2019 Marbella & Estapona

Marbella has a beautiful old town, which for some unknown reason I failed to take any photos of!

Marbella is stunning today, calm blue sea and blue skies. This weather is incredible considering it is only February. The promenade here is busy with people parading up and down and I imagine this must be a sight to behold come the height of summer.

Here are some pics I took of the beach and promenade area…

Plus a couple of the park near to the beach …


Estapona has a delightful old town with plenty of old buildings and bags of colour. There are a lot of properties for sale in the old town but in some cases I think you could push them over with your finger, they look so frail and unloved. I think if I was ever going to consider living in Spain (which I am not) I would choose Estapona. It has a vibrant old town with boutiques and restaurants, then the bigger shopping area and like everywhere else it seems, miles of sandy beach.

There is plenty to walk around and see here, we are wandering around in shorts whilst the Spanish have their overcoats on – it’s all relative.

I didn’t take any photos of the beach or promenade here, the resorts all look so similar but I have taken some of the old town.

This place seems to have a bit of polish and seems more real than so many other places you visit here …

Well maybe just one of the sea, where the promenade is very natural and unspoilt …

2019 Here we are again – Malaga

So three and a half years later we are back in Spain, a few things have changed for us since we were last here. Sadly the dogs are no longer with us, bit of a tough one. Plus we have traded our Landrover Discovery for a Mini Cooper – a bit of fun and a lot less cost! So we haven’t driven down this time, we came by plane to Malaga and then got a bus from the Airport to our hotel, really easy.

Malaga is a big city and really busy. It is a working port with passenger ferries and cruise ships in and out but it is not scruffy like lots of port towns, it is beautifully kept and a pleasure to be here.

The Marina
The lighthouse separates the marina from the beach

There is a lovely park that runs parallel to the marina and you can’t help noticing that there are loads of parrots in the trees.

Walking along the edge of the park
Parrots everywhere!
Water feature in the park

The old town is really gorgeous with a huge Cathedral.

The old town near to the cathedral
The Cathedral
Shops near to the Cathedral
Orange trees grow everywhere in town

The shopping centre is lovely, pristine. There are some little side streets too with loads of little merchants so it is a pleasure to look around. With lots of great shops and restaurants you are never short of places to browse or watch the world go by as you eat lunch outside in the sunshine

The main square in the middle of the shopping area
Beautiful buildings in the shopping centre
The main shopping street
A nice restaurant where we had lunch one day

A little bit of culture … squashed in between lots of new buildings is the Eglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, I am not massively into churches but this one has really pretty architecture, I don’t think it is that old though.

Eglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus
Buildings around the church
This one looks fit for a makeover but a pretty building

The Roman Theatre has been well preserved, well relatively well preserved considering it’s over 2000 years old. Someone clearly dabbed too much concrete about at one time or another, I guess with the right intentions for crack filling!

The Roman Theatre Built 1st Century BC
Old buildings around the Roman Theatre

We took the long meandering uphill walk to the Castle – Castillo de Gibralfaro and it was well worth the climb. Burned a few calories too I would imagine! So quiet up there with incredible views, a big contrast to the bustling city below. The walk up is stunning and you have to remember to look behind you so you don’t miss a view point.

Lower buildings of the castle
Up at the top, the castle sits right at the top of the hill overlooking the town.
Enjoying the view
They would always see the enemy coming over the mountains!

Someone got a bit trigger happy with the concrete rendring up here too but it is still lovely!

Fabulous views from the castle over Malaga
Ca`stle Gardens
Beautiful blue sea.

Fabulous views from the castle.

The cathedral in Malaga and the mountains beyond
The building in the middle would be the old customs building
A ship in the port can be seen in the distance.

Last but not least Malaga has amazing beaches, we sat on a bench in the sun and watched the world go by. I can see why people watching is a popular pastime in Spain!

Such a glorious sunny day

The sun has shone every day since we have been here. It’s around 20 degrees in the day, so not bad at all. We certainly cannot complain

The Journey Home

After a quick overnight stop in Spain, it was lovely to cross the border into France and be in a country where we could speak the language.

