Brexit Testimonies

09 September 2019

Steve in Extremadura

"Overall, I would say I'm probably more concerned at the direction things are taking in Britain and the consequences for my daughter in London, and also for my brother and his wife. "

I'm a retired teacher (History & Sociology) who has been living in Spain now for nearly 6 years. I live in Cáceres, Extremadura with my Spanish Civil Partner. She is a teacher of English which is the language we continue to communicate with. Although there are a few of us Brits here we are not many so most of the people I meet are Spanish. Thanks to them my Spanish is slowly improving.

I voted remain and would be happy should that be the outcome. However, I can understand the anger of those who voted to leave with there being still no prospect of that in sight. On a personal level I think I am in a position to survive a no deal departure.  I have a small apartment in Britain which I am renting out. In January I will begin to receive my state pension. So financially I feel reasonable secure. However, in the case of no deal I will have to continue with my private health care plan. While I am currently in good health this is affordable but should that take a turn for the worse who knows how much the policy will cost. The other concern of course is the prospect of the value of the state pension being frozen. 

In August I got my permanent resident status which has added to my sense of security. The process took only just over a week. This was in no small measure thanks to the support of my Spanish civil partner who accompanied me to all the meetings where she spoke on my behalf. It also helps that there are very few migrants in Cáceres.

So for myself, I am more or less optimistic. There also seems to be a reservoir of good will towards the Brits in Spain. Although I know that things are much more precarious for other Brits here than for me. Overall, I would say I'm probably more concerned at the direction things are taking in Britain and the consequences for my daughter in London, and also for my brother and his wife. Both of them have incurable medical conditions for which they require medication to keep the condition under control. Naturally they are worried about the supply of their medicines.

For me part of belonging is also about developing a sense of place in my built environment and the landscape beyond. To that end one of my projects has been a solo walk along the Vía de La Plata which passes through Cáceres on it's way to Santiago de Compostela. I walk a week at a time and I'm now nearly halfway. It is a way to get to know Spain, it's landscape and how it changes, culture and history. It's a less well known camino so when I reach a village I have to speak Spanish with the locals. I also get to meet other pilgrims from across the continent - most of whom speak excellent English of course. I'd say meeting with them makes me feel more European. Part of something bigger. But then I guess we're hardly a representative sample.

Cáceres is small enough to walk everywhere which has also helped me develop a sense of place. In May I undertook a long walk around the city that took me past all the statues of the high and mighty and those from more humble backgrounds. I talked to my Spanish friends about them and listened to their stories and memories helping me to connect a little more deeply with my new home. From time to time I post on a blog (for family and friends) about my experiences which included the statue walk in two parts.

Earlier testimony
John in Rheinland-Pfalz
Later testimony
Robert in Spain
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