Six (6) months today we walked through the doors of The Cottage. I wrote before about the reasons for basing ourselves back in the UK so I wont repeat them here, but I may refer to them as I reflect on how the six months have gone.
First observation is that the six (6) months have flown by, but saying that I actually still think I am 35 and have no idea how I got to 56 so quickly!
Second observation is that I don’t think it could have gone any better. It has certainly gone to plan, and I don’t think we have any regrets over the plan!
I wrote about adjusting to life back in the UK some time ago and addressed the two most frequently asked questions: have we found it hard and did we move back because of Brexit. No and No are the answers, for more detail feel free to read the original post.
We had our offer accepted at the end of September 2018, completed early December 2018 and moved into The Cottage on 14th March 2019. It gave us a long time to prepare, especially as in-between offer and moving in I had five (5) pet transports and two (2) drives from Spain with our stuff. Gave me plenty of time to visualise the journey up from Spain with Sands and our pets, and we are both were delighted with the way it all worked out.
Carrying the cats in, walking the dogs in, and then letting them out to explore their new world was so satisfying, and a huge relief that only Dusky and Kasper took any time (6 hours) to start exploring. The rest just headed off to explore all the new (and familiar) things they had.
Sticking with the animals then as they are by far the most important part of our life ….. sorry parents and friends but it is true! The dogs have simply loved it. Tito has gone from sleeping in our bed every night to sleeping in his cozy bed which is a result. They love Cannock Chase and Formby Beach, and are happy with one long walk a day with access to the garden throughout the day. Has certainly made life easier than three trips up and down in the lift each day. Tito has loved the fact that there are even more people for him to impress, Tigra has really come out of her shell and has become much less nervous with people, especially as we have had more people visit in the six months than in 20 years in Spain!!!! And Hollie? She is now a full VIP Access all Area member with her healed paw giving her a new lease of life. She is a very loveable old lady, and it is great that so many people love her – with my mother and Sands mother both particularly fond of her. She has appointed herself The Cottage Security Guard, which is fine by us, but with no front teeth her bark is most certainly worse than her bite.
While we had a few concerns over the dogs, it was the cats that we were most worried about. Saidi being a little frail these days, Fleur being a nervous little lady, Kasper being an escape artist, all being used to the heat etc. so it is probably fair to say that our greatest joy has been the way they have all not only settled but thrived. They all love the security of the Catio and the Garden. Saidi is up and down the stairs like a spring chicken, Fleur has lost weight and now sleeps on our bed most nights, and demands far more attention. Kasper has shown no interest in escaping, and is still very much a little rascal. Moreno rules the roost as before, but with a little less energy and more dignity. Oscar has become far more sociable, as has Dusky who remains a very vocal young man and the boys (Tobi and Marti) continue to live life to the full.
10/10 for the pets then.
Next priority was parents. We have been to see Sands mother in Formby once a week, and she has been for lunch to see The Cottage (not that she really remembers) but it is working really well. We have a Waitrose Delivery to her house each week, we have lunch, Sands and I walk the dogs on Formby Beach which they love.
With my parents it is a little (well a lot) different as they live much closer and we have always done more with them. We have Fish and Chips most Friday Nights (alternating between homes), Sunday Lunch at the The Cottage at least once a month, and they pop in for coffee regularly. I suspect our un communicated fear was that they would be wanting to be with us all the time, but they have been brilliant. They tend to wait to be invited (or told) and have only asked a few times if they can call in with friends. We have a meal there regularly and it has been great seeing Charmin more often, not least because he now has a secure garden as well so is out and about a lot!
We moved back in time to celebrate my mothers 80th at The Cottage, and it has been great being able to see them on all birthdays and anniversaries. The real joy though has been the sporting events (more on that later) and just being able to spend a few hours together whenever we want. To put this in context since 1995 we have not lived in the same country as each other on a permanent basis.
I mentioned sporting events above and without doubt going to the Cricket World Cup, Ashes and of course Old Trafford has been great. I missed these a lot while we lived away, but I think we both missed ‘live events’ so we have been to the Theatre a fair amount, and a few concerts, and although we still like London for ‘old times sake’ the local theatres in Newcastle and Hanley have been more than adequate, and Birmingham is a lot posher than it used to be, although as a rule we actually not going out that much.
Yes I am still basically an unsociable hermit. It is nice to have more people to talk to when walking the dogs, and I do enjoy seeing my older friends, but apart from catching up with a few people that I met through the transports we haven’t done anything about developing a new social life. I suspect that will change slowly and naturally as we start doing things on a regular basis and membership at Old Trafford, Headingley and Edgbaston will certainly keep me busy enough!
We are not going to the pub or indeed restaurants anywhere near as much as did in Spain. Drink Driving is a factor or course as we have nothing remotely in walking distance, but the truth is they are all pretty much over priced and over rated. We would much rather sit at home with a good bottle of Spanish Wine and have a nice meal, than go out. I think I have been to a pub 8 times in the 6 months we have been back!
Finally, The Cottage itself has more than lived up to the planning and expectations. Lack of BT Fast Broadband and a need to use a Broadband Satellite service is the only really disappointment, but as we are not spending anywhere near as much time online as in the past it isn’t a real issue, but will be good when BT finally get to us – we are hardly remote!!!
What next? We gave ourselves three months to just enjoy being back and in The Cottage, then another three months for the cricket and finishing off any jobs around the house etc. I still have two jobs to do, but apart from that we now ready for the next three months – a quiet time establishing a more normal routine, and then we have Christmas that I am actually looking forward to ……. maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks!!!