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Discovering a new life in Costa Almeria

Having made the decision that full time work really is bad for your health,my husband convinced me that we should get 2 puppies and retire early. What I hadn't anticipated was that retirement would see us in Almeria, in southern Spain. This is our story from making the decision to move to our life here. For more posts read the full blog at What I hadn't realised was that I wasn't ready to retire so after 2 years we are back in the UK. However, when I am finally ready to retire - Spain is still in the mix.

Hard Hat Required.
01 May 2010 @ 09:32

Any ex-pat living in Spain will tell you that the 'Health & Safety' measures in the UK are seriously missing here in Spain. The more rural you get, the further they get from any H&S manual.

And so, H&S on a home building site is pretty much non-existent and it's easy to fall into the same mind set.

We're doing fencing. We're not up ladders. We're not using sharp tools. We're just doing fencing.

So why am I typing this whilst wearing some very fetching new head gear?


Before we totally enclose the paddock (as I refer to it) we needed to shift about 50 large plastic drainage pipes which have been left here since the house was built, someone really over-ordered! The plan was to put 2 large metal posts at the bottom of the next hill and stack these pipes between the hill and the posts. If we moved them now, we could just roll them down the hill, in another couple of days we would be man-handling 4 metres of drainpipe through a single gate while balancing on a steep slope. Moving them today seemed like a good idea.

The pipes haven't moved for almost 2 years so we knew there would be 'things' living in them and we would be about to evict some very cross little animals, especially as we would be working through the day and many of them could be nocturnal.

Once we had donned big boots and large gloves we set about making as much noise on the drainpipes as we could with a big stick to try and scare whatever was in them, out.

Then we began moving them. There was trails of debris falling out of the pipes as they were dragged across the lumps and bumps of the paddock, left from previous years ploughing. Bits of old straw nests, empty almond nut shells and the occasional signs of animal droppings.

After we were about halfway through moving them, I suddenly saw my first evictee, a lovely little bunny. He scampered out of the end of one of the pipes and up the hill into the overgrown Cacti near the ruined 'Nave'. I left him to settle and carried on moving the pipes when suddenly, Neil called to say we needed a longer post at one end, the stack of pipes had reached the top. As I walked over to see, I suddenly saw the whole pile of drainpipes break free from their restraints and cascade down the hill, thankfully to be trapped on the trunks of Almond trees growing on the lower level.

I shall not repeat the words that came forth from my husband's mouth, but it was clear that he was not happy!

That was the start of a day, destined to get worse.

We climbed back up to the house where all the building 'stuff' is stored and chose some longer metal posts to use for storing the drainpipes. Posts and hammer in hand, we set off to repeat the mornings work.

As these posts were 2 metres long, Neil had to climb up the hill to be able to hammer them in, so he asked me to hold the posts in place while he clambered up a near vertical slope, bits of loose rock, plant debris and the remnants of last years fallen almonds showering down on top of me. It should have been a warning.

He started to hammer in the first post with the lump hammer, and I could see the line on the post where we had marked how deep it needed to go, getting nearer and nearer to the ground, when all of a sudden.............

....... my hands left the post and flew to hold the top of my head. Wow, it hurt. I clung on to my head, screaming in pain. Neil flew down the hillside to me, shouting for me to keep still.

He reached me in seconds and threw his arms round me. He lifted my hands and uttered a few words, ' Keep your hands pressed on hard, back to the house, quick. It's bleeding'. The head of the lump hammer had come off the handle and hit me on the head!

Of course it was bleeding!

He almost had to push me up the 2 steep slopes to the house. The dogs had heard my screams and come down to see what was wrong, but I didn't have time to stop. By the time I got halfway up I couldn't breath. It appears I cannot scream, sob and breath ALL at the same time.

Eventually, we got back to the house and Neil went into action mode. Towels, ice pack and a glass of water with painkiller were brought and I allowed him to remove my hands to review the damage. Practical thoughts ran through my head. We have no phone at the house because of the satellite mess up and the mobile phones don't work here. Our neighbour was in the UK so we had no-one nearby to call. Our health cover ran out last month and I haven't sorted anything out yet because in 2 years neither if us has needed a doctor. Meanwhile Neil was sorting out my new headgear. A damp cloth, an ice pack and a pretty scarf to hold it all in place.

Gradually, I calmed down. Although the hammer head was heavy (1kg of steel) I knew it had only caught me a glancing blow, it could have been a lot worse. Neil asked if I wanted to go to hospital but I said not, I wanted to wait a little while to see if the bleeding would stop and we could see how bad the cut was. I wanted to be left to sit quietly for a while.

Neil was shaken up by what had happened, even though it was an accident, he felt responsible. Now I was sat quietly, he didn't have anything to do, the panic set in. I told him I was fine and just needed a few minutes.

10 minutes later we removed the ice pack and could see that I had been very lucky, if such a phrase could be applied to being hit on the head with a lump hammer! It hadn't cut my head, more grazed it and the bleeding had almost stopped although by now, my hair was thick and matted with blood. I put the ice and towel back on my head and rested my head back against the chair while Neil removed my boots - there would be no more work today.

Several hours later, I am perfectly fine. I managed to hang my head upside down in the shower and run lots of warm water over my hair to remove the blood. I doubt I will be able to brush my hair properly for a few days as the top of my head is very sore to touch, but otherwise is fine. The lump hammer will be repaired for future use and I have added 'Hard Hat' to my shopping list. I know I had a very lucky escape and it could have been so much worse.

I am now hoping that when I go back to the paddock today, the fairies have been and stacked all the drainpipes away, but somehow I think my luck will fall short of that happening.

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