It seems a little strange beginning a blog from Spain while I’m travelling back to the UK! The reality is that sitting on a plane for a couple of hours gives me the space to think back over a busy few weeks. We completed the purchase of ‘El Palmeral’ on May 24th 2011, after a rollercoaster few months when the legal complications of buying a ‘rustic’ property in Spain were probably expected but – well – complicated. However, the finance was made available, the house was pronounced ‘legal’, and we picked up the keys.

Julie and I had driven down from the UK with a very full VW Sharan and topbox, so if the neighbours saw us as we drove down the camino for the first time, I guess they would have been reminded of the opening credits of ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’ for those of a certain age!

Julie was only able to stay a couple of nights at that time as, sadly for her, the Icelandic ash cloud cleared way too quickly, thus preventing a visit extension. However, we still managed to entertain and accommodate even on the first night, as Eamonn & Barbara (originally from Dublin, now good friends in Spain) joined us to celebrate and were a huge help in the initial ‘liveability’ challenge.

Special times, Mike (on holiday in Spain) joined us the next day, Peter & Riekie (who have a finca four miles away) visited and helped me with DIY and garden expertise, and it was beginning to feel like home.

I could REALLY bore you with a long list of all the micro-challenges that we’ve faced since those first days, but one story has the swimming pool as the subject. We have a well, yes, a well of our own with a pulley thingy that says ‘please put a tin bucket on me and draw water so that I can bathe in a tin-bath outside’ . . .

. . . thankfully, to spare you that thought, it also has a very efficient pump that we used to fill the swimming pool in the first couple of days, so by Day 4 we had a full clear blue pool.

By the morning of Day 5, I awoke to the horror of a half full pool – oh no – the plug has been pulled out, we have a crack in the side of the pool, the lizards were very thirsty (or very big!), evaporation is really, really fast in Spain, all of these thoughts rapidly ran through my mind as I pulled the well hosepipe out of
the water accompanied by a strong ‘glooping’ sound. Now ‘O’ level Physics seems a long time ago to me (mainly because it was in 1974), but my rusty brain
retrieved words such as ‘vacuum’, ‘pressure difference’ and . . . . . ‘siphon’.

Yep, I had filled the pool, leaving the hosepipe in the previous night thus also un-filling it again, taking all my lovely pool chemicals back down into the well with
it. Brings a whole new meaning to chlorinated water, no problem with tooth decay here, shiny new gnashers free and included within a night’s stay!

Thinking about the pool filling reminded me of a recent idea I’ve read that there are two major tasks to human life. The first task is to build a strong ‘container’ or identity; the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold. Our culture is largely concerned with surviving successfully, building
identity, home, relationships, friends, community and security – the first task. But I guess it’s not as straightforward to ‘find the contents’. Perhaps ‘El Palmeral’ can be place to help us, including Julie and I, along that journey towards our true selves – I hope so!

I was going to say that it’s not as simple as filling your ‘container’ from a well, but maybe it is.

Jesus said
‘whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; the water
that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life’

John 4:14

YBH – Yes, but how? I ask myself – methinks pool hydrodynamics is not all I need to learn.