Someone asked us on our recent visit to Blighty how we were enjoying our early retirement, whereby I replied, ‘don’t know, too busy!!’

So much for early retirement! Since starting our business some ten months ago, things began on the slow side as with most businesses, never mind the fact we had only been established for a short while in a foreign country. But all we could lose was time as it had taken very little investment for the type of work we were looking to do. However, come the saying ‘victims of our own success!’ has never been more apt as today we are experiencing the luxury of having more work than we can handle. It’s nice to be able to pick and choose jobs as it is choosing whether to get up and go out at all, especially at six o’clock this morning when a tropical storm hit giving us three hours of thunder, lightening and torrential rain. Neither of us wanted to get up during that, so we didn’t. But running a business like ours means that clients rely on us to do the jobs and tasks no matter what the weather or how we’re feeling.

It’s a fact that even though we have no need to work to keep ourselves financially independent, keeping active is what makes living here fun and interesting. A good number of our clients invariably become friends with some leading us to other customers and further jobs. It’s a fine line between keeping busy and happy, or sad and working yourself to death, after all, that’s one of the reasons for us quitting full time employment in the first place.

But when it’s a job that takes you to another town or area in the Campo, and it’s out in the open, and there’s no boss looking over your shoulder, and the end product gives both your client and you satisfaction and the money pays for a night out down the ‘Plaza Major’, (more about this place later) well, it certainly puts a new twist on the word work!

And what of the diversity of jobs and requests imparted by these customers? Well, it’s certainly a fact that I’ve been asked to take on some jobs I never thought I’d ever tackle, everything from painting whole houses to erecting fences, pruning tall palm trees to cutting trees up for logs, cleaning out water wells to replacing and repairing roofs, or my favourite, pest control in the form of shooting wild bores(boars, both types are plentiful here)! Yes, that’s right, big black mean pigs with tusks, I mean, only in Spain eh! Oh, and though I’ve a number of people I can call on for assistance or to help out, my number one workers mate is Rose! She can mix cement, clean pools, flash up the ‘genni’, is a whiz with a chainsaw and knows nuts, bolts screws and tools better than anyone else I know, a far cry from how she used to be in her last job in an office, (and she’s very reliable and reasonably cheap!! Ha).

Indeed, no two days are the same and we face at least one new challenge every week which for me is the spice of life. As well as all that, there’s the rental security and maintenance side of the business which brings responsibility and peace of mind to our non resident clients and has, with hard work, established our good name.

Rose and I manage to stay busy everyday and if there is a rare day with no work, then we play tennis or hit the shops down the coast or take the dogs down to the forest nature reserve or take a drive to explore a new road or stay close to partake of a local Del Dia and ‘normalise’ with an afternoon DVD.

But alas, I just have time to finish this weeks feature before I trot off to mend a roof and chop up another dead tree, another day another dollar, brilliant!!

Three months into the new home and things were looking pretty good with the house all just about up and comfortable even if not to a luxurious standard. Money transfers were coming in so cash worries were put to one side as were bills and standing orders. Everything appeared to be in place as we prepared for our first winter and the onset of Christmas. Rose’s Mum and Dad were due out for a weeks visit and they hadn’t seen the place since it had been done up. A couple of days before they arrived we had lit the fire for the first time in the year. That is one of the most useful and beneficial things we have. It is a closed log fire with two fan settings and I tell you, when those fans come on you can open all the doors in the house and it will heat all through, marvellous, and what a lovely touch having a log fire, something we had always wanted though cleaning can be a bit messy! Wood for the burner was readily available from all of the local garden centres though nowadays I get a ready supply from some of the jobs I do.

All our bedrooms as stated earlier have duel heat and aircon units which also added to the comfort in the bedrooms though they are not needed that often.

The inlaws arrived with smiles and tears though Dad appeared cool as ever. The first night with guests is usually spent with a short tour of the ranch, followed by a short walk to the local Indian or Chinese restaurant, (first nights we usually keep to familiar fare then hit them with the local Ventas later though most people on our recommendation try something out of the ordinary) while we catch up on the news, then it’s a bottle or two of wine before bed. Dad is always amazed that he can watch the English TV and I still believe he thinks we’re nearer to Mars than England!

It was strange sitting there in the living room with the inlaws chatting and watching the box. It brought about a certain normality and familiarity which you can lose when so far apart. That’s not to say it’s something I miss or pine for, though a lot of people do inducing them to return ‘home’, no, it just adds credence to the fact that here we’re not a million miles away and family and friends can visit with us in a relatively short time.

