Carol Wilkinson Every Friday afternoon on El Punt Avui TV Nicole has a 20 minute chat with an English speaking Expatriate who lives in Catalunya. Here is the conversation with Carol Wilkinson.
Tell me, where are you originally from?
Originally, just South-East of London in a county called Kent.
And now it is Catalonia?
Girona. Really it was down to my husband, we decided at some stage that we were going to make a move. And he did a lot of research, I mean a LOT of research! We had a checklist and one of the things at the top of the list then was the fact that I had a pony that I had retired and I wanted to bring him down here. He was just over 30 years old but I had him since he was a yearly, so I really wanted to look after him. We wanted somewhere where he thought he might be able to graze. But as time went on and we were making our decision we realized that we really couldn't move him and in fact we didn't move him.
Thirty is quite a grand age for a horse!
He was 33! The other reason for choosing Girona is that Girona is such a hub. If you want to travel, go back to the UK we have two airports. We have one in Girona as well as the airport in Barcelona. Fantastic transport on the trains.
The AVE has now arrived in Girona.
Yes! We have waited a long while for that but it is finally here!
Have you done a trip on the AVE all the way back to the UK?
I have, the other way. We flew to the UK for two weddings last year. We caught the Eurostar to Paris, with my granddaughter who was only about six weeks old then. There were four adults, we had nine pieces of luggage and we caught the metro across Paris!
That is brave!
Then we popped onto the fast train there and came all the way down. Then, you could only got to Figueres. But now of course it comes right to Girona.
A good journey, would you do it again?
It was wonderful, you can see so much. In an aeroplane you see very little, you might see the Pyrenees if you are lucky, which is quite awe-inspiring. It is always one of the wonderful things about flying into Girona.
You have been here nine years, so this is very much home?
Very much home yes. Luckily for me my daughter followed me over about three months after we came.
How wonderful for you, and you have a granddaughter.
Yes, she met and married an English guy who has been here for sixteen years. They are both teachers.
What language did you learn when you first arrived here?
It is very difficult, we had to make a choice and we decided initially to choose Spanish purely for the bigger picture as it takes us outside of Girona. Part of me wishes I had started with Catalan as we see and hear Catalan all around us and we live in a Catalan community. You do automatically pick it up, although I couldn't say I speak it but I understand a lot. I know that Catalan vocabulary slips into my Spanish a lot.
When you moved here nine years ago, how was it creating a new life for yourself, adjusting and making friends?
It was very exciting! We were in our late 50s when we finaly decided to come and there were a couple of quite serious reasons for the decision. But excitement was the dominating factor. We sold our house, gave up our work, got in our car with our dog and drove all the way down. Having already bought an apartment in Girona.
So, you had visited Girona before making the move. Did you visit anywhere else?
We were nearly sold on a place called Calella de Palafrugell on the coast. I think most people that go there fall in love with it. But during the winter months it empties out and is very quiet. David, my husband decided Girona would be a good place for us to live. So we came and took a look. We were reasonably impressed but then we came back a second time and we were very impressed! We settled on a little mountain outside of the city called MontjuÏc. We have beautiful views of the Pyrenees. Snow capped mountains in the winter, blue, blue skies. You can't be depressed for very long living here!
So when you do live in such a place, like Girona, which clearly you adore, where on do you go on holiday?
For the last few years, because of the age of my children, we have been going back to the UK quite a lot for various weddings, which we have incorporated into a bit of a break for us. And last week we got back from a wedding in Mexico.
Can you give me a top tip for anyone coming to live in Girona or Catalonia?
Do your research and make sure it fits the life that you want. Make sure you can find employment, luckily for us we were retiring so didn't have that problem. I think most people could give it a go as everyone is so friendly. It is lovely to bring up children, safe and welcoming. We definitely made the right decision!
I am so pleased to hear it! Thank you for chatting with me today Carol.