,” he snorted.
He was right. Nothing happened. Our family and granddaughter arrived and summer passed. The sun blazed and there wasn’t a drop of rain, so replacing the leaky door wasn’t essential.
In September we phoned the builders again.
“Your new doors and bars are ready,” said Julio. “We will start work next week.”
“Pigs might fly,” snorted Joe.
The builders arrived early in October. They brought the new doors and laid them out on the roof terrace and in the garden. They tapped the walls with a hammer and left a few pencil marks. I was delighted that work had begun.
“That’s good!” I said. “It’ll all be finished before the Gin Twins’ visit at the end of the month.”
“Hurrumph!” snorted Joe. “Pigs might fly.”
The weather was beautiful for the Gin Twins’ stay in October. The swallows stayed longer than usual but there was no sign of the builders. The Gin Twins had to share their roof terrace space with the new doors, laid out and ready to be fitted, and the garden with burglar-bars, already rusting as they hadn’t yet been painted. The Gin Twins and the bars were the same colour.
November came, and the days shortened. After a couple of wild nights of driving rain the old door leaked. We mopped up the water.
One evening after dark, Joe was in the city taking a short-cut through some waste ground to get back to the car. A huge figure suddenly loomed out of the shadows. Joe clutched his car keys tighter and quickened his pace.
“Joe! Joe! It is I, Mario!” boomed a voice from the darkness. “My boss is Julio! We are your builders. We come next week.”
“Oh! Hello Mario,” Joe said, greatly relieved. “That’s good news! We look forward to seeing you next week.”
“Did you see that pink thing flying past our window?” Joe asked me a week later.
You may have guessed the end of this story. The builders still haven’t come. We’ve laid bets on when they will turn up. I say December. Joe says June. In 2025. I think I may lose this one…
Chorizo and Chickpea Soup
(Sopa de chorizo y garbanzos)
5 minutes preparation
15 to 20 minutes cooking time
This recipe is a real winter-warmer but also makes a pleasant starter for a main meal.
4 vine plum tomatoes
3 chorizo sausages (sweet or dulce)
Dried chili flakes
400g (14 oz) chickpeas (in a tin or jar)
1 litre (333⁄4 US fl.oz) chicken stock
1. Dice the tomatoes.
2. Chop the chorizo sausages into inch-long pieces.
3. In a large pan, heat a little olive oil and cook the diced tomatoes for 10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until soft.
4. Add the chicken stock to the pan and, when nearly boiling, add the chorizo, chickpeas and thyme.
5. Sprinkle the chili flakes into the pan (the amount depends on your own preference).
6. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with fresh crusty bread.
by Victoria Twead.
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here or click the button below to view her own blog…