Sent from typepad
Sent from my iPhone
Well, it has been nearly three months since my last post. Losing my handbag certainly started me on a fast track learning curve, but it gave me a quick insight into life on "the Coast", now all that is sorted. Frankly, I would have rather given them the €15 if they would have left me with my documents, but actually even that was an interesting process and so, we move on.
At the beginning on December we did our first few performances of the Panto. We had three different venues and made lot of money for our chosen charities which ranged from Chaplaincy funds to helping a homeless charity. The best thing though was the friendships made and the sense of belonging to a group of people. Pauline Hulme our director is great at drawing talent out from people who didn't know they had any!
John and I have stated a few hobbies; he goes to Digital photography and I go to drawing and painting - both classes by courtesy of thee University of the Third Age - (U3A)!
John and I are now regulars at he church here - we always thought we would go along to a Spanish church when we lived here, and although we have attended a couple of Spanish services, we now find ourselves very much involved with the English speaking congregation of the Anglican Chaplaincy here - to the point that finally John was given permission to officiate and lead the service preached his first sermon there last Sunday. It was very well received . The new chaplain arrived two weeks ago- an ex-benedictine monk (!) - his name is Alaric and we are keen to discover how it will all go. We'll keep you posted on that one. Apparently, he's a bit of a musician and is into films- sounds interesting.
So, after Christmas, we started rehearsing for the first of a series of concerts with our chorus Touch of Class. We are a non-profit group putting on concerts to raise funds for various causes on the coast. Last night we performed the first concert at an ecumenical centre here in Fuengirola . The centre is a base for language learning, but also feeds the Homeless or struggling families twice a week. So, the money raised went to them for their work. I have had the privilege to be part of a team that feeds around 40 men and women every two weeks and my Spanish has been considered an asset as I am the only one currently who speaks fluently so I can chat to our "guests" and relate their problem to the lovely assistant who then refers them to Social Services.
I also teach Spanish to a couple of friends who are longing to be in a position to chat to their Spanish friends and neighbours. I so admire their determination to get to grips with the lingo and they are doing fine.
Oh and that's the other thing - we can now have access to the public health here - so that's a relief. I have also been helping an elderly lady who broke her hip on the Sunday before Christmas by falling from the church steps on to hard concrete. Pat is the most amazing 86 yearold who has lived here for many years. I accompanied her into hospital to help with translation and after her daughter came out, I went with her and still do so - to act as interpreter between doctor, patient. and daughter. Again, another experience - seeing the Health system here in action.
The Health provision here is excellent if you are part of it, with a brilliant use of technology that carries all your details on one plastic card that goes between all doctors and even the pharmacist - so no problem with mislaid records. However, if you are not part of the system - as is the case with many of our homeless - the story is very different. Emergency treatment, yes, but prescriptions cost a fortune - it's tough!
Well, on a lighter note, after having no sun on our terrace since November, it is beginning to creep back around again with all the promise the "Costa del Sol" holds. Apparently, we have just had the coldest winter in memory - typical - the Suttons have arrived! However, as you who have seen my Facebook statuses will know, we have also had loads of sun and wonderful walks on the beaches. It's just a question of looking for it.
Since I last wrote, we have had visits from my brother John and Gloria, my sister-in-law as well as our good friends Bill and Penny. We have visited a few great restaurants and life is good.
This post is far too long, so if you are still with me, thank you. The next few months will see us returning to the UK for Esther's important birthday, plus a trip to Dubai where we will attend the wedding of some friends and John will conduct the spiritual side of their marriage.
Oh and for those wondering, Oscar is just fine and has adapted well.
Well, on Wednesday, we got our "residence" documents completed. We celebrated with a glass of wine on "becoming Spanish citizens" (not really, but it felt like becoming more permanent fixtures).
"Empadronado" Tick.This means our local authority can claim money from the Eu for having us
Spanish car - left hand drive: tick
As I drove along on Thursday having dropped John at the airport to pay a brief visit to the UK, I really felt I was driving "home' to walk the dog. Later, I was looking forward to another rehearsal of the Panto to be performed on 5th and 6th December.
Yep! Walking the dog, felt good.
That's when the new car was broken into and all my documents stolen - including the newly acquired residence paper, my passport and driving licence, direct debit cards (Spanish and English) - all gone!
Panic! Headless chicken-like rage and frustration. Broken glass all over the driver's seat, bag gone!
But that is also when I realised how many good friends and neighbours we have already acquired. Several came to my aid, willingly and warmly. John was not with me, but everything is quickly sorted and I feel supported and cared for - God's hands in the flesh. I am grateful to them all and I have learned a valuable lesson about life in Spain - don't leave valuables in the car.
