The theory of relativity

Or rather, relative wealth and relative luck.

Although perhaps space and time have something to do with it.

Example 1

Writing about books over on roughseas, I mentioned Helen Fielding. She wrote Bridget Jones’ Diary. She also went to my school and was in the year above me.

We both became journalists. No idea if she passed or even took her journalism exams or not, but I did.

She worked in London for nationals and then worked abroad. I worked in London for the civil service as a government information officer and then moved back up north. Somewhat of a difference.

Similar start in life, same school, lived within a few miles of each other and a couple of years difference in age.

Example 2

Standing at the ruins of our local castle in Spain with my university friend, I pointed out the used condoms and syringes.

‘So sad,’ I said.

‘Oh I would have been up here doing all of that. Anything to get out of my home town,’ said the woman who now lives in what looks like a grade II listed Georgian mansion and whose husband is an OBE with a well-known international firm.

I guess I never really knew her at all for the previous 30 years.

At one point, I envied her life. Living in the best parts of London, going out all the time, doing the culture thing. When I realised she had to produce offspring for the family I suddenly changed my mind. Or maybe she wanted to do that too.

I read in the FT (Financial Times) that there were three major estates in London, the Crown Estate, Eton and Harrow, and the family estate of my friends (that she married into). I suspect the research was flawed to some extent, but their estate still comes up as one of the major London landowners.

Perhaps I should write a novel about her? Mediocre apparel to riches story?

The point is the same as with Helen, similar paths in life and very different end points. The two are now rich and I am not. Simple.

But contrast this with my partner at nearly sixty years of age still working on a building site. Because he not only owns one, but two/three properties and I don’t work, he is deemed as rich by his workmates.

We also have three Land Rovers, but that’s not really relevant. Our properties are owned outright. A tiny one-bed flat in central Gib, and a couple of tiny houses at a finca in Spain without land. Both properties are in a good location (I can manage to buy location, location, location, very well). Flats in my block sell quickly because it is in a good area. Houses in my street in Spain don’t come up for sale, and I’m damned if I would sell it for peanuts. The size of the plot and the location are worth shedloads on their own.

So, reading my blogs, I appear to be well-off, living an affluent life on the Med. To some extent I am, to another extent I’m not. The reason Partner is still working is that we do not have enough money to last out. Simple as that.

Perhaps I am a Lotus Eater. I did my calculations (all Net Present Value included) when I chucked work, and knew I could last for at least ten years without working. I didn’t figure on not being able to get a job though in my late forties/early fifties. Nor did I figure on the nasty horrid UK govt fiddling with my pension age. Lack of foresight there on my part.

I read blogs about people who also have two or more homes. About people who travel around the world endlessly. Or eat out all the time. I do none of those, certainly don’t want to eat out, although maybe a bit of rough travelling would be good.

Our lifestyle is the extreme opposite of affluent. I don’t lack for anything. I don’t need the dreaded flat screen TV (mentioned on roughseas) nor do I want to have an expensive and not very well prepared/cooked meal out. I don’t want to stay in five star hotels, I would rather camp with my dogs.

I see people of a similar age to me writing blogs who have pensions/some sort of regular income. That would be nice.

I see people with a lot of money being concerned about their finances. I have to confess, I laugh. But other people would laugh at me being concerned about mine. That’s why it’s all relative.

‘You have more money than me, what do you know? You’re rich.’

‘You should have looked after your money better when you were younger/not had a load of kids/twenty wives etc etc’

I wonder, when I see some people we know, how they will survive in their older age. If you can’t work, how do you pay the rent? Especially when you aren’t in the system and have been working on the black. Where do you end up?

So, I try not to give advice (except about writing of course), judge, or make assumptions. I realise how smug it sounds coming from someone who *appears* to be financially well-off.

Because by the time someone is in their mid 30s or 40s and still renting, with kids, and one or more broken expensive relationship/s behind them, they have made at least one big mistake in their life and it’s too late to get it back.

There, but for the flip of the dice, or the deal of the cards, could be me. Or you.


About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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34 Responses to The theory of relativity

  1. cobbies69 says:

    I can see a lot of what you say,, I am now poor, living in a flat, and can if I wish think of things that I wish or if a different path was taken my life wealth etc might be so different. While playing in bands, some chances were not taken up,, job offer, and possible move to Sweden. You probably know what I mean. But I am happy with what I have done and got. I would not change my twelve years of gigging.. Not to forget a house repossession, this knocks one back a few years of rebuilding. Am I happy..yes! I also avoid school reunions, [I have done more or better than you]. I could be classed as very sarcastic… So , I say. 😉 a nice talking point..


