I often miss my two BMWs from the UK which were both beautiful to look at and drive. Instead I now chug around in our ‘practical’ Fiat Doblo without worrying about bumps and scratches in these tiny narrow streets in which we live. They weren’t designed with cars in mind.
In fact I had a telephone call from a DHL delivery driver the other day. I had to go and meet him by the main road and collect my parcel from him as he couldn’t get his lorry anywhere closer to the house.
It’s a simple fact that unless you have a garage here your car will be damaged. Since buying the Doblo earlier in the year it has suffered one or two little scrapes, which we have accepted as part of life here, but my own stupidity has resulted in a relationship with a local mechanic that has developed more quickly than I would have liked. Mario and I are now on first name terms owing to the fact that I have had to take the Doblo to his workshop so many times.
When the oil warning light came on I naively presumed that oil was required so promptly poured a litre into the engine without checking the level. Surprise surprise, the oil light remained on. The word ‘dipstick’ comes to mind. This prompted my first meeting with Mario who shook his head at me and huffed and tutted in a way that convinced me I was going to be paying him a lot of money. “Very bad, very bad” are virtually the only two words of English that he knows.
Two days later I was able to collect the car and pay accordingly. I was on a tight schedule as I had promised a friend to move house that day so I was relieved not to be letting him down. Handy cars these Fiat Doblos. After one session of furniture moving it was time to go back to reload the car. Manoeuvring cautiously backwards through the underground car park I was suddenly acutely aware of the inordinate amount of concrete support pillars around me. With another car waiting to enter my area of the car park I started to feel a little flustered as I inched this way and that to try and turn around. Then ‘BANG!!’ A sound like a gunshot behind me and glass everywhere. Although I had cleared a pillar in my wing mirror whilst reversing, I hadn’t seen the fire extinguisher mounted on its side which had popped the window behind me. Embarrassed and annoyed at myself we managed to move another load of household items before I had to face Mario for the second time that day. With his arms plastered in oil as he worked on another car he was obviously surprised to see me, and could have done without being disturbed by this idiotic Englishman. To his credit he cleaned himself up and arranged for the replacement window to be delivered, and on the following day I was able to pay him some more money and collect the car. He was also provided with a selection of beers by way of gratitude for his speedy work.
The car has been back twice since then. The engine management light came on whilst I was away leaving Selena carless. New battery required. More recently it’s had rather more expensive work done before the MOT which is due in January. I’m hoping that I don’t have to see Mario again anytime soon.
Interestingly the cars are insured here rather than the drivers, which means that anybody over 25 years old can drive any car. So if anybody wants to take the Doblo for a spin just ask.
With parking and access to the house here being troublesome we seem to have alleviated that problem for the future. We are in the process of buying a house, and having spent many months exploring and considering the options, we have decided to move out of El Puig. We will miss the social side of life in the village, and having bars and shops on our doorstep, but we are moving only a few kilometres away. Our new home will provide more outside space and ample parking. Things are not yet finalised but we hope to see it all go through in the next few weeks.
We had started the buying process just before we went back to the UK for the summer, so we weren’t in a position to make much progress during that time. If all goes to plan we will be able to move during November before another UK trip at Christmas time.
The five week summer holiday back in England was very special. We met up with Selena’s family in the Lake District for two weeks and spent many days walking in the mountains and enjoying English ales and food. Lizzy was delighted to have her cousin around every day and she continued to surprise us with her willingness to walk and climb.
A bumpy flight from Manchester to Newquay reunited us with my Cornish family for a relaxing few weeks during which we managed several beach days and swims in the ice cold sea.
We wondered how we would feel about being back in England for such a long time. Most Spaniards escape the heat of August by heading north or abroad, but would we feel like we were coming home or going away again?
Reassuringly we both felt like we were coming home. Although we had only been in Spain for a year it felt like home. Our own surroundings, our own belongings, despite being far from friends and family, it’s surprising what ‘home’ can mean.
Why do we feel so at home in a foreign land? I don’t know. We are still persevering and struggling with the language, but obviously appreciate the weather, beaches and mountains. Plus we’ve had plenty of visitors too, which helps. We will have to see if we feel the same way in our new home. There’s much work to be done, which will keep me occupied, and the next phase of our adventure will be trying to turn that house into a home that we are proud to share with our families and friends.