An Aussie in Galicia: Work to transform our tired neglected house begins in earnest

This week the renovations on Heath Savage's property in Galicia start in earnest.

An Aussie in Galicia: Work to transform our tired neglected house begins in earnest

Hammer Time! Let the games commence! What have we let ourselves in for?

Most of the work to the property initially took place outside, or in the alpendre (barn) attached to the house. So, life was fairly easy-going, if untidy; all through August and September were able to continue life pretty much as normal, with no serious disruptions to our newly established routines. 

All that changed one ominous morning in October, when the hard yakka required to transform our tired, neglected house into a beautiful home and recreation business began in earnest.

The team: father and son, Frank and Lee; two strapping Englishmen, whose talents extended to everything from splendid hand-made furniture to decorative iron-wear, fencing and concreting. Anjel, the local blacksmith, also a mad-keen AC/DC fan. He made fencing and gates.

He also brought us amazing free-range eggs. Irishman, Eddie, a builder, carpenter, writer, travelling minstrel and general roustabout, worked alongside everyone else, and covered other projects to boot, including tree-felling. He also kindly took us on day-trips sometimes.

Local lad, and all-round Wunder-Mensch “Tony Taps”, a genius plumber and electrician, who trained in Germany, worked faster than any individual I have ever seen. His job? A total re-wire of the whole house, a new septic tank, water heaters and plumbing, in record time, please! A cast of labourers, volunteers, painters and plasterers were the chorus line to these stars. On this, Day One, we got the kettle boiling as usual, still blissfully unaware of what was to come over the following months.

Minutes after their first brew, the boys unleashed Hell on us!

They ripped out our entire downstairs bathroom, and cut a new doorway through a metre-thick stone wall that day; the mess and noise were apocalyptic. I thought I had seen dust…

We escaped to a village cafe, but the dog and cat had to spend that day, and the following six weeks, locked in upstairs bedrooms, (with all their creature comforts, of course) to keep them safely out of the way of big men in big boots, and power tools. I dusted after they all left…what was I thinking? I didn’t dust again until the following June!

Dog continued to enjoy his daily walks though; getting to know the local pooches. When the mist (or was it granite dust?) cleared and the sun came out to warm the air, we sat on the terrace with him. Cat was not so happy. Cats rarely are. She was evicted from her favourite spot in the sun-room/library/study (we re-named rooms as they were renovated)

Her feline death-rays cremated the eyes of anyone who ventured near her.

Raphael developed little man-crushes: he would winsomely flirt with Eddie, who built us a new concrete woodshed outdoors while Lee destroyed the bathrooms, and Geoff, who painted the upstairs rooms, tore all the ivy and wisteria off exterior walls, and put the new roof on the old pergola.

We felt a bit left out; we became mere “girls” who fed him and picked up his poo. We were no longer fascinating. Our feminist principles took a thrashing. But when the stone-cutter screeched, and the rubble flew, it was to his “mamas”, that he ran!

Stout-hearted Minnie remained fast asleep on her blanket, on a sunny windowsill, far from the madding crowd. As long as her bowl was kept full, and her litter-box emptied, she was serene. Atta girl! One-nil to the ladies!Oh, to be a cat.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Which Spanish regions are likely to allow people to remove their masks outdoors?

As Spain's vaccine campaign gains speed and the infection rate drops, there are indications that facemasks will very soon no longer be compulsory outdoors in several Spanish regions.

Which Spanish regions are likely to allow people to remove masks outdoors?

Spain’s Health Emergencies chief Fernando Simón said at a recent press conference that he is hopeful about relaxing the rule about the use of masks in outdoor spaces, as long as the safety distance of 1.5 meters can be guaranteed.

“It is very possible that in a few days the use of a mask outdoors can be reduced. Of course, always guaranteeing that the risks are decreasing,” he said.

However, Simón also added that “reducing one measure does not mean that the same should be done with all measures”. In addition, he asked citizens to go “step by step and be careful until we see the effects that mean we can relax the restrictions”.

Although this will be decided in the next few days Simón does not want anyone to “fall into false assurances”.

Face masks have been compulsory in public in Spain since May 21st 2020, and since March of this year, you are required to wear them in almost all indoor and outdoor settings, even if you’re sticking to the safety distance, unless the activity is incompatible with mask-wearing such as eating, drinking, sunbathing, running etc. 

Regions that could possibly relax restrictions on the use of masks outdoors

If the mask restrictions are relaxed by the government and the health authorities, the regions that could already qualify because of their low-to-medium risk epidemiological situations include Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Castilla La-Mancha, Extremadura, the Valencian region, Murcia, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.

Which regions are in favour of the move?

Both Catalonia and Galicia have said that they would be in favour of dropping the use of masks outdoors.

The Catalan government was one of the first regions to open the discussion on relaxing the use of masks outdoors.

According to Catalan Regional Health Secretary MarcRamentol, the Catalan government considers that with at least 30 percent of the population fully vaccinated and more than half of the population having received at least one dose, the matter is worth discussing. 

Not having to wear a mask outdoors will help the summer “feel more like 2019 than that of 2020”, said Ramentol.

President of the Xunta of Galicia Alberto Núñez Feijoo, said last week that he expects the use of masks outdoors will be abolished in July, however on Tuesday, May 18th at the Hotusa Group Tourism Innovation Forum in Madrid, he insisted that it is only “a matter of weeks”.

Although Valencia currently still has some strict rules in place, Regional President Ximo Puig has stated that he is in favour of the mask not being compulsory in open spaces. “We know that in open spaces there is a much lower possibility of contagion and I have been supporting this for a long time – it is not necessary to use the mask in some open spaces, natural spaces or on the beaches,” he said.

Which regions want to keep making masks compulsory in outdoor spaces

Regional authorities in Madrid and the Basque Country, the regions which the highest infection rates in Spain have criticised the national government’s position regarding masks, arguing that’s it’s too soon for masks to no longer be obligatory outdoors.

Andalusia is also against the proposal. Jesús Aguirre, Minister of Health and Families in Adalusia, has said that it would be a mistake since the mask is “the most powerful weapon” with which we have to avoid possible infections within the region.