    • Gerry you never moan on your blogs. Not even when you had the heart attack 😦 It was more, ‘sorry, I’ve been away for a while because I was a bit poorly,’ or words to that effect.

      I wouldn’t have done anything differently re my career. My trip around the world was the best thing I ever did, which was why I wanted to chuck work in my 40s and do something similar but different. The things I would have done differently are minor and don’t come into this, this was really a post about comparative finances/wealth.

      I’ve never been to a school reunion on the grounds that if I want to keep in touch with people I will, otherwise why bother going to see people you haven’t spoken to for years apart from out of ‘satiable curiosity? I didn’t even go to my university reunion and I was in touch with some of them (still am).

      Your sarcasm never comes across. Either I’m missing something, or you keep it neatly reined in. Unlike me. 😀 Thank you, glad you enjoyed the thoughts and your comment was interesting.


  2. davidprosser says:

    There was a time, perhaps during the 60’s and early 70’s when work was easy to come by. Where you could leave one job in the morning and start another the same afternoon.
    It was so easy not to worry about money back then and not to think about the future too much. After all, we paid for a State Retirement Pension though our wages. None of us knew about the blows to come, about how house prices would rise and plummet, about how jobs would disappear when foreign imports closed down many industries and about how the pension pot would dwindle as people lived longer.
    Now some of us are paying for our early mistakes, our stupidity and lack of foresight and the Government moves our pension ages further into the future so we pay for longer and then take out less before we die.
    It’s just as well I’m rich in friends and that can’t be taxed.
    xxx Hugs Unlimited xxx


    • I didn’t start work till the 80s and the recession was already hitting with government schemes for us lowly graduates who couldn’t otherwise find a job. Partner was working well before me in the 70s, and already had a ‘lick ’em and stick ’em’ attitude. He said it more than once (in reference to PAYE stamps and send it onwards in the post as he left a job). He did think about the future though. Oddly enough, working in construction at the time, most of his colleagues owned their own houses. It was a very different era. They all urged him to buy his own house as quickly as possible, and his tutors at college urged the pupils to own their own business. He did both.

      Me, I never thought I would be unemployed, I was bright so why would I be? I never envisaged being 50 and out of work. I thought we could rent for a while and drift around but luckily he put his foot down. (I’m not one for commitment).

      We did well out of the housing boom down south in the 80s. Not spectacularly but our small terrace house virtually doubled. In percentage terms it was our best investment. And we’ve never made more on a property than on that one.

      But I think those of us from a not too dissimilar era did expect health care and a pension at the appropriate age. Not benefit scroungers, just recipients of the welfare state when it was needed. The pension pot hasn’t just dwindled because of people living longer. To what extent has the government played the big company role and filched from the pot instead of guarding it? Pension money should have been ring-fenced years ago. I do object to reading stories about immigrants to the UK getting council housing, education, and benefits and, on top of that, training for whatever, while my trivial pension recedes ever into the distance. When I paid 40% tax at one point, I think that is bloody unfair. And as most of my working life was in the public sector I paid out doubly because working 16 hours a day didn’t come with overtime.

      There will be smug people who say ‘you should have done’ etc and that’s why I’m not prepared to be one of them. I’ve done better than some, not as well as others. Wealth would be wonderful – I could run an animal sanctuary then – but it isn’t essential. The important thing to me is to be happy within ourselves, and not to judge. I’m glad you have lots of friends. I don’t, but I do like the ones I have.

      But here’s a hug and a kiss xx


  3. My husband fell very ill in his forties and has not been able to work, to run his own business since.
    I had to give up working when the assistance he needed further down the line prevented me even from working from home… we have had to live on what we had for a very long time and had to make it work for us.

    Great gossip fodder for the Britpack in France…how could we afford the house we had on no visible income?
    Well, our income was visible to the taxman: we bought property, renovated it (or the Turks did), ran it as holiday lets and sold it the moment Capital Gains Tax exonerations made it possible.
    The Britpack had another version….my husband was a drugs baron….

    I look at the travel pages in the newspapers and think – ah, that would be nice to visit, and then discover that whatever it is costs over four thousand pounds per person!
    Wherever does money like that come from?

