At last the day had come.
I was retiring from work and heading off to a new life in Southern Spain with my wife, Lee, Maisie and Marley our two chocolate labs and Syd and Elsie, our two cats.
I often see posts written extolling the virtue of following your dreams and seeing the world and in most cases I agree with those sentiments. However, reading about them and actually taking the plunge are two different things.
So on October 2nd 2017 we packed up our car and set off to our rental property in Arboleas, Spain. We had made the bold decision to sell our UK property, in the belief that the London housing bubble would burst in the not too distant future, and we wanted a clean break.
Saying goodbye to our friends, family and our home for 12 years was hard.
#Tip 1 get ready for the emotional roller coaster. Focus on the endgame though and why you decided to make this move in the first place.
Never having embarked on a car journey more than 7 hours and with two dogs in tow (the cats were coming separately via a specialised transporter) the 4-day trip did seem a bit daunting.
#Tip 2 as with almost any trip, planning is key, especially with animals in tow. Google Maps is the go-to for advice but don’t be afraid to use Online Forums and Facebook for advice. However, always research yourself as there is a lot of crap published online.
Driving through the Euro-tunnel and into France via Paris to Orleans on day one was the worse day. Delays everywhere, in particular Paris, meant a 13-hour drive instead of 6. Avoid this route or stay North of Paris on the first day.
From Orleans to Bezier for Day 2 which was much better at 7 hours including 3 breaks.
Day 3 consisted of the most stunning drive from Beziers to Valencia via the Pyrenees. Stunning views and at last we had made our new home country. 6 hours in total with stops.
The dogs during all of these stays had been well behaved — far beyond our expectation of them and whilst it was cramped in the hotel rooms it was bearable for a night each time.
#Tip 3 request a ground floor at the hotels. All of our obliged and made it easier to take them outside.
Day 4 had come and it was our last on the road with the journey from Valencia to Arboleas expected to be 4 hours.
Spanish roads are a delight to drive on (especially when compared to London) and we made good time arriving at our new (temporary) home by 1pm.
#Tip 4 make sure you are familiar with the Spanish traffic laws and carry in the car what is required — for example high vis vests and warning triangles)
The excitement we felt when pulling up to begin our new life was almost overwhelming. It dawned on me at that moment the enormity of what we had decided to do and at the same time injected a new lease of life right there and then.
Our lives would never be the same again, for better or worse, we were about to experience life in a foreign country.
We couldn’t wait to get started…….