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First time travelling alone with the children

First time travelling alone with the children
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In the early years we usually visited my parents as a family, but after the youngest was born I made my first trip with the children without Dave.  My Dad had to visit the UK for some reason so it was planned for me to travel back with him to Spain, but I had to do the return journey without help.  Travelling alone with children aged 7 & 6 years old plus an 8 month old baby was an experience!  I booked airport assistance for when I arrived back in the UK but the flight had been delayed, so my ‘assistance’ finally arrived after we had walked as far as the luggage collection area and consisted of a guy handing me a luggage trolley and disappearing to go and look after his next assignment!
I could see the pushchair and case on the carousel so asked a man who looked to be fit and healthy in his 30’s if he could please help by lifting them off for me as I was holding a baby, but he told me if I couldn’t do it myself I shouldn’t be travelling on my own with kids!
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 A bit stunned by his attitude an older gentleman approached and said he would help when the case and buggy came around again, and kindly removed both for me.  I strapped the baby into the buggy and found we were left standing alone with our trolley except for an elderly lady with walking sticks standing beside her case.  She too had booked assistance and she too had been let down due to the flight delay.  I lifted her bags onto my trolley and whilst the children pushed their brother in the buggy she held onto the trolley for support as I pushed it and we walked at a snail’s pace the rest of the way together.
Standing looking very anxious as we walked out through arrivals into the public area were two men, one was Dave and the other the elderly lady’s son.  They had thought we must have got lost, but in truth we had just been abandoned by airport assistance!

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Early Family Visits to Costa Blanca

Early family visits
 
With Mum and Dad living outside the town on a steep hill we had to use a car for getting anywhere.  The road was too steep to walk, I know as I tried several times!  I stopped trying after the youngest was born as after struggling to push the buggy up the hill I discovered it was positively terrifying trying to hold onto it on the way back down and stop him falling out whilst trying to stop two other children ending up rolling down!
uphill
Dave learnt to drive in Spain without an issue the first time we visited Mum and Dad but I was very hesitant.  In fact it was many years before I was persuaded to drive in Spain.
car
In the end it was necessity that made me learn, it being obvious that at some point in the not too distant future I might have to visit alone to see Mum and Dad due to Dad’s health issues.  I don’t know why I was so reluctant to do it, there was nothing to be scared about.  Mum and Dad had two cars so we used one of theirs when we visited.  We would have days out to visit local places but often stayed around the villa as the garden was plenty big enough and the children all loved the large pool.
Hidden among the fruit trees Dad had created a petanque court and he invested in a plastic set for the kids.  They became surprisingly good at it over the years.
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The children also loved to visit the ‘100 pesetas’ shops (this was well before the introduction of the Euro!) where they could buy cheap toys and treats, a sort of equivalent of the UK’s Poundland.  Later these became the 1 euros shops (which was if I remember correctly quite a lot more than 100 pesetas, so a hefty price rise!) but even those seem to have disappeared now.
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Memories of a young Traveller – Don’t drink the water!

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Memories of a young Traveller Childhood Spain – with my Grandparents

Childhood Spain – with my Grandparents

On our second visit to Spain my Dad had thought it would be a great idea to take my Grandparents (his parents) away with us.  My Grandmother had never been outside the UK and my Grandad’s only previous experiences had been whilst serving during WW2, mainly in North Africa.  My relationship with them was probably unusual, I was not close to either, although my relationship with my Grandad grew closer over the years.  My Grandma had never forgiven me for being born a girl and I can honestly say although I saw her almost every week of my childhood we were almost estranged.  I wasn’t therefore particularly excited about them coming along.

old

My strongest memory was that I saw my stern and fierce Grandma, a woman who usually frightened me, laugh and smile.  My Grandfather I remember as being fun but always saying or doing the wrong thing.  I suppose today you would call his comments racist and bigoted but it was the 60’s, pre EU days, his memories of sights from the War still playing over in the back of his mind.  My Dad was forever apologising to people for his behaviour.  He hated the food, the ‘foreigners’ and the heat!  He told a ‘bloody crout’ to ‘go back to his own country’ and when Dad pointed out that as we were in Spain we were actually the foreigners he replied that he was British so couldn’t possibly be foreign!

Statler_and_Waldorf

However my strongest memory of them is at the beach. Grandad with dad taking me into the sea and between them swinging me high as I ‘jumped’ the waves.   Grandma sitting under the thatched sun shade knitting, wearing her flowered frock and hat – and still in her stockings!  Despite everything they both said it was the best holiday they had ever had.

My Grandma died in 1985 and a year or so later my Grandad holidayed in my Aunt’s apartment on the Costa del Sol and when he met the lady who looked after the apartment for my Aunt it was love at first sight.  Doreen had lived in Spain over 20 years so was not inclined to move back to England now she was a pensioner in her early 60’s.  So at the age of 86 my Grandad moved to Spain to spend his last years living as an ex-pat.  He and Doreen had 7 happy years before she died of cancer and my Grandfather outlived her by another two years, staying in Spain, living to the ripe old age of nearly 95.  A happy but rather ironic story!

