Final thoughts from abroad…….

Final thoughts from abroad…….

After 8 days on the road we finally made it home to sunny Chester (it actually was sunny!) on Friday, just in time for my birthday. It was lovely to be back, I wasn’t sure how I would feel but yes it was great. The house was left in excellent order by the family, thank you guys and time shared over the birthday weekend has been lovely.

Now that we’re back, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide a few reflections, a few things to share that I have observed, learned or would like to learn, written in no particular order…

Appreciate the simple things, blue skies, sunshine, warmth on your back

Actively appreciate being well, lots of people aren’t

Learn to speak the language if you want to live comfortably in another country

Even if you do, you will always be an outsider

Other countries really value and invest in their public services and public servants……, sports centres and community space even in the smallest of towns

Compromise is vital

Look around and be inspired

Try to inspire others

Take the time, at the time to recognise and value that you are having a good time

Take the opportunity to live amongst new people and learn from them

Live in the moment

Try to find out more before you judge

Try to not to judge

Love the twinkle of sunlight on the sea

Don’t be too hard on yourself, celebrate what is good about you

Drink alcohol and enjoy it but build in dry days even when it’s sunny!

Mix with people of all ages and particularly enjoy what young people can offer

Remind yourself to smile and show others when you are happy

Laugh when things go wrong

Save your anger for the big things

Nature is bigger than all of us, appreciate how small and insignificant we actually are

Love different plants and animals that you see on your travels

Love the different foods (well most of them!)

Love Chinese Bazaars!

Value differences, don’t expect or wish for things to be the same as at home, that’s not why you’ve come abroad

France and Spain are vast countries, so much open space, even 3 months just scrapes the surface

Waves change the shoreline every single day, the sea is blue but a different blue everyday, nothing stays the same

You actually need far fewer belongings than you think

Efficiency is good, bureaucracy is tiresome

Care for and truly appreciate family and friends and stay in touch….

That brings me nicely to what I want to conclude with…. I would like to start by giving my thanks to my friends and work colleagues, who from the outset encouraged and helped to fuel the madness of this first adventure, keeping me going for the last few months in my job. Thanks too to my brilliant family for egging me on and providing reassurance that all would be well at home and full encouragement to be mad and seek out fun and pleasures. My greatest thanks go to Mike who helped me turn this vague plan into the most brilliant reality. Mike was really the organiser in the background and he could never be sure until we arrived somewhere if things would be ok. He was also the driver, covering more than 5,000 miles in 3 and a half months. I believe not everyone could spend such an intense time with their partner, luckily we really could, growing and sharing everything along the way. Out of interest Mike never read any of my blogs before posting so he had no part to play in my version of events. Without him the adventure would never have got off the ground so I give my thanks publicly. I know that he has been keeping his own probably very different account of the trip and this will appear in the hard back book that Greg is creating for me as a fantastic birthday present, which I look forward to immensely.

Lastly I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my blogs and for the many encouraging and supportive comments you have given to me. Sometimes when I have missed home those comments made all the difference. So thank you.

Would I do it again. Oh yes! Our next adventure will be a trip to Australia in the spring to see Rosie. Other adventures are very much on the cards and who knows, maybe I’ll take up the travel blog again. Until then, au revoir, adios and goodbye x

Dipping a toe in ……

Dipping a toe in ……

As I write my penultimate blog, I am sitting in a hotel bar in the tiny northern Spanish town of Burgo del Osma. We have already come some 1000 kms since leaving the beautiful, peaceful, slow paced village of Torrox and the life we had known since early October. Now it is very cold outside here and a temperature of -5 is expected tonight. Having had a brief look around this surprisingly lovely town we’ve been driven back to the bar by the cold and the fact that it is Sunday evening and everything is shut! This is quite a smart hotel but wine is 1€ a glass and comes with an offering of olives, so forgive me ……

We said our goodbyes to some really lovely people, lovely times and also to the sea which will not feature again until the ferry to Portsmouth.

Since Thursday we have travelled west to Seville and then back east and north via Córdoba and Toledo to arrive at our current destination. I decided on the title for this blog based on the fact that we have briefly touched on the beauty of so many cities over the last few days but realise that we have not been able to do any of them the justice that they deserve. The photo is of a stained glass window in the Mezquita in Córdoba which represents hope and good cheer to me. My observations from our very brief visits are really only superficial and based on very little other than gut feelings. Seville seemed to be a huge, thriving, vibrant and sophisticated city of overwhelming scale and beauty, especially coming from Torrox. It was refreshing to spend time amongst people of all ages including university students, such a contrast to the more aged population of other places we have stayed in more recently. It was lovely to experience the generosity of spirit amongst local people who really went out of their way to help us, especially on the bus. For the first time people seemed to operate some kind of queuing system, otherwise unknown over here. It seemed as though food and drink were key to the experience of the city and we really enjoyed both, starting off in a self service shisha bar!

