Episode 14: The Twelve Nays of Christmas

On the car journey back to our borrowed house in the Campo, I had time to reflect on what we had learned (and achieved) in our first four weeks of being in sunny Spain…

1: The second hand jeep we spontaneously purchased in the same time it takes to consume several strips of the Colonels secret recipe had completed the full 1,374 mile trip from Hastings to Mijas without as much as a splutter with husband, hound and the complete works of Stephen King encased in its padded compound.

2: The menopausal woman and ‘get off, I’m almost a teenager!’ can, it transpires,  actually navigate their way via plane, train and automobile up into the Mijas hills and locate Heidi’s hidden house without the aid of testosterone, Google maps, Valium or Vodka.

 

3: All four founding members of the ‘Sod it lets go to Spain’ brigade were reunited within 30 hours of leaving the sanctity of Sussex and didn’t encounter one placard saying ‘Sod off, you bunch of Brexiters’ en route (We voted to remain….just so you know!!)

 

4: Brian is now afraid of kittens, with or without their heads attached and now truly believes he is part goat.  He can be found most mornings bleating at passing cars from his favourite view point on top of the shed.

5: Everyone survived drinking the Spanish tap water after standing in the kitchen for 30 minutes going ‘You drink it, No YOU drink it!  No, no we can’t have a wine instead; it’s not even 8am’

 

6: If you are foolish enough to forget that the Spaniards enjoy a day off from hurling your edible goods down the stationary conveyer belt, you may, as I did, arrive at Mercadona on a Sunday morning and stand sleepily in front of the automatic door for a good 30 minutes until you realise that shops actually close one day a week in Spain and you can, in all honesty, survive quite happily without replenishing your digestives every few hours.

7: Small local children roam the pitch black side roads when it’s waaaay past their bedtime and bolt about on scooters and bikes and give each other ‘backies’ down crowded pavements.  They don’t seem to care about being indoors or killing their virtual enemies online as they are too busy knocking over British tourists that get in their way in their haste to get the sweetie kiosk situated on every street corner.

8: There are jobs here in Spain; you just have to look for them.  If you are fortunate enough to get one with a working contract you will be automatically entitled to healthcare as long as you don’t mind filling in 17,000 forms and sending your various birth and marriage certificates back to their place of origin to get them verified and translated.  Our most recent lot of paperwork has had a lovely vacation in Vegas and came back with a stunning tan.

9: Moving house is stressful enough, relocating to a country where the only thing you can pronounce correctly is ‘Hello’, even more so.  Get everything in order before you leave home and be prepared to stand in various queues.  There’s a reasonable chance you may get to the front of the line before being sent a birthday card from the queen but remember, the locals take a three hour lunch break so take your butties and a flask of coffee with you to be on the safe side.  Trying to get your Residencia is hard enough, trying to do it while you are ‘Hangry’ is nigh impossible.

10: Wine is cheaper to purchase in the shops than bottled water.  Enough said.

11: You will ask to divorce your spouse on a number of occasions.  This is normal.  Trying to get your solicitor to call you back to see if the sale on your desired property is progressing before Brexit occurs will be frustrating and time consuming and you will shout at your other half A LOT.  If I had a Euro for every time my husband yelled ‘you wanted to move here!’  I would have enough money to purchase a hit man to kill him and have enough left over to get a facelift afterwards.

12: And finally, hearing your child starting to converse in Spanish to his school mates will make you prouder than the winner of the GBBO.  Waking up to the sun streaming in through the window and not having to take out a second mortgage to eat out more than once a month is exhilarating.  Knowing that all the people back in the UK who sucked air through their teeth when you said you were moving ‘away’ are still sat at home on a cold December evening while you are on the beach having a BBQ with all your new nomadic mates.

So, if you are one of the brave and have done all of the above (and more) and survived with your sanity intact, well done you!  If you are still thinking about making the move, what’s stopping you?

 

 

All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas one and all.  See you again in 2019 with more tales from a New Wife in the Sun!

To be continued …

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 13: To the Manor Burn

‘What the hell are you doing here, and more importantly, how on Google earth did you find us?”

I smile and grasp my nomadic friend to my breast and breathe in the heady scent of her travels.  Memories as ripe as a week old nectarine flood into my head and I’m instantly transported back to 1994…

…I’m age 27 and on a one way flight to Hong Kong.  I have no money, nowhere to stay and no idea what I am going to do once I arrive.  I blame Judith Charmers.  It was after a particularly horrendous shift working in Harrods (home to the obscenely rich and rigorously rude) the platinum blonde Irish presenter did a feature on us Brits working side by side in this affluent Asian city and suddenly, all thoughts of attending drama school become nothing but a distant memory.  Without rhyme or reason nor a week’s working notice, I packed up my troubles, purchased a one way ticket and spent the following 2 years of my young life living, laughing, surviving and residing on the 16th floor of  the notorious Chunking Mansions alongside a series of other misfit gweilo expats.  Working till dawn in Chinese karaoke bars to pay for our adventures and then wiping sleep out of our eyes at 5am to appear as extra’s alongside Jackie Chan in his latest action movie. Life was good, life was exciting, life was…

“How did you find me?”  I laugh between hugs “I can’t even find me living out here??”

