60 centimetres? Thats 2 foot!

“Hi there I wonder if you can help? My flight is boarding and the security bloke is taking at least ten minutes for each bag. Is he new to the job (or deliberately doing it or a bit “special”)? ” We had arrived late at Bristol Airport and unfortunately chose the wrong security queue. Even the other security bloke had to admit there was a problem and Mr Special was removed. However, by that time the gates to our flight were closing. So off we went tearing through the airport. Our gate was number 23 the second furthest away which explained the sign that had helpfully informed us that gate 23 was “11 minutes walk” away. Suddenly over six months of almost complete lethargy hit and combined with a huge dose of adrenalin I was struggling. “Yes they’re about to close the gate to your flight” said the passing flight attendant. We were obviously the last there but we did manage to get on board the luxury that is Ryan Air! Not a brilliant start to what we hoped would be the final stage of the actual purchase of our house in Lubrin.

Its weird but Google maps and in fact any of the other online maps, don’t really seem to work very well in Spain? I’d booked a very cheap hotel just outside of Alicante right next to the motorway so we could complete the rest of the two hour drive to our Spanish bank in the morning. Trying to actually find said hotel was not so easy. At one point my iPad said we were standing in the middle of the hotel and were in fact in the middle of a road. I did eventually find someone and between us managed to work out the hotel was half a kilometre down the road. This inability of maps to find places in Spain became a bit of a theme.

After a night in our truckers stop we headed to our bank in Mojacar, which again Google maps couldn’t find. We arrived just as they opened to get our bankers draft to pay the vendors. I’d already got some idea of how the Spanish banks operated when it became almost impossible to communicate with them and had to ask our agent and our solicitor to get them to either answer the phone or reply to my copious emails. When I did finally talk to a member of staff she explained to me ” we’ve got staff away so we don’t answer the phone”. No apology just a simple statement of fact! So I shouldn’t have been surprised when the same lady as “we don’t answer the phone” said, as she handed over the draft “and that’ll be €469”. “€469 for what?” “Didn’t anyone tell you there’s a fee for drawing up bankers drafts?”. “No they didn’t”. She simply shrugged. I suppose I ought to be grateful for how open they are about ripping you off for their fantastic services as we await the next banking scandal in the UK!

So €469 lighter and bankers draft in hand we head off to a biggish town called Vera to complete the deal. As usual online maps can’t work out where exactly the place is but eventually we find it by asking in another bank. I was expecting a charge. The vendors are already there, a British couple called Gavin and Jane. Both very nice and a mine of information about all things Spanish. The solicitor arrives, looking rather like Cruella Deville and so does the agent Karen and her partner Paul. There seems to be a lot of quite frenzied talk going on but of course we don’t understand any of it. The appointment was for 10am which obviously being British we were slightly early for but we’re in Spain now.  At about 11.30 we enter the office of the Notary. We don’t really have an English equivalent but this guy is important as he has the power to stop everything. Relaxed is how I’d describe his dress code and manner. Denim shirt undone to his navel with a very large sun tanned paunch, long curly grey hair and rather red watery, googly eyes a bit like Trevors our French Bulldog. Cruella is now talking at some speed with Big Belly nodding every now and then as he flips through the paperwork signing here and there. That’s when we notice how much his hand is shaking? Finally, only a few minutes later we sign a couple of documents and shake hands with everyone. There’s some sighs of relief that its all completed and comments about how lucky we were to get an early appointment as Big Belly is too drunk by the afternoon session to get anything done! The commotion earlier on had been about a discrepancy in the square meterage. Five sqm had been lost during the renovation of the house as a room had fallen off the end and been converted into a roof terrace. No big deal then. In fact there are definitely times when ignorance is bliss as apparently everyone else involved were convinced the sale would not go ahead on that day. I can only imagine how I would have reacted to that?

Off we go to Lubrin following Gavin and Jane. The roads, are to say the least, twisty. It’s not long before Sam is saying she’s feeling a bit sick and I’m wondering how I’ll ever get out of second gear on my Ducati? We arrive safely and then spend the next 5-6 hours getting a great handover and discover loads about the property we didn’t know. Like it has a solar panel for all our hot water and the holiday let has heated floors when it gets a bit “chilly” in February/March time. They show us how to use all the extra windows they put in to help encourage a through draft. That alongside the ceiling fans do an amazing job keeping the place cool and explain why they never bothered to install air-conditioning. We’re also told a bit of the local gossip which is never gossip about the locals as they are all related. Finally, we are told the address we’ve been given is wrong and that its not 8 but 7 Plaza San Sebastian. Spain eh!

That night we meet up with Karen, her kids and Paul for a drink and tapas. Ironically, the restaurant is now using the area right outside The Tobacconists, the place we originally wanted to buy, and I wonder how Florence would have coped with all the noise? Yet again we’re stunned by how cheap everything seems and eventually wander the 25 metres across the Plaza for our first nights sleep in our new house.

Since coming back things have moved on quite well. We’ve got a date for the delivery  of our belongings to Lubrin. It’ll all arrive three weeks after us but thats fine as there’s enough stuff in the house for us to live and it gives us time to get the place well aired and get rid of things we don’t want. It looks like we’ve now got a really nice local couple to rent the flat so now all we need to do is finish packing down and sell Sam’s Mini.

I’ll finish by recounting a story about being 55. When you’re 55 you’ll receive a letter asking if you’d like to attend an appointment at the Bowel Cancer screening centre? Of course, I said,  yes definitely especially as I’m off to Spain soon it seems very sensible. They send you an enema and all the instructions for use, which Sam, sniggering, very kindly offered to come home at lunchtime to administer. I declined her offer and spent ten minutes curled up on the floor of the shower clenching as hard as possible for as long as possible until I could do it no more. I then walked to the hospital all the time worrying about anal seepage. I’m not sure if its just men who have this procedure but the only women I saw were the nursing staff? I get changed into my very fetching robe and am led into the screening room. “If it hurts too much Mr Leonard just say and I’ll stop” she says.  Hmmm not too happy with that comment. “If you need it we’ve got gas and air for the pain”. Oh my god what are they going to do to me? Straight to the lubed finger up the bum and then the camera. “You can watch on the screen if you’d like?” Up goes the camera further and further. Not just up in a straight line but up and down to get round all the corners and so they can see all sides. A bit like having your chimney swept. At the same time they’re pumping you full of air so they can get right in there. Deep. It’s starting to get quite uncomfortable by now, I’m in deep breath modes, so I happily accept the gas and air. I’ve never experienced this before and proceed to take the biggest lungs full I can manage. This definitely take my mind off the the camera up my bum as I very nearly pass out and have a massive head spin. Finally, she stops and says to her colleague “that’s 60 centimetres and everything if absolutely fine. We can take it out now Mr Leonard”. Sixty centimetres. That’s 2 foot! I felt every millimetre as it came back out.

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