Monthly Archives: August 2016

Memories of a young Traveller Childhood Spain – more oddities.

Childhood Spain – more oddities.

One year I remember the hotel advertising that one night they would be showing an English film in one of the bars.  Rumours abounded about what it may be but a Bond film was the clear favourite.  We all settled down to watch, too many people packed into room so it was hot.  A Tom and Jerry cartoon came on and we laughed at the antics of the feuding friends.  A nice touch for the children before the film, so we thought. Then another Tom and Jerry, then a third and even a fourth.  It was getting a little boring, we had seen them all before!  Eventually, Tom and Jerry-ed out, we welcomed the interlude.  My sister and I, along with most of the other children, were packed off to bed while our parents settled down to watch the much publicised film.  In the morning we were told that our poor parents had had to endure another hour of Tom and Jerry cartoons!  I have no idea why the Spanish hoteliers thought a couple of American speechless drawings represented the best of the British film industry but, being British, no-one had any intention of complaining!


Until recent years there were no UK daily papers available on the actual day, you could buy them at an extortionate price the day after they were published.  Hence we would never really know what was happening back in old Blighty while we were on holiday.


It strange to today’s youngsters to think that we didn’t have any contact with our friends or family for an entire fortnight.  No English TV, no internet, no mobile phones, no emails.  How did we survive?!  Each year Dad would ensure my grandparents and a friend knew the name of our hotel, its location and through which travel agent in town we had booked our holiday so if we needed to be contacted we could be.  I don’t ever remember any emergency requiring Dad to be called so maybe, just maybe, we did ok surviving without today’s technology.


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.


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!


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!


Live Web Cast on Spanish Property

We will be doing a live web cast on the Bank Holiday 29th Aug 10am-11am  about Spanish property on the Costa Blanca and Costa Calida, explaining the buying process and showing a selection of properties.





Memories of a young traveller Childhood Spain-Barcelona

Childhood Spain – Barcelona


One year we stayed close to Barcelona.  To be honest my strongest memory of this holiday was that it was quite unremarkable!  I know I met a fun bunch of people and spent hours in the pools messing about with my friends.  Our parents got on well but it wasn’t a friendship that was to last much beyond the holiday.  The beach wasn’t the best either, the sea becoming too deep for me quickly and the waves were large, so we stayed around the pool at lot.  The food was different too to that eaten on the islands and further south.

My strongest memory is of the excursion into Barcelona, a city with unique architecture and atmosphere.  It’s Spanish, but not quite so, due to the strength of the Catalonian culture.  Franco was still in charge on my childhood visit so the city residents were supposed to speak Castellano, the national language, but Catalan could still be defiantly heard.   After touring the city, of which from that visit I remember surprising little, we visited the famous Barcelona football ground.  Stood near the top of the stand looking down on the pitch it would be fair to say that as a non-fan of the game I was decidedly underwhelmed by the experience.  One memory stands out clearly, the pride with which we were told this pitch had the ‘greenest grass in Spain’ – as a child from the UK I just couldn’t understand why I was supposed to be impressed by the stuff that grew the same colour in my own back garden!


Many years later I returned to the city, this time with Dave, and it had a totally different effect on me.  The Catalan culture and language plus its unique architecture give Barcelona a very different feel to the Costa Blanca.  It is a city I intend to visit again one day.



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

Childhood Spain – Sunburn and donkeys and coach trips


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.


Memories of a young traveller Childhood Spain – friends

Childhood Spain – friends


It seemed each year we met a particular family that became our friends, some for just the holiday but some became long-term friendships, a few even life-long for my parents.  In fact we remained friends long enough for me to attend at least two weddings of my childhood holiday friends.

On one visit to Majorca our new friends had two children with whom we later holidayed again a couple of years later in Ibiza and when teenagers we hired a couple of boats on the Norfolk Broads.  Their son was two years older than me and one very bored siesta time, when we were supposed to be resting away from the heat of the day, about ages 8 and 6, I remember sitting with him on the balcony trying to aim Spanish Smarties (that didn’t taste that nice) at unsuspecting sunbathers four floors below!  Fortunately we were never found out!

One year we met a family on the plane and got chatting.  Their youngest daughter, Tracey, was a year younger than me and we became firm friends.  It was a friendship that was to last many years and as teenagers we visited each other’s houses for holidays without our parents, she lived in a very rural location in the Cotswolds and I in suburbia in Surrey, and we both envied the other’ one’s location!

That particular holiday when I met Tracey there was a children’s fancy dress competition, the catch being that all the costumes need to be made from crepe paper, which the hotel supplied in reams of all colours.  My sister, Tracey and I entered as ‘The Three Bears’ in wonderful costumes made by Tracey’s mum (who was a good seamstress) and I had a notice written on card saying ‘The Three Bears’ hung around my neck.  I was the middle size so I was Mummy Bear.  The winner was a ‘fried egg’(!) and we came second, but were announced as ‘The Three Blind Mice’.  And our runner-up prize?  One pair of swimming arm bands to share between the three of us!