The convent that I stayed in next was on the edge of a large village up in the hills behind Tarragona, about 20 minutes from the sea. It was the first time I had visited the area and I was pleasantly surprised by the natural landscape. There were high hills/mountains inland, lush hillsides and vineyards, I use lush loosely and to compare it with other areas of Spain, it was still fairly arid and dry compared to the UK or my little patch of France, but pleasing none the less.
Disappointing though, plenty of industrial areas with huge huge warehouses, factories and commercial buildings. They tend now to be gathered into specific areas which is good news but due to the giant oil refinery on the coast there is bound to be a large amount of associated manufacturing in the area. I didn’t let all of that put me off as the landscape undulated and there are still many beautiful areas with unspoiled views, interesting villages and properties to be found.
My hosts are in the process of partially restoring the convent which had been abandoned for many decades. The plan is to renovate the two side aisles of the building, shaped like a church, leaving the central nave roofless as a courtyard within. There had been some work unsympathetic done, before the building was protected as a historic monument, by a recent previous owner, that has to stay. But the rest will continue in a more harmonious style, mainly to consolidate and secure what remains of the building.
The land around the building had long been a dumping ground for the neighbourhood, fly tipping and an accumulation of years of junk has already been cleared and the transformation back into a garden has begun. I was tasked with weeding, strimming the waist high vegetation and to help guide my hosts into planning a suitable garden for the convent.
I toiled each morning, took a short break then trawled estate agent web sites and their offices during the afternoons. Timings in Spain are different again to france, with the majority of shops and offices closing at around 13.00 and reopening anywhere between 16.00 and 17.30 through till 20.00 or 21.00. I began to take full advantage of a mini siesta, even though the weather was not that warm, to ward off the tiredness of constant late nights, easy to adapt too and very useful.
Discovering houses all over the region gave me an excellent opportunity to find out where felt good and what I was really looking for. I soon became aware of the eye sores and the unattractiveness of the local industry as well as the quiet hidden villages nestling in the countryside. Unfortunately the houses that I was drawn to on paper were not in appropriate places for what I have planned for the future. Access along miles of dirt track or through industrial zones won’t be conducive to people visiting for holidays or to attend gardening courses, not the appealing to me either with my quest for easy access and involvement with local community. I saw some lovely and very reasonable properties but my quest continues.
|pretty, but rather weedy|
|what is supposed to be there|