A year in the life of a Marbelli – Anna Tildesley

In 2015/16, Anna Tildesley wrote a weekly report for MarbellaAzul.com of her life as a Marbelli – someone who lives and works in Marbella. Below, we have put together a compendium of her weekly reports.

Week 52

Leap year! February 29th – Traditionally the day that girls can propose to their partners. It really is such a romantic tradition and as I look across at my gorgeous chosen one snoring beside me, I think back to our engagement and automatically that sweet tune always pops into my head – “If I could turn back time!”

Anyway enough reminiscing and back onto what I’ve been doing this week! Whilst Tasha is travelling around Australia with her best friend Hannah, (by the way thank you for the photos Tash, both photos really have given me a very informative image of what Australia looks like!!

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Down here on the coast, Hilton and I have been doing our own bit of travelling – Gibraltar!

For my sins, I decided to take Hilton and his school mates to the bowling in the Kings Bastion centre and spend the afternoon with some friends. Although we have been before, going with a group seemed more fun and enabled us to play in teams. The ride down didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped when two of the boys checked their passports in the car and realised they had both expired last year, but we managed to get through the border– must be my trustworthy face!!

The old fortress has been beautifully converted whilst retaining its historic milieu. Although not the largest leisure centre I’ve visited, there was still plenty of variety that kept us entertained all afternoon, with a cinema, bowling alley, indoor ice-skating rink and various alcoves with pool tables, arcade games and themed areas.

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The bowling alley is on the lower floor with each section laid out with a bar table for drinks and food.

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I managed to sneak off half way through and do my usual shopping at Morrisons, I must speak to someone with authority in Gibraltar and push the Waitrose idea – Oh how I miss that supermarket!

This week I also had to endure the dreaded Parents teacher meeting at Hiltons school. I get so nervous when I have to attend these “one to one” chats with all his teachers, listening to those dreaded words “He could do so much better if he concentrated” whilst passing me a side wards glance as they spurt out the dreaded words that every mum fears “…..and do his homework!” – That’s it, I’ve been caught not doing my mummy job!

So by the looks of it, we are both grounded this weekend. Hilton with pen and paper in front of him and me…..well at least I can still treat myself; lent isn’t over yet!!

Anyway, bye for now and I hope you enjoyed my blog “A Year in the life of a Marbelli”. 52 weeks seems to have passed very quickly, but I will be back soon with more Marbella life, new adventures, family life down here and of course my adoring darling husband!

Thank you so much for all the support and shares over the last year, I hope you enjoyed my family life living on the Costa del Sol.

Week 51

Valentines Day!! Although I didn’t get any roses, I’m still getting over the shock of Chris asking me out for a romantic dinner without being prompted or bullied into doing so. I feel that he must have had some sort of breakdown as this is not normal behaviour, but I certainly wasn’t going to say no, especially when he told me where he had reserved a table. ‘1870’ is an upmarket restaurant in an old converted sugar making factory near San Pedro and having heard the reviews I had always wanted to eat there.

I love quirky places and this restaurant was right up my street. The old factory building, that was built in (yep you guessed it) 1870 has been transformed into a stunning eatery without losing the historic charm and originality of a once productive workplace. High ceilings, original roofing and century old stone work greeted us as we entered, along with the vintage sugar silos which stood elegantly in the bar area beside the chandeliers and stylish decor – lucky I dressed up!

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Our Valentines evening was lovely. Good service, beautiful surroundings and the menu definitely followed suit to the curious setting- although I wasn’t convinced about the Olive Oil ice-cream!
Next on my agenda for this week was an attempt at a new sport I came across on the internet. Having been walking Nahla everyday on my quest to get fit, I was looking for a new lead when I came across a sport called Canicross. It’s a bit a mixture between Chariots of Fire and Benji!

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Seemingly the hobby has become very popular in the last 5 years as a combined personal canine fitness program but having been without a young agile dog until recently, I had never heard of it. I have tried to run with Nahla before but she always tries to grab the lead and play around so I didn’t think we had any hope of running in co-ordination with the lead purely attached to my waist – was I going mad?!
It turns out, my dog is the perfect personal trainer! She instinctively becomes more focused without me having the lead in my hand and although occasionally she heads off towards the nearest friendly dog, it’s easier to control her than I thought. So if you see some mad 49 10/10 yr old frantically running with a dog tied to her waist – wave because it’s me!!
Anyway, bye for now and see you next week, when I’ll be reporting on Tasha’s long awaited trip to Australia, revealing my secret coffee stop and writing my last blog on the “Year in the life of a Marbelli”.
I hope you enjoyed this blog, please can you recommend it to your friends and share it on Twitter or Facebook – thank you for all the support.

Week 50

This week I’ve been on a secret mission and it was so much fun! I arranged to go over and see the girls in the UK for the weekend but decided at the last minute it would be a lovely surprise to add the addition of Hilton; who also had no knowledge of what was about to happen!

I managed to pack his clothes away in a case upstairs without him noticing and after putting the cases in the back of the car, I picked him up from school on the pretence that Chris had to go to Malaga and we were meeting him at the airport. He seemed a little perplexed but I promised him that Chris would take him to Decathlon and buy a football for the inconvenience – bribery always works!
After 30 minutes’ car journey of me moaning about how many things I had to take over for the girls and the need for two suitcases, when we arrived there was no question over taking the two cases out of the back of the car. I even convinced him that he could do his homework with me at the airport and to bring the books he needed with him.

Having stopped for a coffee in the departure hall and no sign of Chris, I then told Hilton that he would have to come through security, but not to worry because Chris could just ‘nip’ through and get him before I got on the plane – luckily at 12 he didn’t realise that in fact you can’t just ‘nip’ though airport security when you fancy!

Finally, when the loudspeaker announced “last call for for Monarch flight ZB 742 to Gatwick”, I quickly asked Hilts to take a selfie with me and as he was doing it, said “Here’s mummy and Hilton at the airport just before Hilton gets on the plane to come to England with me!”

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This was his genuine reaction; he was so happy but after the initial excitement, began to panic about not having any clothes to wear. I just winked at him and pointed down at the case that he had been wheeling around the airport!

Although it was a really short trip over, we had a fantastic weekend, managed to surprise both of the girls who cried non stop when they saw him, fitted in a tiny amount of sightseeing and of course a visit to London would not be complete without a photo alongside one of the big Harrods bears!

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I’ve just got home in time for Pancake Day ……the one day when no one can say anything about eating a Nutella pancake! Now according to Nataly Kogan (whoever she is? But I really like her anyway) pancakes make you happy, have fewer colds and reduce stress and heart attacks by 50% – what a great revelation!

I need to think what I’m going to give up for lent?? ……….erm let me check my New Years resolutions – Welcome back for six weeks to my dear old friends, cheese balls and milk chocolate!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.

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Week 49

We all know the expression, “Did the earth move for you darling?” Well it certainly did for me last Monday morning at 5am, but unfortunately so did some of the windows and the shattered glass when the aftershock of the earthquake hit- typical, the one weekend Chris goes away and everything was going so well!

Anyway the rest of the weekend was fun, Hilts and I went out for Sushi (something we are not allowed to do when the boss is around) at a great restaurant in San Pedro and spent all day Saturday and Sunday at home catching up on movies, taking Nahla to the beach in her new hip dog attire and playing with a very dirty Cantarme in the field.

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Exercise, food and cuddles ……A normal weekend in Marbella!

My daily routine now seems to be determined by the activity app on the i-watch. It is seriously becoming addictive; everyday I try to reach my goal and if I don’t, the watch gives me a gently reminder to get up and move my arse! After deciding I didn’t really want to walk near the beach for the next week, a consequence of watching too many scary movies where the tidal wave suddenly appears out of nowhere and devours everyone but the hero- which knowing my luck would definitely not be me and would probably be Chris, I decided to exercise both myself and Nahla more inland.

The markets up and down the coast were a good place to start. In San Pedro the ‘rastro’ or street market as we would call it, is held every Thursday and you can buy anything from fruit to copy designer handbags. So off we went ‘earlyish’ in the morning to see what deals we could get in this bustling mayhem.

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It is more of an outing to the Spanish than a buying procedure, and very popular with the locals, even a member of our local police force joined in and purchased a few items – I snapped him at the Moroccan stand and was dying to ask him why he wanted to purchase a wooden giraffe but then the other options were some jewellery or a shisha pipe which would have been even more strange – unless of course the giraffe had a secret compartment!

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The market is never complete however without stopping to have a coffee and a tapa at the mobile catering truck that journeys from town to town on market days. Believe it or not, the food that comes out of this renovated lorry is as good as you will get in any tapas bar or cafe and it’s so cheap!

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Last but not least I had to put this photo in, sorry Tash – please stop drooling at work! The fruit and vegetables here are so delicious and the market is one of the best places to buy the freshest locally grown produce as it’s cheaper and fresher than any of the supermarkets.

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Next week I’m off to the UK again for the weekend to see Tash before she leaves for Australia.
Anyway, another walk is in order to keep my activity app happy- I can see this app being deleted in the near future!!
Bye for now and see you next week.

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Week 48

Well I have to say so far my New Years Resolutions are going really well. Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips in seven days, apart from my Saturday night rule when I got absolutely slaughtered – but according to my list that’s fine! I am sticking to my rule of drinking 2 litres of water a day and did especially well on Sunday when I needed at least 3 litres – proving my theory that Alcohol is good for you because dehydration makes you drink more water!

So with everything back to normal, it was time to concentrate on some shopping and have a look at what’s on offer in the sales down here. Having spoken before about La Canada, our biggest shopping centre in the Marbella region, I decided to see if I could snap up some really good bargains further afield and headed off to the Miramar Centre in Fuengirola.

Although I had been to the Centre once before to see an English film when the Cinema in Puerto Banus was closed for refurbishment, this was the first time that I had actually decided to spend a few hours browsing the shops and discovering what this Centre had to offer. Fuengirola isn’t a place that Marbelli’s tend to frequent, so it was quite intriguing to pull off the A7 at the Fuengirola exit, even my car wobbled as we turned the corner, expecting to go on autopilot to Malaga Airport.

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Although not the most attractive building from the outside, I have to say this commercial centre has some really cool aspects; a karting circuit on the top terrace (lets hope the kids know how to turn!) and of course, a relatively new culture to Spain – Primark!

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Although the shops are more or less the same as La Canada, they appeared to have much better sales offers, advertising up to 70% discount. Holland & Barrett has also just opened a branch here, with cheaper prices than the small health shops around Marbella. All in all I had a great time and got some really good bargains.

My conclusion: Its definitely worth a visit and appears to be a much quieter and a more peaceful shopping centre. Even though we are lucky to have a big commercial centre nearby it is worth driving that little bit further occasionally, if you are looking to expand your wardrobe. Alternatively, do what I like to do and jump on a plane to the UK – The Brits really know how to shop!

Well I’m home alone again this weekend, so I’ll fill you all in on my “When’s the cats away” adventures next week!
Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.

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Week 47

With all the new year celebrations over, it was time for Hilton’s birthday. That really was bad timing and I’m sure I wont hear the last of it from him for years to come! Unfortunately, Tom had to leave on the 3rd and the only flight we could get the girls on the 4th was at 11am so Hilton only managed to see them in the morning whilst they were madly trying to pack their cases, pile on the make-up and do all the things that Chris had reminded them needed doing before they left.

Hilton had invited four friends to stay over for a birthday sleepover, something that was one of those good ideas at the time thing, but after 24 hrs of 12 yr olds causing havoc round the house, I was exhausted. I would however like to thank Iceland for the wonderful invention of quick fast frozen food, I owe you my sanity! Now with the birthday over and the kids safely back in their various locations it has given me time to reflect on my new year’s resolutions from last year and see how well I did! The results are below:

No. 2015 Resolution Result Comments in my
Defence
1 No more cheese balls, except
on special occasions
1/10 I have no excuse,
they taste so good!
2 2 ltrs of water a day with
nothing added to it
0/10 It’s the nothing
added I struggled with
3 Chocolate to be curtailed to Easter
Valentines & my birthday
0/10 Again, it’s the word
curtailed that didn’t work
4 Exercise (now this is the one I have to be
careful with keeping it realistic) Starting
tomorrow the Couch to 5km challenge
half/10 Hmmm! Well I did start the
Couch to 5k, but then the words
realistic kept popping into
my head!!
5 Vodkas limited to once a week
and holidays (no cheating)
10/10 Brownie points here – make note
for next year include wine
cava and baileys!!
6 Healthy Cooking 8/10 This is one point I did stick to
7 Have more fun and be more
adventurous, with or without kids
10/10 This was a winner!
8 Definitely more facials,
absolutely necessary at 49
0/10 Failed again! But on the
positive I might be able
to get a bus pass quicker
9 Run up that steep hill I look at
every time I take my son to golf
0/10 By pure fluke, Hilton left
that Golf Club!
10 A successful & positive year with many
achievements. Oh! and a family
holiday for my big birthday!
5/10 First part was a success. The family
holiday plan didn’t go well!

 

So this year I need to take it up a notch or two, so here goes:

1. Forget cheese balls, if desperate go to Hypnotherapy.
2. Two litres of water a day with no sneaky alcohol
3. Take up Yoga and learn new motto – ‘my body is my temple not a run down shack’!
4. Only eat dark chocolate – milk chocolate must be a thing of the past.
5. Vodka, wine, baileys and cava only once a week and on Special occasions.
6. Eat the healthy cooking!
7. More adventures with Nahla and train her to enter competitions.
8. Facials and pampering are a must at least once a month.
9. Find another hill to run up
10. Threaten divorce over family holiday.
11. If point 3 fails – go on girlie holiday with alimony!

Anyway, wish me luck! Bye for now and see you next week, when I will be giving you the low down on shopping around the coast. xx
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Week 46

Ok so New Years Eve wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be, but at least it turned out to be better than last year when Chris broke his ribs and the kids had a car crash!

During the daytime Tash and I went to the Paseo in Marbella for some lunch and a stroll along the beach with Nahla. The weather here is incredible for this time of year and with Tash living in London she wanted to get out and appreciate some outdoor life.

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Our plan was to go for a run after eating but as you can imagine, that was not going to happen after Nachos and Chai Latte! So we walked for about 7 km along the Paseo which was bustling with tourists, residents and dog walkers. I know I keep promoting the Paseo but it really is a great way to spend an afternoon, there are so many options on offer, whether its hiring a bicycle, taking the family on a Segway tour or just walking and taking in the sights, you won’t be disappointed. I even managed to take some photos of the sun setting over Puerto Banus.

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I know I’m slightly bias being a Marbelli, but the shoreline here in the wintertime is absolutely stunning; even my unprofessional photographic ability on a phone camera didn’t ruin the shot!
So after a few hours of being healthy, it was time to concentrate on the night times build up to New Year. After dismissing any possibility of going out to a restaurant for a set menu dinner with my fussy kids, we decided to eat at home and celebrate the New Year together before they all went out to their various parties. We opted for a smart home style dinner party and made the effort to dress up, (well apart from Hilton who was obviously taking the patriotic tourist approach) and begin the evening with seasonal Pomegranate Bellinis – Yum!

