It all sounds so glamourous moving to Marbella, Spain. Don't believe it for a minute. Firstly, finding a suitable place for a family of four and 3 cats is a minefield in itself.
Then there is the schooling issue for the kids. Do you put them in a Spanish State school or private International? Next is sorting out how to get all your belongings across to Spain. Then last but in no way least are our 3 cats.
We had to arrange a "Pet Jet" facility, pet passports and all the jabs. Which, came to a small fortune. Some of you may have read in the paper that on the day we were due to fly out, the cats smelt a rat and ran and hid in the loft.
After crawling around in the insulation for an hour to no avail, we had to give up and fly without them. Don't worry as the next day some friends managed to get them, load them up and pack them off to the airport where we picked them up.
Well, here we are in Sunny Spain and was it all worth it? That remains to be seen. However, the weather is great! No more scraping windscreens! Seriously, this is a huge thing for us to do especially with two small children in tow.
There are so many new things to learn like a different language for a start. We are intending to take an intense Spanish course as I think it is rude not to try and learn. However, there are so many Brits here everyone speaks English!
Then, there is driving on the other side of the road which neither of us have done before, whilst trying to understand the road signs. We may only know a few Spanish words but there are plenty of French words coming out whilst driving!
The kids are not sure about the food yet but I am sure they will get used to it. At least there are plenty of McDonalds knocking about! Oh, of course we have to try and make a living too!
The one fundamental thing we have found in Spain is that everyone genuinley wants to help you to succeed. There are so many people who have done the same as we are trying to do over the years, that they really do want to see you succeed which for me is a breath of fresh air to the "British Knock Down" way !!
We have been here for two weeks now. The kids absolutley love it. When we say "who wants to go back to England" they look at us in horror!
The better weather gives you so many more options of things to do and it really is outdoor living here. This makes it so much easier to keep the kids entertained and out of the house. A quick trip to the beach makes their day and "tires them out" leaving time for us to have a few sundowners on the terrace before dinner!
Anyway, we did in the end decide that an International school would be best for us as they follow the English curriculum but the school has a strong Spanish influence and they have Spanish lessons everyday.
I can't think of anything worse than them going to a school and not understanding a word the teacher has said to them.
Plus, just like the UK the system is full and they do not need extra pressure from people like us. Also, we feel that as they are so young if they went to a Spanish school then Spanish would become their main language, which could possibly close the door on the UK.
A lot of Spanish themselves send their children to the International schools (which all follow the English curriculum) so their children have the opption of going to a University in the UK.
We've got a long ride ahead to ensure that this the right move for us. We need to make friends, get the kids settled in school and get the business up and running. We will keep you posted.
Hedley and Heather Smith