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A new life in Spain for Team CL

Two 40 something year olds and their 3 year old, who never really got much quality family time together, have decided that life demands a new adventure. So, here is our unfolding story of our new life in Murcia.

Integration, guilt, charity and fiestas!
19 March 2013

I really can't believe that it's over a month since my last update. The saying goes that time flies when you are having fun. Time also seems to fly when you are having probably the biggest life upheaval you have had! It is now three months in for Team CL in our new life. So much seems to have happened, so much progress yet so much more to achieve. So, how are we doing today?

After our initial successes in February with the local Carnival and subsequently joining the PTA equivalent, school life and integration has certainly had some ups and downs. Integration as a word for me, before I left the UK, meant 'integrating with the local Spanish community'. A natural reaction considering that we were moving to Spain. Three months in and 'integration' for me means making friends and being part of a community - and to that point, our integration continues to be happily Spanglish. I have met wonderful people and really been taken in by a superb bunch of 'expats'. Equally, we have had so much support from a local Spanish family that own a restuarant that we have been coming to for years. We are now in regular dialogue with a Spanish neighbour in our community and certainly getting a few more smiles and hellos at the school gate.

For me however, that's the biggest barrier - getting to know the parents of the children that share my Son's school so that I can really help him. Whilst being able to speak ok Spanish, really understanding local life Spanish in our region at the school gate is sooo sooo hard. I have met a lovely English lady at the school gate - there are probably less than 5 British children in the whole schoo and it is so natural to have an off the cuff conversation with someone you can understand instantly. So there goes really our number one challenge - the language. Not just being able to understand at an intermediate level but actually understanding the local sayings, culture and all in a rapid fire group environment. So, perserverance, perservance and perservance - standing there at the gate and trying to listen, learn and join in.

The number one emotion for me three months in is guiilt. Guilt for my son and taking our now four year old away from good friends, a familiar environment and a language he can understand. The thought that you can put a child into a foreign environment at a young age and that they can be fluent in a few months, in my experience and what I see with the other 'foreign' children around us is totally unreal. The recent parents evening told me that whilst my little one is well behaved and good in class, he doesn't mix and doesn't really yet have friends. Such a departure from a boy who had 20 friends coming to his leaving party (at 3!). As with me and hubby, integration at the Spanish end, is so much about the language than our ok intermediate level and so our journey with this will be a longer and evolving story. What we do have is faith and determination to achieve this so as usual, I have to say it's onwards and upwards!

So, not to sound too gloomy as our motto is that together we are stronger and together this will work, here is all the positive stuff: With the friends I have met, I have been blessed with people who have truely taken us in and I have been lucky enough to be able to use my business skills to help drive a charity calendar forward. I have met a fun bunch of people that have shown me compasion, friendship and openess and equally, I have been very luck to land a new job and that starts next week. Any finally, today in our region, the San Jose fiesta has been amazing. A wonderful Feria, great Mercado, super food, buzzing atmosphere, families out and about all day, the sunshine and no stress.....a super way to remind ourselves that whilst we still have so many hurdles to overcome, we are so so happy to live in our little slice of paradise.


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2 Months In
12 February 2013

In some ways we seem to have been here forever, in others it feels still so very new. So for Team CL, here's the latest update on how we are progressing 2 months in.

Firstly and most importantly, we have seen a huge change in our little man - after a few dreadful weeks where he seemed so dazed and confused after starting school for the very first time, he is now running into school and is laughing and chatting when we pick him up. It's still very early days from a language perspective but he is proudly telling us his new Spanish word of the day and is now singing with Spanish 'sounds'. He has a little English girl in his class who is fluent in Spanish so I think that has been a big help to him too. All very very pleasing to a very guilt ridden mother for taking him away from what he knew and loved in the UK!

The other major success was getting involved with the school and it's participation in the Carnival. Our theme was Circus and what a fabulous way to not only start to get to know the parents and children in the school but to emmerse ourselves into the Spanish culture. I also found that my hubby has a fabulously creative side and found endless fun in making our Magos costumes. So Sunday was spent with all the excitement of getting dressed up and joining our school in the local town's Carnival procession. Not only was it tremendous fun but we also came 3rd and won a cash prize for the school. Monday morning at the school was a turning point for us - lots of chat and involvement that we hadn't had before.

Now that leads me on to the next progress update - the language. Well, I thought my Spanish was OK - not fluent but good enough to scrape by. Mmm, that was until you listen to a group of 15 Mums at the school gate speakng at a 100 miles an hour, with the local dialect, local expressions and a whole vocabularly that I had never come across. My historical Spanish lessons didn't really cover the ins and outs of costume making for a Carnival!!! So, I have found a local class which suits my level and its onwards and upwards with the language.

As we have been coming here for a few years, we have also been lucky enough so meet some lovely Spanish and English people who have continued to be so supportive in helping us settle. That for me has been critical as I miss my family and friends so much. Keeping busy has been key so together with the Spanish lessons, I have also joined a local quiz - not something I would have every have fancied in the UK, but its good to get out and socialise. Yes, it's in English and yes I want to and am trying to intergrate with the Spanish community too. For me, it's about doing both and I am happy with the so far Spanglish existance.

The Admin side is also coming together too. We now have our Residencia certificates (or little paper cards as they are now). It was a bit of a nightmare morning when we went to apply at the local City Police Station as a 'rule' had changed literally the night before. Luckily, through 25 years in the Police, my husband was able to use his police driving skills to the max and get us from the city, over the mountains, collect the new piece of supporting documents we now needed, drive back over the mountains and get us back to the Police Station ten minutes before midday and therefore, get the process completed in the 'nick' of time (excuse the pun!).

