Living the dream… a year on!

Who’d have thought the 70th year of my life would turn out like this?  I sat on the roof terrace with my daughter recently, and we talked our way back through time.  Her memories are so much more vivid than mine.  I was just happy to have her sitting beside me, sharing the view of sky, sea and salt marsh that brings me so much pleasure.

Living the dream… 6 months on had me on the verge of an adventure that makes me smile whenever I think about it.  The Azores, a true love affair that reunited me with clouds and refreshing rain.  That made me want to dance in the puddles like a child.  On my return to the Algarve, more doubts set in.  Was I really suited to this energy sapping heat?  I like to live my life at pace, keeping age at bay you might say.  I was assured that this was a cool summer, by Algarve standards, but still it was a relief to return to the UK for most of August.  A delight too, to share time with my family, made more precious by their distance from my new life.  However hard I try to bridge the gap, with texts and phone calls and Skype, there is no substitute for a hug.

Back in the Algarve, both me and my husband were a little down and disorientated.  Though my son’s beaming smile when he announced his engagement was a moment to savour.  We tried to find ourselves again.  The continuing heat necessitated almost daily trips to the beach, me desperate for a breeze, him happy to laze with the waves lapping his toes.  I had ‘discovered’ croquet and a new circle of friends, while he joined a tennis club.  We were a little at odds and grumpy with each other, uncertain who to blame for the fading dream.  I planned a couple of trips on the water, always guaranteed to make me happy.  September drifted past, and gradually mutual friends returned from their summer sojourn.  The life we had loved was about to resume… but first, a frenzied October.

We had issued numerous invitations to family and friends on our UK departure.  All had given us space to settle in, but October proved to be the tipping point.  We welcomed a succession of guests, all of whom seemed to be as dazzled by our Algarve home as we had been.  Michael donned his chauffeur cap and I assumed my role as planner and tour guide.  All of it very enjoyable, for they were an appreciative audience, and lovely people.  At the same time, we were enrolling for a new term of Portuguese lessons (oh dear!) and trying to maintain our social life.  I didn’t feel well and slept poorly.  But the warmth of responses around me couldn’t be ignored.  People were so kind and caring.  How could I not respond?

A kaleidoscope of events since then!  Walks aplenty, two meetups with lovely blogging friends (in the same week!), entertaining at home (which always makes me nervous, but I needn’t have worried), birthday celebrations, a fantastic light show in Faro.  Do I still have regrets?  Of course!  I wish facility with the language came a little easier.  Overheard snippets of conversation that you can’t understand are no fun at all.  I’m still trying.  The big loss, of course, is the ability to zip down the road to family.  I’m not alone in that.  But I can honestly say, a year down the line, that this place feels like home, and continues to put a smile on my face.  You can’t ask for more, can you?  Even for a restless soul.

116 comments

  1. Oh how time flies, Jo. It has been a year already. I remember the summer of 2018, when you were planning and anticipating and all of us (or me at least) were so excited for you. Yes, moving to a different country is not at all like spending parts of the year there. I can imagine the hardships of not having family and certain friends nearby. Life is a compromise, or at least our decisions are. One of the reasons why Mark and I haven’t settled anywhere – even temporarily – is because we haven’t found the “perfect” place. We probably never will. I am a restless soul as well… Luckily, I’m still OK with seeing my family and Belgian friends once every two years or so.

    Like

    1. Perfect doesn’t exist, Liesbet. You just have to look for your happy place. I’ve found several, and don’t have any good reason to stop looking, but my husband isn’t a nomad and we both enjoy having a circle of friends to share things with. I need my personal space too. As you say- compromise, but right now we are in a good place. That’s all I can ask. Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂 🙂

      Like

  2. You’ve written a meaningful account of what is anything but simple! You’ve a lovely new home that has pulled at your heart and soul for a long time, and in making the transition to a wonderful new life, you’ve had to relinquish the comforts of friends and family. That you’ve done so well with all the transition really is impressive. I’m so glad you’ve had many visitors and can share your good fortune with others, and it’s certain with each passing day you’ll learn the language and meld in even better than you’ve already realized, and I think you’ve done so well! Happy Birthday, Jo!

    Like

    1. Thanks so much, Debbie! Having people like you to cheer me on has helped such a lot. The actual anniversary of the date will be tomorrow and I’ll be out with my walking friends. I guess that says it all 🙂 🙂 And in 4 weeks I have a flying visit ‘home’ for a few hugs.