Córdoba was a two hour drive from Seville which included mile after mile of wide open and immaculately cultivated plains. Patchwork quilts of colour and then dry dusty rolling hills en route to Córdoba which proved to be such a contrast to the sea and mountain vistas of previous weeks. An outstanding feature of the journey from Seville was the extraordinary bright, shining beacon seen in the distance, so bright that it seemed to be emitting light rather than merely reflecting it. A search of The Google helped us pinpoint it as the only solar energy tower in the country. It was completely stunning and could be seen for miles. I have to ask, why aren’t there more of these solar energy plants especially in a country with so much sun…..?

We arrived at Córdoba and stayed at the Oasis hotel, situated across the river from the old town and the famous Mezquita cathedral. We walked to this incredible landmark and were again amazed by its scale and architecture, previously seen in a jigsaw completed last Christmas. It made me question further the potential inter-relationships between different religions and cultures. There was plenty to see in the city once again but very limited time on this trip. Perhaps worthy of some amusement was our experience of eating out in the old town in the evening. We made the stupid mistake of totally over ordering food, anticipating tapas not raciones. We ended up with three huge plates of glorious food, literally enough to feed the five thousand, much to the amusement of fellow diners. You might think that after three months in the country we would have worked this out!

Anyway from Córdoba we drove on to Toledo, the former capital city. Unfortunately within a very few miles of leaving Córdoba our engine warning light came on in a fairly aged car that has so far served us so well, basically watch this space and hope we make it back without incident!

Toledo is another beautiful city, full of wonderful architecture and history. It also features many, many gift and souvenir shops with marzipan and steel both being local specialities. Shops parade the steel in many forms including small to enormous vicious looking knives and suits of armour for all occasions! I had a lovely encounter with a woman in the Cathedral marzipan shop where I was trying to buy a selection of treats for my birthday visitors. Despite our language difficulties we found out that we share our big birthdays with one day’s difference and high fived each other for celebrations next week. Tasting of marzipan goodies followed so I hope recipients of these delights will enjoy them too!

To be truthful we have both been saturated with beauty, culture, architecture etc and actually recommend city breaks rather than whistle stop visits to fully appreciate the glories of Spain’s major cities.

We left Toledo this morning and hit Madrid’s road chaos, made far worse by roadworks which without warning meant that seven lanes of traffic had to filter into one lane and this with no culture of letting anyone in!

Anyway arriving in Burgo, we really have now hit autumn/winter. Where temperature in Andalusia rarely fell below 20 degrees in the day or 8 degrees at night we haven’t got beyond 9 degrees today. We are also now back to the vistas of northern Spain which we first encountered at the start of the trip. Here the buildings are much darker, no longer being of the lovely Andalusian whitewashed appearance. We have also had mile after mile of golden leaved oak trees replacing the olive trees and have experienced as many different, fascinating and beautiful landscapes as you could possibly imagine.

So here we are in the fourth hotel since my last blog. Each place has had its own charms and quirks. What they have all offered though has been just the warmth that we lacked in the house in Torrox. Tomorrow we are heading for Pamplona and will then move on through Bordeaux and Rennes before catching the overnight ferry back to Portsmouth on Thursday night.

I will let you know how the return trip goes and will share some reflections next time. Until then stay warm!

Hellos and goodbyes……

Hellos and goodbyes……

Knowing that we only had 10 days left in Torrox, we looked at the things we still wanted to experience and also the things we wanted to revisit. One must was to sit on a beach in Nerja, but more of that to come. Nerja as a town has been an enduring pleasure throughout our time on the Costa del Sol but we still hadn’t visited the caves located nearby. So we went to explore and in fact they turned out to be an unmissable part of the area’s offering. I have visited a number of caves in Europe over the years, being married to someone with strong geological and archaeological leanings (I was going to say nerd but thought that was too strong!), but seeing a huge 32 metre column underground where stalactites joined stalagmites was truly incredible. We also spent a second day in Nerja sunbathing on one of the glorious beaches. Leaving the place in the late afternoon we had the wondrous experience of seeing the sunset over the sea, a changing and spectacular wonder that lasted throughout the magical drive back along the coast road, hence the photo for this blog.

