Founder of Tickety Boo, Helen Scott talks to Lucas Fox about relocating to the Costa Brava 20 years ago and how the area has changed
JC: When did you first move to the Costa Brava and what made you decide to relocate to this beautiful part of Spain? Was this a difficult decision to make?
HS: My husband and I first discovered this part of the Costa Brava around 20 years ago, when the Tour Operator we were both working for sent us here to work! We felt very lucky to be given the opportunity to work in their most beautiful resorts. So for us, unlike most expats we are here because we were sent! My husband still works for the same Tour Operator and we are still here because his work is here, for which we are very grateful.
JC: What were the main practical challenges you encountered when you made the move? Are there any remaining challenges you face on a day to day basis?
HS: There are many challenges to overcome! Patience is a necessity nothing gets done quickly, systems are very archaic, but deal with that and everything else is easy!
JC: Has the Costa Brava become more “expat friendly” during your time living here?
HS: The Costa Brava is expat friendly in general, the area relies on foreigners hugely as its main industry is tourism and with that comes expats.
JC: When you first moved to the Costa Brava, did you speak Spanish (or Catalan)? If not, was this a priority to learn? Overall how important do you think it is to speak the local language when relocating to Costa Brava?
HS: To enjoy and live life to the fullest here, it is essential to speak the language. You will get along perfectly well speaking Castellano, although if you have children in local schools, Catalán would be very useful.
JC: Is there an established expat community in the area where you live? How important is this in your day-to-day life?
HS: There is an established expat community here in Begur and surrounding areas. I personally think it is important to talk and to laugh with people who have the same sense of humour (British sense of humour is rather unique), undoubtedly there will be bad days along with all the good ones for which someone in the same position, is priceless to let off steam to!
JC: Do you feel well integrated into the local community?
HS: I have local friends and have tried to integrate but I will always be a ‘guiri’ I am over that! I accept I am a foreigner and always will be, but it has been very tough. The most important thing is that my children are totally excepted here, they have many friends from the village, where they go to the local school.
JC: What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the international community living in the Costa Brava?
HS: The most important thing is that my children are totally accepted here, they have many friends from the village, where they go to the local school.
JC: For you and your family, what have been the greatest advantages (and disadvantages) of living in Spain?
HS: It is wonderful to see our children switching from one language to another to another. For me, that is priceless. Our lifestyle is fantastic; we spend most of our time outside, we live 10 mins from some of the most spectacular beaches in Europe, if not the world! Barcelona is 1.5 hrs drive from us, as is France, and we can be skiing within 2 hours. The location and lifestyle are exceptional. The main disadvantages for me are being away from family and friends, whom I miss enormously! I get very stressed about my children’s future, though that isn’t certain anywhere! The weather is glorious; the sun shines most days, with gorgeous hot summers, and although winters can get a little chilly, the skies are almost always blue!
JC: What is the area like where you live?
HS: Begur is a stunning village, with 8 coves which are some of the most beautiful in the Costa Brava. As it attracts many tourists, it gets super busy in the summer and is very sleepy in the winter, when many things close.
JC: In 2012 you founded Tickety Boo, a cupcake, sweetie tree and upcycled gift emporium based in Begur, Girona. What inspired this venture?
HS: Tickety Boo was inspired by my love of all things crafty, pink and girly! I enjoy crafting and baking and get such a thrill from seeing the final product (well, most of the time!). My craft items are usually up cycled which in itself is exciting, everything should have a second life!
JC: Can you tell us about a typical day?
HS: I have no typical day. I am at my busiest during holiday times, when people are looking for a quirky gift or if I have an event coming up to showcase my products. Sometimes I get a panic call from someone needing something ASAP!
JC: Finally, what advice would you give others considering moving to the area?
HS: Come and live in Spain it’s awesome!