Saturday, 5 April 2008

The First Day...(I know its a bit late, lol)

16th January

The day has finally arrived for us to move to our new life in Spain. I think we are all feeling a lot of mixed emotions, nervous, excited, apprehensive, just plain old scared if we are totally honest.
We have to get up at 3 as we have to leave for the airport at 4. The taxi is booked and Chris and Frankie are being brought up to the house at 330. We have to get up and put the mattress we have been using as a bed in the garage for Mark and Jo to pick up. Also we have to put the rubbish out for the bin men and throw away the stuff we have been using like the kettle and the toaster. it’s all a bit much when you only went to bed at 12 and still couldn’t sleep because your mind wont stop racing through all the possibilities of this new life we are embarking on.
After we arrive at the airport, we have Geri on a lead and are carrying about her huge container on one of those airport trolleys and she is just moping about quietly amusing herself, but anytime we have to put her in the box she cries blue murder. When the time comes for us to leave her at the desk where we have been instructed to take her, we can still hear her crying from the queue for security. Of course she will be alright but you cant help but wonder what is going through her mind and how she will feel all cooped up with the suitcases and cargo.
About three hours later we arrive and go through passport control, smooth as you like, but we had been told by a man on the plane that when he brought some cats to Spain he had to wait two hours before he could collect them. This was a bit disconcerting as we were on somewhat of a schedule, we had two hours to get out of the airport, pick up the hire car, and drive to Antequera where we were due to sign the paperwork for the house. As it happened we needn’t have worried, our cases came as per normal, 2 at the front then had to wait about 15 minutes for the other two(not quite sure how that happens, you would think they would all be together), then we were told that Geri would probably be taken to an area down the end where abnormal baggage is collected, then just as we were loading up our trolleys to go and find her, I noticed a large box on the luggage conveyer belt, and yes, believe it or not they had just loaded her on there like a suitcase, we were dumbfounded. No one checked any paperwork for her or anything. Although she had had a wee in the box and did smell a bit so we had to walk through the airport with her all smelly and drawing quite a lot of attention, what with that and the crying.
Next stop was Antequera and the Notary’s office, the drive was about an hour and we were late (of course), as we had to pick up the hugest hire car in the world, which was a lovely brand new Chrysler Voyager, so we met our estate agent in petrol station on the road to Antequera, and followed her in to the town. We pulled in to an underground car park and had to leave Chris and Frankie with Geri, so they got her out of the box gave her some food and drink and gave her box a bit of a clean.
We followed Sally, the agent, through the streets of Antequera, with oranges growing on every tree along the road and to be honest a few clouds hanging about and a bit of rain in the air. When we got to the notary, we walked in to a very posh feeling office, and met up with Tina and Nigel, who we were buying from, their agent Antonio, and there estate agent, whose name I forget. Also there were both our lawyers there. I had only met our lawyer once, when I first came over house hunting and the rest had been done by email, so he took us to one side and explained the situation and what was going to happen. It was all quite secretive you felt like you had to talk in a whisper a bit like at a doctors surgery or a hospital. In actual fact it all went very smoothly, the notary spoke good English and translated all documents for us and no black money was exchanged (I had heard stories of how the notary sometimes leaves the room to allow you to exchange an envelope full of cash to keep down costs for the tax and fees and such like, but ours was indeed all above board and proper, and probably more expensive therefore). We all signed the paperwork and that was it, the Olive Mill was officially ours. Now the fun begins…
Mike, the person Tina and Nigel were buying off had refused to leave his house till the following day, even though it was officially theirs, so they had arranged to stay in a hostel in Montoro, as they were going to have to leave their dogs at the Mill for the night and also due to Spanish plutocracy, we would be looking after their Horses, Donkeys, Ducks and Geese. That first night we had 5 Cats, 4 Dogs (and Geri), 2 miniature Horses, 1 Donkey, 2 Horses, 2 Mules, 1 Pig, 4 Geese and 2 Ducks. Wow. Tina and Nigel came back to the house to feed them all the first night and show us what to do and said they would come back the following morning to feed them again and collect the dogs.
As there had been no sun that day, Tina put the generator on so we could have the lights on, although obviously we had no TVs or anything yet. They had also left some logs for us to do a fire with as there is no central heating.
Lorna and I needed to go out to a Supermarket to buy some quilts, pillows and some food so we lit the fire and left Chris and Frankie with the fire on we went out to the Supermarket and tried to follow the directions we had been given. The Supermarket is about 45 mins away from the house, and we lost our way a few times so I think we may have been out for about 3 hours at least. And weirdly, it seems hard to buy regular pillows in Spain, we had to get what look like normal sofa cushions. And they are very thin. When we got home Chris and Frankie had been sitting on one arm chair together with Geri to keep them warm as the fire had gone out and was soo cold. We had been warned that it would be cold at night during the winter but I don’t think we really expected that. I think I honestly expected Chris and Frankie to wake up the following morning and say it wasn’t what they had hoped and they wanted to go home.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Oh my God!!!!

