Out of Commission

 Following my morning fencing, I have mostly been out of commission, I made the mistake of doing this without my back-support, as a result, I put my back out. It is a long time since I have suffered, but this brought it all back, and for the first two days, I was housebound, but slowly I am getting movement back, and yesterday was the first day, I felt anything like normal. Marcela has been an Angel, a strict one!, but I don\’t know what I would have done without her.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny summers day, so having cleaned up the kitchen units from the old kitchen in Bello, I had them out on the gravel parking area, and started spraying them, when completed they will look new, and then I can put them up in the Office. That done, Marcela and I did some weeding, she enlightened me, that she doesn\’t like gardening (which I had already worked out for myself), but doesn\’t mind it if we are doing it together, so an hours weeding each week, should keep on top of the garden, and to be honest, I enjoyed it myself.

This morning, I have done a bit of work in the cabaña / apartment, it was my intention to continue spraying the kitchen units, but I woke to a grey rainy day, albeit it has now brightened up, I have lost the impetus, so it will be continued another day.

As for the rest of today, I have a bit of clerical work to do, so I think I will be here in the office for a while.

In Limbo

 I haven\’t had anything to report, due to the pandemic, we have restricted ourselves to only venturing out of the house when necessary.

We did nip over to Bello last week, to look at the new kitchen we had put in the house there, for my Mother-in-law, it\’s a nice kitchen, but the workmanship is borderline, which is something you just have to accept here, you cant go to one company and have them do the whole job, so we had the Carpenter who made and installed the kitchen, then Mr Odd Job, who we had used in Copacabana, to do the tiling plumbing and electrics, the latter had quoted for the job, but when doing it, complained to the Mother-in-law that he was being underpaid, as a result I think he wasn\’t as careful as he might have been, so he won\’t be used again.

I loaded up the old kitchen wall unit, which I am cleaning up, painting, and using for storage in the office, just to keep up with my attempts at recycling!

In the garden, Marcela has lost her enthusiasm for the vegetable plot, so I have rotovated it, and we are turning it into an orchard, there are already orange, mandarine, and lemon trees, we have added a plum, two peach, two pear, and three assorted guayaba trees, I am looking to finish this off with two apple trees, but the local garden centre only had grafted trees a foot high, it would be years before we saw any fruit, and they were just apple, they had no idea as to variety, or even if they were red or green!

We have builders below us, as I said in my previous post, between myself and our existing neighbour, is a narrow strip of land giving access to land down below the neighbour, this has been bought in the last month, and the buyer, is throwing up a house to rent out, with little thought for anyone else.

Looking at the materials they are using, I think a lot is recycling off other jobs, they have the foundation in, and have started on the walls, what we are waiting for, is to see if he blocks any of our view. There is not much we can do about it, he hasn\’t got planning permission, but then none of the houses up here have. There has been talk of the Mayor granting an amnesty and legalising all the non legal properties, but with the current problems, we have heard no more.

There were rumours that there was going to be a National lockdown from the middle of this month, until the middle of January, again nothing more has been said, and they seem to be opening up more and more of the closed businesses, so unless we are really unlucky, we may escape that, at the moment we are in limbo. Unfortunately our Mayor went down with the virus yesterday, so whether that will alter his outlook on the situation remains to be seen.

Marcela\’s family are coming for Christmas and New Year, (with the exception of her Father, who has been banned, because he has not been following the protocols), I just hope nothing changes that, otherwise she will be gutted.

Yesterday, I started some more work, putting in new posts, for the barbed wire fencing in the Avocado orchard, many of the posts had rotted, I have had the replacements for months, but have been putting off doing the work, however it has to be done, so thanks to my Auger, I was able to get six done yesterday, probably another ten to go, before I am at the bottom of the abyss, once they are all in, I will go back along attaching the existing wire. It probably wont be at taught as it should be, but as it is only marking the boundary, not keeping animals in or out, it should suffice.

More work!

 Last week, two of Jaime\’s Crew returned to put a new floor in the guest bedroom, it was thought all the floors would be the same as in the lounge, so instead of just retiling, they dug out the floor, in doing so, found that it did have reinforcement in the concrete, and we could have just retiled.

However at least now we will not have to worry if the floor is going to collapse, from start to finish it was four days, and that included  re staining the wooden ceiling and painting the walls.

