Chris Marshall

Basing Ourselves Back In The UK

To explain why we are going to be basing ourselves back in the UK for the next chapter of our lives, it will probably help if I explain how it is we ended up in Spain ….. for so long!!!

Early 2000’s I was involved with a company developing traceability software for the agricultural markets across the EU, and we put a consultant onto a project involving the fruit and vegetables grown in and around Almerimar. I came over several times for review meetings, liked the place and as Sands and I had always sort of assumed that one day we would ‘have a place in Europe’ (we already had the Condo in Florida which had been in the family since 1992) for short breaks and eventually part of our retirement plans, we decided to buy an apartment.

There really wasn’t much more thought than that. Pre €, prices were low, salary was good so it was just something that we did.

Later the traceability project expanded to involve a company in Barcelona so I was basing myself two weeks in Almerimar, and two weeks in Walton on the Hill, and three days a week in Barcelona so a lot of flying from either London to Barcelona or Almeria to Barcelona.

Once that project ended I was involved with a health application start up in the USA, so we were basing ourselves six weeks in the Condo in Florida and six weeks in the Apartment in Spain, with an occasional week in the UK when possible, again a lot of flights, hotels, taxis and packing of bags!

All very exhausting and hectic!

February 2005 we landed in Almeria, having just decided against a job offer to run the new start up in Washington, and in the taxi to the Apartment I worked out I had done 54 flights in the year, 20 of which had been transatlantic.

I decided that I was going nowhere for twelve (12) months.

During those twelve (12) months we met, fell in love with, and adopted Moreno, and in so doing decided that we would base ourselves in Almerimar for the foreseeable future. No great life plan, no big move, no decision over residency, no dissatisfaction with either the UK or the USA, just the simple fact that I didn’t want to go anywhere for a year, and we fell in love with the little fella, Moreno!

Little did we know at the time (although it would not have effected our decision) but the little man started us on what has been the most satisfying part of our life to date: the ALStrays Transport and Re-Homing Project which to date has seen Sands re-home 1375 cats, and Chris transport 3499 cats and 2872 dogs, covering over 660,000 miles in the process.

And of course we have adopted our own gang of pets who have enhanced our life beyond belief.

It is fair to say that we love Spain and Almerimar in particular, have enjoyed our time here, and have no particular desire to leave, but ……. we had always planned to return to the UK ‘one day’, and for the reasons below that time is now.




To be accurate I need to stress that we are NOT leaving Spain! We are holding onto the apartment and both of us will be using it regularly as we will be continuing the ALStrays Transport and Re-Homing Project (you can read more about that here if you so wish).

We also fully intend to spend extended parts of the year in Spain as a family i.e. us and the pets, although I suspect that may be a year or two down the line as we want to get settled into the UK first.

So why the UK now?

Not to be morbid, or sentimental, but the parents are not as mobile as they used to be and we both want to be closer to support them getting as much as posible out of life for longer.

I want to carry on the transports but although it’s great that they have allowed me to see my parents and friends every six or seven weeks, the time I have in the UK is pretty exhausting (van service, valet & picking up animals, dentist, doctor, seeing parents and friends) so that by the time I set off back to Spain I am not as refreshed as I would like to be. With doing the transports ‘the other way round’ I will get to have 3 or 4 days in Spain doing nothing between trips, which will be far more relaxing and hopefully mean we can do them for longer.

We have long wanted to help more animals with internal transports, but Spain is just too big to do this at a reasonable cost, but by being based in the UK we are able to expand and offer a range of UK pet transport services, and at the same time we can work on a handover of the business to Jamie so that ALStrays will continue to transport pets for many years to come!

We both want to have the time and energy to establish a life back in the UK while we have the energy. Sands is keen to get involved with helping re-home cats to and from the UK (we already have the transport sorted!), and she has been going to her old school reunions for many years so wants to spend more time with old friends as well as her family.

I fancy seeing more cricket at Headingley, rugby at Twickenham and football at Old Trafford, and I reckon we both have a few more Harley miles in us yet, so will be hooking up with a local HOG Chapter.

But most importantly we have picked a new home where the animals will be safe, secure and have a great life. They will always be our priority.

Has Brexit impacted on our plans at all? To be honest, no! Hard not to be aware of the possible impact, but personally I don’t see any huge changes to day to day life, and what does change we will just have to adapt to as we do every time a different party gets elected, and to be honest over the years I have never really felt that much has changed!

I suppose it does make sense to retain control of our future and so technically the fact that we will have moved back to Spain pre Brexit, means that we have some kind of security against the unknown, but as I said above our plan has always been to go back to the UK, and the plan since 2000 has always been to have Spain as part of our long term i.e. retirement plan, so nothing changes really.

We have picked what we think is a lovely barn conversion in Staffordshire, with a secure outdoor enclosure for the cats, and a secure Protecta Pet garden for the cats and dogs. We have access to fields for us and the dogs, and are reasonably close to family and friends.

Update: 13th October 2018 – still in the STC (Subject To Contract) stage so we have no moving date, but is no rush as our plan is to move over the second week of March 2019 if we can.





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