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At midnight the Spanish follow a bizarre tradition of eating grapes on every chime of the clock. This is all of us trying to beat the chimes and looking at the photo we all appear very serious and intent on doing it!! According to superstition, these miraculous grapes symbolize a lucky year ahead – that’s unless of course you don’t choke first whilst trying to swallow the crammed grapes that have accumulated in your mouth!

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Having survived the grapes and welcomed in the British New Year as well, the girls and I had a last drink before they went out on the town – I can’t believe how grown up they both are – I’m the short old one in the middle!

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Let me just end the blog this week wishing you all a healthy and prosperous New Year!
See you next week. Xx

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Week 45

Christmas time has actually arrived!!

Eventually the kids turned up one by one; Sav was the first, followed by Tom and then Tash on a really late night flight from Stansted. But luckily they all arrived safely and I’m thrilled that the house is full again, even though they are all untidy wretches!

Christmas in Marbella differs to our English traditions in some ways, there is not quite the same Christmas spirit and celebrations going on as there are in England and many restaurants are shut on Christmas Eve, so we tend to stay at at home and make our own entertainment. Monopoly is a big hit with the family especially Savannah who is always the banker and generally wins – hang on??
Christmas Day was a huge success, by hook or by crook all the presents arrived in one piece and Santa as always delivered the Christmas sacks on time, I do love him, he’s so reliable!

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I always buy a joke present for each of the kids; this is Toms Santa thong that we made him open in front of all the family!! We all found it funny but I’m not sure he was that amused!

I was totally spoilt this year by my dearest husband, who bought me an Apple Iwatch- I love him dearly today and maybe even tomorrow! I haven’t got a clue how to use it yet though so any tips from someone would be very useful.

We try and stick to a traditional Christmas Day so after opening presents under the tree, I start cooking whilst the kids entertain themselves with their new presents. The Bloody Marys appear around midday and by 3pm, lunch is ready ( depending how many Bloody Marys I’ve had!) Then its chill out time after lunch and back to sandwiches and a few more drinks in the evening.

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This is a sure sign that I’ve been on the cava – Hilts and Sav saving me from a sure A&E visit as I attempt to master the hoverboard after the evening bout of drinks! Another note to self- do not get carried away with ideas I am the new Tony Hawk after that 5th glass of bubbly!

Although, whoever said that Christmas is a relaxing time is lying and should be put on the naughty step. I’m totally exhausted, between shopping, cooking the Christmas dinner, tidying up after all the kids and planning my really exciting New Years Eve with my new friend Charlie, pictured below.

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Haha! I wish! Ok back to reality-

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See you next week. Xx
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Week 44

Well a few adjustments and the tree is finished! Sparkling white and gold is this year’s theme, having overruled an earlier decision of blue and silver on the grounds of “we didn’t have any silver or blue ornaments”!

Nahla thinks its great, she must presume I have especially planted a tree in the house so she can still play ball on those rainy days and hasn’t quite got the grasp that these “balls” are supposed to stay in situ!

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So counting down the days and with pressure rising on the dos and don’ts list, I did what any other woman would do in my position, jump ship before the plank is lowered and escape to England for a few days with the girls; where I could relax, have a giggle and go Online shopping with Chris’s credit card number that I noted down the other night when he was asleep!

London before Christmas is like a hen party before a wedding. Traditional, fun, man free and most of all – full of naughty treats! The girls and I went for a stroll down the Kings Road, dined by the river in Hammersmith and made a trip to Westfield where you can more or less buy anything. I love this shopping centre, the Christmas decorations are lovely, the atmosphere is very Christmassy and I got to indulge in some delicious but naughty cinnamon topped Pretzels.

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The only downfall of shopping with the girls is my lack of Bill Gates money. Why oh why did I bring them up with such expensive taste. When I told them to always have standards, I meant with boys not designer products – Chanel now features on both of their Christmas lists more than once!

As for me, I was just excited to go to the biggest pet shop I’ve ever seen. Nahla and Duchess are now completely kitted out, possess personalised stockings and as you can see below, some Christmas attire!

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With just 7 days left now till Christmas Day, this next week is going to be filled with last minute shopping, followed by a few drinks, watching Hilton play the banker in his school play “Over the rooftops”, followed by a few drinks and prepping the Xmas lunch – need I comment!

Anyway I need to go and buy Chris his present, last year’s gift was a sky diving jump but that didn’t work, so back to the drawing board!!
See you next week. xx

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Week 43

Ahhh! The joys of Christmas – this week I’ve been focusing on getting ahead with my Xmas present buying and it hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped!

First, the Spanish need to learn what the meaning of Black Friday is! After waiting in trepidation for a few bargains, I now realise that the idea of a discount in Spain rather differs from the English concept. Spain takes on the approach of, “let’s be really generous and give our valued customers a whooping 10 % on certain items that we need to get rid of”! Then Cyber Monday arrives and the same items are put online for further massive discount of 20%. Will they never get the hint! So from now on, all my shopping will be done virtually in the UK from the comfort of my sofa with Nahla snoring by my side.

Of course the hardest challenge coming up to Christmas is dodging round Chris’s moods! To say he really hates Christmas would be an understatement, but I’ve got a routine now that works and it usually goes like this:

1. Make sure I cook his favourite foods to get him in the mood (for Christmas!)
2. Under no circumstance mention Christmas Day.
3. Supply plenty of drink before asking for shopping money.
4. Absolutely lie about expenditure on presents (except for presents bought for teachers at school).
5. When in doubt, quickly go back to point No.1
6. DO NOT ask him to attend any Christmas party.
7. DO NOT ask him to go Christmas shopping.
8. Put Sky Movies Christmas on a constant loop and start sighing when ‘A Christmas Carol ‘comes on.
9. If things are looking dodgy, supply more of his favourite wine and bump up the price of gifts bought for the teachers at school.
10. Look exhausted and complain about something completely irrelevant.
11. If all else fails – immediately revert to 1,9 & 10 simultaneously!

So with these points in mind, the festivities begin!

As it was Hilton’s turn to chose the Christmas tree this year, he wanted to get it early, so off we went to the local garden centre so he could get the best choice – big mistake! Having taken two men to manoeuvre it into the house, we now have an actual tree in the hallway, because it wont fit in any of the other rooms! In fact the next time he chooses, I think we will have to move house for the Christmas period.

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Hilton has now put the sixth set of lights on the tree and when Spaghetti Junction is lit up I should imagine it looks like this! Bless him, he’s obviously really does want that Scalextric set for Christmas!

It appears I’m going to be very busy redesigning the tree this weekend – when he’s out of sight!!
Bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 42

So many things have happened this last week, Downton Abbey aired its last programme in the series ever (not including the Christmas special), I’m a Celebrity get me out of here is in full swing, I resumed my attempt at jogging and Tash was feeling homesick so I managed to get her a flight to come home for the weekend.

I always panic when Tash comes back, because I know it is never cheap and this weekend was no exception, even my credit cards tremble at the mere mention of her name! Unfortunately for me, my daughter loves shopping and because Zara is much cheaper here than in the UK, a good card bashing was certainly going to be on the agenda. So this weekend has been a rush of hairdressers, shopping and more shopping!

Sunday morning Tash decided she would like a lie in, so Hilton and I took Nahla to the Sunday boot sale market on the road to Benahavis. Car boot sales have never really been my idea of fun and it was only the fact that my friend Zoe badgered me to accompany her that I agreed to go along.

I don’t know why, but my perception of a car boot sale was very different to what I saw on Sunday. My vision of people standing in the freezing cold with their car boots open selling old toilets is so far removed from what I experienced here. It was such great fun that I want to go every Sunday – basically I’m hooked!

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Trestle tables line up in rows amidst a stunning woodland area on the Benahavis road selling anything from new furniture to second hand designer clothing at ridiculously cheap prices.

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Whether is was the beautiful sunny day that helped set off my buzzing mood or the fact that I managed to buy a beautiful pair of long silk curtains for 5 euros, I’m not sure but either way, it worked!

Then the ‘icing on the cake’ or as we call it here ‘the chorizo on the bread’ came when the mobile catering unit that apparently turns up every Sunday opened its shutters! Jamie Oliver eat your heart out because the tapas are fantastic and start at 1 euro.

This week I have learnt that it’s amazing how many things you can achieve in a day when time is short, Hilton on the other hand just gave me this look when I asked him if he had enjoyed a full weekend of markets and shopping with his mum and sister!

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Anyway, my Christmas shopping has just started and I’m counting down the days until Black Friday. A strange name for such a great shopping day but then I suppose we don’t go east when its easter!

Bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 41

As Robert Burns said,” the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” and mine certainly did this week. I was just getting dressed, ready to drive to the Chorro lakes when the most disastrous thing happened. A woman’s nightmare even worse than Boris Johnson’s infidelities or the end of Downton Abbey – yes my cleaner of 5 years unexpectedly left me.

Nevertheless in the face of adversity, we must soldier on, so I’ve been homebound for the last few days, cleaning, ironing and generally pretending to be a housewife! It wasn’t until I was dancing round the kitchen with Nahla to the tuneful sounds of Meghan Trainor, ‘marigolds’ flapping around my wrists, that I came up with an idea – why not start my Christmas shopping. Well – I can’t make the place look too good otherwise Chris won’t employ another cleaner!

Now after hours looking at gifts and Christmas ideas, I’m officially beginning my own countdown to Christmas; all the kids are coming home for a few weeks so for the first time in six months we will be together and I am so excited.

Housework really isn’t my thing, so luckily I was invited to go for lunch in Marbella and of course I had to go, well, it would be rude not to!! I think even Nahla was relieved to get out of the house, there’s only so much dancing a dog can do!

I don’t often get the chance to go to the Paseo in Marbella but every time I do, I regret not making the effort to go more often. There are so many restaurants and beach bars open all year round, the beach is beautiful and it’s such good fun spotting the mad tourist who actually goes swimming in the sea at this time of year!

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If I’m feeling really naughty, I go to the waters edge and start staring out to sea frantically waving my arms – we call it the, “ Which tourist swims back the fastest game!”

We decided to have lunch at my favourite eatery along the Paseo, The Boardwalk.

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The owners are lovely and the food is absolutely delicious! They allow dogs on the terrace, which is great for me with Nahla, who is now completely joined at the hip and comes with me everywhere. So for anyone wanting a great meal, overlooking the beach at a reasonable price, I would highly recommend this venue and they open all day from 9am.

As we left the restaurant I couldn’t resist taking this photo, it just depicted another beautiful day in Marbella.

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Just a quickie before I go, if anyone knows who the owner of that yacht is, put in a good word!!

Anyway, back to the grindstone.

Bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 40

The Halloween weekend turned out to be a disaster; first I thought that Halloween was on the Friday night and it wasn’t until Chris looked at me with one of those “are we going out again” faces as I was doing my make-up that I realised I had got the wrong night and to make things worse he never questioned the zombie look that I was trying to achieve. Then to top it off, on Saturday morning the Halloween party was cancelled.

So instead we decided to take the kids to the Boulevard in San Pedro. It is one of my favourite places to go at the moment, there are numerous new restaurants and bars that have opened in the last few months and so the choice is immense. I did however decide to ditch the fancy dress idea after the realisation that either my make up was rubbish or I do in fact look like a zombie!

As our favourite pizza restaurant closed down over a year ago, we decided to try a new Italian that has recently been refurbished where the old bus station in San Pedro used to be. The food was adequate but not as good as I had expected luckily because just as we had ordered a deserts to try between us – it happened! UB40 wrote a song about it and Disney made a blockbuster film about the same topic, so just as you thought -it was in fact a rat in the kitchen!

If I was to suggest one major point to cover with prospective waiting staff for a new restaurant it would have to be the following: “if you see something in the kitchen do not draw attention to it or let customers be aware of what is happening”, a point that obviously the owners had not discussed as we saw the two waitresses run screaming from the kitchen, shouting “oh my god there’s a rat….there’s a rat”!

I think my next word on this would be – awkward! We all stared at each other in silence as the owners surreptitiously walked into the open plan kitchen, lifting up anything they could see in sight, pretending nothing had happened and when the crème brulee cheesecake arrived it felt like we had been presented with a combination of a bush tucker trial and surprise surprise!

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Eventually our silence broke when the owner came over to try and convince us that it was a Halloween joke – laughter and tears streamed down my face as we ordered the bill and we will never be going back. I presume he thought we were gullible English tourists, so I decided to keep it quiet that I’m a resident and writer for one of Marbella’s most popular websites!!  Calling yourself Trattoria may be apt after all – is there a silent T in Italian?!

Anyway, next week weather permitting, I’m off to the Chorro lakes for a look at life in the hills.

Bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 39

When Alan Jay Lerner wrote the famous lyrics “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane”, I presume he had never visited this country in the wintertime! It has poured down all week and my enthusiasm for getting out and about quickly diminished – unfortunately along with the beautiful Moroccan gazebo I set up in the summer!

Chris went back to England again to go racing with Sav, so with one child going stir crazy at home, it was time to venture out and try to burn some energy out of him. What is it with boys? Girls can sit for hours doing make-up, reading books, shopping on-line or chatting but boys seem to have this infuriating energy inside that wont let them keep still- so with a choice of gagging him and locking him up in the stables or finding somewhere to go out of the rain – although it was it was a close call, I opted for taking him to an indoor activity that has recently opened here!

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CostaJump, located in San Pedro, is a huge warehouse filled with trampolines and seems to be a big hit with the kids. There are various sections encompassing different aspects of trampolining from a foam pit for the smaller ones to a basketball ‘slam dunk’ pitch for the hardened teenagers. Its great exercise for the kids when the weather is lousy outside and all with the added bonus that you can drop them off and leave them there for an hour or two!

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There is also a gallery on the top floor where parents can have a drink and wait patiently for their children but I like to use the time to go to the nearby dog park with Nahla although I think Hilton is getting a little jealous as apparently he told his English teacher in front of the whole class that I love the dog more than him – I must remember to stop patting him when I kiss him goodnight!

Sav’s arriving back for the end of her half term this week and we are all getting very excited about Halloween. Usually I take Hilts trick or treating, but this year we have all been invited to a fancy dress party. I’m going as a wicked witch, Sav and Hilts are dressing up in “I’m dead” costumes and Chris – well we all looked at each other and decided he could just go as he is!!

Anyway, I’m off to go and choose my costume.

Bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 38

Well the unfortunate happened and it didn’t stop raining for most of the feria. Somehow the Spanish make the most of these situations and by hook or by crook they were not going to let it ruin their week, so with torrential rain preventing any outside entertainment, the marquees were filled to the brim with determined feria goers.

