Wednesday 4 th May

Dawned cold and grey but that didn’t matter because we were jetting off to Murcia, San Javier Aerporto on the Costa Blanca to sign the deeds to our home in Spain. Stepping off the plane at 1730 Spanish time the warm air hit us like an open oven door, this was more like it.

Murcia airport is so tiny we were able to queue for our hire car and pick up our baggage from the reclaim belt at the same time. This was our first time driving a left handed car and Judging by the huge dent to the rear of the right hand side of the hire car someone before us had been a novice. Armed with excellent directions of how to reach the rented apartment we would be staying in for the first 2 nights we set off on the wrong side of the motorway.

30 minutes and 1 wrong turn later we arrived in Altos de la Bahia (hill of the bay). We dropped our suitcase in the rented apartment and went to inspect the outside of our completed home. It was amazing standing at the top of the hill with our home to the left, the pool to the right and a bright blue sea in front of us.

A short walk down the hill to the North brought us to The Harp (Irish Bar) where we had a much-needed drink and a bite to eat sat outside in the late evening sunshine. Neither one of us slept that night, excitement and fear, we were carrying 22.000 Euros in cash (the Spanish way of completing a house purchase) kept us drinking coffee and waiting for the dawn.
Thursday 5 th May

Dawned dull and decidedly damp, not sure this is what we expected but it wasn’t cold and today was the day we would sign for our Escrituro at the Notary’s office. 5 hours later (it takes the best part of the day to do anything) we put the key into the front door of our home in the sun.

The furniture was not arriving until after 1530 on 6 th so it was back to the rented apartment to get ready to go out for a celebration meal with our agent. Fell into bed at 0300 and still could not sleep.
Friday 6 th May

0700 birds singing and the sun burning bright through the chinks in the blinds. This iswhy we have a home in Spain.

Today the grilles will be fitted after 1000, Just as a precaution and perfectly normal in the area. Furniture was not arriving until after 1530 and as we had purchased a complete furniture package from beds and outdoor furniture down to a corkscrew we were in for a long day.

1200 a friendly neighbour knocked on the door and invited us to share lunch with them as they had been in a similar position a week ago, not sure this would happen here in the.

1530 after a very pleasant lunch alfresco washed down with several litres of wine at 49 cents a litre (about 35p, cheaper than water or milk) and easy conversation we staggered back to our apartment to await the furniture. It arrived at 1830, which was definitely after 1530.

Not only was the furniture delivered but also it was assembled where necessary, beds were made, and cupboards and drawers were filled. Pictures and mirrors were hung and measurements taken for curtains.

Now was the time to move out of the rented apartment and set up home in Casa Clem(house of Clem).

Another celebratory meal this time with new friends arriving home at 0300 much the worse for over-indulgence. Spent our first night in our home in Spain and slept like babies.
Saturday 7 th May

Awoke to glorious sunshine and a view from the patio to die for, we ate breakfast on the patio and knew that this was home going bock to the UK was going to be a wrench.

We spent the day exploring the area and shopping for supplies (we had a wine rack tofill).

Another night of celebration was planned; this time to a Chinese Restaurant, which we were assured, was the best in the area (approx 15 mins drive taxi recommended). We were not disappointed after an excellent 3-course meal with ? a bottle of wine and followed by liqueurs on the house (they left the bottle for us to help ourselves). The billfor this very good meal that could have easily served 6 rather than the 4 of us la cuenta (the bill) came to 33 Euros (approx £23).

Returning from the restaurant it was a nightcap on the solarium under the stars and another late night.
Sunday 8 th May

We woke to the sound of church bells and as nothing much opens on a Sunday, this is a working town not a tourist area, we had planned to have a relaxing day discovering the area.

A steady stroll East down the hill bought us to La Mata beach, miles of golden sand as far as the eye could see, interspersed with rocky outcrops. We walked west on the boardwalk parallel to the beach for several kilometers stopping for some liquid refreshments accompanied by olives and chorizo the tasty local tapas.

