dinglevandoeseurope

Ho ho ho!

Well, who’d have thought it.  After leaving a slightly battered looking poinsettia at the front gate of the ‘crazy sisters’ in an attempt to extend the hand of friendship and harmony during this festive period, late this afternoon I was approached by Maria (the one that doesn’t jump into a bush if you catch her having a spy!).  After asking a couple of dozen questions (“where is your husband?” “what days does he work?” “are you here all the time?” (sussing out snooping availability!) “is that your motorhome?”) I was then presented with a bottle of cider and a packet of almond biscuits.  It wasn’t long before our English neighbours came up the road and said “You jammy b******s; it took us two years before we got to that stage”! 

So Feliz Navidad folks, from all of us in Daimes, Elche, Alicante, Espana xxx 

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Dear all

I’ve been trying to do a blog for months now, but the main reason I haven’t been able to is due to having no time!  I know this sounds crazy, but believe me it’s true.

Since we finally picked up the keys for our house (on the outskirts of Elche in Spain) on Friday 26th July we simply have not stopped.  (I could spend hours writing many pages explaining just a portion of the problems and disappointments that we had to endure during the whole buying process, but it would take hours, be filled with swear words, and quite frankly I don’t wish to relive those many months of anguish once again!). *

(*If you fancy having a squizz on google map to see where we are, put in Nugolat Restaurant, Elche.  We’re about 200 metres as the crow flies from there, but in the middle of nowhere!).

We spent the whole 6 weeks from the date of purchase working on the house, many days from 7am to 10pm at night.  I worked full time on it, whilst Jason juggled working as a chef for 4 days a week, returning home to start working on the house again.  It was worth it though, as in that time we cleaned, unpacked, painted the whole of the inside of the house and the majority of the outside too.  We had three Spanish friends work for us for a few days as well and they pruned and trimmed the incredibly overgrown orchards (we actually found out we had more land than we thought once they’d cut everything back!).**

(** By the way, now we’ve got the room the Dingle van will be moved from Jason’s parents’ house and be placed by the barbecue in the orchard at our casa.  This will be her final home – God bless the Dingle!).

At the beginning of September, I went back to Jersey to work (so actually had a few weekends off!).   Jason remained in Spain and continued to juggle……..

I returned to Spain on the 4th November, and the situation remains the same……. It’s been a month now and still no day off for either of us!  We have promised ourselves that we will start taking 1 day off a week soon, but still haven’t decided on a start date for that to actually happen!  I return to Jersey on 8th January for 5 weeks, so I’ll keep you posted as to whether the illusive day off ever occurs!!

So as well as painting what else have we been up to? 

Well, Jason did a great job making a store for the fire wood; the two orchards are now clear and weeded (but many nights of burning still to be done to get rid of the debris); we have installed an outdoor log stove (though the irony isn’t lost on me that our open fire inside the house smokes so badly that we can’t use it – we’re in the process of troubleshooting this problem!).  We have been cutting and chopping all of the wood that we had once the orchards had been pruned; cutting  the tops of the conifers; buying tubing for an irrigation system in the orchards; putting up bamboo fencing to keep the wind out…………..  I simply could go on and on.  The list never ends; just seems to get bigger!

But we keep reminding ourselves what the place looked like when we first moved in (OMG, the horror!).  We have achieved so much in the 4 months that we’ve been here, despite sometimes feeling slightly overwhelmed with what we’ve taken on.

One of the biggest tasks to get done was the rebuilding of one of the outside walls.  We didn’t realise how bad the condition was as the only way to access it was via a small pathway beside an abandoned house (and the clever little sausage who owns this building hasn’t been back for about 10 years but had padlocked a wooden door from the inside….. helpful).  Once the door had been ‘accidently’ kicked in (!) I crawled through the space and went to explore.   Jason was a little more reticent as he was scared what he’d find!!  Anyway, once all the masses of creepers and weeds were removed (the same sort of width that you’d find in an Indiana Jones film!) it transpired that the side of the house was in danger of no longer remaining upright unless something was done sharpish.  At one section you could actually knock the tiles that were on the wall in the kitchen!!  Jason (with a lot of help from Cockney Dave!) has done a fabulous job rebuilding it.  And even if it is a bit ‘Spanish style’ (ie wonky!) it’s still watertight and weather proof.  Hoorah!