“I was up in the Andalucía Mountains and I saw on Face book that you had moved to Spain so I thought I’d pop in and see you.  That Goat farmer across the road was really helpful, pointed me in the right direction and even offered me some fresh milk!”  My old acquaintance informs me with a smile a she wipes away the residue on her lips.

Dropping her rucksack onto the wooden floor and stretching out her aching spine, introductions are made and edited adventures are told.  As the final bottle of wine is emptied my newest housemate, of which normality was never an option yawns and closes her well travelled eyes.

Leading her up to the largest of spare rooms to sleep off the most recent of travels I close the door quietly behind me and make my way back into the lounge where my husband is sitting with an open laptop in front of him

“Why didn’t you say you had an interview tomorrow?”  He asks in a sullen tone

“Because if I don’t take the job then you won’t be any the wiser” I reply, almost shutting his fingers between the lid in my haste to close the incriminating email down.

He harrumphs his disagreement and I march off to bed alone with laptop in hand.

The morning is greeted with the usual array of animal activity, culminating in a sparrow flying through the bedroom window and crapping on the duvet before seeking solace behind the wardrobe.  My husband sleeps through the whole arm waving and bird poking adventure so I leave man and feathered friend alone to get better acquainted.

Leaving our guest to sleep off her adventures, I make my way downstairs and steal the jeep before anyone says they need running anywhere.  With the wind in my hair and Ricky Martin bellowing in my ear, I make my way to the hotel where I am to be educated on how to correctly apply sun cream and charm the tourists into buying my wares.

In all honesty, I don’t know how flogging specialised lotion could possibly be classed as a job but with a jaunt in my stride I walk into the foyer to be greeted by a very slim, very brown middle aged woman who instantly has me sign 39 forms on product confidentiality and then strides outside into the pool area to show me how to flog creams to bronzed sitting ducks.

Within 30 minutes I know without hesitation the job is not for me.  Firstly, having to get down on bended knee to talk to customers is not boding well with my clacking joints.  Every time I try to rise I have the grip the sun lounger with such force I almost propel one baking punter into the pool along with his half consumed pinacolada.  Secondly, the amount of spiel you are required to impart to the reluctant purchaser about skin damage makes me seriously wonder about my mahogany companion’s skin care routine and thirdly, when you are not flogging your creams and sprays, you have to stand in the sun, never in the shade to prove how well the product works!

Being the well adjusted, mature middle aged responsible woman I am, I cross my legs and make my excuses, head towards the toilet, veer swift left and make a bid for freedom out the front door and onto the street.  Swinging my bag over my shoulder I head towards the car, picking up a bottle of fizzy wine en route.

Becoming an adult can wait until tomorrow.

To be continued … Episode 14

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 12: Pack to the Future

“And how would you like to pay the property deposit Senora?”

The reality of our purchase is finally starting to sink in and I can feel my palms getting clammy as we all sit in silence signing the Spanish legal documents.  I could be selling the family kidneys for all I can understand but we sign our joint names on the dotted line and then everyone in the office shakes hands in universal agreement.  Luckily enough we have already enlisted the help of the wonderful GLOBAL REACH and the monetary transaction proceeds seamlessly from one account to another so that’s one thing less we have to worry about.  Before you can say ‘I’ve changed my mind, I’ll spend that £10k in Puerto Banus on a pair pneumatic breasts instead’ the money is already in the grasping hands of the solicitors and the deeds are being drawn up.

Sitting afterwards on the wall outside the lawyer’s lair, the mid afternoon sun beating upon our weary heads, I suddenly realise that within a month we could be in our own home.  We will be mortgage free for the first time in our lives.  Granted, we will only have 53p left in our bank account to live on but you can’t expect to be a home owner AND afford to eat.

“So what happens now?” asks a bewildered husband.  “Do we buy furniture?  We sold all ours in the UK.  This must be the only unfurnished property for sale in the whole of the Costa Del Sol!”

I scratch my head. I hadn’t actually thought this far ahead.  I’d spent the last 36 months watching relocation programmes and planning our escape from Brexit, not looking in IKEA catalogues.

“And, now you know where we are going to be living, you can get a job” breathes my spouse into my ear “No excuses now!”  He smiles (rather maliciously may I add) and saunters off to purchase a coffee.

