In the forty years between leaving home at 19 and emigrating to Spain at 59, I didn’t stay in any one home for more than five years.
A bit of a nomad.
My main homes are listed here but in total lived in about 30 places in those forty years, in the UK, Spain and Hong Kong.
7 HOYLAKE GARDENS, EASTCOTE, MIDDLESEX 1941 to 1959
It all started in Eastcote which is just outside London.
This is my parents house, where I was brought up from 1941 to 1959. The picture was actually taken in 2007 but the only change was the front door now has a porch (and that palm tree wasn’t there!) And it never rained when I was a child.
1A KENT GARDENS, PITSHANGER LANE, EALING
My father’s company managed property, and my parents moved to a large ground floor apartment in a tudor property in Kent Gardens, near Ealing.
Other relatives came and lived in apartments in the same smart road. Further down the road was my cousin Ray Tanner with his wife, June, and son Nicky. Next door were my close relatives, the Bussicott’s, and above them Dusty Springfield’s parents. I sometime used to meet in the bus going to Ealing Common station. There was a huge field behind the properties and apparently this is where the name Springfield came from!
It is from here that I fled the nest and went to live and work in the big exciting city in 1959.
In 1959 I left home to live and work in London. I shared a couple of flats, one in Dulwich, for a year and then after a short stay alone in Balham I found a couple of fellows looking for another flatmate.
58 DENBIGH STREET, VICTORIA, LONDON
One, who was distantly related to the Royal family, left to get married (we weren’t smart enough to be invited to a society wedding)
While he was preparing to leave a fellow, Dennis Cross walked into the firm I was working for in Aldgate, London – Rooke Lane & Sons. I recognised him as he had been at the same grammar school as me, but a year above me. We found a guy who wanted two people to join him renting a basement flat in Victoria and this was my home for about three years, during the 1960’s in London. A great time to be in London.
I took photos of in 2012 when it looked like this. We were in the basement. If I remember correctly we were each paying £2.50 a week rent.
In 1964 I finished my Articles. Dennis went to live in the Bahamas. I went to Barcelona.
I found this letter inviting people for a farewell bottle party
APARTAMENTOS MERCEDES SALA, CASTELDEFELS, NEAR BARCELONA
When we arrived in Spain Pat and I found a small but cheap and cheerful apartment right on the beach in the small town of Casteldefells, about 25 kilometres from Barcelona, owned by Peter and Margaret Tedesko.
This is their business card and on the back the rent receipt!
So less that £4 per week back in 1965.
Pat’s epileptic fits became worse and she returned to the UK. I stayed for a while in Casteldefells and then at a friend’s apartment in Barcelona.
LA RACONADA, CASTELDEFELLS, NEAR BARCELONA, SPAIN
When I came back to Spain in 1967 after my father had died in March 1966 I returned to my beloved Casteldefells and found a lovely small complex of small townhouses.
It was here in La Raconada that Valerie, Jan and Don started our life together in 1968.
25 FIRFIELD ROAD, ADDLESTONE, SURREY
When we left Spain in 1968 Valerie and I rented an apartment in Haines Court, Weybridge and then, after nearly buying a huge property on Woking, more sensibly purchased our first property, 25 Firfield Road, Addlestone. At the time at an asking price of £6,350.
Diana was born here on 7th October 1969, and where we all lived until moving to Hong Kong in March 1973.
A FOOTHOLD IN SPAIN
ADSUBIA LAND IN JAVEA 1973
In early 1973, unhappy with bringing our children up in the UK, and missing the ex-pat life, Valerie and I decided to look for opportunities to live abroad again (she had lived in France, Bahamas and Africa before we met).
Our solicitor, David Finch, was a director of a property company and they had decided to invest in Spain. They were looking to build a small complex of communal townhouses, restaurant, pool etc. Not unlike La Raconada.
We agreed to help and the whole family, Diana was 3, caught the ferry to Bilbao and then drove through Madrid and down to Motril in southern Spain. We then spent the next few weeks driving up the Mediterranean coast looking at possible areas.
When we drove into Javea in the Costa Blanca we knew this was the place. We rented an apartment and spent two weeks exploring, meeting estate agents and finding out land and building costs.
Driving back to the UK through France we contacted David to find the company had decided to invest in Menorca!
Very frustrated I stared to look fro another job and landed one in Hong Kong. The week before flying there I popped over to the Costa Blanca, and through a lovely Spanish estate agent, Maria Teresa, I bought two adjoining plots of land in Adsubia in Javea, with excellent views of the Mediterranean. This to give us a foothold back in Spain.
LA ZORRITA, PEDREGUER 1976-1990
As part of the contract with Swire’s in Hong Kong we had to leave the Colony at least once a year. We had family holidays in Malaysia. Thailand, Philippines, Hawaii, California but often sent to Spain, where to begin with we stayed at a Hong Kong’s friend’s house in Jesus Pobre on the Montgo mountain, between Javea and Denia. Coincidently this is about 300 metres from where we live now.