We managed to get a few hours fair time on Friday night with Hilts, who insisted that one of us went on the rides with him and guess what – it wasn’t going to be me!

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Thank you dear husband, you are now in my good books – well for a few hours anyway!

The climax on Saturday night was a concert with the highly acclaimed singer Rosario (famous with the Spanish apparently?!) who battled against the thunderous rain to woo the crowds and by all accounts delivered a great performance.

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How good does she look for 51?

So with the feria behind me, I decided to hop on a plane and fly off to London to see the girls. Having not seen Tash since July, I was getting “Natashaitis” and I needed a dose of ‘Tash’ to make me feel better! I hadn’t been told off recently for not running and eating unhealthy food so I was due for a good lecture!

Leaving Nahla was really hard, it was the first time we had been separated and with only one child still at home, she has taken over as my new baby. Usually I prepare some meals for Chris when I go away and put them in the freezer, but about five years ago he once told me (after a few drinks), “ not to worry, he could get himself something to eat” so I hid that phrase in my memory bank, knowing one day I would use it. As I ran out of time to prepare both sets of meals, now was the time – Nahla was catered for and I whipped out the “you said not to worry, you could get yourself something” phrase as I sweetly kissed him goodbye!

London was great fun; apart from a disastrous dinner the first night and a few hours, cleaning Tasha’s flat, all went well. We decided to go sightseeing and that there was no better way to do it than by car – quick, warm and perfect for the lazy trio.

Here’s a selfie of the three of us, apparently half faces are still the trend and in Tasha’s case no face!

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Savannah was invited to the houses of Parliament earlier on in the week, hence this was our first stop, so she could tell us all about her experience in the speakers gallery whilst sitting eating sandwiches in the car!

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And who can go to London without taking a snap of the famous Chelsea Pensioners residence in the Kings Road- The Royal Chelsea Hospital.

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If there is one place I miss whilst living in Marbella it would have to be London. They say you can take the girl out of London but you can’t take London out of the girl!

Anyway, back to Marbella ready for Hiltons half term break, Sav’s arrival for a few days and a look at what the kids do when the weather turns bad down here.

Bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 37

I’m very excited this week because it is the start of the San Pedro Feria. Throughout the year there are fairs in every town on the coast and San Pedro is the last one of the year, which of course makes it extra special! Town fairs here are an annual event, so although the bulls are rarely seen nowadays, the towns still celebrate in true Spanish style and we all know how the Spanish love a party!

Residents can take up to a year planning their costumes and building beautifully adorned carrozas (carriages) that ride around the streets, usually filled with families dressed in traditional Flamenco attire.

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Living so close to the town, it tends to be my favourite of all the fairs but unfortunately the weather also seems to have a habit of following tradition and this feria is infamous for getting people wet! This year being no exception!

The opening ceremony usually begins with a procession of huge King and Queen carnival figures parading around the town, with oversized Disney characters with huge heads following behind – a bit weird really! Thinking about it, no wonder my kids had nightmares during feria week!! After two hours walking around the streets, they arrive at the feria site where a giant firework display is set off to mark the official start of the festivities and this of course is when the true celebrations begin!

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This year the fair ground has moved further towards the beach, making the most of the new promenade that was completed last Christmas. And as luck would have it, the main entrance happens to be right by my favourite restaurant Boulevard 171. Now I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing but I’m sure by the end of the week I’ll find out!

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Everyday there are different activities within the town as well as at the feria site, so at 12 noon flares are fired to announce the start of the day’s events. As well as the usual fairground rides that can be found at all the ferias, there are also marquees that have been erected to provide music, dancing and entertainment – under cover of course!

Well, I’m going to put on my wellies and head off down to where all the fun is. I would highly recommend going along, it’s great fun and the kids will love it too.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week when I will be giving you the low down on the week’s events and spending a few days with my girls in London. xx

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Week 36

Well autumn has eventually arrived in Marbella and guess what, my jeans do still fit me – well ish!

This week started really well; it was Savannahs 17th birthday and Chris decided to fly over to see her in the UK so I was home alone – how I love it when “the colonel” is away! No cooking, no complaints about an untidy bedroom and complete control of the Skybox!

Although I was disappointed not to see Sav, Tash went up to Whilton Mill for the weekend to see her race. She loved all her presents and to top it off she came 5th, which was a great result considering she hadn’t been allowed to compete on the karting circuit during her GCSE year.

So feeling very happy with myself, I took the new love of my life (four legged) into Marbella to explore the old part of the town. Nahla is now used to walking on a lead and loves to be adored by everyone so with the weather being slightly cloudy, a trip to the busy bustling narrow streets where people stop and tell her how beautiful she, seemed the obvious choice.

Parking spaces along the roads are like gold dust so the easy option is to park in any of the designated underground car parks. Anyway enough of the boring stuff, lets get to the photos!…

Heading up towards Orange Square, which is the heart of the old town; the tiny cobbled streets are full of tiny boutiques and bars set into houses or on occasion where the streets widen, restaurants line up in formal parade waiting for the many tourists that come to visit.

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Below on the left is a typical Marbella building, flowers, balcony and coloured borders. The more affluent houses contain inner courtyards, with some sectioned off and turned into minute shops, many selling homemade jewellery and souvenirs.

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Eventually we stopped in Orange Square at a tiny Churreria. Trust me – forget the raspberry ketone diets and organic peanuts here, there is only one thing to eat at a bar like this and that is churros. With a promissory plea to the thinness god of, “ I promise to go back to Couch to 5 k again if you let me order this ” I called over the waiter and ordered churros and chocolate.

Consisting only of flour and water, making churros is an art, which takes time to perfect and this bar has certainly perfected the art. It was possibly the best churros that I’ve ever tried, not even “drunk after the feria at 7 o’clock in the morning churros could compete!”

Eventually after Nahla had shared my plate and been chatted to by half of the bar, we carried on our journey. Nightmarish thoughts of Venice reappeared as we passed a catholic chapel but unlike my last encounter, I stayed on the outside and peered through the bars.

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This chapel is truly beautiful inside and worth a visit.

Deciding it was getting late, we headed back towards the car, but I caught a glimpse of a statue that I recognised. It was the bust of an old friend of my brothers, Jaime de Mora y Aragon. One of Marbella’s most colourful residents in years past, Jaime was the brother of Queen Fabiola of Belgium. Born to aristocracy in Madrid and often referred to as the black sheep of the family, Jaime rejected life as nobility and became a successful actor. His flamboyant character, talent for entertaining and zest for life, led him into the role of tourist ambassador for Marbella, welcoming celebrities and the well to do from all over the globe. For some reason he adored my brother and when he saw him, would always gift him one of his notorious walking sticks or some lavish present – wish he’d been my friend too!

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Anyway, bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 35

As discussed in last week’s blog, my trip to the caves in Nerja was quickly followed by a visit to St. Michaels caves in Gibraltar amid a site seeing tour, organised by my sister, which also included seeing the all-famous Barbary macaques.

The Gibraltar part of my “cave week” began with a visit to St. Michaels. This incredible structure, located in the Upper Rock is a result of seeping rainwater dissolving the limestone rock over thousands of years.

The cave welcomes over 1,000,000 visitors a year as well as holding monthly concerts in the beautiful cathedral chamber.

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The Gibraltarians are happy, friendly people and I think this is portrayed in the cave. In fact I wasn’t sure whether I had taken the wrong turning and entered a daytime discotheque by mistake –I would love to hang out with whoever created the lighting effects though – what a character he must be!

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As the interior of the cave transforms from pink to red and then blue to turquoise, piped music can be heard to enhance your mood as you walk around marvelling at all the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. I don’t think the music director was in such a “happy place” as the lighting man though and next time I would probably bring my headphones and stick on a bit of Bob Marley!

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Talking of music – Due to the natural acoustics in the cave, the concert chamber (now named Cathedral Chamber), has been set up as an auditorium, with a capacity of 400 people. There are many concerts held there and apparently it has attracted some notable acts, such as Steve Hogarth and Breed 77 – Who??!!

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Joking apart, it is definitely worth a visit, the caves are not as big in comparison to the Nerja caves but they are easier to walk around and not as hazardous. Don’t be surprised if you get wet from the dripping stalactites; but worry not – according to one trip advisor member, “You can warm yourself up as the coffee is cheap!”

Our next stop was the Barbary Macaques or in layman’s terms Gibraltar Monkeys. These not so friendly creatures live high up on the rock and although not usually aggressive, they will steal anything you have on you, so hide handbags, loose jewellery and anything edible. Legend has it that Gibraltar will remain under British rule as long as the monkeys stay living there. Winston Churchill even ordered more monkeys to be taken to the rock in 1942 when the colony had dwindled down to only 7.

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Here is my sister Sally getting up close and personal with one of the monkeys – my sister is the one on the right!

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And a close up of one of the males. Oh…hello, I recognise that face!

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Is there something you haven’t told us Jeremy?!
Next week I will be going into the old part of Marbella to discover what attracts so many tourists to this part of the town.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 34

This week was all about the underground – A day trip to Nerja exploring the famous caves closely followed by an outing to St. Michaels caves in Gibraltar.

Having visitors to stay encourages me to do the things that a Marbelli would never usually do and that is sightsee! So as my sister was staying for the week, I thought it was about time to get cultural and visit a few places, that for the last 28 yrs. of living here, I’d never reconnoitred!

The caves in Nerja came to mind- educational, historical and enlightening –adjectives not normally associated with the coast, buy hey – there’s always a first time for everything!

So we set off early in the morning on our 1½ hr. journey to the east side of Malaga. Nerja itself, although viewed here from high up is a small pleasant coastal town, popular in the summer as a quieter place to holiday.

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The caves are situated on the hillside about 4 km outside of the centre and overlook the town and the Mediterranean bay. Originating millions of years ago, the caves were discovered in 1959 by some local lads and stretch over 5km.

We were put into a group and sent into a room to watch the welcoming video. I opted for the English-speaking hand recorder (big mistake), listening to Dr Schmitt reeling off it’s history in his pigeon English and trying to pronounce the different stalactites that could be found became too much, I started to giggle.

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A slightly disgruntled group guide was not amused; and I did think he was going to pull me aside and tell me off as we progressed down the stairs into the first gallery. Although I was feeling nervous of going below ground level, I was pleasantly relaxed as to how large and high the caves were, I always imagined a cave to be a small dark space about head height, filled with bats and Morelocks, so it was a pleasant surprise.

The first chamber was brighter than I had expected, and all the minute details of the rock formation could be seen a lot clearer than in other chambers. I don’t know what you think, but in the photo below, that definitely looks like one of the seven dwarves winking at something – maybe fairy tales are true after all!

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The next chamber was a lot more scary, old uneven stairs with missing parts and very few barriers, sweep down into the concert gallery. Here there is seating for approximately 100 people, who are either mad or have a hefty life insurance premium, because they willingly go to attend concerts. Don’t expect an A list group though, carrying equipment down those stairs would put off many an artist or group, not even Simon Cowell’s rejects would risk that!

Moving on, the hall of the Cataclysm is the most impressive gallery, housing the tallest central column in the world, which stands at 32 metres high. My only problem was I couldn’t look down to see the bottom of it, only up towards the top.

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After 45 minutes of rickety stairs, skeletons in glass cases permanent darkness and a slight scepticism of Spanish health and safety, this was my happiest moment – the exit sign! “Explorer Anna” doesn’t have a good ring to it and now I know why; I’m claustrophic, scared of heights, hate the dark and I’m hopeless in group situations.

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Anyway next week I will give you more of an insight into the touristic side of Gibraltar, a close up with the monkeys and a quick look at the other cave I visited.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week. xx

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Week 33

So that’s it! Summer holidays are officially over and school has begun. Savannah flew back to the UK on Monday, all dolled up in her new sixth form uniform and Hilton was forced away from his beloved Cable Ski to buy some school essentials.

However he spent the entire time moaning, “ Mum I don’t need anything, can we go now as I want to go back to Cable Ski”.

Do they really think we enjoy dragging them round the shops to buy boxers, trainers and books, when we could leave them behind, leisurely saunter around the stores after a few glasses of wine and spend the money on one of this seasons new look handbags whilst deciding that their beloved trainers with the hole at the front could last another season? Boys- will they ever learn!

Talking of learning, last week I promised that I would talk a little about the education down here so here goes:

There are two options – the Spanish curriculum or the International system. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The majority of the Spanish Schools are free apart from San Jose, Alboran and Las Chapas, whereas the International and English schools are all fee paying. The care in the Spanish education is very good and strictly regulated, but the international route is more suited for those wanting to attend Universities overseas. The main secondary International schools around Marbella are Swans School, Aloha College, English International School, Laude and further afield Sotogrande. All of which are good, regulated by Nabss (The National Association of British Schools in Spain) and more or less have the same facilities. The International Baccalaureate course is very popular with the schools here ( both Spanish and International) and allows the children more diverse options at university. However when it comes to making a decision on schooling, Marbelli’s have a different way of looking at educating the children – how far is the school run??!

It actually makes me laugh because in England the choice of school is very carefully thought through- what subjects are taught, what sports are played and a five hour journey to take your child to the most suitable establishment is perfectly acceptable. Here however, we have been affected by Marbellaitis, it’s a disease that creeps up slowly but once you have it, its difficult to get rid off – that is we become lazy!

Gone are the days of traffic jams and commutes to work, a ten-car tail back gets talked about for weeks here and Marbelli’s would rather sell their house than travel more than twenty minutes to get their children to school. So whilst the evaluation between Spanish and International Educational systems is the most important decision, the choice of school must be thought about carefully remembering Marbellaitis!

On a different subject, September is always fun on the coast; the weather is lovely without the extreme heat of August, restaurants are quieter, bargains can be had on the flog it sites, as the “Newbies” move into more permanent homes and sell all their holiday home items that they will need in the future but don’t realise it – but hey tough luck! And my favourite surprise is being able to put on a pair of jeans that still fit me after all the summer fun!

Next week I will be going from one end of the coast to another, Gibraltar for a day out shopping and bowling and the caves in Nerja for some sightseeing.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.xx

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Week 32

On reflection of last week’s blog, you might all be wondering why I didn’t mention the famous “Vuelta de Espana” bicycle race that began in Puerto Banus last weekend. Well – the absolute truth is cycling does not tick one of many “ like to do sports”.

The only cycling I ever do is on my electric bicycle (it counts!) and my thoughts on cycling are very simple – Why struggle to pedal up a hill when a machine will do it for you, why cycle when you can drive a car and why on earth would anyone cycle on a main road less than 1 metre away from cars and lorries travelling at 100km per hour? I only have one conclusion – they all need a touch of therapy and a dose of Prozac!

So this week has been a challenging one; as the summer holidays come to an end, Hilton is frantically writing the blog he was told to write throughout the summer. Sav is gloating over her exam results and forcing “results spending money “ out of Chris and Tom has left Marbella to go and live in Barcelona for a few years.