Little does he know that I have already got an interview lined up for the following day.  Granted, it’s a commission only position but really, how difficult can selling sun cream around various hotel pools actually be?  This time next year I’ll be the same colour as David Dickenson and I’ll be paid for the privilege.  Picking up my handbag I make my way over to the jeep and we all head back over the rugged roads in good spirits to our temporary house in the campo.

Brian the brave is the first to vault out of the car and I suddenly realise that we won’t have the luxury of a garden anymore.  No more letting him out to wee at 8am.  I’ll have to get dressed and walk him, come rain or shine.  He’d grown quite accustomed to the local goats and headless kittens surrounding the grounds and just last night he had appeared at the front door slightly delirious after his evenings ablutions, eyes rotating with some strange and pungent  foliage attached to the side of his mouth, a canine version of ‘Bez’ from the Happy Mondays.  It took almost an hour to coach him off the shed roof after attempting, rather unsuccessfully to fly alongside the fruit bats.

Entering the house, I go to put the kettle on and lean up against the cooker and stare at our worldly possessions lying in a discarded mound in the corner of the dining room.  All our pots and pans and furniture had been given away to family and friends and what stood before me was just a jumble of memories of our former life awaiting its final resting place in a small apartment in Fuengirola.  Tears pricked the back of my eyes as the weight of my decision rested heavily on my shoulders.

“Erm,.. Mum, there’s a woman walking up the gravel drive dragging a very large backpack and shouting your name and waving a bottle of wine at me..?”

Turning on my heel I squint out the window to see a very real ghost of my nomadic and hedonistic past walking confidently into our present and, no doubt about to change our imminent future.

To be continued … Episode 13

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 11: The Good, The Fab and The Ugly

“So here we are at the final apartment lined up for today”,  yells our Commission driven Chauffer as he screeches to a halt and vaults onto the pavement with his front tires.  “Granted, it’s different from the rest we’ve viewed, but what it lacks in external beauty and glamour, it makes up for in location.  Go and let yourself in, here are the keys, I’m just off to buy some fags”

Standing on the side of the busy road, my husband turns to me in what appears to be a ‘Have you finally lost your mind‘ sort of way.  I wave the keys in the air and cross the road to a small concealed entrance nestling next door to what appears to be a second hand Spanish TV repair shop.

My son removes his headphones and looks up towards our destination

“You are kidding mum…  right?  We aren’t going in here are we?  Where’s the swimming pool?  In fact where’s the door?

Pushing them both aside and tutting at their lack of vision, I open the metal gate and head inside.  A spiral stone staircase leads us up to the first floor and after a quick tussle with a sticky lock, I open the door to our final property with a flourish.

Sunshine streams through the south facing windows and onto the speckled marble floor.  Stepping straight into the freshly painted white entrance hall the glaringly obvious fact is, there isn’t one item of furniture included in the apartment apart from a forlorn looking mattress propped up in the corner of the entrance hall.

“Well that’s your bedroom sorted” I yell over my shoulder to the boy child but he’s not listening, he’s already found the key to the balcony and is currently stood outside.

“Muuuummmm, is that the road leading to my school over there?’ he says, pointing behind the trees.

“Why yes, yes it is, what are the odds on that!”  I smile innocently.  “And look” I exclaim “There’s a supermarket on the corner and a Panaderia just to the right.  I guess it must only be a ten minute walk  down to Miramar, where the English cinema is, you could walk there on your own or with your mates after school, unlike the other two properties which are very pretty but not so central. The sea could be your swimming pool” I smile knowingly and meander back inside.

My husband narrows his eyes at me and I avoid his glare by cheerfully pointing out the space in the remaining vacant rooms.

“There’s an extra bedroom here too for when the family want to visit” I cut in before he has time to interject “We could then use this third one as a TV room and put in a sofa bed which would mean we still have a nice quiet dining room where we can all chat and have dinner together like the locals do”

I have it all worked out, an estate agent in the making.  Mr Veneers will be so proud of his protégé.

Begrudgingly my husband raps his knuckles against the kitchen wall and looks enquiringly into lounge.  I can see what he’s thinking.  Knock the kitchen wall through; bring the kitchen into the dining room.  I thought exactly the same when I first viewed the property.  I clench my sweating palms together, willing him to see the potential of this empty shell.

A voice echoes out from the balcony where my only child is still standing, leaning over the railings.

“So let me get this right, if we lived here I could get up for school about 8.15am and walk over the road on my own, meet my friends at the weekends and I wouldn’t need to be seen out in public with either of you two ever again?”

I nod my head in agreement and then look at my husband and aim my final arrow at the standing target

“And just so you know, the theatre is just a ten minute walk away but I thought you could buy that motorbike you always wanted…and ride that to work, then we could get rid of the car which would solve the parking issue”

Casually I walk back into the lounge and leave the men folk looking slightly shell shocked on the balcony, the realisation of my words finally taking effect.

