Sunday, 30 September 2012

Something fishy

I'm a little confused. Lots of strange things tonight

1) I used the bidet. Well fun
2) It was 4am when this happened. Everyone else is still busy partying
4) I don't know where I fit in society now. Am I one of the children or a Mum? The person at the party who was my age suggested I come to the beach with them next year. He said: "I brought my guitar and started playing on the beach, everyone gathered round, before you know it is 7am on the beach and everyone is naked."

What? I'm not listening to a guitar. I sidled back to my favourite Dad and asked him to make me a fresh Cuba Libre."Ok, but don't drink it too fast."

6) I spent twenty minutes learning about Engineering. And hotels in Ghana. Anything as long as it is told to me by an attentive semi English speaking Dad. They are also quite good at fetching me drinks.

Even more confusing is that I was spooning up cold tomato soup today and I found a whole fish lurking at the bottom of it. Why would you leave a fish there? I wasn't expecting it at all. I know this type of gazpacho often has tuna as a topping, or even crumbled egg or ham, but FISH! That is really too much. 

* I had to delete 5) as it involved a tongue stud and it was a step TOO FAR

Thursday, 27 September 2012

'When I was inside Aiysha...'

I thought to save you all a version of Bob's daily line I thought I might write a list of annoying annecdotes I might try to shoehorn into conversation. You can read them, and then that's finished.

So, Alex will be telling me about how hard it is to drag home a rusty three legged bed he found on the street and I'll say, 'Hard! You want to try living for two weeks in Alicante in August...Sometimes I fantasised about throwing myself off the balcony and not even hitting the swimming pool below'

Bob will be raving about nice and long her commute is and I'll say, "Please. I didn't walk anywhere for two months. The one day we had to, Ana got well mad with Cristobal and made his friend Oscar pick us up in his sports car." I've also forgotten how to cook, clean, wash and dry my clothes, hold proper conversations as everything is done for me. It took me at least 30 seconds too long to reply to a question today as I couldn't remember how to form words.

Sashy, Roast and Dashy will be rhapsodising about how cute Frieda is and I'll say, "Cute! Well, just let me tell you about Javier". He has learnt to speak English in an overly dramatic girl way. As well as saying 'oh my gosh' with alarming frequency, he showed me a new playmobile quad bike the other day, saying, 'oh, it's very sweet.' He's going to use 'ooh dreamy' any moment. When he next asks for a kidnap instead of a napkin I might just do it.

Chaz will be talking about how much she craves a big meaty man to replace her remote and I'll gloat, 'Well, on holiday, I ate enough fatty meat to make Laura Corby swoon. Ham on its own, ham in pasta, ham dipped in melon juice. Ham even replaces bread as the bookends of a sandwich here. Sure I want cheese on ham".

Mark and I probably won't talk that often.

Dave and Chris will be steaming me up some succulent bite and I'll say... well actually I'll have my mouth full.

Mum will be telling me about how the TV was broken so she had to watch Parades End on one laptop on the sofa, whilst Ro and her oddly patient boyfriend watched it on a second laptop at the desk in the same room. Slightly out of sync. I'll say, "Tgssh, that's nothing. How about you watch two months of TV in Spanish?" Although on the plus side an episode of Charmed was on one day and I was pleased to understand that Piper seemed to be dying and reuniting with Leo in magic heaven.

Y'esta. (it means done fyi)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

28 days later

I'm so traumatised after the fire festival that I can hardly type. I'd better let the pictures speak for me. 
At first my trepidation was calmed by the sight of a nice brass band. Very civilised. 

Then I saw this weird Virgin statue marching by, growing eeriely green up close. I never knew Mary liked neon so much. 

Then as we walked further I saw that the entire field was on fire. Not just in one place, but huge separate fires with rivers of it running between. I'm not surprised that five years ago it bled to the village and burned down a few houses.
It looked like the world was ending. Groups of people with scarves covering their mouths were running about between the fires. They looked like they were just making trouble, but my hosts assured me that they were looking to see if they could see the image of the Virgin in the fire (as legend goes).

We followed the brass band and the procession back to the village. Oh what's this? Now fire just in the street. Why not?

 Even more disturbing they had a stage afterwards in the town square and these beauties got crowned as Miss Fuente el Saz. Eurgh.

I think it was no wonder I was craving crumpets the next day. This would never happen in Lutterworth. Shame I had to make do with three kit kats I found in a drawer. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Flushed with success

We've had some absolutely amazing cakes here. For lunch today Ana made this delicious caramel flan thing which I shall give you the recipe when I feel like writing that much.