Another place we wanted to revisit was Malaga. We had no particular plans for the day except a vague and ultimately fruitless search for warm jumpers. We ended up walking miles around the beautiful city and having lunch at a beach bar eating a mix of seafood delights including clams. If you’ve never tried them I urge you to have a go, they really are small nuggets of concentrated sea and utterly delicious, especially when you mop up the garlic broth with bread. Of course the sun shone and the sky was blue……As well as much walking we also went back to our favourite bar for evening drinks and to watch the varied antics of the staff, patrons and passers by. Malaga really is a wonderful and underrated city, maybe it should stay that way. I know I’ll be back.

We fully intended to go to Granada too as it’s not that far from here, hoping to visit the Alhambra, but the difficulties encountered in trying to get tickets either online or by phone left us so frustrated that eventually and regretfully we gave up. From what I’ve seen the Spanish are very clean and organised but love to complicate things with unnecessary bureaucracy. Why do they need to know our ages for example when buying tickets? So I anticipate and hope that forthcoming visits to the cities of Seville and Córdoba will be more straightforward as they won’t require advance bookings!

I hadn’t planned on mentioning hair appointments again but the most recent experience may provide amusement. In contrast to Denia, and despite a recommendation, Friday’s encounter was rather less successful! Let’s just say that I spent two and three quarter hours in the place and in the entire time I was the only person who actually had a hair cut and there were plenty of visitors. Another example of communication challenges as despite my best efforts, let’s just say the result was, well think Mr Spock – I know it will grow!

Language issues still prevail and will definitely form part of my final reflections. For example in Nerja I took the opportunity to try to replace an item of makeup that had run out. When we got home I realised that the thing in my bag was not what I had asked for. How do you explain that easily? Then how do you let your neighbour know that their dead canary is on their roof terrace? And how do you explain to the man in the Chinese Bazaar that the firelighters you want are for an indoor log burner not the outside BBQ? These sound like some of the ridiculous sentences you have to work with when learning languages at school, in fact you never know when they’ll come in useful!

We will be leaving Torrox on Thursday on the next part of the adventure, allowing eight days to get home. Part of the preparations have included planning last get togethers with lovely neighbours. So tomorrow we have a day in prospect with Jenny and Roger. We plan to do a walk in the mountains behind Nerja, then lunch in the village of Maro close to the caves and a game of pétanque in the afternoon. They will be the first recipients of my sea glass creations, as small thanks for their kindness. Then on Tuesday we are going to the square with Gill, the artist, for a tapas lunch. It has been great to dip into the lives of others and much to be learned from them.

Wednesday will be a packing up day and then we will be heading west to Seville then onto Córdoba and Toledo.

Anyway I will have to conclude this week’s blog as my iPad is refusing to charge- Adam where are you when I need you? So have a good week everyone and the next time I’ll blog will be when we’re back on the road and meanwhile thanks for your support and lovely comments.

Days out, nights in …….

Days out, nights in …….

The week began with morning coffee at El Manolo’s in the square. We had already noticed a small crowd building and soon realised that a funeral cortège was making its way towards us. It was a sight to behold and heartening to see as absolutely everyone stopped what they were doing and stood up respectfully. Always sobering too to be a small part of something likely to touch many in a village where everyone appears to know each other. During the afternoon I walked out to the cemetery to see how local people manage their dead. I was surprised by how accessible the commemorative marble plaques were and to see how the relics and accompanying photos were stacked in small groups and adorned with fresh flowers, clearly well cared for. I spent time reading the inscriptions and was amazed by the long lives so many had had, mostly reaching their 80’s and 90’s. I can’t help but feel that the sunshine and slower pace of life could well be a contributing factor…..

During the week we spent a day in Torre Del Mar, a beach resort closer to Malaga. We walked for miles along the promenade and went to the local market (which just happened to be on that day!). We also happened to see large numbers of parrots, much tamer than we had seen elsewhere. They were feeding and nesting close by seemingly without fear, another real delight for me as a parrot lover and wannabe owner. We had actually partly gone to Torre to look for warmer clothing, having concentrated our packing on the requirements of summer weather. As usual though we timed the day badly leaving the shopping element until after lunch, which of course coincided with siesta when everything is closed. So we returned without success but still having had a most enjoyable day!

So on Friday we went off to Malaga to continue the search for boots, socks and warm things!