We stayed the first night in a town called Saintes just north of Bordeaux.  The hotel was very nice and set in fabulous grounds.  It was very early in the morning when I took my pics and they were not particularly spectacular and didn’t do it justice, so I have included a couple from the hotel website too.

We had a luxurious room with french windows overlooking the parkland and the lake.  It had a huge bath and I felt that I had to have a dip, well it would have been rude not to!  Fabulous.

Dinner was very good in the gourmet restaurant, we both had duck for main course and a glass of the most fabulous red wine.  French food at this level is amazing, this was such a treat.






I cannot explain the ghostly apparition in this one!  There was nothing in front of me and yet this mist appeared on the photo.


Our final night in France was up near Roscoff.  I am actually writing this blog on a very rocky ferry as we make our way back across the channel from Roscoff to Plymouth.  I am sitting in a cabin with and the waves keep splashing past the window!  I think the swell is probably quite large even though there is not supposed to be much wind.

Anyway, back to Brittany and Chateau Quelennec.  We had a great stay there, we were the only guests.  They had 40 hectares of parkland and we walked down through the woods with the dogs.  It is a very beautiful place.  The owners, Mike and Zina also have a chocolate labrador who came along with us for the ride.

This is a wonderful place to stay and the owners could not do enough for us.  It is run more as a chambre d’hote than a hotel, really comfortable and friendly.  The chateau has been restored to its former glory inside and it is every bit as special as you would expect it to be.  Oozing french style it was glorious and we really enjoyed sitting in front of the open fire in the parlour.  We ate our dinner at a beautifully laid table in front of the fire, the flames reflected in the crystal glasses.  Very christmassy and so comfortable.





My god this ferry is bouncing about like a cork in a glass – never mind, only 5 hours to go!!

50th Birthday!

We had a lovely day.  We went to Javea and walked around the marina and then all of the way up to the other end of the beach to the Arunel where we had lunch.  The sunshine was glorious and we were walking around in shorts and tshirts.  Not something I have done very often on my December birthday.

In the evening we went to a restaurant called Republic in the marina in Denia.  We could not have chosen a better place, the meal was outstanding.

The restaurant has a fabulous ambience, it is really smart but relaxed.  In December all of the glass doors are closed, it would be completely open in the summer.  There is a huge open fire in the middle of the room, which looks stunning.  Huge sofas surround it for you to enjoy a drink before dinner.  The staff are so friendly and efficient, taking care of everything without you really being aware of them.

I had scallops and John had clams to start.  Then we shared a chateaubriand, cooked at the table, which was some of the most incredible melt in the mouth steak I have every tasted.  I must give a really special mention to the frangipane – I love almonds and I can honestly say that this was the best dessert I have ever had!  Fabulous meal, never to be forgotten.

A great day all round!




We went to Gandia today, which is an upmarket Spanish town and resort.  There are hardly any expats here and you can certainly feel the difference.  Sunday is a big day out for the Spanish people and the promenades and squares are packed.

Gandia is situated in Spain’s main orange growing region and produces some of the best tasting oranges in the world.  It was an important commercial and cultural centre during the 15th and 16th centuries but it is best known for being home to the infamous Borgia family.  There is still a very busy commercial port in Gandia today.  In Gandia city amidst the modern shops, boulevards and parks you can find fantastic examples of Spain’s history, most notably the Ducal Palace and Gandia Cathedral.

The beaches are beautiful, miles of white sand and you can see right across the bay to Valencia.  We walked along the promenade for 40 minutes and we still could not see to the end, so it clearly went on for miles!

There was a ‘Galleon’ moored in the port, which was very interesting.  It was very small and looked original but I have not been able to find any information on its history.  It seems that it was placed in Gandia as a tourist attraction.  It was brought from Seville, where it was previously used in the filming of several TV programmes.  Children are invited aboard to learn various seafaring skills and to learn what it would have been like to live as a pirate.  Not sure if that is a good or bad idea, answers on a postcard please!


