    I agree that pensions payments should have been ring fenced: I think that having made my contributions I should be entitled to use the NHS free of charge if something goes wrong while I am in the U.K.: I am glad I managed to qualify for the State Pension when I did rather than, as you describe, watching it sailing off into the sunset.

    Rich is relative.
    We have the ‘soy pobre’s here who moan that I sell plantains from the finca and that I should give them away because I am richer than them.
    Two fingers – verbally – is what they get. They have land enough to plant plantains, grow maize and veg but are too bone idle to do it.

    Then we have the chap we caught taking the jocote crop: we had so much, he had so little, it was only fair that he could take something that wasn’t ours anyway – the fruit grew naturally on the tree.
    I suggested that I ask the local police to take the marijuana growing ‘naturally’ on his finca – as it wasn’t his, it grew naturally, there wouldn’t be any problem for him, would there?
    His response was interesting from a linguistic point of view.
    I don’t sell jocote, but the tree attracts keel billed toucans whose company I prefer to that of the marijuana merchant.

    Then we have the expats whose families are here on work contracts for (usually) American firms. Their income must be astronomical to pay the rents they pay, to frequent the restaurants where they foregather and buy from the expat oriented supermarkets.

    We get along as we have for so many years – we do what we want within our income, nose out the bargains – and let others do what they please as it doesn’t concern us.


    • That’s a young age to become so ill Helen 😦

      Although having said that, I was off work with stress in my early 40s and then left. Partner said I would never work again, and so far he’s been right.

      Perhaps not such a dissimilar situation after all, except he now does work.

      I have no idea where or how people manage to find money for trips like that. That’s the cost of living for a year. OK, maybe a bit extra for beer, but pretty much so. I have never, in my life spent anything so ridiculous for a few weeks. My travel trips are rock bottom budget, they always have been and they always will be. And I would hate it anyway. Where is the fun in staying in a five star ghetto? The place in Burgos I stayed at cost 15€ a night (you commented on the post back in 2012) – I just need a bed FFS.

      I was well shafted on the state pension. When they first brought in the change for women, I couldn’t believe it. I was right at the tail end that moved me from 60 to 65. Bastards. Absolute fucking bastards.

      Just explain to me, why someone from wherever in Eastern Europe can swan into the UK, get council housing, benefits, health care, training programmes, without paying one penny into the system and you and I get nothing after paying 40% tax and top whack NI?

      Interestingly in our pueblo, now the construction boom is well dead, everyone has gone back to the land. They aren’t proud in our village, and they’ll all get their hands dirty if it means money. Where there’s muck etc.

      Isn’t that so British? Or it used to be. We all mind our own business. Luckily in Spain, memories of the Franco era still hang heavily, so people leave you alone and don’t join in with vicious reporting if you are doing something not quite right. Good neighbours take precedence over law.


      • In France the revolutionary encouragement of denunciation was enhanced by the opportunities offered by the latest occupation in the 1940s…..

        In Spain the previous owners of our house were denounced to the council by two of their neighbours for building without permission – but, as talking to the said neighbours has revealed, that was after the previous owners had encroached on the communal area once used for threshing and were decidedly arsey about the whole thing.
        Just as you say – good neighbours take precedence over law…but bad neighbours is another kettle of fish.

        I’m not happy about the rights of EU immigrants to have access to housing, benefits, etc. – though healthcare is something else – while I’m excluded having paid high tax and N.I. contributions for years enough to qualify for a pension. It’s supposed to be a qualificatory system with a safety net for those who genuinely can’t contribute, not a trampoline for people who fancy living in the U.K.


        • One of our (not immediate neighbours) had her outside area encroached on, can’t remember the detail. Partner asked why she didn’t denuncio them, ‘On no, it’s not worth it.’ And in a small community, you know how word travels. Plus, on top of that, she’s not always there as her father has a business in Fuerteventura. Our neighbours look out for us, and not just the ones next door. Belonging to a community is about a lot of things. In our village it’s about respecting everyone who lives around you, and making sure your house looks tidy which is why on our weekends, my first priority is our garden so my neighbours all around don’t feel I am letting the street down! I was weeding the path on Monday, and the street too, and one of my often snooty neighbours (two doors up) spent ages talking to me. In my village, people like to see you working and keeping up to your property. So that’s what we do.

