On Sunday I was invited to a meal with the owners of “El Parral” and their daughter, and they cooked a traditional Spanish meal on the outdoor wood fire. The family were pleasantly surprised when I turned up with a bottle of Mayor de Castilla wine. It was exactly what they had brought, so we had two matching bottles. (No, it’s not Rioja, but the wine more appreciated by aficionados here: Ribera del Duero.) They are lovely people and clearly had a great affection for the place I am buying: they remember many happy years there, visiting the place as a country retreat at weekends, and they are delighted that I am bringing donkeys to the place and will look after the trees… if that’s not a contradiction! 🙂
It is just 17 days since I saw “El Parral” and instantly knew it was the right place to be. Seventeen days since I prayed to St John of the Cross to help secure the house and the 10,000 metres of land for a peaceful place for me – a future hermitage – and a quiet space for my donkeys. I paid the deposit on the house today and the owners gave me the keys. The key ring they gave me has a miniature crusader helmet on it and the word “Toledo”. Thank you, St John of the Cross! Toledo is where he lived and wrote his major spiritual works, and was imprisoned by the Inquisition. Astonishing.
I had the rest of the day off school, as I had permission to leave work to pay the house deposit and my afternoon sixth form Geography students have now finished their course, so as soon as I had the keys, I went home to collect my vegetable plants which I had lifted and potted yesterday evening. I took them straight to the house to plant them in the lower field, near to the water source.
This all reminds me of my favourite films: Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. The rich red soil, the natural spring, the ideal of life in the country for one who comes from a lifetime of urban living.
Here begins an adventure. Watch this space.