Having gone in by bus, a journey of an hour and a half, we started the day with hot chocolate and churros, a treat as befits any good jaunt, hence today’s photo. This is a national breakfast speciality and the hot chocolate is so thick it has to be scooped up with the delicious warm doughnuts or eaten by spoon. We didn’t plan on any official sightseeing on this visit but arrived at the main square to loud and lively uproar anyway. It turned out that there were several huge red tents causing the noise and sense of frenetic excitement. They were showing off some famous Spanish football trophies including the European Championship Cup and the World Cup. Huge crowds of people were queuing to have their photos taken alongside these cups and a general party atmosphere accompanied their wait.

Malaga really is a very vibrant and buzzing city which I absolutely love and which seems to offer more and more with each visit. Just walking through the streets listening to and watching the variety of buskers and street performers is a joy. The indoor food market was also fascinating in its variety and display and Mike bought a supply of spices which have already been put to excellent use at home. We eventually stopped at what has become our usual haunt, the Picasso bar, for tapas and a couple of drinks, all enjoyed in the glorious November sunshine. Mike eventually got his Shopping Badge for tolerance and patience in adversity, as I fought my usual battle to buy a pair of boots. I am a) incredibly choosy and b) have probably the worlds most difficult feet. By 6.30pm the mission was accomplished! Socks were also purchased but not yet the warm clothing that I know will be needed very soon.

As mentioned previously, the mornings and evenings are now very cool, and we don’t have the benefit of central heating, so we decided to meet the challenge of trying to light a fire in the wood burning stove. There is a storage room in the house full of logs and a box of firelighters but no instructions! Following my gung-ho and consequently unsuccessful first attempt, we consulted The Google and Mike has now officially earned his Firelighting Badge (note that’s two badges in a week!). Despite having a good supply of logs, there was no kindling, apparently an essential ingredient in successful fire making, so yesterday we walked to a piece of waste ground near to the sea, foraging for dried sticks, roots, broken bits of bamboo etc. We did well quickly accumulating enough kindling to last us until we leave but realised how odd this must seem to the many people observing us from their balconies. My pleasure in this activity was way beyond what it actually merited! Anyway since then we have enjoyed glorious blazes each evening!

We are now much clearer about plans for the return journey. However for the next week and a half there is commitment to enjoy the time remaining and to make the most of the heat, sunshine and blue skies which I know we will really miss when we’re back in the UK.

Contemplation…….

Contemplation…….

As happens every week, I have thought about what to include in the blog and as usual I have found it tricky to sift through all the things that have happened. In some ways nothing happens and in others everything happens. Each week my first decision is which photo to choose to represent my thoughts. I hope this one conveys some of the beauty of the early evening in Torrox.

We’ve just got back from dropping my very dear friend Lynn back at Malaga airport after her long and glorious weekend with us. This departure ends the wonderful times we have had with family and friends who have been over to share the adventure, and leads us gradually towards our return in the next month, it also gives opportunity for contemplation.

After so long away from home what I have probably missed most has been my family and my friends, so it has been really lovely to have had three visits during the last month. Firstly Greg and Rachel, then Martyn and Angela and finally Lynn, all good family and friends who we were delighted to share our adventures with in some small way.

As with all of our other visitors, we took Lynn down to the square on Friday night, following the route in the picture. We were able to have an aperitif outside at El Manolo, our favourite bar, which soon led to another, then another, then onto tapas! Eating outside had been a luxury I sadly thought may not be possible anymore following the onset of cooler evenings and following the experience of last Monday night with Martyn and Angela….. We had also planned to go to El Manolo to end their excellent stay as it had begun, but the evening was chilly and I wimped out of sitting outside. Lured by the promise of warmth and apparently award winning credentials, I foolishly persuaded the others to go to a different restaurant. Not appreciating until it was too late, there wasn’t a Spanish dish on the menu, there was great pride in the fact that we would be served English food by English speakers and the place was frequented entirely by what appeared to be aged and conservative expats. We were truly fish out of water and it was not the fun experience we had hoped for. I’m still sorry for my poor choice which was only made worse by moving on to a different bar, which had looked cool from the outside when we’d passed by previously but for some reason completely lacked atmosphere and cleared its few local inhabitants within seconds of our arrival, what had we done!

During the days between visitors, we experienced Hallowe’en scaring others by sunbathing on the beach! The day after was the Day of the Dead so for the second time since we’d been in Torrox, was a public holiday. We decided to use the day visiting El Torcal a renowned geological site with amazing walks in the mountains and a Karst scenery made up of massive craggy rocks in layers of limestone. Mike was delighted to spot an ibex and several buzzards and we really tested our legs on the steep climb to the visitor’s centre.

