Sunday 11th July, Casa del Sangria, Chercos, Spain.

Okay, so I made that name up. I did manage to try a drop of the local sangria today though, and it was good! *not as potent as the brew my friend Jodie makes, but tasty nonetheless* But let me start at the beginning...

This washing machine also mixes concrete!..Hard at work at two o'colock in the morning in my luxurious bedroom.

On Thursday Nick and Robin flew back to England. They left me a wad of cash and their parting words were "do as much as you can, do the best you can. We trust you." I'll probably never see them again, or if I do it won't be for a few years. In a couple of weeks their business partner will arrive to check my progress and bring me some more money. Strange scenario? Leaving a guy you barely know to renovate your house in the middle of the Andalucian Mountains? Perhaps, but I've come to accept 'strange' as an everyday thing. My first task was to get my laundry done. Morocco had left my backpack bursting with stinky, unwashed clothes. There are no appliances in the house, but the cement mixer did a grand job- on even the toughest stains.

Breakfast on the rook terrace..Plumbing in the upstairs ensuite.

Robin and Nick were aware that the job ahead of me was more than one man could tackle. For example, concreting the floors- when the sand is piled up down the hill, and the gravel has to be barrowed from a quarter mile up the road- is just not something one person could attempt. Anyone who's ever done concreting in a hot dry climate will appreciate what I'm saying. The concrete goes off in minutes. So the boys gave me the go-ahead to employ some help. Lucky for me, one of the backpackers I met in Morocco had said he'd be interested in some work. So I sent out the plea- "I NEED HELP!" and three days later I heard a voice calling my name. I was in the middle of my siesta, and the voice was like something from a dream. He had hitchhiked here, right to the front door. He knew he had the right place when he saw my rasta hat hanging from my bedroom window. Now before I go any further, I must explain that my friend doesn't want to be named- apparently he's wanted by Interpol over some huge jewellery heist some tears ago. He has asked to be referred to simply as MR.X. But in honour of Tim the Toolman Taylor's elusive neighbour (and Tom Hanks' companion in 'Castaway') I have decided to name him Wilson.

When Wilson received my email he was in Agadir, on the southern coast of Morocco. Six hours later, he boarded a bus to Tangiers, then ferried to Spain and bussed to Almeria. By the time he arrived here, he'd spent two nights on public transport. I'd warned him to stock up on groceries, since I wasn't sure what was available in Chercos. He unpacked a bundle of chocolate bars, a couple of packs of sliced mortadella and a variety of canned food, I showed him to his room, complete with a sheet of chipboard on the floor as a bed, and Wilson started work. By the end of the day, we'd concreted half of the floor in the first room downstairs, and not done a bad job either- for two beginners!

Today, during siesta time, we took a wander into the village of Chercos. Luckily for me, Wilson speaks fluent Spanish, so we were able to discover that Chercos has not one, but four cafe/bars, one of which we visited, and we may be able to buy ice from (there is no fridge in the casa, so we have to rely on a small cooler box to keep stuff cold) Chercos also has a public swimming pool, a bakery and a general store, and has internet access at the town hall/library. With luck I'll be able to use my laptop and update my website from there. Otherwise it's a long bus ride to Almeria. Fingers crossed!

Wilson, taking all necessary precauitions as he begins the landscaping..Celebrating the final installation of the bathtub with a much needed wash and a carton of 43 cents-a-litre wine!

In between, Wilson and I have been busy concreting the second section of the floor of the entry room. I've had to raise the bathtub a few inches to ensure that it drains properly, and Wilson has made a start on the landscaping. It's backbreaking work, but we can work our own hours, and I've gotten into a rhythm of getting up late, working till mid afternoon, then having a nap, and resuming work till dark, which is almost ten o'clock! Tomorrow I have to find a way to get to a hardware store, since a lot of the plumbing fittings that Robin and Nick left me are the wrong ones. *grrr* Thankfully, I've been able to plumb in the downstairs bathroom though, so there's a toilet and a bath, albeit a cold one.

I'll leave you with a couple of last minute photos from Morocco-