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2014: Back To The Future

This year has been full of ups and downs. A real roller coaster ride of transition to a new place, a new life. What we had to go through to finally achieve our dream in Spain, and make it real was nothing short of cruel. At times we felt truly cursed, at times we felt truly elated…

January:

We were in our second month of living in a rental apartment looking to buy a house. When we arrived here in December, that month was spent exploring the area and getting used to what life could be like on the southern Costa Blanca – in winter. In January, we were seriously on the case. Our estate agents were a husband and wife team who became firm friends. They passed on their own contacts, answered endless questions, and gave us advice from what they’d learned personally about settling in full time. Precious hints and tips in addition to our own research of over a year. Most of that month was spent looking at many properties, and rejecting them for various reasons. As time went on, they learned exactly the kind of house we had in mind.

Surprisingly, after all that’s been hyped about Spain’s property problems, there were only two out of the thirty odd we viewed that would fall into the category of sub-standard. (By then we could spot a good build from a bad one a mile off).

The last house we viewed before our own was very similar to it, same square footage, in the same area too. But it had an extra bedroom downstairs. (Three bedrooms total). Basically it was very close to what we wanted, but that extra bedroom took space from the open plan living area, leaving it feeling a bit cramped. Apart from that we really liked it.

The very next day we were taken to another one, further up the hill, same builder, different layout. This one had a second bathroom downstairs instead of a bedroom. I sat down on the garden sofa, amidst the beautiful foliage and said “Right this is it, don’t even need to see inside!” Everyone fell about laughing, you only need to bump into me once, I’m infectious…

Then we got the guided tour, all boxes ticked, there were several other bonuses too. The couple who were selling had it built “off plan.” The guy also owned his own building firm in the UK, and knew the contractor here. So there were some expensive added extras in the design…

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The very next day, another couple were supposed to be going for a second viewing. The owners cancelled it and waited a few days for us to put down a deposit, it was meant to be…

February:

Was a month spent dealing with money transfers, almost daily visits to the solicitor, and lots of waiting… Fortunately for us, in 2013 our bank here took over the International banking side of ours in the UK! It made money transfers a lot easier to deal with, and we “bought” Euros on the stock exchange, so no charges were incurred.

Turned out we saved the equivalent of the deposit for the house. Up to then we had no idea such a system existed… Hence, for most of February we found ourselves sat in various offices! It also included several visits to the local “Notaria” which is where all details of the sale are registered, owner name change, etc. That’s the point at which the local council becomes aware of who you are, beyond just an NIE number. Names and account details also had to be updated for all sorts of things, and we even managed to inherit the TV and WiFi package.

March:

We moved in! Already fully furnished to a very high standard, all we needed was ourselves and our suitcases. However, we still had work to do on the boat in the UK. It was such a wrench having to lock up the house and return to where we didn’t want to be. I cried as the plane took off headed north, whilst at the same time saying “WE’LL BE BACK!” (Whatever it takes).

April:

Returning to the boat, we knew that in order to sell it there was lots to do. Competition on the market was fierce, so the good ship had to stand out from the others. We wanted a quick sale, but kept her off the market while work was being done…

May:

We moved into a hotel for a week while the good ship went in dry dock. The guys there did a great job. Boring as it may sound, the hull was re-blacked, she had a new paint job all around the gunnels. Six new anodes fitted (they stop electricity in water rusting the hull), and a bearing on the tiller was replaced. Big job, cost a lot…

June:

Dave concentrated on “man jobs” such as scraping all the paint off the engine bay and taking it right back to bare metal. Treating it, treating it again, re-painting, re-painting again, each layer took two days to dry. But it was worth it, the engine had just been serviced, lift up the big heavy board and it all looked brand spanking new. He also did the same thing on the gas lockers and the bow. Back breaking as it was she was almost ready for sale…

July:

Some other little jobs done and she went on the market. We’ve enjoyed several years of life afloat and the alternative lifestyle that goes with it. But there was a much better version in sight…

August:

After just five days someone came to look round, fell in love with the boat, and put down a deposit the same day. Their house was up for sale, so I asked if they had enough investments to cover the costs if their own sale fell through? Reply: “Oh Yes.”