We spent the week with them relaxing and travelling round showing them all the new places and people we had got to know. We had a number of barbecues which Dad especially seemed to delight in, (something to do with mother in law skimping on the meat, at least he eats like a horse when he’s here!) with the rest of the time spent in family association. Funny thing is as I discovered, you may live away from someone for a while and think about catching up on the gossip when next you meet, but it’s funny how the conversation either dries up or reverts to discussions about the weather!

We had decided not to go back to England for Xmas but wait until some time after the New Year. We wanted to discover and experience ourselves what it was like to live away from the traditions of our past Christmases and celebrate here in our new hometown. Joseph had already arranged to come and see us for a week over the festive period though Luke was doubtful due to the constraints of his job which relied on retail sales over the festive season, understandable but disappointing. So Mum and Dad left seemingly happy and relieved that we had initially settled well though I believe Mum still thought it would be something we would grow out of and shortly return. We geared up to preparing for Christmas and to making the most of our break which we knew would come to an end in the new year where thoughts would turn to starting a new venture, though there was to be more than a few challenges there.

Colourful Character

Carrying on in the same vein as last week and another unsung hero we have met is a man by the name of Lenny Wise.

We made his acquaintance by way of his son, David, of whom we had already become friends during a social meeting. Len was visiting with his son during this time and I had taken time out to get to know and listen to his exploits during the war.

Like Sidney last week, Len had been in the thick of it in the second world war, recounting stories of what it was like during those torrid times of conflict which for some can never be forgotten. I was full of admiration for this man, for as a young soldier, Len was actually part of the 7th Battalion of the newly formed Parachute Regiment and was one of the first sticks out during the invasion of Sicily and later Italy. Furthermore, his particular group were the front line party involved in the famous attack on the monastery at Monte Casino and the surrounding townships, a true bloodbath where thousands of soldiers on both sides lost their lives.

Like Sid, when I asked Len how he felt during this time and his experience in the heat of battle, he said the same thing, ‘it was our job, nothing else, you just got on and did it!’

Len has a house in Wimborne where he lives full time, but when he’s over here, he’s always welcome at my place for a cuppa and a chat.

Worth a visit

I’ve got to say, Marbella is one of my favourite places to visit or shop and it’s only about 20 minutes by car, (or 12 on my bike!) down to the seafront and all parts of the town. You probably know it better as the original resort known as Europe's playground for the rich and famous, that’s why I go down there, not! Indeed, mention the name Marbella and it usually conjures up images of plush hotels, casinos, multi-million dollar yachts and Ferraris, yes, that’s me again, all but the last four items!

But today Marbella is not exclusively for the jet-set. It’s about 30 minutes drive from Malaga airport and has become a popular destination for hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers each year, rich or not. Of course, the main resort of Marbella is predominantly hotels, apartment blocks and beaches but the older parts of town still remain and hold the traditional Spanish feel and atmosphere and this is where Rosa and I usually venture.

Exploring the back streets of Old Marbella will reveal stately buildings that date back to the 16th century or beyond, along with small traditional shops, cafes and galleries - a far cry from the modern Marbella just a stone’s throw away that most people only know about and see. Throughout the old town, small plazas lined with local bars and orange trees add to the traditional feel and are a great place to take a break and soak up the atmosphere before heading back to modern day life. (Though be careful if ordering a drink outside, it can cost an arm and a leg, always have a drink inside the cafe!)

To escape the hustle and bustle further, the Sierra Bermeja Mountains rise up behind the resort and are ideal for exploring by 4x4 or on foot. (That’s where my recent pictures of me on the Quad where taken). Plenty of viewpoints provide opportunities to see the two and a half mile coastal spread that is Marbella and I tell you, it’s stunning.

At the Western end of that spread is Puerto Banus, (pronounced ‘Banoos’) Marbella's own playground for the rich and famous, with it’s modern day marina packed with large yachts and motorboats, while back in the town centre you can find world-class, but very expensive, shopping and entertainment together with all the attractions that a top holiday resort could possibly provide.  The Avenida del Mar is the town’s principal seafront promenade, with countless bars and restaurants serving only the best quality food and drink. Or if you prefer, local traditional seafood dishes such as barbecued sardines on a spit or paella can be enjoyed at the nearby beach huts, (chiringuitos), quite cheap especially if ordered in Spanish!. Oh, and it has a road train like Weymouth which no one complains or moans about the health and safety and is a must for viewing the seafront – well worth a visit.

Next week
Christmas is almost here and we experience ... COLD!