Seeing Tom go was really sad, it was the usual panic, but he will have more fun in a city and more importantly learn how nice it is to live at home, even if I do make him tidy his room and eat the odd vegetable!

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So after an emotional farewell at the airport, there was only one thing to take my mind off the sadness of Tom leaving and that was shopping!

Sav needed some things to take back to her boarding school in England and I needed the therapy so it worked well! We glided around Ikea, briefly stopped in Fuengirola to look around Aki and ended up in Zara, where the real indulgence began. Please Lord….do not let Chris read this weeks blog and check his credit card statement!

As the season closes for another year and the residents resume their normal lives, Marbella takes a twist and turn from holiday mayhem to a slow paced peaceful existence. I get to see the friends that I don’t have time to see all summer, Hilton goes back to his 9-4 school routine and Chris gets to work less (oh hang on- I need to find him more to do in the winter!).

Next week, I’ll be discussing schools, the newbies that arrive around this time every year and what I really think of life down here on the coast.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.

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Week 31

Note to self – At the age of 49 10/10 remember that it is essential to do a few stretches and some sort of warm-up before jumping off rocks and Canyoning down the Benahavis river, otherwise walking for the next three or four days is comparable to the zombie walk in Shaun of the Dead!

Mind you it probably didn’t help when I suggested we all went to play Foot golf the following day, although watching Chess get stuck in the dirty swamp was worth every single penny. Below is a photo of the crowning moment that she realised her fate! And as if the high reeds were not frightening enough, the panic set in when she started to sink in what she thought was quick sand – watching too many films Chess??!!

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As the last two weeks of August fall upon us, there are three very important events to mark in the calendar. First and foremost it’s Tasha’s birthday on the 24th, second GCSE results are out and last but not least, this weekend the Polo High Goal Gold Cup begins in Sotogrande.

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This is one of the most prestigious events of the summer down here on the coast and anyone who is anyone will be attending. Throughout the summer, Santa Maria Polo Club is host to the summer season polo championship. Play begins in July with the Bronze Cup and escalates to the grand finale on the 29th August when the players battle it out to see who can win the High Goal Gold Cup.

Having played polo myself – well when I say, “played polo”, that’s probably a slight exaggeration, I actually sat on a polo pony, spent 30 minutes trying to hit the ball and gave up! But I can appreciate how hard the sport is and how clever and well trained the ponies are.

Entrance is free to watch the matches and there are different tents offering a variety of cold beverages; so whether it’s a jug of Pimm’s or a refreshing bottle of Tattinger, spectators at the polo are well looked after and for a day out away from the beach; it’s a refreshing change!

Talking of Champagne and a few drinks, I have to congratulate Sav on her GCSE results. Well done baby, you deserve all the credit and have earned your place into sixth form. Never again will I question your untidy bedroom or disgusting mess after cooking in the kitchen! – Well at least not for a few days!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.

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Week 30

Canyoning down the Benahavis River – I did it and I’m still alive!

There are two options when deciding to do the River walk, option 1 is to go unaided and tackle the elements by yourself or option 2 is to pay and be guided down the river by two hunky men who gently escort you down the trail whilst recounting all the local history and facts about the area.

Obviously we chose option 2! Team Xtreme are an activity holiday group that organise a host of adventure activities in Andalucía, from Canyoning down rivers to sky diving from 15,000ft as we discovered, so we decided they were more than capable of taking three girls down the trail, plus the instructors looked extremely fit! 

We arranged to meet at 8.30 am as apparently it’s the best time to descend without too many other people being around; we were given our wetsuits and helmets and headed up the mountain to where the trail begins.

The nerves started to kick in when the instructor told us we had to jump off a 6-metre rock to get into the river. My extreme fear of heights combined with Hilton’s last words, “Mummy please don’t do it, you’re going to die” didn’t really help but after he allowed me to do a smaller jump and slide into the river, our adventure began.

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Although I began with slight trepidation, Jilly and Chess went sauntering off ahead feeling very enthusiastic, although I cant help but feel that Jilly’s look would have been more suited to a building site than a nature walk!

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The first part of the trail is the most challenging on your legs. The large slippery rocks interwoven with small mossy pebbles stand in your way, so tricky manoeuvres and stumbling moments were a common occurrence, however the views and beautiful surroundings far surpassed any physically demanding encounters.

To believe that there is such incredible countryside just ten minutes drive from the infamous nightlife of Puerto Banus is unbelievable – please Towie producers never read this blog!

After ten minutes or so of scrambling over the riverbed, we arrived at the heart of the river where the two mountains meet and the water becomes deep enough to swim.

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This is the most beautiful part of the route, apparently the flowing river aids swimming, so we were advised to only use our arms and not our legs as the motion of the river helps propel you forwards.

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From day to night in the space of a few minutes, we arrived at the only area that is totally covered by both the mountains- little did I know what was about to happen!

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This is the moment when my heart fell into my mouth and as my life flashed before my eyes, even Chris’s bad moods seemed a better alternative! Dani (the main instructor) asked me to abseil up a rock (usually its down!), but accidentally forgot to tell me that the only option after climbing up was to jump down from a great height!

Chess on the other hand, after catching a frog in her hands and letting it go without kissing it, decided that before she got her prince she would do more adventurous things with her life, starting with the biggest jump possible on the walk from about 8-9 metres high.

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The crowning moment when I realised that we had arrived at the finish line! Triumphant and exhausted but thrilled to have experienced a walk of a lifetime.

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I cannot recommend this activity highly enough. Nature, beauty and an experience you will never forget. Team Xtreme were fantastic and deserve all the credit for their patience, professionalism and good looks! Thanks guys 

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.

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P.S. The ultimate highlight of our trip was when I asked Jilly if she would do it again – I think her face speaks for itself!

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Week 29

During the summer months, I like to invite friends to come and stay and this week my dear friend Emma flew over from Norfolk for a few days.

She arrived with her son Harry who is the same age as Hilts, which was great because the two boys could entertain themselves at home enabling us to get out and about. After a few days lounging by the pool, we left the boys at home and went in search of a lunch venue on the beach.

Now deciding which beach bar we would like to go to became quite a dilemma. When you are 49 10/10 Ocean club and Nikki beach tend to be out of the equation, firstly because we didn’t want to look like wannabe Marbella socialites (oops sorry ‘Made on Marbs’) and secondly anyone that lives here would never pay to enter a beach club, or fork out 100 euros for a bed to lie on for the day, unless of course they could take it home afterwards; so the secret in Marbella is to look for “fatty oldie” beaches where the food is good, the beach is quiet and the only ‘Cristal’ in the place happens to be the nickname of the dear old waiter behind the bar!

Although Marbella’s reputation doesn’t promote these kinds of places, trust me there is plenty to chose from. We decided on a small ‘chiringuito’ the other side of Marbella called Triana, typically Spanish, cheap food and of course they allowed Nahla to come too.

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Lunch was great, we met up with two friends of mine, who fell in love with Nahla and tried to persuade her to go swimming in the sea, however she was having none of it and clung on to me for dear life with that “I promise I won’t chew any more knickers if you keep him away from me” look. The bill came to around 25 euros per head for a super lunch, the service was great and for a spot of sunbathing, the beach is lovely and sandy.

Just a word of warning for anyone with Gymnophobia, if you want to take a walk along the beach, turn right otherwise you might get an occasional scare from the less bashful holidaymakers who frequent the nudist beach next door!

Today, my beautiful stepdaughter is coming for a few weeks and along with her arrival is a missed promise from last year to take her canyoning down the Benahavis river; so if I am brave enough, next week I will be telling you about the long awaited ‘river walk’- wish me luck!!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week – hopefully!!

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Week 28

Another week that hasn’t gone quite to plan! I believe that sometimes us ‘Mummies’ have to just admit defeat and laugh – well this was one of those occasions.

After trip No 1 to the vets, a new house rule of “no socks or knickers on the floor” was enforced to any resident, family or otherwise!

Everything was going swimmingly, until about one hour before my twelve o’clock birthday celebrations were about to begin. Sitting at a family dinner, just getting ready to pop the champagne, Tash suddenly noticed that the pair of socks left by her trainers when she jumped in the pool after running had gone missing!

We all turned around disbelievingly at Nahla who was lying a little too quietly and innocently in her bed, so we searched the house, checked the garden and thinking she couldn’t possibly have eaten two socks in the space of a few minutes, decided we would look again in the morning. It wasn’t until I decided to have a further inspection of her mouth that I noticed a single black thread, stuck between two of her back teeth.

Trip No 2. – It was now about 11.45pm and the only option was to call an emergency vet. Savannah (who likes to take charge in these situations) called and spoke to an on duty vet and agreed we would take her there as quickly as possible, so the girls and I jumped in the car with the puppy and off we went to the address Sav gave us in Marbella. As we arrived, the surgery looked shut and no one was answering the phone number – Savannah had omitted to tell me that she had called a vet in Fuengirola, as the Marbella number wasn’t answering – my birthday celebrations were going well!

The situation was not helped by Savannahs incessant desire to Snap Chat. 2.00 am with an ill puppy, no sleep and Savannah merrily snapping away with her friends. “ Look at me in the car”, “ look at me in the vet clinic”, “look at me on the sofa at the vets clinic”, “look at mummy growling at me on the sofa at the vets clinic”, “look at me running away from mummy who is going to break my phone because I’m too busy snap chatting to help her walk the poorly puppy at 2.30 in the morning”! New house rule no 2.- NO MORE SNAP CHAT!

Eventually after an overnight stay, shaved tummy and a heavy dose of medicine we got her back home, feeling very sorry for herself.

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Our planned day trip to Tarifa was put on hold but at least I managed to squeeze in a few hours sleep before my birthday dinner.

So I’m now officially 49 10/10, some people call it 50 but I’m not known for being a traditionalist . The girls did however redeem themselves with some beautiful presents and a fabulous birthday cake, which they had specially ordered for me. Do you think they are trying to tell me something??!!

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Also a big thank you to Tom who really made an effort to buy me some lovely things, and to Hilton for asking me to give him money so he could buy me a card!! Love you all xx

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week!

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Week 27

I’m really excited this week because Natasha is coming home for my birthday. I haven’t been able to see her much since she started her new job in London and I can’t wait for her to come home.

Preparing for Natasha to arrive is quite an event, the naughty foods (ice-creams, bread, chocolate) get hidden away; the exercise machines are quickly dusted and out come the avocados and coconut again!

Oh- and we have to pretend that Nahla has not been in her bedroom as Tash isn’t the most patient with dogs and puppy chewing! Talking of which, I had to make a rush visit to the vets with Nahla as she decided to eat a pair of Hiltons socks. Hilton however was upset with me for throwing the socks away, after the vet managed to retrieve them from her stomach – according to Hilton they were his favourite pair!

I have been busy thinking of activities to entertain Hilton. There are so many things for the children to do around the coast, so each week I try and pick a fun activity for him to do. This week I chose a sailing course in Estepona Port. Savannah opted to work with Chris for the week, something that as a family we dread doing (I’m sure even Hitler was a nicer boss), so I dropped her down to work said a few “Hail Marys” and set off to Estepona.

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There are different courses available but as Hilton is a complete novice, I chose the elementary five-day morning course between ten and twelve. The children get to learn the basics of sailing as well as the chance to sail small sailing dinghies and lasers, plus I get a bit of peace and quiet for a few hours!

So far Hilton absolutely loves it! Apparently the first day was taken up with a 30-minute lesson on knots and safety procedures, then they were straight out on the water with a sailing instructor to practise elementary sailing drills. When the bigger sailboat is used, the safety boat ferries the children back and forth to make it easier.

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The course is very reasonably priced; the basic program is 105 euros for the week including insurance with all the necessary equipment and boats provided by the school.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week when I will be another year older!

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Week 26

This week has been was all about puppies. We decided that Duchess wasn’t enjoying life on her own and we needed to get her another companion. Chris had given me a limit on what I was allowed to spend, but obviously I took absolutely no notice and after scouting for days on the Internet for a big male German shepherd puppy, I found this!

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There were however a few hiccups with my selection – not male, not the usual German shepherd colour, certainly not big and way over budget – she was the one!

Savannah agreed to come with me to take a look at her, so we set off for Cordoba on Saturday morning. The journey up there was a mixture of conversation, mainly agreeing that we would not jump ahead and buy her but think about it and decide if we were making the right decision. We also decided that we could do some sightseeing in Cordoba so we wouldn’t waste the trip.

As per usual, my plans never seem to come to fruition. Although Cordoba is a beautiful city and the architecture is stunning, this time of year the temperature fluctuates between 45- 50 degrees, so sightseeing was definitely not on the cards and our “let’s not rush ahead and buy her” conversation worked well – within five minutes we had handed over the money and were heading home!

Just a quick tip for anyone thinking of visiting Cordoba, I would suggest going in the springtime or during the autumn months when the temperature is slightly cooler.

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NAHLA is our new member of the family and absolutely adorable, although my work has been cut out trying to juggle between children and dog sitting (and yes that was my nice clean sofa she is lying on – training needs a bit of work!)

In return for helping me with the dogs, I promised Hilton I would take him to one of his favourite beach activities down here and so we headed off to the costa Waterpark near Puerto Banus.

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The giant inflatables that can be found in various nautical zones around the coast are a great way to entertain the kids. There is a lifeguard watching over the children at all times and life jackets are obligatory. Tickets can be purchased either by the hour or a discounted day pass at a sales hut on the beach, where the life jackets are handed out.

Please take note that this activity has huge “mummy” advantages. Whilst the kids are having fun out at sea, we get to lie on the beach, drink cocktails and relax without the constant nagging every five minutes for money or ice cream!
Anyway, bye for now and see you next week when I will be telling you more about family activities available during the summer in Marbella.

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Week 25

Well, I have to say it’s nice to be back home. Our week’s trip to Italy was wonderful but between the Italian mosquitoes and homemade ice cream, my body was thankful to return.

Just in time as well, because every year on the 23rd June, the Spanish celebrate ‘La Noche de San Juan’ and it is a beach party I never like to miss! This traditional night-time festival is celebrated on the shortest night of the year and along with its magical customs, marks the beginning of the summer season. Crowds gather after dark to enjoy the pop up beach bars, live bands and weird beliefs that are a custom here in Spain. Huge bonfires are lit on the beaches to scare away evil spirits and a series of rituals are performed for good luck as well as a great excuse to have a few drinks!

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Every year we go down and join in with the festivities and lucky rituals by dipping our feet in the sea at midnight for good luck. I was told that as an alternative, I could have attempted to jump over the bonfire three times to bring me luck, but looking at the height of the flames and remembering the teachers face as I attempted the high jump at school, I decided to give that a miss too!

