Sunday 22 November 2015

Got the t-shirt!

Seeing an old work colleague posting about her frustration regarding the UK and her longing to live in Spain I thought been there, done that and got the t-shirt!

I remember the feeling so well and I also remember that no matter what I or anyone else says we all believe that we are different and that we know best.  That for us the living our dream will bring us everything we long for and more.  Living the dream is our utopia, our happy, our ever after.

That I believe is where we go wrong - as nowhere can live up to the life we have imagined in our dreams.

I believe that living abroad works when you approach it differently.  When you move not because you are escaping from anything but because you know the wrinkles of the country you are moving to and are prepared to totally change your way of thinking, change your views of culture and upbringing and realise that unless you are going to live on an ex-pat village that you will have to be the one to change and blend in.

I guess if I had been able to have the time to attend language classes.  If I had the type of personality that would push myself forward and got involved in clubs and local events.  If I had been able to cut off all ties with my former life in the UK then maybe - just maybe - I would have settled in and adjusted.

But for me, as a full time worker, and a somewhat private and shy person, I just could not settle.  Almost immediately the pressure of juggling work, the responsibility of organising everything - in a different language and culture - became a headache and the joy of living a dream became, if not a nightmare then, a little jaded.

So, my friend, do not look to living in Spain as an escape and the answer to your prayers.  Look at it as an adventure with its own set of problems and annoyances but with warmer weather!  If you can face that then go and be happy but retain a little bolt hole in the UK in case you find that what you were looking for was right in front of your eyes all the time.

Do I regret my move to and from Spain?  No never.  I did what I never believed I would ever do and I experienced things that I never believed I would.  However I would have done it differently.  I would never have sold my property in the UK until I had lived in Spain for at least two years.  I guess I would have "try before you buy".

Still love you Spain (and those that became our friends) but my heart is in the UK!

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Conveyancing UK style

Buying a new home is always very stressful.  Buying a new home after living abroad is even more so!

After being aided by who appeared to be a well established, long running estate agent (and I should know as I used to work for one years ago) I suppose I did what we always used to say not to do - that was to use a conveyancer/solicitor attached to the estate agents and/or vendor.

Years ago it just used to be that you never used the same solicitor as your purchaser/vendor.  Mainly in case there was a conflict of interests.  But now with the modern method of having teams of conveyancers associated with the estate agents and most of the work done online it seemed logical to use one of theirs as they must be working for the estate agent and should therefore get everything completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To begin with everything rushed through with an efficiency and attentiveness that surprised and pleased me.

But now nearly two months since the offer was accepted the silence is deafening!

So after a chance meeting with someone and mentioning who we were using as conveyancers I was told how awful they were and not to touch them!  Too late now I'm afraid but what could be the problem.

Searching the internet for reviews on the said company all I found were bad reviews.  Not so much about the people but how slow and unprofessional they were (one person waited 6 months to exchange).

But what I find frustrating is the lack of communication - from the estate agents and the conveyancers.

I have no idea whether the vendor has found a property to purchase or whether there is a chain involved.  I have no idea whether a survey has been done by my mortgage providers and I have no idea who my point of contact is!

Technology might be brilliant but good old fashioned communication and keeping your client informed at all stages beats it hands down.

Too late for me to do anything now - but just wait!

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Checking my link

Just quickly checking my link as I have now totally reverted to my original blog as my Living In Mallorca blog is naturally redundant now that I have returned to the UK.

I will write more later but I am finding it very difficult to fit everything in now.  So what has changed?

While working full time in London and rising at 5:30 to go to work and returning at any time up to about 20:00 I still managed to find the time to write my blog, do my painting, create web pages and internet shops, do online courses and a multitude of other things.  Now, working from home, I barely have time to anything!  I think the nearly 3 years of living in Spain made me too laid back.  Got to get my get up and go working again :)

Oh well on with work and more later!

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Totally Responsible

have to admit to being rather scared that at the age of 61 (nearly 62) I have taken on the sole responsibility of an 8 year mortgage to enable us to buy a home.

It is the return of the 'what-ifs'.

What if I am made redundant, what if I am ill, what if my other eye gets a cataract.

I guess being responsible for the lives of two others - one human and one canine - is a very scary part of life and a position that I am not used to being in.  But here we go, one day at a time, trusting that everything will be ok.

I seem to have spent the past three years taking on the role of decision maker and problem solver - not a role that I am naturally born for but hey ho - go with the flow...

