Has it really been that long?

Apparently its been over seven months since my last posting and a lot has happened. In fact so much has happened I’m at a bit of a loss as to where to start? I’ve got a list somewhere of all the things I need to talk about but the house is so upside down I can’t find it. I’ll do the essential stuff and then come back later with the slightly more personal happenings.

I was going to give this blog the title “Fear the Walking Dead”, referring to all the British who live here (don’t worry about the Zombies(Spanish) its the survivors (British) who are dangerous). When we first arrived we were told to never slag off the locals to any other locals as they are all related. Fair enough. However, nobody warned us about the intra-dissing that goes on between the Brits. There seem to little cliques of people who don’t talk to each other due to some long forgotten slight. Lubrin is a VERY small village so Sam and I have very carefully trodden the middle path.

The house has turned out to need far more changes than we had originally thought. A friend told me that you can always tell who’s British as they are either covered in paint or sitting in one of the bars. He doesn’t understand the British preoccupation with renovation or refurbishment especially when we’re meant to be here to take it easy? I must admit we have definitely fallen into that trap. We’re finally at the end having completed everything we wanted on our ground floor with the refurbished kitchen being fitted this week. Downstairs, the holiday let, is 95% done and will need to be completed by 5th June as we have our first booking. Five Dutch students on a geology field trip. We’re hoping this could turn out to be an annual thing as a friend who owns a large B&B and self-catering has 8 of these students for a full month. Us, only two days but once we’re known it could be us next year?

Language has not seemed such a problem for me for several reasons. Firstly, I did Spanish at University as part of my degree. However that was over thirty years ago and I was absolutely useless as I had only been allowed to do CSE European Studies at school. Secondly, being reasonably confident I don’t mind too much how I sound or if I get it wrong. Finally, modern technology allows everyone to communicate at some level thanks to Speak and Translate or Google Translate. The real impediment to our learning is that inevitably all our friends are English speakers. I can get round a menu quite successfully and most of the Spanish are incredibly patient and helpful if you’re willing to try.

Food is fantastic!  We have a market here every Wednesday, which everyone gets quite excited about, and I have difficulty spending more than €20 on a weeks fruit and veg. It’s fantastic quality, all locally grown and ridiculously cheap. There is a Lidls 30 minute drive away so we go once every 3-4 weeks and stock up on essentials like coffee. We eat out a couple of times a week with the average bill being €15 including a beer and glass of wine. As a non-meat eater I had imagined it might be a bit tricky here but there seems to be fish of some sort on every menu. Pota is my favourite.

Combined with the food the cost of living here is very cheap. Electricity is about €40pm, we think our council tax and bin collection will be about €300 a year. We’re not sure yet? This is Spain! There’s no mains gas so our cooker runs off bottled. We’ve changed it once at a cost of €16. Luckily we have a solar panel for hot water we saves us quite a lot. Weirdly, in a part of the world that has an average of 320 a year of sun very very few Spanish homes have solar. I’ve been told its to do with the massive amount of revenue the Spanish government gets from taxing utilities. Fuel is quite a bit cheaper and the prices change quite quickly depending on the markets. Unlike the UK where it takes three months! This leads me quite neatly onto transport. The bane of my life.

If only I’d known! A word of advice. If you ever choose to move to Spain do one of two things. Either, accept the fact that used car prices are at least 50% higher here with twice the mileage of the UK and buy here, or buy the smallest petrol engined car you can manage with to bring over. Spain has a very interesting and illegal take on importing foreign cars. It doesn’t matter which European country you come from you’ll be forced to pay an import duty dependent on the CO2 emissions and what the Spanish government decides your vehicle is worth. Car or bike. This has cost us in the region of €6000 with the change of lights, number plate holder and change of tyres. Quite a hefty chunk out of our Spanish fund especially when you consider the EU fine Spain every year for the practice, which is illegal but obviously they make far more than the fine. In the UK the same process costs £70!

That’s the nitty gritty of living here. I love it. It’s so beautiful and warm. I was sunbathing on 6th December and went to the beach at least three times during February. The scenery is fantastic up here in the mountains. We are 45 minutes away from some of the best beaches in Europe and the sea is warm and crystal clear. The Spanish are friendly and invariably incredibly helpful. We’ve had to deal with quite a bit of officialdom (we are now both Residents) and as long as you’re patient and relaxed everything goes smoothly.

The quality of the roads are amazing especially for bikes, both the peddle and motorised types. There is quite a large motorbike circuit only 15 miles from our village and a number of the international cycling teams do their training around our mountains. There is no traffic worth mentioning on any of the roads so getting from A to B is easy. The nearest airport, Almeria, is 50 miles and 50 minutes away through some stunning mountain scenery.

As already mentioned the village is very small but has more or less everything you need in smaller amounts. Two supermarkets for essentials, 3 bars/restaurants one of which will always be open, a gym, a community swimming pool open July-August (it looks wonderful), 2 hardware stores for the British, a fishmonger, 2 butchers and 3 bakers.

We’ve worked out that we can have up to 10 people, not including us, staying at any one time. It’d be fantastic to have anyone reading this come and stay with us. We need people to come and test our holiday let and give us honest feedback. There is plenty to do if you’re prepared to do a bit of driving or if not July and August can be spent sunbathing round the pool. Flights are cheap from Bristol to Almeria. Send me a reply to this blog, drop me an email davidrleonard@hotmail.co.uk or text me on WhatsApp or 00447852115026. It’d be great to hear from you no matter what!


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