But hey, no one was hurt and "worse things happen at sea". We live and learn .
I thank the Lord, that while I am not protected from bad things, I am surrounded by good people; from the first lady I met in the road, immediately afterwards who stayed with me, accompanied by her 14 year old son, until, my car was towed away and our good friends Ian and Janice came to pick me up .
Ian and Janice took me to the locksmith, made a cup of tea and took me to the police station. We shared some tapas with me too + chocolate. The police were sympathetic and helpful. In the waiting room, I spoke with a small boy and his dad - he boy had been half-strangled by his older brother who had literally put a noose aroung his neck and the neck of his sister to try to kill them. What is a broken window and a stolen bag in comparison with that life changing event?
I pray that little boy is not psychologically scarred, but I am afraid he will be without the correct help.
Meanwhile, thanks to modern technology, I was able to speak to John by Facetime as soon as he arrived at Nick's in the UK.
Another Spanish adventure, tucked away.
Ah 7:30 am - it's still dark but the mowers have started on the golf course. For some, another day of hitting a ball with a stick has begun
Now then, where did they take the car to be repaired.....?
This week has been all about becoming Spanish residents.
It started with needing to buy a car - with the steering wheel on the correct side so that joining a main road would not be quite so dangerous. Straight forward you would think - wrong!
We found a car - great under a scheme that's called 0:00kms. These are show room cars, already registered but not sold in the time they should be. We found one - a lovely Peugeot 2008 for a very good discount. So, all we had to do was transfer the money, right? No, not quite so simple!
First of all you need your documentation as a foreigner - your NIE document. Now, we have had an NIE number for about 12 years, but the lawyers never gave us the document, so buying a car is impossible - even in this digital age when all our info is on someone's computer anyway.
Our lawyers don't even exist under the same name anymore so we set about going to the local National Police station to get a replacement - easy? No!
A volunteer rattles off what we had to do, including having our wedding certificate translated with an appointment to get it on 6 November. Will we lose the car? No, a deposit will suffice - heave a sigh of relief, but the NIE, did we understand what we had to do - not sure!
However, I thought we should ring oour original lawyers and - miracle - they had all our stuff archived and could send us an email to get he buying of our car underway. Hooray!
Now for the money transfer - yes, really straight forward. Money in account, but hang on - can't transfer it to car compnay - over our limit. Grrr! Money in account, this is crazy. Visit to bank - issue sorted out!
Now all of this must be understood in the context of prayer. A few months ago, while preparing an opening word for Heart2Heart in Hornchurch, I was thinking of Jesus' words about prayer. He said (words to the effect of..) "If you pray in my name, you will say to that mountain, 'Move' and it will move. If you have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed you will do great things in my name" .
Now, I always thought (forgive me, Lord) that was a grave exageration. :0\} 'That is silly" I said to myself. Until, I prayed about it and realised the "mountain" was/were the seemingly insurmountable thing(s) in our lives. In His name, pray and these things would move.
Now last Sunday we wnet to the church called "La Iglesia de la Palabras de Poder" (The Church of the Words of Power), and that is exactly what the preacher spoke about. So, all this week when we have found the Spanish bureaucracy threatening to over whelm and confound, this is what we have thought about - and "Ain't no mountain high enough".
Bit, by bit the mountain has come down and we have seen the apparently impenetrable cliff of paperwork come crumbling down - we should pick the car up early next week!! Yeah!!
Meanwhile we have enrolled in the local and European voting system so that the local council can claim money for us from the EU govt and we can moan about services - should we wish to!!
We also now have an appointment to become residents for Nov 11th - Remembrance day and our son's wedding anniversary. For this we need to prove we will not be a financial burden for the state (Spain) and we are married (translated marriage cert!) [40 years all told - and they want proof!!!]
So, there we are - settling in . Are we discouraged? Not really. Frustrated? Sometimes! Happy ? Yes!
You'll also be glad to know, Oscar is settling in and receiving more medical (preventative) care than we are!
My brother and sister-in-law come next week and we are looking forward to sharing our new home with its (currently) glorious weather with them.
We are able to keep in touch with family and friends thanks to Facetime, Facebook, Whattsapp, Skype and phone!
My drawing class is coming on well, but more importantly I am getting to know people through it, while John is studying more digital photography.
Here's the car!!
Well, John reminded me today we have now been here six weeks.
Last week, our daughter Esther and her parter Al, came to stay with us, and as with all visitors, one tends to do things one wouldn't normally do. To begin with , the night they arrived, as it was Fuengirola week we went to the festival in towm. It was really just a huge noisy fairground scene, but local women were dressed in flamenco style dresses and some of the men were dressed in the typical dress of a flat, wide rimmed hat, a tight jacket and pants - designed for strutting around town on a horse. We're not big on fairs, but it was interesting to see people walking around in their national dress.
