It’s been a good couple of weeks here in our new home. I’ve been busy with virtual assistant work & the Vodafone mobile internet in the cottage has been fast & reliable.

When arriving anywhere new, we look at all the furniture in the house & any garage or out-buildings & decide how to use to optimise our living & working areas. Actually, I look at the rental photos as I’m booking a place & begin deciding then. I like to look out of a window from my office area, Rob needs a large table for his music computer, synth keyboard, speakers & big TV/monitor, then Woody needs a small table for his cage.

So we shuffle the furniture around (but always make sure it’s back as we found it when we leave), sometimes use different rooms & sometimes stay together in one area.

Have you ever been excited to settle into a holiday home & explore the surroundings? We get to do that as often as we want!

A view over the river to Orihuela old town

The first few days here were cloudy with a strong icy wind, therefore, our first forays into Orihuela didn’t impress us. There are lots of high apartments dominating the streets suggesting a strong population, but on a January weekday morning, the town was quiet. Whether due to the cold weather or being out of season, I’m not sure.

It’s always odd to venture into a new ‘local’ town to find essential amenities & as mentioned before, some places immediately feel welcoming, whilst we don’t warm to others. It takes a while to find our bearings, but we did begin to get to know our way around & enjoy Orihuela, especially the Medieval Market on our 2nd weekend, although the cold wind had returned whistling down the narrow streets.

The weather had initially picked-up to become warmer & sunny so the first full weekend we went exploring. We’d actually dressed for cool weather so when arriving at a small sheltered cove on Cabo Roig full of sunbathers, we were hot & overdressed! It wasn’t the best beach for walking dogs, but we got talking to an English couple with a lovely rescue puppy.

From overhearing conversations & speaking to expats, we soon realised that there are many Northerners in this area. I already knew of three people from my UK home local area living, or owning a holiday home close-by so this wasn’t a total surprise. Back in Alhaurin, everyone was from London or Essex. Why is this?

Why do people from one area of a country gravitate together to the same area of another country?

We’ve already seen an old school friend perform in a local bar, & I mean ‘old’ as we hadn’t seen each other since junior school! It was lovely to catch-up with his mum (visiting from the UK), although I was aged 8 the last time she saw me. Then one of my ex-clients lives nearby (that’s why he’s an ex-client – he moved to Spain), so it was great to share a coffee & hear what he was doing now & that his wife is soon opening a retreat for frazzled business owners. That’s not me, by-the-way 😉

The closest access to the sea from this home is a 30 minute drive to Guadelmar which has miles of golden soft-sandy beaches either side of town, perfect for walking the dogs whilst they are allowed out of season. I was happy as the beaches near Malaga hadn’t been great for this.

A golden beach in Spain with clear blue skies

Our inland home this month is in a fertile river valley, backed by rocky mountains, with fields full of orange & lemon groves, cabbages & globe artichokes. There are very few olives, either because the ground is too rich for the trees, or why waste lush growing conditions on a plant which is happy to survive in rocky soil?

The 5.5 hour journey here from Malaga had brought us along well-maintained & relitively clear roads through a varied landscape.  The roads are generally very good & well-maintained in Spain.

Initially approaching Granada, acres of olive trees abutted the foothills, then closer to the city, there were stands of tall straight silver birches. Driving beyond Granada through granite hillsides & umbrella pine, we reached the strange Guadix area of orange sandstone tunneled with caves. This was followed by miles & miles of fruit or nut trees (I couldn’t tell), grown low for ease of picking, dark twiggy wood, too early in the year for blossom or leaves. I bet it’s a glorious sight when these are in flower so in a couple of weeks we may drive back this way to see if there’s a photo opportunity.

We love Spain’s variety. It’s such a large country that we could easily stay here long-term & explore more widely. That’s a decision for the summer as I have our homes sorted until the end of May, then as we are close to the border, we were planning to start through France. We’ll see…

Arabic arches in Orihuela