Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain
in the Autumn for a month or so

'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Pre-departure preparations for my return to Spain - episode 1

I wrote a couple of days ago about the itinerary I plan to follow for my next trip to Spain.

Now I'm going to write a little about some of the things I've been doing here, in preparation for my departure. I mentioned when writing about my last visit to Spain in October/November that I had ordered various items of furniture and equipment and other work to be carried out on the house before my return. A couple of weeks before Christmas, therefore, I decided to contact two of the firms supplying the bulk of my furniture and all of the 'white goods' to verify that everything was on schedule and to let them know the precise date I would be back in Mazarrón. I had only been able to give them an approximate date before, and in the event my return will be about a week earlier than originally envisaged - problems, bizarrely, with getting a hotel reservation in Valencia for the night before my arrival for the original night I wanted about a week later so there must be some major event there then, I suppose, as there are no rooms available for all of that week.

The first of the furniture shops I telephoned is supplying the beds, bedside tables and all the 'white goods' (fridge-freezer, washing machine, dish-washer, oven, hob and cooker hood). Luckily the young lady I dealt with there before and by telephone speaks pretty good English, as my Spanish is somewhat 'rickety'. In any case she assured me that everything was in order and we even fixed a day/time for everything to be delivered and installed. The shop itself, and this young lady in particular, does give me the impression they are professional and competent in their approach and I know other people there whose furniture and equipment was supplied by them without incident, so I am reasonably confident that all will be according to plan.

The results of my second telephone call were, like the Curate's Egg, good in parts. This shop is to supply most of the living-room and dining furniture, comprising a sofa, two armchairs, a footstool, a coffee table, a nest of tables and wall units comprising a tall storage unit, a low TV/video table with wall-mounted shelf above and a medium-height unit which is a coktail cabinet and bottle storage cupboard. The dining furniture consists of a table and four chairs. The firm is family-run and I have good reports about them form other people and they are always extremely good to deal with; the person I generally deal with speaks moderate English and some French, so between my basic Spanish and his linguistic efforts we manage to communicate fairly well. The senior person is his brother and it was to him I spoke when I telephoned before Christmas. His English is pretty basic, just like my Spanish, but we still managed to communicate failry well I think. Unfortunately the manufacturer supplying the wall units has gone out of business so is not taking new orders and the shop had been trying to get in touch with me since shortly after my departure in early November last, but of course they had only my Spanish mobile number and a card with my email address on it and they're not really email kinda people. He assures me everything else is available already, but I will have to identify and order alternative wall-units when I return next month; it took me ages to select what I had chosen before (the display model in the shop is perfect, but not in the ideal colour of wood to fit in with the rest of my furniture) and it would have been perfect. Almost all the wall units I have seen there, whilst often of extremely good quality and attractive to look at are of huge size. It is more difficult to find items suitable for smaller rooms. I have no doubt I will eventually find a suitable replacement, but I don't plan just to take the first thing that comes along - I'll take my time to get something I like that is practical as well.

I decided not to do any more in the run-up to Christmas, because I had a lot of things to do here (in Scotland) in preparation for that, but yesterday I telephoned two people doing work for me at the house to check on progress. One is fitting out the built-in wardrobes and putting additional security locks on the windows and security features on the doors and he tells me everything is ready and should be fitted this week; I hope this will happen as if the wardrobes aren't finished when I arrive it will be a real nuisance. The other person is fitting a security grill to a circular window in the living-room; he is also, I believe, making the door-security items for the other person as one is basically a metal-worker and the other a carpenter. He assures me the grill will be fitted before I arrive. The first of the two is, curiously enough, half-British and half-German and the oher is German - both are reputedly good at what they do so I don't have any undue worries.

The other two shops I must telephone in the next week or so are the curtain shop and the bathroom shop. I'm not in fact getting curtains at all, but instead will have venetians blinds on almost all windows and a roller-blind on one (the circular one I mentioned above) as I have always liked the look of venetian blinds and indeed in my house in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon) the living-room had only venetian blinds and no curtains and I think it looked extremely smart with the black lacquer furniture I had made for the whole house there. The bathroom shop is supplying the shower-screen (glass) and various other towel rails and sundry bathroom items. I shall have to use every bit of my basic Spanish and their rudimentary English to have productive calls. My telephone calls to these shops will really just be to check that everything I ordered has now arrived and to arrange delivery and installation - should be a cinch. Now, fingers tightly crossed, I hope that last sentence will not prove to be 'famous last words'!

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