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There are of course some bizarre traditions that I have tried in the past but have failed to work –Cutting an onion cut into 12 segments with a pinch of salt on each, apparently foresees which month the next years rainfall will land on by leaving droplets of water on the certain segments and the other one that never worked was washing my head three times and asking for three wishes ……that Caribbean holiday, luxury yacht and Aston Martin will just have to wait!

Friday was the end of the school year, so as the ‘dutiful’ mother, I went to the end of year concert and dragged Savannah along with me. Now, having four children, I fall into the ‘terrible mother’ bracket in these situations. The first thing I look at is the beautifully printed concert sheet to see how long the show is and breath a sigh of relief if it is anything less than 60 minutes.

Knowing that I’m now on a winner, I then sit down happily taking videos of my child whilst trying to manoeuvre the lens around the tall father sitting in the row in front of me. After a few moans as I stand up (to dodge the tall father in the row in front of me) I end up with a video of every other child in the class, especially the main pupil who has been carefully selected by the school for his ‘perfectness’ to be the main star of the show! His gloating parents seated in the front row, looking at me with a sympathetic expression as I just manage to get a quick shot of mine at the back of the stage dressed in either a makeshift banana suit or looking like Friar Tuck in a shepherds outfit! I swear if Hilton is a shepherd again this Christmas, I shall go and push Joseph off the stage!

Concert over, no more niceties to the revelling Mums and it’s the long summer break – YES, I can lie in, stop pretending I’m off to the gym and avoid the Ann Summers coffee mornings for a few months!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week.

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Week 24

So here we are in Italy, having decided to spend a week away from Marbella exploring the delights of Venice and Lake Garda.

Our first stop was Venice- land of lovers, historical monuments and fine art. The boat ride and trek to the hotel was slightly chaotic having not accounted for the fact that along with lovers, historical monuments and fine art comes tourists, tourists and more tourists! Fighting our way through cameras, selfie sticks and tour guides became quite exhausting.

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Once we arrived at the hotel, we deduced that there was only one option to make our stay more comfortable and so we formulated a plan– patience and a poking stick!

By day two, we had it sussed. A little help from the weather gods, and a quick poke was all that was needed to keep us amused and free of tourists. The thunder and lightening had deterred the day-trippers from the boat crossing so stick to hand, we merrily walked around the streets, toured Doge’s Palace (much to Savannahs annoyance) and took a gondola ride through the canals eating ice cream and listening to the gondolier sing “Just one cornetto” (Oh Sole mio)at our request. We also attempted to join in Sunday mass at the famous Basilica in Saint Marks Square, but Savannah got a fit of the giggles when she witnessed an old woman confessing to an empty confession booth, after the obviously bored priest had snuck out of the booth in front of us, so we had to make a quick exit.

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There is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about Venice that is hard to define. It is probably the only place I have visited where the water is filthy, the buildings are falling apart and some areas of the city are really smelly, yet somehow this wonderful place exudes romanticism and charm! ………. Hot tip for lady travellers going to Venice- go to the Restaurant Nuova Perla on the corner of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, the waiter is drop dead gorgeous! Having left Venice, we are currently staying in a stunning village to the South East of Lake Garda called Lazise.

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The village is built around an old 13th century Venetian castle and with no more than 6000 inhabitants; it is the perfect choice for our last few days. It’s quaint, peaceful and an idyllic lakeside spot; the only negative is listening to Savannah moaning because the waiters aren’t so cute!

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Yesterday, after extensive research on the Internet, I found a stable that does horse trekking to a local winery, so without a moment to waste, I called the number and booked us in. I was so excited this morning at the prospect of doing my two favourite things – riding and wine tasting! But with great disappointment I discovered half way through the trek that we were riding through the winery not to the winery!  I still enjoyed the ride though, especially as I had an appaloosa horse and American saddle, Savannah did give me one of her looks though when the feeling of being in the Wild West got the better of me and I let out a few heehaws!

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Having successfully conquered my horse, I decided that I could conquer the lake too, so this afternoon, we hired a speedboat for a two-hour leisurely boat ride. The first hour or so went well- we sunbathed, saw the beautiful landscape from the water and explored the lake, unfortunately my navigational skills are not as good as my riding skills and I ventured into an area of the lake where the water is shallow and full of big rocks. A big thank you to the wonderful German people who helped us get the boat out of the shallow waters without too much damage other than a dinged prop. Never again will I criticise your efficiency, sunbed hogging or towel choice!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week when I will be back in Marbella to continue my life as a Marbelli!

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Week 23

Onwards and upwards as the 18th Century saying goes– After a few days feeling really depressed about Teejay, I decided to pick myself up and use the spa day voucher the girls had persuaded Chris to buy me for Christmas.

The voucher for two people included lunch, a full body massage, facial and a yoga lesson at Shanti Som, a secluded wellness retreat near Monda. I strongly believe the girls were on a 50 / 50 bet deciding which one was coming with me but to their great disappointment and probably the reason I will never get another spa voucher at their suggestion again – I took my friend Erica.

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The retreat is only ten minutes drive from Marbella, past the Ojen hills and set amongst picturesque woodland – the perfect getaway for a Marbelli.

Our yoga lesson was booked for 9am and having never tried it before, I wanted to look keen and get there early, so Erica and I hurriedly drove up the hill in our home design ‘yoga gear’ and a bag full of bits and pieces so we were ready for any eventuality.

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The retreat itself is gorgeous and after the manageress greeted us, we were ushered to the lower level where the specially designed yoga pavilion awaited us, along with a few other ‘yogis’ and the instructor.

After a fabulous hour and a half of chanting, looking at cows and holding strange positions, I realised how much I enjoyed it and of course my highlight came when the teacher asked me if I used to be a ballet dancer because of my suppleness! I didn’t let on it was years of drunken back flips at parties!!

One thought will stay with me forever though – NEVER again will I sit next to my loquacious friend Erica in a yoga class, who whispered and giggled the whole way through, and set the whole class laughing when we all had to chant AUM!

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After a short coffee break, we were sent down for our two-hour pampering session of facials and massages, followed by lunch on the Asian themed terrace.

The food was incredible, the service perfect and despite the fact we couldn’t take advantage of the pool facilities due to the bad weather, it didn’t deter us from enjoying a very special day.

I can highly recommend this retreat to anyone who would like a little bit of ‘me time’. There are 14 deluxe rooms to stay in or just a day trip should definitely be on any holidaymaker’s agenda.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week when I will be writing to you all from the romantic sites of Venice xx

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Week 22

So here I am back In Marbella after an amazing week in Aberdovey with Sav.

Our last few days were spent with friends who had come to see us for the weekend. As tradition in our usual gatherings, drinks, laughter and great dinners were shared by all, except of course by Savannah, who shared everything except her puddings! Not even on the last night, when she ordered the ‘death by chocolate’ special, recommended on the menu as a dessert big enough for four people to share, did we get a look in!

So Sav- this photo is for you, lets hope that no prospective boyfriend is looking at this blog on your Facebook page, that I will obviously tag you in!!! 😉 And yes – she did eat the whole lot!

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Our final day- slightly hung-over and feeling a little worse for wear, we all decided to try our luck at ‘crabbing’. The name of the game is to catch a crab using string with a baited net attached and reel the crab up on the string until it can be popped it into a bucket full of seawater.

Sounds easy right – wrong! First my intense fear of heights meant I couldn’t look over the edge of the pier to see if my string was even near the water never mind in it; then the crabs, who are obviously used to this game, are really clever and just as you are reeling them up, they let go of the net, having eaten the bait. Savannah of course won the competition; I’m not exactly sure how many she caught out of the bucketful we had, but once she got the knack of it, she was a girl on a mission!

So what to do with a bucketful of crabs? – let them back into the sea and have a crab race was our idea. The finale hotted up when we decided to see whose crab got to the water the fastest – and yes Savannah won again, but then her odds were much higher than ours!

Although I have to say, my main amusement at this point was observing the other tourists at the shoreline scamper as fast as they could when they saw at least 15 crabs side-walking towards them at a great speed of knots! I do promise however there was no harming of crabs in our fun – they all looked very happy when they were back in the water!

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On a sadder note, when I got home, Teejay had become much worse and I knew the time had come to let him go. Sometimes in life, it’s not what we want to do, it’s what we have to do. So this is a tearful goodbye from me to my faithful old friend and dear companion. xx

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Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 21

Wales – the land of my forefathers, excellent fish & chips, strange creatures and a very busy estuary. We opted for the town of Aberdovey, partly because of its remote and picturesque location and partly because Savannah mistakenly thought she was going to Abu Dhabi (it’s a pronunciation thing).

It seemed the perfect place for a week of GCSE revision – free of any sort of teenage escape, miles from Top Shop and Boots and we arrived there after a very pretty four-hour drive from school, along country roads and a lot of sheep.

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Luckily we had stopped off at a Waitrose to get the essentials, I thought I was being over organised until we discovered that the nearest big supermarket was at least an hour away. I had assumed that all the talk of the remoteness of Aberdovey had been grossly exaggerated; that is until I got here. Three pubs, one restaurant and a convenience store that doesn’t accept credit cards…. This is no Banus!!

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The cottage is lovely, views out onto the estuary, two bedrooms of which Savannah obviously ‘shot gunned’ the biggest one and an open deck at the back to sit and relax in the sunshine (when it happens!). Lobster pots are everywhere and at midday everyday, Dai the local fisherman makes freshly caught dressed crab – but not on a Wednesday! I was curious to ask him why not Wednesdays but if you saw Dai you would understand that any form of questioning is strictly prohibited -just stand, look sheepish (there’s a lot of that around here) and be informed. There is no nightlife here whatsoever, so books, TV and if you are lucky a quiz night at the pub next door on a Tuesday sums up the social side of the village. We did dress up to go to the quiz night (we even put some make-up on) but it was cancelled at the last minute – too many people! Having lived in Spain for so long, I actually feel a little ignorant to certain creatures and customs that I have come upon here. SLUGS- an interesting being that only seems to come out at night. Now, since treading barefoot on one the other night and cold bloodedly murdering it, I feel so guilty about their welfare that I do my nightly duty of slug watching. A ROUTINE – another interesting habit that people do here, gone are the anarchistic ways of the Costa del Sol – these people actually have some order in their lives and of course DONKEY RIDES – the donkeys here seem to have taken a more hippy approach to their look , unlike their cousins I met in Mijas the other week…. as can be seen below.

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Our daily routine (yes, we have one too now but as the saying goes. when in Rhonda…) Wake up about 10.00am, go for a walk or run around the estuary, Sav stops at her favourite ice-cream shop for a cookies and cream cone. Every other day a trip to the convenience store for fresh Welsh bread but everyday we get back to the cottage for revision, House of Cards and our ritual soul-searching!

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The beach is stunning, the sand is reminiscent of the beaches in Tarifa and families come from all over to enjoy a day out – actually next time I would rent a dog, because we do feel a little left out.

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All in all, for a ‘totes’ relaxing week away, I would highly recommend Aberdovey (probably more than Abu Dhabi), there is a real sense of community life here and its probably one of the safest places I’ve holidayed in for a long time: there is no need to lock your house or your car but if you are an internet junkie, remember to bring your own wi-fi system, that luxury seems a little sparse here! To sum it up: Positive facts about Aberdovey – Long beautiful walks along the estuary, a great sampler of Welsh food, relaxing and peaceful, you can get fat and nobody cares, no need for suntan lotion and a personal favourite, no big toads (of any sort)! Diverse facts about Aberdovey – no one speaks welsh or even has a welsh accent, the jelly fish, as seen below, are humungous but not as lethal as the Spanish variety and caution if going in the estuary, the Weever fish have painful stings if you are unfortunate enough to tread on one and trust me, if they don’t get you the strong tides will!

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Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx If you enjoyed this post please can you recommend it to your friends and share it on Twitter or Facebook – thank you all for sharing and supporting me.

Week 20

Wow! Week 20 already and this year is running fast – unlike me in the last few days.

It’s been quite a hectic week – Monday, I decided to empty one of the containers I have at the bottom of the garden. For years now I’ve been putting everything that was unwanted or unneeded into “the container”. Now this may sound quite organised or even rather a luxury but in fact it’s just a collection of everything surplus to requirements in my life, collected together in one disorganised steel shell. Amongst many items, I discovered my old “vinyl” collection! Over 1000 LP’s and singles from the 70’s and 80’s to sort out – what a laugh! My voice could be heard for miles, singing along to Like a Virgin (I wish) and dancing around like I was that West End Girl!

And now here I am three days later, sitting on an airplane flying to the UK for a ten-day break in Wales with Savannah.

Having decided it was easier to spend the week in the UK as she is in the middle of her exams, we opted for a nice quiet scenic cottage in Aberdovey. Now I don’t know what it is about the welsh accent but when I tell people I’m going to Wales for the week, I automatically turn into Ruth from Gavin & Stacey. Whether it’s my ancestry coming out or a yearning to sing in tune, I’m not sure, but either way don’t be surprised if there are a few “lovelies” and “yaki da boyo” in the next blog!

They say Wales is in the wilds but no wilder than my house the day before I left. These two cheeky wild ducks obviously decided it was nicer swimming in my pool than in any public convenience-

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Then I discovered this ‘little’ creature relaxing on my terrace, sorry about the photo but I was too frightened to take it from the other side in case I was mauled! The Bufo Bufo (or commonly known as a toad) is enormous, highly poisonous and apparently likes hanging out at my house.

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I had thought of testing my luck and giving the green visitor a kiss to see if I landed myself a new prince but then I realised that this chap might just be related to the last product of my venturing into fairy tales and left him be…. although now I think about it, I can’t remember seeing my husband when I left (perhaps the spell has worn off and he’s gone back down the lily pond)!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 19

Wow what a week! Elections, Mijas and beetroot brownies – what more could a girl want?!

An old friend from England came over for the weekend and because we share a mutual friend who lives up in Mijas, we decided to take a trip up the mountain road. The sun was shining and the results from the election were still dribbling in, so my fingers needed to work overtime, either on the camera or looking up the latest polling.

Mijas is almost unrecognizable from the place I first visited nearly 30 years ago, but the stunning view from the main terrace, (apart from a few more houses!) is as beautiful as I had remembered it.

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Tourists are of course the lifeblood for Mijas, and judging by the large amount of Japanese riding around on the donkey taxis a cruise ship must have been in the vicinity. I suppose the donkey taxis are Mijas’s answer to a rickshaw, the only difference being that absolutely no one in Andalusia is fit enough to pull it themselves!

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We had been told about the Miniature Museum and a 5-minute ascent walking (yes we walked – well done us!) up the main road brought us to what looked like an oversized railway carriage. The exhibits were really clever, almost invisible to the human eye, there is a magnifying glass to help see how amazing these pieces of art really are.

The Seven wonders of the world carved out of a cocktail stick, the last supper painted on a drawing pin head, dressed up dissected fleas and of course my favourite the shrunken male head – small, ugly and dirty but most importantly unable to talk!

