Category Archives: #wabas

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.

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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!

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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 – friends

Childhood Spain – friends

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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!

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Memories of a young traveller part 57

Memories of a young traveller

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Flying

Spain is a place of happy childhood holidays.  Our first visit was the week following my 5th birthday and Spain was exciting and different, and the beginning of a life-long love.  I’d been on planes before, we flown to Northern Ireland regularly, sometimes twice a year.  Dad had friends and business clients who owned a hotel and an early memory for me was one cold Easter helping clear snow from car windscreens with my older sister while standing on some sort of box so I could reach.  We would have our tea in the kitchen early as we were so young, and got told off for running around the hallways, all the staff knew us.

We toured Ireland too; it was there I first rode a horse, first threw pennies into a wishing well and nearly got washed into the Atlantic by a freak wave.  We always had a holiday somewhere in England as well but my Mum longed for warm sunshine and package holidays to Spain had just begun, so Spain it was.

When flying to Ireland as a toddler I have a clear memory of worrying about the propellers spinning off and Dad reassuring me they couldn’t.  So my first memory of seeing a plane with jet engines is wondering where the propellers had gone!  No propellers was very worrying!

I wasn’t a ‘good traveller’, in fact I’m still not, plagued by motion sickness and ear problems all my life, flying can be a painful and unpleasant experience, but planes get me from A to B quickly and boats just make me feel ill for longer!  My parents and fellow travellers must have been very patient with me.

Spain in the 60’s didn’t have high rise buildings, air conditioning, kiss me quick hats, larger louts, fish and chips or pubs.  What it did have was terrible roads, strange food, lots of donkeys in hats pulling carts along dusty tracks, hot sunshine, warm sea and wonderfully friendly people.  We seemed a very long way from England or Ireland that first visit – to me, a little 5 year old, we had entered a whole new world.

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Memories of a young Traveller Ibiza Part 56

Santa Pola 3

Ibiza

My first visit to Ibiza was probably before 1970.  In those days the island was a lot less ‘touristy’ and less well known than Mallorca, which by the end of the sixties was already established as a holiday hotspot.  This was evident the moment we arrived as I remember the old airport terminal was little more than a long white single-storey building with palm trees planted along the front.  Wandering down the car-less lane towards the beach we passed the white mountains of sea salt waiting to be transported and were able to collect handfuls of the rough crystals – no fences keeping children out!  The whole island seemed very laid back and relaxed, a far cry from the 18-30’s party island image for which it became known a couple of decades later.

time for thinking

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Our Spanish Dream Air Con Part 55

Air conditioning At House By the Pool

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Air conditioning

As a child visiting Spain in the 60’s we viewed air conditioning as something for commercial properties only.  Perhaps a few very expensive hotels had air conditioned rooms, but it certainly wasn’t the ‘norm’ even well into the 70’s.  If wanted air you opened the windows!  In fact, to this day Dave and I have very different feelings about air conditioning – I hate it and he feels it is a necessity especially in the night.  So we compromise and set it at about 25 degrees and I turn it off at some point during the night anyway when he is in a deep sleep!

My late grandfather and his second wife never had it in their home, my aunt (my uncle died some years ago) has never lived with it and my parents only had it in one of their houses but never used it.  We realised very early on in renting out our house that holiday makers however do view it as a necessity in all rooms.

AC2 (2)

Air conditioning is designed to work in an enclosed environment – windows and doors must therefore be closed.  This, we have discovered to our (financial) cost is a concept that holiday makers seem hard to grasp!  Despite notices by all the units and written instructions on how to use the air con our keyholders get called out more over the air con ‘not working properly’ than anything else.  99% of the time the issue is the unit is on full blast and all the doors and windows are wide open.  Domestic air con units are not commercial refrigeration units! and should not be used at lowest possible settings 24 hours a day.   If it is 35 degrees outside walking into a room at 25 degrees feels cool.

In the UK we put our heating on when the room is below 20 degrees, viewing it as too cold to sit around below that temperature.  So why or why do people set the air con to 16 degrees, leaving it on all day even when they are at the beach, and then request extra blankets to keep them warm at night?!!!  But they honestly do!

AC3

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The Importance Of The Towns Squares part 54

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The importance of the towns squares

In larger towns the traditional buildings are townhouses with maybe a courtyard or a roof terrace and low rise apartments with shops and bars at ground floor level with squares at regular intervals throughout the town for safe social areas. My parents’ last home in Spain was in the centre of Moraira town, a fourth floor apartment. The front terrace overlooked the street and the back terrace looked down onto the square, almost enclosed by other apartment blocks. One side of the square had seating and trees, the other side a children’s play area.

In the mornings the main users were older folk sitting chatting in the shade of the trees. Late afternoon the square was very noisy with happy children of all ages playing on the equipment, ball games or bike riding and mothers huddled in (loud!) conversation. This was repeated in several locations around the town. The Spanish like to socialise! In the evening it would be quieter again, people strolling through on their way home from work or with shopping, or maybe heading off to meet friends outside a restaurant or watch a football match in a local bar.

The weather in the south coastal areas of Spain means it is comfortable to be outside all year round, and it seems no-one expects children to be quiet! You see multi-generation families in the squares together, eating, drinking or just chatting, in a way I have rarely witnessed in the UK but have seen in other Mediterranean countries. In summer the children will stay up very late as it is too hot to sleep, a practice often criticised by the British holiday makers, but the children will have had their siesta earlier in the day so don’t need early nights.lingo2

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More Frustrations of renting Part 53

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More Frustrations of renting

There are many frustrations when renting out your second home.  Because it is not a pure investment property we have emotional attachment to the property ourselves.  We love it and as with all things that we care about it hurts when it is mistreated.  As we have said before, MOST guests are courteous people who appreciate the effort we put in and we have a good percentage of returning guests.

The most difficult situations are the ones where the guests complain about the keyholders in some way.  I’m glad to say this is rare now as our current keyholders are so good.  However we had a recent incident where after returning home the guest emailed, the following day, to say she had lost a small item of jewellery at the house.  By then the cleaning had already been done so I was surprised the keyholder hadn’t told me about finding it.  It turned out the house had been left in a really untidy state, lots of rubbish just lying around, unwashed meat tins in the oven, food spilt in the store cupboard, food marks on the sofas, the barbeque not cleared out after use and food crumbs and sand in the beds.

The holiday makers had a great time, they were a lovely family, but they hadn’t shown respect for the house.  All the crockery and cooking utensils had to be re-washed as they didn’t look or feel very clean and the usual 4 hour clean had taken 2 people well over 8 hours.  The result was that as she bagged up rubbish – sweet wrappers, hair ties, tissues etc in the bedroom the jewellery item had just got swept up with everything else.  As it had been left lying around with rubbish it had been assumed it was just item of discarded dress jewellery no longer wanted.  Had the guests have cleared away their own rubbish (as they should) it would have been a different matter – one item left behind on the dressing table or even found under the bed, would have been noticed and put to one side while emails were sent and postage arranged.

Fortunately the situation was resolved.  But I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I couldn’t be honest to the guest and say the reason it had happened was due to the level of rubbish left lying about and general unhygienic, dirty state of the house.  How do you tell someone that?

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Dave & Bev Welcome You to Spanish Dream Property