          I think I’m pretty liberal in outlook, but I have exactly the same views as you. I did not pay into the system for some bloody immigrants to swan in and lead the high life in council housing (if that’s possible, although it is in Gib as the rent is only £20 a week). If I chose to go back to the UK (ha!!) I don’t see why I should have to wait before I am eligible for NHS treatment, or why my pension age should endlessly recede. I have paid fairly and squarely and expensively into a system. I haven’t taken out of it. After my bodged tonsillectomy, my parents paid for private health care when I was a kid. I haven’t exactly cost the state a lot. I haven’t claimed anything in Spain (can’t), I’ve lived on my savings. I haven’t claimed anything in Gib, can’t even get a job, obviously speaking, reading, writing Spanish, and two degrees isn’t enough. What I really need is a Gib surname, the qualification par excellence.

          I do believe in a health care system, free at point of delivery etc etc. I don’t believe in funding someone from Outer Mongolia at my expense.


          • From what I gathered from other sources than the neighbours concerned the problem seemed to be that the previous owners were held to be arrogant; not observing the law when you are part of the group is one thing, not doing so when you are viewed as an outsider is another.

            Outside the EU and a few countries with reciprocal arrangements with the U.K. your miserly pension is frozen for all time at the rate at which you first acceded to it….despite you coughing up for it all your working life.

            I don’t in the least mind people suffering medical emergencies while in the U.K. having free NHS treatment: I do mind people who have not contributed to it having free treatment for non emergencies.


          • We’re lucky in that we don’t live in an ex-pat ghetto, we’re the only ones in our old part of town. It was obviously the original part of the village, and is still know as Los Blanquitoz (bit ironic in our part of the world as all the houses were originally painted white, and most still are). There is a handful of Brits scattered around some of the newer properties, but they mostly keep themselves to themselves. Or go shopping for entertainment!!

            That’s a raw deal, how utterly discriminatory. Given that it is called National Insurance, one would – naïvely – expect it to pay out according to the terms on which you originally took out the insurance. Haha.

            I agree emergency treatment anywhere should be free, although clearly it doesn’t happen like that in the land of the brave and the free. I read an article in one of our local papers in Spain and apparently they were meant to be tightening up on production of EU health cards, and the medics said they would treat anyone regardless, which I thought was at least ethical. We’ve not taken a penny out of Spain, all we have done is contributed. How come people can just land in the UK (from their trampoline) and claim from Day 1? Beats me. You can’t claim unemployment in Gib unless you have worked for 30 weeks out of the previous 52, and even then it’s only £85 a week for two. Not much good for people who pay rent in the private sector where prices start at mim £500 a month. We’re also still waiting for tax refunds from the govt for the last seven years. I think they hope you will just go away so they don’t have to repay. That reminds me, I must get some new health cards!


  4. Kev says:

    I’m going to get back to you on this one. 🙂


  5. Vicky says:

    I do think everyone has different ideas of what is being wealthy.
    Neither T or I have ever had well paid jobs, and what we now have, we have worked hard for.
    I don’t feel I am, but I guess to some we may appear quite well off with our own home, three vehicles including a motorhome, but all this is only material wealth.
    If I was to win a few hundred thousand, it wouldn’t be spent on posh cars, clothes and holidays, I’d be happiest buying a small holding, miles away from the rat race and starting that animal rescue with you.
    As long as we are happy with our lives, with no regrets, that is the best type of wealth.


    • Well you know that I did have a – relatively – well-paid job. Of course, people being what they are, assumed that the money came from A’s business and not my little office job. He never earned enough for us to survive on.

      And of course he used the Series for work. Cost us a few hundred back in 1986 or 7. But because it was a LR people thought it was expensive (:D) and that therefore A would be expensive. On the other hand it was good advertising – it was sign written for us very well in Scarborough – because it was so noticeable.

      We’ve had the same happen here in the Defender. We pulled up at one job in it, and the guy letting us into the private communal garage nearly fell on the floor. So we’ve started pulling up, dropping stuff off, and shooting away again before people see it! Or walking tools and materials to the job with the sack barrow. It wasn’t even expensive, it’s hardly a Range Rover Evoque, but it looks mint and distinctive. Nearly ten years old now.

      People judge by two things don’t you think? Your home/house and your vehicles, and like you, we’ve got three of the latter, although only two in use, well only one until we fix the Santana water pump.