We flew back to Spain and our new house for a six week break and lived in hope. While we were here one of our sons, his wife, and their own son came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. It was their holiday and we had a fantastic time together. Any spare time away from visiting different places and eating out, was spent in the swimming pool.

Dave, son, and grandson…

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Dive Bombing…

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Well it took our minds off the worry of the boat! When they’d gone we found ourselves remaining in holiday mode. It was highly suspicious when our emails and texts to the potential buyer went ignored… So despite what felt like the ropes of that boat squeezing tighter round our necks, we rebelled against it, for a while…

September:

We got back to the UK and towards the end of that month found out the buyer had pulled out. We’d been lied to about finances. Their house sale fell through and there were no investments to cover the cost. Back to square one, we’d even taken the boat off the market at their request, and waited almost two months for nothing. During which time we had plenty of interest, yet to each enquiry we had to say there was a sale pending. We could have sold it in that time. Fate dealt us a cruel blow.

To add to the rope knots, a bag of these appeared for us to carry round on our backs, one each…

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Towards the end of September she went back up for sale again. By this time we’d learned our lesson. Rather than just use a broker for the financial side. Leave it all, the whole procedure with them from the start, they’d get their cut and we’d got past caring. As a bonus we discovered the boat could be moved onto the boat company’s own mooring area, which meant we wouldn’t have to pay mooring fees. Even so, under no illusions, apathy had set in and we were still in limbo…

October:

Yet again, within a week we had a potential buyer and a deposit was paid, before we even moved to the new mooring. It was like deja vu, which made it impossible to build up any hope. However, a seed was planted about the fact that we were free to move on, it didn’t matter however long it took. Actually selling the good ship was not our responsibility anymore. A sale could go through wherever we were in the world. So after a lot of discussion, we booked a one way plane ticket to our real home in Spain…

November:

The 3rd to be precise, the shackles were broken and we flew out here, still with some other loose ends to tie up in the UK, but there’s no rush. We left the boat fully furnished and our house here is fully furnished. With our personal stuff in storage, we came here with only what was in our suitcases, and enough clothes to last till everything else was delivered to our door on the 21st.

Just a few days after it all arrived we were informed that the sale had gone through, it didn’t sink in at first [excuse pun] But when Dave checked his account and the money was there, it finally registered. We thought we’d be jumping up and down and opening that bottle of Champagne in the fridge. Yet after all we’d been through, the response was muted. The best we could do was look at the figures and say “Oh good, at long last.”

THE CURSE as we called it disappeared the moment we stepped foot on Spanish soil again. What we went through during the early hours before take off that day is now history!

December:

All about settling into our new, relaxing, laid back way of life, going out, having fun and making new friends…

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During 2014, I didn’t write much about our trials and tribulations with the boat, or that between April and August we spent £5,000 on it. Could’ve put a buyer off even though we were just making improvements FOR a lucky boating buyer. Future proofing was the key, learned that the hard way. Even though the tech spec was always top notch, paintwork and tiny rust spots had to be eliminated. Hard labour… 

So in hindsight most of this year was spent worrying, or being stressed out, or feeling tied up with tentacles from the UK. When we should’ve been celebrating our new life ahead. But never mind we got here in the end. Nothing ever worth it is easy…

I’m now confident that 2015 (and beyond) will be about relaxing in the slow lane, going in a straight line rather than being trapped in a theme park helter skelter. Bring it on…

~~~

I’m seriously considering giving up blogging sometime this year. No firm decision made yet because there’s still lots to blab about. However I do wonder how long I can keep rattling on for, while relaxing in the slow lane…

Having said that, I could probably write an Encyclopaedia about all the Spanish “bank holidays” or “festivals” they have here on an annual basis. Each one derives from some kind of deep and meaningful source. As in, everything closes down and it’s another full day of partying!! It’ll be extremely interesting to see how long Easter lasts. Christmas hasn’t finished yet, we’ve still got “The Three Kings” festival on January 6th…

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