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Green Lemons are Limes

The adventure that moving and living in Spain has continually been. Tragic events that have turned everything upside down, house moves and running a bar in the Spanish countryside.

A Village Terrorised
15 September 2019

A Village Terrorised  

 

Time went by, Dad had been and went, the house was almost liveable. 

Dad had not been overly impressed by our new home, but he loved the village and the local people even with the communication barrier, made us all feel welcome.

The house directly in front of our new home was being renovated, as they took the old roof of our home became full of dust, dust that got into everything and was impossible to remove. It sat heavy on my chest giving the most hellish cough, nothing could be done apart from live with it.

The girls were enjoying school apart from one aspect, the two other English kids. These children were from a troubled background and it showed in their behaviour. They had tried to create an English Spanish divide in the little school but my girls didn’t want to know. When they wouldn’t comply things took a nasty turn.

I had to communicate with the school somehow, so spent hours with the English to Spanish dictionary writing a letter explaining the situation and asking if where possible my kids could be kept away from them. I understood that it was impossible to keep them away at break times but if I could at least make the school aware they could move them in the classroom.

Things went from bad to worse, when I was called into school because Loreena had been cornered in the toilet and now had a black eye. The English girl was responsible and the school would deal with it.

The problems with these two children were escalating in the village with them running riot and even torturing and murdering cats. 

It was a far cry from what I had hoped Spanish life would be like. The whole community was up in arms and before long the authorities were involved. It wasn’t long before the family left our village and returned to the UK. 

Bringing a new sense of peace to the village.

It is my hope that the family got all the help they needed in the Uk to turn their lives around and become the people I know that could have been. 

To see children struggle in such a way is so horrible.

 

 

 

 



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First Day of School
06 September 2019

First Day of School

 

As all parents know your children’s first day at school is hard, maybe even harder for the parents as the children. Add to the mix that you couldn’t speak the language and although they had been having lessons in the Uk their language skills were very very basic.

Both the girls were keen to attend school and although they were understandably nervous they were well up for the challenge. Barry took Mysty and I took Loreena because of all the issues I had had getting her to go into school in the Uk.

We were shown which lines to join and a few other parents waited in line with their children.

Then the bell, well more of a siren went and it was time for the children to go in and the adults to melt away.

Barry continued in with Mysty, but for Loreena I felt it would be better if I handed her to her new teacher and left. As we reached the door the teacher who was waiting to take the now crying and shaking Loreena by the hand, at that moment a beautiful smiling little girl appeared and took Loreena’s other hand. I took my chance and left for a bit of cry.

It turns out that the little girl was an orphan and her sister was in Mysty’s class and had done the same thing for her. Both these wonderful children had taken it on themselves to sit the new girls next to them and look after them.

They would be strong friends for that first term, right up to the time when the sisters were adopted and went to live in a city far away with their new parents.

I was lucky enough to meet them with their new family before they left and you could see that they already loved the girls and would give them a wonderful life.

We as a family will never forget the kindness given by two beautiful children who had suffered so much.

 

The girls came running out of school with smiling faces that day, even though they didn’t understand much, they were ok. The system was based around play so the perfect environment for my girls to learn the language quickly.

Even at that young age, they decided that at school they would only ever talk to each other in Spanish.

I was also paying for them to have school dinners, so they would become more integrated with both the other students, culture and food.



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Car
23 August 2019

Car

 

Yet another thing we got wrong!

We found a car we wanted to buy, Spanish plated, old and cheap.

But we were still waiting for our appointment to get our NIE numbers.

Again we listened to the wrong people this time the person selling the car, we were told we would not be able to get it transferred into our name until we had our paperwork. WRONG!

After renting a car for much longer than we needed to we found this just wasn’t true. You can legally drive a car on a piece of paper issued by an asesoria until you have the correct documents and it can be insured.

We would never dream of driving an uninsured car, as it turned out that’s a good job.

My first ever drive out in our new car and it broke down!

Unable to speak Spanish, I didn’t know what to do. I found the documents (they were in English) and called the number. Thankfully they spoke English but when the mechanic called me back to find out where I was, which I wasn’t 100% sure of, if truth be told, he only spoke Spanish.