Marcela was so impressed, that she wants our bedroom done in the same ceramic tile, we are not having that work done until next year, it will be a bigger job, because our floor is sinking, like the lounge floor did, and it will have to be compacted, once ripped out, but to ensure we have the tiles, I have ordered them, and we are picking them up tomorrow. Something else to store in my workshop!

We had a problem with damp in the wardrobes, there was no evidence of water coming through the walls, but everything in there felt damp, and there was the start of grey mould under all the shelves. I decided that this was because there was no air ventilation, I started out by drilling holes and fitting grilles so that all areas of the wardrobe were interconnected, and then I drilled a 4\” hole through the wall from the outside and installing an aircon vent.

I installed this, and then bought vent covers for the inside, into which I siliconed mosquito net to stop the bugs getting in, then siliconed to the wall. Now we have permanent ventilation, and it seems to be working, next week, I have to do the same in my wardrobe in our bedroom.

We are keeping our fingers crossed at the moment, the land adjoining us, has been sold, fortunately only the access is near to our house, but we found out recently that the buyer intends to build a one storey small house alongside our fenceline to the orchard, and rent it out to an elderly couple, who seem to think they can dictate to anyone they like. The boundary was to be one meter from our fence, which legally is not allowed, but although we have deeds to ours, none of the houses here have planning permission, so we have to be careful what is said. 

They asked us to move our septic tank, as the only piece of land that is flat enough for them to build is bordering the tank, I told them outright, no I wouldn\’t move it, it had only recently been installed, and couldn\’t be moved further down the land, due to reaching it with the suction hose for emptying.

We then compromised, and said the venting tube could be moved further away, but only Jaime could do the work, and the owner had to pay for the work to be done, both Jaime and I thought he wouldn\’t go for this, Jaime submitted a quote, and bugger me, he accepted, so Jaime is here today with Oscar doing the work. Also they have now moved the boundary of the house 2.2m from our fence, we think that might have something to do with me saying I was looking at starting a project keeping pigs on that land! The only thing that may cause a problem now, is that the potential Renters, have two dogs, and since there is only a three strand barbed wire fence along the boundary, if the dogs come onto our land we will be having words, due to their attitude, I am not giving them an inch.

Now it\’s time to look to Christmas, because Marcela\’s Mum and Sister have said they will not come, if her Father is here, because he has not been strictly observing the Virus precautions, therefore he has been told he can\’t come this year, however there is still the possibility they wont be able to stay, because there are rumours we are going to be locked down again from mid December, which will go down like a lead balloon if it\’s true. However we are still preparing as if it is going ahead, and the Christmas lights are up, and Marcela is putting up the inside decorations, and the tree today.

Time Marches On

 There have been highs and lows this month, and I guess that is just the way life is.

I have been badgering a person who I thought was a friend, to come and install our Security Camera system, Omar was the Agent we bought the house through, and when Jaime was here he said that Omar also installed Cameras, he was really enthusiastic at first, he told me to buy a system from Amazon, and then he would come to see what was needed. It took a while for Amazon to send the system, which didn\’t help, but when it arrived I contacted Omar who came, told me he would order new cables as those supplied were for indoors, and then I heard nothing. 

After a while I contacted him again, but he didn\’t reply, eventually he said he was coming, failed to turn up, and then didn\’t reply to any messages, so last week, Marcela and I went to a Security Shop in town, he came and looked the job over, and is coming on Wednesday to install the system….hopefully!

The dog kennel has been a success, Pepe took to it far quicker than I anticipated

He is now happy to use it when we go out, which leaves the house and apartment totally secure.

Talking of dogs, I was not happy to see that my mini pine trees outside the fence were disappearing one by one, from the evidence it appeared local dogs annoying ours were ru8nning up and down the fence line, snapping or pulling out the pines, this left me with little option but to replace them. I decided to go different, and bigger, yes more costly, but I am happier with the end result.

Now we wait to see how long these take to grow. The surviving little pines, we had nowhere to put, so I donated them to our neighbour.

I also decided it was time to extend the planting up the parking area, we had a dozen of the climbing plants left over from those we planted along the security fencing, they had been bought as fill ins, if any died, but so far they have all survived, so I scraped back the gravel, cut the filter, and planted them.

originally I had thought I would put the little pines here, but decided the roots would damage the apartment, and they would grow big enough to block access for the car.

