We know what you might be thinking. You might be thinking we’re going to talk about how this website is growing or how well we are doing with it one way or another. No we’re not (although we are very happy with its progress). We’re talking about ourselves for a change. We’ve just moved.
When we say new heights we are talking about our elevation. Technically we’ve moved further up into the hills, to a height of 1,070 m (3,510 ft) to be exact. Give or take a few metres this means we’re pretty much living at a height around the peak of Snowdon at 1,085 m (3,560 ft) and higher than virtually everyone in England and Wales! Not that this is in any way unique here in Spain, it’s just that we find the thought amusing in some small way.
We’re here, but should we have come?
It’s an interesting move for us. After spending almost four years in the campo we’re moving into a town. We’ve been talking about making the change for a while, but the stars have aligned and landed us slap bang in the middle of a place we decided we’d like to be. Not that we haven’t enjoyed the campo, it’s just time for something new.
We’ve found a small town where we might be able to fit in; a beautiful little typically Spanish town atop a hill complete with a castle, barrancos, and a monastery. A town with all the basic amenities we could need only a few metres from our new front door. It’s going to be quite different walking two minutes to the ‘corner shop’ or into the middle of market day in the next street rather than having to drive 10 km to the nearest Mercadona.
It’s a rare occasion Elle and I agree instantly on major decisions (it usually takes some persuasion from me to guide her to the right conclusion – she might tell you otherwise). But, when we first visited this town earlier in the year we both really took to the place. So much so as to conclude that we would consider living there if the chance arose someday. Well, it has. I won’t bore you with the series of events that has led us here, I’m not superstitious, spiritual or any of that other nonsense but there is something serendipitous about how this has come about.
We never thought we could find the right property for our needs (i.e. with enough outside space for our three dogs) at the moment we were looking for somewhere new one popped up at the exact right moment.
Could we have found the place we’ve been looking for to settle permanently? Maybe, but the jury is still out, and will be for a long time, that’s how we roll…. But, we’re very hopeful we’re going to be happy here for quite some time….
Wish us luck!
For the past four years (almost), we have been living in a lovely little converted farmhouse on the side of a valley. We were in a hamlet just outside Llano del Espino located between the towns of Albox and Oria in Almería, Southeast Spain. It’s a beautiful location, with views up and down the valley overlooking a multitude of groves where oranges, almonds, olives, figs, pomegranates and more grow to abundance. Our Spanish neighbours were friendly without being invasive and the daily background sound is a cacophony of dogs, horses, goats and chickens, with the occasional bird of prey and a hoopoe.
It’s been wonderful; a far cry from the cities in the UK we lived, and even the tourist bustle of Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, where we lived previously.
The only cars ever to pass our house were a Landrover a couple of times a year when its owner wanted to inspect his almond trees, or the occasional electricity engineer.
“That sounds like heaven. Why would you ever want to move?” I hear you say. Well yes, it really has been idyllic and we have been very happy there. But for the past couple of years, I’ve been feeling a little isolated. I don’t drive, so was reliant upon Alan taking me places, or asking friends for lifts. I’m a social animal – happiest when I can sashay off to meet friends for a bite to eat, or a cheeky Vino Collapso. When Alan’s car needed some major work a couple of years ago, we felt almost trapped. It’s a few kilometres to the nearest shop or bar – and that’s not fun when you’re carrying bottles of water or bags of potatoes… especially in the searing Spanish summer temperatures.
Luckily, we were renting the property – so when we first started talking about moving…. we had no property chain to concern ourselves with – we could explore at our leisure. One thing was for certain – we wanted a typically Spanish town or village… with a little supermarket on our doorstep and a bit of life going on.
The search begins
We looked at loads of places and didn’t even leave Almeria. Whitewashed villages are ten a penny in Spain – it’s one of the things I love most about this country… there is always something stunning around the next corner or over the next mountain. But as much as we explored… there didn’t seem to be anywhere that ticked all of our boxes. We were starting to think we’d need to explore further afield. Alan did mumble something about Aragon and Galicia – but those places are green for a reason – it rains… a lot! Not my idea of fun.