Panic started to set in but then it hit me, one of the Estate Agents we had been dealing with (not the bad one!) was within walking distance.

I walked up and he was so helpful, came back to the car with me and spoke to the mechanic on the phone and then stayed with me until it was fixed. 

The car didn’t give us any more problems after that until it was written off almost a year later.

 



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Busy,Busy,Busy
16 August 2019

Busy, Busy, Busy

 

Rental properties in the Spanish village we wanted to live in were very far and few between. Barry had found the only one which was available at short notice, hence it was far from ideal.

The first week of our Spanish life was busy, with trying to clean up our rental property. Really is unbelievable the amount of filth some people live in and the amount of tat they leave in a rental property. We moved all the things we didn’t need or couldn’t clean into one of the bedrooms, it was full. Then we stored all the items we had brought with us but didn’t need straight away in the most unusual bedroom I have ever seen. It had a toilet plumbed into it but in the middle of the room, what’s that about?

 

We found a bar where the landlord spoke some English, he would turn out to be the person who lead us in a direction we never in a million years thought we would go! His wife was a teacher, so we arranged to start having Spanish lessons with her. It was already frustrating not speaking the language, I would say ‘hola’ to the people I pasted in the street, but when they tried to talk to me, which most did, I was lost, no clue what they were saying at all. I wanted to fit in and be a real part of the community. To do that I had to get at least some Spanish under my belt.

 

It turned out that I found it very difficult in the classroom setting, even though the class was just for Barry and myself. Having had not the best English education I had no clue about verbs and grammar, let alone past, present and continual. 

However I wanted to learn, I needed to be able to communicate, I found going for a coffee after the class was working much better for me. I needed a more practical approach. 

This wonderful couple would help us in so many ways, our teacher even set up the appointment for us to get our residences because we didn’t have NIE numbers we were able to do them both together. She made sure we had all the paperwork we needed and yet again we travelled to Almeria, this time knowing where the new offices were.

This time it was easy, we went in for our appointment and bingo came out with the documents we needed.

 

*Top tip: getting your paperwork does not need to be as hard as we made it, go straight to an asesoria and save yourself time, money and hassle.



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We Have Arrived
12 August 2019

We have arrived

 

The first day in our new country was a mix of excitement and nerves.

 

First thing in the morning we went to school, we had taken a translator with us. But yet again had fallen into the trap of thinking, if someone speaks more of the language than you they must be fluent. 

The headmistress called the English teacher in to help, but that worryingly didn’t help at all, as luck would have it, the sports teacher walked past just then and his English was streets ahead of the other staff members.

All the paperwork was completed and the girls would start school the following week. 

 

Now to see our new home.

As we climbed the narrow alleyways in the beautiful mountainside village that was now our home, my heart began to sink. I would have to make this trip every time I went to the supermarket, the only place to park the car was on the outer town road.

 How were we going to get our belongings in?

The answer was we would have to block off one of the towns tiny roads and walk it up the alleyway and to the house.

Barry’s description of the house was wonderful, the reality was not.

It had bag’s of potential but we were only renting, so wouldn’t want to do too much.

It was full of the owner's belongings and was disgustingly filthy.

Everywhere needed painting urgently, especially the bathroom and kitchen.

We only had two weeks to knock the house into shape and make it liveable before my dad came to stay.

It was time to get to work.



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On Our Way
09 August 2019

On Our Way 

 

The date was fixed for our big move. Barry would go on ahead and find us somewhere to rent and getting the girls into the local school.

I would move out and stay with Dad for two weeks, allowing the girls to finish the school term and for me to clean the house once it was empty, so it was spotless for our lovely new tenant.

 

The girls finished school and we spent time at goodbye parties and making sure we spent time with family.

Barry and a family friend drove a van full of our things over to Spain and started looking for our next home.

His description of our new home sounded amazing, it was a townhouse, which benefits would include really getting to know life in a small town, the community and customs. It was also easy walking distance to the school.

 

Get the girls into school was proving a little more difficult, they wanted to meet me and the girls before they would accept them.

 

The two weeks flew by and it was time for our new life to begin. 

Dad took us to the airport and outside customs, we said our goodbyes. It really felt like we were saying goodbye forever, which was totally crazy as Dad had already booked a flight for two weeks to come and see how we were getting on. 