To the right is our new logo for our business. We are hoping to have an internet site that will cater for both the Alpaca business and also the B and B/Guest House or whatever we end up setting up. It was designed by an artist friend of ours, his name is Richard Newman. Here is a link to his web site, if you get a chance have a look, he is very talented (you can pay me later, Rich).
As Wednesday grows closer, I have this almost constant feeling in my throat as though I am going to be sick, I guess it nerves lol. I am excited but its hard to look past the packing (the men are coming tomorrow at 8), and the organising. I like everything to be sorted so nothing can go wrong, if we go on holiday its like a military operation and I never relax until we have arrived at the hotel all still alive and intact, so this is like going on holiday, moving, organising dog kennels, saying goodbye to a million and one people, fixing up the house, tidying, phoning people and still trying to be nice to each other as well. To be honest its all alot of work!
I had to say goodbye to my Mum and Brother last night, we went out for a meal which was cool, and we said goodbye. It didnt get emotional which was good, and my brother and I had a manly hand shake!
One of the hardest things to come to terms with (and I know this sounds funny) is going to be not playing football on a Tuesday night. Throughout everything that has happened in my life, both shit and good, ever since I was 16 I have played football on a Tuesday night. Even if we went away for a few days I tried to organise it around Tuesday nights. I guess Im gonna have to try and find a team of local Spaniards to impress with my silky skills(I wonder what the Spanish is for 'Look at the fat bloke, I bet he's shit!).
I think one of the hardest goodbyes for Lorna and Frankie, might well be saying goodbye to Geri(the dog) at the airport, if she cries they wont like it, but its only a 2 hour flight and Im sure she will love it at our new house.
This will be the last post until after we arrive and get the internet set up because tomorrow we will have to turn off the PC and get rid of the old one. When I come back on I will be able to post some pics of everything and let you all know all our trials and tribulations as they happen. I'm sure there will be loads to write.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

8 Sleeps.......

Right, I feel I should write something just in case anyone is ever looking at this. There is 8 more sleeps to go until we fly to Spain to start our new life. Our old life is gradually ebbing away through the wonder of Ebay and our house is starting to resemble a shack in a shanty town (not really its just a bit messy lol).
We had a going away thingamy dooda on Sunday that was designed to introduce people to the wonder of Alpacas, and I think it worked. I think people now understand a bit more of the attraction in why we want to pursue this as a career. I am slightly worried by the fact that about 30 or 40 people regularly say to us that they will be coming over for visits, and Ive got visions of people turning up the week after we arrive and weve got no furniture, food or supplies and they all have to sleep on the floor. Also, Im very scared that loads of scary dance teacher women will all turn up one week, and they all go a bit mad and wild away from dancing, so maybe Ill have to make that the time when I come home to see my family!!!
My learning Spanish has gone down the pan a bit, I am so hoping that when people say 'dont worry, you will soon pick it up' that its true, I so dont want to be one of those expats who never manages to get the language down.
I do feel that this whole life changing decision could be made smoother for anyone else planning such a move, if you try and spend more than about 6 months to go from conception of idea to actually moving. Just trivial things like having to keep to mobile phone contracts, not having sold the house, keeping bank accounts open for paying bills etc. Im sure that if you give yourselves 18 months it would give plenty of time to fulfill all the mundane necesseties that really we could do without.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Two weeks today - Aaaaarrrggghhhhh