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Memories of a young traveller Childhood Spain – Sunburn and donkeys and coach trips Part 60

Childhood Spain – Sunburn and donkeys and coach trips

donkey-taxis-colourful

We didn’t use sun screen in those days, we used oil on our bodies.  No one worried about skin cancer and getting sunburnt was just part of the holiday.  We used large amounts of ‘after sun’ to cool our hot skin every evening.  We even laughed about how red we were and how you could spot the new arrivals as they were so pale or so pink.  I blistered on several holidays on my shoulders and back, but it was never considered a concern – how times have changed.

coach trip

Highlights of the package holidays were the excursions.  Early in the holiday you would select your choices and on the appropriate day we would pile onto the coach with our hotel issued paper bag containing out packed lunch.  We visited caves with underground lakes, old Spanish villages that clung precariously to the hillside, waterfalls of icy mountain snow melt, vineyards with bodegas, potteries and glass blowing factories, to name just a few of the trips.  At each we would buy souvenirs that would take pride of place back home on the mantle until our next holiday.

A spanish doll

I collected a huge array of Spanish dolls dressed as Flamenco dancers, all sizes and colours, taking at least one home each year.  Each year at least one person boarding the plane would be carrying a two foot high donkey wearing a sombrero, wondering why it had seemed such a good idea to buy it!  But to me that was a symbol of the Spain I knew and loved – donkeys wearing sombreros pulling carts.  Privately owned cars were few are far between in the rural areas in the 60’s and early 70’s, people used bicycles, donkey and cart or walked.  Spain was a relatively poor country and the roads were full of potholes and bumps.  The other common sight on the roads were old tractors – rusty, noisy and belting out black fumes – but pulling a cart in which sat the family.

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Utilities in Spain

We are often asked about the utilities in Spain.  If you buy in a town you will almost certainly have mains water but if you have a villa on the edge of or outside the main town you may not have mains sewage but have a septic tank instead.  This surprises a lot of people but in parts of Spain this is normal.  If you buy a rural property you may not have mains water but use a private well or have water delivered by tanker to fill your huge storage tank.
Generally mains water is of drinkable quality these days, gone are the days when you had to buy it bottled.  To get around shortages of water there are now a number of desalination plants around the coast taking sea water and cleaning it up for local use.  There are also a number of reservoirs now that are also small hydro-electric plants.  Water supply in the Alicante region doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore.
Gas has until recently been bottled only in most areas but towns are slowly having mains gas installed.  Again this surprises many Brits looking to buy in Spain, and of course using bottles of gas for central heating is pretty expensive.  Using portable gas heaters is common practice and fairly economical too.  Modern air conditioning units have settings for cooling or heating and are sufficient for use in a bedroom, although not necessarily that cheap to run.
For many years Iberdrola were the only electricity company but in recent years de-regulation has allowed competition and there are now other options.  Also duel tariffs are available too now, so cheap electricity at night and in the morning with a slightly raised rate for the afternoon and evening means savings can be made.  Solar has come a long way too and with 320 days of sunshine a year in south Costa Blanca developers now include solar in their new build homes.
There are a few ‘anomalies’ that I have come across over the years.  For instance, where our house is located the water company are also responsible for collecting the rubbish so instead of the cost of rubbish collection being included in the local council tax it is added to your water bill instead!
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A suitcase full of tea bags

TeaBagA suitcase full of tea bags

 

As well as early communication problems there was the endless requests of “Next time you visit could you just pop ‘xyz’ in the suitcase please.”  By the time each visit came around we would have a long list of odds and ends to take, usually taking up about a third of a suitcase!  Fortunately in the 1990’s hold luggage was included in the cost of your air fare so it wasn’t a problem; these days we only travel with hand luggage due to the extra

cost of taking a suitcase.

bisto

The usual requests were for a hundreds of tea bags, Bisto, Angle Delight, Blistese, packets of casserole mixes, Christmas pudding and Atora suet.  I’m sure there were quite a few other items too.  We also supplied our daughter’s soya milk, which in those days was bought in powdered form.  Today you can buy English products in Spanish supermarkets and ready made soya milk too.  How times have changed.  Today you can also buy fresh pasteurised milk, which was once also a problem.  I can remember having to order fresh milk from the ‘English’ shop in town for our youngest child who had problems digesting long-life UHT milk, which was all that was normally available.  Drinking water was bottled as tap water was poor quality.  In fact in Fuengriola where my Grandfather lived water was sometimes rationed and turned off for several hours a day over the summer months due to shortages.

angel delight

There was a short-lived comedy series in the ‘70’s on the TV about a couple who retired to Spain, I think it was called ‘Don’t Drink the Water’.  For some strange reason I can remember only one scene from the program, where they hung their tea bags up to dry to reuse again as they were so expensive in Spain!

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If you are looking to find your dream home on the Costa Blanca or Costa Calida then we are here to help you and walk with you through all the stages of finding and buying your dream property. And we are happy to help with information on settling into your new home or setting up a holiday rental to turn your second home into an income Have a look at a short video on how we can help you

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How can we help you

If you are looking to find your dream home on the Costa Blanca or Costa Calida then we are here to help you and walk with you through all the stages of finding and buying your dream property. And we are happy to help with information on settling into your new home or setting up a holiday rental to turn your second home into an income Have a look at a short video on how we can help you https://t.co/KXRcHRFsnA
 Dave and Bev.
Spanish Dream Property 
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