Tuesday, 24 September 2013

When you have an itch you really just need to scratch it - Day one our first impressions

The last time I looked at this blog was back in May. Shortly after our trip to Andalusia, and the discovery that there was Capital Gains Tax to pay on our house sale in here in the UK if we sold and moved within the same tax year.

Throughout the months that followed, we have continued to carry on with life in the UK as usual.
Maintaining the garden, tea at the local garden centre. So British!

We did have an unusual event. My husband had spinal surgery in July, which we always knew was on the cards, and, I am pleased to say he has recovered well, and as we suspected, is now unable to work in the industry he was in before, the upside is no pain, and can walk, prior to the operation chronic pain and could just about make it to the kitchen. Now he is unofficially semi- retired, and looking forward to new experiences in Spain. At the age of 55 we count ourselves lucky that we are in a position to be able to commit to a change in our lives.

As the husband was now at home, he has become the main "seeker" of information on our move to Spain; he has been following the ebbs and flows of the economic situation and the housing markets, collated information etc. I think he sees himself as a BBC Correspondence in charge of the move to Spain. When I return home after work, I get an immediate update on what has happened, where and why. I almost expect him to sign off with his name!!!

The summer months past, what a glorious summer we had here and we continued with our daily routines, but always at the back of our minds was the eventual change that we would be making to our lives. I have continued to make progress learning the Spanish language and now I feel, that I am at a stage, where I just need to be in Spain, using the language skills that I have so far learnt. My husband on the other hand needs to study more, and to that end, I am about to take the old adage used in the medical profession. See one, do one, teach one, and teach him, what I have so far learnt. Not sure how that will work, but if this blog is renamed, one man goes to Spain, we have divorced.

As you may remember from my previous posts, I always had an itch that I had to scratch, that itch is called Extremadura.
If I am honest I had concerns about this trip.   I have no idea where my desire to move to Extremadura came from. I think many years ago I stumbled across something on the web or watched something on the TV. I then started to investigate the region more. Its history, flora and fauna etc. Although we had discussed the possibility of moving abroad in the future, the where and when was not decided, although we had always thought it would be Andalusia,    Extremadura was not on our list of possibilities. However, whatever it was that I had read, it must have stuck with me, as I was the one who pushed for this particular visit. My husband agreed that we needed to go, if only to rule it out, and to ensure that I had scratched my itch. I just hoped we would not be disappointed and I had not built up some fantasy in my head.  So on September 9th we flew to Madrid to start our reconnaissance trip to this fairly unknown and remote corner of Spain.

Our first Destination was the town of Trujillo, which is situated approximately a 3 hour drive from Madrid airport. At first the landscape was pretty uninspiring as we drove towards our destination, not wows or look at that. Not the endless olive groves and white villages clinging to the hillsides in Andalusia. We drove the empty roads, and commented on the lack of people, it looks as though no one actually lives there. I have read that the population is about 1 million and all in an area the size of Switzerland.

As we drove into Extremadura the landscape unfolded in front of us. We started to drive through forests of corks and oak, areas are known as Dehesa (scrubland).

The Oak woodlands went on for miles, dotted throughout the landscape, with their brown trunks and the green foliage, sometimes these forests were dense at other times they were scattered throughout the hills, Dark shiny skinned Iberian pigs wandered beneath the trees, grazing on the grasses and the acorns.

The acorns contain oils and enzymes, which are, apparently crucial in the production of Iberico Hams. Amongst the trees we also saw cattle grazing on the wild grasses. Extremadura is full of cattle ranches some go on for miles. Then suddenly we would drive through an area of open plains called chorros. Again where cattle and horses grazed.

Usually I am not a fan of what I refer to as “flat Lincolnshire land”, but in Extremadura I will make an exception. Although when we were there the grassland was scorched dry and brown, from a long hot summer, it was not hard to imagine how, after the first rains and in Spring time, the land would burst into life with flowers, what a sight that must be, We made a mental note, even if we do not move here we must come and see it,when in full bloom.

Among the forests, and the plains the Cork trees came into view. Whilst you may not have heard of any famous Extremdurian wines, the cork you remove from your bottle of plonk, may well have come from a cork tree in the area. I have read that 26% of the world’s market in wine corks, actually come from Spain. Many of the trees had already had their cork harvested, what was left was highly polished trunks, shining like conkers in the sun.

There were mountain ranges in the distance and sometime around us, it was truly gorgeous.

We continued to drive to Trujillo, a perfect little town, where we spent the evening, having dinner in the exquisite square and preparing for our first full day in Extremadura and viewing our first properties in the area.

Next time, Trujillo, brain on plane and a sense of peace.........................

Main Square Trujillo.

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