Monday, September 29, 2014

Ribbon Drive

Thinking about what to do with the driveway entrance and patio area.  I´m really happy with the entrance as is - two tracks with greenery in the middle, called a ¨ribbon drive¨.

This example is perhaps a little OCD - couldn´t be trimming and edging all the time.

From an article on Houzz - ¨Nowadays the design is making a comeback due to its environmental benefits and nostalgic appeal. Environmentalists are drawn to the design for several reasons: It requires less impervious material, features additional greenery and means far less water runoff.¨

It doesn´t have to be grass and gravel.  There are lots of examples with cement, brick, and cobbles.

There are also new materials which hold up to traffic, but are semipermeable.  Don´t really like the looks of it.

But a hidden substructure would be OK.

When we first bought the house we had some large scale (4¨ -5¨)gravel put down, knowing that there would be a lot of truck and vehicle activity.  And in the interim it has almost entirely disappeared.  Sunk?  We´re not in a position to be spending hundreds of euros on gravel every 3 years, so building up an appropriate foundation is important. I wonder if this might be the occasion for landscape cloth.  Eww.

I had thought about using something atypical like crushed shell.  You´d think Galicia would have it´s share of mussel, clam and oyster shell to dispose of.  But haven´t had much luck finding a supplier.  So I guess it´s back to gravel. Simple, elegant, old fashioned gravel.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Una Granja para el Futuro

This is a lovely (Devon is gorgeous) and important documentary on the future of farming from the BBC.  Now a link with Spanish subtitles!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Etsy store now open!
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Monday, September 8, 2014


We also did get some things done around the grounds.

V got out the strimmer and had a go at the bread oven, again.  In two months, the nettles were 3 feet tall.

He managed to get most of the area next to the neighbors done, and a path around to the larger pasture to the south of the barn.

The barn itself is covered in an overgrowth of blackberries worthy of a fairytale.  Even though he couldn´t manage them with his little machine, they did have fruits, so there´s an upside.

We were informed by the new neighbor that it was time to clean out the gutter running along the north side of the access road, which everyone seems to think hasn´t been cleaned out for the last decade or more.  The benefits are that the runoff from autumn rains will drain on that side of the road, and not alongside our foundation.  And to their credit, they all pitched in to help when we were out there on the second morning.  As a side benefit, we got 10 loads of beautiful composted earth.  I have reservations, since a lot had invasive roots of ivy, etc.  But I put together a hillbilly compost bin with old pallets and zip ties.  We have pallets left over for a future wood store.

The grapes growing along one end of the barn actually produced fruit this year.

And lastly,  put down some of the stacks of cardboard packaging from the flooring to try to suppress the exuberant nettles that spring up around the foundations.  We need to do something about the drive and back patio area, which will go to mud once it starts raining again.

And I derive no end of pleasure contemplating the woods along side.  I´m told that parcel belongs to an absentee local family heir who now lives in Asturias.  Mostly, it seems to be used by some hunters to train their dogs to hunt rabbits.

Monday, September 1, 2014

House Update

Back from 2 weeks at the house.  Got alot done, but we´re knackered.  The house is stunning.  I can´t believe I get to live there.

First the house:

A BIL and sister stopped the first two nights to help us put up some light fixtures on their way to the coast. 

V managed to sand and stain ALL the windows and the patio doors. I put a coat of linseed oil on the remaining beams and window frames, added some weatherstripping and washed windows.  And swept and mopped about 200 times.  The dust is unbelievable.

We ordered a few kitchen cabinets and a countertop from Ikea, along with a sofa bed (yeah!), and had that delivered.  
We put the cabinets together and modified the one for the farm sink so it can be undermounted beneath the oak butcher block, which got 3 coats of varnish top and bottom. At 80x50 cm (30x20 in) the sink was a steal from a pueblo on the way out of Madrid.  The stamp says it was made in the 1950s and it has it´s share of chips and scratches and a couple of faint rust stains - patina! The sink opening still has to be cut.  We were tired.

Having to think about the fixture above the sink.  It´s exactly in the way of shelving or a plate rack.

Met the remaining neighbor, a nice 20-something guy who´s fixing up his own place, along with his 7 month old water spaniel pup. His family goes way back in the area. We got some home baked goods to try, courtesy of his mother. The other neighbors sent us home with homegrown potatoes and onions.  I think we´ve been fortunate.

We had the plumber out and fired up the wood cook stove - that thing is a beautiful beast! Have to get a pumice stone to keep the top in shape. Heated all the radiators in no time, they will need brushing and painting, and then some.  Another project for the list.  He adjusted the water heater to the pressure level of the mains connection and we had no problems and toasty showers.

