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!