Then we received a communication from Maria Teresa of a great opportunity to buy a house and land at a bargain price.
In brief a company had purchased an area of land to build properties, a restaurant, pool etc. Sound familiar? Then the plans of the proposed Mediterranean motorway were released. This indicated the route would take it straight through this land. The company went into liquidation, and had the brand new house (for the manager) and had parcelled up the land for sale.
So in 1976 we sold the Adsubia land and purchased the house, La Zorrita, (little fox as there were foxes on the mountain) and 6,000 m2 of land for the equivalent of £7,500.
One drawback was that although there were lights, baths, and all mod cons, there was no electricity or water connections!
For the next few years we had to drain water from a nearby cave and use camping gas for light as there was no water or electricity connection. A far cry from the large apartment in Hong Kong with a maid, and it brought us all down to earth.
Over the years we installed water and electricity, added another large bedroom and a swimming pool and had many happy holidays there.
Where I live now is only about five kilometres from La Zorrita which we sold in 1990 when Valerie and I were divorced.
EREDINE, 38 MOUNT KELLETT ROAD, THE PEAK
The Swire Group provided accommodation for all the expatriates. Firstly we lived in apartments in Repulse Bay and South Bay, but for the last few years in Hong Kong we lived here – on the top (7th) floor. It was a huge apartment, the living/dining area was about the same size as our current Spanish finca.
This was our view down to Aberdeen harbour at night.
BACK TO THE UK
We had purchased an apartment in Lovelace Gardens in Surbiton, while living in Hong Kong and we later sold this and purchased 20 Cleves Court, also in Surbiton.
After turning down Royal Insurance’s offer of a position with them in Barcelona I accepted a position in Liverpool in 1983.
All change once more
INGLEWOOD TRAINING CENTRE –
BADGERS RAKE LANE, THE WIRRAL
Back in the UK we were very fortunate as Royal Insurance put Valerie, Diana and I (Jan and Don were still at boarding school in Bedford) up in their multi-bedroomed training centre, called Inglewood, in the Wirral.
Very luxurious, but a little odd when we were the only three people staying there.
STABLEWALLS, PARKGATE, CHESHIRE 1984-1986
However Valerie and I found and renovated an old stable where we lived for a couple of years.
A little different from when we purchased the property
THE MOUNT, TATTENHALL, CHESHIRE 1987-1990
We then found a Grade II listed building in a nearby village and decided to renovate it, while we were living in it – which was a huge mistake. It was an eighteenth century farm house with stables which had been added to in 1812 by a three storey building attached in front of the cottage. A huge house with cellars and a walled garden behind.
A drawing of the building
An old photo before they took the iron railings away for the war effort
BEST OF THYMES NURSERY, HIDDEN MEADOW, WAVERTON, CHESHIRE
One of the biggest mistakes of my life was to rent about an acre of land and set up a herb nursery, which was going to be an early retirement occupation. However, having erected a large greenhouse and a huge poly-tunnel, and cultivated a few thousand herbs a bank gave us 10 days to remove everything. Our landlord had defaulted on a loan on the land.
In short we mortgaged The Mount and bought all 4 1/2 acres of land. Eventually the nursery business collapsed (fortunately I hadn’t given up my day job). For some 20 years Valerie and I tried to sell this damn and eventually managed to so in April 2012.
DIVORCE AND MORE HOMES
In 1989 Valerie and I separated. I stayed at The Mount for a while and then the company provided me with an apartment in Windsor, but then I moved down to London. and rented a one bedroomed apartment in Richmond for a year or so, spent some time living with my mother in Thames Ditton and then purchased an apartment in Woking.
12 ALWYNE COURT, WOKING, SURREY
I lived at 12 Alwyne Court in Woking for a few years, working in London.
I sold this apartment about a year after moving out to Spain.
13 GROVE ROAD, EAST MOLESEY; SURREY
While living in Woking I met Jo, and after a ‘respectable’ period of time moved in with her, in her townhouse near Hampton Court, later renting my apartment to friends.
In the Spring of 1999 we had gone to stay with my old friends from Hong Kong days, Jack and Isobel Haggarty, who lived in Jesus Pobre. This was a couple of kilometres from La Zorrita.
Fortunately for me Jo loved the area.
In the late summer of 1999 Jo and I went for it. We quit our jobs (both self-employed so quite easy), got married and emigrated to Spain. All within ten days.
BACK TO SPAIN AND THIS TIME PERMANENTLY
Through our old friend, Maria Teresa, we rented a villa (yet another home) on the Montgo mountain between Jesus Pobre and Javea. We rented for six months while we looked for a property. It didn’t take that long.
EL GARROFERET, FOYES BLANQUES 15, JESUS POBRE
In December 1999, Jo and I purchased a 150 year old finca. We are still here in 2016. Most of the profits of our real estate business went on repairing e.g. replacing all the roofs (while we were living in the house – not to be recommended) and improving the gardens and pool area. We have 4,500 m² of land.