“In each human heart is a tiger, a pig, an ass, and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity!”
Now, where was I… Not ‘the bravest girl on the block,’ I nevertheless had a handy store of optimism and surprised myself by my determination to beat the pesky, would-be burglars I was aware of lurking like wary wolves. No exaggeration! OK there was no snowstorm, north wind blowing or eerie howling, but we (the seven or so couples residing on the site) knew that cigarettes glowing in the darkness of half-built houses, meant itinerants camping out and keeping watch. We quickly formed a “Neighbourhood Watch” after the window frame and intricate metal grille of the house behind us was removed and electrical goods stolen, and I disturbed a guy using a pole as a battering ram to break in the font door, three houses down. I never thought I could yell so loud… but three male saviours came running and the guy quickly disappeared. Although my brother: a building surveyor in the UK, had examined and put his “Seal of approval” on the standard and quality of our property, there was a small design fault in that the Spanish had a liking for a miniscule, additional, walled enclosure at the side of the house, in which they housed their washing machines, which was open to the elements, and – you guessed it – a burglar’s dream come true. We covered ours up pronto. Not so our neighbour, who unwisely left everything of value in one bag, available, along with his pin number… You couldn’t believe it! Perhaps, having lived through W.W. II, we were more stoic than we thought. You know… “Can’t let the buggers win…” sort of attitude. Fortunately, after that, the police made regular, visible appearances and the villainy was more contained and gradually lessened and more or less disappeared.
Our nearest, lively, town: Torrevieja – just three miles away – has a buzz, even in the cooler days of winter. There are ample shops, a Salt Museum (the area famous for its generous salt lakes), an Art Gallery and two theatres, plus a multitude of cafes and restaurants. And I mustn’t forget our fascinating old Casino of Moorish design. It is a most pleasant place to sit and watch the world pass by while sipping a Café con leche or something stronger. (Although the Casino wasn’t completely destroyed in the serious 1829 earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1896 in the “Fin de Siecle” style by the architect Aznar. It became the “Sociedad Cultural Casino de Torevieja” and many Concerts, Balls; Art and Photographic exhibitions have been held there).
Despite the original, most annoying hiccups, there were so many distractions and the weather was so glorious, our enthusiasm was only slightly dampened. The fact that we could see that cobalt-blue Mediterranean sea lapping the shore in the near distance from our large solarium, was a huge plus and there were so many places to explore and friends to be made… Ever since living in a small, friendly community on a mountain-side in Wales during the last war, I had unconsciously hankered after a repeat of the rewarding experience. We all seemed to need each other for one reason or another. My husband made furniture and was a dab hand at DIY, and being a practical and helpful man, found himself, at 73, much sought after. In fact, during the first five years there, our house was a bit like Piccadilly Circus with human traffic requesting help of one form or another. In between the graft, we had many, jolly parties on solariums to celebrate everyone’s birthdays, new life, or their dog’s arrival in their household!
With not enough hours in the day, we continued to make our new house a home, and set about titivating it further, until satisfied. Meanwhile, there were acres of beach-side and countryside to explore and our car’s wheels were ever turning. Between Torrevieja nearby and Moraira: a favourite destination, further along the coast, were many attractive coastal towns to visit, one in particular called Altea. Chosen as a ‘seat of learning,’ the town houses a University and is justly proud of its cultural standing and artistic bent. Answering a call of nature, I soon realised the bohemian side of Altea by the shape of the handles in the loo; (“Shield your eyes, Mabel!”) and the ‘his’ and ‘her’ paintings on the doors were an amusing surprise… Many concerts are held in Altea, and the Cathedral at the summit is an impressive building. The day we were there, we were blessed by the impromptu, soulful, guitar playing of a visiting musician. Optimism was in the air! I wish I’d had my camera with me as the view from a high balcony across the ocean to Benidorm, was memorable with sea and sky competing and the ‘white horses’ playing by the hem of the rocks.
It’s a strange phenomenon, retirement, because every now and then, I was aware of not working – or going out to work – and felt a tad guilty just swanning around so much… (I didn’t know what was around the corner then) but I at least joined a Pilates class to save my ageing body from wrack and ruin. One other, equally important, issue was bothering me. I wasn’t writing!! How could that be… I set about writing a monthly “Donkey Oti” (think about it…) Urbanisation Newsletter” with the competent assistance of an aptly-named Ron Merry (always obliging) to distribute among our ever-growing urbanisation (eventually 172 properties). And, yes, our swimming pool was finished, and a large, handy supermarket built in walking distance, so lucky us. Things were looking up
As studying human beings and what makes them tick (from a lay person’s viewpoint) colours some of my time, I must introduce several characters who gradually peopled our “Urb.” The first – she could not be ignored – was a former, just retired, ex Fleet Street journalist, clutching a very RED pen… A Miss with a capital M, she showed much interest in my Newsletter, so I asked if she’d like to help. ‘In what capacity?’ she asked. ‘Assistant Editor?’ I suggested, for our Newsletter was growing as more and more casas rose to greet the sky and tenants filled them. For obvious reasons, I shall refer to my new assistant as Loretta. She proved to be a hard-hitting, down to earth, masculine-woman, who preferred dogs to most people; disliked children and smoked her living-room (who needed a brush?!) to a dull shade of yellow. BUT what tales she told of her travels around the world! Sadly, she is no longer with us, but we will long remember her acerbic tongue and strong presence.