Ate, drank, and were mostly in bed by 10.  V says he lost 8 pounds. 

Now have the paperwork to apply to get the electric service connected, next making inquiries for internet setup.

Outside progress in another post.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting

I went to see an exhibit of 19th century paintings at the Thyssen-Bornemisza called Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting in the Perez-Simon collection.  This is the kind of traditional realist art that makes a modernist/conceptual/abstract expressionist aficionado´s lip curl along with a simultaneous retina-detaching eye-roll. I thought it was gorgeous.

From the website:
After being shown in Paris and Rome, the exhibition Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting arrives at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in June 2014, offering visitors the chance to discover the aesthetic sensuality of some of the most celebrated 19th-century English artists. In their paintings Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Sir Frederic Leighton, Albert J. Moore and Dante Gabriel Rossetti emphasised values that were strikingly different to the moralising attitudes of the day, including a return to classical antiquity, an interest in the nude, rich decorative effects and references to medieval themes inherited from the Pre-Raphaelites.
The exhibition, curated by Véronique Gerard-Powell, Paris Sorbonne University professor, includes a selection of works, among them icons of British art such as The Roses of Heliogabalus by Alma-Tadema; Greek Girls collecting Pebbles from the Sea by Leighton: The Quartet by Albert Moore; and Andromeda by Poynter, have been loaned from the private Pérez-Simón collection, one of the most important in the field of Victorian art.
The skin glows, the drapery alternatively clings and floats, the sun dazzles.  Masterful technique that sweeps you away to the long ago and far away as conceived by the  imagination of Victorians.  Anachronisms, paternalism, sexism, colonialism all there, but also stunning draftsmanship, color, and unabashed romanticism.

The pièce de résistance is the enormous The Roses of Heliogabalus, 1888 by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Dutch!) depicting a Roman (of course) banquet wherein the guests are slowly smothering under a deluge of rose petals.  Those petals are all individually rendered, accompanied by the scent of roses wafting through the salon.

I was very much looking forward to Waterhouse´s Crystal Ball, but  have to say I wasn´t knocked over.   I was more impressed by  the luminescent nymph Crenaia.


Virtual tour here.
Informational video here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

San Roque

August is a month of festivals.  Practically every pueblo has a festival this month.  And one of the most poplar is San Roque.

Cambados, igrexa de San Francisco

San Roque, or St. Roch, was a 14th century Christian Saint, born in Montpellier the son of a nobleman.  After the death of his parents, he distributed all his possessions and set out on a mendicant pilgrimage to Rome.  Italy was suffering an epidemic of plague at the time and Roque performed many miraculous cures by touch and the sign of the cross while tending the sick at various hospitals.  When he himself fell ill, he was run out of town to build himself a hermit´s hut in the forest where a spring miraculously arose.  He was saved from starvation by the dog of a local nobleman who brought him bread.  The nobleman, Count Gothard, became an acolyte.

And then, to top all ths off,
On his return incognito to Montpellier he was arrested as a spy (by orders of his own uncle) and thrown into prison, where he languished five years and died on 16 August 1327, without revealing his name, to avoid worldly glory. (Evidence suggests, as mentioned earlier, that the previous events occurred, instead at Voghera in the 1370s.) After his death, according to Legenda Aurea,
"anon an angel brought from heaven a table divinely written with letters of gold into the prison, which he laid under the head of S. Rocke. And in that table was written that God had granted to him his prayer, that is to wit, that who that calleth meekly to S. Rocke he shall not be hurt with any hurt of pestilence."
With all the recent talk about Ebola, a patron saint against pestilence seems timely.

In Galicia there are August 16th festivals to San Roque in:  Vilagarcía, Vigo, Santiago de Compostela, Viveiro, Ribadeo, Cervo, Meira, Rábade, Sada, A Laracha, Cee, Melide, Celanova, Ourense, O Barco, Castrelo de Miño, Forzáns (Ponte Caldelas) y Caldas de Reis, and Betanzos, amongst others.  Vigo is a big one,
Every year, thousands of devotees gather in the vicinity of the Praza de España, in the neighbourhood of San Roque, to keep the largest pilgrimage in Vigo alive. Votive offerings are the most typical part of this celebration: the custom is to buy wax reproduction of diseased body parts to ask San Roque for a cure. The saint’s devotees guarantee that the 'holy milagreiro' is able to heal all ailments.
Melide has a medieval market.  Maybe next year.