Well, we’ve lived in Spain for 1 year now and what a year it’s been.
As I’ve mentioned it my previous blogs it’s been the hardest year of our lives but I’m going to focus on the many positives in this blog.
I think it’s only right to put the challenging experiences behind us, learn from them and reflect on all the positive experiences we’ve had, after all we’ve wanted to live in Spain for such a long time and it would feel a tad unappreciative to whinge about life in the sun.
Spain feels like home and our previous life in the UK seems like a very long way away. Gail’s flying back in November which will be her 4th visit in 13 months where as I’ve not been back once and this suits me. After all, the people we love dearly come and visit us which works out well for both parties.
We still watch ‘Place in the Sun’ and it reminds us of watching it back in the UK which seemed like desperate times dreaming about moving to Spain and questioning whether it was ever going to really happen. Us humans have a habit of hoping our lives improve without really taking any action to aid the change needed for the dream to become reality.
We know quite a few friends and family who are now committed to moving out here and why not, the world does feel so much better living here and life is a short journey so why not try and live it like an adventure!
So partly for therapeutic reasons and to also help others, I’ve summarised the positives from our first twelve months in Spain,
1) The Weather – I may as well start with the obvious. Waking up to a blue sky is just fab, it’s that simple. It’s something I never take for granted and I don’t think I ever will. I can’t stand grey days and fortunately we don’t get that many anymore.
2) Improving Olivia’s life – I think we owe it to our children to provide the best possible environment for them to grow up in and I honestly feel that’s what we’re doing. Olivia does talk about the UK and she may end up going back there one day but for the time being, Spain is a fantastic place for her to grow up in. Outdoor life, pool, beaches at the weekend, meeting people from different parts of the world, far less materialistic, the list goes on.
3) Personal growth – In the UK, a big part of my job was studying emotional intelligence and working on self-awareness. I must admit I thought I’d become a bit of a master when it came to knowing thyself but this was about taking it to a new level away from a life dedicated to a fulfilling career. This journey was always about stripping away the bullshit and finding out who I really was. You do have more time to reflect on what you want out of life over here and I’ve now got more questions than answers. I must admit I still take things for granted and I’m still looking too far ahead without truly living in the moment so I’m still very much work in progress.
4) Visiting guests & sharing our life in Spain with others – I didn’t think this would be so high up the list but having people you really want to be around come and stay with you in such surroundings is so rewarding. Back in the UK you meet up with friends or family for a day, at a push they may stay with you overnight and you just don’t spend unadulterated quality time that you get here and, what’s more important than spending time and creating memories with those you love?
5) Driving in Spain – I make no apologies for bringing this up time after time but driving in Spain is such a pleasure. At 41, I’m hoping to be at least only half way through life and I really don’t like the idea of wasting hours sat in traffic!
6) The Sea and beaches – This is a no brainer, even those who don’t like sand enjoy the sea air and the magnificent Mediterranean waters. To be 30 minutes away from a lovely beach with near enough guaranteed weather is superb, it really is.
7) Meeting new friends and people from different countries – We really have met some amazing, kind caring people and to get the opportunity to meet people from not only Spain but Holland, Belgium, Germany etc can only enrich your life. Different cultures, different food, different outlook on life, it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about life.
8) The Pool – it’s another obvious one but chilling around your own pool on a Sunday or even a Monday isn’t bad is it!
9) Food – BBQs, Tapas – We love cooking and entertaining so cooking and eating out in Spain was always going to be a big bonus for us. The fresh produce is excellent and inspires you to cook even more. Happy days.
10) Gardening in Spain – I’ve always enjoyed gardening and if anything, I’m even more inspired. Learning to grow more exotic plants and balancing the water vs the hot sun is challenging but very rewarding. The fresh tomatoes we’ve grown this year were unbelievable and I’ve never tasted Oranges like those grown by the local Spanish farmer near our friends in Murcia. I can’t wait for this year’s crop come November time.
11) Concept of time – It’s quite a big one for me this. I’ve always felt living from Friday evening to Sunday night just felt wrong. Over here you do have to work very hard and depending on what you do, you can often work more hours than the UK but they do tend to be concentrated so when you do get time off its quality time and you have choices of things to do or if you want to do bugger all, then doing bugger all in the sun is much better than doing bugger all in the rain!
12) The language – Well I must admit, I’ve been lazy when it comes to learning Spanish. I knew more when I studied it at colleague over 20 years ago but I’ll get there and in the meantime, it’s still nice to attempt to speak another language and the Spanish really do appreciate it.
13) Earning a crust in Spain – This could easily go in a blog about the negative side to living in Spain but I’m going to put a positive spin on it. Yes, it’s hard earning money over here but you do need a purpose in life and you get to see different places through work and you get to meet people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with. Ironically, some of the most memorable days spent here are at work. It’s also hard to initially get work until you build up your contacts so when you do get work you appreciate it more where as in the UK, you dread it and often take the regular income for granted.
14) Living in another country has changed my views about politics – I’ve always had Socialist beliefs as I like the idea of society helping each other, rather than a ‘me myself and I’ concept however having seen how little the Spanish government get involved in culture has made me feel we have way too much of a nanny state in the UK which I believe has created a sense of entitlement in life. Over here, if you don’t work you don’t put food on the table and family look after each other. It’s a completely different outlook to life that I think works. It’s a far more adult approach whereas the UK seems to expect much more from government which leads to a parental / child state. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a socialist at heart but I believe in a society that should work as hard for society as society works for us and I’m very far removed from the extreme left that seems to be growing in the UK and America.
15) Inspiring others to take the plunge – A real positive for us is speaking to family and friends who have seen our story and thought – bollocks to it, we’re have some of that! It’s very rewarding to try and help people see that there are opportunities to change your life if that’s what you want to do. Don’t just dream it, do it.
16) Mortgage free – Bottom line is it’s cheaper to buy property in Spain than it is in the UK so to be mortgage free at 40 was a big one. I also like the idea that when the time comes for Olivia to buy her own house it’s achievable where as in the UK, young people are finding it very hard and it’s not going to get easier.
17) Hondon valley – It’s our home now and it’s a great location. 30 Minutes from the airport, the beaches and Alicante yet we live in the campo in a place where you can relax. Your money also goes further away from the coast and we get a lovely breeze even in the hot summer.
18) Support from friends and family – I’ve saved the best till the last here. The amount of people that have helped us and continue to do so has been extremely humbling. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible this year and you know who you are, but again thank you so much. We hope we can repay the favour with regular fab holidays so keep booking those flights and to those that live here and have been part of our journey, thank you from the bottom of our heart.
So that’s my top 18 highlights from the year in Spain and we’re very much looking forward to the next 12 months. If I were to prioritise my goals for next year it would be to continue to grow more fruit and veg, commit to learning the language, appreciate every day we live here and make sure we enjoy time with our friends and family by creating even more amazing memories!
Bring it on I say,
Hasta luego amigos!