Living in Spain – parte uno

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PINOSOL – 2001


Calle Edgar Degas 23, Pinosol, Javea, 03730 Alicante, Spain

The other part of our property shuffle was a holiday home which we planned to visit six/seven times each year. We quickly put in a good pool, and later a big extension pushing the whole rear out by a metre, expanding the master bedroom, kitchen and two bathrooms.

ASIDE: I was planning a whole series of UK-city classified advertising websites and so had invested in an expensive Compaq laptop that described itself as the ‘Internet Laptop’, and the then most popular Nokia phone. But I couldn’t get them to achieve a reliable connection, I bought peripherals and software to try to fix it but it was still not right. So, I began to complain to the retailer (Dixons) and Compaq, but months passed without a resolution. I escalated this all the way up to the Compaq CEO in Ireland and harassed him mercilessly. He finally, six months later, arranged a full credit note for the Compaq. By then my classifieds websites idea had gone nowhere so I could opt for a much lower-cost laptop – and the prices had generally dropped in the interim.
This left me with a large sum of credit which I used at Currys (now part of Dixons) to buy a microwave, a toaster, a food mixer, an iron and other items that we needed for the villa. I still had credit and bought torches, batteries etc to use it up. I had a good laptop and had electrically equipped the villa – all from my original investment!

We kept the villa for six years and its real benefit was that we saw our grandchildren grow there, they spent each summer and other breaks with us in Spain. This was on an urbanisation, Pinosol, in a great resort, Javea.

ASIDE: One of our gentle amusements with the locals was that if you ever found yourself in a queue there would be an older person muttering that this wouldn’t have happened in Franco’s time. It was a lot like Matt living in Bethnal Green with the oldsters reminiscing about how much better it had been when the Krays ran the area.

Years back we saw ‘An Evening with Peter Ustinov’, to listen to this unbelievably talented and interesting man. He told a story of General Franco being on his deathbed in a coma, attended by his daughter. A noise in the street roused him from his coma, and he asked what it was. Carmen replied, ‘It’s the people of Madrid come to say goodbye’. He looked bewildered and said ‘Why, where are they going?’ Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov CBE was a comic genius, who once said, ‘Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.’

It was interesting being a part-timer ex-pat because you could see the idiosyncrasies of those who were full-timers. First-off, you appeared to get a promotion when you moved to Spain, a guy living behind us had reputedly been a milkman in Birmingham, but on arrival in Spain instantly became a master builder.

Permanent British ex-pats were quick and harsh in judging UK politics, yet if they became unwell, they rapidly flew back into the comfort of the National Health. Most did little to learn the language or to fit in with local habits and processes. Many laid carpets on the tiled floors and English grass lawns, while maintaining roast lunches and other English habits.

We learned after our first year to only place work with locals, who were grafters, they priced things competitively and finished their work to time, and to a good standard. Ex-pats often proved expensive and extremely unreliable time-keepers – they were on their holidays!

ASIDE: The milkman-builder behind us was living with his second wife and clearly was none too open with her. He fell seriously and mysteriously ill. Lying on what he had assumed to be his death-bed he decided he must ‘fess up and tell his wife where his rainy-day money had been stashed. Having relieved his soul for his final journey, he promptly recovered – it had been shingles. I feel sure the relationship could not have been improved by his confession.This can’t help bringing to mind a favourite joke. An old guy on his death-bed had his family asking him where he had stashed his wealth. He would weakly wave his hand down below his bed. But they had searched there and the floor below and the basement without success. He recovered too, and they asked what he had meant by his waved hand, he explained he was too weak to wave it up with two fingers extended to transmit his intended message.

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