We’ve also had help from a French guy called Julian.  You may remember that all when we travelled in the Dingle van that we worked our way around Europe, helping out at people’s houses.  Well, now it’s our turn to be workaway hosts, and Julian is our first victim, sorry, helper!  He’s been with us for 2 weeks now with another 2 to go.  He’s really nice, helpful  and a good worker, when he finally gets out of bed!!  Many things have been crossed off the list with his help.

So as well as doing all the bits and pieces in our house and the orchards, we’ve also been trying to get started on the ‘big project’.  On our land is an old shoe factory which we’re hoping to convert to a 3 double bedroom annex to rent out (remember, favourable rates for family and friends!!).  Obviously we’ve had so much else on that this has taken a while to get started on, but as we speak the electrics are being done, and we’ve worked out what is going where.  So if we crack on with that we might be in a position to rent it out at some stage this summer – fingers crossed.

Anyway, enough about the house – time to let you know who else lives with us (should I mention the rats in the roof?!)……..

Some of you may already know that when we bought the house we inherited a little old dog called Linda.  She’d basically had a rough couple of years as they left her alone at the house, only visiting her once a week with a food bucket.  She’s 13 years old and was absolutely covered in ticks when we arrived – she was in a sorry state.  Fast forward 4 months, and ‘Tubs’ (as she is now known because she’s a big fatty!) loves life and we are happy in the knowledge that her last few years with us will hopefully be jolly ones.

Unfortunately Linda isn’t the greatest guard dog in the world.  In fact, if you offered her chicken she’d give you our keys to the house and allow you to ransack all of our worldly possessions!  So with this in mind Jason found another dog that was due to be put down at a shelter after being abandoned.  He’s a german shepherd cross called Yako who’s absolutely gorgeous.  He’s a bit damaged (we think he may have been beaten by a previous owner) but is becoming more trusting and loving.  He loves his sticks, balls and rocks, and likes nothing more than running through the orchard running after something that you’ve thrown to him!!

Unfortunately we haven’t had the same luck with our chickens.  We had 5 hens and a cockerel, kindly donated to us by Jason’s parents.  All was fine and we were getting a good few eggs, and then all of a sudden something took a couple of them (a fox possibly?) and that was it – no more eggs.  That was 6 weeks ago.  We were about to ‘liberate’ one of them on Sunday for our dinner (I even had a pot of water on the boil ready to dunk and pluck!) only to find that the evil mystery muncher had returned and got there just before us!  So that means we’re down to 2 hens and 1 cockerel, and have to buy our eggs from the shop!  Funnily enough we’ve decided to take a break from hens for the rest of the winter and try again when the weather gets warmer next year.

Even though we’ve only been here a few months we’ve been making the most of our fresh produce.  I’ve been squeezing fresh orange and pomegranate juice, we’ve got figs growing on trees just outside the house, and we’ve picked olives ready to take to the press to get our own olive oil.

We’ve got some lovely Spanish neighbours called Juan and Margarita who have also given us some of their own olive oil and dates from their palm trees.  They even cooked Jason a rabbit and snail paella whilst I was away!!

We have also got some English neighbours down the road – Eric and Avril (they were the first non-Spanish to move in a decade ago, and we’re only the second lot of English in all of that time).  They’re great fun and utterly hysterical, and we sometimes get some of Avril’s yummy baked cakes and rolls in return for some of our kindling stash!!

But the most amusing neighbours of all are the ‘hermanas tontas’ (crazy sisters)!  They live in a battered old house at the bottom of our orchard and are apparently in their fifties, but life hasn’t been kind and they look much older.  One is friendly and waves, but the other one still ignores us!  They also have a habit of spying on us (which must have been entertaining when we were washing in a near naked state with a hosepipe outside as we had no shower for a couple of weeks!), but the dogs soon let us know that they’re around and you see them quickly hurrying away!!  They also have the best humdinger fights that go on for hours.  Seeing as we don’t have a television it’s brilliant entertainment having your own Spanish soap opera on your doorstep!  Sometimes though, when there’s a deafening silence after a blood curdling scream, you start to worry – has one of them done the other in?!  I’m certainly not prepared to go and check because they’re bloody barking!!!

And so – that’s it.  We shall both plod on and carry on working on the house / orchard / factory for as long as our bodies can take it.  A lot will depend on the weather.  The rains are a couple of months overdue (we’ve only had a few big downpours and our orange trees could do with water), but the nights are already very cold.   These cold temperatures should happen in January and February so it’s come as a bit of a shock to have them so soon, especially the morning we woke up to find frost on the ground and realised it had got to -4 overnight.  Even worse when you consider we only have one gas heater to heat the whole house, thanks to the smoking open fireplace!

