We Were. We Weren’t. We’re Not.

Jan 2020 – We’re going to Spain in the summer. Yay!

Unknown-1.jpeg

March 2020 – Not 100% sure that we’re going to Spain now.

Unknown-2

August 2020 – We’re definitely not going to Spain.

I have mixed emotions about this. My in-laws have an apartment in Marbella and I’ve been fortunate to enjoy lovely, long summers there over the years with my family. From dating, to holidaying with friends, to married, to babies: we’ve made some amazing memories on the Costa.

So whilst some friends have still chosen to go abroad, we weighed it all up and decided a firm ‘no’.

Unknown-11.jpeg

I’ve become quite soppy and sentimental about ‘my’ Marbella, even though I’m reminded by my family about the moan up I often have when I get there. Just to present my case to the jury though, the minute we enter the flat, swimwear, suncream and goggles are demanded of me. I’m then left to unpack and then head off to the local supermarket, working out the biting point of the clutch on the hire car.

Unknown-8.jpeg

Packing cube girl for life, me

So yes – it takes me a day or so to unwind and fully relax.

But I will kind of miss it.

I will miss lots of things.

I have made a list of them:

1. We are usually booked on the 6am easyJet flight from Luton – a pretty vile hour to travel but I kind of like that groggy feeling of getting up before the sun rises and the excitement of watching the sky get lighter as you journey towards the airport. (Know what I mean?)

Unknown-4.jpeg

2. The ‘whooompf’ of warm air when the plane doors open and you’re ‘abroad’. It’s a totally different kind of heat. And I love it.

3. Opening the flat door and seeing the kids run off to their rooms to discover a toy that they haven’t seen for over a year. Somehow the hula dancing cow from the lookie-lookie man on the beach is still going strong. But those plastic light-up pingie things that you flick into the air on the beach at night? Batteries are completely dead by the time you’ve got back to your hire car.

61TOHD67HcL._AC_SL1500_

These things

4. Supersol. And also Mercadona. (Which I can’t help saying in a heavy Scouse accent.) Not forgetting the big daddy, El Corte.

Spanish supermarkets might not have quick tills, but I love their fresh produce, discovering new things and most of all, enjoying ‘holiday meat’ in the flat. Sorry to all my observant friends. In London, we keep a kosher home. On the Costa? Second shelf of the fridge is for the ham – Iberico or Parma. We’re not fussed.

Unknown-12.jpeg

Left or right?

5. Flor. And Nenuco. I love scents and aromas – candles, perfume, herbs, spices. So, as much as I love my Lenor and Comfort over here, there is something about the Spanish brands over there.

 

6. Fanta Limon. Was discussing with someone about this – I actually refuse to drink it in the UK. It is sacred to Spain. Same with Peanut butter M&Ms. Only in America.

Unknown-13.jpeg

Sin hielo por favor

7. Chiringuitos. The coastline is full of these beachfront restaurants of which everyone has their favourites. And ‘Kala Kalua‘ is mine. Literally a beach shack. Nothing fancy about it. But you can’t beat the view, watching the sea, seeing the sun set and twinkly lights along the coast… it’s beautiful.

And of course the food. Traditional paella, grilled rosada, padron peppers. Everything tastes better outside with a view.

Me? I come for the aubergine fries.

Before I explain these delights to you, I just want to end on a round number, so:

8. Hearing the sea when I go to bed.

9. The clever lighting system in car parks to indicate available spaces. (I’ve talked about this before.)

and finally,

10. Beach walks. I will miss my post-lunch stroll with a bottle of water and a leftover nappy bag from the baby years in the flat. Still so handy for shell collecting.

Unknown-22.jpeg

But back to the aubergine fries. These were an accidental discovery. We used to go to the neighbouring chiringuito, but one night we couldn’t get a table. Ended up at Kala Kalua and on being shown to our table, saw lots of diners ordering what looked like chips …but weren’t chips. So, we ordered them too. And double portions were ordered every time we returned.

It’s not quite the same eating them in England, but if you close your eyes and listen to the garden sprinkler, you could almost be right there on the beach.

Ridiculously Delicious Aubergine Fries Recipe (which probably isn’t exactly the same but nearly.)

berengenas-fritas.png

Actual Kala Kalua picture of fries

  • 2 medium size aubergines
  • Plain flour to coat
  • Olive oil for deep-frying (or any other vegetable oil)
  • Salt
  • Date molasses
  1. Cut aubergines into sticks; basically like chips.
  2. Toss with salt, place in a colander and let them stand for at least half an hour to get rid of all the excess liquid. Rinse, drain and pat dry.
  3. Place sticks in a bowl with the flour and coat them, shaking off any excess.
  4. Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the sticks in small batches until golden.
  5. Place on a plate with kitchen roll towel to absorb the excess oil. (I never said they were healthy.)
  6. Sprinkle salt. Drizzle the molasses. (Again, not so healthy but…)

One thing about Spain that I won’t miss, is that I usually fly out earlier with just my kids, husband joining us later on into the holiday, due to work commitments. This means he is in the UK on his birthday whilst we are all away. He hates his birthday.