We also played golf - of sorts - at the driving range, which was huge fun and went on a wine tasting which involved driving up the narrowest, steepest streets in a white village called Álora.
So, the week came and went, but having them here helped us settle in that bit more.
The Sunday before we attended church at 'The Ark Christian Fellowship' in Fuengirola - a great occasion, as for the first time, they combined their service with the Spanish congregation and so it was great to be part of a lively bi-lingual celebration of faith . It will probably become our regular church.
We have now registered with the University of the 3rd Age (U3A) - this week I start a course of painting and drawing. John will begin more gphotoraphy next week.
The weather is changing temperatures cooling off, but today was still 23degrees. We have had three heavy downfalls of rain and ground previously covered in dried brown bush, is now greening up at an amazing rate. As I write I am looking up at the mountain, glorious in afternoon sunshine and the white village of Mijas is sparkling in the sun.
It still doesn't seem real, somehow, but we're here.
ÁLORA - ancient city originally founded by the Phoenicians. Village of narrow, steep streets and good wine tasting!
aaaawwww! - I have to tell you folks, that's howl I felt last night.
The sky was growling and lights were flashing. water was pouring down and I was scared; I have to admit, I was shaking and was not able to find any place that made me feel comfortable.
Of course, my family were trying to make me feel better, cuddling me and making cooing noises - which clearly, I did not understand, but even hiding under the bed made no difference. There was growling all around and then light flashing straight away. Don't know why my family weren't worried, but they were trying to sleep through it and I tried to keep them awake. They were nice about it, but it was only when the growling stopped did I fall asleep. I was exhausted.
Well, this morning, when I could see, we all got up and Bopa took me for a walk. There was mud all over the place, but we got down to some grass and it was ok. Then , Trot-trot said, "let's go to the beach".
Now, I don't know what beach means, but we got in the car and went to the "see-sayed". All I can say was it was odd!
The dirt was yellow and the lake was really rough. I went down to look at it and it ran after me!
Trot-trot took her shoes off and stood in it - even when it was chsing up to her, and though she shrieked, she said it was lovely and she made me stand in it - No way mate! what's more it tastes funny,
Anyway, we had a nice time and took a 'selfy' and they went for a beeerrh while I cooled off. Some small people came to stroke me and made "Wooh" noises. they stopped when I licked them and shrieked. Small people are funny, but ok I suppose,
So, here I am relaxing before dinner, I suppose they'll try given me that dorg fud stuff, I like their fud better though.
Here's the selfy
Oh well woof soon,
Well, yesterday was a big day for me!
In the morning, Trot-trot popped me in the car, I thought , to take me for a nice grassy run, but instead she took me to the groomers!
The worst part is, that this "Salon for Dogs" is in the Vet's and I hate vets. It's the smell of fear. So naturally I tried to get out, but she had me on the end of the lead so I couldn't escape.
The indignity of it, they chained me up!!! Anyway, in the end it was OK, but I had a very close shave and all my black and brown spots are on show for all to see - bit embarrassing. I'll show you a picture in a minute.
Still, I got my own back cos when they got back from some do, Bopa took me out on to the golf course in the dark - my favourite place - and I found a skeleton . So, I dug it up - Bopa didn't notice, and I hopped on the bed next to Trot-trot's face and started chewing on it, an earwig, crawled out, I didn't care, but Bope did a kind of scream and shouted - "Look what he's eating and what's that crawling out of it?"
Well, Trot-Trot grabbed me from behind my front legs, which always makes me drop things and then she had to get rid of the earwig quick too, 'cos Bopa was panicking a bit.
So, that's it, my exciting day _ I think I'll spend today sleeping. (Trot-trot tried to take me out really early this morning while it was still dark, but I just said "No" and refused to move. That worked and now we're all having a nice little kip together).
After moving from Hornchurch, the familiar gardens at Langton's , the Harrow Lodge fields, my brief stay in Woodford was very nice. There was a nice garden to play in and the owners - friends of my family - didn't mind at all that I pooped on "Popa's Lawn" - they even played catch with me. They weren't very good though because every time they threw the ball and I picked it up, they always had to make a huge effort to come to get the ball from me and throw it again - I don't think they understood my "no-fetch" policy.
Walking up on the Green, I remembered old trails from when I was a pup and when Trot-trot took me to the house where I was brought up it really was like "coming home", but we couldn't stay long and two little people were living there now and playing in my garden. I just left them a scent to remember me by!
But the day came when my family packed up the car again and put me in the middle of the back seat, strapped in. I was scared and I panted for a long time until finally we stopped and I was able to get out, run around and sniff in a big "Kah-baark" or something like that.