The front door gently opens and the Porcelain Prince glides into the room and stands quietly beside me.

“Soooo… have you done my job for me?”,  he whispers into my ear.

Looking out onto the balcony I watch my husband and son talking animatedly and pointing up the road towards the town centre whilst laughing at the mopeds flying past on the road below.

My lips curve into a smile and I nod towards the ‘Se Vende’ sign hanging lopsided from the outside railings.  Nodding, He makes a scissoring motion with his fingers and rubs his hands in glee.

Our work here is done.

To be continued… Episode 12

Follow our further adventures and video clips on www.anewwifeinthesun.com

Episode 10: Trading Spaces

Clutching the solitary flip flop in my hand I tear up the rain soaked stone steps, searching for my husband around every sodden stair.  Finally, on hearing a deep groan I turn the last corner to find him lying in a puddle of his own discomfort, sprawled across the floor like the world’s most unfortunate incarnation of Cinderella, grasping his swollen ankle and expressing profanities so detailed I refrain from making any Prince charming jokes until his mouth has been washed out with carbolic soap.

“I fell down the bl**dy stairs and not one of you noticed” he yells up to me through the falling raindrops and then makes a feeble attempt to reintroduce his foot to its runaway soul mate. After several failed attempts he shoves the rubber shoe into his pocket and sits with arms folded, sulking on the tiles.

Trying to stifle an impending giggle I turn away and concentrate on a cobweb located just above my right eyebrow.  I make a mental note to refrain from  laughing at people who fall over, even though Harry Hill appears to have made a small fortune from it.

But the harder I try and convince myself to not make light of the situation, the harder my shoulders start to shake and the stupidity of the situation finally overrides any matrimonial compassion and I throw my head back and let out a peal of laughter.

After the giggles have finally tailored off into hiccups, I uncross my legs and hold a tentative hand out to my spouse who promptly brushes my fingers away, hauls himself upright, dusts off his injured pride and hobbles down the steps to join us all in the estate agents car.  Mr Veneers is trying his best to sully his dental investment with several Marlboro lights and the boy child; unaware of the events unfolding around him is tapping his foot in time to whoever happens to be flavour of the month on his iphone.

No one comments along the short journey as to why the Costa del Sol’s latest incarnation of Lord Lucan was delayed on level three for such a long time.  In all honesty, looking at his petulant face, no one would dare.

The sun evaporates the remaining black clouds as we gallop steadily along the A7 from Calahonda over to our next destination, Mijas Golf.  Bleached villas and Orange Blossom adorn the roadside as we climb the whitewashed village, finally stopping in front of a pretty terraced house which overlooks a sparkling communal pool set in stunning surroundings.

Entering the front door we walk/hobble straight into a dining room come kitchen which leads directly out onto a private terrace.  Every picture I have seen depicting what we could actually afford in southern Spain is brought to life within this home.  It has the two bedrooms we require and also the two bathrooms we will undoubtedly need once the inevitable visitors start arrive and the views are simply stunning.  Boy child, already bored in the pursuit of utopia sits out on the sundrenched balcony and grunts his approval as we point out various landmarks.

I lean upon a potted Palm and breathe in the tranquillity.  My husband sits on a deck chair and places his hands behind his head, swollen ankle and injured pride all but a distant memory.

“Soooo…..are we ready to move onto our final property of the day?” a voice echoes above my head.  I nod in agreement and we reluctantly close the door on what could be our future home.

“This last property is one that has been on the market awhile and been reduced in price for a quick sale. You will either love it or hate it.  Are you all ready to go and have a look at something completely different from what we have already seen?” asks our realtor with a smile.

I nod my head in affirmation as my husband crosses his arms in realisation while my son stretches his legs in resignation as we head off into the sunset of our final destination.

To be continued… Episode 11

Follow our further adventures and video clips on www.anewwifeinthesun.com

 

Episode 9: Game of Homes

‘So let me get this right, you went out for a Pomegranate and a pack of digestives and you came back with six bottles of cava and a new apartment???’

Nodding my head in agreement, I smile up at my long suffering wide eyed spouse and offer him another glass of sparkling wine to soften the blow.  He looks at me in amazement, shakes his head in disbelief, then downs the additional fizzing contents in one go.

In all fairness, I haven’t actually signed any paperwork or exchanged any of our hard earned cash just yet.  I have in fact lined up three properties to view and my husband has to guess which one I’ve chosen, and if we have both chosen the same one then we buy it.  Simple.  All the apartments are in (or around) our £120k budget and all are vacant and ready to move into.  My other half rubs his pulsating temples and heaves himself out of the safety of the rented sofa, mumbles something about quick divorces and promptly heads towards the shower.