      Like

  3. Has it really been a year? Amazing! I’m so glad you’re adjusting, Jo. It is definitely a long process. And being fluent in a language takes a long time–as I am learning with Italian. You’ve made great progress. I hope you’re giving yourselves a pat on the back or two!

    Like

    1. By the date, a year tomorrow, Patti. I’ve gotten very accustomed to blue skies but I do still remember cold. In fact, many evenings are quite chilly, but the company is always warm. Thanks a lot for traveling with me. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh it was the right decision for you, you found your perfect home. Your vibrant personality will always get you through the odd doubtful days. It’s the kind of think I’d like to do, but I’d miss too many people, my dear little city and all of Devon x 🙂 x

    Like

    1. When I compare my life in the north east with how it is now, hon, there is no real contest. Perhaps because my circle of friends were getting older and not so open to new stuff, and certainly the restraints of weather. There’s such a range of people and things to do here. Maybe the difference is that I say yes more often. Cease the day, I suppose. Before it’s gone. It is my firm intention to book a flight to the south of England to visit you and Jude this year. I just need to sort out when. Have a wonderful Sunday! The weather isn’t everything, is it, though it helps 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t wait to retire, there’s so many things to do here n the daytime as well , I don’t think I’d ever be bored. Are you finding that some of the locals speak English? I hope you persist with your lessons, it adds another dimension when you can chat a bit more and like me you really love talking to people.
        When you have some loose ideas of dates let me know, there are more than usual restrictions on when we can take time off in 2020, because of a new system that affects everyone in the hospital trust.

        Like

  5. Jo, as always you are so honest and it is really interesting to hear about how you are feeling with such a huge life changing experience. Sounds like there are ups and downs, but the ups are what it is all about. Life in the UK at the moment is hard, with our politicians letting us down and the mood of the country is one of frustration. I think you have made a great choice😄

    Like

    1. I certainly wouldn’t wish for the frustrations of England right now, Gilda. I hear all about it from my youngsters and friends. Seems the first qualification to be a politician is to be a liar. I’m very lucky to be living this life I’ve chosen and I appreciate that. 🤗💕

      Like

    1. I’m still looking for that skill that evades me, Heather. Croquet isn’t it but I can at least hit the darn thing 😊. Just home from a flamenco show with friends. My feet definitely can’t move that fast! The people here are lovely 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A very heartfelt post, Jo, and you’re quite right about not being able to have it all! Great that you have a lively social calendar, and amidst all that you popped across to Seville to see me!!

    Like

    1. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat, Sue! Life is so much about the people that you fill your life with, isn’t it? It was a privilege to meet you and I’m sorry I’m impatient and ‘nudged’ you today. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jo, I was just saying to a friend today that what is most important in life, for me, is people! We’re on the same page…. It was a privilege to meet you, and fret not about the ‘nudge’…. And I must visit you in Tarifa before I’m too much older!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Jo so interesting to hear your reflections one year on. I appreciate your honesty and I think it is helpful for anyone considering such a move , no matter how amazing the destination, that there will be adjustments and grieving for what one has left behind, your positive attitude and restless spirit serve you well to get out and make new friends and continue exploring. Hugs across the miles and as one who shoveled snow a great deal this week, please enjoy on my behalf.:)

    Like

    1. I believe I saw you shoveling snow on Facebook, Sue. I told myself it was a mirage. 🙂 🙂 Yes, hon- I know how very lucky I am! We had a day of wind and rain here today. One day! And a couple of showers in the last week. You could hear the earth breath a sigh of relief. But it’s not all about weather, Sue. We both know that. Thank you so much for the hugs. Wishing you a wonderful build up to the festive season.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually that was Dave on the time lapse shovel but we were both at it. There is always good and bad no matter the weather wherever we are to be sure. Best wishes to you as well dear one. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I was surprised by the word “year” in that title; I feel like it’s been even longer that you’ve been there! But I shouldn’t rush you through this dream of yours, even when parts of are vexing and difficult. You remind me of myself in some of these posts; you want to be honest and upfront about missing family, an occasionally cranky husband, weather you thought you wanted and are now irritated with … and YET, you keep those feet moving and your spirits up, even if it’s just a little teeny tiny bit some days, because overall you know that life is good!