Turning bock we walked along the waterline with our feet washed by the med, still a bit cold but many braver souls were enjoying cooling off with a swim. Lunch on the solarium followed by siesta this is definitely why we bought a home inSpain.

Spent a much quieter evening at a local restaurant chatting to other diners (not all English) and had an early night. Only 2 days until we return to UK.
Monday 9 th May

Today we shop, we might have bought a furniture package but there is always something else you need.

Finding our way around town like locals now parking on crossings and corners and beeping horns at anyone who gets in the way. This town has the road system sorted, as most roads ore one way, just as well because bad parking and major building works make it impossible to navigate narrow streets

Arrive home in time for lunch on the solarium before the man with the curtains arrives between 1700-2000. 1930 man and curtains arrive he speaks no English we speak no Spanish and he is about to hang dark blue curtains in my lounge when I had requested cream. We must have managed to get the message across because several phone calls and an hour later his wife arrived with cream curtains that she had made after receiving his irate call. His wife spoke perfect English and left her husband to continue the job of hanging the curtains. If I had of received the wrong curtains in UK I would have waited another month for the correct ones to arrive and possibly another month for the man to fit them. I was impressed.

2100 time to find somewhere to eat and unwind – no problem stepped across the road behind the ice cream kiosk and stumbled down the stairs of a little Spanish restaurant,this is heaven. Went to bed at a very respectable 0100 los suenos (the dream) realised.
Tuesday 8 th May

Lost day in paradise, as we are due at Murcia aerporto at 1630. Spent the early part of the day shopping and then straitened the apartment so that photographs could be taken. Didn’t have much packing to do as we could leave clothes and toiletries for the next trip in August 05.

One last meal at the Chinese Restaurant we had to decline the liqueurs and substitute soft drinks for the wine but still excellent at 13 Euros.

Arrived bock at home in the UK 2230.
Wednesday 10 th May

0030 have been on the Internet for 30 minutes and hove booked flights home to Casa Clem Altos De La Bahia for 27 June 05, taking the kids hopefully they will fall in love to and we can find a way to move sooner than 2010.
Monday 6th June

We received a letter today from the administrators on behalf of our Spanish builder, Urmosa.

Now that all residents of Manzana (Phase) 9 have signed the escritura (deeds) to their properties the builder is handing over the Urbanización (estate) to the community, that means us.

They have called a meeting for 18 June less than 2 weeks away. This is an important meeting because the election for the el Presidente takes place. We really do need to attend.

Spent all evening on the internet looking for a cheap flight but there was nothing available.
Tuesday 7th June

Can’t stop thinking about the need to be in Torrevieja for this important meeting and once again start surfing the net.

To my great excitement www.xl.com offered 7 days flight only from Gatwick to Alicante for an unbelievable £12 (£29 with taxes) return. Sadly I would have to go alone and did not relish the prospect of spending a week away in sunny Spain on my own (truly). Further surfing of the site produced a flight leaving on 16 June and returning on 19 June for a very reasonable £59 return inclusive of all taxes, I booked immediately.
Sunday 12th June

Received a text from Valerie the kind neighbour from Spain. ‘Hola 28°c wish you were here. Street party planned for next Saturday after the residents meeting.’ Great that means I wont have to entertain myself on my first solo visit.
Monday 13th June

Emails from Valerie giving the low-down on who expects to be elected and who should be nominated for el Presidente, also news of another street party to celebrate a residents 70 birthday on Thursday 16th, things get better all the time.
Thursday 16th June

Spent the morning with husband (Mick) making sure they would all survive without me for 3½ days. Had heated discussion about my route to Gatwick (he suggests a route, I won’t listen). He is concerned about me going away alone. Hang on a minute I didn’t get to 52 (given my age away now) without being able to fend for myself. He’s not happy to hear this and now feels redundant.