Jávea Pueblo

Today we have come back to Jávea old town, this time with a charged battery in the camera!

Jávea old town is steeped in history. It is situated a mile or so inland because in days of old the inhabitants of Jávea feared the incursions of marauding pirates. The old town hasn’t changed much over the centuries and has retained many traditionally built houses around its typical Spanish squares.

The narrow streets are lined with whitewashed buildings with late gothic architectural features, such as tosca sandstone porticoes, gothic bay windows and wrought iron balconies.

The church of San Bartolomé (Iglesia de San Bartolomé), which dominates the church square (Plaza de la Iglesia), is rich in medieval history dating back to the 15th century.

By the side of the church lies a beautiful building which houses the local indoor market where you can buy local fresh produce daily, with its stalls full of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish from the region.



















Running Self Employed Web Design Business in Spain

I am currently a freelance webdesigner in the UK, so self-employed.  I wanted to check how this would work in Spain, my biggest concern was whether I would still be able to keep my UK clients, thus invoicing them and getting paid in sterling.

If you live in Spain for more than 183 days per year you are deemed a Spanish resident and are subject to Spanish tax.  You are required to declare your global assets to the Spanish tax authorities.  Hence there has been a mass exodus from Spain in recent years and there is a lot of property on the market at a good price!

I discovered however that the tax system does not need to be prohibitive.  Here are the key points.

  1. It would be necessary for me to register as a self-employed person (Autonomo) in Spain.  When I do that I stop paying tax in the UK and start paying in Spain.
  2. It is essential to find yourself a good accountant, you cannot do this yourself.  They do everything for you and ensure that your returns are submitted on time.  In Spain this has to be done quarterly.
  3. As an autonomo I must pay social security contributions (the equivalent of NI contributions) at a rate of around €270 (approx £193) per month.  I am bound to pay this whether I earn anything or not.  This is not a major issue and is similar to the amount that I pay in the UK.  This amount is deductible from your total earnings before you pay tax. The bonus is that this amount covers your whole family for Spanish National Health.  This is particularly useful for us because my husband will not be employed or self-employed.  It also gives you sick pay if you are ill for a long period – at the moment that is around 18€ per day.  After 15 years of paying social security contributions you would be entitled to a pension.  (At the same time you will want to keep an eye on your UK pension because if you don’t pay into that for a minimum of 30 years, you don’t get your full pension.)
  4. The good news is that I can still invoice my clients in Sterling and get paid into my British bank account.  The only difference is that I must show my Spanish address on the invoices and also my Spanish Tax Number.
  5. I do not have to charge VAT.  I don’t current bill VAT to my clients, so would not wish to start.  The only thing I need to do here is get a European VAT number.
  6. I can claim expenses on my business in Spain in the same way as I do in the UK.  It is essential to ensure that any invoices or receipts that you receive quote your Spanish Tax Number.  This is not as difficult as it sounds, businesses all over Europe are used to being asked for this these days.
  7. You need to get an NIE number in Spain to buy property, cars, register as self-employed. This takes a full day of tramping around various offices and police stations to get.

So to the tax itself

You will pay more tax in Spain than you do in the UK.  Everyone must pay tax including pensioners.  Any income that you receive is subject to tax.  There are some allowances but nowhere near as much as you get in the UK.

Here are the 2016 rates:

Personal allowances for individuals are €5,550 (about £3964) year.

If you are over 65 the allowance is €6,700 (about £4785).  If you have a low income you are entitled to around a further €3,000 euros in allowances.  So a pensioner on basic UK state pension would probably not pay very much tax if any.

Income band                                 
Earnings from €0 to €12,450 – are taxed at 19%
Then earnings from €12,450 to €20,200 – are taxed at 24%
Then earnings from €20,200 to €35,200 – are taxed at 30%
Then earnings from €35,200 to €60,000 – are taxed at 37%
Over €60,000 – are taxed at 55%

If you earn £20,000 in the UK you would pay around £2,000 per year in tax.  If you earned £20,000 (or €28,000) in Spain you would pay around £3,700 (or €5,200).  So you pay a considerable premium to live in the sun!