Saturday 3 October 2015


Home - so many definitions of the word.  Home is where the heart is, home is where I hang my hat etc.
For me home is a feeling of belonging.  Let me explain.

Living in Mallorca I loved the island and made some dear friends but I never felt I belonged.  The weather was great, the way of life and mañana attitude were a novelty at first.  But my roots weren't there, my whole way of life was far different to the way they lived and the language was a barrier that I had little time, while working full time, to do anything about.  It was down to me to change or for me to leave.  I chose to leave.  My family were in the UK and while not in one another's pockets it was comforting to know that if I returned to the UK then I would at least be on the same island!

Upon returning to the UK we looked around trying to find somewhere to live.  What area should we go to, where could we afford?  While waiting for our house sale to complete we looked at lots of different areas.

The coastal areas whilst being by the seaside and having their own attractions just didn't feel right, we didn't belong, and most were out of our price range anyway.

The countryside around the Weald of Kent is the most beautiful I have seen but the areas I can afford I do not want to live in!  The areas I would have wanted to live I could not afford.

Northwest Kent where we had lived for 30 years was well out of reach now as prices had risen as the regeneration project was under way.

Then we returned to an area in the southeast to view a couple of properties.  Between viewings we had to waste some time and we sat by a sports field just watching the wildlife.  I got out and took Freddy for a walk and listened to the birds singing.  Blackbirds, starlings, sparrows and finches - just every day birds that I grew up with and a eureka feeling came over me.  I was back home!  Like someone who had wandered for years and finally returned to their nest I felt I was back where I belonged.

Now the area is not exactly where I was born and bred being a few miles distant but everything was familiar.  I could remember things from when I was younger.  Oh that's where such and such happened and that's where I did so and so. The familiarity was comforting!  I could relax.  I knew how the system worked.  I knew how people thought or behaved.  I was no longer an outsider.

I was home and so I put in an offer on a house which was accepted.  There are still the normal searches and legal hoops to jump through but this is the area we have chosen.  In the countryside but not too far from the towns.  About midway between one side of the family and the other.

Your roots, your past, the memories and the familiarity - they mean more than you imagine - and to me they make a place a home. I belong, I am home.

Sunday 6 September 2015


I have been back in the UK now for exactly 11 weeks and 2 days and boy has it been stressful!

Just the getting back was bad enough with ferry (and a nervous dog), driving through France (with a dog) and sleeping in the car overnight, but then there has been all the problems associated with finding somewhere to live.

The couple of weeks or so that we were going to stay with my Mum ended up being 8 weeks but we eventually managed to find somewhere to rent as the house sale in Alcudia continued to drag on (in fact it is still dragging on!).

The house we are now in is a lovely house although owned by a DIY bodger!  Getting our furniture here was another stressful and expensive time as we had to pay another company to pick up our furniture from the removal firm that had it in storage as they were too busy to deliver it for a few weeks!  Weeks - we needed it asap.

We have managed to rent for 12 months with a 6 month break clause (giving 2 months notice after 6 months).  So we have been looking around hoping that the completion on our Spanish home will soon happen.

But what has happened to the house prices???  Within the time period we have been here the prices have risen by about another £20,000 at least.  The money we get for our house in Mallorca plus savings will not be enough to buy a property here so I have been looking at getting a mortgage.

God knows when I will ever retire!

Anyway that brings another problem.  I can afford the mortgage but the banks don't want to know because I can't show the past 2 years on my credit reference account.  So what do I do?

I am left to try and find a broker that can manage to get a mortgage for me I guess - but how do I know who to trust.  It has been many years since I have needed to apply for a mortgage so everything has changed.

Anyway long and short of it all is:

Stuck in rental for 8 months - need to buy before prices go completely out of our range - but can't get a mortgage even with a very large deposit.

In amongst all this I have got us on the Council register/doctors/vets/broadband/gas & electricity/water/tax/driving licence sent off/TV licence and all the other things that I have had to do as well as working full-time, cooking & cleaning.

Crikey I thought I would have an easier time working from home!

Monday 20 July 2015

Patience is a virtue but

I certainly do not have it!

First of all once the decision had been made to return to the UK then I just wanted to get on with it.

Then I had to wait a few months for my eye operation.  That in itself was a very stressful situation.  In a foreign country discussing an operation in another language other than my own.  My studies didn't include surgery!

Thankfully the surgeon spoke English.

Next there was our house on the market in a country known for being difficult to sell.  In the end we decided to go anyway and rent until our house was sold.

At the very last minute we got a purchaser and also the offer of staying with my mum until we found somewhere.

