Tag Archives: spain

Christmas flights

Yes, I have already bought my plane tickets to go back to Motril for Christmas. A couple of years ago I left it until November and they cost me a small fortune. So I had no intention to be in the same situation again.

That time, a couple of years ago, I waited for as long as I could to buy them because when I asked my brothers what the plans for Christmas were, they laughed at me saying that they were still at the beach and they couldn’t find themselves thinking about Christmas so early. Lucky them that they can still be at the beach in mid-September. For me mid September already smells like the beloved December celebration, as the shops have already started selling decorations and the such.

For the last three years running my brothers’ plan was to spend New Year’s Eve at a hotel that does a “cotillion”, with dinner, drinks and party attire included. The first couple of times was fun enough, but last year I had enough of it. The main problem laying in the fact that the music that my brothers would happily dance to to the end of the night is not necessarily the same music that I would dance to. Ever.

So this year we’ve decided to twist things a bit and go for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Jon’s family won’t spend it together anyway, so we might as well spend it with mine. I know it won’t be an easy task either, as some of my family are not talking to each other, so we’ll see how we celebrate. I can already see that my mum will prefer going to Katena rather than cook at home… Who can blame her…

And we’ll see what we arrange for New Year’s Eve, in Blighty…

I refused

I was recently in Spain for a long-ish weekend, to celebrate my youngest nephew’s first communion (the first communion is a catholic tradition by which children around 10-11 years old take the “holy host” for the first time).

It was the perfect excuse to go and see the family, but only for a short time. 3 days is more than enough. Thank you.

I won’t go into too much detail about the worst flight I have taken in my life (several hen parties and stag dos who were getting trashed since way too early in the morning, the smallest seats I’ve ever put my bum on, etc)… But this taught me a lesson: Never book a flight to Spain in the summer season for a outwards flight on a Friday morning… Nightmare.

Well, the point of this entry is to talk about something that really annoyed me, outraged me, disappointed me.

We had a lovely day at my nephew’s communion celebration (we avoided the church bit, thankfully). We saw distant family who we hadn’t seen for years, we had a lovely meal, we danced to terrible music and we had a few drinks. And that’s the cause of the problem.

My brother Juan drove us to the venue – My mum, my brother, his wife, Jon and me. During the journey there, Juan said that he was going to drink, but his wife said that she wouldn’t drive back because she doesn’t like driving on the motorway. All of this was said in a humorous way and nobody took it too seriously.

But come the end of the afternoon, when it was time to go back, my brother was way past being drunk and he was in no fit state of driving. And here is where my disappointment and annoyance come in: My sister in law and my mother were happy to let him drive! I put my foot down and I said that I refused to get in the car if Juan was going to drive. They said that he wasn’t that drunk and that it would be ok. No chance. He was proper drunk.

I said that I’d rather ask for a taxi and at that moment my mother and sister-in-law started seeing some sense. They started discussing the options and finally it was agreed that my sister in law would drive. But my brother wasn’t happy. He felt like somehow we were betraying his trust, and he wasn’t happy about the whole situation. So, his way of getting revenge was to disturb my sister in law all the way down to Motril whilst she was driving (about a 40-minute drive).

I know Spaniards are a bit more relaxed about drink-driving than the Brits (I’ve been in this kind of situation more than once, unfortunately – although not so grave like this time), but this attitude really annoyed me. They all behaved like it was the normal thing to do, and I felt like they resented me for refusing to get in the car with my brother driving.

Don’t they have any respect for the law and the consequences of drink driving? Are they so irresponsible and have no care whatsoever for their own lives and other people’s lives? Did they forget that Juan earns a living with a car (he’s a taxi driver) and needs his driving licence to subsist? If we had had an accident, or if we had been stopped by the police, would any of that have stopped them from thinking that “it’s okay, he’s not that bad”? Will they do it again?

I am not planning on going back any time soon, and we’ll see if we even go for Christmas this year. But what’s clear is that next time, we’re renting our own car and we won’t depend on anyone else.


Random ramblings

– Just came back from having an awesome dinner at the Hilton hotel here in Basingstoke. One of the benefits that I got from my new company is the Tastecard. For a single yearly payment of £30*, I get 2×1 or 50% off in many restaurants. And if you’re like Jon and me, you do enjoy eating out from time to time – so this will give us lots of savings. We tried the Hilton recently and we loved it. We had amazing t-bone and rib eye steaks, cooked to perfection, and the total bill -with drinks included- came to just £30: Less than your average dinner out in Nando’s but 100 times better quality!

