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 Elle Draper

We’ve moved!

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Big changes for the Gandy-Draper household as we have moved! Not just around the corner this time… but all the way to Almeria on the mainland. The picture to the right is the view from our terrace.

Many people will not notice the difference with us going… as all our contact is online anyway – but we’re looking forward to welcoming our friends here when they come visit. Before I give you more info though… we would just like to set the record straight before any yawn-worthy rumours start (as they usually do when someone leaves).

  1. We have not “done a runner” owing clients any money. If that were the case, we would have shut down our websites and certainly wouldn’t be planning our return visits.
  2. Alan and I have not split up – we are more in love than ever.
  3. We shall continue to run our Lanzarote websites remotely, and will be back on a regular basis as we still have family on the island, and obviously lots and lots of clients for our businesses. It is absolutely business as usual for Gandy-Draper. In fact, we have received website orders SINCE the move – even though these people knew we were gone… so no interruption of service there.
  4. We shall continue this Relocation website for the immediate future as we still have so much contact with the Island, we know we can still help. If that changes, we shall make sure you all know.

Our reasons for going to the Mainland are varied and plentiful… but none at the detriment of Lanzarote. We have loved our time on the Island, and look forward to returning as visitors. We have made some amazing friends there… both residents and tourists… and know that those friendships will continue.

Our first, and major, reason is that for quite some time now, we have wanted to go more rural. We wanted that picture postcard perfect house in the hills… away from bustling towns and large British communities. When this property came up… Alan and I had discovered it separately on two different websites. He mentioned it to me, and I just turned my monitor around to show him I’d found it too. It’s a stunning place… up in the hills… 8km from the nearest town, bar, restaurant or even shop! There used to be a couple of English households in the hamlet but not now. Just us… dogs… chickens… cockerels… church bells and some truly lovely Spanish neighbours.  We weren’t plannign to leave for another year or two – but we’re not made of money and can’t afford to keep 2 properties on the go. We had to make a choice – and this place won.

Alan missed being able to drive for more than an hour without coming back on himself. In the words of his eldest lad, Sam, we can “drive to China” if we want to. Can’t see that happening… but we are already planning a summer driving holiday to France next year, and perhaps Italy the year after. That was never feasible before because of the dogs. Now we can just chuck them in the car and naff off for a few weeks.

Thirdly, Alan missed seasons. This is one thing he and I do not share… and hopefully I won’t be moaning too much during the winters here. But chances are that we’ll have a bit of snow. Where we are has cold winters and very very hot summers.

So… it’s been all go go go, as you can imagine. The last few weeks have been a tad weird… with me losing my grip on reality (not that it was ever a strong grip anyway) whilst trying to organise 3 dogs and pack up the house. Alan had been driving to Almeria and back with our belongings, and then collected me and the dogs… so was exhausted. However, we managed it… and on the Friday before last we had a few friends round to our empty house to raise a glass or ten by way of a goodbye. The plan was to not have too much to drink, as I had so much to do during the Saturday daytime (cleaning and organising etc)… but that plan soon went out of the window. It wasn’t too late though, and we called it a night at about 2:30am.

So the Saturday arrived and a couple of friends came round to help clean (MASSIVE thanks go to Mike and Jules Heaney , and to Julie Limbrick)… and we got it all done in plenty of time. A few friends popped round early evening too, to say goodbye.Before travelling, we had been concerned about the dogs going into the onboard kennels on the ferry. So I had spoken to the Call Centre of Trasmediterranea, and Alan had spoken to staff (twice) on the boat before we travelled. They all said that we could keep our boys with us at all times… as long as that was within a designated dog walking area. Alan had earmarked an area that didn’t have too many people bimbling about, and we were all set to spend the 36 hour crossing, sleeping on the deck with our lads. However, once on the boat… that all changed and a member of staff told us that the dogs would have to go into the kennels in the hold. Alan point blank refused, whilst I used my poor command of Spanish to try and negotiate some flexibility. If you’ve not used certain words in everyday speech… then you don’t necessarily know them. I didn’t know the word for kennels… so was calling them “Casitas de Perros” lol. The security guy was adamant though, that he dogs needed to be locked up. I asked if we could put the dogs into the outdoor kennels (as we could stay with them constantly… and he said our dogs wouldn’t fit… and that it would be cold for us. He didn’t understand that a bit of cold for us does not bother us when it comes to the welfare of our dogs.

