It´s a red letter day when your mail arrives

THERE’S nothing better than getting mail, assuming it does not originate with the tax authorities or any utility, that is. I especially love hearing comments and feedback from you readers, since otherwise I might as well be talking to myself or the wall.  Unfortunately, I cannot answer each letter individually, but I thought I would cover a few here now.

To Sue, I would recommend asking the girls what they would like as a snack as it is soul destroying seeing the tenderly prepared box return at the end of the day full of decaying fruit or soggy sandwiches. Draw the line at sweets, though, and best check for nut allergies before dishing the cashews. Staying on the food theme, Jane — I think an hour is a perfectly reasonable time to prepare one of Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals, and John — perhaps you could write your own book with a set of those 10-minute dinners? Jamie will no doubt be quivering in his boots.

Many of you clearly shared my concern at the new Asset Declaration, which was due in April and I was sorry not to be able to assist with the many specific questions worried readers sent in. As it turns out, nor could the Hacienda whose guidelines were vague at best. All I can say is that I imagine they will be busy sifting through all the details well into the next decade if everyone did as I did and declared everything, including the contents of the kids’ piggybanks and the stamp collection.

 Boating was also a hot topic among readers. Many of you said that owning a boat was a double-edged sword and a very efficient cash burner, but net-net I understand that the lure of the open seas is well worth it. Chris recommends boat sharing to reduce costs and Ed agreed with the carnal rules of renting rather than buying.

A few of you kindly asked about my novel ‘$Expat Wives‘; it is a fictional account of how life can turn upside down once you leave the safe confines of your home country to become an expat. And yes, Joanne — I definitely recommend it as a beach read and Stuart — male readers tell me that they enjoyed it, too. It is available to order in print or to download from Amazon and many other online retailers.

Interestingly, it seems you feel as safe as houses here in Spain, since no one commented about any fears of crime in your home town. This is, of course, fantastic news, and I am only hoping that the reason for the absence of correspondence on this topic was not because some crafty burglar had just taken off with your computer. A big cheer for the Spanish Police in keeping our streets safe — now that is surely worth paying the taxes for…

As we’re running short of space, I will finish with a few quick replies: Valerie — no need to travel to Madrid to renew your passport unless it is a Swedish one, like mine. Karen — about 15 inches. Patrick — definitely custard. So there, that’s the lot for now. But please keep the comments and mails flowing. Also, if you have any particular ideas of what you would like me to cover in this column, then feel free to drop me a line.

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