Thankfully though the days can still be nice and hot, giving us the opportunity to warm our bones before the sun sets and the cold comes along again…

Anyway folks – I hope this gives you some idea of what we’ve been up to lately.  Please get in touch even if it is just to say hello.

In the meantime, may you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year.  May you all be happy and healthy……………

Lots of love

Sharon and Jason

PS for those of you who don’t know, we got married on the 30th September.

PPS now we’ll find out who doesn’t read the blog, or at least read it till the end!

 

 

 

 

Hi all, Well, I thought it was time once again to give you an update on life in Spain. As I mentioned in the last blog, we unfortunately had to give up the concession on the kitchen at the Village Inn (or the ‘Buffoon Bar’ as it has now been christened!). Basically the manager was an unsupportive gambler and drinker – I think you can imagine some of the issues that we had to deal with whilst there. These issues would never have been resolved, so it was better to leave than stay. Anyway, one chapter closed……..

Literally the day after we’d finished there we dropped off about 30 CVs to different places. Even though we haven’t been inundated with numerous job offers in the line we want (you know, deck chair concessions on the beach, spending someone’s lottery win!!) we have found work. It’s still poorly paid with long hours, but seeing as there are 5.4 million people who are unemployed over here I think we’ve done pretty well.

So, initially we were both working in a new American diner. Jay was head chef and I was his kitchen assistant. As it was opening from scratch we were helping set up the kitchen too. It was only when we had the opportunity to finally see the menu that we realised what a difficult job it was going to be (with exceedingly long hours as well). The owner had basically got completely carried away when it came to putting the menu together, and all of a sudden there were 75 different items (not including desserts, side dishes or the kid’s menu!). Add to this the fact that each menu item had specific sauces, dips, American food products that can’t be bought in Spain…… well, I think you get the picture. Also put into the mix the fact that some of the essential kitchen equipment didn’t work, and then things became incredibly interesting!

After a few fraught days we realised that even though things would get better over time, it really wouldn’t get that much better – you’d have to have a photographic memory in order to remember the most basic parts of the menu, and have all of the equipment working. So we handed in our notice, but did the right thing and continued working until a new chef had been found. Poor sod! Now we’re both working part time at a bowling / golf place called Greenlands. I’m behind the bar (watch out Bet Lynch!) and waitressing, and Jay is the chef. It’s not the most exciting place to be (oooh, lawn bowls!) and I think Jason will struggle with their idea of cooking (they seem to think seasoning is the work of the devil!) but it’s something.

I’ve also found another part time waitressing / bar job in a very popular restaurant in Benijofar run by Martin and Paul – hard work and as I’ve never really done bar work it’s a steep learning curve, but I guess it’s another string to my bow! So all we have to get used to now is the heat when we’re working in the kitchens – I constantly seem to have a sweaty fringe! It was 31 degrees when I went to work last night at 6pm………….. how are we going to cope when it’s 40 degrees in August? Steamy……!

As we’ve been working such crazy hours lately (trying to do 3 jobs at one stage!) we haven’t really had much time to do anything else. I did get to Jersey for 3 days at the beginning of May to see the family (and also gatecrash Hannah’s afternoon tea birthday party!). I would have loved to have caught up with everyone, but obviously that’s not really possible in 3 days. As it was, I had to finish in the kitchen at 9.30pm, get a late flight from Alicante to Gatwick, then sleep on the floor for the night to catch the red eye the next day to Jersey. What a restful night of sleep that was!

We’ve have had some visitors from Jersey – a totally unexpected arrival from Tony Cornic who just appeared on the doorstep, and one that was a little more organised from Mark, Sophie and Summer! Lovely to see them all. Thanks to Tony for taking us out for lunch and insisting on buying most of the beers after that! And a big thanks to Mark and Sophie for driving down with those Boots toiletries that I miss so much and can never carry back myself!!!

I will do my best to keep you all updated. In the meantime, please get in touch. You can’t imagine how nice it is to hear from family and friends. Miss you lots, and hope all is well for you all.

Lots of love Sharon and Jay xxxx

Hi all,

Well, what a difference a couple of weeks make!  Who’d have thought life changes could happen quite so quickly!!!! 