Well its two weeks today, and it just gets scarier and more real by the day. Today I sold my car, it seems truly ironic that I buy a rather OTT car that I hardly get a great deal of 'top down' use out of, then when I am upping sticks and moving to a country where I would get some proper use, I have to sell it. There really is no justice in the world. Plus, due to the fact that I used it as a van during a flat renovation it of course is in not great nick and not worth as much as it should be.

This picture is one of the courtyards in the new house in Spain. The new kitchen leads off of this courtyard. Every time I look at these photos it reminds me of something you might see on 'Grand Designs', which is great until you remember all the stress, trouble, strains and problems they have on that program. And thats without temperatures of over 40c in the summer.

Today we have also booked the dog box for Geri, she will hate going on a plane but its got to be less stressful than about two or three days driving in a car with her.

One of the hardest tasks I have had so far is trying to cancel the BT phone line, you would think this would be the easiest thing in the world considering they are 'the' phone company. Firstly, I was put through to a call centre in India(BT, the great British institution), where, when I suggested that I might want to cancel my BT contract, the lady promptly said her computer had gone down and hung up on me. Then I emailed them, and I got an automated reply stating that there may be a delay in them replying, due to high levels of interest in the new and improved broadband service. Surely, if its that improved, it would help them to deal with more email queries? Dickheads!

Also Im struggling to come to terms with the fact that at least for a while Im not gonna have any football to play. Or even watch. Unless its on the BBC. I have just watched the dire Bolton v Derby game and found myself watching just because Im not going to be able to for long. Thats bad. I have at least packed a couple of footballs so I will be able to at least play wallball on my own if I really get withdrawl symptoms.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Officially 16 days (its the middle of the night lol)

We have spent the day packing up clothes, ornaments, DVDs anything really. Someone came to pick up a trophy cabinet and a DVD storage unit that we managed to flog on EBay. On thursday someone else is coming to collect two of our leather sofas and by next weekend it is a distinct possibility that we will have no living room furniture left at all. I think we are going to be living out of suitcases before we have even left the house.

On the subject of the house, I cant believe that there are such time wasters about. On Friday morning at about 11 oclock someone knocked on the door saying that he was down from London and had heard our was for sale on 'the grapevine'. Lorna said I was in the shower and could he come back around 1(giving us a bit of time to tidy the place up). He agreed, and went off, having a good scout around as he went.

As it was our first sniff of anyone coming to have a look at the house in weeks we went absolutely mental tidying up for 2 hours solid, and at 1 oclock we had just finished, so we sat and waited for him, and waited. At 3 oclock we decided he wasnt coming. How annoying is that, if nothing else its just plain rude.

If you are wondering why its gone 1 oclock in the morning and I am writing this its because I seem to be the only person who is stressing about this whole moving to Spain thing. I can lie awake for most of the night thinking of depressing and stressful things, interspersed occasionly with new and exciting stuff, then when I eventually fall asleep I have to sleep till 11 to make up for the night lol.

