After a month near Orihuela, at the end of February we set-off for our beach house just outside Oliva, mid-way between Alicante & Valencia. I’d Googled the distance at just over an hour’s drive so let our Air B&B host’s friend know what time to meet us. However, I’d Googled on my laptop, but was using my phone on the journey.

I’d forgotten the phone map app was set to avoid toll roads…

Nearly an hour into our journey & it was clear we’d be nearly an hour late. I sent a message to let our host know & apologised for the delay.  The house then took some finding as it was on a dead-end road down lots of lanes, but we arrived on a beautiful sunny day & climbed out of the car to the sound of the sea.

View from roof terrace to the seaI’d fallen in love with the look of this house, just behind the dunes & so close to the beach, so had booked for the two months it was available. In April, just before Easter, we’d then be moving on to Barcelona to be there for the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix race.

From our first jaunt into town, we immediately liked Oliva & the lively centre. As the beach house was in Oliva’s Campo, we rented a PO box at the Correio for a month & successfully had our Residencia cards forwarded-on from Papeleria Martins. Our UK bank account was registered to my son’s address, so he was able to send out our new debit cards too.

Life was good. The weather remained fine, I walked the dogs along the beach each morning & at weekends we stopped off at the cafe before returning home.

We were monitoring the whole Brexit mess & although instinct led us to believe it wouldn’t actually happen on 29th March, we decided not to risk it. All Consulate advice to British expats was to ensure we had all our Spanish papers in place before the 29th deadline, or at least proof that the necessary appointments had been made before this cut-off date.

We’d no intention of returning to the UK, had a Spanish registered car & thought that obtaining a Spanish driving licence was the sensible thing to do. But we’d need a Padron.

Research & speaking to different estate agents indicated that, although a six month tenancy was agreed to be a long-term rental in Malaga, in Valencia this was a minimum of ten months. We’d not reach Barcelona until April, so would be out of time to look to rent long-term that vicinity.

A view across Oliva old townTherefore, we duly accepted that after the Grand Prix in May, we’d be coming back to Oliva instead of continuing on into France.  This wasn’t really a problem as we liked the area & our journey was flexible anyway. So we visited a few agents & began to look for a house. There were very few properties available with a garden, so we viewed a couple of town-houses & fell in love with the old town!

We discussed potential problems – not being able to park outside the house, only a roof terrace for the dogs, having neighbours & whether Roxy would bark each time someone walked past, down the street. But the rent was low & it would be great to be within walking distance of bars & the shops of the town centre for a change.

Discarding the first house with lots of character & indoor garden, we plumped for one exactly opposite with plenty of useable space for our work areas etc. Armed with our tenancy agreement & copy of the refuse collection bill, we obtained our Padron & made an appointment at Traffico to exchange our driving licences. In the end, we contracted a Gestor to assist, so the process was straightforward, we now have temporary licences & should receive permanent cards within a few weeks.

All was good. Then, two weeks before leaving the beach house, I suffered a pulmorary embolism!

A car roofbox full of waterI was admitted to Gandia Hospital for a week &, due to move to Barcelona within days of being discharged, I wasn’t sure I’d have the strength to packup the house & car. In the end, as I’d need to frequently return to the doctors for blood tests to have my anticoagulents levels checked, it turned-out that we couldn’t leave Oliva anyway.

Fortunately the beach house was available so we booked to stay a further week which gave more time to pack & head to our town-house a month earlier than planned on a very wet Easter weekend.  The weather had been unsettled for a while but had turned wet with frequent storms & very heavy rain.  We’d taken the roofbox off the car &, not wanting it to rest on the claws which grip the roof-bars, had carefully placed the box on it’s lid on the yard outside the house.  I’d worried slightly that water would enter through the holes near the claws & the box would get wet inside.  However, upside down, the rim acted as a gutter & during the heavy rain, the box filled completely with water.  Too heavy to move, we managed to open it up & had to bail most of the water out before resting the box on the sun loungers to fully drain & clean it!

We packed-up the car, but as only moving close-by, thought we’d make a few trips.  For the first time, we headed down our narrow street & quickly unloaded stuff straight into the house.  Continuing to the bottom of the street, there wasn’t enough room to turn the necessary 90 degrees & Rob just couldn’t manouevre the car around the bend.  There was no choice but to reverse back up the street, a steep incline & with rain pouring down, the road was very wet & slippery.  Revving the engine, working with the handbrake & clutch, Rob tried to reverse round the corner at the top.

Narrow street in a white Spanish townThere was a smell of burning which I thought was the brakes, but having finally reversed around the corner, Dobbie then wouldn’t go into gear 🙁  We were concerend that we’d burned-out the clutch.  My mind raced as I thought what to do as the dogs & half our belongings were still at the beach house a few miles away.  After a while Rob turned the ignition back on & managed to get Dobbie into gear so we slowly set-off to collect the rest of our stuff, but didn’t dare risk going back down the street when we returned.  We had to unload at the top & carry everything down, taking care not to slip in the wet & knowing this would be a pain when we needed to pack & move on.  but that was months away & not an immediate worry.

The rain continued to pour down for the next three days, with hours of thunder & lightning.  Water rushed down our street (with a fair bit leaking into the house) & all the Easter celebrations & processions were postponed.  Meanwhile the UK basked in a heatwave…

I’m hoping that we’ll be able to go to Barcelona for two weeks at least, but will certainly make it there for the race.  I plan to take some time off as holiday as I definitely returned to work too early & have struggled to focus since my illness.

It all turned-out well in the end.

I cannot complain – I’m alive!