We needed to put something along the fence, as the plot of land which is accessed between me and our neighbours, has now been sold, and we think they are going to build on it, what, we have no idea at the moment, but we want privacy, we are just hoping they will respect the neighbourhood, which is family orientated and not noisy.

The other day, Marcela went outside, and saw someone dropping off property identity plaques, this now makes us official, we didn\’t think we would be allotted a number until our property was no longer \’proindiviso\’ (shared deeds), but it appears they have changed that ruling.

Now if there is a problem, we, or anyone else can phone the Police and just quote the number, there is no need to give directions, they will know where to come.

Oh well that just about brings us up to date, and now it is time for me to get the Smoker out and cook our Sunday lunch!

Back to work!

 It\’s been a busy week or so, I started off installing the house alarm system, it is now up and running, the instructions were translated by someone, somewhere in China, and hadn\’t a clue, but since it was similar to the system I installed in Copacabana, and with the aid of a YouTube video or two, it didn\’t take too long.

I upgraded the siren, so the neighbours will hear it, and we have tested it out, it works!

Marcela was cleaning the spare bedroom, as I had moved the bed and furniture across into the Cabaña, when she found an unwanted guest.

fortunately it was dead, but we will have to watch where we are treading without shoes on! It was only small, and I have no idea what a bite from one of these is like, but I rather not find out.

Last Sunday we had an invitation to the neighbours for lunch, as it was their eldest son\’s Birthday, it was a nice afternoon, we had cazuela, which is one of my favourites, and fortunately for the the weather was nice, if a bit breezy, so their grandchildren and friends, tired themselves out running around the garden.

We went shopping to Rionegro, and amongst other things, bought a bathroom cabinet for the cabaña, when we got it home, I opened the box, with the intention of putting it up, to replace the current mirror…

I thought flatpack was a thing of the past, anyway, it had to wait until this morning, when I assembled it, disassembled it, and re-assembled it, as the instructions we wildly out of sync, fortunately the glue had not set, and it was pretty easy to get right, once I had put the printed instructions in the bin. Now I just have to put it on the wall.

Marcela went over to the house in Bello, to meet up with a couple of kitchen fitters, and her Mother, we decided it was time to put a new kitchen in the house for her, the quotes came in much the same, but one was more modern than the other, so we went with that, and it will be installed the second week in November, at least, that is the current plan. In the mean time our old friend Diego, who did a lot of work for us in Copacabana, has quoted to removed the old kitchen, and make good, afterwards, at least I know his standard of work, so I am not worried… maybe I should be!

The last two days I have been doing a woodwork project, using recycled and left over timber.

I wanted a place that the dogs could shelter from the wind, when we go out, there is plenty of shelter from the rain, but until now, I have had to leave the cabaña open for them, it is not ideal, because it is now on the alarm system, so I made the double kennel, they each have their own door, but as Tito does not like being alone, the inside is \’communal\’, I placed it in the washing area, so it is protected from the rain. Tito likes it, but Pepe not so much, which came as no surprise, as he never used the one I built in Copacabana, however I am hoping that seeing Tito using it, he will follow suit. 

The boards are from our old driveway entrance gate, and the interior framing, are 2x2s left over from our shelving project.

Hopefully my next project will be building the double bunkbeds (double below, double above) for adults, but it wont be as easy as I thought, I went to price the timber yesterday, and they have no hardwood in stock, and don\’t know when they will get any, I wanted chanu or secondly abarco, but as it is used in construction, I think that all the Builders are making up for lost time, and buying up all the timber, I am going to have to do the rounds. They only had pine, but no guarantees as to quality, and here pine is the termites best friend.

This week, I am going to have to go out to buy the materials needed for the work over in Bello, and do a trip over there to ensure they are ready for work to begin, the Carpenter building the kitchen, is the Mother-in-law\’s next door neighbour, so he wont have far to go!

Party Time

 Since work on the house has come to an end for the moment, my posts will not be as regular, I don\’t see the point in boring you with mundane day to day rubbish. Shortly I will be starting on some woodwork projects so will keep you updated on those.

Last Sunday we had the finishing Party for all the workers and their families, most of them attended, those that didn\’t had other commitments, which is understandable. Marcela did a great job in organising all the food, drink and tables and chairs, it was easier for her to be the go between, rather than people keep saying they didn\’t understand.