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Our next stop, after an enjoyable 20-minute coffee break in one of the charming squares was the much anticipated Picasso Museum. This is a new attraction for Mijas but I wasn’t convinced by it really – maybe living down here for so long has made me more of a Hockney girl but I felt that Picasso had definitely made the right decision when he gave up on his pottery phase!

After a walk back past the chocolate factory and around the cobbled streets and buildings, our visit finished with a fab lunch at a tiny restaurant/bar called Pampa where we enjoyed a selection of Tapas and finally celebrated the election result with a glass of Malaga wine!

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Not only is Malaga wine really sweet and delicious but also it gave me Dutch courage to get back in the car with Tim, who either needs new glasses or to give back the licence I’m convinced he acquired on some street corner years ago. Four glasses later and we were on our way back home so I could show off my brownie making.

Healthy brownies have become a bit of a challenge in our house between Tash and myself. She started the trend when she was living here after uni, amid the ‘organic pillow, early nights and coconut phase’ so in her honour I have made an effort to keep it up by sticking to the tight regime she ruled the house by! (Hitler has nothing on Tash when she is on a mission, I can tell you).

So beetroot brownies have become my signature ‘I want chocolate’ substitute food. The basic idea is to substitute the fatty ingredients for healthy ones – so flour is substituted by coconut flour, butter by avocados, chocolate by organic dark chocolate and sugar by either coconut sugar or Algarve syrup.

I’ll leave you this week with the recipe below, try them-they are strange but delicious!!!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Beetroot Brownies

500 g fresh cooked beetroot peeled and chopped

200 g dark chocolate

2 Avocados

3 eggs

125 g coconut flour

100 g coconut sugar or Algarve syrup
Heat oven 180c. Blend the beetroot, chocolate and avocado in a mixer, until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar for 2 minutes, Add beetroot mixture and mix. Sift flour into mixture and mix. Pour onto greaseproof paper in a rectangular oven dish. Put in oven and cook for 30 mins.

Week 18

May is one of my favourite months in Marbella, winter is over, the flowers are in full bloom, the beaches have been cleaned and still it’s bearable to sunbathe without feeling like you’re on the beach in Yarmouth!

To take full advantage of the holiday May 1st weekend, I decided to take Hilton to the Zoo de Castellar for the day. It’s called a zoo but actually it is a rescue centre for all sorts of animals that have been found or taken from owners who have kept them illegally.

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Looking a little like an old castle from the entrance, coupled with big wooden doors and a week watching Game of Thrones every night, I began to imagine how Sansa Stark would have felt when she arrived at the gates of Kings Landing. I also wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I’m not a big fan of caged animals – well, five years at boarding school does that to a girl! But luckily the whole place was far from daunting – it was lovely – and I was soon falling in love with most of the animal residents.

I say most of the animals because the vultures were our first stop – aggressive, angry and generally bothersome creatures (oh hang on, this rings a bell), they just walk around, waiting for their next prey to arrive and deciding it wasn’t going to be us, we quickly moved on to the llama.

I don’t know if you remember the children’s television show “Animal Magic” but I became Johnny Morris reincarnated as soon as I saw the honeybear!!! He was just so adorable – I’d have had ten children if they all stayed as cute as this little fella. I was trying all sorts of bear accents to try and wake him up but Hilton just looked at me strangely – honestly, the children these days just don’t know a good bear accent when they hear one… I blame the new Paddington!

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Continuing the theme of 70’s Television, Esso always offered to put a tiger in your tank – but I never expected to have one on my lap playing with me like a little puppy.

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The photograph shows a truly wonderful moment for me, not only do I look about five years younger, I will always remember the glorious opportunity I had to be so close to this wonderful creature – I could have cuddled and played with him all day, even Hilton looked concerned that I was on the verge of leaving the family home to become The Tiger Whisperer.

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Our last stop was this monkey. Now I’ve had a wide variation of boyfriends over the years but this chap reminded me of one in particular, I can’t tell you his name because he might read this and unfortunately Omar is the kind of name you remember…
Anyway, after a really quick cuddle in case his nappy needed changing, it was time to go having spent a really enjoyable day and one we’ll look back at fondly for a very long time.

If you are the sort of people that love getting ‘up close and personal’ with the animals, this place should definitely be on the hit list.
Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 17

Those of us lucky enough to live on the coast sometimes have a bit of a reputation for lounging around with sun, sea and sangria but this week has been pretty action packed! Talk shows, bowling, ice-skating and birthdays have all got between me and any expected lounging – as well as the fact there wasn’t any sunshine!

My brother Richard is a presenter on Talk Radio Europe (TRE) where he presents two shows, one of which is a two-hour discussion and points of view show called “Viewpoint”. This week’s subjects were very female-orientated and I don’t know if he was thinking “Loose Women” but he decided to be brave enough to invite me onto the panel.

Although some of you may have missed it, I actually had a seven-year career presenting live television shows so I wasn’t worried about the audience but I always have to keep an eye on my mouth! I guess he was a bit worried too since his last words to me before the ‘on air’ light turned red were “please Banan (my nickname), try not to turn into Katie Hopkins!”

The show itself was its usual blend of controversy and straight talking – it’s always worth a listen on a Tuesday – I’m not sure if I might have been a little too controversial at times but sometimes you just have to react to fellow panellists 😉

My youngest son Hilton, even a loving mother has to say, is a little on the chubby side but nevertheless he seems to have acquired a natural ability to ice-skate. I don’t know where he’s got it from – maybe Olaf from Frozen is his inspiration – but he goes around that rink like Torville and Dean in a tight clench. To demonstrate his bladed skills I took him to the ice-skating rink at King Bastion Leisure Centre in Gibraltar on Saturday, its open all year round and the centre itself has many activities to offer, all under one roof. A full afternoon combining the bowling alley and ice-skating cost less than ten pounds. Not to forget a cinema showing all the latest box office films. I tend to mention Gibraltar a few times in my blogs, sometimes living here we forget Gibraltar has so much more to offer than just an airport, English supermarkets and a bunch of apes – the ones on top of the rock obviously!

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As the weekend approached it was time to celebrate Tom’s birthday. Regular readers will know that Tom is the rock star of the family, so to be fair even reaching 21 is a bit of an achievement! Speaking as his mother I was worried what the Birthday weekend would bring as the Chinese meal he wanted was booked for the Sunday but that still left Friday and Saturday. Visions of a wild evening in the port, most likely spread over several days, gave me more than a few sleepless nights. It turns out I had no cause for concern, because Mother Nature has a way of taming even the wildest musicians and so poor Tom was decidedly ill all weekend– it was more bucket-by-the-bed than bucket-list.

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Unfortunately the girls couldn’t come over from the UK, but here are the two brothers on his birthday – the shades never come off !!!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 16

Motivation comes in many forms – this week I was driven mostly by money and music! After a win on the lottery and listening to Seals version of ‘Wishing on a Star’, I knew it was time to follow that road to my dreams- I had waited long enough this holiday and I was running out of time, so we all took the plunge and headed up to Ronda.

The lyrics of the song really have stuck with me, especially the line “that in the game of love you reap what you sow”, so before we departed for the day I subtly left a brochure in the kitchen, entitled “the perfect gift” and an illustrated pamphlet on the benefits of smiling!

The drive from our house took about 55 minutes; the road up the mountains wasn’t as bad as I had remembered, but however much your mind tries not to play games with you, it always does. One side of the brain says, ”don’t think about the drop” whilst the other kindly reminds you that one small miniscule mistake and that’s it, you’re over the edge!

To try and distract myself, I suggested that we look at the available activities that I had earmarked from the Internet. Savannah efficiently looked at the list, ignored my more academic choices and contacted the one she thought would be the most fun- a company that specialised in buggy tours. Two phone calls later and we were booked in.

If we had been at all dubious about our decision or the extra cost it entailed, within 5 minutes it quickly diminished as we were sat in the coolest looking vehicles that I had ever been in. A quick signature on the rental contract, and we were off!

Having endured Hilton’s non-stop talking all the way up the mountains, I made a hasty decision that he was more suited to go with the guide, using the excuse that he needed to practice his Spanish – a decision, I hasten to add, Savannah didn’t even question! So off we went in convoy to see the sights of Ronda.

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We started our journey bumping through countryside, go-pro provided by the company at the ready, until we reached the city itself, which by then was jam packed with buses and tourists from all over Spain.

We saw the gorge from the top, the bottom and even from a side angle! Stopped to have a drink in a charming little countryside ‘venta’, drove through ravines and dirt tracks, and to top it off, were given fun baseball caps, videos and photos to commemorate the day. If I could recommend anything it would be the buggy tour. Click here for details

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My conclusion after the trip confirmed that my fear of heights has not gone away and I will never look over the edge of the gorge again or step on the balcony that they have named ‘El Balcon del Coño’ which translates to ‘The Pussy Balcony’, a name chosen to mock the many people who do not have the confidence to stand over a shear 130 metre drop, supported by one small balcony built into the wall and constructed by Spanish workmen!

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Here we are, the three of us, looking all ‘touristy’ having had a fabulous time and to complete our outing, on the way back home we treated ourselves to a few (two) drinks with my lottery winning – €4.20!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 15

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan and unfortunately this week was one of them. With Hilton back at school and Chris’s mood similar to Hannibal Lector on a vegetarian diet, Sav and I had hoped to spend a day on our own visiting Ronda, but ended up spending 5 hrs in the hospital.

Poor old Sav had a suspected appendicitis that grumbled on all week, apparently baffling the medical profession but causing her much distress, so off we went to a hospital in Marbella, presuming that it would be a quick trip and a rapid diagnosis.

Eventually after two hours in the waiting room, we were ushered through to another waiting room and told they were going to give her an X-ray! Baffled why they were doing an X-ray for suspected appendicitis, I started to get a little concerned – they had understood my Spanish hadn’t they?!

The other people in the waiting area didn’t really help the situation either – I can understand why some people may say a little prayer in hospital but the Moroccan gentleman next to us seemed to be saying one for everybody on the coast! The Swede on our other side, who looked like he had just come out of ‘Mafia Wars’, wasn’t much better – but at least he was more tuneful in his rendition of ‘oh my god this hurts’!

Anyway, after a procession of pregnant women (I think there must have been a special offer on childbirth this week) and many, many cups of watery coffee – we were ushered into a room where a drip was put into her arm and a lot of diagnosis guessing went on – it was like a mixture of ER and House, I wanted House to turn up with the perfect diagnosis and George to arrive so at least I had some eye candy to could look at and relieve the boredom! Lesson learnt, if you have to go to hospital here – take supplies and rely on Candy Crush for entertainment!

We never really got to the bottom of the problem – having established that her bottom wasn’t the problem – and so I managed to get home in time for my highlight of the week… No, not an apology note and flowers from my husband but instead Britain’s Got Talent. I do love that programme and David Walliams is a great judge – anyway that’s my Saturday nights sorted for a few months!

My children, on the other hand, aren’t really interested in watching a talking dog or the Welsh Choir – they instead wanted to see Fast and Furious 7. So on Sunday, I took them to the cinema with my lovely friend Erica and whilst her son sat next to mine watching the big screen, we sat next door with big glasses of wine, discussing if I would ever get to go to Ronda!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 14

Well Easter Sunday was interesting! Having been voted worst Mum in the world by my daughter, who ran upstairs in a panic as I hadn’t hidden the Easter eggs and Hilton was almost crying, I started the day feeling very guilty!!

I presumed by the age of eleven that he didn’t believe in the Easter bunny, but after having had it pointed out to me that his bedtime movie every night was HOP, I suppose I should have known better. Anyway, the ever resourceful Savannah swept in and saved the day with a story about how the Bunny had left his stash somewhere else, so when he went out to look around the front of the house, she quickly ran around to the back garden to hide the eggs and vice versa.

Then I took him down to the garage to pick up some bread and by pure chance there were two rabbits in the parking lot at the back of the garage, so after telling him that they were obviously resting after their deliveries I’m glad to say ………..He is still a believer and actually after seeing rabbits in the parking for the second time at Easter now, I’m beginning to wonder myself!!

Easter is one of those strange traditions, especially nowadays as we live in a world dominated by diets and healthy living. I think whoever suggested the indulgence of eating chocolate just as we’ve lost the extra pounds put on over Christmas must have had a great sense of humour!

Anyway, after a pub lunch, we decided to take the kids to Cable Ski. It’s a great sporting activity that enables skiers and wake boarders to enjoy the sport without having to worry about a boat or the sea conditions. The idea uses a cable that mechanically pulls the punters along and the centre is situated on a lake slightly inland so it’s more protected and warmer than the beach.

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As you can see, Sav was straight up and mono skiing like a pro, Hilton, on the other hand didn’t manage to stay up long enough for me to take a photograph. Bless him, he is not the most ‘surf like’ of my kids but he tries.

The Centre caters for all levels and all ages, with kids as young as nine or ten ‘spinning’ their way around the circuit, but for those of us who are a little more laid back, there is a relaxing pool with chill out beds and a Chiringuito that serves great food and cocktails.

Next week although Hilton starts school, Sav is still here for the holidays and even though she is supposed to be revising, I’m going to sneak her off to Ronda for the day (well anything to get away from grumpy), so catch up with our day out; last but not least a big congratulations to Tasha who has just been offered a great job in London- I can feel the heat coming off the return key as Zara’s online shopping basket is filling up baby!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 13

Well the sunshine is out, the bad weather appears to be behind us and Easter week is here…… along with the holidaymakers!

It’s very easy to recognise the surge in tourism as the previously quiet roads become similar to the dodgem cars at the local fair because with holidaymakers come rental car drivers! The different rental car companies seem to attract different types of driver, so I recommend the following advice when driving during this time:

Hertz and Avis cars – carry on where you are going but keep an eye on them at all times; Europe Car and Easy Car – stay well back and expect a sudden turn at any minute; Gold Car and Yellow Car – avoid under any circumstance and take a detour if necessary!

The Spanish love a holiday and Easter is no exception. Celebrations begin on the Sunday before the Easter weekend and they call it “Domingo de Ramos”, translated as Palm Sunday. Processions in the streets are spread over the week with some dramatic scenes of what can only be described as “quite scary”, so if you see what looks like the Klu Klux Klan marching towards you, don’t panic, its not because they are trying to get rid of the foreigners, it’s just part of the religious ceremonies symbolising Christ’s return to Jerusalem.

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So on Sunday afternoon we went to watch the parade for a while then made our way to the Brain Quest adventure which I booked last week. I wasn’t convinced we had picked the right day because it was more ‘paella on the beach’ than ‘murder indoors’ weather but I’m so glad we did it – even if it was just to see Chris sulking in a daft hat – anyway I believe Morrison’s are looking for someone at the deli counter!

We arrived at the apartment building in the middle of Marbella and the game started after pressing the main doorbell and saying the secret code. BQ,??! – mysterious I thought, until I realised that those were the initials of the game and for obvious reasons it would be embarrassing for the pizza deliveryman to walk into a murder mystery game when all he wants to do is deliver a Margarita and a bottle of Coke.

