Signing the contract

Bristol, 21st of November

TerraceThe deed is now done and the house, newly christened El Mirador, The Viewing Point, is ours. Although we can't move until next year it feels great to have taken possession and to have the keys in our hands.The process we had to go through was fascinating and was much more personal than it is here. The people we bought the house from are an elderly brother and sister who now live in the village. Normally we would all have gathered in the notary's office in a nearby town but the couple were not fit enough to leave the house and so everyone had to gather at their place for the legal completion of sale.

It was an amazing scene and I wish we could have taken photographs but it didn't seem quite appropriate at the time. Spread across two small but beautiful rooms packed with furniture were the two owners, two of their family members, the lawyer, the notary, the estate agent, a couple from Scotland who were buying a piece of land from the same people, Fred and myself. The notary read, or rather shouted out the contract which the agent translated simultaneously for our benefit. We all had to confirm who we were and then sign all the relevant documents and hand over the bank drafts that we had obtained from the bank a few days earlier.

celebratory drinkThere was then a search for spare sets of house keys whilst we tried to ask practical questions like 'Where is the cesspit?', ¿Dónde está el pozo negro? and 'Does the chimney work?', ¿Funciona la chimenea? This last question prompted one of the family, who is also the local bank manager, to offer to arrange a delivery of logs for us!We were also given a bottle of home made wine made with local grapes which produces a potent sweet wine. We then all decamped to the square for a celebratory drink.

The first night in our house

fire placeWe spent the time we had left in Spain cleaning out the house and soaking up the sunshine. We soon realised that with hardly any furniture and no electricity we couldn't really settle in too much. But, undeterred, we decided to sleep there on our last night. It started well as we returned home after a nice meal out and lit a fire in our new chimney on our newly purchased grate. The bed was appallingly uncomfortable, the fire smelt overpoweringly of wood smoke and to cap it all a freak wind blew up. Every door and shutter in the place was rattling and creaking, the trees were swaying violently and the things we had left on the terrace were blowing everywhere. I've never been so relieved to see the morning and the return of peace and sunshine!

Optimism on the language front

I find that confidence about learning a language seems to come and go. Sometimes it seems very hard and I feel that progress is very slow indeed. Being in Spain for a week really helped and I realised how much you can pick up as your ear becomes attuned and as constant repetition seems to help fix words in your brain. Learning vocabulary in real life situations is completely different to learning from a book. I will never forget the word for wind because everyone in the village was talking about it after that dreadful night! El viento means wind and una noche de mucho viento means very windy night. By the way, not only do the Andalucíans pronounce the c as an s and not as a th, they also drop the final s which is very confusing! Buenos días becomes "bueno día".

Ed. note: It's not only Andalucíans who drop the final -s. You'll hear this in other parts of Southern Spain and also in big cities, such as Madrid, which took in immigrants from the South. In fact, the -s is not completely dropped, but it turns into a slight aspiration, that may be difficult for the unaccustomed ear to hear.

Sent by: Sue

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