‘Don’t take long; the agent is picking us up in 20 minutes!!’  I yell after him and then turn on my heel and find myself nose to nose with my son.

Tilting his head he looks at me with molten brown questioning eyes  ‘One thing you’ve failed to mention, does it have a pool and can I walk to school?’  He enquires.

I smile at the simplicity of childhood, ruffle his hair and whisper ‘Get your shoes on and let’s go and see!’

A horn beeps outside the gate and we both jump in unison.  A loud curse can be heard upstairs and then the sound of running water promptly stops.  I smile at my son and clap my hands in childish glee, grabbing my handbag en route to the door while my son shakes his head and waits for the only actual adult in the house to get dry and join us.

Mr Veneers is stood by the open car door smoking a cigarette and warily eying up the goats who have decided to see who is paying them a visit this balmy evening.  Edging closer, I battle my way through the assortment of hairy bodies and hurl myself into the back seat of the air conditioned chariot.  A brown nose presses itself up against the window and looks at my straw handbag beseechingly, then bleats at me in apparent longing.

Within minutes all four of us are safely ensconced in the Fiat Panda and heading up the Calahonda hills to view the first of what could be our future home.  I smile happily around the car and am met with a steely glare from my still slightly damp other half.  The car screeches to a halt in front of a terracotta building and our estate agent leads the way up a stone staircase to the third floor and opens the front door with a flourish.  I nod at my husband to enter the property first and he and the boy child step over the threshold.

The apartment is immaculate and fully furnished.  With two double bedrooms, a large lounge and dining room and a sun bathed south facing balcony.  I brush my hand over the upholstery and look up to see if I can read my husband’s expression.  His jaw has softened as he takes in the distant sea view.

‘Well, what do you think?’  I gently enquire ‘do you like it?’

Nodding his head in my direction he looks me straight in the eye for the first time since arriving and grunts his approval.  The boy child has already decided what bedroom he wants if we decide this is the chosen one and also where his computer can go.  All the furniture is included in the asking price and the British owners are keen to sell.

With hands on hips our tour guide tells us about the communal swimming pool and the bus times which head into Fuengirola along the A7.  I look at my spouse and my son, both like the apartment; I can see it in their faces.  It’s a ready made home, equipped  to move into without any fuss.

Catching the agent’s eye he nods in affirmation of my eagerness to move on and leads us all out the front door and back down to the car to view property number two.

Halfway down the external stone stairs the heavens suddenly open and a torrent of rain begins to fall.  Laughing at our bad fortune,  we all head quickly into the car and jump through the open passenger door.  Bemoaning the change in weather I turn to my husband and smile… but he’s not there.

I wind down the window and look around for him.  The sound of thunder muffles my voice as I call out his name but there is no reply.  Shielding my eyes from the deluge I walk back towards the entrance of the block but he is nowhere to be seen. I move my sodden locks away from my face and call out hs name again.

A glimpse of blue catches my eye and slowly I turn my head towards the apartment we have just viewed.  Floating at the bottom of the stairs like a forlorn rubber fish is one familiar solitary size 10 flip flop minus its owner…

To be continued… Episode 10

You can also follow our adventures in The Olive Press

Little House on the Wary – Ep 8

“Mum, where’s my lunch box?  I need clean shorts for PE and I don’t want a sandwich today, can I have pasta? Everyone else brings pasta and I’ve been invited to a party tonight so I need a present and card!”

“Darling, Can you drop me off at the theatre after the school run but I’ll need picking up at 4pm to come back home to eat and get changed before returning for tonight’s show.  Can I also have Pasta for lunch?”

“Woof woof, walk, ball, sniff, wee, sniff sniff ….COCKROACH!!  Ahhhhhh!!  RUN!!  Woof woof ball…ball…  yawn…  Any pasta left?”

 

This stimulating conversation can be heard most mornings around 8am high up in the Campo.  As I am the only one in the house without a job/school/4 legs I have become the designated driver, taking my passengers into Fuengirola for their daily routine but after the eighth round trip in a 16 hour period I realise as lovely as living in the country is, it’s not really conducive to a working life.  Or my sanity.

Every sensible piece of advice I have researched online over the last 2 years recommends renting a property for at least a year before deciding what area of Spain to buy in.  Expat forums are full of nightmare neighbour stories and tales of solitude and broken marriages due to choosing the wrong location.  Tearing my eyes away from a particular annoying episode of ‘Loose Women’ I suddenly realise that  a) Coleen Nolan may actually be my long lost twin sister and b) I have never listened to anyone’s advice in my life.

