Life On The Farm Part 3 - Clive And June's Story

Published on 16/03/2009 in Expat Life

When we first moved here we worried that the children were a little bit old to integrate easily into the Spanish system, but in hindsight at 9, 11 and 12 we think that they were an ideal age.   They had the advantage of already having a good standard of English, both spoken and written which meant that we didn’t have the added worry of teaching them their native language, but they were also young enough to pick up Spanish easily. 

Being the only English children in the school at the time made it much easier for them as they could only speak Spanish, whereas the English children that have joined the school since do not have the same advantage or incentive to speak Spanish – it is only natural to prefer to speak in your own language if you have the choice. Our children were very lucky, though they may not have thought so in the beginning!  Strangely, they had the added advantage that, not having experienced foreign children before, some of the teachers didn’t actually realise that they weren’t Spanish and consequently made no allowances for them – very hard but ultimately the best thing that could have happened.

Another advantage of moving here is the willingness of the children to travel on their own.  That first summer when we went back to England for a holiday Elizabeth was not quite ten, but she decided that it would be a good idea if we left her in England to spend a bit longer with her friends and she would fly back to Spain on her own!   The three of them have regularly traveled back and forth to England on their own ever since.  Moving to Spain has definitely given the children more freedom and independence – we never feel the same worry that we would have felt in England when they are out on their own.  This is just as well, as the Spanish way of going out late and not coming home until the early hours would be very worrying otherwise!

Living in the campo is a bit difficult for teenagers.  All three of the children had mopeds when they turned 14 and studied for their moped licenses, which at least gave them a bit of independence, though they have been known to walk the 5km home in the summer after a Saturday night out.  The boys have now passed their driving tests which helps a lot!

Of course living in the campo has a lot of plus points – they have been able to run wild in a way that they would never have done in England.  Being very outdoor, sporty children they were in their element, with mountains to climb, horses to ride, mountain bikes, skiing and swimming, they have not been short of things to keep them occupied.

For our first year here I was feeling really smug, with my lovely healthy ‘outdoor’ children, who also devoured books by the dozen in their spare time.   That is, until my parents very kindly decided to buy them Satellite TV as a reward for doing so well at school – oh dear, now they are more like normal teenagers!

Of course the internet has not helped either, though I would not be able to run the business without it so I can’t complain.  Our slow digital system is frustrating at times but we do know that we are lucky to have it at all.

Teenagers do have a habit of comparing their lives with their friends, and of course over the years we have had to contend with Spain being blamed for anything wrong in their lives, i.e. The internet is better in England, you don’t get so much home work, 6th form is so cool – and so on. Ask all their friends from England who see us as their second home where they would rather live and I know the answer!

Our eldest, John, did find out for himself where his home really was when he went back to England at 16 to attend an army college in Harrogate.  Having passed Spanish school and achieving his Titulo after only 3 years here we were very proud of him. He decided that he wanted to make his career in the British army, being such a fitness fanatic and also very disciplined and tidy. 

He set off in September 2003 to start his new life and found the army life everything he had expected – he loved it and thrived in the environment, enjoying the many academic and travel opportunities that came with it.  He has fond memories of a trip they did to northern Spain where his translation skills were put to good use, and the Spanish lads he met there said he had an accent just like their friends from Malaga!   Surprisingly, academically John found he was advanced compared to most of the English lads.  Having studied in a foreign language since the age of 13 he fully expected to be behind the English curriculum but that was not the case.  Us expats with school age children may naturally have concerns about the standard of education in the Spanish schools, so it is nice to know that they must be getting something right!

John’s problems with his army life began when they were allowed to go home for the weekend.  Of course it was impossible for John, and he started to realise that this could become a problem.  As time went on, he also realised that when he went away on tour of duty, where ever he was in the world he would always be sent back to England and only then would he be able to find his own way back to Spain.  He started to become home sick, missing his life in Spain and hating England! 

Eventually, having stuck it out for 14 months he decided to leave and happily for us, came home.  It was lovely for us to know that he had discovered for himself that actually it was better here and that Spain was his home.  At still only 18, John had not lost anything and had experienced so much, he didn’t regret his time in the army and he says that all boys should do it!  On his return to Spain  he started college in Antequerra, along with his younger brother Harry and some of his Spanish friends.  John is now almost 22, how the years fly by.  He finished college in 2007 and started work for a computer company on the coast.  At the same time he set up home with his girlfriend Rebecca, who had moved out from England to attend a hairdressing college. 

John and Rebecca originally met when they were 2 at playschool in England, and went through school together until John left to move to Spain.  Rebecca is the best friend of the daughter of friends of ours from England, who come out to visit every single year.  When the girls were 16 they wanted their first holiday without their parents and came out to stay in our guest cottage.  John and Rebecca met up again and have been together, on and off, ever since. 

In August 2007 they got married here in Spain, at a local hotel.  It was made extra special by the fact that our neighbor, Gracia, is the local Justice of the Peace and was able to carry out the ceremony. It was a perfect day, with all our family and friends flying over for the event, and the evening reception held here at the farm, with dancing on the pool patio.  John and Rebecca are now expecting a baby in May, though sadly for us, Rebecca found she missed her Mum too much, and they took the decision to move back to England at Christmas.  Of course we miss John terribly, and are surprised that after his army experiences and being adamant that his home was in Spain he has now gone back but we hope he has a happy life there.

Harry, now 20 finished college last year and while looking for work here in Spain, saw an appeal on English TV for young people wishing to work on the Super Yachts, owned by the Mega rich such as film and sports stars. The recruitment process was huge, with over 500 original applicants.  After passing a succession of interviews he finally achieved a place, one of only 25, to train as an engineer. 

After an intensive 3 week course in Plymouth at the naval yard, he was due to get a placement immediately on board a yacht.  Sadly, as with many businesses in the recession, it seems that even that industry is suffering, and he is still waiting for a placement, though he has been told it will be any time now.  He will then be given a 6 month contract and sailing off to the Caribbean, lucky thing!

Elizabeth, now 18, has qualified as a veterinary nurse and has been doing work experience at a veterinary practice in Antequerra.  As a younger girl she wanted to make her career with horses.  She had big ambitions to study in California with Monty Roberts (the famous horse whisperer) but has since had lots of other ideas, including training to be a Scuba diving  or skiing instructor, just two of her many hobbies. At the moment she is practicing her skills on our own horses, and demonstrating ‘join up’ to any of our clients that are interested.

From an early age she has been interested in Monty’s work and developed her skills by reading his books. A few years ago we attended a course

Written by: June Wolfe

About the author:About the author: If we can be of help with anything to do with living in Spain, caring for animals etc please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help.

Phone  June on 952 111 569 or 660294457  e-mail  see the animals on our website -

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normansands said:
17 March 2009 @ 10:41

All good wishes tinged with a bit of envy.
Magic - keep it coming
Thank you

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