As of last Sunday, myself and Jay are working our 1 month notice period at the kitchen.  It had become quite apparent over time that the place was definitely not run in the way we’d run somewhere ourselves – i.e. professionally!

We could just about handle the fact that the couple who had invested into the pub basically ignored us and the food side of the business (they weren’t here enough for us to care that much anyway)………..

No, the final straw was the bar manager.  I could provide you with many examples of his unprofessional attitude and general incompetence, but don’t quite know where I’d start!  Suffice to say, over the months it became clear that he would never listen to our point of view, and would ignore everything we said, even if it would have helped the business as a whole.  There are other things I can and will say at some point in the future, but I shall wait until we are no longer anywhere near the kitchen – that is for another blog!  The long and the short of it is that things came to a head, and after an interesting ‘debate’ (!) we all decided to part ways.

Obviously because Jay and I are professional, we’ve come into work every day since smiling, not gossiping about the situation, and providing as good a service as we have done ever since opening.

As for him, he ignores us, doesn’t speak to us, and gossips about us to all of his so-called mates!  Professional?  I think not…………..

Anyway, our CVs are printed and it’s time for us to find something new.  We have a month to find something else, and I firmly believe that this has happened for a reason.  We weren’t really happy being in this particular place, but could have handled being here for a short time period.  However, if you know that things are never going to get better (only worse) then how long can you tolerate being somewhere? 

So, once again I ask you all to waft positive thoughts in our general direction, so that we can find nice jobs with nice people!!!!  I will, of course, keep you updated……………..

So what else do I have to tell you all about?  Well, not a lot really!  It was a public holiday here on 1st May, and this also coincided with our day off.  We had a lovely day (as our Spanish lesson had been cancelled), and went to the beach (which was packed, mostly with Spanish families), and then had some nice food in a traditional family run place in a little village called San Miguel.

Unfortunately the day wasn’t quite so nice for Jay’s mum and dad!  They have kindly been working in the kitchen on our day off, and usually it’s fairly quiet and they can close up by 3pm.  We also thought it would be even quieter because of the local May Day celebrations – they usually have a free paella in the square, and free beer – no customers for us, or so we thought.  What we didn’t know is that the ‘free’ element of the paella and beer had been removed, so those who thought they’d get something for nothing were sorely disappointed!  Mick and Di had been about to leave, when all of a sudden a torrent of hungry individuals started to arrive…….. and that was the end of the quiet day!  So thanks again to both of them – what a full on day they ended up having, and we were completely unaware of it until nearly 5pm when we finally spoke to them on the phone!

Anyway all, hope everything is well with you.  Hopefully our next blog will be providing you with details of our lovely new jobs!  Fingers crossed…….

Please get in touch – we love to hear from you.

Lots of love

Sharon and Jason xxxxx

PS – sorry for lack of photos – will try and take some and download them for the next blog.

