Cava, Smokehoods and the Realities behind Living the Dream

Woodpiles, mineral water and Spanish Cava... living the Alpujarra dream!

Is it inappropriate to write my first blog of 2018 under the influence of a cheap bottle of Spanish Cava?  Some may take a sharp intake of breath and judge me… but I hope some of you will just laugh and say… “Way to go Sally” and join me on the journey of living life from the heart and being totally in my truth.

Blogger at work with a glass of obligatory New Year bubbles and a wrap against the chilly mountain air.
It’s me! Blogging… with bubbles… and a warm fluffy wrap.

Today is the 1st of January 2108… and I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of well being (suitably enhanced by bubbles of course) but backed up by a deep sense of knowing that despite the crazy ride of our first 4 weeks in Spain… we absolutely have done the right thing… and that everything is going to be ok. 

We are now meeting our living expenses… we can feel the warm sunshine on our faces… we can breathe in the fresh air… we can eat organic local produce… we can be in awe of the ever changing view of the mountains…. we can freeze our asses off at night but know that it’s only for a couple of months over winter… we can look up at the incredible beauty of the bright stars in the night sky with no light pollution… and we can perfect the art of patience while buffering on a VERY slow wifi internet connection.  And I mean… torturously

S   L   O   W.

But what does this new life in Spain actually look like?

Well… My Gorgeous Man is now lovingly nicknamed  “UgMan”… because MGM is chief wood gatherer, water collector and fire builder.  And he’s very, very good at it.  If ever you need your fire lit, so to speak, then he’s the real deal.  We have roaring warmth, romantic atmospheres and lots of flexing muscles as the wood is gathered by the wheelbarrow load from Paco’s down the road.

We also collect and bottle natural mineral water from the local Lanjarón mountain springs… and our life is no longer regulated by a central heating thermostat or a water filter jug to try and save us from the perils of fluoride.

And we love it.

Seriously… life has totally transformed and we already know we can never go back into the fray of modern, city life.

Wood pile with a view onto the Orgiva mountains.
Wood with a view…

I have to admit that I love accompanying MGM to go buy our wood.  The views are stunning and it’s natural eco-living for beginners.  There’s a mahoosive pile of logs… and Paco and MGM just fill up the boot of our ever reliable but totally ‘spot the newbie in town’ UK plated estate car and hey presto, you have heating for the next week or so. 

Paco doesn’t speak English… but there is an unspoken camaraderie through smiles and mutually convenient transactions… and there’s always Google translate for when Spanglish mixed with my Portuguese fails!

Our favourite water filling station in Lanjaron
UgMan bring water…

I also love going to collect our drinking water, which comes straight off the mountain.  Lanjarón (the next village along) is renowned for the healing properties of it’s local springs and throughout the village there are different fountains to choose from. 

Some of the springs say ‘Aqua Potable’… and these are the ones to avoid as the water has been treated.  But all the others are pure, natural mineral water.  If you’re brave enough to brave the single dirt track to get up to the back of Lanjarón there’s an especially famous spring, which is where the water for my Spanish Retreats is collected from.  This water is specifically good for kidney function.  It also tends have a bit of a queue.  But we love the taste and ease of the spring just as you enter Lanjarón from the Orgiva side, that’s got easy parking… no queues… and a rather quaint bar nearby… with more stunning views, beer on tap… and tapas.  Multi tasking is key, don’t you know.

But let’s step out of the eco-romance of our new life in Spain, and keep it real.


We sooo needed smoke hoods for when the mountain winds got up and our homely, romantic fire became a downright health hazard…. because instead of all the smoke going up the chimney, it blew straight out into our small living area.   It was WAY worse than going through the smoke chamber during my Hot Hostie days of annual airline safety checks… because this was real smoke… and there was no escape.  But least there wasn’t a toilet fire drill to complete.  There’s always an upside.  And we have Cava in the fridge too.


We had nights where we were literally smoked out.  We tried to ignore it for a while… we tried to laugh it off… and we even tried to pretend it wasn’t  happening. We kept going out into the garden for gulps of fresh air… we opened windows to create a through breeze that just ended up bringing what smoke had gone up the chimney, out round the house and back in again through the window… but the reality was, no matter how cold it was… having the fire burning, just wasn’t worth it. 

So there were a good few nights in December where we’ve had to go without the warmth of a fire, and instead wrap ourselves up in thick blankets and fill up our hot water bottles.

We then admitted defeat and went in search of a portable gas heater.

Now, you would think that buying a portable gas heater would be easy.  Simples.  Go to shop.  Point at heater.  Get credit card out.  Buy.

Can you hear me laughing??!   Ooooh no!  Not so easy!

We sourced one at a local hardware store in Orgiva.  We Pointed.  Went to the cash register… and then found the rubber tubing, tube clips and gas regulator added into the bill.  Didn’t expect that… but essential all the same!  When I asked via Google Translate about where to buy the actual gas bottle…. the woman happily went into a stream of fast Spanish and all I picked up was “BP garage.” 

Thinking we had it sussed, I nodded and smiled and as MGM and I were gathering up our new heating system to take out to the car… a great big booming, very English voice appeared from behind us.

