After serving 36 years at her majesty’s pleasure. I was always curious as to why a lot of my clientele; Frankie the Forger and Ronnie the Robber to name but a few, spoke about the “Costa del Crime”. This was the Shangri la of places to visit or in their case go and hide – curiosity got the better of me. I decided to make a few inquiries. This land of sun, sea and very cheap booze sounded like a place that I needed to get to know. The Costa del Crime turned out to be where all the wrongens went to hide from Mr Plod. Where I now know is the Costa del Sol, Spain and what a beautiful place to go. Mr Plod soon cottoned on to this and over time this came to an end.
Where I began (Ian)
My life began in Warrington, a busy working class town between Liverpool and Manchester. Growing up with my 4 sisters in a terraced house with mum and dad (Fred +Mag) making sure that we wanted for nothing.
Starting as butcher’s boy at 13 and half with my apron touching my shoes and barely looking over the counter. This was probably the best start in life to work that anyone could have asked for. Going on to an electrical apprenticeship and then scaffolding before joining HMP SERVICE. Just like Dick Whittington I went off to London for 10 years before coming back up north to an open prison just outside Warrington. This is where I finished my 36 years service. I had a great time and if I had a lot longer. I would be able to tell you some amazing tales that would make you laugh, cringe, cry. You would be totally outraged at some of the goings-on, and that was just the staff. Anyway, two marriages later and being single again, I decided to look for a new partner.
Quite a few years ago whilst all that was going on Eva was born in Dundee to a German dad, Gunther and a Viennese mother, Herta. Their story alone is for another day and quite a few pages of writing. Mum being a strong cook and housekeeper and dad being the lovely quiet man that he still is today at 97 years young. He was a chauffeur and gardener travelling around working for some very influential people such as Lord and Lady Aberconwy and the Rothman film making family.
Eva eventually ended up at Hale Barns just outside Manchester, going to a very posh girls school where Gunther would drop her off in the Rolls-Royce that wasn’t theirs, LOL.
Eva met Pete and was married for over forty years, and like my start in life coincidentally was a butcher.
The Northern Soul scene
Fast forwarding quite a number of years and being in the fortunate position I met a lady named Eva. It wasn’t long before our mutual loves in life were discussed. To our surprise the first one that we spoke of was our love of Northern Soul music and our second was a life in Spain.
Northern Soul venues and dancing in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom to Tobie Grey “Out on the floor” along with all the other great tunes going back to the seventies. The days of “Wigan Casino” “ The Torch” “Twisted Wheel” and many other venues playing this hypnotic music that people loved to dance to. The most influential one for me as I didn’t get to any of these main venues who, unlike Eva and her husband Pete, they used to travel far and wide. For me, it was a small catholic school hall off Orford Lane in Warrington. The Bell Hall was the place to be then, Pete Rigby was on the decks and all this northern soul music was played on a Friday night.
I bet it’s not long before someone reading this will be sat there saying “I WENT THERE !!! Ben Sherman shirt, Prince of Wales check parallels and my Como shoes, that was the top dress code. Motown music went hand in hand with northern soul but just seemed to take off mainstream. A lot better with the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Temptations to name but a few.
Did you go there?
As I said Eva and Pete went to as many music venues and concerts as they could get to. On one occasion they even went to the stage door after watching The Four Tops and told the security staff that they were from the New Musical Express magazine that covered such music. Behold they were let in and went into the dressing room of the group and did a dummy interview with Eva’s favourite “Levi Stubbs” and the rest of the group !
Life changed for Eva
After a very long marriage with Pete, it came to a very sad abrupt end when Pete got that horrible C word, which doesn’t deserve being printed. Pete passed away shortly after. Eva carried on with her love for the music, overseeing an online Northern Soul Website and visiting dance venues with friends when possible.
One night in early December 2016, having both had a small glass of wine each, we decided to have a chat on a well known dating site. We arranged a date and met up at Eva’s local for a meal and chat. We seemed to hit it off right away so much that the next day the waitress that is a friend of Eva’s phoned her the next day to say. ” I know you were having a good time last night laughing the night away and looking into each other’s eyes but could you come back and pay the bill”. So we realised that we had such a good time we decided to carry on seeing each other now coming up to 8 years.
Back to Spain, chapter two I think…
Watching property shows on TV and a new one that we had been watching that was our favourite by a long way; “ Channel 4, Sun, Sea and Selling Houses”. We sat and watched each episode and often wondered if our dream of ‘a place in the sun’ (Sharon will delete those last four words) would ever happen. Eva and I constantly swept the internet for places coming onto the market.
Now if anyone has ever noticed, Spain is a big place, very big !. Where do you start? Well this programme that was our favourite helped us so much.
Before I carry on, I just want to say that we have not been paid anything for this. I can hear everyone shouting at the screen that we should be but, the show and of course who I have dragged out a little before I mention are the amazing, wonderful, friendly and the most genuine people that you could ever wish to meet, apart from me and Eva of course, and are now very good friends who helped us throughout the process and afterwards, so we are more than happy to share our story with you.
The lovely Sharon and total gentleman Steve Garner” hard-working and always professional these two people guided us and during series four of Sun, Sea and Selling Houses found for us“ The Place”. The place we had thought about, dreamt about but wasn’t really sure that we would find.
We had our wish list and they basically ticked every box. One of the wishes on our tick box list was having a bar/restaurant nearby, and we got “The Place to Be”. What a name and what a great place, 50 metres walk across the road what more we ask for.
