In searching for a farm to make for ourselves a new life, we cast our net wide and included property on the other side of the Spanish border. We crossed into the Extremadura region of Spain near Arroyo de la Luz, an area with wide open spaces and abundant wild flowers in the warm and sunny Spring weather. We stayed in Cáceres where in early May hundreds of storks were gliding in to find nesting sites and others were soaring high towards the north-west and central Portugal. The church towers and high chimneys are ideal for their nests and the clattering of their bills during the courtship ritual was a noisy reminder that here was foreign land to us. This scene was repeated in every village and small town we visited.

Finca La Lavanda had no water, electricity nor building. We saw several like this.  Part of my requirements included land with a mountain view and stone-wall terraces.

This one had many terraces stacked like a huge staircase, and the road to the top could be climbed in a 4×4, but working the land would involve climbing up and down the steep hill many times each day – not practical. With no electricity, water nor wood for fuel, another non-starter.

The region around Montánchez is lovely and there is lots of land for sale. However, as in Portugal, those few with a roofless ruin of stone barn on them are of no use to live in, and water and electricity are rarely nearby. These two did have both.The first had a narrow strip of land running right down the mountainside, difficult to use, and the house was so unimaginative that it was no asset at all.

The second finca looked promising, with a pretty little wide track running up to the breeze-block house. However, the immediately adjoining neighbours place really did put us off. We just enjoyed our mini-break in Extremadura and put our effort into finding a place in Portugal.

On the journey home our car began to chug as we crossed the long lonely mountains at night. The problem became worse and the engine started to overheat on every uphill slope. I was able to nurse it nearly home although it was obvious the poor thing was seriously ill. I was able to almost coast the last five miles, and on driving up our road to the house the engine temperature was far too high. Very concerned, I shut it off to cool it down. An hour later I went to start it and could smell hot wet rubber under the bonnet, so I left it. The next day I went to turn the car round and had a lot of difficulty starting it. Then the engine gasped and stopped – the cylinder head gasket had failed on the journey. With my neighbour we turned the car round and parked it, and it did not move again for a year; we had to buy another car. Our old faithful Nissan did get us home before it died.