Stephen, Cathy and their family decided to move from Leeds in the UK to start a new life in Tenerife after a series of unrelated events caused them to stop and reassess what they were doing in life. After just over 6 years of ups and downs, they are still (relatively) happy with their new lives at The Beach in Tenerife.
Days can be very different since we moved from the UK to one of the Canary Islands in 2003. They certainly are greatly changed from typical UK based days!
I remember the dark mornings, the daily commute, sometimes taking 90 minutes to drive the short distance to the office and then out and about around the country before heading back home often also in the dark to close the door and ‘pull up the drawbridge’ and sit in front of the TV until bedtime ready to start again the next day.
Well not any more, now (usually) the alarm goes off at 7:15am and it is already daylight, but not only daylight, warm (often hot) making it actually a pleasure to get out of bed and attack the day!
Yes, you did read ‘the alarm goes off’, we have not retired to the sunshine and still have to earn a living, we are just doing that in what we believe to be a better place for us.
After initially fighting with the ‘I don’t want to have a 9 to 5 job’ thoughts, things have settled down and I now enjoy working for a local organisation in their busy Administration and Marketing office – its actually ‘10 until 7’, so I guess I won part of that battle.
But, I am getting ahead of myself, the alarm is set so that we are awake in time to make sure our 13 year old daughter, Elinor is up and ready to go to school. The school is one of the local Canarian schools and we are very pleased that we made the decision soon after arriving to not place her in one of the English schools like many parents do. Eli is now bilingual and has many friends from around the world!
After waking Elinor, making coffee, and making sure the cats have food in their dish I head for the PC to check what e-mails or articles have arrived overnight to catch my interest. These could be from friends and family around the world, or from one of the great Blogs that I have started to follow recently.
It takes two coffees before I am ready to jump into the shower and get dressed to leave for work. Cathy, my wife of almost 25 years (how does she put up with me?), normally leaves the apartment at the same time as me, not for work yet, but to take our Boxer dog, Oscar for his morning run.
Since we moved to the centre of Los Cristianos earlier this year we have little need for a car and so I head across to the Bus Station and jump on the first bus to see what today in the office will bring.
The journey can take anywhere from 15 minutes upwards depending on whether the driver decides to stop at the station for (a) a comfort break, (b) a chat with other drivers or (c) breakfast and a read of the morning papers!
This is a great opportunity to catch up on my reading, maybe the latest novel that has me gripped, or another tutorial that I have printed off in my attempts to understand this whole new world of what they call ‘Social Media’ or very occasionally I will plan the day ahead.
Planning the day ahead doesn’t win very often though, the reason being that although I know roughly what has to be done each week, the nature of my job means that from the moment I walk through the doors anything can be thrown at me (and normally is).
No, I don’t mean literally thrown at me, although that has been known to have happened before as well. What I mean is that the people I work with are ‘ideas’ people - they are, each one of them, looking for new and different angles to bring more people to our Resort.
After so many years there is little that hasn’t been tried in the tourist industry at least once before, so it is all about the ‘angles’ again, the same idea, but using new methods, up to date technology, sometimes plain old ‘back to the drawing board’ thoughts.
It’s great, no two days the same, lots of different opportunities, and so many new languages for me to get to grips with (and I still struggle with this!). After spending so long working with ‘the English’ and not having the opportunity to try out my Spanish (or to be more correct, my Canarian), I now find myself throwing in the odd word of Polish, checking my Slovakian dictionary to make myself understood and then battling with a document in Serbian (those Cyrillic characters really make my head spin!), oh did I mention the Scandinavians as well?
No, well I guess I should have done, they will be back with us later this month, I hadn’t realised how seasonal this Island was, it’s not just ‘all round sunshine’ for everyone all of the time, certain nationalities join us at different times of the year. Always learning ... and always willing to learn, that’s what makes for an interesting time.
Recent projects have involved the production of a new suite of information leaflets for our members, including the sourcing of new and interesting photos of some of the fabulous tourist destinations around the world, also finding a reliable and professional printing service (not as easy as it sounds here); setting down the foundations for a Social Media presence for the organisation and a complete revamp of the ‘Corporate Website’.
I have really enjoyed this particular task, bringing a static brochure type website to life and making it more interactive has been an up hill challenge, but it is nearly there and I am positive that it will make a difference.
Before I know it, the majority of my colleagues have finished for the day, yes they have been in since 9am and so finish at 6pm leaving the office a quieter place for my last hour and allowing me to catch up with the things that need to be done before I too can walk up that hill to the bus stop and make my way home.
Home now is a large apartment on the top floor of a complex in the centre of the beautiful town of Los Cristianos. I am welcomed home by all of our animals, Stevie the Cat (a female, named after the fantastic Stevie Nicks), Oscar the Boxer (who found us after being abandoned by his previous owners when they decided to return to the UK) and our latest addition Sasha a young kitten that we rescued and re-homed from one of the local animal centres.
Elinor is usually out with her friends at this point and it will be an hour or so before Cathy gets home from her work so I quickly swap my work clothes for a more comfortable pair of shorts and maybe a t-shirt, grab a coffee and sit down at the PC for a while to work on one or two of the websites that I look after.
Dinner has almost always been prepared by Cathy before she went to work so is ready very quickly when she returns and we sit on the terrace to eat and catch up on each other’s events of the day.
After that, well it depends, could be a walk down to the front with Oscar, maybe pop in to one of our local bars for a quick drink and a natter with friends or possibly acting as a chauffer and taking our son, Simply Mo, to one of his gigs around town.
It’s certainly not a holiday here when you have to work for a living, but would we want to swap it? I don’t think so thank you very much!