I haven't blogged for a while, but don't worry - I haven't been trapped beneath fallen roof beams or between rotten floorboards, but only by a creeping sense of paralysis that will be familiar to anyone who's ever attempted a project like this.
On their recent visit to Ponte da Mucela, we were reminded by our Norwegian friends, J. and B., of The 3Ts Principle. This states that, in Portugal, ambitious rebuilding projects don't tend to comply with the hard-headed schedules of estrangeiros (foreigners). Or in other words: in this part of the world, Things Take Time.
Holy Week and Easter were major disruptions to our well-laid plans and were swiftly followed by Gondelim's annual festa, which involved a further four-day shut-down. Needless to say, we didn't spend this time wringing our hands in anguish, but in joining in enthusiastically.
So, now that we've recovered from the festivities, where do we stand? Basically, we need to move in less than six weeks' time and there is still an enormous amount to achieve before we can do that. Tim, bless him, is working at least eight-hour days, seven days a week, and we get extra help, as and when we need to and can afford it.
I think the most significant thing we have in place already is an idea of how we want to rebuild Casa Cecilia. A good deal of the philosophy comes from Mark and Sally Bailey, authors of the book, Recycled Home. In it, they celebrate reusing and recycling materials and furniture in an eco-friendly way to create a home that's practical and comfortable.
In the Baileys' case, it's stylish too, but they're experts at this kind of thing. I wonder if our efforts will measure up? Either way, Recycled Home has become a bit of a bible to me, and I especially like the part where the authors say: "Anything that requires assembly using an Allen key is out."
So no trips to IKEA in Porto for us. The furniture we have bought is all secondhand, and beautiful, and mostly comes from a 300-year old Quinta (farm) near Espinhal, currently for sale. if you're looking for a holiday home. It's such a shame its owners have to sell and I hope whoever buys the place loves it as much as they clearly do.
Tim has built us a bed, using beams that were taken out off the roof when it was rebuilt. This is a good thing: our mattress is an extremely well-sprung (fnar) UK king-size that we lugged to Portugal from Hackney. Although expensive, it's been worth every penny, but we'd never find a bed out here to accommodate it, so it made sense to custom-build from materials we had to hand. The end-result is incredible - I'll post a pic shortly.
So we know what we want to achieve. It's now a question of how, and more importantly, when? But we do have a concrete floor in the kitchen and a concrete floor in the outside dining area. The fossa (septic tank) and chimney are built. Senhor Avellino is getting Tim some joists for the hallway where he's replacing the floorboards. The bathroom suite should arrive this evening, along with the boiler, and the plumbing and drains are already in place. The weather here is improving, albeit in fits and starts, and soon, we should be able to camp at Casa Cecilia in relative comfort. That means hot water, a functioning toilet, basic cooking facilities and a telephone/internet connection.
Despite the stress, I can't wait.