Jill and I fly out via Stanstead and Seville staying in Vejer a few days before we meet the Notary and collect the keys. As we are confident everything is going to go ahead we spend a couple of days shopping for extra bedding and other essentials, mostly at IKEA in Jerez and El Corte Inglés. IKEA is like IKEAs everywhere. El Corte Inglés is similar to John Lewis with prices to match but did offer Winter-weight duvets! We also discovered Media Markt (electrical goods) and Leroy Merlin (DIY) just off the main road to Cadiz – electric radiators sorted. We were not going to suffer cold evenings in our new Vejer home!
Completion of the formalities, with the Notary, went to plan on Thursday 10th December and we had the keys by lunch time. We spent the afternoon moving in – transferring all our various purchases from the apartment we’d booked into to Casa Colina Blanca. Radiators on and empty house gradually warming up. All good and feeling like this was a wonderful opportunity, then the lights go out! It was 7.30 and dark, Jill had just started cooking our first evening meal in our new part-time home and all power had ceased. Being practical folk we did have a torch and candles at hand. Thinking we’d blown a fuse, we realised we didn’t know where the fuse box was. If you ever buy a house in Spain find the fuse box in daylight but probably best not to look too closely at wiring!
So, torch in hand we are looking in all the obvious places without success and in less obvious places! I even search along the outside wall but nowhere can we find a fuse box. Do Spanish houses actually have fuse boxes we wonder? In the end, we have to call our property agent seeking their advice. Esther arrives within 20 minutes and shows us the fuse box hidden discretely behind Van Gough’s sunflower print hanging near the front door where the mains did seem to come into the house. Now why didn’t I think of that?
We are advised that in Spain residents have to agree a limit on the electricity supply and pay a standing charge according to how much power they plan to use. Go over the limit and things start to trip out. It seems that the previous owners had reduced the “potencia” to the minimum to keep their costs down whilst the house was empty. While our agents got on to the utility company we had to be careful to turn off electric radiators while we were cooking for the moment. Fortunately, the hot water was sourced from an “instant” heat boiler running on gas cylinders so this didn’t add to the strain on our limited electricity supply.
We had a full week in the house before we were due to return to the UK for Christmas. Our agents also run a property refurbishment business so we spent time with Duncan looking at some essential refurbishments such as additional sockets (once the potencia was up-rated) and fitting a wood-burning stove and locating the flue. Yet again, being warm in the house in the cooler months was a high priority for us! We knew December days could be relatively warm compared to the UK but we also knew evenings were chilly and we really wanted this bolt-hole to be cosy all the year round.
This trip certainly wasn’t all work. We took time to explore the old town more and had some splendid beach walks with hardly a soul to be seen. One day we parked up at Los Canos de Meca and walked along the beach towards the lighthouse at Cape Trafalgar. Beyond the lighthouse, running north-west towards Zahora is a wonderful, sandy beach that soon became one of our favourite places to walk (it seems to be almost deserted for most of the year).
As we walked along the beach there was a fabulous sense of space around us and whilst there were significant clouds gathering out to sea but the sun was shining too. The clouds reflected in the receding tide and we began to understand just why this coastline is know as “The Coast of Light”. Walking on beaches like this, comfortably clothed, in mid-December affirmed some of the choices that had brought us here.
Later, wrapped in blankets and sitting on out on the roof terrace and watching the old town light up as night fell had the same impact. Life felt good!