Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • March 2020
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for March 6th, 2020

Summoned to the Headmistress!

Posted by contentedsouls on 06/03/2020

(and pictures of our new house)

Since we have been here, we have hired the services of a legal/translator lady to guide us through the infamous and legendary paperwork and officialdom that accompanies all Spanish bureaucracy. Due to the process of trying to establish residencia and, latterly, buy a house here, it has been necessary to make many visits to this lady – let’s call her Maria (and if she ever reads this blog I am unlikely to live long enough to move into the new house!).

She is a very large and intimidating lady (for which, read ‘immensely scary’) with a highly developed sense of sarcasm. Our relationship  didn’t get off to the best of starts when, in my nervousness, I missed the wiggly bit over the ‘n’ off my pronunciation and consequently told her that her daughter had ten assholes, instead of ten years.

Us Brits, when summoned to legal meetings, expect the work to have been done before you get there, then be told of progress, timescales, and what you need to do next. Telephone calls are put on hold for the duration of your meeting and 15 minutes later, you leave. The Spanish way (in our experience so far) is entirely different.

When we get to a meeting with Maria, she opens our file and commences to read all incoming emails etc., to find out what’s going on. Graham was next to get into trouble because this reading of stuff takes quite a long while and he’s not very good at silences. So he asked her a question (how very dare he – he’s only paying her!) and got told,

“Please be quiet, this is complicated and I need to concentrate,”

At the last meeting we attended, we both got a terrible fit of the giggles when G got told off 4 times; 3 times for trying to ask a question and then,

“Don’t look at your ‘phone – you can do that at home,”

By now I was bursting with suppressed laughter – not helped by the fact that G kept nudging me under the desk. In desperation to get an important question asked I, finally, resorted to jumping to my feet and waving my hand in the air – she wasn’t expecting that! We both managed, somehow, to hold it together long enough to get out of her office before giving way to our hysterics.

Her ‘phone rings frequently and, despite her ‘concentration,’ she takes every call. Each call involves both parties talking simultaneously and growing in volume as they each attempt to shout each other down and get as many words in as possible should the most momentary of pauses occur. Consequently, meetings go on for hours and I rapidly loose the will to live.

The exact same process occurs if you have the misfortune to be in the car with her; constant ‘phone calls (hands free) of the, ‘I can shout louder than you,’ variety.

On one momentous occasion, I was in the car with Maria and she was, of course, overshouting someone on the ‘phone and pulled over (on a zebra crossing – natch!) when she spotted somebody she needed to speak to on the pavement; winding the window down, she and the man proceeded to simultaneously shout at each other (right across me). Sensing a slight distraction in Maria, the bloke on the other end of the ‘phone seized the advantage and yelled down the ‘phone as fast and as loud as he could. I kid you not, my ears were ringing for the next 24 hours!

Interestingly it seems to work for them, as all ‘phone calls are terminated, by both parties, simultaneously – so both must have got what they needed from the ‘conversation’. They would be utterly brilliant at Prime Minister’s question time.

Having said all this, it’s part and parcel of getting involved with a different culture and it’s always both interesting and entertaining. In addition, Maria gets the job done; she was magnificent – and speedy – when the house purchase started to get into trouble (perhaps I’m not the only person who finds her scary!).


When we went to, ‘just have a look,’ at the little house, it just wrapped it’s arms around us. The situation was perfect for us for winters; up in the narrow winding streets of the old town, in walking distance of shops and restaurants, 95% Spanish population, no garden to maintain, massive roof terrace, and easy to secure for 6 months of the year.

I wasn’t ready to be tied to bricks and mortar yet, but G confessed that he would like to have a comfortable bolt hole should something happen to either of us – neither of us could cope with Francoise single handed; the maintenance doesn’t get any easier as we get older. So we, first, negotiated with each other.

Provided that we could continue our road trips (and I’m thinking house sitting in France and Italy on the way down) and, from the house; Southern Spain, Portugal and Morocco, I was happy to go ahead. My additional requirement was that the 3rd bedroom (currently in use as a craft room) was to be my ‘quiet’ room – in return, I offered him a new bells and whistles TV in the lounge (with the proviso of a max of 43”!).

I thoroughly enjoyed the negotiations with the estate agent; particularly as we were in such a strong position. Not only were we cash buyers, but it didn’t really matter to us if we bought it or not. We could always find something else. So I put in our offer (to include furniture) and left the estate agent to talk it over with the vendor, adding that I thought the offer fair and I wouldn’t go any higher; it was that or we’d walk.

After 48 hours they accepted; part of me was pleased – because it is the perfect house for us – and part of me felt a bit flat at the thought of being tied (however loosely) to one location. G was thrilled skinny.

So here it is; not villa and pool stuff, but a proper Spanish town house. You’ll find the odd person lurking in some of the pics.

The view from the roof terrace – yes that is the sea.


Roof terrace and built in BBQ (it also has a big marquee/sunshade thingy, that fits over that frame).


… and the rest; you can’t see it on these, but the kitchen is surprisingly big.


Getting the van up some of these streets is going to be interesting – if we succeed, there is a parking space!


So, one more visit to the notary with the headmistress, and we move in (if we choose to) in less than a fortnight. OLE !

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