This year, he’s working from home.

Happy birthday, Doll. Unknown-21

x

 

Final Call…

I’m a big fan of getting to an airport on time early. There. I said it. I detest rushing. I will happily get up in the middle of the night (okay, so maybe it’s only 05:30), birds tweeting, to catch that first flight out of Luton. I’m not saying I would choose to rise that same time every single day, but there’s something exhilarating about watching the sky change colour, as you journey excitedly towards an airport.

Unknown-5.jpeg

Highway to the danger zone… (okay, Malaga)

I’ve usually amassed about 4 hours sleep the night before because I have packed, unpacked and repacked to remove and replace various pieces of redundant clothing, additional medicines, another bottle of suncream, etc. I have also checked and double checked my alarm is set. Again, no rushing for me. I want my shower, I want my breakfast. Otherwise I’m not fun Mummy.

IMG_0218.PNG

Shower-fresh before a flight. Always

Travelling outfit is laid out ready for the whole family, because I physically don’t have it in me at 5am to concern myself with what everyone is wearing. And it would definitely become my concern.

Whatever I choose to wear, it will usually include a wrap-around scarf thing to mummify myself from plane seats (see earlier blog) and trainers with socks. I can’t deal with sandals in an airport –  too many trolley wheels and stampeding feet. I ‘sandalled’ once and at security we were told to remove shoes. Me. Barefoot. Airport floor. (*insert dry heave here*) Hence, always socks.

The packing side of things is a whole other blog (useful, if you’re after packing tips), but for years I avoided buying luggage scales. My bathroom scales were sufficiently accurate, if a little painful to read…

  1. Step on scales to set the display to ‘0.0.’
  2. Swiftly dump case on scales and pray that it doesn’t topple over
  3. Case topples over before registering a proper reading
  4. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until successful (usually 5 or 6 attempts)

As long as I was within a pound or two (weight, not money), I knew I was okay and could feign disbelief to husband at check-in, that official reading was a good 6 or 7 kilos more than my reading at home. “Ah, it must be because of our tiled floor surface.”

Unknown-2.jpeg

However, those days of blagging extra kilos are long gone. (Even though, for the record,  the kids and my stuff weighs nothing and giant husband’s clothes are far heavier per item. Just saying.)

Unknown.jpeg
Money saving travel outfit option 

One-click Amazon Prime a couple of years ago and I became the proud owner of a proper set of luggage scales which give an accurate digital reading.

Unknown-1.jpeg

360kg? Sounds about right…

In fairness, and I have got better, (honest Guv) the majority of the weight-bulk in my case is toiletries. I can’t help it – I’m allergic to so much stuff that it’s not worth the risk of local purchases. I tan badly enough as it is. I don’t need an eczema flare-up on top of it.

Plus, holidays are a great excuse to go nuts buying new toiletries and bump up your Boots points. New toothbrushes, new toothpaste, new shower gel, new ‘shooshie’ – we love a shooshie in our house.

Unknown-3.jpeg

Shooshies. Why? What do you call them?

I know someone who ‘sparks joy’ (that Marie Kondo method) at finishing something, such as a box of cereal or some face cream. For me, I’m all about new and not just around holiday time.

Butter – the peel-off of that paper bit on top – heavenly! And that first butter curl? The best. Just stay away with your toast crumbs please.

images.png

Nutella – I’ll give the gold foil a satisfying stab, but then every single piece of foil needs peeling off. Every last bit.

images-1.jpeg

Unacceptable

Greek yoghurt – that protective paper film thing confused the hell out of me the first time I bought the product.

images.jpeg

How do you pronounce it?

Milk – Once the lid is off, I am wary of people who don’t fully remove the peel off part. I’m live with people who do similar to tins of sweetcorn and tuna. It pains me.

IMG_6737.jpg

The horror of it…

Face/eye cream – a BIG favourite, especially if it comes with a protective lid thingy that makes direct contact with the product. I can eek out at least a week’s worth of usage from lid excess, before even touching the product inside the pot.

Unknown-4.jpeg

New toothpaste – those first few pumps to get the toothpaste out? That’s what dreams are made of. We are a pump dispenser family, although to save our marriage, I no longer share a dispenser with him. (FYI, He does still have his lid. It was discarded at first use, although it’s sits in the bathroom cupboard. ‘Just in case’.)