      Just keep buying those lotto tickets then because I’ll be right there 🙂 Question is, Tiree or Andalucía?

      The only thing I say that I regret is the things I haven’t done. Nothing wrong with making mistakes, we all learn from them, part of life. But if I’d stayed in the UK, and not taken the plunge to leave and live in Spain, I know I would have regretted it all my life. In fact, it takes very little to make me happy. A dog or more, a few laughs and beers with A, and a fridge full of veg. And a full sack of dog biscuits obviously.


      • Vicky says:

        Your last comment about what makes you happy, so echoes my ideals as well.


        • My father once said he was content with his life. Is that enough? No, I think you need to be happy, and I think he later grew discontented. Have to say that giving a rejected dog a loving home just makes life worth living, for me. BFD is on the sofa and Little One is on the camping mats in here with me. Not a care in the world. How good does that make you feel?


  6. Mike Lince says:

    Locals we meet in the countries we have visited in Latin America and Europe think we are rich Americans because we travel endlessly. One reason we travel is because so many places in the world are cheaper than living in the U.S. I suppose we are well off compared to many of the local people. However, we do not own anything. My pension alone pays for our lifestyle. We are travelers by choice as opposed to being tourists. We live like locals live, shop where locals shop, and we enjoy our time in each country we visit. Or if not, we leave.

    I determined long ago that happiness is a choice we make each day. No matter what happens, sometimes in spite of what happens, I choose to be happy. My life so far (currently 64) has been full, and with few regrets. The one thing money cannot buy is time, and I will continue to enjoy whatever time I have left.

    You are right about relativity. However one defines wealth, it is relative. When one is blessed with many gifts besides money, who is to say they are not wealthy in the ways that matter most. – Mike


    • I suspect there is a general perception that americans are rich. For no reason, but that’s what we all think. I thought life in America was much cheaper than Europe for example, although tales of crippling state taxes suggest not.
      If you can live out of your pension then what more do you need? I wish.

      Many years ago, my boss said that you can earn as much money as you can, but you can’t buy time, and that was what he was short of. Now, we seem to have neither money or time!

      When you are happy within yourself, then you can be happy with very little. As you say, riches and wealth come in more than one guise.

      Hope you enjoy your stay in Spain though before you move to somewhere else for another six months.


  7. Kev says:

    Wow! Lots of issues here. Let me start by saying that right now, I feel like I’ve hit rock bottom, but things are going to get better. I’ll go into that another time.

    I’ve had everything.

    When I lived in the states, after, I got divorced, I acquired two houses, a brand new ford explorer, went out to eat all the time, (nearly every day) and even got to go to Vegas, LA, San-Fran, etc, etc.

    I had a career in management with a good salary, bonuses and a company car that I didn’t even have to pay to maintain or fill with gas. And despite paying over a third of my salary in child-support. I was doing good.

    That’s looking back on it. At the time, it didn’t feel that way. I was working 50-60 hrs min a week…didn’t always get a day off. In fact, I sometimes worked 17 days straight before getting one day off and if I missed a day off, I didn’t get it back. Work was a constant struggle.

    I had to constantly watch my back because there was always someone after my job. Decisions had to be made and I had to have a good reason for each one because it’s a dog eat dog world in management in the states. That’s why things are run so efficiently and clients are satisfied.

    I had my run-ins with senior management and city management many a time and I came out clean, but looking back on it all. I would never do it again. When you count the hours, the stress levels and what it does to you as a person. I left shortly after they told me that they had their eyes on me, meaning I was due a promotion to senior management because i’d impressed the new city manager with my awesomeness. I didn’t want it. To me, it wasn’t worth it. Despite all that I had. I didn’t enjoy anything that much.

    I just left. I took vacation, left everything and never looked back.

    I don’t regret it.


    • I’m sorry to hear that Kev. You always sound so cheerful.

      That’s an interesting one, most people get divorced and end up skint, well most men anyway. Especially the ones here who have married Spaniards, as the woman gets the lot. No 50:50.

      I worked long hours in the NHS, the extremes being half seven or so in the morning until after midnight when we were producing a consultation document for a hospital closure. Although it was a Mon-Fri job, I did go in at weekends sometimes to try and clear a backlog and/or worked at home.

