It was twenty-one years ago when we arrived in the Hondon Valley. It was August and very hot because of the continuation of a five year drought, with the shrubs and the trees rather more brown than green. Now, and similar to other parts of Spain, after a few years of early winters’ we are once again being blessed with warm weather in late October.
It was in the same month of that year of arrival when the weather finally broke and the rains subjected us to a ‘Gota Fria’ with high winds and lashings of water hurtling around our home, which went on for two days before it subsided into a drizzle. After it was over the sun returned and, like magic, the foliage turned green.
Our decision to move to Spain and the thought of retiring was not to be living near to the coast – we wanted somewhere inland and so it came to be, we fell in love with the property overlooking the Hondon Valley, the nearest village about a mile away in the real Spain.
For two people used to a busy life in bustling towns it came as a shock. This little community, more like a large hamlet of about seven hundred people, who spoke their own version of Spanish, was charming, and so out of date with modern living.
We were the only English speakers and also the only foreigners, although the locals were very friendly and helpful, they tended to look at you as one would a snake that has invaded your garden.
When we bought the property we were promised a telephone within five days by Telefonica. They did not say when the five days was to start, and that is when we learned the meaning of the Spanish word ‘manana’ as it took thirty seven months before it became a reality.
That was compounded at the time by two scratchy television programmes flickering from the screen in Spanish.
There was no internet or mobile phone facilities, although there was an Internet Café some forty return miles away.
We started to feel as though we had made a mistake as, at that time, there was no Autostrada for an easy trip to the coast and the English-speaking communities residing there. The only way to communicate locally was by sign language or by drawing pictures. Although we started to learn some Spanish, in a pigeon sort of way, the locals also had some English and would be happy to practise it on us.
Yes, as the months passed, we started to feel very lonely. However, the living was low cost. It was before the arrival of the Euro, with the exchange rate of the Peseta being very good at fifteen hundred to the pound – cheap!
From those humble beginnings following our arrival, the village is now totally different with all modern facilities, and spread across the valley are dozens of beautiful detached properties in their own space, cleverly integrated with agriculture, grape vines and almond trees which bloom in January, giving a pink glow across the folds in the hills.
The village has blossomed into a thriving community including decent restaurants and other facilities and, at a beautiful venue a short distance away, Welsh singer Tom Jones gave a concert. The future is bright and looking good.
There were two news items recently that caught my attention in one, Tom Hagyard a trainee solicitor, sexually assaulted two women at a housewarming party. He fondled a drunken law student and later groped a sleeping medical student. He was jailed for eight years.
In the other case the accused was also jailed for the same amount of time, eight years; the difference in the two cases is that the latter, a frenzied driver, was driving at an excessive speed, 141 miles per hour. He drove round a blind bend and mowed down two women, killing them both. With loving respect to women everywhere, I do not see how we can compare the two events.
Just a thought about electric cars, which in real terms are not new as we had electric milk floats a long time ago. It has just taken a long time to develop a family car probably brought on by the green lobby concerning fumes and climate change.
The vehicle manufacturers distribute figures of endurance and mileage covered on a full charge. I am wondering if they are as inaccurate as the figures that are published as many new owners have been disappointed with the true MPG results.
So what is the difference between the published figure for distances achieved for an electric vehicle and a fully loaded car going on holiday with the family?
We also must not forget how emissions from new vehicles by some manufacturers were shown to be far less than the true figure, which has resulted in major court cases and heavy fines given to the perpetrators, with compensation paid to those out of pocket as a result of the fraud.
With the UK determined to have all new motor vehicles powered by a battery pack by 2030, my guess is after that date, if you want a new petrol driven car, you would need to go abroad. It will probably be a good idea to go to Africa to buy one, as I do not see that particular continent without new normal powered transport. How can you have charging points every few miles in desert- like terrain?
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