Making an executive decision from the comfort of the sofa I fire up the lap top and head straight to ‘Property for Sale’ on Idealista.  Cramming a Custard cream into my mouth I hastily type ‘Mijas and surrounding areas’ into the search bar.  With a strong coffee in hand I sit perusing the fantastic villas on offer for the same price as a small country in Eastern Europe and slowly start to whittle my way down from detached Villa, to town house and eventually accept the reality of an apartment which the only viable option if we want to live in the centre of a town where the facilities we require are in abundance.  Luckily enough we have already transferred our UK money over to Spain with the help of the wonderful FC exchange so we have the funds readily available.

I shortlist several properties that look like they have both solid walls and neighbours with teeth and bookmark them ready to show my husband when he returns from his day behind the spotlight.  Rather pleased with myself for making this momentous decision without the aid of Vodka or spouse I load the hairy one into the boot of the car and we head off in high spirits to buy provisions for the week.

Spotting a recently vacated parking space, I reverse the Jeep in-between two scuffed mopeds and languidly wander into Fuengirola town centre with canine in tow.  Estate agents fight for dominance along the tree lined street and I press my nose up against the glass frontage, attempting to find the diamond amongst the rough.

“Can I help you?” breathes a voice into my ear and I jump back in surprise, tripping over Brian in the process and after a brief tango with the lead I end up on my knees in front of the stranger in a rather compromising position.  Cursing under my breath I drag myself upright and arrive nose to nose with a rather tanned blonde man in a crisp linen suit.  Without invitation he kisses me on both cheeks and then just to make sure the introductions are complete, he grasps my hand and pumps it up and down so vigorously I half expect water to start pumping out of my elbow.

“I saw you looking in the window at our wonderful selection of properties and I thought this is a lady who knows what she wants!!”  I smile uncertainly and look around for an escape route.

“Would you like to have a look at what properties we have on offer?”  I have water for the Perro and chilled wine for the lady!” winks the stranger and flashes his artic white veneers in my direction.

Caught off guard and slightly light headed from the heat I can feel my resolve beginning to falter. Without further invitation a firm hand is placed in the small of my back and I am ushered over the threshold into the air conditioned den of iniquity.

Plonking myself down onto the white leather sofa I slowly release my grip on reality and rapidly replace it with a chilled glass of wine.  My fair haired companion repositions himself behind the Oak desk, strokes down the crease in his trousers and looks me directly in the eye.

“Soooo Senora, what’s your budget?”

To be Continued… Episode 9

Another Brit in the Wall – Ep 7

Before we left the UK to reside in Spain I enjoyed nothing more than a good old moan about the country I was born in.

I knotted my eyebrows and ranted to my ageing neighbours, bemoaning how all the decent high street shops were now  empty and abandoned but then on returning indoors to the sanctity of my home I suddenly realised that everything I’d ordered this Christmas was from Amazon online, I’d bought nothing locally.

I regaled anyone that cared enough to listen upon the decline of decent job opportunities for the over forties but then conveniently failed to mention that I’d quit my previous employment because the obligatory nylon uniform was itchy and unflattering and the hours unsociable.

I bemoaned the fact that not one of my Carol Vorderman inspired dresses fitted around my middle aged torso anymore but then consoled my aching heart with a Grints Sausage roll and a can of Cream Soda.

But the topic I loved moaning about most, my favourite subject of all time, was of course the British weather.

I genuinely think the Government should declare the 15th of August a National public holiday in the UK.  We could name it ‘I’ve moaned all winter that I’m frozen but now I’m too hot and can’t fit in my shorts or use a hosepipe’ day.

But NONE of the above things can even walk in the shadow of the biggest Spanish contender, the Muhammad Ali of anguish and stress in your local region of choice; ladies and gentlemen I give you the Numero uno subject of strife here amidst the expats … local bureaucracy!

Let me elaborate.  As an employed person with a contract, my husband was now in the envied position to gain us all state healthcare, so armed with only confidence and naivety we both headed over to our nearest clinic, grabbed a ticket from the deli counter inspired number system and took a seat in line.  The Spanish, knowing full well that we Brits as a nation are a lazy bunch, had sourced a couple of bilingual volunteers to sit behind a desk to help with the form filling.  Once our number was called we plonked ourselves down in front of these saviours and came face to face with a pretty young local woman and Blanche from the Golden Girls.

“Hello, we are new to the area, and we need some healthcare please” I proclaimed in an over enthusiastic tone.

“Where do you live? Do you own or rent” enquired the elder of the two assistants.

“Ermm…  We don’t actually have a permanent address as yet, we are staying up a mountain in a wooden shack next to a goat farm but we are hoping to move into Fuengirola centre pretty soon…to escape the Kitty eating vampire slayer” I replied with good humour.

“Do you have an NIE” interrupted the Spanish interpreter without acknowledging my ice breaker.

“My husband has one through his job, I’m going to apply for mine, I promise” I replied nervously.