We went down to the indoor kennels, and were hit in the face by a wave of heat and fumes down there. There were dogs in a couple of the cages that were so distressed that they had gone mute and were shaking with shock. We tried to put our boys in – the largest of our dogs panicked and got so upset… at which point Alan was ready to kick off. Just then, a German couple came and removed their 2 very large dogs from the kennels and said they were keeping them in their car. It’s not allowed, but they too felt the heat and fumes would be too much for their pets. We followed their lead, and took our dogs straight back to our car. Luckily, both the Germans’ car and ours was on the open top deck, which was also a dog walking zone. So we slept in the car with the dogs for the 2 nights we were on the ferry. There was an Italian couple, and at least 2 other Spanish couples that did the same. Had security kicked off… there would have been a major problem I think. We just kept our heads down… and snuck the dogs into the car at closing time each evening. Our car was directly in the sight of the security camera… so they must’ve known but thankfully let us get on with it. More information available on Alan’s Blog HERE – he’s not happy as you would imagine!!

I still can’t get over how well behaved the dogs were throughout the trip. They are not normally very good around other dogs when on the lead (fine if loose) and as none of them are small dogs, we thought we’d face a battle every time another dog appeared. But no… apart from a couple of woofs each day… they were fantastic.

When we arrived in Cadiz, we then faced a 5 – 6 hour drive… so expected to stop 2 or 3 times on the way for dog wees etc. But they settled down to sleep, and we only had to stop once. Thank heavens for aircon though!!! We had it topped up before the journey, and are pleased we did as the outside temperature was 35 at times.

Driving through Granada was stunning – the cave houses, the forests…. just beautiful! But as we neared Albox in Almeria, the villages looked beautiful too. I’ve always had my eye on Serón, and it didn’t disappoint. But I have to say that I really do love where we are. We came out the other side of Albox (our nearest town) and Alan kept looking at me to see if I was ever going to get properly excited (so much stress and organising, I’d not had time to actually enjoy the experience… unlike when we were first emigrating to Lanzarote a few years back). That moment happened when I saw our house across the valley for the first time – bingo!

We pulled up to the house… walked the dogs first so they weren’t too wired when we entered the house… phoned respective parents… showered… and I texted our good friend John to ask him to let some people know we’d arrived safely.

Sadly I developed a swollen ankle from restricted movement during the trip. It’s not DVT thankfully (it’s thrombophlebitis)… the blood vessels in my left ankle are still swollen and inflamed and extremely painful at the moment. So as much as I would like to be off exploring straight away… I have had to restrict it to local dog walking. I’ve been hobbling around the house and nearby area. Should be fine in a while though hopefully.

Our village has dogs barking and howling at all times… cockerels crowing (hope that means someone has chickens and will consider selling some eggs)… and kiddies playing. We even have church bells every 15 minutes, which is gorgeous. Add to that the sounds of the singing cicadas (a two inch long one landed on my knee on the first night – big bugger!)… and it’s a real orchestra. None of that noise bothers us though… and it has been lovely sitting on the terrace listening to it all. I have to say though… we expected our three to react with barking in response to the nearby woofies… but they’ve been brilliant, which is a relief. Next door has a couple of podencos. The older one is chained up most of the time… but the puppy is roaming free. It likes to come up to the house and woof at our lads… but they’ve just stuck their noses in the air at it. Phew!

I’ve been busy unpacking and sorting the house out… and Alan has washing every item of clothing in existence (we’d used a lots of clothes and quilts as “dog beds” for the boys to travel with – and we’re almost there. We’re settling in quickly… and once my ankle is walkable I’ll be out and about properly.

We’re looking forward to our first set of visitors, and already our friends are checking flight times. Not sure who’s out first yet… but we can’t wait to see them!
Elle, Alan, Guido, Pepper and Billy Boxer
This post has been retrieved from our now closed Lanzarote Relocation website.

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