In early October 2015, I asked Abilio Costa to construct a new wall around the villa on the eastern and northern boundaries. Previously these boundaries had been marked by Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and Gandula (Myoporum laetum) hedges. Apart from these hedges being quite labour intensive in terms of maintenance, some of the Cypresses had died and no longer looked the part. The new wall would not only reduce the ongoing garden maintenance but also ensure that the villa was more secure.
In addition to this we also chose to extend the terracing at the front of the house. This latter terracing again helped to reduce garden maintenance but also came as a result of losing two very established Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) to the dreaded Red Palm Weavil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) which had been working its way around the Mediterranean region for the past few years or so. The loss had left two very stout but sadly dead palm trunks and we took the decision to remove them and pave the area to focus on the growth of the Jacaranda tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia) that was thriving and remained in this space.
We also had Abilio construct some piers to support a pergola in the lower garden and make some changes to the pool house / almacen.
All of these changes gave a kick-start to our villa improvement plans, paved the way for later garden developments and at the same time contributed a significant improvement to the overall security of the villa. I was very pleased with the results and had regained my enthusiasm again for the villa.
We visited Las Parras in August 2016 for a family holiday and significantly it was our granddaughter Ava’s first visit; she was almost 5 months old. A memorable family holiday.
Later in 2016, I asked Abilio to look at remodelling parts of the old house and to refit the upstairs bathroom and adjoining bedroom. Previously these rooms had been fitted with sliding entrance doors for some strange reason and they had never been a great fit. One of the outcomes of this project was that it did away with these two unusual sliding doors and replaced them with conventionally opening doors. The work also provided the opportunity to modernise the bathroom and retile the floors. We also took the opportunity when we visited the villa in May 2017 to sign off on the remodelling work to place the timber on to the pergola.
When we visited for our holiday in August 2017, the improvements had made a big difference to the villa. We had invited our niece Cara-Jo and her two young boys to join us along with our daughter Natalie, Sean and their children. Jack, Jude, Brandon and Mason took up residence in the bedroom that we had equipped with 4 bunk beds to mark the occasion. This bedroom is now affectionately known as the Dorm.
Inspired by the significant improvement to the living space upstairs we asked Abilio to remodel the original lounge and the Dorm during the autumn of 2017. This work was to coincide with the replacement of the last wooden windows of the original part of the house and the installation of new air conditioning.
Jonathon and I came out to Spain to oversee the installation of the new windows in February 2018. It was very cold.
The visit was also made memorable by the fact that we found a stray cat inside the house. We established that the cat had entered the house just before xmas 2017 when the window fitters had come to confirm the window sizes. Incredibly when we arrived on the 3 February, the cat had survived a period of around 6 weeks living on drinking water out of the toilet and if it was lucky the odd gecko. How it dd this is a testament to the survival instincts of animals as the cat did not look too bedraggled for its experiences.
I called a local cat charity : Pluto and a kind and brave, German lady came and took the, by now growling, cat away saying it would be examined by a Vet before being released back to its feral ways. Interestingly she said that the charity funds the speying / neutering of feral cats in the neighbourhood and one can tell if the cat has been so treated as the ears are clipped for easy subsequent recognition. Well done Pluto!
In April of 2018, Abilio commenced work on the remodelling of the inside of the villa. Cathy and I came over to sign off the work later in early June and we were really pleased with the result. Cathy prepared a new video of the villa which we have found to be very successful in terms of marketing the letting space.
We did not visit the villa for our summer vacation in 2018, choosing instead to spend it with Natalie’s family and Jono in France. By now we had hoped our villa would have been granted its Licensia Turistica but some problems with processing had delayed the issue of the license. In addition we became aware of the need to increase the electricity supply to the property due to the increased load from the new air conditioning. So we were beset by regulatory problems during 2018 which effectively has put the brakes on the development of the villa letting business.
No new improvements were made to the villa in 2019. As we did not receive our licensia turistica until August 2019, we chose not to let the villa that year. We chose instead use it for the occasion of my 60th birthday. We had a great family holiday over a period of just over 3 weeks, during which time we were also visited by our friends from the US: Sue and Dan and their two children: Arthur and Sally. It was a great holiday.