Ninety days in a new country

It's been almost three months since we moved to Spain and I figured it was time for an update as the last one is dated from the beginning of September.

We've been busy fixing the house, getting back to our jobs and entertaining guests. In September and October, we had a lot of guests/family over which is awesome but sometimes a little exhausting to try and make sure they have a good time.

🔗Kids & School

We never expected this to be smooth...Going to school in a new country with another culture and language takes some time. On most days the kids are happy and eager to go to school. From time to time, one of them claims they want to go back to Belgium or stay home…but I am not reading too much into it at this point...

After school and during the weekends they are really starting to appreciate the town and the super friendly neighbours. Regular visits to the sheep farm, playing with the dogs outside or taking a cold bath in the small pond in front of the house. Almost always accompanied by Spanish sunshine.

The kids are rapidly learning Catalan and when I asked them yesterday about how much % of what the teacher is saying they understand they all seemed to agree with 50%. Fifty!

Step by step Annelies (but mostly Robbert) is convincing the school that he should be enrolled in the 3rd year and not the 1st. It's been quite a frustrating experience as the school (but mostly the district) did not want to accept the numerous (official) Belgian documentation (letter from the school, exams tests, grades, ...) that Robbert was 2 years ahead of his age group. They finally agreed to test him from which they learned what we were trying to tell them all this time. Starting last week Robbert is now enrolled in part of the 1st and the 3rd year of what they call 'Institut'.

Both Marcel and Lucie have signed up for Climbing classes at the local sports centre. The first lesson was a great success!

🔗House Renovation

I have to admit I underestimated the work required to make this an awesome place. In Catalan, they would say 'Poc a Poc' but since winter is coming and it's getting colder we found ourselves becoming impatient and slightly frustrated.

With that, we also decided to tile the living room ourselves and to make it worse we chose a small tile where every floor takes forever. We ended up tiling the floor with over 3000 small 5x15cm ceramic tiles. Annelies helped me out a lot, especially with the 2nd part that I didn't catch on the timelapse. Also, notice how in the beginning the kids are excited to help out but they get bored after the first few hours :-)

At the same time, I moved the central heating system to another room in the basement and therefore I had to extend and reconnect all the old copper tubes which ended up taking much longer than expected. Recycling and fitting copper pipes is a time-consuming task!

Now I am learning and reading about how to install an underfloor heating system to an existing (gasoline-based) heating system. Temperature sensors, pumps, manifolds, and three-way zone valves...

🔗Visits to Belgium

This week I'm going back to Belgium for the first time as I need to fix some things in the (old) house and get some time with colleagues and Jesse.

Annelies had to get back to Belgium for her job 2 weeks ago and it looks like she'll be doing more regular visits as for me I'm planning to go once every 3/4 months.

🔗Mushrooms & Pizza

I've started to get into collecting mushrooms in the forest but wasn't able to free up enough time to really get into it. The first trips were very nervous as I didn't really understand which ones were eatable and which ones were toxic. So I learned about the 5 most common types of Catalonia and learned where they grow and how to recognise them. Here is what I found so far:

I always fantasised about building my own wood based pizza oven. In Belgium the garden didn't really allow for it plus maybe busy life and the climate didn't allow us to enjoy that oven to it's fullest. Excuses, excuses. I know.

So coming to Spain I took it to heart to build the perfect pizza oven. I've done my fair share of research (watching youtube videos 😬) about building the perfect pizza oven. But because there is so much work in the house I couldn't prioritise this right now. That is untill I bumped on this video of a guy making a quick pizza oven with a few bricks and a heat resistant plate.

A few hours later, and 30 euros lighter after buying some fire-resistant bricks I put together an even faster/crappier version of this concept.

And after one test run in the very messy garden (left picture) we moved the oven to the small town square. Since then we've had more than 5 open pizza parties with visitors and neighbours. Great stuff!