Update 01 December 2021

 

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s December already!  Along with 2020, this has been one of the more surreal years in the world and just when we thought things might be normalising, along comes Omicron and it thrusts us all back into a less-than-pleasant time with a ‘here we go again’ weariness…..

 

We’re pleased to report Spain has the third lowest (behind Kosovo and the Vatican City) Covid rate in Europe – there seems to be 100% mask wearing compliance indoors – a pleasant change after the UK) and vaccination rates are higher than most western European countries where rates are soaring and various restrictions (and mass protests) are being reintroduced

 

The Gypsies have continued….well to be Gypsies….November was a particularly busy month as we began in Valencia then road-tripped our way across the centre of Spain (just south of Madrid) to Toledo, then further across to Caceres close to the Portuguese border, down to familiar territory in Cadiz, back across the interior (though in the south this time) to a second visit to Granada before finally (and thankfully) arriving in the small and sleepy Spanish town of Los Urrutias on the south-eastern coast.

 

We will be here for two months until late January and have the pleasure of living in a lovely villa, perfectly placed for the sun and lovingly developed by its owners who are visiting their adult children and grandchildren in the USA.  In our care are Jack and Sooty, two well-loved cats and we are getting on just fine so far!  

 

The Spanish winter weather is throwing up blue skies and sunshine with daily temps between 5 and 18 degrees so we’ll just grin and bear it!

 

As the pre-Christmas craziness revs up, we wish you all the very best for a lovely holiday period.  For those in New Zealand/Australia, enjoy the summer holidays and up in this part of the world we wish you keep warm and safe as 2021 comes to an end and we all look forward to a better (surely!!) 2022 and beyond

Update - 02 November 2021

Well, the calendar has turned over to November and here ‘up north’ the clocks wound back an hour as the autumn colours began to fade, the weather cooled and the days got shorter.

 

October was another huge month – we began in Harrogate, Yorkshire completing a housesit with Ozzy the black Labrador.  From there, four days in the city of York and just outside York, down to London for a week in Hampstead then a return to ‘Canterbury Cottage’ in Freefolk, rural Hampshire, then some tiki-touring around Wales before a weekend never to be forgotten in Cardiff.

 

Alan indulged a couple of bucket list items attending a Southampton home match at St Marys Stadium (“robbed by a dodgy refereeing decision”) and the biggie – an All Blacks/Wales rugby test in Cardiff and everything that goes with such an auspicious occasion – separate post to come.

 

And we closed the month, after eight separate stops, by flying back to the sunshine in Spain, this time to Valencia on the eastern coast.

 

November is shaping up as another gypsy month post-Valencia with planned stops in (holy) Toledo, Caceres, a return to our old stomping ground of Cadiz, Granada then the start of a two month housesit in the Los Urrutias, Murcia on the south eastern tip of Spain.

 

In all we spent just on five months in the UK arriving into Edinburgh in early June.  We completed eight housesits and had 21 stops…..we saw some amazing sights, met some super lovely people along the way and Alan’s sporting bucket list included Lords and the Oval for cricket as well as football and rugby occasions of the highest magnitude though the difference between 75,000 fans at Principality Stadium in Cardiff and 750 at the EnvirRent Stadium in downtown Harrogate for a Football League 2 fixture was stark!!

 

Roll on some further Spanish adventures in November!!

Update - 02 October 2021

Alan writes...

The calendar turns and so does the weather!

We spent the first half of September in Maidstone, Kent in the south-east of England before ‘going north’ mid-month to the quite lovely spa town of Harrogate in northern Yorkshire, just north of Leeds.

 

It is now definitely autumn with the changing colours, dropping temperatures accompanied by strong winds…..which is the perfect time to be in this part of the world.  

 

The countryside of northern Yorkshire, particularly that of the Yorkshire Dales has been breath-taking.  Rolling hills, lush green fields the magnificent changing leaf colours and the super pretty towns and villages have had us spellbound as we travel around.

 

Alas, that time is nearing an end – our October plans are to wrap up in Harrogate, then head half an hour east to historic York for four days before journeying back to the capital for a week’s housesit very close to Hampstead Heath.

 

Following that we go back out into the countryside and a return to Freefolk for a repeat housesit in rural Hampshire, an hour out of London.  It will be very different from our first stint there amid 30 deg temperatures in July, but once again we hope to catch the glory of rural England in the autumn.  Alan is excited into have secure tickets to a Southampton (football) match while we are there!

 

As October winds down, we will travel to Wales for a few days and our first proper experience of that wonderful part of the world.  The time there will be crowned by a weekend in Cardiff which includes tickets for the All Blacks/Wales rugby test on the 30th.  From Bob Deans in 1905 right up to 2021, this is a famous rivalry and a rugby test weekend in Cardiff is one of the items close to the top of Alan’s bucket list.

 

We are now in full planning mode for our return to Spain – flying into Valencia on the 1st of November, aiming to secure an apartment there through to mid 2022 and re-immerse ourselves into Spanish life and culture.

 

Until next month……

 

Update - 09 September 2021

 

Alan writes...

