Wish you were here


I RECALL a letter to the editor in which the correspondent waxed lyrical about her life in Spain. “I’m a single mum who came for a holiday and I stayed here. That was seven years ago and I still feel as though I am on holiday.”

I can understand the lady’s sentiments for I share them. In moments of reflection I compare my working life in Britain to my harder working life here. I have no regrets.

Retirement doesn’t mean you no longer work; on the contrary. The difference is that upon retirement you work because you want to, not because you have to. This is in itself very liberating.

Having ‘retired’ to Mediterranean Spain nine years ago it often occurs to me that for 365 days each year we enjoy what others work all year for. But, they get just one week or if they are better heeled than most two weeks.

It gets better: For those of us who relocate to Spain our holiday has bells and gizmos on. The earlier mentioned visitors work hard for their week in our paradise. Sadly, this doesn’t afford enough time to bed in and become acclimatised to the local life, fiestas, and watering holes and for many, attractions they are unaware of.

I am sure many will agree that before retirement we too forked out for holidays from hell. Never forgotten a week in what was for us a mediocre vacation to say the least in Lanzarote. We would try again next year but that was trying too.

We chose Devon and again massive fail. The raindrops were the length of stair rods. My most memorable recollections were café tables being carried away in the giddy torrents and upon my return home my depleted bank account.

Of course, tourists in their innocence are unknowing. How often we see holidaymakers enjoying restaurants that few repatriates would venture into. Only over time do you discover those quintessentially Spanish tapas bars where the price of a satisfying lunch is less than the cost of a British pint.

In fairness, I imagine many of us, inspired by a package holiday abroad, set our thoughts on a life of leisure in Spain. This was how it was for me so the genesis of my being here was a winter week spent in Benidorm of all places.

Okay, feel free to groan but that seven-day break was hors d’oeuvres for me. The difference being is that we now call them tapas. I prefer tapas, I am sure you do too.