An Ex-pat Monthly Experience of Moving to Gandia, Spain - Part 18

6th September 2023
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The End Of Summer

The End Of Summer? ......

We are all aware of the affects of Global Warming on this lump of floating rock that we call home. Whether it is because of humankind mismanagement, the natural aging of the planet, or a combination of both (my preference is for the latter), the seasons are definitely getting mixed up with extremes of temperature and of weather in general, constantly filling our TV screens and indeed, complicating our everyday lives.

There appear to be no exceptions to the negative changes that challenge us, however, yet again, here in the Gandia area, we do seem to be blessed with less extremes than the more well-known Costas and cities in Spain. Literally this morning the Lady Wife and I were partaking of breakfast (in my case, two slices of the local fresh bread, toasted with peanut butter and raspberry jam …. I kid you not! Try it! Awesome!) (Actually, for once I agree – Ed), to be informed via mobile media that Madrid has been hit with flooding and huge areas awash. Madrid, of course, being far better known for being both dry and damnably hot!

We have been visited by torrential rain in the past few days. We have now grown used to the fact that when it rains here, it RAINS! Within five minutes, the steps up to the villa are a raging torrent and an umbrella is no protection whatsoever. But then, it topped up the pool, thoroughly soaked the gardens, which have been dry for several weeks under hot sun and cleaned the roof! Yes, it does! For a few minutes, the rain sluicing off the roof is a mixture of brown and black, rather distasteful looking stuff, but within minutes it is clear rainwater pouring out through the grates and off the tiles. It is literally like jet washing the roof! Of course, that now means that there is grimy detritus all over the paving and the steps surrounding the villa to be cleaned up! There is another good side to the rain and that is the helpful soaking that all the trees and brush get, protecting them against combustion. It has to be said that this summer, despite being incredibly dry, we have been almost entirely fire free and the couple of outbreaks that did occur, the Bomberos dealt with very quickly and efficiently. I wonder how much it helped having a flyover on a daily basis by a Fire-Watch helicopter. In some ways we are confused by the idiosyncrasies of on the one hand, banning wood and charcoal barbeques because of the fire risk (very sensible), but having dozens of fireworks displays during the multitude of Fiesta’s in the middle of the dry season! Such are the vagaries of Spanish life!

This year has proven to have sporadic periods of high humidity. This is something that, here, we associate much more with the UK on a warm day, rather than in Spain. One of the major contributions to making living with the heat of the Spanish summer so much easier, is that it is a dry heat, not the suffocating damp heat of more Northern Europe. This year has been an exception to this rule. With nighttime temperatures refusing to drop below late twenties, we have been grateful that we had air conditioning installed in the bedrooms. To our surprise, the increase in electric cost has been less than anticipated. Now we know why. The common figure blanded about concerning air conditioning averages two and a half kilowatts. That is a LOT of electricity. But reading the small print on the instruction literature (yes, I know that’s not something we chaps tend to do very often), this figure is actually the output. The consumption figure is eight hundred watts for our Japanese installation, mentioning no names because they’re not paying me to advertise …… but it begins with M. So only a quarter of what we feared. It resulted in a raise of thirty one euros for the month, roughly one euro per night. Definitely worth it for a comfortable night sleep I would suggest!

No two ways about it, there have been days this year when it has been just too hot to be out and about. But again, we seem to have escaped the really nasty heat suffered by the more southern areas. The odd thunderstorms that we have had, have been more picturesque than dangerous and at the risk of speaking too soon, we seem to have escaped the ‘hot wind’ that we had last year. Overall, it has been a hotter summer, but again, there are so many places to go, many of them air conditioned, to make up for not being out in the sun. Here in Gandia, we have the commercial centre, which is actually three smaller centres all within walking distance of each other and the town is big enough that we still have a multitude of shops and stores in Gandia itself. Probably the crowning glory is that twenty minutes down the AP7 in Denia and on the outskirts is the Marina Shopping Centre. A huge complex covering several acres of large stores outside and in the centre a huge complex on two floors indoors. One of our favourite shops is amongst those outside the central complex, called Albir Colonial. I think we have probably fifty percent furnished our villa from this place. Not the cheapest of stores but the quality and originality is outstanding.

As is normal, there is parking for hundreds of cars, all free, beneath the central complex. Maybe someone should explain that a Fiat 500 is not an SUV, that way the SUV area that has been super kindly provided by the designers will actually be available to SUV’s! Hey Ho!

Ah! Talking of which, one thing that folks moving over here should be aware of is the complication with driving licences! We were all led to believe by our illustrious and utterly useless British Consulate, that you will all be able to change your UK driving licence, regardless. That has proven to be not true! Whilst waiting for the ‘arrangements’ to be finalised, my own UK driving licence (car, motorbike, etc) ran out because I became setente anos (look it up). No problem says the Consulate. Your licence is still accepted for exchange because it’s not your fault. Wrong! There is no such agreement, so I am currently studying the Spanish Highway Code in preparation for taking my driving test as the only option available to be able to drive! This involves having to learn three thousand odd rules and regs (yes you read that right) to take a written test when adjudged to be competent, followed by practical driver training and a practical final test. To get a motorcycle licence as well, this all has to be done twice. How do you get around this? Make sure that before you move to Spain, that your UK licence has plenty of time remaining. If necessary, renew it early. Then you only need take a psycho-medical test and pay a small fee to exchange your licence, taking about six to eight weeks in general. Perhaps, finally, I should reiterate that you must NOT listen to the worthy pundits here who will tell you that so and so will sort out your legal and settling issues in two or three weeks. They will NOT! Everything will take several weeks and, in many cases, months, but that is normal, nothing personal, and the Police and local authorities are very understanding. Friends of ours who have purchased a property down in Javea were told by a local legal person that she could arrange a Nomad visa enabling them to work remotely in Spain “in a couple or three weeks.” Our local legal guy (who incidentally works with the ‘’For Sale By Sally In Spain’’ team) said it would take months because of the complexity of the paperwork. They opted for the former and now months later are extremely frustrated because they are stuck with the ninety-day rule and still no sign of the visa! It’s a British problem again as it happens because HMRC are taking forever to supply the simple form needed to facilitate the visa.

The moral of the story? Don’t take short cuts. Don’t expect quick responses (to anything). Don’t listen to the “Ah, I’ve been here for years,” brigade of ex-pats, or the, “well my mate says.” Stick with the professionals local to your purchase area. They do know what they are talking about and you will sleep much better for it!

Until next time amigo’s!

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