After that, I enjoyed driving the car; the "eer-com" kept me cool and I could see where we were going. Just before going into a long "Ton-el" my family walked me in a really good poop park with water and clean up bags and everything. They seemed really pleased with it, so of course, I cooperated.
After that we stayed in the car for days and only stopped to let me get out and to sleep. People were very nice to me and I slept with Trot-Trot and Bopa every night and even went to the eating places with them and sat under the chairs.
One day though we got to a new place and they kept saying "Hume or "Hoam" and expecting me to like it. They put my bed there and brought out all my toys - don't know how they got here!
But then came walks in horrible dry places - no green grass and lots of poo everywhere - humans are so dirty. Lots of different dogs, no sign of Alfie anywhere.
I haven't made any real friends yet, but I am getting used to it, I especially love running on the "Gor-curse" after the sun has gone down -it reminds me of "UK? Hoam" (I don't know why people keep refering to UK? - of course I am UK if I am with my family).
Of course it is hot here, and yesterday my family took me to "thevets' - I didn't get any needles stuck me or fingers up my bottom, but I didn't like the smell - scary!
A woman tried to give me chicken as a bribe - but I'm not falling for that on. Next thing you know you're up on a table andsomeone is shaving your hair off - ha! ha! very funny!
Anyway, got to go!
You know how it is, corners to sniff, other flats to investigate and bottoms to sniff.
By the way this is a picture of me in the "porta loo" toilet and shower we had one night in France - it was funny!, but Trot-Trot kept in saying "It's UK it's Kleen" (At least, I think that's what she was saying)
I want to record this, so I can look back and read it if things change!
Right now, I am aware of waves of well being breaking over me.
We are living in a lovely apartment with a beautiful view. Though the dawns are often grey in this season, the sun soon breaks through and the skies clear. The mountain may be shrouded in mist at 8:30 am but by 9 it slowly appears again with all its grooves and ridges.
On some mornings we can see the Atlas mountains and the coast of Morrocco - one day, we will take that ferry and visit. It will require speaking French, but an adventure to savour.
The word for clear skies in Spanish is 'cielos despejados' - the same word, 'despejadamente' is used for 'speaking clearly' - a beautiful metaphor for honesty and frankness.
The weather is cooling somewhat and I have celebrated my first Spanish birthday in the place of our retirement. Every day, we meet people of different nationalities and while it does suit their economy - no doubt about that - the Spanish are far more accepting of their foreign neighbours than we are in the UK. I feel for them as they must walk down the streets of their iconic villages and hear not one native tongue, but rather English, Danish, German and Russian. In the UK we feel invaded by other nations, in this part of Spain, they learn the visitors' language and serve them!
On Sunday we went to the Evangelical Church service in Fuengirola, held in the Swedish church on the front. We were met with a warm welcome, and the leader - our friend, Rev. Ian Bell invited us up front to speak - no warning!!
We had an opportunity to speak of God's goodness. As Christians, we don't expect to ever fully retire - as St Paul reminded us in his letter to the Phillipians, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain". We truly believe the Lord uprooted us a year early from Hornchurch, not just for their benefit (!), but possibly because he has a job for us to do here. We look forward to knowing what and where that is.
A few years ago, I thought a lot about - "Putting on Christ" and then as now, I believe just as we "put on" clothes that others may see us, we "put on " Christ that others may see Him in us. We are a 'work in progress' but we truly believe He can use us to His honour and Glory.
John just looked out and actually sighed in contentment - so we both feel the same - thankful and content.
Well, here we are 10 days into our residence in Spain.
We still feel as if we're on holiday and it's hard to take on board that we have no where to go back to!
Of course, we will return to the UK to see our family and friends, but we have no HOME there - this is our HOME and that is what we have to get into our heads.
Happily, Oscar is beginning to settle down though we did get home to a digestive disaster on Friday night after leaving him alone for 5 hours - bless him.
The 5 hours were spent at the home of our friends Les and Angie and 8 other people from the complex. So kind of L&A to put on an evening to introduce us to the "locals". It was lovely to find out about them and to share a little of ourselves with them in return.
Last night we had Janice and Ian come round - Ian is now presenting on Revelation tv here in La Cala, but having national reach, it's amazing to think that our small town has such an interesting tv station. A bit like Premier Radio in UK, but tv!
So, we're settling in. The weather is definitely cooler so I was able to take Oscar for his longest walk yet this morning, at just under 2 miles. However, I have decided to go on my own at least once during the day to get fitter and to ensure that " that this oh too solid flesh would melt"!
Here are some photos of my morning walks - apologies to Facebook followers who will have already seen them.