One Foot in the Brave – Ep 2

“Mum, would you rather die by being sucked down the toilet, rammed by the drinks trolley or catapulted out the window?”

Ignoring the boy child’s Haribo infused fascination with morbid in-flight endings; I fasten my seatbelt and look out the window at the country I call home. Catching my own reflexion in the glass I see my mother’s eyes looking back at me and I wonder if I’ve made the right decision by letting my husband drive all the way to Spain. Tears prickle behind my eyes and I rapidly blink them back.  I really hope he hasn’t crashed travelling through France as I’ve grown quite fond of that glass coffee table he’s got bubble wrapped in the boot.

Anyone thinking about relocating to Spain will find long term accommodation hard to come by, especially in the tourist resorts as the summer season approaches but I have been fortunate enough to be put in touch with a friend of a friend’s auntie’s brother’s great niece who has inherited a family house in the Campo which we can stay in rent free as long as my husband promises to repair a few electrical bits and tidies the garden occasionally.  I don’t quite know what a Campo is but it all sounds very glam and Poldark esque.  I’m consumed by visions of myself riding bareback to the local fruit and veg market on an untamed Palomino stallion.  Hundreds of Looky-Looky men follow my progression through the various stalls as I scoop up several kilo of sundried tomatoes and casually drop them onto my rotating umbrella hat.  In reality, I’d probably have to tuck my breasts into my knickers if I rode anything that went any faster than a slow amble in fear of giving myself a black eye.

Time flies like my transient youth and before I have time to order another vodka chaser we have crossed countries, breezed through customs and are tucked safely on board the fast train to Fuengirola.  Unfortunately most of the 35 minute journey is spent apologising to the local residents as our errant Suitcases decide to take on a Torvil & Dean style skate off down the centre aisle every time the train departs a station.  Straddling both bags with my fluorescent thighs I smile apologetically at our captive olive skinned audience and they shake their heads in weary acceptance at the anaemic interlopers currently invading not only their network system but their country too.

On exiting the train station we rapidly locate the Taxi rank and I bang on the window of several sleepy drivers who take one look at the hastily scribbled accommodation address and shake their heads in a no nonsense manner.  Finally one elderly chap nods in agreement and looks dramatically up towards the hills.  Without further adieu our bags are hurled into his boot and with his foot on the gas he indicates Left, promptly turns right and without even a nod to the wing mirror,  takes an unscheduled U turn in the road.

Within minutes we are gliding up the A7 motorway through the Costa Del Sol.  Bleached villas envelop the landscape either side of the road and Indigo Pools twinkle in the afternoon sunlight.  Heading towards a sign that reads ‘La Cala de Mijas’ we leave the familiarity of the road and head North onto a dirt track which appears to lead upwards into oblivion.  My adventurer’s spirit rapidly starts to fade as we climb higher and higher into the mountains until the only thing left to view is the horizon. Thunder rolls overhead and the Sun is eclipsed by a cloud the colour of granite. We turn one final corner and come to an abrupt stop in front of a fenced off compound surrounding a rather ramshackle wooden house that wouldn’t look out of place in a Freddy Krueger sequel.

The driver drops our luggage by the fence and disappears in a cloud of dust.  My son shields his eyes and squints towards our new abode and then enquiringly back at me. I smile encouragingly and head towards the padlocked gate but his voice stops me instantly in my tracks.

“I really don’t want to worry you mother but there’s a goat about to eat my suitcase”

To be continued – Episode 3

A New Wife in the Sun

I think my husband finally admitted defeat after being forced to watch channel 4‘s ‘A Place in the Sun’ thirty seven times in one month.

In the deciding episode, Aunt Maude had left a substantial inheritance to a  lacklustre middle aged couple who, after being shown several stunning Spanish properties in Andalucia decided they wanted to stay in Accrington after all.  Shaking my head in disgust whilst inhaling my fifth Jammie Dodger, I sighed and pointed out to my forever weary spouse that come 2019 the choice to relocate in Europe may well be taken away from us Brits and we would have to stay and reside in the UK forever.  Brushing the crumbs off my increasingly expanding belly I sighed loudly and looked out of the kitchen window at the grey clouds rolling heavily across the November sky.

Rubbing away the deeply ingrained London smog from his bleary eyes, the man I married only 7 years earlier raised his hands in a ‘you win’ gesture and uttered the words I’d been longing to hear “Ok, let’s do it, we’ll move,  but you can tell the family!”

Scraping up my disbelieving jaw from the Axminster I screamed in excitement and rushed over to the computer to see how much international Schools cost and what paperwork was required for back-packing pets.  Behind me I could hear my husband mumbling under his breath about Rabies jabs and how they were missing a trick by not administering them to menopausal housewives.

Looking down at the family dog, feet in the air, snoring obliviously, no doubt dreaming of cheese and giant tennis balls. I made a mental note to get his maracas removed before heading off on our adventure.  The last thing I needed was the pitter patter of 24 Spanish feet while quaffing cheap Rioja.

(I did actually enquire with the family GP if the same procedure could be done with my younger husband but alas, the NHS is stretched enough apparently)

So here I am, exactly 5 months later and one week shy of my 51st birthday, staring vacantly out of the airport window onto the grey Gatwick concourse.  Beside me, my twelve year old son mumbles something incoherent about mozzarella and ambles off to purchase a baguette which costs roughly the same price as my first car.  The boy child is more than happy to move abroad.  He’s watched Bay Watch.  He knows that everyone runs in slow motion and looks like Pamela Anderson on warmer shores.  Plus I’ve bribed him with the promise of a certain Xbox game (yes I am a bad parent, but at least I’ll be a bad parent in a vest as opposed to a cardi)

The house is under offer.  The tears have been shed.  Man and dog are loaded up in the Jeep, our worldly possessions crammed into every available crevice. No doubt by now both would be heading over the French border, happily singing Charles Aznavour tunes en route.  The ties with normality had been cut.

I glance down at the suitcase in my hand and grip the one way ticket to Malaga tightly in my fist.  We have no home, we have no jobs.  We don’t speak Spanish.  We are either very brave or very stupid.

Taking a deep breath I drag my belongings and monosyllabic child towards the gate which is now boarding. This is the moment our lives will change forever.  I smile, pull my big girl pants up and take the first step towards our new life in the sun.

To be continued – Episode 2