September - that month that heralds change not just on the calendar.  Down in the southern hemisphere it’s the end of (calendar) winter with all the hope that springs eternal whilst ‘up north’ it’s the opposite as those in the UK see the days drawing in and are realising that the one scorching week in mid-July was ‘the’ summer!

 

August heralded more change for the ‘Gypsies’ as we completed a housesit in Peckham, SE London and headed out into the Kent countryside albeit in the (largish) town of Maidstone, about halfway between London and Dover.

 

The final days in London went well with Alan able to add another tick on the bucket list by attending a day of test cricket at Lords, the ‘Home of Cricket.  An absorbing 5th and final day of the England/India test was magnificent theatre where he wondered if he was back at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai such was the cacophony of noise.

 

Kent has treated us well!  We are staying in lovely accommodation looking after (another) cute and mischievous cat who keeps us amused.  A three-day car hire took us all around the county known as the Garden of England where 28 deg days heralded summer’s final fling.  Blogs to come soon covering our travels but it’s fair to say the White Cliffs of Dover were another one of those world-renowned destinations that lived up to its billing complete with a Spitfire flyover. 

 

We will soon be heading ‘up north’ to Harrogate in Yorkshire for nearly three weeks to round out September.  Then it’s down to our final month in the UK before returning to ‘Espana’ in early November.

 

Covid continues to dominate the headlines – there is yet another uptick in the numbers, nearly 40,000 new cases (and 190 deaths) a day but it’s clear that this is ‘acceptable’ to the UK Government and many people as there is no talk of further lockdowns or other restrictions – all down to the 80% fully vaccinated population and 88% with one dose  The UK Government have announced a booster (third) dose programme to begin in mid September and run through the autumn, targeting the over 50’s age groups.

 

Obviously back home in Aotearoa, the Delta variant has struck but with one death and numbers now down in the teens each day, the team of 5 million has stepped up once more and hopefully dodged a further bullet.

 

Kia Kaha (be strong) to our Kiwi whanau and friends and to everyone else Kia Kaha too 

Update - 22 August 2021

As we approach the end of August, it’s time to provide an update of our recent adventures!

P

ost our Crieff (Scotland) housesit, we spent a couple of days in wonderful Edinburgh and then headed south, firstly to London for a night and then out to Freefolk on the banks of the Test River in rural Hampshire for our second housesit of the summer.

A pilgrimage to Saint Marys Stadium (home of the mighty Saints) in Southampton was followed by 5 scorching days in London staying with my niece her husband and their very cute two-year-old son!

 

Then it was off to Torquay in south Devon where we took care of two mostly very cute four-month-old kittens and explored the beautiful surrounding area.  This had been a replacement sit for one in the Midlands that was cancelled as those homeowners had decided not to travel due to Covid related factors.

 

Following that we spent three days with family in Belfast and reflecting on our 4-month lockdown there last year.  Next was a return to Peckham in SE London caring for a more chilled out (than last year) cockapoo

 

Covid is still ever present but as is widely known, the UK are essentially learning to live with it.  There are still an average of 25,000 new cases each day but with relatively low hospitalisation/death rates (with 70% of the population fully vaccinated), very few restrictions in daily life are present and it seems highly unlikely there will be a return to lockdowns.

 

Our own plans are ever changing – a return to Spain in mid-September had been booked but having secured tickets to the All Black/Wales rugby test in late October, we’ve decided to remain in the UK and a new return-to-Spain date of 2 November has now been booked.

 

After Peckham, we will head out to Maidstone in Kent for a couple of weeks before going up to Harrogate in Yorkshire and in mid-October back to Freefolk for a return sit.

The gypsy life this northern summer has been mostly very positive.  We’ve seen some incredible new places and met some lovely people as well as connecting again with family and friends on this side of the world.

 

Being so far away from NZ and not having access there (if it is required) has made it difficult at times especially now lockdowns there are impacting our kids but on we go in search of further adventures.

 

We do hope this update finds everyone as well as they can be with special thoughts and love for our family and friends in New Zealand and Australia – Kia Kaha!

Update - 01 July 2021

July is upon us….mid-summer for the northern hemisphere but not so much for those down under….

 

Not surprisingly, our best laid plans in early June required swift alteration when the UK Government downgraded Portugal in its traffic light travel ‘system’ just two days before we were due to arrive there.  

 

So instead of 10 days in Lisbon, we flew into Edinburgh, Scotland where we self-isolated in an Airbnb for ten days before resuming Plan A which was a few days in the Scottish Highlands (based in Inverness) before kicking off our first scheduled housesit.

 

Our time in Inverness coincided with the longest day and it was certainly the longest day we’ve ever had with light in the sky just after 3am, finally getting dark around midnight….not a great recipe for a lot of sleep!!

 

Scotland is just beautiful….very reminiscent of home with lush green countryside and friendly people  and we are loving our time here.

 

Our first housesit has just begun with two dogs and two cats in a lovely bungalow in Crieff, a town just north of Glasgow and Edinburgh.  We’ll be here until mid-July before our next housesit just outside London, another one later in July close to Birmingham before going back to Peckham in London for our final house and pet sit taking us up until the end of August.

