Thank you for joining me.
Our journey began just over ten years ago , a year ago it accelerated and while life’s journey is not over by any manner of means, the destination that is now home, stopped being simply a holiday home and became our full time base for retirement. We bought our little Spanish home ‘off plan’ at the peak of the Spanish housing boom and took ownership three years late in 2010 as the Spanish economy was on its knees and ‘ el crisis’ was destroying businesses and lives. Our building company hung on for as long as possible and unlike some horror stories, our urbanisation was completed . Sadly so many people took fright and pulled out that in 2011, the builder went under and even today our estate is probably only a third occupied. In some ways, this is amazing. We are on the edge of a regional park and only ten minutes from the city of Murcia. We chose not to buy on the costas as we did not want to be in an area of expats. We wanted to live in the real Spain. Only having a few neighbours means that life here is very peaceful , we know the neighbours that are here, Spanish and holiday owners and we have made friends of both, locals and holiday home owners. There are draw backs… the bus service that was promised has never materialised, not surprising given the lack of potential customers! We are at the top of a very steep hill, three miles from our local small town , a lovely walk downhill in the winter or spring… for me at least, impossible at the moment as it’s too damn hot! We have a car and a motor bike ( it has figured large in the journey) but the question does flit across our minds ,occasionally , about what will happen when we are too old to drive? The shops and services that were also planned, not surprisingly, didn’t happen either. This means no gentle strolls to the bakers for our morning bread! Having said that, our local Repsol garage has a bread oven and very often when buying fuel , I get given a free baguette!
To go back to the start of the journey…. before the recession or crisis. We planned to move to Spain in 2011 when my youngest son left school and followed his older siblings to university. Ours is a merged family although my amazing husband has no children from his first marriage,he has therefore taken on my crazy brood with no previous experience! The move would be made easier by this however, as the father of my children would still be in Scotland and as I had parented consistently for 28 years and the kids were all now living away from home, I would not need to feel too guilty! Plus, what’s not to like about Mum and step Dad having a home in the sun, free holidays for ever! I completed a TEFL course in 2010 with the intention of teaching English and Walt, having a good grasp of Spanish and being very practical was confident that he would find work. Even if the recession hadn’t happened and brought unemployment in Spain to levels that meant we didn’t stand a chance of getting work here, family stuff did happen that meant we had to postpone our plan…. the journey slowed down and our little home was used purely for holidays until 2017. We had wonderful holidays, using Calle Jacaranda as often as possible. As the family grew, they and their partners used it as well. Sadly it was the failing health and passing of our parents that meant the original plan had to be postponed. From 2011 onwards, we were on hospital and caring duty and in four short years both sets of parents died. None of them managed to visit us here or sit on our sun roof enjoying the views of the forest and hills to one side and the city in the distance to the other. It is one part of the journey that we had no control over and which still saddens us. We had flights booked for them all in 2011 and 2012 but had to cancel them due to their failing health. I know my mum would have loved our little city of Murcia. It is very European, with cafes to sit and people watch from … all day if you want to. At the moment, it is deserted… Murcianos are all ‘de vacaciones’ , it is a little gem in the cooler months.
This blog therefore is partly the story of the journey and our adventures in getting here and settling to live here full time. It is also a reflection on the getting older process and how to make the best of it. Perhaps a little morbid but having lost all our parents so quickly, we are now the oldies in the family! At 60 and 61, not really old but some of the adventures in our journey have made us realise that life is not finite and what should and could we be doing to have a satisfying and meaningful retirement? I would love to hear of the experiences and views from you, the readers on this. I will alternate between the physical journey to where we are today, and the challenges of moving abroad ( Brexit included) and the emotional journey which I hinted at when I described the original plan and ‘ not feeling guilty ‘at leaving my kids in Scotland. We are hugely lucky , we have small pensions and little debt. Our home is small but our back garden is a regional park. Apart from July and August we can cycle, walk our dogs in the hills and forest , plan picnics and barbecues and know we will have blue skies and sunshine for them. In July and August, we are becoming like the Spaniards, we tend to hide from the sun and go to the pool in the evening or our favourite beaches which are only over thirty minutes drive away. A big mention and praise here for my grandchildren who came for a holiday this August with Mum and Dad. I was really concerned about the heat , they are pure blond, pail skinned, northern Europeans! They were amazing and coped so well. Perhaps a little tetchy at the end of the day but with temperatures reaching 37 degrees C, who wouldn’t be? Lots of pool, beach and waterpark fun! We are healthy and active, most of the time but every now and then we feel just a little bit homesick and I start reflecting on what is the way forward for our generation of ‘baby boomers’ ? What should we be doing? Should we be doing anything or nothing? Should we still be working? ( Walt will fall about laughing at that, he adores being retired and after 44 years of working, he deserves every minute of it.) Should I be a more ‘normal ‘ granny? What is a ‘normal ‘ granny? Should I still go pillion on our motor bike? Our first year living now as residents, we have the tiny scrap of card to prove it, has been incredible with lots of visitors, home improvements, activity, accidents , excitement and quiet times. August is traditionally a quiet time here, I now know why. I feel chuffed if I achieve a couple of things before 2pm when it becomes too hot to do anything other than lie under the fan and read something that doesn’t require too much brain power! The heat melts my brain. Walt thinks this is nonsense but honestly, it’s true. In each of my ramblings, I will reflect on the questions above and hope to hear from you , your experiences, thoughts and opinions . You don’t need to be over 60! One of my biggest motivations for taking the leap and the road less travelled with Walt began when my own parents were forced to retire and the , possibly skewed , view I had of the way they coped with their latter years. Younger readers, watching your own parents, will have opinions too and I would love to hear and discuss them. As a retired history teacher, I am great at sitting on fences, every side of an argument and discussion is valid! (most of the time!)