IMG_0220.jpg

His (on the left) is no longer my problem…

Must go to bed. I’m getting up in 4 hours and am still swapping things in and out of the case.

Happy summer. xxx

P.S. It’s pronounced ‘Fa-yeh’!

2015-04-13-at-17-23-12.jpg

No, really. It is.

There’s a Poop in the Pool…

As Soul II Soul once said, back to life back to reality.

My Summer fun is pretty much done and I can almost smell Rosh Hashana in the air. (In case of confusion, that’s the festival celebrating Jewish New Year which usually falls around mid-September and you can just smell an Autumnal change in the air).

After a few weeks on the Costa (Mill Hill-on-Sea), I am most definitely home, trapped (albeit happily) in my utility room, dealing with the wash load upon wash load that is a sure sign of a good holiday. You can spank money on the hotel laundry service all you like. You can hand wash to your heart’s content with your travel wash from Boots. Fact is, it will never convince me it looks or smells good enough, so I usually end up re-washing most of it. Although I did return home with a much hyped (on Facebook’s My Best Product Ever (#addicted) fabulous cleaning spray from the local hypermarket:

Unknown

For cookers, cars  ..and clothing

No two summers are ever the same and a big plus for 2016 was that both of my kids were fully swim proficient and could handle their own on a Taylor Swift-style inflatable. And this year it was definitely all about inflatables: crocodiles, unicorns, lemon slices, swans – I saw it all.

On top of the variety of inflatables this Summer, the ice cream consumption was off the clock. Like an enormous flash card, we all stand and point at the ice cream board and readily hand over our Euros. (A reward card would be nice, Walls. Just sayin’.) Yes, there are Peanut Butter Magnums, Negratons and Fantasmikos, but Sandwich de Nata is still my favourite 6pm sampler. Biscuit. Marshmallowy-soft ice cream. Perfecto.

 

Every day starts much the same – a promise to do some cardio just to ‘keep things ticking over’ – maybe a You tube Pilates video (“Hi I’m Christy, let’s work that booty…”), or some lengths in the pool? By 11:30am I’ve done half a pack of rice cakes (the ‘healthy snack’) and I’m like quality control on the kids’ crisps. It’s a job – somebody’s got to do it.

This year, I said to myself that I would be the ‘Mum that said yes’ when it came to the kids.

“Will you come in the pool with us?” Yes. And this time I wore goggles. Not my best look but I leave that to the messy bun, fresh-faced, slick of clear gloss brigade.

two-types-of-girls-pool

I know who I am…

I borrowed eldest’s spare pair as I have super-sensitive eyes (cataracts, detached retina.. but that’s a whole other blog). Plus, if you saw the colour the pool water turns our swimwear, it’s no wonder my eyes sting. Chlorine catastrophe. Diving competitions, handstands, roly poly’s and the occasional pool evacuation for poop. Sometimes it was a stone. Sometimes it really was poop. Mass hysteria as we try to ignore the fact our kids are swimming in 90% urine as it is.

“Will you come in the sea?” Yes. And this time I wore my beach shoes as Marbs beaches can be rocky. It always fascinates me that I am on the ‘edge of land’. Like, literally right on the edge of Earth’s surface. Stepping into the blue bit of the light-up globe in my kids’ bedrooms. You get my point.

Once all the activity and excitement is over, Mama deserves a chill out with the grown ups. That’s when the inevitable ‘Dragons Den in the Sun’ begins. What can I invent to make me millions whilst lying here aiming for some semblance of a tan?

Post-it notes? Done.

Towel clips? Done.

Even the sure-fire winner of a suncream applicator booth was veto’d as apparently, according to Facebook (gospel).. done.

We were getting nowhere fast and it was time for a break (ie. more snacks). You know that programme Springwatch? Well, move over Bill Oddie. Round my pool, at a certain ‘time of the month’, it’s ‘Stringwatch’. Girls have all got each others backs (or fronts..) and give a knowing ‘nod’ as we palm one of ‘Mummy’s special carrots‘ and head off to the ladies.  I just wish the boys could look out for each other more. The amount of times I had to avert my eyes. You might think you are modest in your swim shorts, but with your excessive manspreading on your sunbed, the netting bag of ‘fresh plums’ is still very much on show.

Plum_Punnet

Close your legs, gents

I shouldn’t be unkind as I am most susceptible to ‘pitminj’.  I don’t think I need to explain, but most of my photos require careful editing.

11873458_10155897586315368_3691059980229152897_n

My armpit. My pitminj. My god…

Right, back to the ideas board for 2017. I’m hoping for something a bit better than my tan if I’m going to get that call from Peter Jones. “I’m in.”