    Like

    1. Well, I suppose I have, if you count the 15 years we’ve owned this house, Lexie. 🙂 🙂 And you know what? It bounced with rain for much of today and I loved it! Warm rain, gushing down the streets. We were supposed to walk this morning but it was cancelled. No self-respecting Portuguese person walks in the rain. So instead we met for lunch and I was even more fluent than normal for my language lesson, which followed. 🙂 Going out of town to a flamenco show tonight. Can you see any possible reason to complain? No- me, neither…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Goodness one year already Jo. What a whirlwind it has been for you. I can understand you finding the heat hard, I still do over here, but console myself with it only being about 4 months out of 12 and being near the ocean makes it bearable. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts about the move. What a brave soul you are with such a major change. Enjoy the second year, I’m sure with new friends and all those glorious places to explore life will never be boring.

    Like

    1. I’d have to look ‘boring’ up in the dictionary these days, Pauline. 🙂 🙂 We were supposed to be leading a walk this morning, up in the hills, but it’s a wet and wild forecast so we’ll settle for lunch with friends, a Portuguese lesson and a trip to the next town for a flamenco show this evening. How could I ever complain? Hugs, darlin!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. If you saw our skies this morning, and with a hill walk in prospect, Karen, you’d think I’ve gone stark, staring mad to say I love this place. 🙂 🙂 It’s ‘only weather’ but I’ve just been advised the walk is off. The other half just rolled over and pulled the cover over his head. He’ll emerge for food eventually 🙂 Thanks, darlin!

      Like

  10. Even though you’d been going to the Algarve for many years, moving there full time was a big move! I’m not surprised it’s taken you a while to settle. I hope you get to do lots of trips back to the UK for those family hugs. Go back in the winter to remind yourself why you made the big move 🙂
    The final pic in this post is an absolutely stunning photo.
    Alison

    Like

    1. Thanks so much, Alison. That’s ‘our’ riverbank in the early evening. I love the serenity. 🙂 🙂 Although weather was a large factor in moving, I can’t believe what a lovely circle of friends we’ve made here. All happy to ‘live the dream’, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m another who appreciates your honesty and am in the same sort of boat, so to speak. We’re going to be moving to Arizona early next year and although I’m the one who suggested it (my husband definitely agreed, though), all the reasons are right, and I believe that’s what God has planned for us, I love much about where we are and am not at all excited about the actually moving part of it. 🙂 Congratulations on your first year and it reads to me as if you’ve made the right choice, but it does take time. Blessings on this next year!

    janet

    Like

    1. Why Arizona, Janet? Will you be closer to/further from family? Moving/packing up… there can’t be anybody who enjoys that, can there? I wish you luck with it. We’ve been incredibly lucky in our choice of place. I have met some of the nicest people 🙂 🙂

      Like

      1. My parents and brother and his family live there. We’ll also be much closer to our daughter and s-i-l in southern California. We’ll be farther from our other daughter and another of my s-i-l’s but they say they’ll be happy to visit. 🙂 My husband’s way of keeping in shape is cycling (bikes) so I want to be somewhere that he can ride year-round. Finally, we’re thinking of retiring there eventually, so we’d like to see if we really like it and spend time with my parents while they’re still around. 🙂

        Like

  12. It doesn’t seem like you have been there a whole year! I think as the weather cools a little things will get easier, it sounds as though they already are. xx

    Like

  13. I can’t believe you’ve been there for a year. What honest reflections you offer on that year and its ambivalence, and how carefully you weigh up gains and losses. I’m with you on the heat, and it probably won’t get cooler, but water and breezes help a lot – the difference between Joe’s place and mine. Congratulations to your son. I’ve just re-found the journal of our move from Sydney 40+ years ago, and a list of guests – 25 in the first year! Even though the only accommodation we could offer was a tent. Language is the big one, especially for us chatterers and sociable beings.

    Travel well into your second year, restless one. I hope you’re feeling blazing good health and sleeping well again.

    Like

    1. I’m feeling blessed, most of the time, and grumpy the rest. Mick says that’s my nature. And he would know! 🙂 🙂 That journal would make great reading! Thank you for being my friend, Meg. One of the best things to have happened to me since I started this blog. God bless!

      Like

  14. Happy anniversary Jo. Thanks for sharing such an honest, heartfelt post. As one who is contemplating a smaller, but no less significant move, it is lovely to know that others have the same ups and downs and days of doubt. Wishing you both a long and happy life I your new home.

    Like

    1. Bless you, hon- thanks! There are so many things to look at in making this kind of decision, but so far we’ve been lucky, Su. I hope you feel the same if you make the move. 🙂 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.