Two other, male tenants rented a villa nearby and raised a few, conservative eyebrows. The older man of the two – well tanned – sometimes popped in for coffee of a morning wearing nought but a satin – G-string and a smile, and his partner, Marlon, was a sweet, most likeable guy. We hit it off straight away and he now and then asked my husband’s “permission” to whisk me off to shop… They were the source of great fun and we had a few, beautifully catered for, parties on their patio. They planned buying and running a small hotel and we inspected several likely properties further afield with them, but they were too fussy and ended up buying a house instead, and – being fidgety souls – ended up returning to the UK and opening a café there.
With gardens gradually blooming – with the ubiquitous, colourful Lantana, Bougainvillea and Hibiscus popular, plus the more reasonable cost of living when compared to the UK/Ireland and Sweden, and the more settled climate, the majority of newcomers in our maturing “village” seemed happy enough. And, although I wasn’t actively looking for more work, IT found ME! As many of the householders were part-time, we were asked to “Please look after our spare keys/switch on the electrics/buy a few groceries for visitors,”etc. With me being a bit of a soft touch, my husband held up his hand and said “Stop” and I became a paid “Home Service Operative” alias cleaner. Eventually, on a part-time basis, I looked after four/five villas for a few years. It kept the corpuscles working and me in trim. Although then in my 70s, I still had plenty of energy. Thereafter, I had a few minor health issues, so decided to cut back the work and concentrate on my writing.
Joining the Torrevieja Writing Group was a wise and desirable move, and I – along with my husband – also joined The U3A (University of Learning). I became a group leader of the latter, which led to a lot of fun and meeting more interesting, talented people. I then learned that the Cultural Department of the Torrevieja Town Hall were running their first International Short Story Competition…
More “Spanish shenanigans” soon…
Hasta la próxima
© Copyright Joy Lennick 2019
Joy, I love your virve for life! You make your Spain sound simply lovely!
Thank you, Jacquie. It’s been quite a ride and I count myself very lucky. Hugs xx
You have had an amazing life. And the adventures keep on coming!
Hi, Joy. I get a kick and a
half from your stories. See ya!
Hi Neil, Thank you. My ‘other half’ has helped enormously in that he is so practical while having an excellent sense of humour – surely the best aid to sanity?! Cheers. x
Lived reading this Joy and learning something about your interesting life.
Thank you little Miss! Keep well and keep travelling. Hugs x
Always fun to read your posts, Joy!
Glad you enjoyed reading them, Becky. Thank you. xx
This is such fun to read Joy 💜🦇
What an adventure. I think the thieves would have rattled me, but I’m glad they were eventually run off. And how fun to have beaches and shops and good food and great neighbors. 🙂
Thank you for reading and commenting, Diana. Do hope you are having a more peaceful and easier life now. (My mind goes back to my own, dear parents!) May your words bond with the pages….as they usually do! x
nowhere is suitable for a satin g-string in my opinion haha 🙂
I certainly wouldn’t wear one…They look most uncomfortable. x
I’m so envious of your beautiful colorful life in Spain Joy. I’m living vicariously through your posts to pretend I’m there. ❤
Bless you. Glad you enjoyed it. It’s only when you look back, that you realise just how much you did…We’re still plodding along! Hugs xx PS IF you have time….is it a cheek to ask you to run your eyes over part of a m/s I’m writing. Debby? It’s only half finished and I’ve never had anyone read before publishing, but this is very much a Jewish story and I’d appreciate your comments. Please be truthful!! IF you say yes…(Can you send your email address via Messenger? Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks. x
This was just wonderful, Joy! Your descriptions were a pleasure to read (understatement) and show your joy for life. Hats off to you!
Thanks Jennie. Always pleasing to know someone has actually read your words and enjoyed them. Much appreciated. x
My pleasure, Joy! You are welcome. They were terrific. 🙂
A most entertaining account of your life in Spain, Joy. You certainly were active doing housework for five villas. I hope you didn’t go shopping with your friend wearing his satin G-string.
Hardly! Can you imagine… Glad you enjoyed my scribbles Robbie… Thank you for reading. Hugs xx
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
For those of you who are missing the odd guest post from Joy Lennick, here is a treat for you as she is writing Letters from Spain and very entertaining they are too.. This is the second and covers some of their experiences when Joy and Eric first moved into their development 20 years ago with burglars on the doorstep and through every open window, to some of the characters that have graced their lives. Highly recommended and please head over to enjoy.. thanks Joy.. a lovely end to Sunday.
If I didn’t thank you, elsewhere, I need my knuckles rapped! Muchas.muchas gracias, Sally. You’re a darling. Hugs xx
You did Joy.. and much enjoyed the post.hugs xx
What a wonderful posting, even you are living in a as it souds very unsecure area. But Spain is great! Best wishes, Michael
A very belated ‘Thank you’ Michael.
Thank you too, Joy!
Love reading about your early days in Spain. Well done!
Thanks, Darlene.Appreciated. xx
Hello, Joy. I`m looking for someone who will give me an honest appraisal of an article i have writing this last few weeks. what with all the interest about the War i decided to write about my early experiences and add my Life story. I am just over half way through and i am doubting if anyone would like to know, or just keep it for my Family. Standing on the corner of my street i saw so many houses destroyed. I am over 84 years old and from south London. I can`t find anyone here to give me an appraisal. I saw your Artical in the Costa, and thought you could take a look. Ps. I like your sence of humour!
Ken from Altea.email@example.com
Hi Ken, Good hearing from you. I would be happy to read your piece. Send it to my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org My
husband is from the East End of London and I was born in Rush Green, Romford, Essex. (Both evacuees) Retired to Spain for 20 years now…Best wishes. Cheers! Joy