So off we went, the three of us, me, my hubby and our dog.

Now that we are in the UK there was the hunt for something we could afford.  After all moving to Mallorca, buying a house, selling a house and returning to UK all within 3 years takes a hefty toll on the finances.

So now we have been lucky enough to find somewhere but we are waiting to hear if our buyers' buyer has obtained a mortgage and if not then it's all off.  Also the house we are interested in haven't confirmed if they will proceed with us even though we offered the full asking price.  I guess they are suspicious of our sale proceeding.

Makes you wonder some times if you are actually doing the right thing.

Crikey my blood pressure must be high!

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Yesterday was Chaotic!

Yesterday was a bank holiday in the UK.  Well I am in Mallorca so what did it mean to me.  Well it meant that I didn't have to get up and work online.  A relaxing day I thought?

Hell no!

The day started quietly enough.  Me and Freddy went for our walk and the sun was shining.  By lunch time Mick had got up and woken up enough to take us to the vets.  Today Freddy was due to have his annual vaccinations.  Last ones he will be having here in Alcudia.  We had decided to try the local vets and not the one Freddy was used to (20 minute drive away).  The reason for this is because when we leave we will need to take him for his worming tablet and amongst packing etc it will be easier if we can go local.

So popping off to Alcudia Town we walked into the vets (no appointment necessary).  After standing fidgeting for a while eventually someone from the shop (that the vet is attached to) came through and told us that the vet was on an emergency call and would be back in 15 minutes.

So off we went for a wander around.

But 15 minutes or so later we returned.  The vet was lovely, young and good looking (as they all are out here!) and even better he recognised what breed I thought Freddy was!  When asking me what breed I said that they put on his records that he was a Yorkie but he was too big, Mick said a Tibetan but he shook his head and said no 'Catalan Sheepdog'.  Hooray, that's what I had found before.  It is only logical really as they are quite common in Spain and it accounts for him always trying to herd us!

Anyway, jabs done, explanation done about returning to the UK and a promise to return 2 days before we leave and Freddy happily left the vets.  In fact, for once, he liked the male vet.

Another item ticked off my 'to do' list.

Next post tells the remainder of my chaotic day.

Oh and here are a couple of photos.  First one a Catalan Sheepdog from the internet and secondly our little Freddy.

You be the judge but I think their is some Catalan in him.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Difficult Day Today

Today has been a difficult day.  We went for a coffee and sandwich at our friend's bar.  We haven't seen him since he closed at the end of October so he was unaware of what has been going on through the winter months.

Telling him we were returning to the UK was difficult and his reaction has made me feel awful.

In the midst of putting our house on the market and organising the return to the UK I forgot about those that we were leaving behind.  Why does it always have to be one or the other? 

UK or Mallorca, family or friends?

In an ideal world we could have both and share our time between both but this is not an ideal world and we do not have the ideal life.

I came 'home' feeling restless, confused and hoping that we were making the right decision.  I took Freddy out for a walk but it was too warm for him so I went back out again on my own.

I needed to walk and to think.  But it hasn't really solved anything  It is a no win situation.

We left the UK and our family to live our dream but the dream did not exist.  We are returning to the UK to be near family but I do hope we won't regret the decision.  The reality is that nowhere is perfect and whatever we choose we leave people we care about behind.

I don't want to go into great detail of why we decided to leave but I never realised what it was like to be a foreigner in someone else's country.  When on holiday you do not notice the little things that mount up and cause irritation and ill-ease.  But there is also Mallorca the country - the natural world.  I love the island, I love the wildlife, the mountains and the sea. 

In the summer of 2012 we hid in the cabin on the ferry as we left Palma after our holiday because we didn't want to say goodbye.  Now we are choosing to leave.  Leave the island, the house we own, and the friends we have made and those we knew before.

I am grateful for the operation that has given me back my sight and the treatment of the Spanish Health Service although that also showed me how difficult it could be if you were to require hospital treatment for anything more serious.  The struggling to understand what was going on in a language not your own and a system that you do not know.  Then there is the fear of being left alone.  How would you cope when one of you ends up alone.  Bad enough in your own country with your family around but in a country which sleeps for half the year!

No, a decision had to be made and it had to be made while we were still fit enough to make the move back and while I was still working and able to afford to do it.

It is a sad and very difficult day ...

Sunday 10 May 2015

Brighter Outlook

Today I have a brighter outlook on life - in more ways than one!

