Craig and Melanie Briggs were what some may describe as early adopters of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement years before they knew what it was. Twenty years ago, while they were both around 40, the couple gave up their jobs and moved from the industrial town of Huddersfield, England to the beautiful rural countryside of the Northwest corner of Spain, known as Galicia. Craig and Melanie love the slow pace, luscious green landscape, warm people and scrumptious wines of Galicia. Find out more about life in Galicia, Spain, on Episode 79 of Retire There with Gil & Gene.
Follow Craig and Melanie’s journey in Galicia on Craig's website, Journey to a Dream.
Thus far, Craig has authored eight books on the adventures he and Melanie have experienced in early retirement, they are:
In 2021, Craig published his first novel, Pandora’s Box: A Taylor & Swift Saga.
Craig’s Facebook page is here.
Craig Briggs was born in Huddersfield, an industrial town in West Yorkshire, England, and he says he is extremely proud of his working class background. Craig was the second child, and only son, of Donald and Glenys Briggs. It is interesting to note that his parents, who are no longer with us, emigrated to the US in the late fifties where his older sister was born. Things didn’t work out for them and they returned to the UK. The birth of their daughter had been a joy. The arrival of Craig would make the family complete. Unfortunately, as Craig noted, he was not a 'normal' lad; he'd been born with two clubbed feet.
Some children consider their greatest childhood gift a bike, for our son, Max, it was one of those Flintstone cars where your feet powered the vehicle - the most environmentally friendly method of travel. Remember that one, Gil? For Craig, things were different. His first birthday brought a gift that would change his life forever. A marvel of modern engineering, manufactured by J.E. Hanger and Co. of London for and on behalf of the National Health Service. This bespoke footwear gave him what the Vespa had given the youth of the fifties: freedom and independence. They weren't quite as stylish as an Italian built scooter but he didn't care. From then on, Master Briggs was on the move and no one could hold him back.
Over the next five years a series of surgical procedures changed the way he moved. When the time came, his mum walked him to school like any other proud parent and his dad gave him his first and only piece of worldly advice. 'If anyone hits you, hit 'em back.' You gotta love them.
With one exception, his mind proved sharper than his boxing prowess. Academia was not really his thing; he found it difficult to concentrate on anything that didn't interest him. GIL: Gee, had I known it was a thing … to not like academia
So he left college, entered the employment market and ended up in retail. It took Craig six years to realize that it wasn’t the career for him. Following his departure from the retail sector, he spent two years as a financial consultant (insurance salesman) before buying into a failing printing company. After thirteen years of blood, sweat, and holding back the tears, he sold the company to follow his dream.
Craig hasn't had a “proper” job since he was twenty-four. He believes: “If life deals you a bad hand, don't fold, take a chance; a good player will always come out on top.”
Craig's writing career began in 2004 when he was asked to pen a weekly column for an online magazine. In 2013 he published his first travel memoir, Journey To A Dream. It tells the story of a turbulent first twelve months in Galicia. Since then he has added 7 other books to The Journey series. In 2021, he published his first novel, Pandora’s Box: A Taylor & Swift Saga. All of Craig’s books will be listed in the show notes.
As a spectator, Craig loves “the beautiful game”. For the less well-informed, that's football, a game which involves using one’s feet to kick a ball as opposed to a group of heavily armored individuals holding or throwing a ball and crashing into each other. He finds the term “soccer” quite nauseating. His team is Huddersfield Town AFC, of course.
As well as writing, Craig is an enthusiastic winemaker and owns a small vineyard.
Craig’s game of choice is pool (does he mean snooker) and he is partial to backgammon, Scrabble, and Rummikub.
Melanie Briggs Kidd was also born and raised in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. She and Craig were born in the same hospital 4 years apart. Destiny … At the age of 16 she studied catering at Huddersfield Technical College.
Her first job was with a government pilot program for the unemployed, where she worked in several industrial kitchens. It was a way of keeping young people off benefits in a time when unemployment was very high. At the end of the year-long placement, she was employed in one of the kitchens. She also worked in a snooker club [for Americans, Snooker is similar to pool], at a riding school, in exchange for free riding lessons and a pub and a restaurant in the evenings to make ends meet. Her last job was in a farm shop. She has not worked since she was 31, although she now helps Craig with his social media book marketing and winemaking.
Melanie enjoys reading and cooking, and she is Craig's biggest backgammon and scrabble opponent.