Saturday, 28 August 2010

Back to Blighty

25th August 2010

I am now on my somewhat delayed flight back to dreary Luton. It was so hot today we could barely move; apparently Luton has barely scraped into double figures temperature-wise and it is persisting down.

I am not likely to get home before 4am and then to work manana.

If I was another member of staff there, I'd avoid me tomorrow.

Nie NIE!

24th August 2010

The little man who dishes out NIE (ID numbers for foreigners) forms and appointments is on his vacaciones - bastard! How's a girl supposed to get broadband installed in time for her arrival when he's never behind his desk? A trip to the Spanish Consul in Londinium may be required...

Post-Script to Casa Countdown

I forgot to mention in my previous post - we found 7 bars in Sedella within a five minute walk of each other and we only followed one throughfare.

This is going to be a good year!

Casa Countdown

23rd August 2010

The countdown for my move to Spain has started and I must admit to feeling just a little nervous. I am off for my second attempt at securing somewhere to live. I am focusing on the east of Malaga, inland. I want to experience 'Spanish Spain' rather than 'Ex-Pat Land' in a costa urbanisation. The Axarquia region of Andalucia has a large lake, and lots of pueblos blancos (white villages) dotted amongst them. It is these villages that I am considering - Sedella is the first stop.

Jan (my friend already experiencing  the joys of Andalucian living) and I set off from Fuengirola to Sedella in the comfortable heat of the August morning. From Velez-Malaga we head inland toward Lake Vinuela, then a right to Canillas de Aceituno. This is real mountain country, steep narrow roads with sheer drops from which you are only prevented from making by a couple of strategically placed stones. We arrived at the rendezvous for the agent, the football pitch at Canillas. A very nice one for a small village - flood-lit, astro-turf and a modern clubhouse; you wouldn't be likely to find one of those in a remote village in Britain! We had arrived early and took in the incredible views across to the lake. It was at this point we realised we did not have the camera to record breath-taking scenery, dodgy plumbing or interesting flora and fauna. About right really as I never remember everything.

The agent's arrival in a battered Ford something-or-the-other with his wife heralded a further ascent up the mountain to the first property outside Sedella. A perilous, and this is not a word I am using lightly considering the already life-affirming journey we'd made so far, track led to a bijou property. The agent described it as an artist's house as a painter and musician had previously rented it. They may well have done but it doesn't look like they cooked much. The kitchen was basic with only a sink, fridge and a tiny work-surface. The main cooking facilities could be found outside in the form of a fixed barbeque - ideal for summer living, not something I could envisage doing in the darkness of a winter evening. A friend had told me that hunger would focus the mind when we considered my meagre budget. This may be taking it a step too far in pursuit of literary success though; it's all very well not being able to afford food but there can be nothing worse than having a bird in the hand and no means of cooking the blasted thing!

The bonus of  a pool was countered by the impending landslip that would fill it in and probably provide external insulation to one side of the house. This was a no-go, so we set off for house number 2 a little closer to Sedella.

What a contrast! It was the ridiculous to the sublime.

We were accompanied by the landlord to the second house down a 2km track, which did not drop away to oblivion but bumped along quite nicely. A drive-in, drive-out driveway formed an arc around the property which was modern and totally fenced in. Fencing for the entire plot would be an added bonus as it would mean less time spent trying to find Charlie when he takes himself off hunting. A 3 bed, 2 bath house, a complete kitchen, good condition furniture, a log-burner and a lovely seating area outside the front door under the porch. Ideal.

And then there is the view.  I don't think I would ever tire of that view. The peak of Malaga district's highest mountain filled the skyline; as the landlord said a 'buena vista'. I was smitten (with the view not the landlord!). The landlord was very amenable - the mention of the possibility of garden furniture and BBQ were met in the affirmative. Looking good, but as my voice of reason said (and Jan is not often called that!) it was remote. Remote to me is pleasurable, but one must consider the practicalities...possibly...maybe...

And onward to house 3, a mere two minute amble into the village of Sedella from its front door and the municipal pool and, lo and behold - a fully equipped modern, astro-turfed, flood-lit football pitch! One can only deduce that there is either a healthy, money-spinning football league played in earnest by these villages or some sort of funding has come their way.  Back to the house, and back to the ridiculous. A 3 bed, 1 bath house slightly smaller than house 2 but in no other way comparable. The beds looked like they had seen some serious action - they certainly wouldn't be taking any strain I put on them! The sofas were tired and grubby. I wanted house number 2.

Into the village with the agent and the landlord for a well-earned soft drink. The sun was high and the morning's comfort was replaced by a tremendous heat which sapped the energy, the bar thankfully was cool.

And so negotiations began. It's a good thing Jan was there, I would have just said 'I want house 2, where do I sign?', paid the full monthly asking price and walked away happy. I have been known to haggle in a Tunisian souk for 20 minutes over the British equivalent of 10p off the price of an 'authentic Tunisian birdcage', but I would have foregone all compomise to obtain that house. As it was, with talk of the possibility of taking the third house if the furniture was updated (it was owned by the landlord's brother-in-law), all sorts of incentives were offered.  Logs in the winter, a SKY box for British freeview and the piece de resistance, 25 euros per month off the rent! Oh- praise be! To top it all there was no agent's finder fee either. God looks down upon the virtuous; he was obviously feeling especially generous that day as he counted me in their number.

History in the making

I have wanted to write something publishable for as long as I can remember. As a child I would type up match reports for my father to read. He would joke that they were more accurate than anything he would read on the back pages the next day. As a teenager I would pen angst-filled, dark, brooding poems that reflcted my tormented, hormonal soul!

It could be argued that some of my professional work was published - dull, dry reports for local government (I can tell you nothing exciting will ever be found in a governmental paper) and training manuals for systems. However, these are not works that I would want to be forever remembered for; though if I say so myself they were good. I have a plethora of journals, scribbled notes and random jottings upon which to base my future works, and now a year free from the mundane and tedium that is entailed by work.

The boys, two rather endearing dogs going by the names of Charlie and Jake, and I are heading to Andalucia for a year of, one hopes, productive writing. I have started to pack up my belongings for storage; this is an onerous task but one which presents the opportunity for the rationalisation of belongings. I have piles and piles of odds and sods to take to car boot sales (in a vain attempt to bolster my somewhat meagre budget) and hundreds of books, a large number of which I am putting up for sale. That has been the most painful part to date - apart from the hit on my wallet for necessary vet fees for passports, sun-fly collars etc - the knowledge that I need to limit my stock of reading material.

I adore books. I covet them. Don't let me have membership of a library, I have trouble taking the books back. I just want to own books; but realism has struck and the fiction that I am never going to read again needs to go to new homes. I have a funny feeling that the charity shops are going to benefit rather well.