 

The summer of sport is well underway – a great month with the Black Caps crushing England and doing the same to India.  Euros football fever is alive and well with England heading towards an inevitable exit after lulling the nation into a frenzy and Wimbledon has just kicked off – Happy Days!!

 

Update - 01 June 2021

 

Our first update for a while!  Early summer has arrived in the south of Spain with consistent blue skies and sunshine and warmth although here in Cadiz the ocean breeze is keeping temperatures in the low-mid 20’s which is very pleasant.

 

Covid restrictions which prevented travel, have eased though we still cannot leave the region of Andalucia but given its Spain’s largest region, there has been plenty to see with recent trips to Cordoba, Granada and Gibraltar.

 

New posts describing the above trips are in production as I write but technical difficulties with the site platform has not allowed us to post these but we hope to have that resolved very soon….

 

Spain’s Covid situation continues to improve both with daily cases now ‘down’ to around 2000 and the rapidly growing vaccination programme with nearly 40% of the population having had at least one dose.  We’ve both benefited from having had our first jab in mid-May with number two scheduled for 4th June; which is just in time actually, as our time in Cadiz comes to an end two days later.  We had originally booked to fly into the UK, see out the 10-day‘ quarantine’ then embark on summer.  However, with the UK deeming Portugal to be on its green list, we’ve decided to head there for 12 days, allowing us to fly into the UK ‘green’ – not a difficult decision to make in the end!

 

After Portugal, we will fly into Edinburgh, head up to the Highlands for a week then down to Crieff (an hour from Glasgow) for the first of three UK housesits from then until the end of August.

Update - 27 March 2021

Well so much for monthly updates as Easter and the end of the first quarter of 2021 rolls around!

 

It’s been a quiet period…. that’s not an excuse…. reasonably severe travel and other Covid-related restrictions have conspired to keep us mainly to Cadiz City with only the odd foray beyond city borders…when permitted.

 

The Covid situation has improved considerably since the so-called third wave was at its peak in late Jan/early Feb.  Restrictions on non-essential retail including bars and cafes have slowly been eased although the national and local (Andalusian) Government has maintained the perimeter restrictions until after Easter.

 

However, the situation in Europe has taken a turn for the worse again with lockdown returning in many countries.  The decision by the Spanish Government to allow tourists from Germany, France and other European countries seems a little strange given that increase cases and that Spaniards themselves cannot leave their local areas.  It can only be a matter of time before cases (and restrictions) in Spain increase again, not helped by the appalling initial vaccination programme rollout across Europe.

 

And what about us Gypsies?  

 A new blog post is up about a lovely wee day trip to Jerez so feast your eyes on that.

 Plans are afoot for a couple of trips post-Easter when we are allowed to go beyond provincial borders so more on that next month…fingers crossed.

 We have also been sketching out our summer travels after our apartment lease runs out at the end of June.  Alan has his eyes on getting to Southampton and the World Test Cricket Championship final from 18 June and we have two housesits lined up in July and August but like everything in these times, maximum flexibility is required with late changes almost guaranteed!

 Alan began ‘real’ teaching earlier this month.  He’s a relief Teacher for one of the English schools here in Cadiz and picked up ten classes which he has (mostly) enjoyed and the kids and adults he has taught have heard a Kiwi accent for the first time and have learned some Kiwi culture along the way.

 

Cadiz is looking a picture as spring takes hold.  The oranges have gone from the trees and have been replaced by pungently perfumed orange blossom.   Lots of other trees have delicate pink blossom that looks magnificent against the intense blue Andalusian sky.   Most days are now cloudless with temps just into the early 20’s now.  Life has really returned to the cafes/bars which are now able to open until 10.30pm (previously 6 pm) and there does seem to be a general feeling of optimism in the air….as long as we can just get those jabs into arms! 

 

 

Update - 03 February 2021

The calendar ticks over again and the first month of 2021 is in the books already!

 

It’s (frustratingly) been a stay-at-home month as Covid’s ‘Third Wave’ continues to cut a swathe through Spain and many other countries on this side of the world.  In Spain it isn’t uncommon to have up to 50,000 new cases per day and locally in the Cadiz province where we are, almost all towns and cities have perimeter closures with many having shut down non-essential businesses once again.

 

Surprisingly it’s been cold…colder than usual!  Many of you may have seen the heavy snow that paralysed Madrid for nearly 10 days and its effects were felt down here too – some days struggling to get past 12 degrees and overnight temps down near zero which is not what Gaditano’s are used to!!

 

January for us was dominated by getting Olivia our London-based daughter out of Borisland and back to New Zealand.  After an abortive pre-Christmas attempt, she flew into Spain in mid Jan, stayed with us for a lovely two weeks and then undertook a 70-hour journey from Cadiz landing into summery Christchurch on 3 Feb.

 

But we look ahead with optimism.  The vaccine rollout has commenced, the days are getting longer with the promise of blue skies and sunshine not far over the horizon.  We remain healthy (touch wood!) and happy are thoroughly enjoying what life is throwing at us living in a pretty cool part of the world.