THEY are a couple from the Capital who dreamt of opening a bespoke Spanish guest house like no other.
And after almost two years of tears and hard work, Shirley and Mark Graham will appear on a brand new television programme this evening to showcase their masterpiece.
The couple, originally from Corstorphine, moved to Spain eight years ago for a taste of the Spanish lifestyle.
But it wasn’t until three years ago they came across a derelict cave in Andalucia – an hour from Granada – and decided to renovate it into their home.
After enjoying their first project, the couple, who met at Craigmount High School, decided to push the boat out even further and renovate a second cave into a three-bedroomed bed and breakfast.
Their guesthouse, named Cuevas Helena, will appear on Channel 5’s Our Dream Hotel this evening.
Shirley, 55, a mum-of-three, said: “I can’t believe our episode is about to air, we are both excited and nervous.
“We have no idea what they are going to show as we haven’t seen it yet but we know all our family and friends are going to be watching. We’ve only seen a couple of little clips from it but we did have some emotional moments.”
She added: “The programme itself is a bit like Grand Designs.
“Our episode has already been shown in France and Germany and the response we’ve had has been amazing.
“We’ve had quite a few inquiries. We are just excited for it to be shown in the UK now.”
Our Dream Hotel follows the stories of a series of families who are just starting out in the hotel business.
It is hosted by the Hotel Inspector’s Alex Polizzi, who also manages the Hotel Endsleigh in Milton Abbot, Devon.
Shirley and Mark’s episode tells the story of how a weekend break to a traditional Spanish cave house inspired them to open their own, and how they planned to use their 25,000 euro savings and a £50,000 inheritance to set up the three-bedroom B&B.
However, according to the programme description on the Channel 5 website, an “ambitious ten-week turnaround period could leave them struggling to open the doors on time.”
Shirley said: “The reason our guest house is called Cuevas Helena is because both Mark’s mum and my mum are called Helen. When Mark’s mum passed away, she left us inheritance money, and if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be where we are today – it means so much to us.”
Despite Mark working as a painter and decorator, the couple said they wanted to own a guest house to have a second source of income. Shirley added: “Cuevas Helena has been really busy. We can’t wait for everyone to see it.”