It’s usually the kids that go off travelling but this time, it’s the mother.
I’m selling-up in London and swanning off to Spain. Not to the Costa Packet with it’s plethora of cafés serving up Brit food to Leave voters, but the passionate heartland of Andalucia, Seville – where in summer, cafés pump out water vapour over the terraces to cool down the customers and dinnertime is nearly bedtime. If Europe won’t come to me, I will go to it.
Was I pushed or did I jump? Neither, sometimes everything falls into place and you know it’s time. Are my friends and family in shock? No, to be honest, I’ve talked about moving from my bolt hole in Stoke Newington for so long that the majority of my friends are probably bored stupid with me harping on about it. But the options were always a return to Brighton or a walk on the wild side in St Leonards. Of course, like the rest of us, I’ve gazed in wonder at estate agents boards each time I visited my brother in the Lot-et-Garonne, ‘Only €50 for that enormous, run-down chateau!’ But France has never held my heart, despite their superior patisserie. I lived in Italy for four years in a previous incarnation and the southern European heat, energy and delight in a boisterous public celebration of almost anything has always been much more my style.
My adult children would definitely benefit from more miles between us. I did fall in love and move to Cornwall 14 years ago but that didn’t work out and seems it wasn’t far enough. Since the death of my husband in 2000 we have lived in each other’s pockets far too much and now, single for five years, all my high days and holidays have been spent with my sons and daughter. I do realise how lucky I am and am eternally grateful but I need to let them go. With no grandchildren, no partner and no pets, as I friend remarked, I am unfettered. To be honest, it sounds a bit too close to ‘unhinged’ but there may be some truth in that.
Is it crazy at the age of 70, with a history of heart disease, breast cancer, two hearing aids, two cataract ops and various gynae rearrangements to forsake the NHS, ditch my Freedom pass and live in a furnished rental, probably with no lift, in a city where I don’t speak the language? Ladies and gentlemen, may I draw your attention to bears in the woods…
But my E111 medical card will function until December 31st 2020 #allegedly and my phone has free roaming so what else does a woman need? Apart from manzanilla and the opportunity to learn flamenco?
Understandably, there’s maybe an element of wishful thinking in the responses of some of my friends. Later in life, a woman can more easily become a carer – for her partner, a parent or her grandchildren and I am, in many ways, in an enviable position. My work as a writer, workshop and retreat leader means I can operate anywhere there are English speakers so I’m writing lists, speaking to storage places and financial advisors and trying to persuade my kids to take temporary possession of the olive tree, the enormous coffee table and far too many books.