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After two long years in England, when Spain was an itch that had to be scratched, a golden opportunity came along, which couldn't be ignored. So here I am back in Spain ~ again, just me and my dog on the sunny Costa Blanca, ready for another adventure!

28 May 2014

So the ‘SOLD’ sign has gone up outside your mortgage free property in a leafy suburb of England, the international removals have delivered your worldly goods to your new casa, and you consider yourself to be a fully paid up expat. 

Yes Spain is where you now live, you consider it to be ‘home’.

But let’s face it, the experience of popping over to the Costa’s two or three times a year for a holiday, is really not the same as moving your life, to ‘live’ that life permanently, and many couples are unprepared for the reality of their retirement dream, which for some, turns into a nightmare.

A few weeks back there was a lively discussion about the number of expats leaving Spain, and many contributors told us about their own particular ‘nightmare’ which in many cases was as a result of purchasing from unscrupulous developers, and they had become trapped by the signature from their own fair hand.

But other more simple things can have an equally detrimental impact on your new life and make you both, or even just one of you, desperate to book a one way ticket back to your old home town.  I would hazard a guess and say that the female of the species is more adversely affected than the male by that nasty little bug they call HOMESICKNESS!

No matter how much Mrs Surprisingly Sixty is looking forward to the move, once the novelty of long sunny days, and getting the new Spanish abode ship shape, has worn off, she might begin to miss her trips to Marks and Sparks, where she used to pick up a £10.00 meal deal on a regular basis.  She might miss the social side of her previous life with her friends and work colleagues.  She might miss her beloved former home, her neighbours, and her old familiar lifestyle.

But most of all, she most definitely WILL miss the Grandchildren, that's who will tug at her heart strings most of all. On days when the heat is too hot, the mosquitoes are hungry, and spirits are low, there will be heated discussions, resentfulness will rear its ugly head, and blame will be apportioned as to ‘whose idea this was in the first place’.

Meanwhile, I think Mr Sod it I’m Sixty, takes a completely different view. His needs are met on a daily basis. He hits the golf course, enjoys a few post putting rounds of San Miguel, followed by a nice siesta, after which he’ll pop out for another swift half, just because he can.

There’s really not much about his old life he’s likely to miss as he’s been working day in, day out for the last 40 years to get exactly where he wants to be.

He laughs in the face of homesickness!

When the wife has a weepy wobble, his thought process convinces him that the Grandkids will come and visit in a couple of weeks, her indoors will get a ‘Nanny fix’ and she’ll be back to her old self again.

In my experience, it’s not quite as simple as that. But once you’ve sold up in the UK, sunk your assets into a retirement dream home, lived off your savings for a few years, no matter how unhappy your spouse is, no matter how much you want your old life back, you are very unlikely to be able to ever return to the same lifestyle in England that you left behind.

It’s a HUGE step to uproot your life, leave behind your nearest and dearest, and the familiar things that we all take for granted and start a new life in Spain.

In any relationship there is always one who is less certain than the other that it’s the right choice.  Some lucky ex pats embrace their new life, and never look back. Indeed after a few cursory trips back to the UK, they would be happy never to land on British soil again. 

But I’ve watched from the side-lines as many couples, with seemingly rock solid, long term relationships, fall apart after just a few years of arriving in Spain to start a new chapter in their life. 

They appear as a couple less and less, and eventually all is revealed. The Mrs, is no longer in residence. There is often an attempt to hide the true reason for the wives departure, an ageing relative is the most common excuse I've heard often.

A few weeks later, the languishing husband is summoned back to the UK for a visit, the ‘Se Vende’ sign goes up and life comes round full circle!

Has homesickness ever adversely affected your new life in Spain, if so, how have you dealt with it?


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Like 0        Published at 20:44   Comments (11)

21 May 2014

Sometimes the most gruesome of things that I cooked in my Spanish kitchen turned out to be the tastiest, and the day I got a surprise in my stock pot is no exception.

As we all know, some English people are under the illusion that Spain is hot ALL year round, which is complete nonsense. 

Your ceramic tiles which are wonderfully cool in the height of summer, freeze your toes off in a cold December, whilst that one calor gas heater, that on arrival in Spain, you thought you'd NEVER need, just doesn't reach enough parts of your home. 

I remember a freezing cold fog shrouding my town one year.  It arrived on New Year’s Day and didn’t leave for a month. The chill seemed to seep right through to my skin, and it was grey, damp and miserable outside, for what seemed like forever.

In winter, I made a big pot of soup almost every day, this was so cheap and easy with bits and bobs of veg found for sale in doorways and the markets, throw in some cheap cuts of meat or poultry and it was like a little cup of comfort!

One thing that made soup making much easier was the availability of bones for stock. Every single supermarket and butchers had bones on display, either pre-packed or loose, pre roasted, or raw.

The Senora’s buy bones like a young English mum buys beans, usually a four pack, and certainly in my local area in Essex, I have never seen bones readily available in any shop.  

Yes you can ask your local butcher, but who can find a local butcher these days?  If you try asking at the mainstream supermarkets, an assistant looks at you as if you’ve requested arsenic, and walks away never to be seen again. 

In England most housewives make stock from an Oxo cube, and does anyone really know what an Oxo cube is made from?  No, me neither!

Back in Spain, I also discovered a little gem of a place that sold a bag of 5 large chicken heads for 1 euro. These were of course just the carcases, no beaks or feathers were involved, but my soup making skills cranked up several notches.

