As the days and weeks went by, Pete suggested that I should write a blog about my experiences and adventures. I found writing cathartic. Not only was it a great way to communicate with family and friends, but it also opened up a whole new world for me. Suddenly I was having discussions with fellow bloggers from all over the globe. From my desk, 12 floors up on a traffic island I could communicate with people far and wide through my stories and through reading and commenting on theirs.
So what happened to The Owl And The Pussycat and their ‘away for a year and a day’? Well as soon as Pete had settled in to his new job and our lives had taken on a semblance of order, we started to look for a house to rent on Bali. Soon afterwards we were flying off each weekend to our bolt hole. It was here in the peace and tranquility of the Balinese countryside, close to the sea, that we started to make our dream come true. Although it would have been bliss to spend every day there, I needed to be back in Jakarta each week with Pete. Our Bali house was where we unwound, made work and where our children, friends and family came to visit us over the two years that we spent in Indonesia. We rented a field and grew bananas and mangoes, planted bamboo hedges and took part in the ceremonies that are such an important aspect of Balinese Hindu life. The Universe had answered our prayers; it had made our dream happen and given us a way to afford it.
But all good things must come to an end. Pete’s two-year contract was almost up and although he was offered more work, for various reasons we decided not to stay. We missed European culture, we missed being close to our children and although for the most part our time in Indonesia was fantastic, it was time to move on. But, where to go next? We had no employment back in the UK, and with Pete almost at retirement age, there was little hope of him finding work back in the teaching sector. I could find work but whether or not my income would cover our living costs and the mortgage that we still owed on our house? It was a risk.
After initially thinking about Portugal as an option, we then decided on Spain. The culture, architecture, weather and food all played a part in our decision. A close friend had recently bought a house in rural Andalucía and suggested that I start my search there. I emailed several estate agents, made a few skype calls and then after 2 weeks had drawn up a list of houses that I wanted to see. Our budget wasn’t large, I had under 50,000 € in which to find us a house but I’d narrowed down my search to a few that I thought might fit the bill.
In early August last year I flew from Jakarta to Malaga. Time was of the essence; I had just 2 days to find a house and another 2 days to do the paperwork if we were to pull this off. Armed with Pete’s credit cards and a huge amount of optimism, I set off on my mission. After a futile first day of house hunting, early on the second morning against all odds, I found our house. The roof needed fixing, there was no working bathroom, toilet or kitchen, but it had charm and character and above all space. Never mind that at some stage it would need buckets of money thrown at it, it was perfect for us. I shook hands with the vendor, paid the deposit and sorted out a solicitor to take care of the rest.
Three months later we packed up the Bali house and the apartment in Jakarta and headed for Spain. Now seven months on we are very much part of the village. Our new neighbours have taken us under their wing, forgiven our appalling Spanish and let us in to their homes and their lives. Pete and I run art classes for the children and are embracing our new rural life.
We have many plans for the future but our dream is to run residential art courses here in the olive groves of Andalucía.