Learning new skills

Since moving here we have learnt so many new things, mostly on the hoof as we’ve had something that needs doing!

I’ve always had a love of learning, and in the past have done so many diplomas and courses to expand my knowledge – and usually nothing to do with my job at the time! I like taking a hobby and really getting good at it!

So here, well, I barely know where to start on the list of things we’ve learnt! There’s the obvious, like looking after the trees, and our veg growing knowledge is getting there. But it’s all the other stuff, like making the water safe, sectioning the irrigation, using chain saws, installing a wood burning stove, installing a solar system and wind turbine … the list goes on! Roger has proved to be like a sponge when it comes to taking in new skills, and I have been in awe of how he tackles problems head on.

So his latest project has been the caseta – the small shed up on the third terrace. It was built out of breeze blocks up against the back wall (which is a dry stone wall), with an earth floor and some corrugated metal laid on the top for the roof. There were massive gaps in the wall, and a resident rat …

We’ve been using this caseta as a bit of a loft space – spare chairs, two grape presses, the suitcases, and the tent that we lived in when we got here etc. It’s been a good opportunity to get rid of some stuff out of there that we simply don’t use.

So, with the help of our mate Paddy, the work began! They emptied it out, chasing the rat out at the same time (although it’s still lurking around 😱). All the gaps were filled, and the roof removed. They laid a new OSB roof, which is secured to the metal crossbars, and they tilted the roof slightly so that the rain will actually run off towards the chirimoya trees. Thanks Paddy!

All the gaps between the bricks were filled to hopefully stop any more unwelcome guests from moving in. Foam filler finishes off the gap between the wall and the roof.

Then Rog laid a bitumen roof on the top. We bought some tiles that he laid, and luckily didn’t have to use a heat gun to melt them onto the roof – the sun did that for us!

Getting there… new roof on!
Rog has even included a skylight using a glass shelf from an old fridge! It’s normally a dark and creepy place to go in to look for something!

So the last jobs were to render the outside to make it look a bit prettier – another skill Rog has picked up by watching our builders at work here, and to put some sort of floor in. We couldn’t put a concrete floor in, as when our neighbour above irrigates, the water sometimes comes through holes in the wall, so needs to be able to drain away. We thought the best way to have a floor was to collect some flat stones from near the river and then fill in between with dry mix mortar. Looks pretty too! I should point out here that the stones didn’t come from the actual riverbed – this would be bad! Instead we collected them from places nearby where the water doesn’t run!

This won’t affect the ability for water to drain away, and is a vast improvement aesthetically!

When we do these projects we try to buy the bare minimum, repurposing things we have around where possible. This whole project has come in under €120 – the bitumen tiles were the expensive bit at just over €100

We’re pretty pleased with the finished article – hopefully we can now store some extra stuff up there out of the way without fear of rats nesting in there and chewing everything!

So the next project is the other shed. Built in the same way out of breeze blocks and a corrugated metal roof, but this has an added challenge of a very wonky wall, currently propped up with scaffolding poles.

Never a chance of running out of things to do here!

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