Muerte e Impuestos…

… which translates from Spanish as “Death and Taxes”, which is in itself a paraphrase of Christopher Bullock’s line from the The Cobbler of Preston written in 1716:

“’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes”.


Well all I can say is that Bullock had never been to Spain or he’d have added solicitors and notaries to the quote. By now regular readers will be well and truly confused. Well I shall try and explain.


Cóbdar is a small village of 140 situated in the Sierra de los Filabres in the Spanish province of Andalusia.


Nearly forty years ago my partner’s father moved to Spain, initially to Mallorca, but later he moved to the small Andalusian village of Cóbdar in the Sierra de los Filabres where he happily lived for about twenty four years before succumbing to old age just a few weeks ago. For my partner the news of his passing produced both visceral grief and a great sense of relief. The grief being a natural expression of sadness at loosing a parent and the relief that the anxieties of his predicament regarding Brexit were over and that he was able to pass away in his own home with his partner by his side. The feelings of grief were nothing compared to depths of despondency that ensued when trying to navigate the murky waters of the Spanish legal system. The long and the short of it is that in Spain everything bureaucratic in nature requires the use of umpteen solicitors, legions of notaries and of course taxation like you would not believe. Spanish solicitors charge like a wounded bull, being a Spanish notary is a licence to print money and the government has a tax for just about every eventuality. Just when you feel that navigated the system in it’s entirety then you find out that if your inheritance includes any property – no matter how small a share – then you have to write a Spanish will, whether you are resident or not, so you can inflict the whole process on your descendants. A Spanish inheritance is the gift that keeps on taking. It is not surprising that nearly 40% of Spanish inheritances are passed over.


Cóbdar is laid out more formally than other villages in the region. Although small and isolated it continues to be a working village.


Brooke and Helen walking along Río de los Molinos in Cobdar. Cóbdar is situated at the base of a mountain that is quarried for marble. The marble gleams white in the sunlight and can be seen in the background of the picture.


Helen taking a break in the shade under an olive tree. Cobdar, Spain.


The Rabit man’s house on the edge of the Andalusian village of Cobdar.


Every time I think of the situation I have the mental image of Basil Fawlty erupting in rage and frustration.