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Hi all,
Just thought I’d give a quick update and let you know that we’re still around!
So, it’s been an odd first month running the kitchen. We’re both working hard and think we’re getting a good reputation for tasty food at a great price. But it has been (and still is) hard to judge how many we’re going to cater for on a daily basis as there’s no ‘standard’ day. For example, we did 30 Sunday lunches last week, and so far for this week we’ve got 2 booked in. What’s all that about? Obviously we’ve still got to keep the kitchen well stocked up with food, so to be on the safe side we’ve only given ourselves a tiny wage so far – still surviving on those tips!
But we shall plod on regardless – on the positive side I guess that we’re still in business after a month, and in a recession hit country like Spain I suppose that means we’re doing something right so far…………….
We had some okay days over Easter but in a way not as many as we’d hoped for. But we did get good views of some of the fantastic parades all over the Easter weekend – the Spanish certainly celebrate this time of year in style – it’s much more than a chocolatey egg to them! And the huge effigies that get carried around by the congregation are amazing – the weight must be immense.
Jason was headhunted by another bar . The owners needed a chef and had heard good things about him, and I could have waitressed and worked behind the bar. It was incredibly tempting for a number of reasons, but in the end we declined. The advantage to continuing as we are (and believe me, there aren’t that many!) is that we’re now part of the Spanish system (fully fledged social security contributors etc). As I mentioned before, this will hopefully allow us to get a mortgage to buy the land that we’ve seen once we’ve sold Jay’s villa.
Speaking of Jay’s villa – if any of you have any golfing buddies who would love a two bedroomed villa overlooking a golf course in Spain, point them in our direction! Very reasonable price……… Unfortunately our estate agent can only be described as rubbish, so any help any of you can give us would be much appreciated!!!
At the moment our time is mostly spent at the kitchen, the wholesaler, the supermarket or the market (can you see a theme here?!!!), and what little time we have left over is usually spent sleeping! However, on our day off we took the train to Murcia. Rather fortuitously this coincided with the Fiesta de Primavera (Spring Festival). All the locals were dressed up to the max in white pleated culottes and white laced knee high socks and espadrilles (men and women!), and other ladies were wearing intricately embroidered dresses and scarves. They all looked very smart and were milling around en masse with friends and family, sitting in the parks and having barbecues. Obviously there were quite a few who were just using the day off to get riotously drunk and had no intention of going to the evening parade, but that’s just the same as an English bank holiday, isn’t it?!
We also had a lovely time when Debbie and Libby came to visit (Jay’s sister and niece). Even though the weather was shocking the evening that they arrived (lots of rain, cold and high winds), it soon cleared up to give them some nice days whilst here – though one afternoon we did go to the beach, optimistically thinking it would be quite sheltered. Unfortunately not – we spent an hour or so huddled behind a dune getting sandblasted (no need for botox that day!), with the only other people on the beach being hard core windsurfers!!!
The weather is getting much nicer now, though the wind can still be very strong. However, even with these mini temperatures myself and Jay are already getting a taster for how hot that kitchen is going to be. By the time it’s high summer he will probably be the Naked Chef (step aside Jamie Oliver!), and I will be having some serious dab on issues whilst dashing from the kitchen to the punters outside – hmmm, don’t think I’ll be glowing, just dripping!
Anyway, best leave you all now. We’ve got a day off today, though won’t be having any adventures. Jay has just been for a filling (and has found out he needs root canal treatment – joy!), and then we’ve got to go to our Spanish lesson. It’s all fun, fun, fun!
Take care everyone. Love to all. Please get in touch, even if it’s just to say hi.
Sharon and Jason xxxxxxxxx

Hi all,

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog, so bear with me – I’m definitely feeling a bit rusty!

Quite a lot has happened since our last blog in January.  I went back to Jersey and spent a few weeks working at the Judicial Greffe (bless them for taking me back once again!).  In the meantime, Jay did bits and pieces in Spain, and also had an unexpected trip back to the UK.  He kindly offered to drive a couple who lived next door to us (and their dog) back to Birmingham as their lift had fallen through.  The upside of this is that he had the chance to stay with his sister and the rest of the family in Coventry for a few days.  The downside was the extremely bad weather (scary driving conditions through the mountains in France).

Unfortunately Jason also became victim to that most notorious of creatures – the crap French driver.  This lovely little fella joined the motorway at a ridiculously high speed from the connecting slip road, shunting into Jason as he did so.  Thankfully no other cars were nearby as Jay got bumped over two lanes.  To cut a long story short, the guy accepted full responsibility for the accident, but it left Jason a bit behind schedule and understandably a bit shaken up.  However, our Spanish car has now had a re-spray on the right hand side and is as good as new (well, as good as a 750 euro car from an auction can look!).

Once I got back to Spain mid February we carried on busily sorting stuff out – more tarting up of the villa (still no takers, so if anyone fancies a 2 bedroom place overlooking a golf course, you know who to contact!!), getting our social security cards, sourcing suppliers and finishing off the menu for the kitchen – that kind of thing.  We also ended up having to run around getting kitchen equipment (not really something that should have been left to us, but no one else seemed to be interested in the fact that in order to provide food for people you actually need something to cook it with!).

Finally, the building work in the kitchen was finished.  We had been originally told that it would then be industrially cleaned, but this didn’t ever seem to get organised by the manager of the bar or the person investing the money.  So in the end, myself, Jay, and his parents rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in.  (In all fairness, the wife of the money man did a lot of cleaning too, but when it comes to manpower and hours you can do the math……..).

It took us 5 days and about 60 hours of scrubbing to get the place clean.  God only knows how it had been allowed to open and serve food before.  The amount of grease was disgusting, and the cooker hood alone took 3 days of de-gunking and steam cleaning.  We eventually finished on Tuesday before last, and then we flew around like mad things trying to buy food in and equip the kitchen properly so that we could open for business on the Thursday lunchtime.  We were like zombies before we’d even started!

