Casa Oretani – The Story Part I

So, it’s been a while since I updated this blog, my Flickr account or anything really. I haven’t disappeared, I’ve just been busy. Sort of…

The story is that, as some of you know, myself and Mrs. HibernoManchego bought ourselves a “casa de pueblo” in 2011 in a beautiful little village, 13km out the road, called Picón.

The Church of San Salvador in Picón (XVth Century)


The Rollo de Justicia, also XVth Century.


The square and town hall.


We’ll Take It!!!

Nice village eh? And the people have been nothing but friendly and welcoming whenever we visit.

This will be the base of operations for Oretani Wildlife, my guided birdwatching, birding, photography, wildlife and cultural tours business. The property is big at 500 sq.m. and had two structures, a patio and a garden. One structure, facing onto the street is to be the family home, as when we move in we will be a family since Baby HibernoManchego is due in 5 weeks. We will have the patio. The other structure is to be guest accommodation for up to 8 guests. Picón is a great village. It’s quiet, 10 minutes from Ciudad Real, is nestled at the foot of the hills  next to the Guadiana and is a brilliantly central place for birding the many habitats this region has to offer. You walk out the door and there are vultures, eagles, and storks overhead. Walk ten minutes and you have eagle owls, steppe species and the river. And there is the best rice restaurant in the country. I could go on about the place for ages but let’s get back to the house.

So here’s a quick look at the “guest accommodation” and garden as when we bought it. The idea was to add another room to the upstairs part and a pool in the corner.

The garden, one of the three wells and guest house to the right.
The back of our home and patio.
Where the pool will be in front of the guest house.


The patio and back of the guest house.


Woohoo!! Let’s get started!

So we get ourselves an architect, by the name of Julio Redondo Gonzalez, an old friend of ours who is also quite the musician singing with various bands one of whom is Funkytime. I do photos for them every now and again at gigs too. He’s excited. We’re excited. The plans are exciting. We’re all excited. Lets get cracking!! Of course it takes time to draw up plans, talk to banks, get approval, permissions, and at times we felt like we were going nowhere. Eventually papers are signed, approved and all the beaurocratic stuff is done and the albañiles (builders) move in and start removing, eh, stuff, to be able to build, eh, stuff.

The first sign of trouble is evidence of some former residents. The idea was to preserve the old wooden beams to give a nice rustic feel. The damn termites put paid to keeping the old ones in the guest house. Our house is fine, but the others were empty dusty shells. Take them away!

Former residents evidence!

So off comes the roof. Then they start at the walls. Oh crikey!!! What the hell?? The walls are not stone but adobe in places, gravel and adobe, wood and adobe, adobe and broken bricks. Basically it’s a mess hidden beneath 100 years of additions and plasterings and coverings.

Neither adobe nor stone but a dusty blend of both.

As you can see below, it was built in phases with whatever crap they could mix with mud. Take it down!!

Down it comes.

The rubble pile grows exponentially.

The rubble pile.
Not what I had in mind for a “Stately Pile”


Eventually the last bit came down too.


It took six loads to remove the rubble.

However, now that the initial shock has settled we can get on with the job at hand. “Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him who first cries ‘Hold! enough!’”

With the foundations laid the floor gets poured.


A few bricks are always good for walls. Beats adobe!!


Looking good.


Onwards and upwards!
Beams for the first floor go in.


Getting the first floor ready.


Preparing for the pour.
Give me concrete.


Poured and floored.

So yeah, that’s where we are at the moment with the guest house. Not much has been done to our own house. It’s a bit newer than what we tore down and doesn’t require any structural change. We did pull down the old kitchen and put it up again though. Poor structure. Common theme really.

The kitchen


The dining room and toilet to right.

Stay tuned for more updates. I’ll try to be a bit more on top of things.

Join us for our guided birding, wildlife and butterfly tours in La Mancha, Spain with Oretani Wildlife.

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