When we looked at this finca 18 months ago, we were taken by the land with its lovely contours and fruit and olives, but I was less convinced by the house. After all it is a breeze block shed. prettified with some cream paint and a grapevine, and even after the cramped Pennine cottage we used to call home, this summer/weekend casa is SMALL. And for us it would be a permanent all-year round dwelling.
Somehow, and with the help of several evenings spent drawing and redrawing where the internal walls could be moved to, we agreed that it was worth having a go at making this place into a home. And generally, we are making progress. But not today – which has been as hot as Huddersfield – and that is saying something – with a consequent sense of humour failure that has been family-wide. Not a good day for Mum to start moving the furniture round in a desperate attempt to create show-home-finca-perfection. Suffice to say it hasn’t worked; the table and sofa are back where they started, the dog is confused and we all had to retreat to the beach to get some perspective!
Part of the problem is that in order to live more simply, and with less space, you are meant to magically find that a) you no longer need all your stuff and b) your kids are happy with that. Time pressures and disorganisation meant that when we finally brought over our possessions, included were enormous amounts of plastic rubbish left over from games that were played in the distant past, picture books that are now derided – but not got rid of – and dolls – oh the dolls!
Graham and I are just as hide-bound by our things – I have bags and boxes of birthday cards that date back to my babyhood, diaries that chart my adolescent and student agonies and a dog-eared copy of my MA dissertation which I can no longer understand. G has old school reports, ancient tomes on how to set up co-operatives and endless supplies of electrical cable.
So what is the answer to this dilemma. To use a quote from my old teaching days – we are ‘working towards’ uncluttered, simple nirvana – VERY slowly. Clearing the detritus, reshaping the inside of the house, repairing the dog-chewed sofa, building a bed for the 5’6″ son, whilst trying our hardest to not want new things, or clean things or just stuff that hasn’t been bleached by the sun into a vague grey/taupe. Instead to celebrate what we have here – potential.
Some days are easier than others …. today has been challenging, tomorrow, with a cooler breeze and a nice glass of wine, may be less so!