But come Thursday, open we did.  The first day was pretty manic (each of us trying to figure out the best way of working, who should do what, that kind of thing) but essentially it went really well.

In the time since then it’s been a bit up and down.  The downside is that we’ve had a few run ins with the owner / manager and we have discovered that their people management skills are decidedly lacking.  Unfortunately the thing they’ll have discovered about myself and Jay is that we don’t suffer fools gladly, and do not shy away from responding to some of the crap that has come out of their mouths!!!  It’s also been really difficult to gauge how busy we’re going to be, so we’ve had some blinding days (Sunday lunch yesterday was a total sell out), but on the flipside on some nights we haven’t made enough money to even cover the electricity bill.  Because of this we haven’t even paid ourselves a wage yet, and are living on the tips I get given!!!  Let’s hope that changes soon otherwise we’re in trouble!!!

Also, some of the locals who live in the area keep going on about “the old days” (“I used to come here on a Thursday to have my lasagne”…….).  I sometimes reply that the old days used to involve plagues of rats and open sewers, and would they really want to go back to that?!

Their tastebuds seem to be lacking too.  I swear that if we served up a lard burger with lardons with a lard sauce it would be our best seller – I kid you not………….

But the upside is that when we have a busy day we feel like we’re getting somewhere, and it’s also been fantastic to receive compliments on our food and service.  Please keep your fingers crossed that (a) business picks up; and (b) we manage to survive the summer! , and (c) that we make enough money to get a mortgage for the land for the campsite AND sell the villa……………….and then get out of here!!!

So obviously there really isn’t anything else to tell you at the moment, because we spend most of our waking hours in a kitchen at The Village Inn!  Mick and Di (Jay’s parents) kindly offered to do the early breakfast shift, otherwise we’d be here even more, and their help has been invaluable in so many ways – too many to mention in fact.

But we are intending to have Tuesdays off, though the morning will be taken up with going to our Spanish lessons again (we’ve not been able to go for the last month because of sorting everything else out).  Maybe we’ll have a Tuesday afternoon adventure for me to tell you about in the next blog, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.  We’ll probably be sleeping, doing washing or cleaning in reality!!!!!

Well, I’m going to sign off again now.  Please post a comment if you can as it’s always great to hear from everybody.  Lots of love to all of you.  Take care, be happy and well.

Sharon and Jason xxxxxxxxx

PS – had our precious day off yesterday and it rained and rained and rained………. So I cleaned!  No Tuesday afternoon adventure to tell you about this week!!!

 