Back to Lynn’s arrival on Friday morning and following our excellent Friday night with her, (which finally ended with a game of obscene scrabble and a spectacular thunderstorm) we got out for walks and used periods of rain on Saturday to look at photos and to tell of our adventures so far. We also enjoyed plenty of food, drink, ice cream, markets, strolling, people watching and all the other things we’ve always loved doing together. Lynn managed to achieve her goal of dipping a toe in the sea and actually went in up to her knees experiencing sand and gravel blasting below the waves. She also challenged us by asking questions such as what has been the best….. what have you missed… what about next year? Her usual sense of fun and optimism have been wonderful to share again, I realise how much we have missed this.

We’ve had a really great time with all of our friends and to share what we’ve discovered and loved so far has been a privilege. Thank you for indulging us!

Now we will be planning trips to the places we still hope to see before setting back such as Granada, Seville and Córdoba and will endeavour to make the very most of remaining time in Spain. Happy November!

Sharing good times…..

Sharing good times…..

At the time of writing this week’s blog, Sunday 29th October, we’ve been away for 10 weeks and have another month here before heading back to England. The clocks went back last night but the weather today has been a great 24 degrees for most of the day. Yesterday it was a little cooler and quite cloudy. It is though the end of October and we have to be a little more flexible with plans. It also presents interesting clothing dilemmas; the Spanish are all in long trousers and double layers, for them it is definitely autumn. The Northern Europeans however are still treating it like summer strolling out in shorts and T shirts, so obviously visitors, although warmer wear is now accepted as a necessity in the evenings, especially for sitting out.

Well having lost Greg and Rachel back to their home lives, we had a few days between visitors. It gave us time for a trip to Ronda as recommended by several well travelled friends before we left England. It turned out to be a four hour round trip but was truly worth the drive. Situated inland west of Malaga, the journey alone was lovely, with an expansive rolling landscape of golden harvested wheat fields, olive groves, and other unidentifiable crops, all to the wonderful backdrop of deep blue skies and sunshine. We arrived in Ronda to discover a mountaintop town above a stunning and dramatic deep gorge. It is famous for the ‘new’ stone bridge the ‘Puento Nuevo’ which spans the gorge and which you can cross to take in the views. We also followed several steep tracks to different sides of the gorge allowing views of the incredible scenery visible in every direction. It is a beautiful town with lovely gardens, interesting churches and so much more. Our visit ended with treats in the form of the best smoothie ever drunk for me and a glorious chocolate extravaganza for Mike. This was probably our favourite town in Spain so far, apart from the places we have stayed in longer term.

During the week I also spent time with Gill the artist, and have seen even more of her inspirational work. She has introduced me to a technique known as Shibori, an embroidery art using hand dyed silk ribbon and beads and has given me a starter kit for homework! In return I have agreed to mind her small dog for an hour next week. I have no experience of dogs so this should be fun and nearly as stressful as doing my homework!

On Thursday evening it was great to welcome Martyn and Angela to Torrox, having benefitted from their wonderful hospitality in London at the start of our adventure. They arrived in a hire car from Malaga airport to spend a long weekend with us before heading inland to Granada and Seville. Their flight had been delayed but giving them no time to unpack, we took them down through the maze of streets to the town square for food and drinks. This provided great opportunity for sharing tapas and catching up. Three very large glasses of delicious red Rioja later left me needing my bed!

The following day included a walk around the old town, the essential Chinese Bazaar experience and lunch of bread, cheese and salad at home. In the evening we drove out to Nerja for an excellent meal at a restaurant directly overlooking the sea, which we had been to two years ago and then onto a classical chamber music concert. We had asked in advance if this would be of any interest to Martyn and Angela before we booked tickets for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the cultural centre in Nerja. It turned out to be pretty much everyone’s first experience of a classical concert and one where we realised we really didn’t know the rules! When to applaud, how long to drum your legs and clap in the hope of an encore? It wasn’t quite the same as for the Fruit Bats concert which we’d all been to in Hackney ten weeks previously! Still despite potential social gaffs we all enjoyed both the music and watching the dynamics between the musicians, fascinating in its own way. That’s not to mention observing the other concert goers……

Since then, the week has also included a trip to the flea market, sunbathing, walking on the beach and beach combing for the usual treasures, lots of excellent food and drink, reading, talking, laughing. All great fun. We have all, I think, enjoyed sharing relaxing times in this fabulous location. The sun has helped and our friends have been able to unwind and to observe firsthand some of the things they had read in my blogs. Martyn and Angela are due to move on to the next part of their journey on Tuesday.

