Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tales from a bit further afield in Spain: Navarra

As winter approaches there is nothing like the look and feel of a real log fire... Now thereby hangs a tale. As this post is mainly about our need for a warming winter fire, it did involve a rather long trip to the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz where we found some wonderful street art; bizarre and not so bizarre. Here are a few photographs from our visit as I tell our tale.

We have two log burners, one in the studio and the other in the lounge. Neither have been behaving particularly good of late; more smoke than usual, not burning efficiently, poor heat output. We decided to investigate. The studio fire was easy to sort out as we knew from previous experience that the metal tubing occasionally needs cleaning and re-sealing; a dirty job but soon resolved. The lounge fire was more of a problem.

We had refurbished the fire-proof seals, replaced the metal tubing and attempted to fix the glass door which was getting looser day by day. The screws and brackets that held the glass in place were impossible to release and we couldn't make a tight enough seal. After three days of soaking in WD40 and a trip to a local metal working factory who tried without success, we decided to contact the manufacturers. They suggested we wrap, pack and post the door and they would look at it. With extremely high postal rates in Spain and Christmas but a week away we decided that we would drive the 320km to Navarra where they are based to let them look at it and replace the screws and clamps if they could, either that or buy a new door.

We set off early and made a decision to use the opportunity to have lunch in Vitoria-Gasteiz, a city we have always wanted to visit. The journey was without hassle and the changing landscapes were an interesting contrast to Asturias. We arrived at the factory around 10am, handed over the door and was told to go get a coffee whilst they had a look at it. Thirty minutes later the phone rang, the door was ready; fully refurbished with new screws, fireproof cord and glass clamps. Expecting a hefty charge for short-notice, drop everything repair job we were delighted when they said there was no charge. Thank you Lacunza - you are stars.

We drove to nearby Vitoria-Gasteiz walked around the lovely old city and lunched on some rather flashy (and expensive) pinchos and tapas.

The stained glass entrance to the Opera house was stunning. We came across an outside skating rink and sledging slope which looked great fun and we were surprised to see escalators installed the full length of pedestrianised roads leading up to the old churches and cathedral.

We came across this horse meat butcher's shop which reminded me of the horse-meat scandal back in the UK. I wonder how popular it can be in Spain as shops such as these are a rarity. There was meat hung at the back of the shop but curiously, none in the window.

We drove home via the scenic route until Bilbao and arrived back just as the sun was setting. We are now looking forward to a roaring log fire on these cold winter evenings throughout the Christmas and New Year period.


  1. Well done you two, now that is what I call Service!

    1. Unusual but very welcome great service.

  2. Vitoria looks interesting! I´ve always thought Navarra intriguing. Have to go one day.

    How much wood do you burn in the house on average each year?

    1. We use about 6 cubic meters (€500) approx from autumn to early spring. We also collect starting wood locally. We buy oak, ash, cherry and eucalyptus. The key is to be a season in front so the wood is dry and burns well.


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