New Year Reflections

Nochevieja. New Year’s Eve. Roger is running in a race in Avilés (it seems to be quite the season for races here) so it’s a quiet time for me to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next one.


2016 was obviously quite a year for us: the beginning of an exciting adventure in our new home in Asturias. That minimalist van packing in May seems like an age ago now! This certainly feels like home.


View of the valley on New Year’s Eve: note the frost still sitting in the valley bottom.

It sometimes seems like the progress we are making here is moving at snail’s pace so it’s encouraging to look back at old photos and see that we have come some way from where we started.


Remember that wall around the garden?



The vegetable patch we started with.





From winter . . .


. . . to summer.


The kiwi cage just had to go.



So did the bedstead fence.



Emergency salad bed . . .


. . . became a really productive little patch.


Time for a makeover.



Mmm . . . and then there was the house to tackle.


Poco . . .


. . . a poco.


Just the tiling and a bit of finishing to do . . . we almost have a kitchen!

So, what are our plans for 2017? Well, hopefully there will be a huge push forward with the house renovation. We have practically ground to a halt now as so many things depend on a new roof and as that requires everything coming off – tiles, timbers, the lot – our builder understandably doesn’t want to tackle it until spring. Then it will be all systems go and by this time next year, the house should be looking much tidier.


We have big plans for the garden, too. We still need to find more space for cultivation: we’ve enjoyed big harvests from small spaces this year but we didn’t plant bulk crops like potatoes and onions so we will need more room. That will probably mean more wall building and terrace digging, as well as clearing new patches of ground. We’d like to plant some citrus trees and I definitely need to grab some spaces for flowers!


Keeping fit is very much on the agenda.  Roger has had a very successful year of running, notching up an incredible 3 000 miles in the process. He already has several races lined up in the coming weeks; running is a big sport here and there is no shortage of events to enter.


Proud podium moment.

I narrowly squeaked in with my 312.5 walking miles; not the 500 I’d hoped for but better than nothing and – if you’ll excuse the pun – a big step in the right direction to improving my fitness. I have set myself the goal of running my first half marathon in September: this is a huge personal challenge but I am determined to do it, not least because I want to raise money for a charity very close to my heart (of which more in a later post). I’ve started a profile on which is a great website where I can keep a training log and set goals. I’m hoping it will help me to find the motivation, self-discipline and – above all – enthusiasm to get out and run.


This is absolutely NOT my favourite thing – and I’m only walking at this point!

One of the biggest challenges of moving here was having to learn Spanish from scratch; it hasn’t been easy, but I am quietly making progress. I can understand most of what I read: my focus now is on speaking and listening – after all, conversation is so important. I’m watching snatches of online Spanish documentaries which is proving to be a great way of tuning my ears in, and I’m making myself speak Spanish as much as possible, even practising by talking to myself as I walk around the lanes (the locals probably think I’m completely nuts). I’ve abandoned formal lessons for the time being but I do have a great game going with Sam, who is learning Norwegian. We email each other song lyrics, the challenge being to translate and identify the song and artist. As Sam only has a smattering of Spanish and I (not surprisingly) have no Norwegian, we are relying a lot on Google Translate which can be fraught with errors, so this adds an extra dimension of sorting out the correct vocabulary and grammatical constructions. It’s proving to be brilliant fun but more than anything, I am learning so much: it makes me use our huge Collins Spanish dictionary and revise the grammar lessons from my rather dry textbooks in a way that I find really helps me remember and learn new things. Takk, Sam!


(As an aside, I’m also learning a lot about Norwegian which is pretty fascinating in itself.) 

This year I have enjoyed writing this blog more than ever. I liked cutting my blogging teeth on the Vegblogs site, it was great to be part of such a wonderful community but WordPress has brought me the freedom to write about other things.


Our French potager: where my blogging journey began!

For me, it’s a personal diary and a way of sharing what we are up to with family and friends (I don’t have a Facebook page). I don’t expect people to be interested (there are so many people living far more fascinating lives than me) but I’m always very thrilled when others read and comment on what I have posted. The statistics tell me that this year (with a few hours still to go!) there have been 1 359 views from 17 different countries and that’s an aspect I love. I like the idea of ‘think global, act local’ and the Internet is such a powerful tool in making connections and bringing people together – virtually if not literally – from all around the world. What a privilege to be able to learn about and share in different cultures and ideas, to consider life from alternative points of view, to broaden minds and horizons, to celebrate difference and diversity . . . and realise that the bottom line is we are all human!


Thank you to all the people who write inspiring blogs to share and thank you to everyone who visits my pages – I truly appreciate it. Please feel free to get involved and post comments!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year to you all. Here’s to 2017! 🙂


4 thoughts on “New Year Reflections

  1. Work’s definitely progressing at not snail’s pace! You’ve got so much done in just 7 months, but of course the structural work always needs to be done first and is not as pretty as later decorations and finishing touches. This is what I’m looking forward to this year (year 4!), a bit of beautification. We’ve already started today by moving some roses and wild flowers into new locations that were previously nothing but weeds. Wow, a new roof. I hope you’ll get a good dry weather window in early spring! I’m not a runner either – only for the bus – give me a bicycle any day!


  2. I think we just feel things have been slower than previous renovation projects, but then we have been a bit distracted by the great outdoors – and why not? It’s important to live a bit, too. Yes, the roof is a biggie but it will totally transform the house, so it’s very exciting. Fingers crossed for March, maybe!


    • Yes, you’ve got to take in the great outdoors! Though the momentum is lost if you leave jobs too long. Like our appetite for DIY at the moment. I don’t think too much is going to get done this winter. Jim is still mowing the lawn and has started digging. I’m already on to filling compost into beds that Jim will be digging shortly and I dredged the pond this morning. There seems to be a lot of stuff to do outside, a lot more fun stuff than sanding and painting doors and stripping wallpaper (after moving out furniture and books).


  3. I couldn’t agree more . . .and anyway, if you’re outside boosting your Vitamin D, serotonin levels and general well-being, immersed in nature and growing delicious things to eat, who gives a stuff about the state of the walls and doors? Probably not the right attitude, but it’s the one I’m sticking to! 🙂


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