Bluff Called

Winter is coming and it's time for a general update after a mostly uneventful summer.

We've entered the season of cooler mornings and evenings rather than the wall to wall heat that we've experienced over the last four months. The allotment is looking fairly empty as we've just tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and parsnips on the go. With a potato ban in the A Marina area, under pain of a €4,000 fine, we planted produce in a smaller area than last year but we've still managed to harvest 200 decent sized onions, 5kg of peas and 1 kg of sweet corn as well as plenty of lettuce and carrots.

The best crop of the year was courgettes/marrows which went wild early in the growing season and saw us eating; ratatouille, stuffed courgettes, courgetti, courgette cake, courgette stir fry, courgette curry and courgette salad. We gave loads away and now ten or more large marrows are rotting away in the vegetable patch as we just can't bring ourselves to harvest and eat any more.

Next year I'll plant less courgettes... many less.

Chestnut for retrieval

Chestnut for retrieval

Little has happened with the big house as we wait for licenses and permissions from the local council and the Xunta de Galicia. We've built a few steps, put a slate floor in the bread oven, constructed some planters, excavated one of the rooms in the big house of waist deep detritus (which included taking six cubic metres of household waste to the local dump), and tidied up 300 m2 of ancient chestnut beams, planks and roof panels from where they were dumped in front of the big house by the builders last summer. They are now neatly stacked by the barn either for re-use or cutting down into burnable chunks.

Kit the Cat guarding retrieved chestnut

Kit the Cat guarding retrieved chestnut

So amongst all this mundanity I did something very stupid.

On the coming 3rd October Amanda and I will have been married for twenty-five years, which is a bit of a miracle as I was certain twenty-four years ago that she'd have killed me by now. For the last few months she's been talking about a couple of nights away in a nice hotel to celebrate, but some of the hotels mentioned had alarming price tags associated with them. One mentioned was the Parador in the main square in Santiago de Compostela, reputedly the oldest hotel in the world which has played host to royalty, dignitaries, politicians, sportsmen and pop stars. On checking the internet it was quoted well in excess of €200 a night!

Now for €200 I could buy a decent lithium batteried cordless drill, or a circular saw with a couple of blade options and a laser sight, or a nice wood router and loads of bits, or even pay a speeding fine (yes I've had another of those over the summer).

So I hatched a plan which I thought was foolproof. I suggested that we walked the Camino De Santiago for our anniversary, or at least the last 115km from Sarria to Santiago. I did some basic calculations that we'd need five days of walking, that we could stop in cheap hotels and that arriving on the 3rd of October Amanda could have her one night in the five star Parador before we came home.

My theory was that a five day endurance hike, even with the promise of a night in the Parador, would be enough for her to shelve her romantic plans and I could use the money on necessary power tools.

But she called my bluff. ‘What a great idea’ she said. ‘I'd love to do that’.

So now we've spent a small fortune on; rucksacks, walking poles, walking boots, trousers, solar phone battery charger, non-blister socks, blister plasters for when the non-blister socks let me down. Not only that but we’ve had to go into training and regularly walk a eight kilometre circular route from the barn up into the mountains and back again.

The lodgings, including the Parador, are all booked and arrangements have been made for cat-sitting and lifts. It would have been much less hassle, and probably cheaper, to have just booked two nights in the Parador in the first place!

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8 Responses to Bluff Called

  1. Auntie Carol says:

    We went to a hotel in the south of France for our Silver, Paul. You’ll have a great time with lots of memories to store up for later years

  2. Rob Knight says:

    haha – you should’ve known better Paul! The Camino is pretty special so I’m told, I think you’ll enjoy it. Am very tempted to do the Camino del Norte one of these days, runs along the north coast from Irun – does that go anywhere near your place?

    • admin says:

      It was a great experience Rob, I’d definitely recommend it. The Camino del Norte comes within about 15km of us, the last part of that one might be next years quest.

  3. Patrick Glenn says:

    I like to ask people what is the best hotel you ever stayed in? While they think about it I describe this Parador. I was in Santiago in the winter {low season} I eyed the Parador and the guards thinking they wouldn’t even let me in. At the desk they were quoting 100 euros to a guy. I then booked 2 nights for that price. It is magnificent, the best hotel I ever stayed in. I like the way everyone reads a newspaper in the cafes in Santiago and then discuss events. Here in the USA few read papers. I have seen prices listed in this Parador in the 400-500 range. Yes you should have booked 2 nights but a walk along the Camino is good for you. Maybe you can inquire about an additional night at the desk for a low price if you have the free time, because 1 night will not be enough in this Parador.

  4. Trish says:

    Brilliant Paul

  5. Anonymous says:

    you know you want to, you can spend the winter telling every one about how hard it was.

  6. Dutchie says:

    You have written “wait for licenses and permissions from the local council and the Xunta de Galicia.”
    Now is a perhaps a good time what permissions are needed and how far you have got with each one and then what you have found as a bottleneck in applying for these. What stumbling blocks have you had and how have you overcome them?
    You could fill in many a cold winter evening by informing us what we could find if we make a move.
    I personally find it hard to believe that you have been running this blog for 7 years and still have not progressed to the final stages. But I think you employed an architect about 5 years ago. That is still a long time to wait for final permissions

    • Paul says:

      Hi Duchie

      You are right, we’ve not been waiting for permissions all of this time, it just feels like it.

      We’ve done the property in stages; first a barn, then the bread oven, then the roof of the big house, and now the internal works on the big house.

      There are various different permissions, with different administrative bodies to be consulted, and different fees associated. The quickest we’ve received permission was for the bread oven in about 12 weeks but the longest was the barn which took over nine months.

      There has recently (2016) been a change in the law which should speed things up by reducing the number if required consultes and devolving some of t(e decision making and we are hopefully about to benefit from that with our latest application. We’ve learned this week that there is just one more consultation and we should get the go-ahead, hopefully before Christmas.

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