I’d booked a bigger car than normal.
The main reason was to aid visiting Mothers vehicular ingress and egress, which despite her protestations that she isn’t yet ready for ‘a new knee’, seem to be getting increasingly difficult.
The larger vehicle also gave me the opportunity to collect the pair of bookshelves that I’d had our carpenters in La Roda (about a 45 minute drive from the house) construct from some rudimentary technical drawings sent out a couple of months ago....or so I thought.
I’d earmarked Saturday morning for the solo trip, and after a leisurely breakfast I travelled the fifty-five kilometres over the border to Asturias to find a closed and shuttered workshop. Fortunately there were several cars parked outside the proprietor’s house.
Three rings of the doorbell and Mari Luz appeared, bleary eyed at 11am, at one of the upstairs windows. After a few seconds squinting she recognised me and simply said ‘los estanterias’ (the bookcases) and disappeared, to emerge at the front door a few minutes later.
‘Have you got a van?’ she asked. I was a little concerned.
‘No, a car’ I responded.
‘A large car?’ she quizzed.
I’d taken the measurements from my technical drawings the evening before, and calculated that although it would be a tight squeeze, I should be able to get both bookshelves in the car with the back seats down. After our opening verbal exchanges I was now imagining constructions of titanic performances and hoping that I’d not put the dimensions in centimetres when I meant millimetres. I had visions of constructions as large as the barn, book cases for giants.
I followed Mari Luz into the workshop and she went for the big theatrical unveil, removing the dust sheet draped over the units with a well practiced flick of her wrist.
They did look big. Starting to panic I got out my tape measure, an essential piece of permanent Galician pocket kit along with a Taramundi knife and a pair of PU coated black nylon working gloves, and checked against the memorised dimensions. Everything seemed to be in order and I made all of the right ‘thank you, they're great’ noises and I reached into my wallet to conclude our transaction.
As I handed over the cash, Mari Luz took seventy euros from the pile and gave it back, telling me that construction had not been as time consuming as they had quoted and so the cost was less.
I was flabbergasted, money back was another Spanish first!
We carried the smaller of the bookcases through the front door of the factory to my waiting car and as soon as she saw it I could tell that Mari Luz was losing confidence. After opening the boot we manoeuvred the bookcase into the most likely position for it to fit, but there was no way it would go through the opening. I quickly worked out that there were another seven permutations as to how the shelving may go in, but I was less than hopeful that any would be successful. Mari Luz insisted that we try all seven before admitting defeat and manhandling the bookcase back into the shop.
Having already got seventy euros back I was further taken aback by Mari Luz’s next offer, ‘Would you like to borrow our van? You can bring it back on Monday!’
Now, there is customer service, and seemingly there is Carpintero Mendez service. I was so surprised by the offer I immediately did the English thing and said ‘No’ without thinking it through. ‘I have a friend with a bigger car, I will come back later’, hoping that Neil would be answering his phone; willing to lend me his 4x4; and that the 4x4 was actually roadworthy.
I arranged to return after three, thanked her again, and set off back to the barn after a fruitless trip. Fortunately the long suffering Neil was at home, his truck was running, and nursing an elbow ligament injury he was willing to have an afternoon run out to La Roda to once again be my saviour.
I’d forgotten that Neil’s truck did a maximum of 55 km/h so the round trip took just over two and a half hours. The shelving did go in the 4x4, but was a tight squeeze, but was well worth the effort once we got them back to the barn as they look terrific.
I’m now relieved that our ‘deathtrap’ lounge is now safe again and I can no longer accidentally fall down the stairs from the kitchen. These are the last structural additions and all that the barn now needs to be complete is a few pictures and homely keepsakes.