May '07

At long last the hot weather has arrived. This week the temperatures have been above 25c and the nightime lows around 17c. Everyone in the village has started getting up about an hour earlier so they can get their work finished before the midday heat puts an end to all serious activity. Then things start up again around 5-6pm and keep on going till midnight or later.

We have been working hard in our olive groves strimming paths through the sea of wild flowers and grasses and pruning strategic trees to allow us better views of the mountains behind the property

Last week we drove up to the top of Mt Caro, which is highest of the peaks in the El Ports range behind our ptoperty. While we were there we took this picture looking down at the Mill. Our land is the dark ground to the left of the water and starts above the pale ground (cultivated olive groves) and arcs off to the left.

Last Sunday we drove up the Ebro valley to a Rasquerra where they were holding a Goat Fair. This celebrates the times when the village used to be a centre for goat herders and goat sales. Herds would be driven all the way from Barcelona down to the village by their herders who were looking to get the best prices for the animals.

Yesterday a water diviner arrived to find the best place to drill for a well. Using a pair steel rods, linked in a V shape, he walked across the property parallel with the mountains behind us. For a hundred metres nothing happened, then over a 2 metre stretch, the tip of the rod leaped upwards in a series of very strong vibrating motions. At that point his mobile phone started ringing. :)
After the call, he continued on for another 20 metres without any reaction, then turned and came back along the original path he had taken. At exactly the same point the rods went wild. Having established where the underground stream was, he put the rods away and cupped his hands and went very still. After a minute, or two, he announced that the water was between 140-150 metres down.
Having done the mystical bit, he then went off to check his findings using modern technology. Out came a Garmin Etrek GPS system on which he no doubt had a map overlay of underground water table data. A quick look at that and he confirmed he would come back with his drilling truck and bore a hole down which he would insert a steel pipe. A specialist borehole pump can then be lowered down into the water and will be powered by a 3 phase 400volt generator of around 4Kw.

11th May

The daytime temperature in the shade hit 30c for the first time. It was 27c by 10am. The overnight low was 19c. Scorchio. Gentle breezes helped the sweat dry, but hats are now essential. We are having to water our flower pots every evening.
After waiting for 8 weeks, our surveyor is going to come and survey the Mill and the surrounding land. He arrived with a local architech who had a good look around and agreed that the walls were in the best shape they had seen on such a property. They are solid stone walls and it should be easy for us to knock through the doors and windows that we want to create when we start the restoration. The surveyor only speaks catalan, but does understand spanish, and now we have enough spanish words to allow some basic communication.
We celebrated by going out to order a steel shed and pergola from the local Ferreteria. We were expecting to be told there would be a 10 day delivery, but the jefe said "ahora" (now), so we trooped off in the car with one of their lads to a warehouse on the outskirts of Tortosa and the lad and his mate loaded a van with the various bits and pieces for the shed and pergola, then followed us down the road to drop the off at the Mill.
The next day we went off in the van in search of a woodyard to buy some plnks to form the footings for the base of the shed and the patio beneath the pergola. After a bit of argy bargy, we came away with twelve 5 metre planks and over a couple of days, scraped a area clear and levelled them off. Then we were off to the local rock shop where they crush sandstone into everything from sand to 60mm stones. With 1/2 metre of 20mm ballast on board we collected 4 bags of cement from the builders yard and went back to the Mill to mix our first barrowload of concrete. A couple of barrowloads and we had concreted in the stakes to hold up the pergola.

A cement mixer is next on the list as there is no way that I'm mixing the 5 cubic metres of concrete required for the footings in the wheelbarrow.

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