On Friday my very good friend Lynn joins us from Chester, thereby concluding our diary of visitors. It has been such a long time since I saw her that this is a hugely exciting, anticipated visit. If we can’t have fun when Lynn’s here, there is no hope….., so until next time, Salud!

Glass ……

Glass ……

Well at last the excitement and anticipation was over, Greg and Rachel had arrived in Malaga and we were there to meet them and eager to share our adventure for a few days. They had had an early start but seemed to like our village of Torrox with its incredible views and quirky streets. Unfortunately following my bragging about the glorious climate, they experienced two days of poor weather including a massive thunderstorm and 24 hours of heavy rain, so bad that it was almost impossible to leave the house. But there were two excellent weather days too. We spent one of them in Malaga and the other relaxing on the beach. There are over 40 museums in Malaga and it was Picasso’s birthplace, so potentially a lot to see for them as artists. From the wide range of options, we opted to visit the glass museum and the museum of contemporary art. The glass museum had been recommended and turned out to be an absolutely fascinating experience; it was available on a guided tour basis only. We were very fortunate that the tour was delivered by the actual owner, a true character. We were part of a group of maybe ten people. He had a well rehearsed story to tell which was only partially decipherable in terms of speed and vast content but was spoken largely in English. He explained that in Spain houses are either castles for the very rich or the relatively small dwellings for everyone else, with very little in between. His house was described as a ‘middle class’ house for the well to do. He certainly fitted that bill. His house was one of several family homes situated thoughout Europe. This one was full of beautiful glassware which he had collected since his childhood and contained a really valuable and vast array of exhibits. The museum was stunning both as a building in its own right and also as a massive art collection. This would be completely unexpected from the very modest and unprepossessing exterior and location. The amazing collection included drinking glasses from Roman times onwards (one glass alone worth £20,000), rare glass chandeliers, every version of the glass vase and many large scale stained glass panels. In addition it also held beautiful and unusual antique furniture and many artefacts including a display of ‘Victorian’ dance cards used by high class young women to attract dancing and potential lifelong partners (attracted by their status and wealth, nothing more!). It also exhibited many original oil paintings including those representing members of his extensive family. Everything was exquisitely displayed and he purported to actually live in the house and to have his daily morning coffee admiring a particularly impressive stained glass window panel, designed by William Morris and Edward Burne Jones. The tour was impressive on many levels and ended with a display of much more recent glass from the 1960’s onwards, mostly in a range of bright colours which he seemed to prefer. He also gave a heads up about what type of glass he thinks will be valuable in the future, although currently out of trend. Greg and Rachel have taken note! All together a really great and unusual museum visit.

To continue the glass theme, the four of us also shared many good times over a few drinks both at home on the roof terrace, looking at the wonderful views over the mountains but also while eating out and watching the world go by on the beach, in the village and in Malaga and Nerja. It was a privilege to be able to share our adventures and I was very sad to see them return to England on Saturday.

I have to say, I am still shocked by how cheap alcohol is over here. Wine and beer are both cheaper than soft drinks and there is absolutely no need to spend more than two euros for a bottle of wine or Cava (the direct equivalent of the trendier Italian Prosecco). We have speculated that many of the expats who leave Spain in a box probably also have a degree of cirrhosis of the liver! When wine is cheaper than water…. To reassure you though, we are managing to have some dry days at least!

The third element to my glass theme this week has been the complete pleasure I have derived from collecting sea treasures from the beach, especially pieces of coloured sea glass, which I hope to use in future for some form of art. I have always loved finding sea glass but have never actually collected it. We spend many afternoons there skimming stones, collecting and generally appreciating how lucky we are to spend time towards the end of October in the sunshine and with blue skies. I find this intrinsically healing and life affirming. Strangely for the last two days there has been the interesting phenomenon of a ‘sea fret’, a fog that has descended on the beach during the afternoons making it look very eerie, like something from a horror story, but it has remained warm and the fog has moved on eventually, making little impression on the mountains. The evenings are getting cooler and the days shorter but generally blue skies, sunshine and mid 20s temperatures prevail.

And now we have a couple of days before our London friends Martyn and Angela arrive on Thursday for a long weekend, more fun on the way!

By the way, I have heard from our previous landlord Maria. The German family have actually caught ‘the’ mouse in the house in Denia and have released it into the countryside, well done them!