After we went up to the first floor apartment the game began….. we had 1 hr to find the clues, solve the puzzles and decipher the name of the murderer. I can’t say too much about the process as it will give it away but let me sum up by saying Sav was the ‘mastermind’ of unravelling evidence and really got stuck into solving the crime, Hilton tried his best and so did Dasha (Tom’s girlfriend) but Tom was absolutely USELESS. His only infinitesimal contribution was his skill of driving a remote control car, which he then played with for the remainder of our time in the game! And Chris, well he hasn’t said much since, maybe he is thinking of a change of job!

I strongly recommend this activity; we had a great time and its fun for all the family. An explanation of us wearing silly hats and glasses? – Just a great souvenir of a fun adventure! If you would like to book Brain Quest the number is 622 853 147

I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Easter and if you are here on holiday have a lovely time but remember to drive you hire car safely!!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 12

Whenever I visit the UK, people always say how lucky I am to live in the sunshine… well they should have been here this week!!! Costa del Soggy was the best description!

Mind you, here on the coast we react to situations created by the weather rather differently than in England, noted the other morning when I spied some workmen seemingly using the opportunity to have a tent party – any excuse in Andalucía!!

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It hasn’t been all rainy news though – I have been running and I’ve done over 12k this week – I’m actually writing this in Fuengirola!! No really, I have been getting back into it (the running schedule) and without the sunshine my commitment to keeping fit is just about still there – even in the drizzle. As proof I took some photos on my run, although it was cloudy and miserable, the sea looked awesome!

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Teejay however is not appreciating the bad weather as you can see, I asked him for a comment but …………

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So the big question on everyone’s mind is always…..what to do when it’s raining here? There’s the cinema, shopping centres, Butterfly Park or a variety of aquariums…. (my actual favourite is to give Chris too much wine and then when he’s passed out, pinch his credit card and go online shopping!). But looking on the internet this week, I found something new – BrainQuest is a real life adventure game located in Marbella and looks an interesting alternative when you don’t want to be outside, it’s a murder mystery adventure so I thought it would be good fun to try. We’re going next week when Savannah is home for the Easter Holidays so I’ll give a full report on the outcome when I write next week’s blog, unless of course Chris finds out about his credit card and it really might be a true crime scene with me as the main character!

As I generally mention the girls but don’t say much about my eldest son Tom , this week he got upset with me and asked why I never mention him, so here goes:

Thomas is the quiet one, if my children were The Beatles then Tom would be George Harrison (come to think about it, he does look a bit like him too!). Although he works in sales, Tom’s great passion is music – which explains why he’s been known to act like Ozzy Osbourne sometimes – and he spends a lot of time writing songs and playing the piano.

Coming up soon it’s Tom’s 21st birthday – now with the conflicting aspects of the quiet child and the rock star, I asked him how he would like to celebrate this special occasion? A party is the obvious answer but where to hold it and on what sort of scale?? Well after some thought, Tom came up with his own inimitable version of what he’d would really like to do – a family dinner in the local Chinese restaurant!!! Tom you are so rock ‘n’ roll – bless you and bless the money I’m going to save! Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 11

Well I decided to stay a few more days in the UK to spend more time with the girls before I headed back to the land of Marbella on Thursday.

I found a flight from Gatwick to Malaga with Norwegian Air as I had missed my return flight on Monday. Although not my usual airline, the flight time was more reasonable, unlike the normal departure times to Malaga when the airports are full of spilt coffee and onesies.

There are two great advantages of flying with this airline, first the hunky male stewards on board (well, you know it always makes me feel safer) and secondly the free wifi on board whilst you’re flying.

Wow it’s amazing……. who would think that at 36000 feet we can still WhatsApp – now girls you can really track those boys down all the time!

Having arrived back a little deflated, my mood soon lifted as I drove through Marbella and watched the workmen busily rebuilding all the beach bars and restaurants ready for the summer season. I know what your all thinking and NO! – I was looking at the buildings not the bodies; however a quick flash of the coke light advert did come to mind!

Always at this time of year, there is a certain buzz in the air, as residents eagerly prepare for the Easter tourists after the winter lull and with the holidays beginning in two weeks, their work is cut out to get everything ready and looking ‘fabulous’.

Talking of fabulous, Mother’s Day in Spain is celebrated on the first Sunday of May but because my children have always attended International schools and we have family in England, our family tradition is to celebrate ‘this very special and treasured day’ on the same date as the English do. So when Sunday arrived I was really excited!

Now to say I have four wonderful thoughtful children would be an absolute lie. Despite the numerous hints, Cinderella pleas and good will gestures, I only have one amazing child who went out and bought me these gorgeous roses with his own money.

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A message to the rest of you – This gesture of kindness will be thought of most highly when I’m at the lawyers next week rewriting the will! 😉

Right I’m off for my couch2-5 k jog, it’s not so easy now that Tash isn’t pushing me on but the summer’s coming and although the extra kilos are happy and snug where they are, sometimes you just have to learn to let go and end that ‘togetherness’!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 10

So here I am in rural England – I love being able to get away and see my girls. The journey was great and I always a little ritual – buy my little bottle of Cava (just to ease the nerves), a cheese baguette that I never eat and some water for the after effects of the little bottle of cava.

There is a saying about only turning left when you board an aircraft (meaning going into First Class) but you can only do a left turn on a Monarch plane if you want to sit on the pilots knee. Air travel isn’t the luxurious experience it once was but having my frequent flyer status does let me sit at the front of the plane – not quite Joan Collins with a Cinzano though!

My first stop was Savannah’s school for an important parent-teacher meeting to discuss what A-levels she will be doing next year. I always get nervous on these occasions, and especially this time as there was heavy traffic and I was 30 minutes late – naughty mummy!

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The school itself is very grandeur in design and sometimes a little intimidating. The parents all look very serious and there was a slight look of disdain as I made a b-line for the homemade cakes and coffee as soon as I walked in. I still don’t feel that I am mature enough to sit in front of a BA Hons teacher and ask sensible questions – I see all the other parents talking and deliberating (I’m not sure what?) and I think to myself, what shall I discuss that makes me look as intelligent as them?

So after 2 hrs of trying to appear like I knew what I was doing in my parental role, we picked up her things from her boarding house and set off for a nice girlie weekend near Cambridge.

Unfortunately our picturesque “windmill” which had been photoshopped by a pure genius looked more like a fort – a fort that had been in a battle 300 years ago – and on the losing side!

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And there was a slight avoidance of certain details in the online brochure.

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The big question was, who was going to empty the “dunny”? We looked around to see if there were any bushtucker trials awaiting us and some appearance money, but alas there was nothing.

We made the most of what we had; a double bed, a sofa bed, table, kettle and bucket. We weren’t going to let it spoil our time, there was only one saving grace…..weirdly the broadband was superfast (though not as fast as the girls disappeared at bucket-emptying time).

A few days with the girls and you learn so much about modern life. This whole relationship saga nowadays is so important. When we were younger, the big question was does he like me? And what shall I wear to see him? Now the vital show of affection is – will he change his relationship status on Facebook, has he put my initials on Instagram and when was he last on WhatsApp? ………………OH! He’s on line now, Hmm….WHO IS HE TALKING TO?
Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

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Week 9

After a quiet week at home pampering Teejay, Hilton and I decided that Saturday was going to be our exploration day. We woke up early to set off on our mystery tour, we had considered a trip to the crocodile park but at the last minute Chris decided he might come so we had to change plan – it was just too tempting!

For an alternative we opted for the less man-eating inhabitants of Selwo Marine Park, it had been years since my last visit and with the hot weather it seemed like the perfect choice. The park is located in the heart of Arroyo de la Miel, a village on the suburbs of Benalmadena and my GPS took me straight there.

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We decided to walk around the park without the guided tour option and instead wandered around on our own to admire the various creatures that are housed there. Our first stop was the Sea Lions enclosure (photo above) – They really are gorgeous creatures but the male was larger than anticipated. It was interesting to note that the female is much more active whereas the male just lies on his back and barely moves – did I mention that Chris had decided not to come out for the day after all?

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I just loved the penguins! There is a small army in the enclosure but although they were all dressed like Fred Astaire, none were really dancing or even tapping their feet! They really are quite strange creatures – they walk like my husband, follow each other around like Hilton does with me, are clumsy like Tom and look really awkward as they dive into the water, like Tash. If only they wore short tops and loads of make-up, Sav could get a look in too!

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The spiders aren’t my favourite but worth a look even just to be ‘creeped out’ but the poisoned-dart frog held my attention – its small and quite beautiful to look at, but has the abilitly to incapacitate or even kill a human being in just 15 minutes… I must remember to ask at the pet shop 😉

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The alligators are really just dinosaurs of the modern world and I didn’t like the look of them much, so it was back to the happy feet chorus line for feeding time.

The finale of the day arrived at 5pm when the Dolphin show began. They are such beautiful creatures and even before the show began, when the music started, they began pairing up together and jumping up into the air. There are seven dolphins in total at the marine park and they all seemed very content.

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Unfortunately the park closed at 5.30 so Hilts and I headed off to Benalmadena Port where we had a look at the boats and I had a tasty Veggie burger in Jack’s Brasserie. My darling son loves a challenge and he pestered me to let him attempt the Quadruple Burger Challenge – eat a kilo of meat in half an hour and your name goes into the wall of fame. You can imagine what the answer was!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week when I will be writing my blog from the UK as I’m off for the weekend to see the girls xx

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Week 8

Well to be fair, this week has not been my favourite – Tash left on Monday to start her new ‘business’ life in London. I took her to the airport, which, in retrospect probably wasn’t the wisest idea I’ve ever had, and I think the airline staff would probably agree too as I began wailing at the check-in desk! Make mental note to myself……..in future; only make a public spectacle of myself when drunk!

My house has the ‘swing doors’ effect, one goes and another arrives. Savannah returned from a Karting competition only to have to spend the first three days of her half term ill in bed.

The poor girl has not really been able to do or see much during her holiday, but on Thursday I finally managed to get her out of the house and we discovered that the cinema in Puerto Banus had re-opened after a massive revamp. We decided to go and watch the highly acclaimed and intellectual film ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’  ; ) (more about that in a minute).

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Apparently, Russians have bought the cinema and it looks spectacular. The whole of the inside of the building has been modernised and glamorised in true Marbella style. I felt as if I should have worn a long dress and had my hair done for the occasion, but what concerned me most was the question on everyone’s mind….where had the pick ‘n’ mix gone?

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So, after a quick drink at the lush bar (as pictured above) we made ourselves comfortable in the new seating and awaited the film with trepidation.

Now you know a film has certain notoriety when a member of the audience jumps up and demands that nobody takes a photograph of him in the cinema! I’m not sure what secret he wanted to keep, but it would have undoubtedly been more interesting than the film, which had one saving grace over the book – it was shorter. But a girl has to find a silver lining, so I did manage to get ‘forty-winks’ in the dark comfortable surroundings.

Next week is Hilton’s half term. Unfortunately the swinging door takes effect again and Savannah will be back at school, so Hilton and I have decided to go on a Spanish adventure. We still haven’t decided whether to turn right or left at the main road, but all will be revealed in next week’s blog.

And as for Teejay, well – he’s getting more and more spoilt as the days go on, his food is now served to him like Caesar was fed grapes by his minions. We pamper him all day and he now sleeps in prime position in my son’s room.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

PS There is a pick ‘n’ mix on the upper floor, so don’t panic.

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Week 7

First and foremost, a progress-report on my gorgeous dog TJ. The vet has given him some medicines that are keeping him calm, quiet and pain free. He is still managing to hobble around with a ball in his mouth and generally, apart from the sulking at bedtime when I have to leave him downstairs, he is doing well.

Talking of sulky creatures, Chris is away karting again so I’ve been ‘home alone’ for the week. It makes me laugh – we play the same game every time he goes away (and I always win).

Invariably he leaves it till the last minute to ask me how much money I will need while he is away – so I always say a figure higher than the truth (hey, you gotta play to win!), he then looks surprised, moans about the amount but inevitably leaves what I’ve asked for because he doesn’t want me questioning karting expenditure. Works every time …although I have to learn to stop getting quite so excited when he leaves!

I already had plans for this week’s “windfall payment” and my first port of call was to see my favourite hairdresser down here on the coast, Kerry Machin. Kerry works from home so it’s like going around to a friend for a chat, coffee and pamper evening but she’s usually fully booked so I was lucky to get an appointment.

As it was Tasha’s last week, the panic was on to get everything ready for her move to London. So off we went to La Cañada, a large shopping centre in Marbella, where most people go to buy clothes and enjoy a nice day out, but few have survived the full “shopping with Tasha experience” unless you’re blessed with the patience of Mother Theresa:

Round 1: She walks round the shops looking at what there is, then she goes back to the first shop she looked in, which is actually the only shop she usually buys from anyway. One hour later when she has selected certain outfits to try on, I get summoned into the changing room for a second opinion.

Round 2: This is a bit of a brutal elimination – rejects are quickly discarded from the contention pile and we are now into the ‘semi-final’.

Round 3: Now in Britain’s Got Talent this is called “coming to London!” – it’s a choice between 3 or 4 outfits and I have to be both Ant + Dec and mother. I’m told to take a photo of her in an outfit (this is a bit of a screen test now) then she can see the photo and remove the relevance of my opinion! This is the most nerve-racking part of the process because if she is not sure of any of them, we have to do the whole thing again.

Round 4: A winner! The public has spoken and the votes have been counted. The favoured choice is handed to me like a prize and I dutifully go to the cash desk and we move on to the next shop.

Anna 7 1

I highly recommend a trip to this commercial centre on those rainy days, there is a good selection of high street shops, a great supermarket that has a vast range of freshly caught fish, and some of the restaurants are really good…..just never go with my daughter!

Last but not least this week, Saturday was Valentine’s Day and look what I woke up to!!!

Anna 7 2

I know what you are all thinking and you are right, my husband didn’t have some sort of ‘born again’ experience. My beautiful daughter bought them for me, along with a cup of coffee.

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

If you enjoyed this post please can you recommend it to your friends and share it on Twitter or Facebook – thank you. Couch to 5k up to week 8!!

Please note – no husbands were harmed in the making of this blog.

Week 6

OMG I did it!! Twenty minutes of non-stop jogging I can’t believe I actually managed it, although my imaginary psychopathic robber chasing me kept me going! The achievement feels great and I’m even more determined to complete the 5k Run. Fiona Claxton and Jack Williams – you are my inspirations and I am going to do this!

Talking of manic situations, I tactfully avoided another one of Erica’s homemade lunches and instead we all met in the old part of Estepona on Sunday for tapas. I hadn’t been to Estepona for years, so I was totally shocked at how beautiful it has become after the complete change it has undergone.

