Friday, 15 September 2017

Next Steps

We are back in Surrey after our trip north. We are now much more focused in terms of what we are looking for, and one thing we are really clear on is that no matter how attractive the prices may be, we don't wish to return to Lancashire. The bulk of our family live in the south - West Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset, and we are getting too long in the tooth to be looking at a five hour drive in UK motorway traffic. Southport we discovered, is not what it was. We did find one location that was appealing, as I wrote last time, but that on its own is not enough.

One of Mary’s work colleagues lives in a park home and is very happy with what it provides, so that is another avenue to explore at this end of the country, so it's back to Rightmove and a new property search.

Thursday, 7 September 2017


We are spending a week in Southport to begin our serious search for a new home. We arrived late on Tuesday afternoon and set off on Wednesday to view three properties. In the heart of Southport we found a three bed house on a very small, quiet development which ticked about all of our boxes. Then it was off to look at a couple of apartments each of which had problems that ruled them out. Not disheartened I was back on the phone in the afternoon and booked more viewings for tomorrow and Saturday.

Today we set aside to explore more areas around Southport and found one area that we absolutely love; Birkdale. The station is in the centre of the village with level access to the platforms, which is ideal for me. The shops, cafes and bars clustered in the centre had me salivating profusely. A local butcher, a fishmonger, a specialist cheese shop, greengrocer, deli, lots of tempting ‘shop local’ opportunities.

We will obviously need to come up again to continue the search so we are briefing local agents to fossil on properties in Birkdale. In the meantime we are enjoying ‘eat local’' fresh brown shrimps in butter, hand-dived king scallops. Southport is looking and feeling good.

Monday, 14 August 2017


There seems to be a bug in the latest update to my blog software. I get part way through writing up a post and it suddenly wipes clean. I'm working on it so hopefully I'll come up with a work around.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Rich Pickings

We went into Guildford this morning, using the park and ride facility. Getting off the bus at the top of High Street, we headed downhill and immersed ourselves in the farmers’ market which is held here on the first Tuesday of each month. There is a wide variety of stalls all run by local producers of meat, fish and shellfish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, craft beers - a genuine cornucopia.There were also stalls offering freshly baked pies, pastries and breads, several with an international twist. We were looking for two lunches and two evening meal items (today and tomorrow), and by the time we reached the bottom of the hill we had collected two giant Cornish-style pasties, samosas, borek, and arancini. I was tempted by freshly boiled brown crabs, oysters, impressive lemon soles, smoked trout, just too much to contemplate on one visit; we will just have to come back in September.

Nostalgically there was a stall cooking an authentic paella to tempt us, but we resisted. We are still enjoying getting reacquainted with all those things that you can get here but not in Spain. As a bonus, the day is sunny and warm (but not too warm).

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Four Weeks Already

Four weeks ago today we woke to our first day back in England, and already our nine years in Frigiliana seem like a distant memory. Not that we have done very much yet. We are gradually plugging into the things we need to for the future and getting used to the much cooler climate. Initially we were cushioned by what passes for a heatwave in England - temperatures in the mid- to high-twenties and plenty of sun. Now it's a more typical 20 -21, and today it is raining. Our daughter and granddaughters are in Dubrovnik this week along with our other daughter, and by all accounts are having a fantastic holiday, which means that we have the house to ourselves until Sunday; we love being around them but we've spent so many years as empty nesters that we are probably enjoying this week in Surrey as much as they are enjoying Croatia.
We have a week booked in a hotel in Southport back in Lancashire at the beginning of September to see whether that is where we would like to settle. I'm already property hunting on Rightmove and Zoopla, so I've short-listed a number of estate agents to contact nearer the time. I've also drawn up a spec of what we need/want which includes the requirement that whatever property we buy must have two toilets; that is the deal breaker. Just shows how old we both are, even though we don't feel it.
We've got our bus passes, I'm waiting for an appointment with an orthopoedic specialist to see what if anything can be done about my back problems, yesterday I had a full diabetic review (all fine on that front) and I'm hoping that my application for a 'blue badge' for the car will soon be approved.
So slowly but surely we're getting there.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Impulse Purchasing

At present we are making extensive us of the fact that our daughter walks to and from the station to make her daily journey to the office in Canary Wharf, and so her car is available for us. Obviously this can only be a temporary measure and so this morning we set off to look at what is available. the two main criteria are firstly, that my wife feels happy to drive it, as I gave up driving a couple of years ago, and secondly, that I can get in and out of it relatively easily with my mobility problems. For many years now we have both chosen Peugeots and so the local dealer seemed the best place to start. I had sought advice a while ago as to which model would best accommodate my needs and the 2008 was suggested.My own online research suggested it might be worth looking at the 208 and the 308 as possibly suitable alternatives, so off we went to do some hands on research.
The salesman showed us a 2008 which ticked all of our boxes, including the price we managed to secure, so my wife picks it up on Thursday morning and we shall then once again have our own set of wheels.
I know that's not how you buy a car, but we did.  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Settling In.....Sort Of

We've been here just over a week now, 'here' being the home of our elder daughter and her two children, just outside Guildford. To our Andalusian selves the weather initially was a little chilly, but it has now picked up nicely and we have daytime temperatures reaching the high twenties, so I'm back into my shorts. Although it's lovely to be with our grandchildren, the prices in Surrey and Hampshire are simply too high for our budget. Originally we had decided on the Isle of Wight where prices are within budget, but my back problems have put paid to that. On and about the island is not the problem' it's the need to use ferries to get to and from the mainland. All the ferries offer disabled-friendly access, but unfortunately the Solent cannot be relied upon to be so accommodating.
Effectively that rules out the south of England as a whole, so we have had to review our options, and currently our hopes are pinned on Southport on the Lancashire coast where prices are very much lower. However, it's also a major U.K. holiday resort which means that for the next couple of months available accommodation is thin on the ground and very expensive so we have an enforced pause.
So right now we can devote our time to dealing with British bureaucracy, which thankfully is much less complicated than Spanish, and staffed by people whose aim is to be helpful rather than obstructive. Temporary registration at the local health center was dealt with on our first visit and took no more than fifteen minutes even though the girl on reception was new and had to keeping popping into the back office to check that she was doing things correctly' unfortunately the earliest appointment she could offer me for a consultation with a GP to set up my medication requirements was a fortnight away.
Yesterday a trip to the library in Guildford was all it took to apply for a pensioners' bus pass and it will arrive within fifteen days. I was also provided with the form on which to apply for my blue badge for the car. Letters have gone off to HMRC to announce our resumption of tax resident status, so we are making good progress.
Perhaps the best thing of all is that youngest granddaughter has given up her bed for me, leaping at the chance to sleep with mummy.  The bed really deals with my discomfort, and so after six months of literally sofa-surfing I am sleeping comfortably in a bed.
The next adventure has begun!