“Did you understand that?”

“Er, yes I think so!  We can get the gas bottles at the BP garage.”

“Well, you can get the bottles refilled at the garage but you have to rent and draw up a contract with the Gas Bottle Man to get the bottles in the first place.”

“Ah.  Ok.  Totally didn’t understand that then!  Thank you!”  There are advantages to living in an area with expats also striving to live the dream.

All wrapped up and cozy against the cold!
It was a cold run up to Christmas!

So it turned out that you have to find the infamous Gas Bottle Man and his lorry, which is generally found around somewhere at sometime.  He draws up a contract with you to lease his gas bottles, which you can then exchange back with him for full ones… or go to the BP garage. 

Except nobody knew where the Gas Bottle Man was right then.  But he would be around near the hardware store the next morning at about 10am…ish.  Well, we didn’t want to wait… it was cold at night and we had a new gas heater that needed christening. 

So we drove up to the BP garage on the other side of town (all 5 minutes away) and tried to blag it.  We asked to buy a gas bottle.  Except they wouldn’t sell us one, because we didn’t have one.  But… it turned out that they had the mobile number of the Gas Bottle Man… so our friendly BP man phoned him to find out where he was… and then tried to tell us in Spanish. 

And I soooooo didn’t understand.  I felt such a numpty as I just couldn’t catch what he was saying.  Only one word stuck out…. hospital.  The rest was a blur but at least we had a starting point… and off we went with huge smiles of gratitude and waves of ‘Thank God, we’re getting somewhere.’

And Hey Presto…. we found the Gas Bottle Man… or I should say, we found his lorry parked up behind the 24 hour emergency health clinic.  He appeared after a few very long minutes of us loitering awkwardly on the street… and then more fun began. 

Talk about feeling like a fish out of water.  He wanted our address so that he could draw up a contract, so that he could lease us 2 gas bottles. 

My spookywuwu senses knew he was internally saying “Oh My God… save me from these gringos…”

When we showed him our rental address (which luckily MGM had on his phone)… it didn’t have a house number.  Our address is basically… “One of Rosa’s rental houses, at the back of Orgiva.”  And neither of us have a Spanish NIE number yet… we looked like two, very dodgy gringos taking the piss. 

It was stalemate.

We laughed, smiled… tried google translate to say that we’ll be staying in the area longterm and that we were actually very nice people indeed… and that he could trust us… grovel, grovel, grovel… in Spanglish.  But, without that numbered address or NIE… it was still a deffo No-No.

Sometimes we just have to get over ourselves and enjoy this crazy journey called life!
Laugh… and the world laughs with you!

We had a nice new heater but… nothing to heat it with.

Then something shifted… and all of a sudden he sold us two gas bottles instead of leasing them.   And gave us a lesson filled with wry laughter and wide smiles in how to attach the regulator and make all the working components actually work.  Thank you Gas Bottle Angels!

We now had heating!  YAY!  

We got home feeling very pleased with ourselves.   And then our egos were very quickly put to rest when it took no less than  5frikkinghundred attempts at sparking the lighter… with the air turning putrid blue from all the swearing… to actually get it going.  

But OMG… it was so worth it.
We had heating without acrid, eye stinging smoke!

It’s the basics and small stuff that really make all the difference.

Now, one of the other major challenges we’ve faced is our piss poor internet connectivity.  God dammit, I really miss our superduper fast, hyper-optic broadband!  This was THE major concern about moving down here… but ever ahead of the human game, the Universe has already started sorting that out… because we’ve unexpectedly been served notice and now have to leave our new found home by 27th March…

Instead of freaking out… we’re taking it as a mahoosive blessing and a means to find that perfect home where we can get a really strong phone signal… and I can continue to share my Channelling Love work without stressing about livestreams conking out…. or needing the patience of an incredibly saintly angel for uploading videos et all.

Mind you… a powerful,  angel was right by my side on the day that I was being interviewed by Fi Munro of Light, Love and Mermaid Tails.  Fi is an inspirational woman, she won Health Blogger of the year 2017 and is a stage 4 ovarian cancer warrior bringing forward her own unique, positive, all encompassing approach to her journey with cancer.   She’s amazing… and you can watch the full interview below!

So… despite knowing that it is notoriously difficult to find longterm affordable rentals with summer approaching…  we are not falling into the black hole of…. “Oh my God, we’re homeless again.” 

Because, like I said at the beginning… I know all will be well.
The Universe has got our backs.
And a bottle of Cava is only €2.69 on offer. 

On my next instalment of Namaste This, I’ll be sharing the story of a wild boar crossing, getting lost in torrential rain in the middle of the night on the way back from Malaga airport… and Sir Maxelot’s unfortunate emergency visit to the Spanish vets and subsequent synchronicity of meeting an animal healer. 

Or…  I could just open another bottle of bubbles and see which of the many stories from the past few weeks wants to come out first!  There’s a lot of them!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and may 2018 be the year that YOU follow your heart to make your dreams come true.





PS.  Go grab a cuppa or a bottle (!)  and enjoy the interview with Fi Munro as I share my journey into Channelling Love!