How did we come to own a mill in Asturias that may drive us to bankruptcy and mental instability? It started like this: we bought an apartment in Madrid (you can rent it, if you want). After a few months, in which we felt inordinately happy with our choice, we realized--oops--that we would never be able to get our dog, a Labrador who suffers some neuroses uncharacteristic of the breed, including a fear of stairs and ventilation grates , up the four flights. Plus, we had always wanted a place in country. So we rented a car and started driving.
Our original plan was to start in western Asturias and cross the north to the Pyrenees. But we never made it out of Asturias. The very first place we saw was the mill, and the very first thing Geoff said upon seeing it was, "Holy shit." We kept looking--we aren't THAT impulsive—and ended up seeing at least a dozen places. The three that made it into the finals were a pseudo-Casa de Indianos in the Picos de Europa, that had wide-plank oak floors, a ton of land, and an unfortunate telephone pole that blocked the mountain view from the galleria; an inn with gardens and chickens just outside Villaviciosa; and the mill. After much agonizing debate, and one return visit, house number 2 won: at that point we were well into our let's-till-the-earth-and-run-a-bed-and-breakfast fantasy. But the bank saw things differently.
So the mill it was. The owner was a famous Spanish actress (that's her to the left) in the 1960s, but her son was the one doing the selling. He assured us that the place was totally self-sufficient (the stream that runs underneath provided water for the house and powered a turbine that produced electricty) and perfectly comfortable to live in. We thought, "Great. A few cosmetic changes, a little landscaping, some new furniture." Hah.