If you are self-employed and pay Social Security at €270 per month you can deduct that from your earnings before you pay tax.

Denia Castle

It is John’s birthday today, so we decided to visit Denia Castle.

The Castle was built in 11th Century and as you wander around the ruins today it is not difficult to imagine people going about their business a thousand years ago.   Soldiers would have marched up to the gates and onto a small road which winds its way up to the tower.  There is a sentry box on every corner, people were clearly much smaller back then!  The views are fabulous and every turret frames a different image.

Denia itself is very old – there is evidence of habitation right back to prehistoric times.  Just over 2000 years ago the Romans named it Dianum and established it as a naval port, that is when it really made its mark on the world.




























We went into the old town after our visit and had lunch at a cafe in the square.  A lovely day out.

Moraira Revisited

We have been travelling to so many places that we have forgotten what we have seen. We went back to Moraira and had a really good walk around.  It is a gorgeous place with plenty of good places to eat.  We had a drink at the marina in the sun and decided this would be one of 2 choices to live if we come to Spain full time.



















What a place.  Everything you would expect it to be and more but what they can never show you in the pictures is the brilliant atmosphere.

The place is absolutely packed with holiday makers on package tours but it is calm and happy.  They are all so friendly and love the dogs.  The happy buzz is infectious, it is like we have all been sprinkled with happy dust and I can absolutely see why people flock here in droves for their annual holidays.  You can only love it.








No trip to Benidorm would have been complete without a trip to the Solana!  We feel a bit self-conscious taking pictures as people go about their life but it has to be done.

Fortunately we meet a lovely retired couple from Liverpool who are staying at the Solana (real name Los Pelicanos Ocas).  They can’t wait to tell us all about what is happening and that this is the main location for the TV show but that the reception area is filmed at another hotel around the corner. Neptunes is just across the road, she is going to show me that later!



So Mrs Liverpool as I will call her because we were never formally introduced, has lived in Liverpool all of her life and has holidayed in Benidorm once a year for the past 20 years.  She was here long before the TV programme was even thought of, they are the loyal fans who still came to Benidorm when nobody else wanted to.  The resort is booming now and it’s all down to a TV show.

Mrs Liverpool offers to show me round, she said not to be embarrassed because people walk in all of the time and take photos, the staff are used to it.  She shows me inside the hotel but explains that not much filming is done in here, then she takes me to the pool area and tells me where everyone sits and where the pool bar is, also the exact spot that is cordoned off for filming.  Mrs Liverpool is very proud, it is like she is showing me around her own home – I could not have had a better tour guide.





Neptunes is just across the road and is only open in the evenings …




We make our way along the coast to the old town where we find a beautiful square in traditional Andalusian style.  The views up and down the coast are stunning.  The old church sits just behind and the tiny narrow streets are full of boutiques and tourist shops. There is no shortage of palm trees anywhere in this town, or skyscrapers for that matter!













After a very nice lunch we head back along the promenade to where we started.

There is a man creating a sandcastle.  A gigantic work of art, an incredible spectacle.  When he finishes he sets off the water jets to keep it damp and stable.  The castle was so amazing I almost missed the dragon lying beside it.





People really know how to party and enjoy themselves here, no question about that. Madge style mobility scooters are everywhere, even double ones!  This place takes it to the extreme but it is fab and has its own beauty and charm.  Plus you don’t have to worry about eating any of that foreign muck, fish and chips are in abundance and then you can have a good karaoke sing and dance to burn it all off.  In my humble opinion there are some who could do with a few less chips and a bit more dance but such is life!









What a day out, we will never forget it – I feel like I have been to a really good concert or film and we are still buzzing.

We never actually made it to Sticky Vickies but there’s always next time!