Alan Cuthbertson – Moving abroad

An end to the world as we know it.

At the beginning of 2014 an announcement was made that put the fear of God into all the expats living in southern Spain. You can forget Brexit, something even more terrifying was about happen that made selling up and returning to the UK the hot topic… Coronation Street along with all our other favourites was about to vanish from our screens.

Apparently, the satellite we all use to receive our free, English TV was going to be decommissioned and its replacement would send out a signal that wouldn’t reach southern Spain. I’m not exaggerating about the impact this news made, nothing else was being discussed in the bars and restaurants. Three years on and as expected a replacement was found. Companies began popping up all over the place offering alternatives, from android boxes, IPTV and routers that made the ITV website think you were sitting in East Leeds.

The problem that remained was all the above needed a reasonable internet connection speed, something almost unheard of in Spain. People don’t believe me when I tell them that up to 3 years ago I was still using ´dial-up`. A picture sent from my daughter in the UK would take 20 minutes to download and would be accompanied by a sound that was similar to someone crackling paper down a mobile.

Things haven’t improved much. Yes, we have internet but you can forget the superhighway connection you all enjoy in England. Alas we receive a speed that is more like a stroll down a dirt track. On a good day, we receive a speed of half a megabyte. To the ´not-so-technical´, I put myself in this bracket, it means that all the options for watching Rita and Norris argue it out down at the Cabin were beyond my reach… That was until last week.

A conversation with one of the young locals in the bar was very enlightening. We began talking about computers and I was complaining about my connection. “Leave it with me.” He said in his strong Andalusian accent, and marched off. He returned within minutes with a leaflet that explained how Movistar, a telecommunications company, can now offer an internet speed that would solve all my problems.

It´s amazing how things have changed over the last 11 years. I greeted the engineer who came to fit my new system with the same zeal that I gave to the young man who came to give us water all those years ago. I wonder who I will be bestowing my appreciation on 11 years from now?

Alan Cuthbertson is the author of Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart, and Clover House.
He has lived in Spain for over ten years.
For more information please visit

Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart is now available on audio.

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