Grand designs! New life in sun inspires Ian’s first travel book

A FORMER member of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team who swapped Saddleworth for the good life in Spain has become a first-time published author.

If you are familiar with the works of Peter Mayle or Chris Stewart then Ian Grandidge’s debut book, Finca Saisa, could well appeal.

Mayle’s tales about life in Provence and Driving over Lemons by ex-Genesis drummer Chris Stewart became travel best sellers.

Like Stewart, who detailed life with his family in the Alpujarra mountains, Ian, 57, also found his writing muse in Spain.

Ian Grandidge

To be precise, Guaro – a white walled village on the edge of the Sierra de las Nieves natural park in Andalucía.

It definitely doesn’t resemble Grotton where Ian and wife Sam moved from in December 2015.

But there’s a touch of more remote Saddleworth moor locations in his new home, less than an hour from Malaga, and known as a hiking base for the natural park.

“One day, completely out of the blue, I got the urge to go off in search of better weather,” laughed Ian. “I may never know why.

“Driving over Lemons was a book I read about 12 months before we decided to move. It was one of the catalysts.

“But we didn’t really know Spain that well and Guaro isn’t exactly on the tourist map.

Finca Saisa book cover

“Giving up a good career and going off in search of a dream isn’t something new; people have been doing it for years.

“I never expected that I’d be doing it too. But I did. And despite not even having a dream.

“In the end, we knew what we wanted to do, we went online looked at a few properties, there were a few in this area so we came out and bought one.

“Here I was, walking through my own olive grove, realising I knew nothing about olives.

“Would I ever fathom why I chose to live off-grid, despite being uncertain as to where water came from, or how solar electricity worked? All the while trying to refurbish an old farmhouse just to make it liveable.”

Ian worked for the North West Ambulance Service prior to leaving the UK and wife Sam was a respiratory physiologist at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Now, they enjoy a lifestyle many would envy. “We intended this would be something of a small holding, grow our own veggies and keep some livestock.

“It’s not quite worked out that way but we are still learning what we can and can’t do.”

With time on his hands, however, Ian turned to the idea to write about their experiences into reality.

“During lockdown, we couldn’t go anywhere so I thought I need to do this now. We had a few daft experiences with Spanish bureaucracy and things we tried to achieve.

“It was whether I could write it in a humorous way people might appreciate. Previously, I had never written a thing!”

Ian and Sam left Saddleworth six months before the Brexit referendum.


“It didn’t put us off the idea; we just wanted to get here and get settled and make sure we were properly legal to be here in terms of residency and paperwork,” he said.

And advice for others keen on a similar lifestyle change, dream or not?

“I would say ‘ignore the politics’ but do your research in terms of the requirements the authorities put on you. But if you are satisfied, don’t think twice.

“There is a big ex-pat community right across Spain and France. They are all very helpful.”

Finca Saisa – standing for Sam and Ian’s Spanish Adventure – is self published on Amazon.

It is available as a Kindle or paperback version. For details visit

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