A series of errors including miscalculating the time we needed to leave, being diverted in Liverpool and my failure to check the hand luggage our Charis had packed for herself for non-permitted items meant that we only made our flight by the skin of our teeth. It took all of my husband's best delaying tactics to stop our checked in bag being unloaded from the plane as Charis, myself and the buggy containing a somewhat startled nearly 2 year old made an epic dash through the terminal from baggage control to the boarding gate. I was glad that I had recently restarted my running training and that my Life Line Screening had detected no abnormalities with my cardiovascular health! Although there were no audible disapproving tuts, my frazzled mind certainly imagined them as we walked the walk of shame along the central aisle of the aeroplane, past the unsmiling faces of the delayed travellers, to our seats.
Once on board with seat belts fastened, I dared wonder what would have happened if we had been denied boarding. Not the best start to my 'relaxing' getaway!
We flew into Alicante airport, picked up our hire car and headed for the villa we were renting for the week.
Our villa was up in the mountains in Tibi on a small development made to appeal to the leathery skinned ex pats hoping to enjoy their retirement in the sun. Unfortunately, the Spanish developers went bust before completion. Many of the villas lining the unadopted roads in various states of completeness were displaying "se vende"signs. The value of the villas had plummeted from the initial purchase prices, undoubtedly leaving some people's financial security in ruins. It painted a grim picture of shattered dreams. For us, though, we had the use of a lovely villa with beautiful views of the mountains from the roof terrace (although it was mostly a little too windy to benefit from that).
Near to our villa there was a small herd of goats that were driven for milking by their gnarly goatherd on a daily basis. We were only there once when this happened but it was a memorable moment for me hearing the tinkling of their various sized bells making an eerie discordant sound as they walked obediently over the rugged terrain to their familiar destination.
We had two separate agendas for our trip to Spain. One was to get the little ones on a warm, sandy beach and the second was to give Charis the opportunity to practise her Spanish with the natives. We achieved both objectives with the bonus of my personal objective to sample plenty of Spanish wine.
|Rioja on the terrace of our villa|
We organised our days almost like a Spanish language text book: Shopping at the local Market, At the Beach, In the Restaurant. Charis coped really well - even when she inadvertently asked for 5 kilos of oranges rather than 5 oranges and had to quickly back track. (Incidentally, the oranges were delicious). I'm ashamed to admit that my best attempt at speaking the language was a confidant "Hola" followed by "Do you speak English?"
We contributed to the struggling Spanish economy when we were ordered to pay a spot fine for speeding by the rather intimidating Guardia Civil. We were incredibly vigilant after this when it came to watching the speedometer, even if it meant crawling along and being overtaken in the 60km/h stretch of road which we became increasingly certain was only put at a 60km/h speed limit to catch out poor unsuspecting foreign drivers.
I had another personal objective that I wanted to achieve during our vacation. At Christmas, I couldn't help feeling disappointment with my husband's choice of present for me - namely a bottle of suntan lotion with a 10 euro note taped to it. I was determined to use that 10 euro note for something amazing to somehow make up for his unimaginative gift. I succeeded.
We were visiting the harbour in Alicante. My brain could barely comprehend how many millions of pounds worth of yachts of all descriptions I was looking at. I had a brief 'winning the lottery' fantasy moment then got totally distracted by a magnificent sight. A pirate ship. I was kicking myself that I had left my camera back at the villa. Charis took some photographs with her phone. The pirate ship had been converted into a tourist attraction where you could dine or simply board and enjoy a beer or soft drink for the admittance fee of 4 euros. There was little hesitation. My 10 euro note (complete with sellotape that I had failed to pick off) was handed to the attendant and Charis and I spent a very happy time sitting in the sunshine on the top deck drinking our drinks and imagining what it must have been like to be a pirate (Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow did, of course, make his way into my day dreams!)
The beaches were everything you would expect from a stretch of coastline known as the Costa Blanca.
It was a little too early in the year to enjoy the sort of hot sunshine that has you stripping down to your bikini... but that was possibly a blessing!
The journey back to England was mercifully uneventful and despite the rainy welcome in Liverpool that made me long for the Spanish weather, it was good to be home.