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One Year On

On this date, one year ago, Andrew and I got married. I would hope that everyone’s wedding is a wholly joyous occasion, and ours certainly was.

We spent the weekend surrounded by our gorgeous families and dear friends in the beautiful El Amparo cortijo owned and run by Nick and Jody Day. On the Friday, we sailed off the Granada coastline, lunched beside our favourite harbour, Marina del Este and all dined together in the courtyard of El Amparo.

On the day of our wedding, Saturday 8th September 2018, the weather in the morning could not have been more unsettled. We were subsequently told that we should never have planned a wedding for the first weekend of September as the weather is always bad over that weekend. Great! We took a party of intrepid explorers to come and see the bare bones of our house in Moclín at that really attractive stage of a build where there are demolished walls and no roof, and we sat beneath the awning of the local bar and watched the rain get heavier.

The storm clouds gathering

The storm clouds gathering

In the afternoon, the heavens opened. Our plans for an open-air ceremony beside the pool had to be rapidly re-thought, the dining tables were moved inside, and the seats for the ceremony lined up beneath a covered verandah. Jody was the epitome of calm, although what was actually going through her mind is anyone’s guess.  After our siesta, we were plied with champagne and told that all we had to concentrate on was getting ready and looking splendid. We could not have been looked after better.

The wedding ceremony, presided over by one of our great friends, took place at 19:00 by which time the weather had done its worst, and the rain had all but stopped. As we stood to take our vows, the sun burst forth and illuminated us and the congregation with golden evening sun, and we were even blessed with a rainbow! Nothing prepared us for the emotional impact of that moment. My son and daughter and Andrew’s sister and brother were by our sides, and to have the people we love most in one place was overwhelming.

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Anyway, enough of that sentimental twaddle. Suffice to say, we had the best weekend and it certainly got our lives as a married couple off to a splendid start.

A year has passed in a flash, and we have achieved quite a bit over the course of those twelve months. We had two priorities: finish building the house in which we were going to live and without going bankrupt and find sources of income to prevent us from going bankrupt. The challenges of life in a nutshell.

We launched Granada Concierge on a small scale earlier in 2018, but decided to introduce the creative course programme once we had moved to Moclín in July. We got off to a great start when our Flamenco course was listed in The Times as being one of the Best Cultural Trips for 2019, even though we hadn’t run one before! As it happened, the Flamenco course was a great success and it gained us a huge amount of respect within the village as they were able to come and see exactly what we are trying to do with our creative holidays. The cookery course, likewise, exceeded our own expectations, as we spent a week watching our guests prepare really delicious dishes that we could enjoy, accompanied by copious quantities of local wine. We have guest reviews, now, so I am not going to blow our trumpet any more……we are just relieved that we didn’t completely run out of money and that our fabulous guests all seemed to have had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The bonus was that they all fell in love with Moclín and the cultural insights we were able to impart.

We finished the house! As you may have read in previous posts, the conclusion of the house build was not without its issues and the petulant behaviour of our builder seems to have fizzled out, as we knew it would. Trying his luck to grasp extra cash was a desperate move, but one that undoubtedly sullied the relationship. It is also sad that the quality of the finish in the latter stages of the build was not what we might have wanted. However, we love the house and it is everything we hoped it would be. It works beautifully as a family home, for guests and for just the two of us. To complete a house like this in the space of a year and more or less on budget was no mean feat.

Casa Higueras

Casa Higueras

Our need to earn money has never been far from our minds. Living in Spain might seem like heaven and in fact it is, but unless you are very rich and never have to work again you still do have to generate income. Although we now belong to a Euro-Millions syndicate, we have had to resign ourselves to the fact that our lucky numbers may not be drawn overnight, and that we may have to do find another sustainable source of cash.

As many self-employed people in Spain will know, the system for autónomos can be punitive in that you end up paying a set sum every month towards Social Security, regardless of what you actually earn. As freelancers, there may be some months where you don’t earn very much at all, yet 300€ is still sucked from your bank account. There are opportunities for a break, but generally if you are committed to being self-employed and earning an income as such, this is one of the hurdles that you will have to cross. There have been weeks where we have both been concerned about our prospects, but perversely this has also helped focus our minds. I think we both agree that had we attempted  our current course of action back in the UK, we may well have given up after 6 months. Our time in Spain has allowed us to be creative, to take risks, develop our ideas fully and run with them, and this has been hugely liberating. Being realistic, we know that starting any new enterprise takes a good two or three years, and we are in the position where we can give the business the necessary breathing space, even though this can be nail-biting at times. 2020 already looks very encouraging, as we have learned a lot from this year and we are even better prepared. If you fancy taking a look at our programme of creative holidays for next year, please do - even better if you share the details with anyone who may be interested.

Our Spanish is improving, slowly. It didn’t help that we spent most of the month of August talking English for one reason or another, and it is incredible how quickly a language can get rusty. We will pick up our Spanish/English conversations with one of our neighbours shortly, and may even consider going back to formal classes for another boost.

We have started to learn the Sevillana, one of the most traditional forms of dancing in Andalusia, and a skill that will always come in handy whenever there is a fiesta!

Life moves on, and now that we are settled in our new home, we can get back into a routine - painting, designing, experimenting and exploring. We are excited about the next twelve months and beyond, and feel very confident that the foundation on which we are starting to build the next stage of our future is pretty solid.

Andrew is as busy as ever with book design to the extent that some of his own design work has had to take a bit of a back seat, but this will shortly be remedied. I am still producing and presenting my ‘Life Stories’ radio programme and this is now available as a podcast. If you are non-Spanish, live in Spain and would like to be a guest on the programme, do let me know. Subscribing, sharing and reviewing the podcast would also be a lovely thing to do!

We enjoy sharing our experiences with you through this blog, and hope that you enjoy reading it. We particularly like hearing from you, so if you ever do want information, advice or to share your own tales of living in Spain, then do get in touch. In the meantime, here’s to our next wedding anniversary!

Storm clouds gather. Well, it is the first weekend of September…

Storm clouds gather. Well, it is the first weekend of September…

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