So the downsides? Well like I said, missing family and friends. Sadly, we received some very bad family news at the weekend and so that always will bring home how far (even though it's only a few hours on a place) we are versus being able to hop in a car. It is something we are going to have to manage and deal with as our family life here in Spain continues.

Hasta luego until the next installment!



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One month in - highs and lows
15 January 2013

It's already been a month since our move to Spain and my goodness, time is flying. It's really been a month of lots of highs but also some lows. So, how is life settling for Team CL in Spain?

After our initial flurry of setting up and arranging various things, we settled down to some time off to enjoy Christmas and New Year. I had spent Christmas in Spain before so knew how different it can be but I wasn't prepared as to how home sick I felt for the presence of family. It's always been a very family affair and whilst, having our 3 year old all to ourselves on Christmas morning and seeing his absolute delight that Santa had made it to the balcony, by the time it came to dinner, it did really very strange. We were fortunate to be invited to friends on Boxing Day where we all played lots of games with lots of silliness and that did help to ease the yearning of wanted to go home at that point.

That said, we did enjoy the rest of the Christmas period and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my husband on New Years Eve (he normally worked in the UK) so although we stayed in, we had a lovely little party between the two of us thanks to very reasonably priced Cava and party packs in Mercadona! I did nearly choke on stuffing 12 grapes down my neck so might by pass that one this year! 

After New Year, we did start to feel the desperate need for some normality and routine - we were beginning to feel 'holidayed' out. It was still eight days until the start of school so all being together in the apartment began to feel very claustraphobic. Suddenly a light and airy space was closing in. Tempers frayed - we had missed family and our little one was seriously missing chums.

I always like to believe that a high should follow a low and the 3 Kings provided a well needed lift as did the glorious weather. On the 8th January, my little boy started school. I have never felt so nervous and sick in my life. A natural reaction for all mums but here I was throwing him into a place where he knew no-one and couldn't speak the language. Well, surprisingly he didn't cry and he stayed for the full day. He did seem rather shell shocked afterwards and behaviour was a little worse than usual but I have to remember what a massive change for him. We are now into the second week and fingers crossed, it's OK and he is getting there - poco a poco. It's been strange that I am a stranger at the school gate and an Extranjera and whilst I can speak ok Spanish, the speed and colloquial nature of a group of Mums speaking is overwhelming right now. Therefore, I have vowed to join the PTA equivalent and get stuck in.

A great high was the arrival last week of my parents. We had a super time although my Mum had a fall and whilst that was not a great experience for her, the emergency medical care and follow up was excellent and so that was a great releif to me. Sadly they left today and whilst I lived four hours away from them in the UK, that 'different country' distance is a much greater rench than I thought it would be.

So, we ended today with a home cooked meal with fabulous and very very cheap local veg and a play on the beach in the sun with our little man who had had a great day at school. It's beginning to feel 'home' versus a holiday and the routine of school is good. Both of us have some work in the pipeline so it's definitely onwards and upwards.....I will keep you posted

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Beginning to settle in!
20 December 2012

Thank you to everyone who commented on the initial post - it was great have, thank you!. We have been rather technically challenged until now so hence the lack of contact.

Anyway here goes our progress so far. We arrived exactly a week a go in Santander to a very rainy, foggy and snowy northern Spain (not unsurprisingly in December). The crossing was as to be expected around the Bay of Biscay in December - rough and for us, never to be experienced again! The drive to our new home was fine and perfectly navigated thanks to Tom from TomTom (Ester - the voice choice of my husband was duely sacked after 2 annoying hours and replaced by the more calming tone of Tom!)

The first couple of days were extreme highs and lows. Just to put things into context, this was a family holiday home that we had been coming to for eight years and so we knew it and the area very well. However, day one, Hubby was brought down by a virus and I had that initial oh help moment of how do we condense our three bedroom UK home into our 2 bedroom one here. The best medicine was to simply step back, have a walk on the Paseo, breathe in the sea air, have a cana and then think of the best solution. That we did and all the unpacking and re-jigging has been duely done.

And so onto really what week 1 meant for us: 

Arriving the week before Christmas in some ways is fantastic - everything is full of joy and celebration. On the flip side, we literally had an incredibly tight schedule to complete for us, what was really important to help us settle, before everything shut for their holidays. My pre xmas Santa list read:

1) Get our 3 year old into School to start in January - which includes getting all the Ayuntamiento paper work in place to support it (Padron etc)

2) Internet and phone installed to get us communicating with the outside world agin!

3) Car sorted (actually not on my list but guess whos!)

4) Health care sorted

5) Having some well earned R&R!

Well, I know first hand that things can be slow in Spain but luckily for us, research, research and a bit of pre-planning and maybe some very good luck have brought great rewards and so all are in place! After studying Spanish for a while, we have really had a complete immersion including interviews at the school through to highly technical calls from the Telefonica engineer. Wow, my brain hurts but as we seem to have got a school place and I am now emailing at home, then hopefully, we haven't done too badly!

As for the Rest and Relaxation. It now starts here. Have a very Merry Christmas everyone and we will let you know how we get on in the new year. All the best for a great 2013

Team CL x




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The start of the adventure!
12 December 2012

 So, here I am in the middle of the English Channel heading for Santander writing my first ever blog. After living in Spain for a short while some twenty + years ago, I am finally returning for the longer haul. In tow is hubby and my gorgeous (well most of the time - let's start this out as an honest story!) 3year old. 

Packing up and selling up the UK house was way more traumatic than I ever expected and as for saying goodbye to friends and family, well all I can say is that I should have bought shares in Kleenex. There have been several OMG what on earth are we doing moments to say the least in the last few weeks. But as I sit watching the sea, I know we are so doing the right thing for what works for us as a family.

So dear readers (rather hoping I get more than one!)', this will be an account of how the three of us get on with starting our new lives


 Hasta pronto!


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