Welcome to the latest of our Expat Interviews. We have known Guy Alexander Bell online for some time now, and recently built a website for one of his family members. Enjoy reading!
When did you move to Spain, and where from?
We moved to Spain in 2009, after holidaying in various places around the country for many years. We relocated from the Royal Navy city of Plymouth, in Devon, in the southwestern corner of the UK.
Who came with you?
Well, despite many people in our family advising against it, we did it anyway (!) and both myself, my wife Amanda and our daughter Lucie, who was 8 at the time, took the plunge after much discussion and moved to Spain.
We also brought a cat, originally from Spain, called Jaime.
Where in Spain do you live now?
When we first came to Spain we were probably very naive, despite the many visits beforehand, and the wealth of information we had gathered in our research prior to the move, nothing quite went as planned, although it wasn’t a disaster.
We originally moved to Alicante, as we thought a little bit of the English people around us would be good, but we got sick of that after only 3 months!
We then decided to move to a town called Lliria, which is on the outskirts of Valencia city, Spain’s 3rd largest city, and a cool, vibrant and exciting place. We still live here, although in our 2nd house in the town since moving.
Do you work? As what?
As I’m not a pensioner like many of today’s British expats who live in Spain, I’m (for now anyway) one of the ones who haven’t returned to Blighty and I have to work to survive here.
I’m a travel writer for a very high profile holiday website.
I also run a house painting business back in the UK called NEVER PAINT AGAIN, and do pop back there from time to time just to see how things are going.
How are you with speaking Spanish?
Not too bad actually, although I have my good days and bad days, when I can’t remember the most simple words, but thankfully my work is in English, plus many of our Spanish friends do speak a little bit of our language and can help out when the conversation dries up!
I began to learnt Spanish in the UK by going to a day class in Plymouth, but supplemented this via the internet, listening to Spanish radio stations, and also conversation practice now I live here.
As we live in Valencia, the people in our town speak a mixture of Castellan Spanish and a dialect of Catalan, so some conversations can get quite weird!
If you could change one thing about Spain… what would that be?
If I could change one thing it would be to remove the various barriers in setting up a business. The country itself would be well advised to choose the UK model of self employment and creating and running limited companies as, over here, every barrier possible seems to be put in the way of the entrepreneur.
What is the best thing about living in Spain?
The sunshine of course! And the fact that the people are so warm, genuine and friendly. It;’s nice to hear strangers say hello to you in the street, for no reason at all. If that happened back in my home town, the person would receive a very strange look!
What is your favourite Spanish dish?
My wife would be the first person to point out that, in the end, I never got used to Spanish food and the mindset of eating everything with 4 legs apart from tables and chairs. I guess I don’t have a favourite Spanish dish, but I am open to suggestions.
What is the predominant nationality of your friends in Spain?
When we first moved here we got to know various English people who had also made the move, I guess that is a natural progression for many people who come to Spain to live.
This was a huge mistake and we ended up being friends with, and doing business, with the WRONG people, just because they were British.
After being ripped off, gossiped about, lied to and generally taken for a ride by more or less most British we met, we decided to take a step back from them, learn more of the lingo and get more involved in the day to day goings on in our town and with the Spanish people.
Our friends that we have now, are mainly Spanish, although we have got to know Indian people, Russian people, South American people, Chinese people and also people from Pakistan too!
If you won the Euromilliones – would you still live where you currently are?
No! We would definitely move to a different house, although considering the education of our daughter, we would stay here for another 4 years until she completed secondary school.
Our house looked out onto fields when we first moved here but now it looks out onto a building site, where they are currently constructing more homes, despite the fact that millions still remain unsold in Spain and mortgages are generally not being offered by the banks.
I would also buy a “bolt hole” back in the UK for more frequent trips back.
If a movie was made about your life – who would play you?
Based on comments from my friends, probably a comedian! Greg Davies maybe, or perhaps Michael McIntyre!
If you had to describe yourself as a sandwich filling… what would you be?
Marmite: You either love me or you hate me!
Right – now is the chance to tell us all about your business/website/blog if you have one (or more of course). Go for your life!
My business is called NEVER PAINT AGAIN and can be be found at http://www.neverpaintagain.co.uk We specialise in exterior home improvements and house painting, and with providing a specialist home repair service across the UK. I originally started it in 1986 and went online 10 years ago. The service is also available in limited areas across Spain too.
Next time we welcome Rachel Bovte to the hotseat – check back on 17th March!
Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business – Spain Web Design by Gandy-Draper.
Born a “Norverner”, she then spent most of her life “Dann Saff” before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle’s loves are Alan, the internet, dogs, good food, and dry white wine – although not necessarily in that order.
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