It seems almost unbelievable that we have just passed the second anniversary of our arrival here and the start of a new and exciting adventure in our lives. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but where on earth has that time gone? How lovely for us that Roger’s mum, on her first visit to Asturias, was here to celebrate with us – and celebrate we did! A glass of chilled Cava, sparkling in the evening sunshine, seemed just the right thing to start with.
What a wonderful excuse, too, for us to revisit some of the places that have become favourite haunts in the time we have been here and to enjoy the sheer beauty of the local area in all its May-time splendour. We walked along the coastpath from Puerto de Vega and picnicked and paddled on Frejulfe beach.
In the Parque Natural de las Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias we strode out in the gorgeously purpled landscape of bear country
We scrambled up the dramatic gorge of the río Esva, accompanied by myriads of butterflies and lizards, and ate our lunch under a canopy of intense leafy greenery.
We meandered through the pretty streets of Cudillero and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of Luarca harbour. At home, we wandered round the lanes and woodland, pottered about the garden, dined al fresco, and even managed some quiet time doing woolly things together in the sunshine (well, two of us did, anyway!)
In short, it was a tremendous little holiday for us, too – a sort of ‘tapas of tours’ – and we hope an appetising enough taste of Asturias to tempt mi suegra back again!
Looking at our house and patch through fresh eyes also seemed like a good time to stop and reflect on all that we’ve done over the last couple of years. In terms of house renovation, it has been an enormous project (we’ve done it all ourselves bar the new roof) and although it’s not finished, we have come a long way from our rather terrifying starting point. As this blog has in many ways been a diary of what we’ve been doing, I don’t want to do too many ‘before and after’ photos (the horrors are all there in the early posts!) but at least these should give a taste of the quiet transformation that is taking place indoors.
Then . . .
. . . and now.
Outside, and to say creating a garden has been a challenge would be something of an understatement! The sheer steepness of the land makes everything difficult, so we have spent much time shifting earth and stones to build planting terraces. We’ve also had so much rubbish to deal with: hundreds of plastic bottles tied to everything, messes of wire and mesh, bedstead fences and gates, a seemingly endless supply of buried rubble and rubbish . . . yes, it’s been very hard work. However, we now have two very productive veg patches with an almost continual supply of fresh food and a polytunnel to widen our options and lengthen the growing season. Broad beans are new on the menu for this week!
It has taken a bit longer to organise more in the way of a flower garden but that is something I’ve been addressing this year. In some ways, when I look at the veg patch I feel we’re already enjoying plenty of floral colour anyway!
For some plants, I think it has been a case of needing time to respond to some loving care and attention in order to become established or restored to their former glory. The roses, for instance, are the most spectacular we’ve seen and we have plans to plant many more in the autumn in order to extend the colour range and add to that wonderful perfumed air.
The lavender and geraniums I grew from seed shortly after arriving here are promising to give us the best show ever. Hyssop, verbena bonariensis and phacelia have all exploded in a cloud of blues and mauves this week to the delight of bees and butterflies alike and the newly relocated comfrey is open for bumble bee business. There is a growing sense of colourful impact, both in the flowers I have planted in troughs, churns and baskets . . .
. . . and those flamboyant self-setters who are always welcome!
So, what plans do we have for the coming year? Well, a makeover of the bathroom and entrance porch will see the house officially finished so in many ways this will be the first year when we can both spend most of our time outside. Yippee! This means for a start that the vegetable gardening will be far more under control as Roger reins in my exuberant and somewhat chaotic style! We are determined to close the hungry gap completely which in itself will be an interesting challenge and we have lots of plans for other outdoor projects, not to mention plenty more exploration of the local area and further afield in Spain. Our next little project is to tackle the area behind the horreo which was a former chicken run (do you remember Roger pulling that ridiculous fence down – complete with car bonnet door – using the tractor?) and has been used by us as a rubble-dumping area.
The plan is to flatten it into an attractive courtyard area; I’ve already moved the compost heap and planted a grapevine in the space in the hope of training it up the horreo walls.
It will of course mean knocking down this ‘unique’ wall and replacing it with a stone one but somehow we’ll find a way of coping without such an eyesore in our lives!
It is a bit of a reminder that we still have so far to go (yes, there are more bedsteads about the place) but at least we have made a start in restoring a sense of care, nurture and respect for this beautiful spot. Two years well spent, I think! 🙂