      That sounds not dissimilar to my NHS management experience. Not that people are after your job, but they like to put you down whenever they can. So much jealousy and politics around. I enjoyed some of it, but towards the end I was heartily sick of the games. I’d learned a long time before that you didn’t actually have to be any good at what you did, you had to talk a lot, tell people how good you were and be good at making endless boring presentations telling people things they already knew, or should have known. I wasn’t any good at any of those! Oh, and the brown-nosing. I suppose one should call it networking, but it still made me vomit.

      I don’t regret leaving. It was past its sell-by date for me.


      • Kev says:

        I hear ya! We had an annual at the Lazaat in Cott the year before I left and even though it was supposed to be about what had been “achieved” It was more of a brown-nosing session for the new CEO. Stupid questions were posed to him by his “immediate” staff and execs like, “You’re from Spain, do you speak Spanish?” I went to the toilet..honestly, the whole thing was like that, filled with false laughter. They should have provided us all with a bucket.


        • I think large meetings of any type are invariably a waste of space. We had one in Newcastle with the CMO (Liam Donaldson who had previously worked for northern regional health authority, actually my line manager once removed) and it was just so sucky it was unbelievable. Cost a bloody fortune – and to what end? How did it make services better?

          I like you’re from Spain, do you speak Spanish? – that’s a good one. Mind you, you’re from America, do you speak English? isn’t a guaranteed at all according to some of my American blogging friends.


  8. I read this much earlier this morning and was thinking about it when I went out for my lunchtime walk. This phrase, coined I think by the late Stephen Covey started going through my head: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” You’ve likely heard it before, I am pretty sure it came from the “7 habits” book. (As an aside isn’t it something, how much fame and fortune you can get from telling people sweet nothings? I’ll make an exception for this one though as it turns out it isn’t nothing. Yes, I did enjoy that semantically-correct double negative.)
    Anyway, back to the reply at hand…
    It brought something firmly into view at that moment. As you know I’m retired, but still working on the side. It’s partly because I do very much enjoy my work but definitely also because of the crushing bills/debt I am carrying at the moment.
    For now at least I am making more than I am used to but my overall lifestyle is not changing much. If it’s doing anything at all I am learning to live with less as I eat less, consume less energy and generally curtail all unnecessary shopping. So why go to work each day? Here’s why: because at the moment, to do what I consider important (namely pay bills on time and hopefully dig out of debt) this is what I have to do. I have no desire to “Climb Socially” or upscale my dwelling and, most of all, I like it that way.
    So here, finally, is the point that your post plus that statement drove home: if we want to live lives that we deem worthwhile perhaps the most important thing is to clarify just what it is we are setting out to do. Too many, I believe, just live lives, taking care of basic needs (food, shelter and maybe safety) but never paying mind to what really matters.
    On a totally different note I am happy to report that, as of 5 hours ago we finally emerged from the deep freeze. As I write this it’s nine degrees (it was -17 the day before yesterday) and rain is lashing against the house, driven by gale-force winds. Hopefully the combination is doing something about the pies of snow. I won’t miss them.


    • I haven’t heard it before but it makes sense.

      I don’t know what I would do at my age if I had huge bills and debts to climb out of. But as you’ve got lots of jameaters to subsidise I suppose that accounts for part of it.

      We made a very big lifestyle change when we moved to Spain and my income stopped (obviously once I’d chucked my job). But that was the idea, to make a significant downsize. The only part of the plan that didn’t work was that we didn’t by somewhere with enough ground to provide the bulk of our vegetable-baed diet. With time, though, I’ve learned to use the small space we have to grow some produce.

      I think our lifestyle is pretty minimalist, but it always depends on how you judge these things. When people ask how we save money each week, it’s because we have no mortgage/rent and we don’t go out. Our expenditure is on food and drink, plus the odd rare item like new batteries for my camera or those wretched clothes I had to buy the other week. If I am totally lacking in time/inspiration, then I will collect a take-away, cost £12. We got a noodle and rice one, Thai/Indonesian, last week and it totally put me off take-away food though, so I’ve gone back to my normal cooking routine.

      You sound like Maslow’s triangle – basic needs of food, shelter, warmth, and then the next two layers which I can’t remember. To me those do matter, you can’t do much without them. I suspect the point you are making, is what else is important in our lives? Perhaps I don’t think about it because I have been living according to my ethics and values as best I can for some time now, and it’s intuitive. What matters to me is that I don’t create any harm or damage, and hopefully at some point create some good, whether it is helping my neighbours or rescuing animals. Small measures in the scheme of things, Plus less consumption/ethical shopping. That way I can make a very tiny mark or rather make less of a mark, on the environment and people who are working as slave labour to produce cheap goods for greedy westerners.