13.30
I take to the road having said goodbye with a distinctly chilly atmosphere between us.

Choose my own route to Gatwick and arrived with the obligatory 2 hours to spare, just as well because it took 50 minutes to check in.

20.45
Arrived at Alicante airport on the hottest day of the year according to Fred who was doing the airport run (husband didn’t want me to have a car because he would be worried, bless him). The sun was a huge orange orb sinking behind the mountains on my left as we drove towards Altos de la Bahia and home. The salt lake glowed pink and the wind through the open windows provided a welcome relief from the heat.

21.30
Turned the key in the front door to the sound of music from a few yards down the hill – the party was obviously in full swing. This was not the time for unpacking so grabbing a bottle of very warm red wine from the wine rack I locked the door and went to meet the neighbours.

A very good time was had by all, slept very well the first night alone in Casa Clem.
Friday 17th June

Woke late (1000) but it doesn’t matter because I have nothing to do today except unpack the suitcase. Plastic plates 2 sizes, bowls, glasses – wine and tumblers, serving dishes, Tea, Coffee and Sugar canisters, utensil holder (wood to match kitchen can’t buy Tea canister in Torrevieja), sonic window alarms, drill bits, wire strippers, TV table – honestly, looked everywhere (Torrevieja) for small pine table to hold 14’ TV and DVD player without luck. Went into Wilkinson’s in Portsmouth and they had exactly what I was looking for at £12.99 flat pack and weighing 4kgs. Finally hung up a pair of trousers and put 2 tee shirts in the drawer (that’s all the clothes I could manage without the suitcase being over the 20kgs allowance).

10.30ish
Made a pot of coffee and sat on the patio with a book. Didn’t get to sit for long a neighbour turned up looking for company (she too was on her own so don’t believe all the stories you here about the crime ridden Costa Blanca it is no better or worse than here in the UK).

11.00ish
A leisurely stroll to the Mercadona (supermarket 10 minute walk) to purchase lunch and fathers day spirits

The walk to the Mercadona was an easy stroll down hill unfortunately the only way home is uphill all the way carrying 2 plastic carrier bags.

Litre Brandy 6.35€

Litre Gin 6.15€

Litre (box) white wine 0.45€ * 2

Litre milk 0.44€

Pkt Tostada (like a hard, dry, roll) 0.44€

Piece Blue Cheese 0.60€

Pkt mixed nuts 0.65€

Total Spend 15.53€ (approx £10.78)

12.00ish
Shopping unpacked and 1 box of wine in the freezer (I was going to need it sooner rather than later) I sat back on the patio with a coffee and a book. I will wash the floors later.

The thermometer reads 39°c time for lunch – blue cheese and tostada, nuts and the wine. I decant ½ a box of white wine into a jug, looks so much nicer than straight from the box.

15.30ish
So hot now that the only thing to do was try out the pool which if I’m quick I can have all to myself.

16.00ish
10 lengths and a shower now its time to siesta. The quiet has been deafening all day as I lay back and succumb to sleep and then the drilling starts. Someone is putting grilles on the downstairs apartment, I don’t believe it. Fortunately the wine has worked its magic and I am soon asleep not totally unaware of the noise but not aware enough to return to wakefulness.

18.00ish
All has gone deathly quiet again. It must be time to get up.

I shower get dressed and return to the patio with a book and the rest of the of white wine.

20.00ish
I call on a neighbour hoping that she will accompany me for dinner – too late she has already eaten so its across the road to the Ship alone.

At least I have been in this restaurant before (in May) so sat myself at the bar and chatted with the owner (think Basil Fawlty but a lady and as short as he is tall).

I ate a very pleasant meal and dessert accompanied by 2 halves of cider and then paid the bill 11€ and strolled home the long way.

Photograph taken from the patio of Casa Clem.

The ship can be found in the apartment block behind the furniture van

22.00ish
Back on my patio with the remainder of the white wine and a book. Temperature 27°c and the crickets (cicádas not sure this is correct spelling) are providing the music. It is so peaceful.

