An Ex-pat Monthly Experience of Moving to Gandia, Spain - Part 17

10th August 2023
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The Social Whirl!

The Social Whirl! ....

Of course, living in this delightful area of Spain, means that we usually miss out on the weather extremes suffered by other areas. It generally doesn’t get as hot as the southern reaches of the Costa’s in the summer months, although you still need to use the old slap factor 50 to start with and gradually reduce the protection over time. Most people find that over a couple of years, you do actually start to develop an all-year-round sub colour, which, allied with learning how to actually LIVE in the sun (very different to holidaying in the sun) means that you can spend protracted periods of time outdoors, enjoying the lifestyle. So, let’s have a look at this lifestyle.

First of all, of course, the majority of people moving to Spain, are, like us, people who have lived their working life, bringing up their children life, paying off the mortgage life, and have reached, or are reaching, the stage where they can actually look at changing their current traditional lifestyle to something hugely different. Spain is still, regardless of Brexit, a major destination, because of its weather, better value for money housing, and healthier overall way of life, just to name three.  For the majority of people, this information will have been gained from previous holidays in Spain. In all fairness, as I said above, living is a very different beast to holidaying. It is perfectly understandable, however somewhat erroneous (bit posh, that – Ed) that all will be sun and Sangria, beer on the beach and long warm evenings watching the sun go down with another Cocktail.

As I have mentioned in previous epistles, Spanish bureaucracy is an art form. It is complex, difficult, time consuming and often just downright obstructive. What are actually relatively simple arrangements in the UK can be a quagmire of mind numbing dead ends. Of course, much of this is easily mitigated (the man’s swallowed a dictionary! – Ed) because of the wide contact chain and experience provided when dealing with an agent like For Sale By Sally in Spain. But you will still come across situations that are quite alien to the new settler. This is where one particular facet of your new friendships can cause more frustration than assistance. You will be amazed how many of your new friends and neighbours are in depth experts on all matters Espaniol. But take it from me, a lot of them just smelt new blood and want to show off their modicum (he’s at it again! – Ed) of factual knowledge, suitably embellished in order to enthuse you with their local know-how and in-depth understanding of this far flung arm of ex patriots. Sounds a bot OTT? Not a bit. I have lost track of the number of ex-pats we have come across who act and speak as though this is still Franco’s Spain, akin to the day of the Raj in India and we should still all be drinking Indian Tonic Water to ward off the Mozzies and wearing Pith Helmets to protect us from the midday sun. Indeed. Moving over here does seem to bring out the best or the worst in Brits abroad. Don’t get me wrong. We have – in the two years we have lived here in Gandia – made some wonderful friends, many of whom we honestly hope, will last our lifetime. For example, in this past week I cannot tell you everything that we have been involved in, either at home in our gorgeous villa on the hill or in local cafes, bars and restaurants, or in the equally gorgeous villas of our friends, culminating last night in an overnighter at one lovely couples abode after enjoying a lovely evening to celebrate a friends Birthday. I can honestly say that our social life here bears no resemblance whatsoever to the poor relation that we had back in the old country. There are very good reasons for this, of course. Previously, just like you, probably, we were too busy working our socks off to enjoy a satisfying social life, relying on the occasional meal out with friends or family or the odd Barbeque, or a Friday evening reward of a couple of pints down the local pub. Couldn’t afford much more than that at five pounds a pint! In addition to which, of course, age starts to creep up and when you do have a gap in the schedule, all you want to do is crash!

This all changes once retired and ensconced in Spain. You have LOADS of time to do whatever you wish. Strangely, this seems to relatively rapidly evaporate once you settle here and get over the inevitable first year or so of making that dreamy villa, the casa you really wanted in the first place. You quickly get to the situation where, no, we can’t go out with Ken and Jean on Monday because we’re already having Harold and Gina round for tapas and fizzy. No, we can’t do it Tuesday either because we’re gong to Javea to look at the sofas for the games room and meeting up with Jesus and Andrea because we couldn’t meet them last week. Wednesday is out because we have a coffee morning in Oliva, then Spanish lessons in the afternoon and I already said we’d go and meet James and Olivia on their boat down in the marina. Thursday we’re at that free concert at the Culture Centre and Saturday we’re having lunch with Julie and Steve. Then we have to get some shopping on the way back because Wolfie’s running out of treats and you said we need more chlorine granules for the pool, and don’t forget we need to go to the garden centre because it’s Elaines Birthday on Sunday. We have to be at the Pizza restaurant at 1pm sharp, oh and you said you’d help Pete with their water problem later on Sunday and you want to borrow his blower to clear up the pine needles on the turf too. This, dear reader, is a standard week here. Occasionally you can snatch a siesta in the afternoon with the aircon blowing (Bliss – Ed) after a leisurely dip in the pool.

You know what? It’s fantastic. We have friends of so many nationalities. Racism, jingoism and all that stuff, just doesn’t exist. Sure, there are those who you just don’t get on with, but life is too short and too much fun to bother with it. So you deal with it without fuss or stress. Some folks you just laugh at and tolerate, but so many others you feel so lucky to have met. Literally a couple of hours ago, one of our friends, a Dutch guy (with a Swedish wife) gave me a hand to reset and gas up our slightly incontinent air conditioning. What would have cost around one hundred and fifty euros actually cost thirty eight euros for the gas and two euros ninety five for the cakes and coffee we rewarded him and his lovely wife with by the side of the pool. Joining us was our new Brazilian neighbour, whose Polish boyfriend has to spend a few days in Germany, working, but has just booked us seats to fly to Krakov in November to see his home town.

The Social Whirl in Gandia is alive and kicking hard. How’s yours?

Until next time amigo.

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