My operation on Thursday has produced brilliant eyesight in my right eye.  Life is looking brighter and everything is almost in 3D.  I just hadn't realised how bad my sight was until I have it back again.  Brilliant, marvellous, fantastic.  Thank you Clinica Salva and Dr Diego Richards.  The op was over with in 7 minutes.  In fact the doctor timed it from the moment he started until he said 'all finished'.

Since then we have had a family come to view our house.  In fact they returned again yesterday without the estate agent as the older daughter had not seen our house.  In fact they love it and the mother can't wait to speak to the estate agent tomorrow with a view to putting in an offer.  Depends of course on what the offer is!

So everything is looking up.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I am feeling so much more positive!

Monday 4 May 2015

Bank Holiday in UK gives me a day off

Today is a bank holiday in the UK and as I work for a UK employer that means a day off for me too.  Here in Alcudia work continues as normal for everyone else.

So far today I have prepared a calendar solely for the purpose of ticking off all the pre-op and post-opp instructions and medications that I have to do.  I'm sure my mum didn't do that for her op but hey I'm used to creating agendas/schedules of events etc.

Always have been a list maker, it is a way of getting all those thoughts from my brain down on paper and allowing my brain to relax. (some chance, I never switch off).

Holidays were a list makers dream.  There was the route to take care of as we drove here and back.  Then there was the schedules for trains/ferry/road etc.  Add to that the list of items being taken in suitcases and flight bags and then in latter years (when driving) items for on the journey in the car including kettles, stove and food.

When we moved out here my To Do list was enormous with all the reminders for selling our house, relocating and then finding a new home.  Gradually the list got shorter as the items got completed.

Now I'm doing it all over again!!  Am I totally mad?

But first comes my eye op and my calendar of drops before, drops after, dos and don't s!

Sunday 3 May 2015

Going Home

For those that have followed my blog you will recall at one point during the ups and downs I said that as long as the ups were in favour of Mallorca then everything would be ok.  If the balance shifted then we would need to rethink our situation.

Well the scales have shifted and so have our feelings for this beautiful island.  Don't get me wrong, the island is still beautiful but family and the UK calls to us!

Trying to recall the trigger that created the shift is hard to pinpoint.  Was it the visit of my daughter and the grandchildren, was it her subsequent breakdown of marriage, or was it my Mum thinking that she would never see me again?

Or was it the heat of last summer where we spent almost all the time shut indoors with windows and doors closed and air con on, with swollen fingers and feet?

Or was it the lying in bed unable to sleep and coughing because of the air con?

Perhaps it was the sudden progression of the cataract forming in my eye and the necessity of an operation.

Was it the electric going off when one too many appliances were on?

Was it our lack of being able to learn enough Spanish to sound anything more than like a child?

Or the realisation that one day one of us would end up alone.  Would we want to be alone in a foreign country or would we prefer to be on familiar territory in the same country as our family.

Maybe the truth of the matter is that Mallorca, island of our dreams, is just purely a dream.  The reality is quite different and one that could have ended differently when we were younger and when we had more confidence and less caution.

Still, been there done that.  No wondering what if anymore.

So here we are again then - déjà vu - now we have the worry of trying to find a purchaser for our house in a country where it takes longer to sell, attempting to recoup the money we have lost by this experiment, wondering if we will have enough to ever buy a house in the UK and hoping that I can afford to pay to rent a house while everything else falls into place.

Oh and before all that I've got my eye operation next Thursday in a hospital that I don't know and by surgeons who I probably won't understand!

Oh happy days.  Wish me luck!

Déjà vu

Here we go again with all the 'what-ifs' and worries.  Back where we started I guess but the difference this time being the country we start in.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here because I haven't explained what has occurred in the past year.

Let me draw breath and I will explain.

Friday 1 May 2015

Revamped Blog

I know it is summer and my blog is showing snow.  But do you realise how much you miss snow when you live in a country that rarely gets it?

We did have snow on the mountains during the winter months but we never actually got close enough to touch it.

So with a revamped blog and my profile adjusted I will start with my blog again after an almost 2 year break!

For the next week my posts may be hit and miss as my eyesight is creating problems and I am due an operation next Thursday.  My failing eyesight in my right eye is not the cause of my change in plans but just another added reason to revert back to the familiar.

Still more of that another day.

It is time for my little dog, Freddy, to have his walk and the sun is shining and the sky is blue.

Thursday 30 April 2015

Time for Normality

Time to get back to normal I think and time to revert to my favourite blog and my normal life.

I will just check this is still working and then it's back to the familiar!