Im not really sure which is the best picture of the house we are buying to show you, but this is from the estate agents web site. It is an old olive mill, currently has two self contained apartments, room for another and also a large area which could be made in to a house or anything else we fancy. It is quite remote, it takes about ten minutes of driving on a track to get to the house once you leave the road, but it really is worth it, peace and quiet, wow! There are about 300 Olive trees that come with the land, but at the moment the farmer who used to own the mill still farms the olives, as that makes things easy, keeps them tidy etc, although Im sure if we want a go we will be able to, although I believe its hard work for not a great deal of money. He actually farms 300000 trees, it takes 4 months.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to MaryBelle, she is the Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig, that I managed to negotiate in to the deal when we agreed to buy the house. I think you will agree that if we are going to keep animals and be farmers we might as well go the whole hog(gettit?). Isnt she wicked, she is going to help us with waste disposal, as there is not a rubbish collection where we will be living she will devour the food rubbish for us.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

18 Days to Go

Right, these four gorgeous girls are our Alpacas, from the top down, they are Lima, Cassandra, Black Dancer and Bermuda. Our first baby(cria) is due at the end of February, with Bermuda, but as she will be close to her due date she wont be able to be delivered to us until after the birth. We hope to be able to visit her on the day the baby is born. Cassandra and Black Dancer are due to give birth in July.

Our herd name is going to be Alpacas el Sol, which is the closest translation I can find of Alpacas in the Sunshine.

Alot of people dont know very much about Alpacas, they are part of the camel family, and are primarily raised for their fleece, although as the industry in Spain is in its infancy we won't be making any money out of that. We will hope to sell the animals on to other potential breeders or people that want sheep guards or even just great pets. They get sheared once a year, before the summer.

We hope that they will be a welcome addition to our lives. They are so relaxing to just sit and watch, you can while away hours without even thinking about it. We also hope that when we get some accomodation up and running for guests that the Alpacas will be as relaxing for them too.

I hope our dog, Geri is not too frightened of the Alpacas and I hope that she doesnt frighten them. Although when they are scared they do make strange and funny noises to alert the others to the dangers.

Friday, 28 December 2007

First post - 19 days to go

Hi, I have decided that it would be a good idea to start a blog, to chronicle the (possibly) many ups and downs of our impending move to Spain.

As most people who know us know, Lorna had some health problems late last year, and whilst undergoing many tests and hospital visits continued to struggle on teaching dancing for about 20 classes a week. Just before the summer holidays, about June, I came up with the hairbrained idea that we should consider moving to Spain, maybe try and find somewhere with a bit of land and possibly build a couple of log cabins for people to holiday in, self catering but maybe a bit like a luxury getaway. On top of that, and I truly don't know where it came from, I suggested we could keep some Alpacas...

Now to be honest I didnt really know anything about Alpacas, only seeing an ugly one at a zoo in Prague and what I'd seen on the internet, but the idea had come from somewhere. Lorna kind of laughed it off, and just kind of said 'maybe in a few years' but it must have stuck because a few days later she wanted to know more about the idea and we have gone from there.

In between those few days and now(19 days away from the move), it has been a bit of a crazy time, we have decorated our house from top to bottom to go on the market, been away for a weekend checking out Alpaca farms, I had two viewing trips to Spain on my own, to stop Lorna falling in love with everything, then we went over together in August and agreed to buy the place we found. It is a rural property, close to a town called Montoro(above right), Lorna announced to the school she was to stop teaching, then she has still had to organise exams, presentations and comps. The weve just had Christmas, its been mental to be honest.

On my first trip to Spain, I had met up with a couple I had been put in touch with, Nigel and Ginny Cobb, who are trying to establish an Alpaca farming industry in Andalucia, hopefully growing outwards throughout Spain. Their enthusiasm and love for these rather lovely animals is infectious, and the next time I went out, this time with Lorna, we stayed at their place for a night and discussed our requirements and the way forward.

Nigel and Ginny put a package together for us, and we have now put down deposits on four Alpacas, Black Dancer, Cassandra, Lima and Bermuda. Bermuda is already in Spain with Nigel and Ginny, and the others will be shipped over from the UK in January after being in quarintine.
We hope the first two, Cassandra and Black Dancer will be delivered in February providing our land is ok for scary.