Last weekend saw the long overdue first visit of my one-and-only brother Ian, and my sister-in-law Karen.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, they were the unbelievers, the litmus test of our madness, and it was very important to Amanda and I that they liked our chosen new home.
Rather than me go through a dull itinerary (the inevitable rain in Santiago de Compostela, sandwiches in Lugo, initial stunned silence at the house, forced alternative arrangements for dinner in Taramundi, a visit to As Catedras, and then off to the airport) I thought it would be a good idea to ask them for their ten thoughts. The only brief that I gave was that they could be good or bad, about big or small things, but basically to be honest.
Here are their ten, in no particular order, with my counter-comments in italics;
- The roads are very bendy, too bendy especially with Paul driving! (It was the first time I'd not been driving a Landrover for five weeks, I was going to have a bit of fun).
- The houses look like how I would expect Russian houses to look. (Dr Zhivago?)
- It is practically impossible to order vegetables in a restaurant, which is weird and a little annoying!
- Santiago would make a fantastic weekend break destination.....if you live within 30 minutes of Stansted.
- Like in England, northern Spanish seem much more friendly than southerners!
- You need to know a bit of Spanish...as the locals don't speak English at all, which is very inconsiderate of them. (I think, no hope, that is tongue-in-cheek).
- Pig, hake and clams seem to be the staple food. You'll struggle if you are a true vegetarian.
- Don't mix beer, wine, rum and goose neck barnacles unless you want to spend some of your evening 'talking to Huey on the big white telephone'! (Serves you right for trying to keep up with your brother - who slept like a baby!)
- Galicia is remote, beautiful, dramatic, friendly, antiquated, wild and just a little bit bonkers all at the same time. (That's why we love it!)
- If at first it doesn't make sense, stick with it, it really starts to grow on you!
What I get from these ten mini-statements is that Ian and Karen still think that we're more than a little crazy to have taken on our project, but that they are starting to see why. Although they wouldn't embrace what we've done, there is an understanding that we are looking for a better, healthier and less stressful life and they suspect that we may well have found the idyll for all of those things.