Friday, April 24, 2009

The end of the road

Well fianlly after about 12 years I have finally paid off all my debts. As some of you may know in the late 90's I got into some financial difficulties and ended with a large number of debts and county court judgments. One of these was with a company called Paragon Finance, I went to pay this debt of before I came out here only to discover that without my knoweledge they had been adding interest to the court judgment. So I have been fighting with them for quite a while to argue that I don't owe them any more than what I have paid them already, and a last this week the following letter arrived.As you should be able to see this letter states that the debt is paid in full. You sould have seen my reaction I was dancing around the kitchen. Saying "I've won, I've won".

The Crazy Helresa Concrete Slide of DOOM

Here we are with another Helresa contraption to make things a little more easy for us.
The Problem:
We need to pour concrete for the foundation of the wall repair two terraces below the cement mixer. In the past we have just carried it down in a bucket. This time there is quite a bit to move (about 8 to ten mixes) at 4 bucket loads a mix that is around 40 trips.
The Solution:
A rope slide... We have ridged up a line from the poles that hold up the vines out side the back of the house, down to a power pole on the terrace. Then the bucket gets slid down ... the concrete poured in to a wheelbarrow and then poured in to the foundation.

The Slide of DOOM

Poring concrete - There is a wheelbarrow there honest.

In Practice:
Once it was set up we discovered one small problem, the rope streches a little under load so that the bucket hit the ground on the terrace above its destination. But this was simple to solve, a little less in the bucket and put the rope up a little higher on the pole. Once this was done it actually worked quite well, most of the time.

The bucket on the slide.

Theresa did let go of the rope once or twice, neatly coating the power pole with concrete and almost decapitating me, but in the end we had the foundation done .. now its time for a shower and off out.The Finished foundations... A Good Mornings work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The weeds are as high as an Elephants eye.

We may have problems growing veg but weeds just grow, and then we have to cut them down. Here is Theresa trying to strim some thistles that are almost as tall as she is....

Image by Sheila

With a Little Help From Our Friends

Well to be totally honest "With a lot of help from our friends".
Saturday Sheila and family came over to give me my delayed Christmas Present, it was delayed due to the weather, "One days Hard labor" So we spent the day doing work around the place on things that needed several good bodies to get them done.

Carlos digging for Spain

We (well Sheila and Carlos manly) cleared most of the collapse of part of one of the terrace walls, We had cleaned it up last November but did not have the spare cash for the concrete needed to start fixing it, and due to all the rain another section collapsed. Carlos was great, give him a shovel and ply him with beer (Ops forgot the beer) and he will dig his way to the center of the Earth. By the end of the day most of the fall was cleared and almost ready for the new foundations.

Watching a man at work

Just before lunch Anne and David arrived with their land rover full of Blockes (Breeze blocks), They were kind enough to say that they would pick any building materials up (that they could fit in the van) when they were going past, as Bertha is no more..

After lunch and another session of clearing , Carlos helped to erect the new temporary bathroom roof, (I hope that this time it will not leek, mind you it may not rain that much more now.) All in all it was a very good day.

The new loo roof - some plastic and old water pipes

Carlos helping getting the new roof up.
Image by Sheila

Then this week, we found that, when we returned from teaching in Santa Cruz on Tuesday that Anne and David and been again with another load of Blockes and all the Plastic piping that we need to run the drains under the kitchen floor and for the drainage for the BBQ and patio area.

We are so grateful for our friends, with out them we could not get this place sorted out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dodging the Rain

The weather has been so wet this spring that we have not managed to get much done, Most of the jobs on the house are ether outside or need dry conditions.... But we have made some headway in between the showers, with the outside kitchen (BBQ area and patio), Laying Drains and Yearly Vine work.
Outside Kitchen:
All the iron work for the support pliers for the walls have been put in and some of the concrete has been pored and we have even laid some blocks. Work has stalled this week though as we have run out of cement, having a small car means that we can only buy two bags at a time at the moment so can not get in a large stock, and all the shops are shut as its Easter, but maybe tomorrow...
Overview of the BBQ area

We only plain to put the walls up only part way at the moment, and put in the patio so that we can use the area for this Summer and we have limited funds but it will be nice to have somewhere for the BBQ and to sit that is not on a large slope.
Ironwork for piers

Main Drains:
Work has started on running main Drain to the Pozo Negro (Big dark hole in the ground) again, It needs to go under the floor of the kitchen and into the new bathroom. Luckily it looks like the old drain (just a sort of troff that allowed the water from the old kitchen sink to drain to the garden) can be used to lay the pipe most of the way to the bathroom. But this still needs to be excavated as it is full of dirt, the hot and cold pipes to and from the shower, and a lot of other things that I don't want to mention...
Excavation of the old drainage channel

Not much has been done on here, need to get the drains laid and the flower bed moved as well as water proofing the roof.
I have pruned most of the vines, again this has run very late partly due to the wet weather and partly due to the lack of time. This year I have experimented with a very brutal pruning, reducing the number of new branches. At the moment this seems to be doing very well. We will see how things work out later in the year.

One other thing that has slowed things down, is that I seem to not be able to get going, there is so much to do that sometimes I just seem to run round not doing anything just trying to workout what to do. Then when I try to write a list of what to do I just put too much down so that at the end of a week I am so tired that I need to rest for the next week.
One Day I might get it right, I just hope that it is sometime soon....