Postal Service

With post so disrupted in England at the moment, I thought you might like to hear how it works here in rural Spain. When we first came to live in the village about ten years ago, just for a few months each winter in those days, we waited weeks for our post to arrive and received not a scrap. We asked friends in the UK to send us letters to test it, but nothing came. And then someone pointed out that we hadn’t introduced ourselves to the postman. Ah, we thought, this must be a quaint Spanish custom. So along we went to do just that and Pedro declared himself delighted to meet us, shook our hands and welcomed us to his village before handing us a huge bundle of our mail which he’d been saving for us. It turned out that he was dyslexic and couldn’t read, but once he’d connected your written name with your face, that was fine. We never had any more delays after that.

Fortunately now I can send the manuscript by email, but back then getting the manuscript to the publisher was fraught with unexpected difficulties. Thinking to speed things along I took my substantial manuscript to a much larger post office in the nearest town and asked that it be sent Urgente. The man behind the counter weighed my parcel and was appalled. He took great pains to explain how much such a transaction would cost. Not only an arm and a leg, but more euros than I could possibly imagine. I kept insisting that was fine. It had to be in London by Friday. Unconvinced that this little English lady understood a word of what he was saying, he called upon the entire assembly of customers gathered in the Post Office to help him, found someone who could speak English and had them explain to me exactly what I was letting myself in for. I agreed, and accepted the terms. It must be there by Friday, I said. In five days. It took three weeks. Next time I sent it by ordinary post and it was in London in 3 days.

Now our postal service is generally quite good, you can send something addressed to me with no house number or street name but just the village, and I’ll get it. Isobel, our post lady, knows who we all are. She doesn’t deliver, unless your house is in the village. Ours is on the hill just beyond so we have to collect our post, taking turns with our neighbours. Very communal. Of course, if her son Danuelle is sick, then the post office is closed and we couldn’t collect it anyway. Fortunately he’s a healthy child. When he was small he would happily eat his morning yoghurt sitting on the weigh scales, although it was a nuisance for him if someone wanted to send a parcel. And if Isabel is having a busy time, such as Christmas, one or two stalwarts get stuck in and help her to sort and deliver them. Very much a community affair. Our only problem is that the PO is open for only a short time each day, and not on fiesta’s or bank holidays, of which there are any number. But you can’t have everything, and patience is essential. As no doubt it is in England too at the moment.


  1. Hi Freda,
    Saw a picture of you on The Torreveija Writers Circle blog at a meeting... so I guess you can't live too far away? Can understand your earlier misgivings about the Spanish postal service! We were on holiday in Spain when I had to send my novel ms to my publisher, Libros International, which you probably know is based in Spain. However I was surprised to find not only did it cost much less than I expected, but it arrived with them the next day! I received a quick email to confirm it via my pal Sue, another Libros author living in Quesada. Btw, Nik Morton, also a friend, is my editor and we're currently doing the final edit for Libros. So thrilled, being my first novel to be published.
    Would love to correspond more with you... so can you just let me know you've received this OK?
    I only have your last English email address unfortunately. Hope all is well with you and in your writing world? Look forward to your reply.

  2. Hi Jan, good to hear from you. I'm thrilled for you that you've go into Libros. I think they've stopped taking many new novels at the moment, probably because of the recession. They have a good reputation. We live a couple of hours south of Torreveija, in the mountains not far from Mojacar.

    As for the Spanish post, the quaint eccentricities of it keep us all amused, and David seems to be an honorary 'helper'. My email address hasn't changed. If anyone wants to contact me you can do so at freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk
    Best wishes,

  3. Thanks Freda,
    Will pm you via your e-mail address. Busy weekend with family arriving any moment. And I'm expecting Nik will be writing back with my next bit of editing to get on with. Can't wait to get it finished and see the novel in print!
    I have a website now: www.janwarburton.co.uk which explains all about the other writing success I've recently had with ghost writing.
    Talk again soon by e-mail, and who knows perhaps we can meet up sometime in Spain? We're usually over in our villa several times a year. Next due out in March.
    love Jan