Because we were in no hurry to move – we were able to take our time and find somewhere just perfect for what WE wanted. A couple of shops, a couple of bars, good motorway access (for airports) and somewhere really friendly too.
In March, Alan surprised me with a mini-break (we always try to get away for even one night when Alan’s Dad is here and able to dogsit). He had a look at the hotels available for one night within an hour’s drive… and found Hotel Rural Velad de Abyadh in Velez-Blanco. So off we trotted.
Despite only spending 24 hours in this little town, we were bowled over by its beauty and friendliness. I mean seriously – it even has a castle on the hill, a monastery, some nice restaurants, a bustling weekly market, a post office, chemist, doctor’s surgery, police stations, three or four supermarkets and a sprinkling of bars – all within a town of just 2000 souls.
We were sat outside Bar la Sociedad in the town square, having the obligatory glass of something chilled… and after having about the fifteenth chat to a passerby… we looked at each other and smiled. We knew we’d found where we wanted to be. It seemed to have everything we wanted.
Unfortunately, when we returned home… our research let us down. There were plenty of apartments available (not practical with three dogs) or villas in the countryside surrounding the town (not much of a change from what we had). We really wanted a townhouse in the thick of things – with either a little outside space. or somewhere the dogs could do their “stuff” within a very short walk from the house. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. We weren’t worried though – time was on our side, so we put it on the back burner for a while.
Then we received an email from our landlord. They wished to sell the property we were living in… and so gave us notice. To be fair, they gave us five months… but now the presure was on to find somewhere. We thought we would have to compromise.
But no! A quick visit online and there it was. A townhouse in the centre of Velez-Blanco. It even had a small backyard!
All systems go!
I know I tend to waffle… so I’ll try to cut the next bit short. We contacted the owner of the property, and now here we are! I am typing this on the first full day in our new home. The office doors are wide open, and the dogs are watching the world walk past from their new viewing spot . Guido needs to learn that he doesn’t need to bark at everyone and everything – but to give him credit, he’s picking that up very quickly. Pepper and Billy Boxer have never been very woofie anyway so they’re not a problem.
The house is huge, and a bit of a labyrinth! I’ve got lost trying to find the upstairs bathroom several times, and we’ve discovered a plough in one of the “outbuildings.” The place needs some real TLC in parts, but the main section of the house that we live in is great. There’s a spare room for guests, an office so we can continue to keep Spain Buddy going for you, a studio for Alan and a kitchen big enough for us to entertain guests in.
One of the big things (for me at least) is that this town will offer me the opportunity to ramp up my language skills and get a social life back. I don’t fail completely in Spanish, but it’s far from where it should be and my listening skills need some serious work (Alan would say that my listening skills need some serious work with regards to him too – but bleurgh to that). No longer will I be hiding behind the computer – now I shall be sashaying around town… chatting about nothing in particular to anyone who’ll listen, grabbing tapas (and gaining weight no doubt) while enjoying everything this beautiful town has to offer. There seem to be regular fiestas and parties, the Semana Santa parades go right past our front door, and the cultural offerings are frequent. There seems to be a good mix of ages, and the town has a really positive vibe.
Messages of support and good luck are filling up our Facebook walls and emails, and already we have friends and family booking the spare room so they can come and visit.
Velez-Blanco – we’re very happy to be here!
So, where are we?
Welcome to Velez Blanco!
The video is all a bit Pearl & Dean, but you’ll get the idea!
Alan, along with Elle, is the owner of Spain Buddy. He was born in the North of England (Lancashire) and travelled extensively before eventually settling in Almería. Alan has 3 sons from the first of his 18 marriages, (Sam, Joe & Ben) who are all now adults. You can read more articles by Alan on his personal blog at AlanGandy.com and see more of his photography on his photography website as well as on Flickr and Instagram.
Also, for less than the price of a cup of coffee each month you can help support Alan’s photography (and get some freebies into the bargain). Click here to visit his Patreon page to find out more.