      According to my weather widget it is 12 degrees here and raining. Looking outside it is slightly cloudy and not raining. It was mild when I was out at 6.30 and 7.30 for the first dog walks of the day. Glad to hear it is warming up your way. Any spring plants coming through yet? 😀


      • We still have a way to go. Things don’t really come back to life here until around early May. Temps have gone back down again. It’s +2 right now and heading for -7. Still, the snow took a good hit with our 24 h reprieve. Here’s an image from last week:

        Here’s one from just this morning:

        Here’s just one more: There’s a dogberry tree just in front of a Portuguese cave right outside work. I took it just now before coming inside:

        The dogberries (You know them as them Rowan) have hung on all through a bitter winter. So can the rest of us 🙂


  9. Actually, I think your father was right. Being satisfied is enough.

    I had no idea that you were so bitter – 3 properties, living in a tax-free British Overseas Territory supported by the UK tax payer and one job between the two of you – how lucky is that?

    “Just explain to me, why someone from wherever in Eastern Europe can swan into the UK, get council housing, benefits, health care, training programmes, without paying one penny into the system…”

    I had no idea that you were so ill-informed! Most people who come to the UK live a desperate hard-working life. I have seen them, I have worked with them and it is not nice.

    There was me thinking you were a left wing radical and it turns out that you are raging right wing Tory!

    I am lucky, I know that, even though my state pension age has been pushed back nine months. No, I think you are right – what Bastards!


    • Content not satisfied. ‘I’m content with my life,’ was what he said, although I think he was trying to convince himself more than anyone else.

      Bitter is the wrong word. Where did I say that? You have misinterpreted my point totally. It’s all about how people view each other’s position and material/capital assets and cash outlay.

      Your allegations of Gibraltar being tax-free is about as accurate as your allegation that large dogs are expensive to feed. Blueonthemove corrected you some time ago on that one and you continue to peddle the same inaccurate line.

      What is tax free about paying 17% tax on earned income up to £4,000, followed by 30% tax on anything up to £13,000, after which the rate is 42%?

      Luckily I did have an idea you were so ill-informed as you have come out with this tripe before.

      There is no tax on savings and no CGT. There is no VAT. There is import duty of 12%. Costs of goods and utilities are higher than they are in the UK. Property is expensive. Legitimate businesses charge a high rate for goods/labour because their costs are high.

      We are not supported by the British tax-payer any more than the EU is, or developing countries or anywhere else in the world where Britain gaily jumps on America’s coat tails to go to war. The days of the UK subsidising Gib via the military are long gone.

      I didn’t say most people, I said someone based on a story in more than one national daily newpaper that quoted an example of exactly that.

      I also have a friend who worked in agriculture who was competing for her job against Eastern Europeans who were willing to undercut her wages because they piled into a caravan and she had a house with the relevant on-costs. Driving down wages doesn’t serve anyone.

      Suit yourself what you think of my politics.

      Nine months? Gosh, poor you. My heart bleeds.


      • Gibraltar may not be tax free but it is tax beneficial.

        In Gibraltar there is no capital gains tax, wealth tax, inheritance tax, sales tax, vehicle road tax, airport passenger duty, insurance premium tax or value added tax. There is no tax on savings interest or tax on income from royalties and the list of income tax allowances and exemptions is as longer than the novel ‘Don Quixote’, including mortgage interest tax allowance, something that was abolished in the UK as long ago as 1990.

        Old age pensions are paid at 65 for men and 60 for women, a benefit long since abandoned in the UK. Gibraltar has no annual television license fee (because they just watch Spanish TV for free).

        In the UK every resident pays £90 per year towards the EU (our net contribution), Gibraltar pays nothing and then rakes in nearly six million pounds in development subsidies, the equivalent of nearly £200 for every rock resident! All of this as a benefit of being attached to the UK.

        Whenever Spain inconveniently resurrects the issue of sovereignty Gibraltar demandsd that those whose taxes protect them should send soldiers, diplomats and lawyers to their aid without making any contribution of their own. Even without the occasional cross border spat, which inevitably increases expenditure, it costs the UK taxpayer £53,000,000 (2012/13) to maintain and finance the superfluous military bases and that is equivalent to about £1,767 per resident of this tax-privileged community.