“Residency?  Social Security Number?”  I shook my head, sinking further into the chair. My thighs making an unattractive sucking noise as they tried to detach themselves from the plastic seating.

“Then may I suggest you go and get all these items first and then when you’ve moved into your permanent accommodation, head over to the town hall and register for empadronamiento” smiled the elder assassin through her shiny non government funded white teeth.

With tails firmly between our legs, we reversed out towards the exit, mumbling our thanks and headed into a wall of humid air, clutching our dose of reality like a poor consolation prize.

“Well, that went well” sighed my husband “shall we go and cheer ourselves up with a glass of something cold which doesn’t require a prescription?”  I nodded my affirmation, trying not to think about all the things we had to do to enable us to claw our way into the Spanish system.  A familiar voice shouted her final farewell to us down the steps

“And don’t forget all your British documents needs to be apostilled too!!”

Looking up towards the midday sun I sighed and whispered to my spouse “Sod the glass, better make it a bottle”.

To be continued – Episode 8

From Hair to Eternity – Ep 6

So within the first 72 hours of being in the Costa Del Sol, my husband has bagged a sought after contracted job and is up bright and early the following morning to begin his first day at the Theatre.  I drop him off in the town centre and he cheerily waves goodbye whilst clutching his Minions Lunch box and a bag of Spanners.  I turn and look at my son, paint on a bright smile and take a deep breath.

‘Soooo, are you ready to go look at some schools???’  I say in an overconfident voice.  He looks at me out of the corner of his eye and mumbles ‘yeah…  but only if we get that Xbox game you promised me straight after’.

So on this sunny day, less than a week into our adventure, mother and son  spend a warm afternoon visiting several international schools up and down the Mijas coast and by 5pm we have agreed on a small college situated in the centre of Fuengirola.  The deciding factor for the boy child is that it is based underneath a water park but for me, it’s the fact that there are only 14 children in the class.  The lady at reception smiles and swipes my card as I wince at the amount leaving our account.  I console myself with the fact that Private education costs more than double back in the UK then hastily head outside into the street to hyperventilate into a McDonalds take away bag.

With reality sitting firmly on my shoulders, I plonk my ample buttocks on a nearby bench and look up at the orange blossom casting shadows across the pavement.  Husband and son have a clear path towards their future in this foreign land and suddenly, for the first time on this journey into the unknown, I begin to think about me.  What am I going to do work wise here to enable us to fund our new life in the sun?  I’m 51, hardly the age to re-train as a stripper in 24 hour square.  I glance across to adjacent shop window selling opaque mirrors and reflect on the choices I have made in my life.  I close my eyes and see my younger self with these new opportunities, what would she have done with them?  My eyelids grow heavy with the weight of responsibility and…

…its 1983, I’m 16 years of age, my breasts are unfeasibly pert and the biggest decision I have to make in life is what flavour lip gloss to wear.  Exactly one month after leaving school with only two ‘O’ levels to my name, my mother threatens to throw all my Heaven 17 albums away unless I tidy up my bedroom and more importantly, for her middle aged sanity, find me a job

 I begrudgingly browse through the local newspaper and spot an advert for an apprentice hairdresser.  The wage is £29 a week and all the hair lacquer I can hide down my trouser leg.  After a brief interview with the weary weight watching female owner of the salon I am offered the post of chief tea maker and sweeper upper.  A jubilant mother cooks me Faggots and Peas to celebrate the impending foray into adulthood.

The enforced career choice isn’t exactly the most demanding job in the world.  My best creative work at the salon is invariably performed the morning after the night before.  On one occasion, an elderly clients hair is removed unceremoniously from her scalp alongside the rubber streaking cap after applying the wrong volume peroxide onto an already over processed head.  Needless to say my wages for that week are consumed on a selection of head scarves for the irate customer in question.  Undeterred and unrepentant I promise my jaded employer I will take the position more seriously from this day forth but come 6pm I’m sprinting home to change into my tukker books and Lady Di blouse, all promises forgotten, the disco beckons.

With Spam sandwich firmly in hand, my girlfriends and I jump on the bus and spend the one hour journey in silence, looking through the dirty windows, our New Romantic souls tortured with yearning over which Duranie is the most delectable. After reaching our destination we smile coyly at the doormen and are granted permission to enter, our blossoming bodies the only entrance fee we have to pay. Youth is a commodity and we barter well. The hours pass by, fuelled by Malibu and Coke and Marlboro lights. Smiling and flirting, we sway in time to the music, taking it in turns to work the dance floor knowing that eventually we will locate a proud male owner of a coveted Ford Capri who will happily chauffeur us all back to our beds at 2am and all we have to do in exchange for this free transportation is provide flattery and broken promises.  We are young, we are beautiful, we are…

…’Mum, have you nodded off??’ yells a familiar voice in my ear.  I bolt upright, wiping a dab of dribble off my chin, my nubile younger self is nothing but a distant memory and the reality of the present is facing me with hands on hips.

