She lived there from 1992 to 1996. "I was working in Scotland, but I was fed up with my job. I needed a change of life. So I did". This change led her to Spain. She looked at a lot of cities such as Granada, Canarias, Bilbao and Oviedo.
In the end "I tossed a coin and decided on Oviedo".
Valerie worked there as an English teacher and few weeks later she met her husband, Tim, who at first was her colleague. "We had a really good time there, always socializing. I was never lonely and I feel a bit nostalgic when I think about my time there", she explains with reminiscentlook on her face.
But she felt it wasn't the best place to bring up a child. "The timetables there are so hard and I couldn't imagine going back home late at night. And financially it wasn't a good time". So Valerie and her husband left Spain and moved to Melbourne.
Once there, Valerie couldn't avoid being in touch with the culture she had left behind. "At first, we used to go to the Spanish area a lot. We went to Film Festivals, flamenco and dancing spectacles. We even went to see Paco de Lucía touring Australia. We joined a little group who loved Spain and Spanish", she says. After having a child, she tried to keep it going, "but it was difficult".
At that moment, Spanish culture was lived in the privacy of her own house. Music, films, television, wine, recipes and language... "Lots of basic things are said in Spanish in my house", she states. "It started as a joke and then it became a part of our language. We use some words, but it's better than nothing". That is the reason why at her home water is 'agua', wine is 'vino' and rabbit is 'conejo'. And the most surprising: "Private things, as bank codes, are told in Spanish. And when we don't want our daughter to understand something, especially about numbers, my husband and I speak in Spanish", Valerie says almost whispering.
Her favorite recipe
Gastronomy is also integrated in her life. With the help of six old books of recipes, Valerie keeps alive the tastes from Spain. "I consult them for hard recipes, such as the paella valenciana". But she likes cooking easier dishes, like tuna meatballs, bizcocho (a kind of cake) and potatoe omelet. "This is our favorite in our house", she explains.
After living in Melbourne for more than fifteen years, Valerie affirms that she would like to go back to Spain for holidays. "This time with our daughter". She would like to meet her old friends because she confesses that she is not good at corresponding. "Sometimes I feel guilty, but anyway, nothing would change with these people. We pick up where we left off", Valerie tells.
By Begoña Sánchez