The title and photo came from a recent visit to Gibraltar as walking towards Main Street we saw Monkey atop the railings, We were thrilled as usually they live high up on the rock. A little old lady reached into her handbag and pulled out an orange which was gently taken and eaten, a magical moment!
I also had a satsuma in my pocket and as if by magic another monkey appeared and took the fruit from Katherines hand. We were warned that the police discourage the public feeding the monkeys as idiots feed them foodstuffs such as Shergar burgers and the like that are completely unsuitable. The monkeys are regularly fed fruit and nuts by the authorities and until 1991 were under the charge of the Gibraltar Regiment and before then, the British Army. There is a popular local belief that as long as the monkeys stay on the rock then it will remain British. During the Second World War numbers dropped alarmingly to just seven and Winston Churchill wisely brought reinforcements in from Morocco. They are randy little buggers though and numbers are increasing so some are culled each year.
Two members of staff in Marks and Sparks told me that monkeys have been known to climb into peoples homes if a window or door is left open. I would love to see the look on one of our dogs faces if a monkey suddenly jumped on them. That would be a YouTube hit for sure!
Life is never boring and since the New Year I have shared my time each week between Almeria and Estepona. My wife Katherine and I decided a few months ago that the myriad joys of property rentals and management were slightly outweighed by the uncertainty of when the next pay cheque would arrive.
So now she works in Gibraltar enjoying not only a 5 day week, lunch breaks, tea breaks with free digestives and a monthly pay cheque, but also the heavenly delights of holiday pay, private healthcare and sick pay! I prefer working long days, often without any money coming in for weeks until the next sale completes and answering the phone 24/7 as apparently it’s okay to call estate agents whenever the fancy strikes.
I also love my ambassadorial role of being an unpaid Almerian tour guide for those people who mistakenly think they ‘may’ one day possibly maybe buy a house somewhere in Spain. They appreciate me driving them around for a few days extolling the delights of Almeria.
My tongue in cheek fashion will be familiar to those that regularly read this column; as I love the freedom of self-employment and the thrill of the chase. Every day is different and the buzz experienced when a sale is made can’t be beaten and my bank manager certainly appreciates that aspect. Now running the rental side of the business, means more work but I also meet even more great people. They are mostly Brits fleeing the awful coalition Government and miserable weather, with also Germans, Belgians and Dutch.
Mainly it used to be people looking for a property to retire to but nowadays with the magic of the interweb, people of working age also relocate to our sunnier climes. Findmeahome for example via the wizardry of VOIP have a London landline number so clients can call us cheaply from the UK. It does cause confusion to some especially my dear 93 year old Gran who thinks I have a huge telephone extension cable.
The sales market has certainly picked up recently yet some people still wait years to sell to be able to move on with their lives. Quality properties especially with pools rent very quickly so owners in this situation could consider the option of renting out their homes. Tenants will often agree to contracts that keep the house on for sale so the owner has the best of both worlds. Tenants get 60 days’ notice from when the 10% deposit is paid giving them plenty of notice to find another rental property. The pull of family back in the UK or maybe ill health with none of us are getting any younger means this option could be explored as we only have one life to live and should enjoy it whilst we can.
A benefit of living part time near Gibraltar is visiting the huge Morrisons supermarket; full of all the yummy goodies that are difficult to find in mainland Spain. Healthy stuff of course such as decent bacon, sausages, chocolate bars, Hula Hoops, mature cheddar cheese and British bread rather than boring Spanish barras. The UK supermarket tradition of three 500ml bottles of fine British beer for a fiver is also alive and well and shock of shocks wines from countries other than Spain stock the shelves. Spirit prices are so much cheaper too with a bottle of Rives Gin for example priced at under five quid; but please drink responsibly!