As soon as we returned from Alicante in early May, we started working out if our idea of buying a holiday home in Spain was feasible - not least financially. After realising that it was, we had to wait until everything was in place before making the formal offer on the apartment we had viewed near El Campello tram station. While we were waiting, we thought about how we would get Dexter down there on a regular basis, and so bought an old-ish but very serviceable campervan. Finally we were in a position to make the offer and, with the agent's assurances that everything was going ahead - but with no signed acceptance by the seller - we nervously booked the camper onto a cross-channel ferry.
June - Offer Accepted
We reckoned we could make it to El Campello in three days and we did just make it, stopping at Amboise in France and Pamplona in Spain. But it was hard work!
We arrived at the estate agents to have the rather complicated (but very Spanish) situation explained to us, but soon everything was agreed. We spent the next few days rushing around getting Spanish NIE numbers, opening a bank account, and signing many papers at the notary's office. Completion was provisionally agreed for the first of August, so - given that this was only a two-week break - it was time to head back to the UK.
But having another campervan/motorhome meant that the holiday was not over. The return was at a much more leisurely pace. The first night was in a small place called Navajas, and the second in the more familiar (to us at least) Sitges, where we were fortunate to arrive for a festival at which the streets are covered with pictures and designs made entirely of flowers.
Crossing into France, we stopped at a place on the Canal du Midi near Beziers called Villeneuve-les-Beziers, followed by (after crossing the Millau Viaduct) a campsite in Murat. The last three stops were in the cathedral cites of Bourges and Chartres, and in (one of our regular haunts) Le Touquet.
July / August - The Purchase
Because of work, Steve was unable to go over to hand over the money and sign the deeds etc., so it had been arranged that - armed with a power of attorney - Phil would fly over to take care of it all. Quite different to the way it's all handled in the UK - and seeming to include the divorce of the couple who were selling to us - all the parties were all sat around one table, and cheques and cash distributed.
Soon however Phil had a set of keys in his hand, and was off to explore our new (holiday) home.
September - Creating (and Enjoying) a New Home
To maximise the amount of time we had to work on the apartment, it was decided that Phil and Dexter would leave in the camper a few days earlier than Steve, who would fly out. They stayed in a campsite in Sees in Normandy the first night, followed by two nights at our friend Jackie's in the Charente. After saying goodbye to her, her mother (and Teddy), he crossed into Spain for two stops - Pamplona and Navajas.
Arriving at our El Campello apartment, he set up a (leaking) blow-up bed before collecting Steve from Alicante Airport the next morning. The next two weeks passed quickly, what with all the shopping, deliveries, furniture assembly (yes, they have Ikea in Spain!) and workmen, although we tried where possible) to get daily late-afternoon beach-breaks.
But finally we were in a position to welcome our close friend Phil, as our very first guest. As well as showing him around El Campello, Alicante and Benidorm, we were able - with him - to explore new places, such as the picturesque mountain village of Guadalest.
But - as with all holidays - it all ended too soon. Phil dropped Phil and Steve off at the airport, while he and Dexter headed back overland. He decided to check out a route to the east of Paris, so started off around the Med stopping for the first night at Vinaros. After leaving there and while crossing into France, the next 24 hours consisted of virtually nothing but torrential rain. The camper's air vents became flooded, resulting in two nights waiting for help from the rescue services in an aire in Villeneuve-les-Maguelone, near Montpelier. Phil and Dexter eventually got moving again, and managed to make up all the time. The remaining journey involved stops at Beaune and in the Somme. There was even time to walk around the city walls of the northern French town of Montreuil before catching the ferry back to Dover.
December - ¡Feliz Navidad!
We were interested to see what the temperature was like in El Campello during the Winter, so set off in mid-December in the camper. The weather luckily couldn't have been better, with clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s.
Steve's Mum flew in for the first week, and with her we visited first Benidorm and then Calpe, with its mountain behind.
The second week was Christmas week. We didn't want to do anything traditional, so plumped for an Indian meal on the 25th. We also did some more exploring, visiting the resort of Altea.
Too soon however it was New Year's Day, and time to head back to the UK.
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