I felt for some time the story of the process of our return to England was noteworthy. I suppose when the children as adults moved back, it was inevitable. We loved our time in Spain and although it is mostly a relaxed lifestyle, lots of things which should be straightforward can be challenging; Spanish shop opening times, Spanish bureaucracy and corruption have to be navigated, on the whole we were successful, some things we eventually gave up on. It was suggested we sacrifice a goat to get Sevillana to install a electricity pole, fortunately no goat was harmed and we did get connected. I hope that my thoughts are of interest, especially to those considering this epic move back.
We moved to Spain to live permanently in January 1998, with every intention of living there the rest of our days. Our children fully immersed themselves within the education system; unfortunately partly due to an economic downturn in Spain, job prospects appeared far more attractive in the UK when they graduated from University. We therefore ended up finally living in Los Carrascos mostly as a couple, the kids had left for university years before, but returned for the holidays, when they were all working and living in England we saw them less and less. This was obviously understandable as the were on the cusp of new careers, but we missed them. We were members of a local evangelical Church and singing group, we met a great group of hashing folk, we still had a wonderful lifestyle, family and friends visited, but we started to sense a feeling of change. Los Carrascos, had changed out of all recognition, definitely not for the better, although there were still many happy experiences uniquely Spanish.
In 2012 Mavis, Jane’s mum died suddenly in the UK, this was after a September “gota fria” when there had been prolonged heavy rainfall which had lead to widespread flooding of ramblas, leading to people dying and buildings and roads destroyed, it felt like nothing was going to be the same ever again, it captured a mood.
In 2013 there was a push or initiative to get all the houses and land regularised at the Town Hall “Ayuntamiento”, something we had been trying to sort out for years. We made a point of going into the town hall every Wednesday just to show we weren’t going away, until we got what was rightfully ours. Many trips to official government buildings in Almería city and into Arboleas and Huércal-Overa, pushing pieces of paper from one office to another, we began to see progress. We even had an apology from a local government official for the loss of the original paperwork and their inability to sort it out.
We still didn’t really decide to return to the UK, even after we had all the paperwork for the property regularised and legally able to sell. One of our sons and his wife had a little girl, our first granddaughter who was around two years old and we were looking forward to her enjoying the pool and beach on a visit to see us. Although we still loved the Mediterranean lifestyle and still do, we thought that the cost of living prices in England were high and if we moved back we would be unable to afford most of the things like, eating out and socialising. Around this time we visited our local “gestor” or accountant, to pay our annual tax bill, this figure was increasing significantly, we also heard that there were rumblings at the “Hacienda” tax office. Living in Spain, there are times when you are reminded that we are aliens “extranjeros” in the country, such as when visiting the hospital, needing help, the language, cultural differences, can’t always be ignored. We were also about to lose our right to vote in UK elections, we only had certain voting rights in Spain and we felt we were losing our political voice.
In 2014 we spent some time tidying the property, starting the massive job of decluttering, finding estate agents who would send suitable prospective clients. We came to England a couple of times to spend time with family, a wedding and helping with the granddaughter. Jane revisited a local Baptist church and felt welcomed and we both came to the conclusion we could live reasonably happily in Stourbridge. We also realised that with prices rising in Spain, the cost of living in both countries were similar and actually houses in Britain were far better insulated and mostly had piped gas, rather than lugging gas bottles and central heating. Truthfully, summers in Spain are too hot, and it’s difficult to sleep on those sultry nights, breaking out in sweat at the thought of work is overrated.
In September 2014 we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, all the close family came, we had a wonderful time, swimming in the pool, lovely meals and enjoying the lifestyle to the full. We had had a few house viewings, most proved totally unsuitable, we knew our life in Spain was coming to an end. Not sure how we knew, but we also knew we had a lot of hard work, to clear and move all of our belongings. Our eldest son extended his holiday and we went down to Almeria city to have lunch with him. On our drive back to Los Carrascos, the mobile telephone rang, it was one of the estate agents, they had clients, who were keen to view our house, I disconnected the call, we knew this was it and it was. Saying goodbye to our friends was difficult, so many people helped us out too. We had met some lovely Spanish people, Pedro the baker, Juan the vet, Maria the cashier at Dia, we still miss them and others 6 years later.