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New Home?
03 August 2019

New Home?

 

Barry and I flew back to Spain to sort out the paperwork for our new house, we had paid a deposit before we left the last time, now we needed to meet the solicitor and get our NIE’s to proceed with the sale. 

It was a flying visit, so with no time to lose we drove straight to the solicitors. We sat down and as she explained the property we were buying. Hang on, that’s not right! She described the stable building, no mention of the house or the land, she advised us not to buy it as it was clear there was a major problem with the paperwork.

 

I was disappointed and angry, we had come here to buy a house and now we would be leaving empty-handed. We went directly to the estate agent to get our deposit back. They suggested that if we had used their solicitor it would not have been a problem. Not for them maybe but for us when the true owners turned up at the door wanting their house back, with the paperwork proving ownership, I saw red. Barry sent me out of the office as smoke was threatening to come from my ears, I do not often lose my temper but when I do I really do and Barry knows this.

They told him they did not have the deposit in the office and to return the next day, so away we went with our fingers crossed that they would give it back and we wouldn’t have to take legal action.

 

The next day we returned, to be told they still didn’t have our deposit and to come back later. So we hung about and waited until the time they had said, this gave me too much thinking time, my head was spinning with how I would solve this problem. I was not leaving again without my deposit, if need be I would sit in front of the office telling everyone who walked past what they had done and make a real nuisance of myself if they called the police even better. 

Thankfully, I didn’t have to put the plan into action and they gave back the deposit on our return and we never dealt with them again.

 

This regrettable situation did not put us off moving to Spain but we did need a different plan if we wanted to move before the Stat exam. We decided to rent and keep house hunting, giving us as much time as we needed, rather than try to rush things.



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The Search Goes On
31 July 2019

The Search Goes On

 

The next time we boarded a plane Dad was with us, he was keen to be involved with our adventure and we were delighted.

After yet another failed attempt to get our paperwork, this time on our own, we travelled to Almeria city just to find the offices had moved and no-one knew where too, we decided to concentrate on finding a house and having quality family time.

We saw loads of properties and even after making it clear that liveable meant it the property had a roof, we were still shown ones without. Sometimes we didn’t even get out of the car the properties were so far from what we were looking for.

 

 We had a few disagreements on the way, mainly with a new build that the boy’s thought would be perfect but I hated it, no way could I live in the small modern characterless box.

 

Then after hours of on-line searching, more hours with estate agents we found it!

 

It was liveable, but with work needing to be done to it, two rooms needed a complete renovation. It had land but not too much and it even had a stable that had been partly converted to a flat, it would make a perfect grandparents annexe. 

There was something very odd about it though, the property was not being lived it but as we walked around it looked like someone had just gone to work and not come back, the beds were unmade, washing up left on the kitchen table and personal items lying about, it was strange. Pushing the warning voice in my head away, we put in an offer, as we did so my phone rang we had an offer placed on our UK house. Could it be we were really in business?

 

We returned to the Uk and our house sale fell through, we would give it a few more weeks if we had no joy we would rent it out. 

We had no more offers on our house, rent it out it must be. It had only been on the rental market one day when we had a viewing, imagine my surprise when I opened the door to someone I had met just the day before at a group I sometimes attended. We had got on well at that first meeting, she loved our house and she agreed to rent it there and then. She was to be the most wonderful tenant for four years.

 



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Let it begin
26 July 2019

Let it begin

 

It was time to start if we wanted to be in Spain before our Daughter sat her stat exam we needed to make headway.

With Dad doing well, we felt able to start putting our plans into action.

Flights were booked and off we went to house hunt.

We knew nothing, we were greener than a green lemon or lime!

Paperwork was a nightmare mainly because we listened to the wrong people and got really rubbish advice. 

So following blindly like you do when you are under the impression someone else knows what they are talking about, we travelled the 30 km to the town where we would meet and pay a lady to get us our NIE (tax identification) number. It was bitterly cold that day, in one of the towns in Spain that has the most extreme weather, loads of snow in the winter and burning hot in the summer. We waited and waited and waited a bit more, we were too early the office in the police station wasn’t yet open.