We have now owned our perfect piece of paradise in a small part of Almeria called Arboleas for the last three years.
After purchasing the villa in March 2020 to our shock and horror the world came to a standstill due to the pandemic and everyone went into a state of limbo not knowing what was going to happen next. The following August came a break, and we set off in the car with all our bits and pieces that we wanted to take with us that we had been collecting.
The excitement was pouring out of us both, and family and friends wished us all the best on our trip. We made videos, had live chats, took photos and sent messages as we went along. The journey was amazing, driving onto the Channel Tunnel train into France, took a wrong turn and spent two hours lost in Paris. We had an overnight stop in Bourges south of Paris and then went on to what I had been waiting, driving over the Millau Bridge. (look it up, it’s amazing) crossing the border into Spain. Beautiful roads and very quiet passing Barcelona and onto Tarragona known as the city of people towers, amazing. The next day we made our way to Arboleas, the excitement still growing.
We arrived early evening and couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived. It was exactly as we had left it, due in part to some very kind neighbours who are now our friends. Who helped tidying the garden, cleaning the pool and making sure everything was shipshape.
Our new home in the sun – Dreams do come true
Opening the door, going in and walking around, it was just as we last saw it nearly 6 months earlier. We unloaded the car and then settled down to champagne and our first Spanish meal in what we planned to be our new future home.
As the villa was ready to move into we didn’t have much to do, gardening, painting and general maintenance/upkeep. Each time we visited, we spent our time enjoying the lifestyle and exploring the area.
Over the next three years apart from having some amazing times, visiting some beautiful places, eating some fantastic food and drinking very tasty cheap wines. Meeting some fabulous friendly people we realised that we also had the upkeep of the villa to contend with. In Spain when it rains it pours and then the sun comes out and everything grows like mad. So every time we visit I spend quite a while pruning all the beautiful trees, flowers and shrubs that grow into these amazing shapes and sizes with many colourful flowers all over them. From Bougainville to the Bird of Paradise which I have to say are our favourites, so we don’t mind.
Maintenace is important
The next issue we had was in Spain, paint and walls just seem to crack under the heat and also need constant attention. To help strengthen our perimeter walls we decided to have them re-rendered and also stone clad the bottom half which we thought looked amazing when completed.
To plunge or not to plunge that is the question?
When we were looking for a place with Sharon and Steve on our tick list was a pool with a tiled dolphin in it. A big pool was what we wanted, it had to be a big pool !! Anyway, Steve kept saying, why do I want a big pool?. I said so that we can swim in it! Steve’s reply was pools can be trouble if they go wrong, especially a big pool, and you will only dip in and out of it.
This was on our mind when we arrived at our third offering whilst viewing. Shock horror – it was a plunge pool. Our friends now refer to it as a “puddle”! I can only say how pleased I was when we realised that it was losing water and needed repairing.
We had quite a few companies explaining that water was seeping through the grout and all the tiles needed taking off. Re sealing and then tiling again at great expense but not as much as it would have cost had we picked a place with a big pool that we originally wanted. We received a few estimates for the work and realised that even small pools can be expensive to repair.
We heard of a company by the name of “Piscina” and decided to give them a call. Piscina don’t retile, they re-line your pool making it into a massive wet room. Sealing the pool with a fantastic product which looks like Lino that we have in kitchens on the floor.
The date was set for them to arrive, and we were told two days, and we could re fill the pool. They arrived at 12 o’clock lunchtime on Monday and I can only say that we sat open-mouthed and seriously wondering if we had done the right thing. The pool was set up by four young men with every conceivable power tool. Jack hammers came out, and large holes appeared around the pool. Our hearts sank and then two hours later they all stopped and went for lunch……OMG !!!
Two hours later they all returned and worked fired up, we couldn’t believe our eyes as new parts went in, holes were filled. At 7 o’clock that evening when they left we felt a little better and were amazed at the amount of work that had been done. The next morning they arrived and set about completing all the work and at 3 o’clock that afternoon the pool was completed.
I can only say that we were mesmerised by the speed and quality of the work, the pool was like a brand-new pool that had just been constructed, the work was first class. We filled the pool, it looked fantastic and the next day we were in our new “Puddle” Piscina fulfilled and more just what they had promised, and we thanked them for that.
Now I realise that all that time ago when I first heard of the benefits of Spain that Frankie the Forger and Ronnie the Robber talked about, they were absolutely correct.
“Thank you” to all involved and of course the biggest thank you to Sharon and Steve who have now become very good friends and the whole team behind “Sun, Sea and Selling Houses” and Spanish Property Choice.
We hope for anyone looking to buy their dream home in Spain with The Garners will enjoy reading our genuine experience and that it helps your journey.
Lots of love, thank you’s and the very best wishes to all the people who have joined us at some point on this journey, even Frankie + Ronnie!
Ian and Eva, Arboleas, Almeria, Spain.
Thank you so much Ian and Eva for sharing your journey with us. We loved every minute of filming with you and findng your dream home. Even more, you becoming trusted and close friends of the family and the team. Thank you both for trusting us x Sharon
If you would like The Garners help in finding your perfect property, just email Sharon on [email protected] or call 0034 950615388 – www.spanishpropertychoice.com
Your journey starts here with The Garners of Channel 4, Sun Sea and Selling Houses and Spanish Property Choice. The household name in Spanish Real Estate 🙂