Cleaning the terraces – the easy way

At about this time every year we start the process of getting the terraces of our rural Mallorca finca ready for the warmer months, and our usual alfresco lifestyle. We have three terracotta-tiled terrace areas and, before the outdoor furniture is brought out from its winter storage in our annexe bedroom, these areas have to be cleaned of the muck that accumulates over the winter.

It’s The Boss’s job. He’s the one with a pair of wellies. He’s always tackled this task with vigour,  using a large scrubbing brush and hose. I think he’s motivated by the prospect of long balmy evenings on the terrace with a bottle of good Mallorcan red (there are many of them – both wines and long balmy evenings) and something sizzling on the BBQ.

Another ‘boy’s toy’ for the collection

In previous years there have been murmurings about hiring a pressure washer for the job, but it’s never happened. This year he’ll be using one: The Boss is now the owner of a new ‘boy’s toy’ (although as he has pointed out to me, this is not a toy, but a serious tool).

While musing over the possibility of bringing some motorized muscle to this annual spring chore, we found a bargain on promotion at the Hiper DIY store in Manacor: last year’s model with all the spec tech of this year’s – for 150 euros less than the latest model. Who cares if it’s not the latest design? Ker-ching! Sold to The Boss.

Soon the sound of our pressure washer will echo around the valley. Let’s hope it doesn’t frighten the sheep . . .

Clean terraces? No pressure, with one of these.

Clean terraces? No pressure, with one of these.

What Lies Beneath

Our roof tiles, on the terrace

As I write this, half of our house in rural Mallorca is without its roof tiles. Such is the construction of these typical old fincas that, as I stand inside and look up at the terracotta tiles that form our ceiling, I can see the sky through the thin gaps between some of the tiles. Fortunately, it’s blue sky and not ominous rain clouds . . .

Busy Between Breakfasts

The builders arrived yesterday morning, promptly at 8am, to begin the job of repairing our old roof. Fortunately, they’re working on one side of the roof ridge at a time, so the showers of dust that fall periodically through the gappy ceiling tiles aren’t landing on my computer; I’m in the roofed half of the house.

Who Needs Scaffolding?

It’s a big job. The three builders – Moroccans working for a local Mallorcan firm – began by carefully removing the traditional curved roof tiles. All done, I might add, without the aid of scaffolding; our outdoor wood-fired stone oven adjoins the house and they’re climbing onto that to get onto the roof. The tiles that have survived intact are currently stacked on the terrace, to be replaced in due course.

An hour after the workers had arrived, they were sitting on rocks in our back field, eating what the locals call ‘second breakfast’. (If that sounds a bit greedy, they probably had only a glass of milk and a biscuit for the first one – fairly typical). Then, they swung back into action, removing cement and some strange yellowish lumps that The Boss identified as foam he had once injected into some of the gaps between the roof tiles, to stop rats from using our roof space as a penthouse pad.

It was the noisiest day we’d ever experienced here in the valley. Somehow, amid the banging and crashing that was going on, the three builders managed to maintain a lively and ongoing conversation. Which was more than we could do indoors.

Scantily Clad 

At 5pm, peace was restored. The workers had left for the day, leaving us to inspect the first day’s progress. There was a mini-mountain of rubble on the drive – looking like something Tracey Emin might have created. And our roof had been stripped back to what appeared to be a thin layer of tarred felt – the only thing that had been between the ceiling and the roof tiles.

It was obvious why we’ve had rain coming into the house: a couple of decades of fierce summer heat and ravenous rats had turned our roof’s undergarment into something resembling black lace. Hopefully, the new stuff will be more like Damart . . .

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012