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Doubts and certainties

Despite her tender years Maggie has seniority. She took up residence in Spain on 21 August 2004. I was with her then but I had to return to the UK and didn't finally arrive in Spain, along with Mary the cat and the MGB, for good, until 7 October 2004.

We bought the house in Culebrón on 10 January 2005. My diary for that day says, as we turned the key in the lock for the first time: "I didn't feel elated, I didn't feel doubtful. I didn't think we'd made a dreadful mistake. I didn't think we'd got a bargain. I'm not sure what we've got and I'm not sure how it will all pan out when the dust has settled."

Yesterday we signed the contract on our new rented flat in Cartagena, that's the fifth flat we've rented here since we started our Spanish adventure back in 2004. This time we're slap bang in the centre of town, within yards of Puertas de Murcia one of the streets with the big chain clothes stores on it. We expect it to be a great place to live.

As we turned the key in the lock I didn't feel elated, I didn't feel doubtful, I didn't think we'd made a dreadful mistake. I didn't think we'd got a bargain. I'm not sure what we've got and I'm not sure how it will all pan out when the dust has settled.

We knew that we were sacrificing things for the location. With the money we're paying in rent we could probably have got a really nice place on the outskirts but we wanted town centre - for the life, to enjoy the vivacity of Spain - the marcha - and we also thought it may be safer, trafficless, for Eduardo the cat.

There were two things that we'd accepted about the flat right form the start. The first is that it has only one bathroom; it will be the first time that Maggie and I have ever shared our habitual bathroom in all our years together. The second is that the flat is totally enclosed and has no views whatsoever; blank walls and our own internal patio are the only vista.

It's odd about choosing a house. So far as I remember I've never spent more than a few minutes looking around the houses or flats that I've subsequently lived in. When we got into the flat yesterday it was all a bit of a surprise. I didn't really have much of a memory of what it was like. It probably wasn't as good as I'd remembered, more enclosed somehow, and I thought some of the furniture was quite horrid.

What I do know is that, as we arrived back in Culebrón and I looked around I thought how much I like our house.

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