When at last we got into the office for what should have been a straight forward meeting, it became clear it wasn’t going to happen. 

The lady who gets people NIE’s for a living seemed not to be known and her Spanish was a little better than mine, at this point mine was almost non-existent. We left with no NIE numbers, she still wanted to be paid though!

We decided to leave the paperwork for now and we had appointments booked to start looking for a house. I had been an estate agent for years in London and weirdly thought we would get the same sort of professionalism as I used to give, sadly I was mistaken. (please note there are very good estates agents out there, it was just unfortunate we didn’t meet any at this time!) 

We had two day’s in which to house hunt, we were looking with the same agent both days. He had the list of things we were looking for, I tend to be rather organised when it comes to house hunting.

Both days went pretty much the same way, we saw loads of the countryside around where we were looking to live, which was lovely. The houses not so much, I wanted a house that needed work but we could live in whilst we did it, call me strange but to me, if a property hasn’t got a roof then it’s uninhabitable. Not according to this estate agent, but then he also told us that it never snowed in the area, whilst he was sat under a photo of the village in the snow. I was starting to have issues trusting him, not sure why! 

One of the properties, if the situation had been different, I would have bought, it was pretty much a ruin, hardly any roof and no way could you live in it, but it had bags and bags of character, views to die for and I loved it but totally impractical for our families needs. It was in the middle of no-where had no road or track to get to it, you had to park at the end of the nearest track and go on foot for about 10 minutes. It would be a total money pit and our pit was more like a puddle.

Our trip came to an end with no paperwork and no house, the plus was I got to see a lot of derelict building, I've got a bit of a thing for ruins.

Back to Blighty, we went and back to looking at property details on internet websites, I was shocked at how little information was given (property details have got better since then and laws have changed which has helped purchasers no end in the last twelve years). I was looking at properties and then realising we had viewed them already, the photo’s where taken in such a way that at first glance you would think they were different houses when you compared the photos to standing outside. Of course the agents want to show off a property to it’s best, however, sometimes we got a surprise. The price differences for the same property were mental sometimes as much as fifty thousand difference depending on the agent, turned out that this would be their commission, nice if you can get it.

 

 



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New Kind of Normal
19 July 2019

New Kind of Normal

 

Time moves on, as it has a habit of doing. Life over the coming months was not easy for any of us. It was made harder by some very spiteful behaviour on one person’s part, but that another story. It’s fair to say that sometimes death brings out the worst in people.

We all found a new kind of normal, life goes on and you have to go with it.

Dad seemed to be doing better than I dared to hope, as a recovering alcoholic my biggest fear was that he would find anaesthetic in the bottom of a bottle, he didn’t. He was desperately lonely and we did everything we could to help with that. Family days out and he even had the girls overnight so Barry and I could go to a concert, it was a late birthday/ anniversary treat, Mum had died 2 days before our wedding anniversary and 4 days before my birthday, so not a lot to celebrate then.

Regularly I would meet my Dad in his office and we would go to lunch, one day however he wanted me to meet him in a café and not the office, this worried me.

As it turned out he was much more worried than I was. As we sat drinking our coffee, with him looking nervous, this surprised me as it was the first time I had seen him looking this way, he was an extremely confident person and fazed by nothing.

He asked how I would feel if he had a girlfriend, my answer was that as long as she was older than me I didn’t care, I just wanted him to be happy. I do not know why he thought I may disown him (maybe too many horror stories on the internet) for trying to build a new life for himself but that was his biggest fear. Never would I have stood in the way of him being happy, ever!

He told me that he had started online dating, but on a site for business people, he didn’t want to go out with a woman that he could not hold a decent conversation with. He had had a few disastrous dates, with women that bored him, but now had found a lady he liked very much.

Yes, she was older than me, phew!

She was very successful in a highly specialized field of research, she had been divorced for a large number of years and had three grown-up children, she was clever, funny and beautiful. My next question was when would I meet her, that I was told would not be for a while yet.

Their relationship went from strength to strength and we started feeling that we could put our plans to move to Spain back on track.

Of course, luck wasn’t on our side, the housing market had taken a nosedive and our house was now worth considerably less than it had when we had first looked to market it. We were not going to let a small thing like money stop us, so slowly we started to plan again.

 



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