A bit of a void
I have spent the most relaxing afternoon on the beach, had a couple of G&Ts, and a glass of rosado, so forgive me if I get sentimental and maudlin, but I feel the need.
Our neighbours, Visi and Clemente left today. They have gone to Barcelona to be with their son and are not due to return until September at the earliest. Andrew and I both feel a sense of loss, amplified by the fact that, last weekend, we had such a lovely time with friends, Chei and Sara, and they had to leave too, to go back to their own lives. It is a sad truth that the downside of having guests come to stay is that we have to say goodbye at some stage. We never experienced this in London, as we really didn’t have guests to come and stay.
We have become very fond of Visi and Clemente. They are our immediate neighbours and we share a courtyard on one side of the house. We have shared common woes over the vagaries of the postal service’s desire to post our letters in the box that sits behind a locked gate rather than the more readily available box on the other side of the house. Visi has cast many a critical eye over our sweeping, as this is such an important and integral part of life in the village. Any self-respecting resident takes great care to ensure that their outside space is kept spick-and-span. Clemente has been a constant presence over the winter whenever we had logs delivered, giving tips and advice regarding the best wood to buy, and suggesting that we had, perhaps, not bought the best.
When we returned here from a visit to London back in January, we gave Visi and Clemente a tin of Harrods biscuits as a small gift. The next day, the pair came to the house bearing a huge sack of oranges and another bag of lemons from their plot of land. At Christmas, we bought them a small gift of Polvorones, and they reciprocated with a bottle of Cava. We had a small mouse take residence in the house recently, and Clemente lent us his mousetrap, and shortly before they left for Barcelona, we had a lengthy discussion about how best to dress the trap to catch the mouse. Apparently, the smallest crumbs of cheese do the trick and our heavy-handed approach using chunks of cheese and fat off the jamón were doomed to failure. I told Clemente that perhaps we ought just to get a cat.
We didn’t live in each others’ pockets by any means. There were times when, stuck in my ‘studio’ (guest bedroom) trying to record a lengthy voiceover script or a radio programme, I was driven slightly insane by Clemente’s amazing ability to talk incessantly to the world in general for hours on end. Today, I was able to record non-stop without any background noise. However, there is a huge gap, and we miss them! We said our fond farewells yesterday, and I sincerely hope that they do come back to Saleres before we have to leave this lovely house and this lovely village - our plan is to move to Granada for the 6 months over winter, but I think we are both already feeling very sad at the thought.
We returned from the beach this afternoon and from the roof terrace I looked out at the golden sunshine casting shadows on the hillside opposite and I was reminded once again that we live in one of the most beautiful places imaginable. We both felt that Visi and Clemente were our link with the village; our support in times of need. I am talking as if we will never see them again, and we most certainly will, but the sense of loss is real right now. We have found solace in our new village bar, and the ever-warm welcome we receive from the host, Kaiser, who has (unknowingly) opened another little portal to life here in this rural village. We get to speak Spanish, see neighbours we have never before seen, put down roots and, inevitably, this means that we fall even further in love with this intoxicatingly wonderful place.
I did warn you that I was feeling sentimental but I feel that it is important to express just how much it means to be here. Chei and Sara’s recent visit reinforced just how much we love having people to stay and with whom we can share this amazing life we have, and we can’t wait for my children to return in just over a week’s time.
The immediate neighbourhood is just that little bit quieter without the presence of Visi and Clemente and I am sure they have no idea that, in their own way, they have been a part of the mix that has worked its way into Andrew’s and my emotions making it impossible to think anything other than that this is now, very much, our home.