The streets are colour-coded, with each street housing different coloured plant pots attached to the walls or floor and arraying from fuchsia to dark blue. Apparently all the residents had agreed with the mayor’s idea to transform the town’s image but although the dramatic change is strikingly beautiful, I ask you to spare a thought for the colour blind amongst us!

Anna 6 1

We ended up in the ‘mid blue’ street at a fashionable new tapas bar called “La Esquina del arte”. The tapas were fantastic, old fashioned Spanish cooking with a modern twist. The wine collection was vast and the company? Well I can’t complain, having organised the seating so Chris was sat at the other end of the table!

Estepona now boasts a collection of artistic murals that are painted on the sides of buildings throughout the town. Artists from all over Spain have designed and painted the buildings with different murals and the one below, painted by the Jaen born artist and sculptor José Fernandez Ríos is my favourite. The illusion of the girl watering a plant which is actually a real tree is memorising.

Anna 6 2

The rest of my week was taken up with a series of unfortunate events from the silly to the serious. One of my good friends Dean, swallowed a chicken bone in KFC and ended up in hospital with bulging eyes and a purple body. Luckily he is fine now but for a while he did look like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after eating the blueberries!! Then I fell down my stairs trying to balance a nice glass of Rioja but ended up bruising my ribs as I gallantly saved the glass and the wine of course, but the worst thing is that sadly my beloved German Shepherd, TJ, isn’t very well. Old age has caught up with him and his back legs are very weak. TJ has been with me for 10 ½ yrs now, so I just need to give him lots of attention and cuddles.

Anna 6 3

He’s a little camera shy by the way!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

If you enjoyed this post please can you recommend it to your friends and share it on Twitter or Facebook – I need as much support for the Couch to 5K challenge as I can get, especially now in week 7.

Week 5

Couch to 5k and I’m now up to 5 minute jogging intervals. Woohoo! Tasha is great at pushing me to do it and even though I try and hide around the house at running time, somehow she always manages to find me!

Actually having my daughter at home is lovely and I’m dreading her leaving soon. It’s so nice to have another girl in the house that likes all the things that I do (except Celebrity Big Brother) and she is trying to teach me the benefits of healthy cooking. Going to the supermarket is definitely an experience with her- I go one direction and fill up the trolley with food I like and then she comes along, takes everything out and refills it with coconut products and avocado.

Savannah also flew back last weekend to enter the BCK Winter Cup Karting race at Campillos, it seriously is the only time Chris is cheerful and I think I caught a smile on his face about 7.38pm on Friday night, although I’m not 100% sure, it could have been an involuntary muscle spasm.

So off they went on Saturday morning to the karting track in Campillos near Malaga. I always get a sense of nervousness and excitement as they are leaving – Will she win? Will she be safe? Will he find out I’ve had the dog on the bed?

At last, reports came in on the Sunday, first in the first race and second overall. Well-done Sav!

 

Week 4

Photo proof that I am sticking to my jogging routine, I took this photo this morning on my ‘Week3 · Day 3 couch to 5k as I was running (yes running!) on the Paseo by the beach. I am now up to intervals of three minutes – Woohoo! So come on Angie Dimmack, get started..

Anyway, welcome to week 4 of my blog, and this week was adventure week!

Chris is still grumpy with his half healed broken rib so I decided that in order not to kill him, I had to be more adventurous and get away. It couldn’t be too remote although Thailand looked promising but being a dutiful wife I opted for somewhere nearer home.

Alora – Admittedly Alora is not as far away as I would like (it’s a village the other side of Malaga) but during the winter months Marbelli’s aren´t big on travelling around Spain, unless it’s a fleeting trip to go skiing in Sierra Nevada.

Talking of Sierra Nevada, this great ski resort is just outside Granada and roughly 2½ hours drive from Marbella. With heights in excess of 3000 metres this mountain range is one of the highest in Europe. The ski season starts at the end of November and can continue up until the middle of May, for a winter getaway and a quick ‘swish’ down the slopes, Sierra is the place to go. In the past I have actually driven up there and with an early start been on the slopes by 9.30, skied till 2, driven back down to Marbella and been out on a boat waterskiing by 5.30 – wonderful!

Anyway back to my adventure week – I needed to travel to this quaint village about 30 minutes the other side of Malaga. I was apprehensive; had I got everything prepared for my day out? Water? Check …..Provisions? Check…… Headache pills for the journey? Check………Plasters ?………. Check.

With everything prepared I drove west through the countryside towards Malaga and then inland with two fellow Marbellis, Dean and Fran. Below are some of the sights from the journey. Monumental hills, castles and century old bridges, standing proud amongst the green landscape.

As we approached the outskirts of Alora, the abundance of greenery on either side of the road was impressive. Lemon trees, mandarin trees and orange trees nestled into every corner of the land – that’s a lot of trees! It really is a beautiful area and well worth visiting and there are no fences or barriers, so anyone can stop and help themselves to a bag of natural organic citrus fruits.

There is certainly a true feeling of Spain in this region; small roadside bars and village cafes still exist, serving home-style cooking and traditional Spanish tapas at about half the price we pay on the coast. For a more relaxed holiday, a day trip to rural Spain, or that dream of being Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall in the ‘Good Life’, Alora is well worth a visit!

Anyway, bye for now and see you next week xx

If you enjoyed this post please can you recommend it to your friends and share it on Twitter or Facebook – I need as much support for the Couch to 5K challenge as I can get.

Thank you very much and remember if you want any information on Alora, Sierra Nevada or jogging then please get in touch.

Week 3

The house cleaning is not quite finished but has officially been put on hold. I don’t know who invented cleaning, but I hope they were never on the New Year’s honours list. Anyway I’ve finished Candy Crush so it’s time to move on and get fit.

I’ve never really been interested in jogging, in fact quite the opposite, when I see enthusiastic runners pass me in the street I definitely do not have any feeling of “running envy”- just a small hint of guilt. Two thoughts repeatedly flash through my mind; ‘Anna, it’s time you moved your butt and got into shape’, followed quickly by ‘maybe I’ll just go on a diet instead’.

I try and go to the gym at least once a year – my brief stint with Pilates lasted about three weeks and the multi-gym I set up in my house became very useful as a storage room for those household items you just don’t know where to put. However, after seeing the picture below and realising that I actually have driven to the local gym, I decided the time had come to do something about it.

Resolution No.4 on my New Year’s Resolution list… The Couch to 5km running Challenge!!

This great little app, called Couch to 5k is a beginners training schedule designed to get people running 30 minutes a day (5 km) in 9 weeks. Starting with alternate minutes jogging and walking and building up week by week until the goal is achieved.

I am currently on Week 1 Day 3 and going strong! 5 minute warm-up walk, followed by twenty minutes of intermittent running and a 5 minute cool down period. The weather here is perfect for running and so are the beautiful walkways near the beach as well as the new promenade in San Pedro. Being able to exercise outside in the sunshine, overlooking the shores of Marbella is a special treat and guess what?? …. It’s free.

What every runner needs is a good playlist of music to motivate you as you run. The first mistake I made was listening to Ed Sheeran and Norah Jones – what you need is ‘fast and furious’ to help you along. As well as a fantastic daughter like mine, who pushes me and trains with me. Thank you Tash. Jack Williams, I will run 7 km in mid August one day too!!

So come on girls and boys…….get jogging!

Talking of unusual activities, some families have film night and pizza night but this week our family had Flintstones night! A power cut lasting 12 hours took us back to the Stone Age – or at least the children thought it did!

No wi-fi, no TV just candlelight and the family. As an experiment on the modern child it was fascinating to watch my children trying to cope without the convenience of social media and inbuilt entertainment. It was the most entertainment I have had in weeks and I highly recommend it. Just a naughty thought – maybe I should orchestrate it again 😉 –

Bye for now and see you next week xx

If you enjoyed this post, please recommend it to your friends. Even share it on Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you very much and remember if you want any information on the jogging program or would like to join in, please message me. I’ll keep you all updated on my weekly progress.

Week 2

Well things are looking up! My husband is back earning money now his ribs are getting better, and out of the house all day…phew! The kids arrived home safely and although all my New Year’s resolutions are not working out, hey…four out of ten isn’t bad!

I love the beginning of January down here. The Spanish celebrate Three Kings on the 6th January and that’s when they receive their presents, so the festive season feels extra special and the celebrations go on for longer. There is no New Year´s Day blues and everyone is happy shopping, socialising and generally being merry.

The beautiful weather here at the moment, coupled with the fact that all my children were home to celebrate Hilton’s birthday on the 4th, made it a great week. Keeping to resolution 7 on my list, we all decided to play Foot Golf on Sunday for his birthday, and enjoy a family day out. For someone who never plays golf or football, I decided I was going to hate it, but would dutifully go and do my motherly bit to keep everyone happy. Wow! What a pleasant surprise, it’s a great activity down here that all the family can join in with and should definitely be put on the “to do during holiday time list”.

The concept is simple; Kick a football around a nine-hole golf course, starting off at the tee, glide it with grace along the fairway and finish by popping it in the large hole near the green. Perfect! Sounds easy…..do that nine times and off to the pub.

Now if you’re Beckham or Messi, this is probably achievable in a very short time but to a girl who preferred ponies, Enid Blyton and the Mr. Men books, football was never going to be my thing, (I just pretended to support Wolverhampton Wanderers to keep my Dad happy).

So anyway, off we went, armed with a football, a score sheet and a net. Trust me, the net is an integral part of your equipment, as I was about to find out.

The instructor gave us his strategy; “Curve the football 20 metres over the stream to the left, walk over the bridge, next kick it near the green, third kick in the hole.”

My first kick went to the right approximately about ten metres, the second went into the stream, (hence the net) and the eighth went into the hole.

Two and a half hours of fun, laughter, frustration and the usual competitive family spirit, we reappeared triumphant at our achievement. Although without rubbing it in, my daughter Savannah, came third with 49 points and I came second with 47, (I now have the score card framed in your bedroom darling!)

I highly recommend this sport for all the family; it’s awesome.

Foot Golf

Yesterday saw a trip to Gibraltar, as I had to drop Savannah off at the airport. Although the education is good here and my other children all went to International Schools in the area, (more about those later), we decided to send Savannah to a boarding school in England; it makes the school run further, but at least its not everyday!

The new airport in Gibraltar is great, easy to get to and British Airways, Easy Jet and Monarch fly from there on a regular basis. A forty-minute car journey and a ten-minute wait at the border, as I decided to take the car through, was all it took.

The people are very friendly there and the shopping is good, especially for electrical items, such as I-pods and cameras. Morrison’s was also on the hit list for all the foods that you can’t buy here on the coast. I needed scallops for my healthy recipe (see below), which is simple, easy and really tasty.

Anyway now the Christmas decorations are down, I am dedicating the week ahead to cleaning my house from top to bottom, a job which is so boring, that in the breaks from cleaning, I have been playing Candy Crush Saga, dreaming of winning the lottery and looking up silly facts on the internet. Did you know that according to credible online sources, men smile on average 8 times a day and women smile 62 times a day! That explains the husband then!

If you enjoyed this post, please recommend it to your friends. Even share it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you very much.

Bye for now and see you next week xx
Scallops and Mango Recipe:

300g Scallops, 1 packet of fresh spinach, 1 Mango, Coconut oil, Salt and Pepper

Chop mango into cubes and set aside, heat coconut oil in a frying pan and when hot, add seasoned scallops and spinach. Cook until scallops are brown on both sides and spinach is wilted. Combine spinach and scallops on a plate and add mango cubes to dish. DELICIOUS!!

Foot Golf Marbella is located at El Campanario Country Club and is available on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. Tel. 649 481 613

Week 1

Editor´s Note: We are pleased to welcome Anna Tildesley as a guest blogger. She is an accomplished writer/journalist with a great sense of humour. She will be writing a weekly column on a wide variety of interesting subjects. We hope you will become a regular follower of her column and recommend it to your friends.

First, let me relate a little information about me. My name is Anna Tildesley, I’m a 49 year old married mother of four kids ranging from 23 to 10 and I have lived in Marbella for nearly 29 years – the anniversary is actually on January 6th. I fell in love here (three times), married twice and currently live with the second husband after a sneaky affair 17 years ago!

I’m a writer who has worked for various newspapers and I have decided to write this weekly blog because I think we could all do with a bit of positive energy and encouragement in 2015.

Life has its ups and downs, but I’m a true believer in a positive attitude, an ability to laugh and a way to find the funny side of things. Admittedly, sometimes its not always appropriate, especially when I was accompanying my husband to the hospital with a broken rib a few days ago, laugh!….. I haven’t laughed so much in ages! Silly man!! Fancy go-karting at 58 years old. What was he thinking? First tip for the over 50’s in 2015 – leave the dangerous sports to the younger ones. They are stronger and heal quicker!

Talking of keeping positive, my New Year´s Eve was one to remember. Chris was his usual charming and happy self with a broken rib, my Mum didn’t make it to 12 o’clock with a bad back and the kids had an accident with the car and had to stay in Granada for the night. So as you can imagine, I was ecstatic, Cava on my own, Alan Carr and Madrid time keeping, perfect for disaster.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!!

Actually, I consider myself very lucky. There aren’t many places where you can wake up to beautiful sunshine and a gorgeous view on New Year´s Day.

Anna 1 1

I feel a little spoilt living in Marbella as there are so many incredible sites, places, rivers, lakes and beaches to see. I suppose you become accustomed to it, but I try to appreciate what I have everyday. So this year, I have decided it is time to get off my arse and start being a little healthier and achieve goals that I didn’t feel were necessary to accomplish before. It’s going to be hard because, to be fair, I do love a vodka & tonic on a nightly basis, cheesy balls are a favourite of mine and anything beginning with choc in it is a necessity, but to be honest, as the saying goes, when needs must…..!

So what are my New Year resolutions? Well….I could write a long list but I’m going to be realistic for once, instead of trying to be hopelessly optimistic and try to stick to these ten groundbreaking decisions. Here we go:

  • No more cheese balls, except on special occasions.
  • Two litres of water per day, with no exception and nothing added to it.
  • Chocolate to be curtailed to Easter, Valentines and my birthday.
  • Exercise – now this is the one I have to be careful with, keep remembering to be realistic Anna. Ok. Starting tomorrow the Couch to 5 km challenge.
  • Vodkas limited to once a week and holidays (no cheating).
  • Healthy cooking, I will put the best recipes up on this blog for approval.
  • Have more fun and be more adventurous, with or without the kids.
  • Definitely more facials, absolutely necessary at 49.
  • Run up that steep hill I look at every time I take my son to golf.
  • A successful and positive year with many achievements. Oh! And a family holiday for my big birthday!

Next week I will keep you all updated on my progress, and I would love to hear other people´s New Year Resolutions. This is going to be a positive year, so think of all the things that you would like to achieve in the next 365 days and write them down.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you

Bye for now and see you next week xx

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