December Reflections 21: Comfort

Comfort is a matter that has been touched on over the last several few posts and I am not certain what is left to write about on that topic.

We love our van and the travels that we undertake in it. It’s quite comfortable, as motorhomes go, and the bed offers us a reasonable night’s sleep. It is a very small space however and comfort isn’t really at a premium.

Please don’t tell The Driver but this passenger is more than happy to be temporarily off the road and enjoying a a few Home Comforts for a change.

It’s the simple things that count for me:

  • Somewhere to put my feet up
  • A spacious shower with a good head of water
  • A roomy refrigerator that doesn’t close onto my head every time that I go in to it
  • A soak in a hot bath every now and again
  • More cooker rings than I can shake a stick at
  • A washing machine whenever I need one
  • A real fire
  • Exchanging a few words with a friendly neighbour
  • Time. Time to linger. Time to relax. Time in which to do nothing at all.

Back in February, when we were on our way home from Portugal, we parked overnight at Arguedas where the motorhome aire is situated below a rock face that sports a row of cave dwellings.

That’s us, on the right as seen from the cave dwellings

Now, I don’t know about you but when The Driver told me that this was where I was going to be, my mind ran riot with thoughts of prehistoric Troglodytes.

Not a bit of it! I was surprised when we visited the dwellings, I saw doors with frames, glazed windows, painted walls, power and even telephone lines were run into some of them. There were other signs of home comforts too. Some of the houses sported gardens and some had space for animals – possibly indoors and out.

Although running water was clearly not on hand…

Pot for water storage?

… the residents clearly made provision for cleansing.

Laundry sink?

This arrangement had me puzzled though. Whether washhouse or bathhouse, it clearly required an ample supply of water. It seems to me to be an incredibly sophisticated arrangement for these simple cave dwellings, dug out of the hillside by hand, yet at the same time it feels distinctly Roman!

I should like to know more

The caves of Arguedas emerged towards the end of the 19th century as places that could serve as homes for local people who could not afford to buy somewhere to live.

The lay of the land meant that these caves could be dug in the rock, along the front of the rock face to make use of natural light, as only the better-off had electricity supplies in their homes. There were no corridors and you passed directly from one room to another. Many of the homes had a grain store and a yard, as the majority of their owners were small farmers.

In 1940 the number of cave-homes reached 52, but they were gradually abandoned in the 1960s due to the construction of social housing.

Although they no longer look very comfortable these homes probably were; cool in summer, warm in winter, and with many “touches”. These were real homes, peopled by modern families and not by my imagined savages in animal skins. No Flintstones here.

It was fascinating.

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