24.00
Fell into bed exhausted

Saturday 18th June

10.30
54 residents (there are 176 properties on the Urbanización ) gathered for the meeting in one of the few hotels in the area.

11.00
The meeting convened in Spanish, English and what was possibly Swedish. This was going to be a long meeting.

We elected el Presidente who is a Russian lady who speaks fluent Spanish and a little English (I for one am glad we will not be run by the British contingent). It was decided to elect 2 Vice Presidents 1 English and the other Swedish. This was the easy bit out of the way.

11.20 – 15.30
Slowly loosing the will to live as we debate in 3 languages the budget for the community. This is followed by rules for the pool. This must have been one of the worst run meetings I have ever attended. I think the following decisions have been made but will have to wait for the minutes to confirm.

No unaccompanied children under 7 (I would have voted for none at all)

No inflatables (except arm bands and small rubber rings worn around the waist) Should look good in them

No Glass (very sensible)

No smoking (not sure if this was voted for or not could be ashtrays were agreed on, should certainly be no smoking as far as I’m concerned)

No eating (I think that this may have been revised to having a polite notice asking people to take their rubbish home)

15.30
Meeting over I am offered a lift home. I know I should have declined and walked but I accepted.

15.35
Sat outside the newly opened bar which is just opposite Casa Clem with 3 new friends and ½ cider.

19.00
2 pints of cider later, having each bought a round (4€) and life stories, telephone numbers and email addresses swapped, it really was time to have something to eat. Although the bar had an extensive menu Val (one of the group and a new friend and neighbour who I discovered lives only 2 miles from me in the UK) and I, decided to dine in the Ship (boring I know but the food is excellent and I can stagger home easily in 3 mins).

22.00
Having eaten an excellent meal and shared a bottle of wine I paid my share of the bill 10€ (inc tip) and returned home.

22.15
Sat on the patio with a coffee and a book to await the results of Big Brother eviction. I know it is really sad but I am hooked, as is my husband who will call with the update. It is so peaceful here I haven’t even switched the TV on.

22.30
Phone call from home, Sam is to be evicted – good choice, hope it’s Derek next week.

Early to bed tonight as I am being picked up at 08.00 for the airport.
Sunday 19th June – FATHERS DAY

07.50
Packed and ready to go (bottle brandy, bottle gin, trousers and top to wear to lunch). Electricity and water turned off. Felt like a jailer with my bunch of keys checking that all grilles, doors and windows are locked.

08.00
Waiting outside Casa Clem with tears in my eyes. Really tempted to phone home (UK) and say I’m not coming back. We have booked flights for 27 June to 1 July as we have an appointment to sign Spanish Wills on 28th (another trip to the notary allow a whole day). Daughters Michelle (30), Amy (14), son Jack (13), will be coming along to see their new home. I could stay here and then we could all return to UK on 1 July.

12.00
Gazing at the screens in Gatwick for the number of the reclaim baggage belt. There are hundreds of us there’s obviously a problem.

12.45
Still waiting and the PA system have just announced ‘Attention all passengers there may be delays to all incoming and outgoing flights due to a problem with air traffic control staff, we apologise for any inconvenience’.

13.30
Still waiting with eyes fixated on the screen willing my flight to display reclaim number. I am going to be late as the children have booked lunch for their dad (Fathers Day) at Tiger Tiger. Make a call home and suggest they leave without me and I will get there when I can.

13.50
Bingo Reclaim 3, my number has come up

14.00
On the bus to the car park and there is a strong smell of brandy emanating from my suitcase. ‘Excuse me is that your case’ the young couple opposite.

‘Yes I had a bottle of brandy’ I can only hope the gin is safe.

14.05
Back at the car park and I open the case to asses the damage. The gin is safe but I am not going to be able to wear the trousers and top out to lunch today. Broken bottle of brandy safely deposited in the rubbish bin and I am on my way home. Counting the days (7) until I can return to Casa Clem.

Adios amigos