We were also lucky with the weather, it turned out to be3 a lovely day, only starting to rain, after everyone had gone home, and we had just finished clearing up, with the help of our neighbours Camilo and Marta. We also had hired help during the day, paying the Mother of one of the workers to help Marcela out in the kitchen, it worked out well.

I started cooking the meat at 9.30am in the morning in our new barrel smoker, I had to cook in two sessions, as we had 25lbs of meat, and there was no way it was all going to fit in at the same time, each took about two and a half hours.

Here are links to a few photos and videos of the day, which I am told was enjoyed by all. I apologise for this method of showing the photos, but unbeknown to me, LG have ceased all support for their 360º camera, I can\’t even edit the photos, so the quality leaves a lot to be desired. I have a new camera on order, but until then…

1. The Party has begun

2. It\’s a little warm

3. Great Weather

4. I did my cooking well away from the kids to avoid any accidents

5.

2nd session of Cooking

The nice part was that no one had to worry about drink driving, as we put on a Bus for them, which everyone used.

Sorry!

 I apologise for there being no updates, it has been a hectic couple of weeks…

The work took a little longer to finish than thought, but the last week was just Jorge and José, tiling, and Jorge wont be rushed, he does a great job and we are really pleased with the results of his work, which I will show in a minute.

Since I last posted the carport has been completed

It took a bit of getting used to, gauging the reverse, because directly behind the car as you see it, is a drop, where we have a ramp down into the back garden, however, since the completion I have bought a stop, which is a rubber block, which when you contact it with the wheel, you know not to go any further!

We then had a water problem, our Water Company does not do much in the way of updating the infrastructure, and one of the main caste iron pipes broke, as a result we were without water for three days, we had warning that it would be 24hrs, as a result we had filled enough pans to last a day, and the 250 litre tank gave us water to flush the toilets and wash up in the kitchen, but it was not filtered, so we could not drink it, and there was not sufficient pressure to activate the showers.

On the third day, Marcela pestered the Company, apparently when they finished the repair and turned the water back on, it burst another pipe, they told us to go out and buy water, but as Marcela pointed out, we pay for a service, they are obliged to provide water Tankers if the cut goes beyond 24hrs, so later Nora from the water Company accompanied by a fire engine came down the road dishing out orange river water, which was of no use whatsoever, we needed to be able to wash. So we packed a bag and went down town, and rented a room in a Hotel to have a shower, we then had dinner out, to cheer ourselves up.

As a result, I realised Jaime\’s original advice had been right, we needed a bigger water tank to replace the 250 litre

it was just too small. Therefore we bought a 1000 litre tank

I listened to Jaime, and we changed the bottom supply pipe from 1/2\” to 1\”,  we moved all the pipes so that the tank is filled with filtered water, fine for drinking,  between the weight of the extra water and the wider pipe, we now have a slightly better flow, and can have a shower, until the level gets low and the pressure drops.

Now we will use the tank water for a day each month then top it up, just to keep the water moving. If this becomes a problem, the next alternative will be more costly, it would mean installing a pump, and the tank would become part of the main water system, so it would be moving all the time, and I wouldn\’t have to open and close taps, hopefully it will not come to that.

So the current situation, is that all the tiling has been finished to a high standard, (this was taken the day before he finished)

Jorge has also finished tiling in the Cabaña, in the meantime José did all the snagging jobs, touching up paintwork, staining wood etc.

We are now being held up by the Carpenter, who has to supply and fit all the Cabaña doors and kitchen, along with a new wooden front door for the house. He was paid 50% upfront, and keeps making excuses, if it wasn\’t for the fact that the quality of his work was so good, I would ask for a refund and go elsewhere, as it is, Marcela has had to intervene and stop me speaking to him.

Until the Carpenter comes and finishes the installation, we cant get the last two Tradesmen in to finish their work. I am seething!

At least now, I can potter again, and do the little jobs, the house gutter down pipes are just drain pipes painted black, no problem with that, but they need supports to stop them falling of the wall onto anyone nearby, so I went to the Builders Yard, but they had none in 3\”, however he suggested I make my own and save money, so that\’s what I have done, I bought a length of aluminium banding, cut it into strips, then made a template out of a section of pipe screwed to a wooden block, and production started.

drilled holes for the screws, then fitted.

Job done!

My other work, is going to take slightly longer. I have taken an idea, on a very small scale, from my time in Spain.