        It reminds me of one of my favourite movie quotes from the film ‘The Outlaw Josie Wales’:

        “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining!”

        People undercut the cost of labour – that is just simple market economics. If you price for a decorating job you aim to win the contract by being the cheapest!

        Now tell me that I am wrong!


  10. You are right about it all being relative and varying by perspective/viewpoint. Even when money is even – people make choices how to spend it which affects their lifestyle – and health. (and then society/ others are suppose to give them money)
    It’s amazing to me how many people weep they are sooo poor and need assistance, while sitting during TV interviews in their homes with much bigger TV sets than we have, kids on multiple computers/game devices, even the smallest with cell phones, expensive sneakers and logo clothing…saying they can pay for school lunches (42 cents a day in that particular district), and the “mom”/Grandmother/daughters pregnant again with already a houseful of kids sitting around (if you can’t support the ones you have…?)
    For those who budget and do without by choice, it’s a little irritating. There were times I rode a bike to work because we couldn’t afford to repair/replace the car – changed in the bathroom at work. We worked jobs we didn’t especially liked at times, but it was money for bills. We didn’t take vacations, We still work to replace our savings lost during long periods after being laid off and be able to support ourselves when too old to work so as not to be a burden for anyone. Don’t plan to be fancy, just safe and warm and dry. Rather outdated ideas.
    With the federal government increasingly raising taxes to provide “assistance” for others (many who put nothing into the system and are not productive members of society at any time during their lives), things look pretty bleak.
    (State income taxes/property tax levels vary by state – some worse than others – but you can always move. Hospitals are required to provide free emergency care to all, free birthings to those who show up in labor, and provide a percentage of charity/free care. Then there are the free clinics in all major cities usually staffed by docs/residents/interns volunteering their own unpaid time.)


    • Hey! What TV? 😀 But yes, a large flat screen TV is a MUST HAVE!

      I think we are outdated. A simple life, with enough to eat and a roof over our heads.
      Some conversation (what’s that?) and some abandoned animals to home and care for. It’s a good enough life.

      We only use a vehicle for going back to Spain with the dogs, when we have too many materials and tools to take to a job (double extension ladders aren’t that easy to walk around with), or for a supermarket run – one a week or less. He’s certainly cycled to work as well. I’ve usually walked but he could carry a few tools in the panniers.

      Everyone makes choices. Even when they don’t consciously make one, it is a choice by default to accept the status quo.

      Perhaps greed and envy should be introduced to school curriculums? Or how to live within yourself? And your means?

      I have no issue with looking after homeless people, old people, sick people. I’d like to think there was a safety net there for me should I ever need it but I’m not sure it will be. In the meantime my partner is approaching 60 and running up and down ten flights of scaffolding to make sure we have enough money.

      What annoys me is when people think we are rich because we have two properties and because of where we chose to live. All our properties put together aren’t as big as the last one in the UK which was a basic semi-detached. We don’t have children. We are on our first/only marriage. All these things add up in the scheme of things.

      People make silly assumptions without taking into account what might be behind the initial picture. None of us know why someone is rich or poor or has a troubled life or whatever. Nor should we judge someone by their perceived lifestyle when we really know very little about them.


      • You are so right about this. It is irritating when people jump to conclusions and don’t see the efforts it took to get there. We worry about the future and are concerned all our money is taken now and there won’t be any safety net for us later…and my family tends to live longer than average.
        You know they used to teach stories like “Little Red Hen” and “Ant and Grasshopper” along with Poor Richard’s Sayings starting very young. Then the edu trend decided thing from everyday life should be incorporated instead – so lessons contained familiar products and TV shows….talk about tossing out the baby with the bath water.
        That TV family was one of the local news ones – but it’s the second part of a story that hit national news. The national media only covered the part where a school volunteers saw some kids getting free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk instead of hot plate lunch and was told those kid’s parents owed money on their lunch account cards, so the school was providing this substitute instead of not feeding them. People were outraged at the school – the man donated over $500.00 to pay all the kid’s bills so they could be have hot plate lunches. Then you see the families (who never thanked the man and his wife). National media never talked about that or the families spending habits or the 42 cent price of the lunch. Like you say, you never know all the facts these days


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