Old Friends in New Spain

Published on 11/15/2006 in Spanish Culture

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my three kids what they missed most about the UK.

My eldest said she missed “Shortbread” and my middle child reported that she would prefer a more regular supply of “Percy Pigs”, a jelly sweet from M&S. My youngest decided that the lack of “Fruit Winders” – which any parent or grand parent will know have a permanent supergluing effect to the normal seat fabric of any car built after 1990 - was his greatest regret. Then again, he is only 4.

Rarely, thank God, are we confronted with events of such overwhelming tragedy that they threaten the very fabric of our ways of life. A year ago yesterday, 07/07, as part of a cynical terror plot to destabilise the morale of the British people, acts were committed of the most heinous kind. Lives were lost and shattered. Despite the carnage the morale, I believe, still remains intact.

Being aware of the date but going about my busy tasks in Gibraltar, after a couple of early meetings, and a trip to M&S, I found myself in Morrison’s Supermarket. The tannoy announced that it was 1.00 (CET 12.00 GMT), and in line with the act of remembrance being held in the UK, a one minute silence would be observed.

The effect was startling. In that vast supermarket, the World stopped. Several hundred shoppers, who moments before were going about their hectic trolley filling, stood with their heads bowed. The sense of common grief is most profound. A dropping pin could easily have been heard.

At 1.01 PM the tannoy thanked their customers for their observance and the clatter of trolleys started again.

I confess that I am, not in any prurient sense, a bit of a people watcher. At the check out, which by the time I got there, was perhaps ten deep I spent some quality day dreaming time looking at my fellow shoppers.

This was Friday lunch-time, so the great and good of Gib who were not eating at Sacarellos, off Main Street, were topping up the family’s fridge for the weekend. In addition to the local shoppers, the vast majority were expats getting their hit of McVities’ Digestives and Heinz’ salad Cream.

What is interesting about this group is the diversity of ages.

The local International school’s, of which there are at least 8 within a 50 km strip from Gib, broke up either yesterday or the previous weekend. As a consequence there were a number of Mum’s with a range of little ones. The majority have that healthy glow about them, born out of an intensive first week at the pool side. Pester power was in full swing and I thanked my lucky stars that I had left my brood at home in San Pedro - otherwise we’d probably still be shopping!

However, the majority of expat shoppers are in the 60 to 80 age group. They live, I expect, within a 100 km radius of Gib which covers much of the Costas de la Luz and del Sol and the inland regions from Antequera to Ronda, Jerez to Arcos de la Frontera.

They are a very interesting crowd. The ladies are clearly enjoying their retirement very much. Their trolleys are full with high fibre, low calorie products and plastic trays straining with the best fruit and vedge available. Their health and well being are clearly a priority and let’s be honest it’s paying off - they look great. A number of their reluctant male shopper partners have deep golf tans and wear a variety of shorts and polo shirts. They are shot dark looks when they linger a little too long near the pork pie counter and can only dream of returning on their own to stock up on Melton Mowbray’s best.

A recent report carried on the excellent New Sky’s site has told us that the UK Civil Servant’s at the Department of Work and Pensions has calculated that over 1million Britons retired abroad over the last decade. Spain has been identified as the most popular European retirement destination with 74,433 pensioners moving here since 1996.

Additionally, Mutual Assurance has reported that one third of those approaching retirement hoped to buy property abroad. Overall, we are told, there has been a 50% rise in 'overseas OAPs'.

With properties in the South of Spain ranging in price from the very affordable to the uber expensive many former UK residents have seen that they can sell up even the most modest house “back home” and buy in this marvellous part of the World. In addition to their existing pension arrangements, these more mature settlers often find that they can often bank a sizeable chunk of residual equity - making life just that little bit sweeter.

For mature clients, as for the majority, the advice is the same. Obtain as much background information as you can obtain before making the jump. An old adage from the commercial world “failing to plan is planning to fail” is particularly apt. Such a move is far too important to fail to take into account of all aspects. Location is essential. The proximity to health, preferred leisure facilities and communication links are also high priorities.

A friend of ours in Marbella was this week admitted to hospital for tests. He speaks a very small amount of Spanish and was obviously concerned by his care. The hospital retains a bank of official translators to ease the stress on non Spanish speaking patients seeking comfort at such a worrying time.

Old Spain was very much about “Mañana” but it is no longer backward looking. New Spain is much, much more about “Tomorrow”. It is fast realising that the influx of new residents of all ages have a wholly different set of requirement to the bucket and spade brigade of the 1970’s.


Written by: Mark FR Wilkins

About the author:The Rights Group SL
0034 600 343 917

© The Rights Group SL 2007 (Marbella)

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