I really shouldn’t also admit that once softened from the cooking pot, and with little shreds of tasty chicken meat still attached, I became even more popular with my feline friends that I fed on a daily basis. 

I know, I know, I shouldn’t. But I did it under cover of darkness, and nobody got hurt in the process, so please keep my nocturnal activities a secret.

Back to the soup.  I must admit at this point that I am Miss Squeamish of Squeamish Towers. I can’t touch offal with my bare hands, and seeing a naked pre-packed rabbit makes me queasy, so getting the chicken head from the bag, into the saucepan involved a pair of tongs and a ‘look away now’ procedure.

Imagine my horror therefore, when one day, as I lifted the saucepan lid to look at my stock, amongst the celery, carrot and onion, a spooky, semi cooked, chickens eyeball stared right back at me.

It wasn’t a pretty sight, but that big pot of soup saw me through a good few days, in more ways than one!

Like 2        Published at 13:37   Comments (4)

16 May 2014

One of the items on the agenda of electoral promises in the UK at the moment is the thorny issue of immigration, and of course everyone has an opinion. 

Some remain generously open hearted with their thoughts and our borders, whilst some seem to take the view that enough is enough and let’s get England back to being British.  

But isn’t it true that Spain has many of the same issues?  Life is certainly changing in some parts of traditional Spain, and I often wonder how the very elderly townsfolk feel when they see their beloved community falling prey to the needs of other nationalities, who seem to have invaded their space, as younger people say.

In our small town, in northern Spain, there are no less than 7 Western Union Internet café’s run by dark skinned men dressed in long flowing robes, their compatriots gather aimlessly outside for hours on end, with nothing better to do than chew tobacco.

Queues in the supermarkets are lengthened to extremes not by chattering Senorita’s but with ladies dressed in equally long flowing robes, with their hair carefully shielded from unsuitable eyes.  You don’t jostle for bargains round market stalls with a person from your street, they are from an entirely different country. 

 The quaint rusty old church bell is now competing for air time with the gentle wail of the call to prayer, reaching out across the town from a large old semi derelict building that finds itself resurrected with prayer mats and scrolls.

But from the East there also comes not particularly wise men.  Blonde fair skinned males, joined at the hip by equally blonde, fair skinned, often stunningly pretty girls. The shops are already geared up to suit their palates.

Shelves in the lack lustre supermarkets are given over entirely to Polish breads, and tins of sausages with stranger sounding names than Bratwurst.

These visitors who stayed, favour different money transfer providers, and their internet café’s advertise the rates to Latvia and Russia.  Our friends from the East, also have no purpose to their day which involves a different kind of fragrant tobacco to that which the Moroccans’ prefer 

For sure this is a town of nations, which are not particularly united. There are precious few jobs for the Spanish menfolk of the town, and resentment is high that the more affluent favour those who do the job for the least amount of euros, no matter what nationality they are.

But what of the little Spanish lacemaking lady, sitting in her doorway criss crossing her bobbins, stopping every now and then to wave to passers-by, and the craggy faced ancient farmer who still insists on driving  his rusty tractor into the centre of town to collect his gas bottle, and gives his own personal thumbs up to equally ancient hombre’s  

Surely they too must feel that ‘their’ town is not their town any longer, just as to some, the green and pleasant land isn’t so English anymore.   

Like 2        Published at 20:55   Comments (4)

15 May 2014

The small Spanish town where I spent most of my time over the last few years offered little choice in the local supermarkets and I have to admit that I often had a good old whinge about how predictable a food shopping expedition usually turned out to be. 

Our town had the usual Dia, and Bon Area but I think any seasoned expat will agree, the shelves there are fairly basically stocked with everyday staples, rather than a 'Taste the Difference' range!

But you know my trip to any mainstream supermarket in the UK now is truly an assault on all the senses and I've come to appreciate that really, I don't want to have to choose between tomatoes that are on the vine, off the vine, cherry shaped, plum shaped, small or large. 

I now fondly recall the simple choice in the shops that I had before, beefsteak or 'normal' sized tomatoes, not to mention the familiar site of of a rickety old box in a doorway full of mis shapen, but deliciously juicy offerings, with an honesty jar beside it.

And don't start me off on Oranges, they have become almost a 'designer' fruit in the UK, being marketed in all shapes and sizes, degree's of sweet/sharpness, with pips, without pips, thin skinned, thick skinned and then graded for the ease of peeling!  Oh yes, and the piece de Orange resistance must be the ones with a dainty green leaf left on for added impact, at twice the price.

Yes, I miss my little man in the local market even if oranges were his only fruit!



Like 2        Published at 14:28   Comments (2)

11 May 2014

I was prompted to start this little blog this morning, after reading a somewhat heated debate about English people leaving their dream life in Spain, and moving back to England. 

I returned to the UK early in 2013, and have spent many, many hours ever since my return, trying to find the ways and means to get BACK to Spain as soon as ever I realistically can.

Without exception, when I talk to people and tell them that I've been away for a few years, they always ask me, 'Why on earth did you come back here'.  And do you know, after nearly 18 months back in Blighty, I really still have no idea!

So I hope you will come and visit my blog again, while I remind you, and myself, just what it is I miss about Spain, and the things that I would rather forget about England, and hopefully one day soon, you'll raise a glass of Rioja with me when I say Hola to Spain again!

Like 2        Published at 16:42   Comments (2)

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