All Done . . . Bar the Cleaning

Shorty enjoys some post-project peace

Tranquillity has returned to our valley in rural Mallorca: three weeks and four days after work began on repairs and improvements to our roof, the job has been finished, and The Boss and I have begun the big clean-up operation (both in and outdoors).

So far, the insulation seems to be doing a good job, as we’ve barely seen any change in the temperature indoors – even after last weekend’s two unusually chilly nights for this time of year, when the temperature outside fell to 5 Celsius. Thankfully the cold snap has passed for now; February – which can be bitterly cold here – will be the true test of our investment.

That Zinc-ing Feeling

The rear of our house is also sporting smart new zinc guttering, to replace the old grey plastic stuff that was there before. This hadn’t been part of the original plan, but when Juan, the construction company’s second-in-command, suggested that zinc would look more traditional than the plastic, we thought of the old English proverb: Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar. Well, it’s cost us a lot of ha’p’orths of zinc, but it looks a lot better than the plastic did.

Purrfect Peace

We’re not the only ones happy to see the project finished: our outdoor cats didn’t appreciate the noisy presence of the builders and would disappear for the day after their breakfast – returning only after the men had left promptly at 5pm. The status quo has now been restored and everywhere you look – under a lavender bush, in the window recesses of the cottage, on the terrace walls, and even in flowerpots – there are cats. And they include Shorty, the ginger kitten that bit The Boss back in August; he’s become a spunky little addition to our feline family.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012 

Respecting ‘The Beast’

One of the less appealing aspects of owning our rural finca in the early days was having to live with ‘The Beast’ – an innocuous-looking but extremely important concrete bunker, adjoining the small covered terrace outside our annexe bedroom. I’ll spare you too much detail, just in case you’re reading this over breakfast, but let’s just say that anything that left our property through waste pipes, went into ‘The Beast’ (a pozo negro, or septic tank) – to be subjected to some kind of minor bacterial warfare within. The property is not connected to a main sewer.

Fearing the worst if we did something to upset the delicate balance of bacteria and . . . yet more bacteria . . .  we sought advice. ‘Treat it with respect,’ said the former owners of the property (who, incidentally, have become very dear friends).  ‘And that means no nasty chemicals or non-biodegradable stuff.’

So, not for us, those giant bottles of lurid-coloured cleaning products, filling several aisles of the local supermarket, and much-loved by Spanish housewives. We were going ecological and, although the cost of buying these products can be higher, we discovered that they do last much longer.

Back to basics

Just add elbow grease . . .

Feeling good about saving some money, and helping the environment of ‘The Beast’ (and generally), I also resorted to some old-fashioned remedies: the kind of things my gran would have used. Back in the UK, one of the occasional guests on my BBC radio programme was an expert on food and ‘all things domestic’, and Jill often regaled us with tips for tackling household jobs using store cupboard items.

Now I’d much rather be writing stuff than rubbing sink stains, but I have taken on board some of her suggestions – and saved quite a bit more money on cleaning products. My favourite weapons in the war against grime? Vinegar, bicarb of soda and lemon juice. I’ve been amazed what I can shift using one or more of those!

And, for some time, there were no complaints from ‘The Beast’

Jan Edwards ©2012