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Dear all
Well, it’s been a while since I last did a blog, and even though our trip technically finished last year and the Dingle is having a well deserved rest I thought it was time to put pen to paper and give you all an update of what’s been going on.
Sooooooooooo, we’re basically now living in Spain in Jason’s villa. Whilst we’ve been here we’ve been trying to sort out and decipher the world of Spanish bureaucracy – not an easy task a lot of the time! But we’ve managed to get Padrons, N.I.E. numbers, Residencias etc etc. All of this will mean absolutely nothing to most of you, but let’s just say it’s all the tedious crappy paperwork that needs to be done in order to live here! Still got quite a bit still to do but getting there slowly…….
In the meantime, we’ve been painting the villa – tarting it up in the hope of an eventual sale. So if anyone wants a 2 bed villa at the bargain price of 95,000 euros get in touch!!!
We’ve also got a car. We spotted a Hyundai Lantra in an auction and decided to go for it (after all, Jay did get the Dingle from e-bay!). She runs very well (so far), though the central locking is sometimes a little sluggish! But for 750 euros or thereabouts we haven’t done too badly, especially as the average second hand car goes for a lot more.
We’ve been going to Spanish classes too, though we quickly realised that our teacher’s concept of ‘basic’ is not the same as ours! Our second class consisted of us having to play charades in Spanish. Try and imagine me describing with very little vocabulary ‘Frankenstein’…… hmmm. Once I’d said “he’s a very tall, ugly man” I’d kind of run out of steam. Other mimes included ‘George of the Jungle’ and ‘Snow White and Seven Dwarfs’. I shall leave you with that thought. I’m sure you can visualise just how successful we were!
Since we’ve been here , the weather has been mostly gorgeous – really lovely sunny days, but cold at night. But at the end of last year when we first arrived there was a week of non-stop rain. At times it was so torrential it was impossible to do anything as the roads were so waterlogged. One day the number plate even came off the car because of the sheer amount of water that was rushing down the road. They even closed our road off and we couldn’t get back to the villa, so we were stranded in a local bar for an hour waiting for the floods to subside (and before you ask, we had coffees and not beer!).
We haven’t been here the whole time though – we have had a trip back to Jersey and London. I went home a few weeks earlier than Jay to see my family, and then we met once again in London to join lots of wonderful friends for Michelle and Tanja’s wedding. It was a fabulous weekend, with the obvious highlight being M & T’s special day – it was a glorious, spectacular, fun-filled day, and we felt truly honoured to be included in such a special occasion. The only downside was the pain suffered from too much bad dancing at the reception. I was essentially crippled, and had to hobble back to my hotel in the early hours of the morning. My feet have only just recovered now!
After this glorious shindig, we went back to Jersey for a week, again to catch up with family and friends. We had a very nice quiet Christmas, and became surrogate parents to Michelle and Tanja’s dog Claude (we were looking after him while they were on honeymoon).
On the 27th December it was time to fly back to Spain, and since we’ve been back we’ve managed to clarify a few bits and pieces…………
As some of you may know, we’d seen a beautiful piece of land that would have been perfect for our ‘dream’ business idea – to open up and run a small campsite. We had done quite a lot – met the family that owned the land, been to the local architect for advice and information, checked out competitors, put together a business plan – that kind of thing. Unfortunately, the momentum had started to slow – we were still all guns blazing, but when you’re beholden to others and they are on a “manana / tomorrow” timeframe, nothing happens quickly. Actually, nothing happens at all sometimes!
But the final nail in the coffin (but only for now, as the campsite WILL happen at some stage!) was when the banks we visited all said ‘no’ to our proposals. Now I know that they’re all scaredy cats at the moment and are being cautious, but our business proposition was / is good and we’re not even asking for a massive amount of money in reality. However, each bank came up with a variety of reasons for not supporting us (and this was despite us coming up with a dizzying array of options). Basically it all comes down to them being gutless, spineless, and minus a pair of balls too….. shall I say how I really feel now, or be a bit more subtle?! Answers on a postcard please, care of “The Bank of England”……………….
Anyway, if there are any entrepreneurs out there who have a spare 100,000 euros please do get in touch! We’ll even sort you out with a static home to live in for free – now you can’t get a better holiday offer than that, can you?!
So, whilst we were pondering our next move (and doing a few odd jobs here and there to keep our heads above water in a ‘workaway’ stylee!) we found out that a local bar was re-opening and needed someone to run the kitchen (thanks to Di and Mick for keeping their ears to the ground!). After a couple of meetings and bit of deliberation, it seems that myself and Jay will be taking this on as our new ‘baby’ for a little while, with Jay working in the kitchen and me being front of house. Not only will this help us see how businesses are run in Spain, it will also give us experience and contacts and hopefully get some money coming in!
Obviously it’s a risk and the hours long, but we’re going to give it a shot. Let’s start 2012 with a bang!
The kitchen side of the Village Inn in Catral will open some time early March, so in the meantime I am returning to the rock (from the end of January, to 18th February), to catch up with friends and family and do a little bit of work back at the Judicial Greffe. If the kitchen is successful (and I hope it is!) we’ll be working crazy hours and neither of us will have the opportunity to come back to Jersey for a visit for a little while. So I guess you’ll all have to come and see us (maybe you could do a washing up shift!)……
So guys – that’s it for now. Once the Village Inn is up and running I’ll try and do more updates as and when.
In the meantime, rest assured that the Dingle is sitting quite comfortably at Mick and Di’s villa, enjoying the sun on her back. She’s surrounded by trees, chickens and a rooster called Pascaule. And when her door is open Jasmine the psychotic cat goes inside to bask in the sunshine. Her retirement is going well so far……………..
Take care everyone. I hope 2012 is a great year for everyone. Please do get in touch as we love to hear from you.
Lots of love
Sharon and Jason xxxx


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  • David Petersen: Hey me hearties! In trying to track down volunteers Mike and Alison, I'm reminded of you two, our evil twins! Hope life is a paradise for you. I may n
  • Louise Shaw: Who could resist you Shaz!? Have a great Christmas! Looking forward to seeing you in the new year. Love, joy and tambourines Lou and Mark xx
  • Kathy Harries: Hey guys! Festive wishes from the harries family, and here's hoping for a cracking 2014! Jason (no. 2) is wandering if he qualifies for the family rat

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