We decided to go back again tonight, as Jon’s dad is staying with us for the week, and this was like his way of paying for the accommodation. Any other time we would have gone to Nandos or to a generic Grill restaurant for steak, but now that we know about this amazing restaurant at the Hilton, we’re never going back to eat steak anywhere else.

(*I paid £30 as it is subsidised by my company. Your average person who wants to purchase the card as an individual has to pay £80 a year)

– Jon’s now been at his new job for a week and he is really enjoying it. It is such a big change for him, as he was so miserable in his old position. But now you can see his eyes shining again with excitement and hope for the future. It is awesome to see him smile again and be happy with what he does. Well done, my boy. You really deserve it.

– I was thinking today what an important subject weather is in the English culture. You can’t ignore it. A lot of non-English people mock it, but, come on… How else would you start a conversation with strangers or anyone else? Today was an interesting day, weather-wise. It started with very clear and blue skies, then it got overcast. By lunch time it was pissing down proper. Then the sun came out and it got a bit warm-ish. But by 5 pm it got nasty again, with very heavy sleet whilst you’re trying to drive at 70 mph down the motorway… Then we had awesome clouds… The ones that you could just stare at for hours and that make you happy inside. And finally it rained again and it got clear again.

I know the Crowded House song “Four seasons in one day” was not written about England, but it does apply too!

But the thing that makes me cope with the weather in this country is knowing that without it (by “it” I mean the rain) we wouldn’t have the awesome countryside that we have. It’s probably one of the things that I love the most in the UK and I am happy to cope with the rain in order to get the fantastic scenery around me. We went for a walk last Saturday in a village only 10-minute drive away from us. It was just beautiful – farmer’s fields, grass, woods, birds and squirrels, and rabbits and stags… Simply stunning. We also have the rapeseed fields in full bloom at the moment, and I can’t help but stare at the fields as I drive along the motorway…

– We’re off to Spain in a few days and it’s going to be a busy visit. Only four hours after we land I have a hairdresser’s appointment (I refuse to have my hair cut in England: it’s stupidly overpriced and they don’t get my style). Then I want to meet up with a friend for a coffee. Then the following day my brother is organising a “cortijo feast”, with roasted jamón and other delicacies. On Sunday it’s my nephew’s first communion (aka: more party, drinks and food) and then back home. And in between I have to find time to spend with my mum and uncle! Oh yes, it’s going to be busy.

– And if you know about my crafting hobby but want to see more, go and find me on facebook! www.facebook.com/craftsbymarialachica !! – I must say that the page is proving popular. I’ve managed to get a couple of commissions recently and one of my neighbours who also runs her own business wants to make a deal with me, by which I leave some of my cards with her and she offers them to her customers… I’m loving it!



School trips

I was in the pub the other day with some friends and the conversations were quite varied. One topic that we started talking about was school trips, as my friend Julia is a primary school teacher and she knows quite a bit about this!

She was telling us about all the trips that her school organises a year for the kiddos. They do like 4 or 5 a year, and some of the trips are several days long!!

Well, that got me thinking on my school trips when I was little. We only had two (three max) school trips a year, and that was quite lucky I believe. 90% of them were only one-day trips, and only in very few occasions we did a 3 or 4 day trip anywhere.

I will try to recall as many as I can.

I think my first school trip ever was to the beach. Motril’s beach is actually a couple of miles away from the town centre, and I have got memories of all the kids walking in line, all grabbing a piece of rope so we all stayed in the line. I must have been something like 5 or 6 years old.

Another one that I did when I was still quite young was to Salobreña, the next door village. It’s got a Moorish castle that is probably the only relic left in the coast of Granada from that period, so Salobreña is always visited by nearby schools. On top of that, Salobreña is quite pretty (or it used to be before it got too touristic) because all the houses built in the mount by the castle are quite traditional and all painted in white.

The school trip that nobody could miss at least once in primary school was a visit to the Alhambra, the famous Moorish Palace in Granada. I must have been at least 6 times between primary and secondary school, and the building always fascinates me every time I visit. Sometimes, especially when a bit older, we would be given a couple of hours of spare time in Granada. And I am almost ashamed to say that a few of those times I spent my allowance in “Galerías Preciados” or “El Corte Inglés” as it would be renamed afterwards.

