November 2013: In Barcelona we saw Columbus’s monument and met ‘Marilyn Monroe’.
Well, it has arrived – the very last day of the year. Tonight, at midnight, we say a fond farewell to 2015 and look forward to what we hope 2016 may bring.
Ok, farewell but fond? I wonder how many times you have heard anyone say something like: “Thank goodness that year is over, it was really awful” or “Next year cannot be as bad as the last one”? Too often, I am sure; you have even probably said it yourself.
On the whole, 2015 has been a great year for my beloved Lisa and I as we have achieved so much and really made a significant change to our lives.
It all started right back in January when we were still living in a warm glow having returned on Boxing Day from a simply wonderful holiday in, first, Hawaii and, second, New York City. Coming back to the usual dull, wet and windy British weather got us talking. We chatted about how great it would be to live in Hawaii but realised that, for financial reasons, that would be impossible.
But that reminded me of the Mediterranean cruise we took in 2013 and particularly our shore excursions in both Palma de Mallorca (or Majorca to give its Anglicised spelling) and, the next day, Barcelona. It was November, yet lovely and warm. We visited Barcelona on November 8, my birthday, and as we sipped sangria in the seating area outside a café bar in the Rambla, we agreed we could live there.
At that time, no more was said and no action was taken but in January this year I reminded Lisa of that conversation and said we should at least see whether it was feasible. To be fair, she was worried that I would be leaving the country in which I had always lived and might feel uprooted but having reassured her, she set about finding out what sort of accommodation we could buy and the approximate costs.
In February, I started investigating whether my disability benefits would be paid in Spain, the quality of the Spanish health service and resumed pushing my ex-wife into selling our former matrimonial home. We had agreed that she could live there until August 2014 but then it should be put on the market. Eventually this was done but it involved a great deal of negotiation between she and I, the joint sellers, and the prospective buyer who is now her new husband.
We travelled to Manchester in March to visit A Place in the Sun Live exhibition linked to the TV series of the same name as we were determined not to overlook any possibilities.
In April, Lisa’s hard work came to fruition and we travelled to southern Spain to look at some properties that she had found online and we liked. We also knew by then roughly how much money I’d be getting from my share of the house sale but still did not know when.
To cut a long story short, we saw a number of properties but fell in love with the second one we saw. After that, we were seeing how other properties measured up against that one. They all failed. So we had found our ideal property but could not buy it until the UK house sale was completed. Unbelievably, after we explained our situation, the sellers in Spain took it off the market to give us time to get the money. They did not even ask for a deposit. We returned to the UK on May 7, general election day.
The house sale shenanigans rumbled in through June but in the third week of July the cash finally arrived and we were then able to complete the purchase very quickly. In view of my Multiple Sclerosis, we needed some work done to improve access for my wheelchair and to rip out the existing bathroom and replace it with a purpose-built wet room. We had already agreed a quotation during our April trip, so now the work could proceed.
In August, we owned our furnished home in Spain and we began to make detailed arrangements. We packed what we wanted to send in advance and this was delivered here in September by a courier, we packed our suitcases and sent everything else to an auction. It was very exciting.
Oh, I should have said, I found my disability benefits would still be paid in Spain and that the health service here is rated much higher than the NHS.
In October we left our flat in Colwyn Bay and travelled to Southampton to start our holiday that had been booked before I suggested moving to Spain. It started with a nine-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, followed by another nine days in the USA before flying back to the UK. We stayed two nights in hotels and then on Sunday November 15 we flew to Spain.
December has been our first full month in Spain and as it draws to a close, we have to say that 2015 has been a great year and that both Lisa and I are looking forward to 2016 with eagerness and enthusiasm.