There was a system, whereby depending on the size of your plot, you had the right, for a small annual fee, to free water from the mountains, depending on your need, you were allotted certain times on certain  days, when you could open and close the water gates to the canals, then water your land, woe betide you, if you were caught taking water outside your time frame.

Well I have spare water, not clean water, but grey water, from the grease trap, which is water from, hand basins, kitchen, washing machine, showers and rainwater from part of the roof, it all goes down into an earth tank, and then soaks away, wasted… not any more! Now we can ensure the Avocado trees have sufficient water.

Soon I have to start my own woodwork projects, the spare room in the house, I have to build a loftbed to go over the existing double bed, and in the Cabaña I need to build a queen size bed, so I wont have much time to spend in the garden.

Nearly Finished!

 After six months we finally have an end in sight, Jaime thinks they will have finished by the end of the week, I know he has to get started on a new contract, and has pulled some men off out job to get it started, but I think we are realistically looking at next week.

However things have progressed during the last ten days, so it\’s time for a catch up.

The new steel top for the Grey water trap has been installed, and as you can see from the video, there is little chance of anyone falling in, even though it is in two pieces, it is still heavy, so I am waiting for Oscar to weld me on a couple of handles, to make it easier to move.

The parking area has been completed at the side of the house, they are just finishing the carport build, which again is a metal structure with polycarbonate roof.

Like wise the main parking area has been totally finished, land drains inserted, then covered in geotex and gravel.

Having the gravel makes a heck of a difference to the appearance, all the better because they have also concreted the entrance outside the gate, so no sliding around in the mud, when entering or leaving the house.
Work progressed on the Cabaña, but then came to another full stop, whilst they have been working around the outside.

The Electrician has been back and finished cabling, he just has to return to connect up the shower, and lights once the tiling is finished.

Likewise the Carpenter has been back and measured up for the doors, and to replace the front door on the main house, both entrance doors will now be timber, and stable doors, or as most on the internet are described, Dutch doors, the idea being we can open the tops to allow in air and light, whilst at the same time being able to keep the dogs in, or out, as required.

The quadrangle tiling is nearly finished, albeit this photo is from the early stages

Those of you who have been following the Blog, or my Facebook page will know that in March, I installed a water filter system, the filters stated to be changed every six months, so as we are almost there, and the water looked as if it was getting a slight tinge of brown in it again, I decided to go ahead and change them, and it\’s a good thing I did.

As you can imagine, the filter on the right is the new one, the one on the left had 1/8\” of mud covering it, I had to scrub out all the filter housings, before installing the new filters, which will now be changed at three months. For the Water Company to say this is drinkable water, is laughable if it wasn\’t so serious.
I think that about brings us up to date, so I will get out and do some work in the Orchard, before I get shouted at!

Selective…

I have to say, I am a bit disappointed, Jaime brought work to a halt on the Cabaña, and started ripping up the quadrangle outside our main entrance door.

I think, and I may be wrong, that this was done because he wanted more money at the end of the week, I am only upset, because until he finishes his work in the Cabaña, I can\’t bring in the other Trades, I know it will get done, but when?

The quad ripped up, they laid the new drains and water supply, and then the new concrete floor.
 

this will then be tiled, so Pepe\’s trademark paw prints are not a problem. They have also completed the rear patio, and footpaths around the house. Unfortunately, financial constraints mean it has to stay as bare concrete for now.

At the moment they are working on the base for the carport, which will be alongside the quadrangle, and will also give us a covered area if we have a party and the weather changes, which is more than possible, as the climate has gone loopy here, much like the rest of the world, our summer came to an abrupt end after two weeks, and we have had a mixture of sun, clouds and storms ever since. 

Another Week\’s Work

 All the old floors have been ripped out of the cabaña, new pipe work has been laid,

and then new concrete floors laid

again with reinforced metal in the concrete, unlike the original.

Yesterday, Juan the Carpenter who made the kitchen and interior doors for the main house, came to take measurements for the doors for the cabaña, the kitchenette, and separately a new main door leading into the house, which we will change if the quote goes in our favour. We decided that we have sufficient security around the house that a wooden door instead of a metal one, will not leave us any more vulnerable. For both buildings I want a stable door, so that light and air can enter the house, but the dogs can be shut in or out, as we wish, a door similar to this one.

Now we wait to see what he comes up with.