I can remember a few more trips, but not in chronological order. So here are a few more:

We visited La Sierra de Cazorla, Ubeda and Baeza one time, and I remember that this was my first time staying away from home ever. Three days as well! We stayed in some kind of youth hostel with rooms for ten people. And I remember being very annoyed because I was pulled away from my group of friends to be put with “the naughty girls” because there was a spare space in that room and they needed someone else (I was still a good girl back then)

Another year I remember we went to “Itálica” which is the ruins of a roman settlement. We spent one day visiting the ruins and another day in Seville.

For the end of year school trip at the end of primary school, we went to Madrid, Toledo and Segovia. I have very good memories of that trip, as I had a very good relationship with all my class that year and we all had a very good time together.

And the big one, the one that we all impatiently awaited every year, was our yearly trip to “Tivoli” and “Aquapark” in Malaga. We did this one every year for at least 7 years in a row, until we had to go to Secondary School. (I notice now that they have changed the name from Aquapark to Aqualand…)

Some years we would only go to Tivoli, some years we would only go to Aquapark, some years we would do both on the same day. Aquapark in the morning and Tivoli in the afternoon.

Thinking about it now, I feel so sorry for the teachers that had to look after us. Imagine 80 or more children let loose in a water park, or in an amusement park… Yep, poor teachers…

By the way, for me “Tivoli” has always been the amusement park in Malaga. I had no idea there were other places called Tivoli too. So when I was preparing my trip to Copenhagen last year, and people kept saying “You must go to Tivoli”, I was quite confused at the beginning 🙂

Different choices

Sometimes I wonder how my life could have been different if I hadn’t made the choices that I made or life had gone in a different direction for me. For instance, what if I had actually been good at flamenco dancing and my mum had never taken me to private English lessons? (long story short, after two or three months at flamenco lessons, the teacher called my mum and said to her: “don’t waste your money here, she has no rhythm, it’s useless”)

Later on in life I made choices that are responsible for where I am now in my life. Hadn’t I studied English a University, I might have not come to the UK for an Erasmus year and not met Darren. If I had not met Darren I might have not decided to move permanently to the UK. Or when we realised that our relationship made no sense I could have gone back to Spain rather than stay here.

And that last thought is what I really want to talk about.

At some point I’ve wondered what I would do if for whatever reason I had to go back to Spain. Would I go to Motril or would I choose a different town? To start with, I suppose I would have to go to Motril and stay in the little flat until I got a job and become financially independent again.

And that is the most important issue of all. What would I like to do back there?

I think that I would like a job where I use English very regularly or all the time. Teaching English as a foreign language either in a “academy” (private lessons) or in a School come to mind. At the end of the day, I did do the CAP (Spanish equivalent to the PGCE) and I am almost qualified to teach – I say almost because I would only be able to teach in private schools, as I would need “oposiciones” to teach in a public school, and I have no intention to go through oposiciones ever in my life.

I am not sure I would want to work in a office doing the same that I am doing here (project coordinator in a “domotics” company), unless it’s in English. Mainly because, like I’ve said a few times, all the technical and work-specific vocabulary that I know, I learnt in English and I would find it a bit awkward trying to express myself in Spanish. I know it’s silly, but before I came to the UK I had never had to deal with invoices, delivery notes, databases, consignment notes, excel spreadsheets, purchase orders, gantt chants, etc.

Depending on how financially independent I am, something else I would like to try is teaching cardmaking, or even starting my own greeting cards company. There are lots of stay-at-home mums in my town and I know they would be interested in something crafty. My only doubt is whether sending cards is something that people actually do regularly in Spain and whether it would be enough for me to sustain myself and make a living. Scrapbooking might be a better idea, as people scrapbook for themselves, not for other people. But I am not that experienced in that field… (and would I find the materials and products necessary in Spain? that’s something else to bear in mind)

And then, last but not least, depending on how crazy I am, I might take the Ice-cream parlour business over again. Although it would have a very different business model to what it used to. For starters, we would have three shifts, not just two, so no one has to work for 12 hours with just a half hour break. Then, an overall manager would have to be appointed, as I don’t really fancy having to be there for 15 hours a day like my grandma or uncle used to do. Also, you pay as you order, not the usual Spanish way of paying after you’ve consumed your order (making it very difficult for the waiter to keep an eye on everybody)

So yeah, I suppose one has to make the best of their situation, and although I have no plans whatsoever of going back to Spain in the near future, it is always good to know that I might have several options open for me to try (that is, of course, if the economic situation of Spain was a bit more stable and unemployment wasn’t so high)

But we can’t help but dream, eh?!