Tired of his life as a globe-trotting journalist, and desperate to finish his latest novel, writer Derek Lambert decides to settle with his new wife and young son in a mouldering casita nestled among citrus groves inland of the Costa Blanca.
As he sets about restoring his house and learning to live the ordinary life of a Spanish villager, Lambert introduces us to a Spain far removed from the tourist traps and thumping discos of the Costas, and soon discovers that adapting to this new life is not as easy as he imagined. He employs a roofer who's afraid of heights, a plumber confounded by a blocked pipe and bumbles through Spanish lessons with a mocking classmate who challenges him to a public arm-wresting contest. Then just when it seems that nothing more could go wrong, the Lamberts face Spain's first snowstorm in many years.
Written in the jaunty, anecdotal style of Peter Mayle and Bill Bryson, this is a warm, affectionate and often hilarious portrait of life as a foreigner in rural Spain.
"We were looking for a village so ordinary that it would bring us into contact with people remote from the cliches of Spain--flamenco, sangria and bullfights." British journalist Lambert and his Canadian wife, Diane, find just the right place when they visit La Jara, an unassuming Spanish village inland from the Mediterranean shore of Costa Blanca. This lively memoir recounts their adventures finding their way among the local characters. Much of the book is taken up with anecdotes about how Lambert, Diane and their four-year-old son settle into their new home (a rundown house with a citrus grove and a garden), take on the construction of a timbered dining hall with a minstrel gallery and deal with a sly carpenter, a fey young gardener who argues with his employer about everything from fences to flowers, and a roofer who is afraid of heights. What sets this book apart from others of its genre is the author's way of dealing with his new neighbors, all of whom seem to be related to one another and determined to intimidate him. Although Lambert wants to be accepted, he has a fierce temper, and he gives as good as he gets: he bests the "sewage specialist" who claims he can find a mysterious underground leak, assaults a policeman in the brothel where he and his wife unknowingly spend the night, calls the bluff of a mean debt collector who haunts one of the men working on his house and engineers a public showdown between two feuding ancients who claim to have fought on opposite sides in the Spanish Civil War. Some of Lambert's tales seem a bit tall, but he tells them amusingly in this chronicle of a newcomer's eventful year with the feisty residents of a very ordinary village in Spain.