‘Of course not’ I blurt out, whilst trying to stand up on my recently awakened legs.

‘Well that’s good because while you were having your lady nap I’ve been looking on Google and there’s a Game shop just down the road.  And I’m really hungry, can we have some Tapas?’

Just then the phone rings.  Husband is ready to be picked up from work.  He’s hungry too.

I sigh and nod my head and make my way towards the car.  Tomorrow I will start to think about what I want out of our impending adventure but right now, the only thing I really desire is the Colonels secret recipe along with a side order of bravery and the courage of my younger self.

To be continued – Episode 7

To be or not to be, where is the greenroom? – Ep 5

So here we are, our family of four, finally living in Spain.  I actually can’t quite believe it.  The dream we never thought would happen is now our reality.  And unfortunately, reality involves getting a job.

Having met my husband at the local Am Dram society in Hastings several years (and dress sizes) earlier, I decided to make contact before leaving the UK with the Fuengirola equivalent known as the ‘Salon Varieties Theatre’.  After peddling my wares on Face Book messenger, I happened to mention that my husband is an electrician and they replied forthwith explaining that their lighting technician was about to retire in April and would my husband be interested in applying for the position?  Bears and woods instantly sprang to mind.

Now, before I go any further, can we briefly talk about ‘Dream Jobs’?  We all have that one thing we would love to do for a living.  I’d love to write a book.  A book that you can hold in your hand, to sniff the ageing paper, to turn over the corner of the page when your eyes grow weary and laugh out loud in a room full of people and not care because for that brief moment in time, you are that heroine in chapter 12.

To see my name on a dust cover would be better than waking up without pillow marks embedded onto my crepe face.

My husband’s school leaving wish was to work in the West End, to bring the performers to life in front of a live audience.  With his dream still intact he escaped the clutches of the local secondary modern age 16, gangly and unprepared and sat innocent and eager in front of the careers advisor who instantly poured water on his ambitions by replying ‘No son, that’s a career for fantasists and rich people from London.  Get yourself a proper job. People will always need plugs and sockets and wires changing. Become an electrician, you’ll always be able to put food on the table then’.

So that’s what he did 30 years ago, he became an electrician. A job he enjoyed but never loved.  And now, on offer, in a resort 1300 miles away is a chance to turn back the clock.  So, after a brief ‘we’re here!’ call, off we trot, showered and shaved (and that’s just me) to meet the people that have the potential to reinstate a young mans dreams on an older body.

An hour later we are sat outside the Theatre bar, drinking fresh orange juice and waiting with sweaty palms to meet ‘the board members’.  The tables surrounding the thespian haven are adorned with middle-aged laughing people. Men with perma-tans, women with white teeth, everyone appears happy in their skin and at ease with their choice.  A mixture of Spanglish echoes around us and I whisper to my husband to stop jigging his legs up and down, this was a job he had done voluntarily on his own time for the past three decades; the only difference now is that he would be paid to do it.

A firm hand is placed on my shoulder and I look up into smiling brown eyes.

‘So, you must be the power behind the throne!’ laughs the stranger in my direction and introduces himself and also what his role is on the board and finally, what would be expected if Marcus was given the job.  An attractive lady joins him and warmly kisses me on each cheek.  Both members talk passionately about their time in the British speaking Theatre then lead us through velvet clad stage doors into a hub of adrenalin filled activity.

On stage a rehearsal is taking place.  Young and old high kick their way into the wings while a director booms instructions from the front row of the auditorium.  I look up at the lights and breathe in the smell of the greasepaint.  Teenagers with languid expressions awaiting their time in the spotlight come to life as they are released from the confines of backstage and leap like adrenalin fuelled antelopes onto the boards.

Turning to my husband I smile but he is lost within the lighting control desk, eyes alight with all the possibilities ahead akin to Mr Spock faced with the new and updated Starship Enterprise.  I look towards the man and the woman who greeted us on arrival; both look at ease with the roles they have been given in order to keep this well preserved British Galleon afloat in a Spanish ocean.

The man senses my gaze and leans against the door.  ‘So what are you going to do for work here?’  He asks enquiringly?  Before my brain has time to engage with my mouth my truth tourettes steps in to reply on my behalf

‘In all honesty…  I have absolutely no bloody idea’

He laughs and nods his heads towards my husband

‘Well, the job’s his if he wants it, his references are excellent, I think you’ll both fit in well here, what you think?’

I look him in the eye and smile and reply on behalf of my husband

‘Sir, I think we’d both like that very much’.

(For more information on the upcoming theatrical season please follow the link below)

http://www.salonvarietestheatre.com

To be continued – Episode 6