Also her cousin Marie-Carmen gave me a baked cheese cake which she said was made out of three eggs, three pieces of white bread, condensed milk, and some other stuff I guess. It was the best.

ALSO Lolly, the Granny makes this really moist sponge cake that we dip in our chocolate milk. I asked Ana the recipe and she said it was the same as hers. "Really?" "Yes, we just use different amounts of olive oil." It really is in everything.

One thing that isn't so sweet is the sight of people going to the toilet. For some reason in Spain people seem to leave the door open. Not the majority of my family, they're too sophisticated. Mainly in Alicante people did it. I would push open the ajar door of the restaurant serviosa and "EHHHHH", whoops old lady. The next night, another restaurant. "EH!" Young man this time. Or they didn't bother closing it at all. "Oh Hi little girl." Worst was when Uncle HerrZeus used my ensuite at night because the sofa bed in the lounge didn't have one. I'm not really asleep, I can hear with the door open.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Oiln't you glad you're on holiday?

I'm getting a bit fed up here. We have just had the worst game of prisoners. After they had tied me to a chair with sellotape and a skipping rope they penned me against the wall with the football net. I nearly managed to get out but my top knot kept getting caught in the net. It's quite big now. 

Then once they let me out Javier kept getting really mad at me for 'not playing properly' (how?) then was hitting me loads with a child's baseball bat. It hurt and I kept telling him to stop. "Para ya!" I accidentally hit him with a foam stick and he cried and puts forward an argument about how he is a child and I shouldn't hit him. True, but adults have feelings too, is my reply. He does not accept this, or responsibility for my numerous bruises, grazes and emotional pain. We argue some more with limited English. "You don't understand!" "NO you don't understand!" Miguel walks off saying 'I don't understand both.' Then Javier says, 'English people are mean' and walks off too. I was very sad after this.

I had just about forgiven them when at about 4am I could hear someone being sick. It was Miguel who was then rushed to hospital by Granny, who was supervising us whilst A and C are away for the night. I sleepily got up and went to see how Javier was. He was very sad saying he couldn't sleep, he was too worried. Oh dear. I obviously couldn't console him with words, and am too English to do more than pat his arm, so I suggested we watch tv. 

Only one shopping channel was working. "You want to watch on the Ipad?" "Ooh yes please". I nestled in hoping he had a good dubbed cartoon film or something. Oh no, it's Grand Theft Auto. Yes of course I'd love to watch you play that at 4.30am in the morning!

One thing that isn't inconsiderate is the amount of oil used in food. We have oil swirled in the soup, oil on toast, oil as a spaghetti sauce, oil in the cake recipes, tremendously oily tomato salad. It's very nice. I'm sure my skin is looking much juicier from it. Squeeze it and see when I get back. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Wash away Spain

Just so you know, I want a bath so badly. They don't have them in Spain. And when I get one I'll document the whole thing.

What food floats?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ciabatta matter

We have been back in the house for a few weeks post beach, which is so much more relaxing. My sun punished skin has lots its tan. My hair braid is out. I don't have to meet ten new Spanish people a day. We have been quite normal and eaten lots of fish fingers and played lots of Playmobil. I can even now sing the entire theme tune to most American teen comedies (dubbed in Spanish). Most conversations go like this: Javier: 'I want to watch Phineas y Ferb!' Me: 'No, I like Austin y Ally, cartoons make feel ill when they move too fast!'

It's even got so normal that I've been enjoying occasionally leaving the sofa to go bike riding. It's a little bit annoying as Miguel makes us follow him and tests out all the routes first. "Stay there, watch me if it safe."
I've only had 18 yrs more experience than you- I think I can tell if the tiny hill is safe to ride down. And as Alex riding two miles ahead of me on our last bike ride will testify to you- I am more than safe with my breaks.
But for some reason they think they are in charge. "Frances come, Frances stay, Frances look, careful Frances!"

The only thing they've genuinely trail blazed me with is tomato on bread. You toast one slice of crusty ciabatta type bread. You swim it with extra virgin olive oil. If you're Ana you then add a layer of sugar. But if you're Javier you then ask for half a tomato and squeeze it all over like a lemon. Then you add a layer of ham off Harriet the kitchen pet pig. So delicious.

We had such a good day yesterday that they even said 'Stay with us?' as I made to slink upstairs at night. Err no. I'm got some deep thinking and deep vaselining to do in my room. It takes a while. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

You'd forget your peg if it wasn't screwed on.

We just spent a very happy family evening making the invitations for Cristobal's upcoming grand soiree. We all had a little job like a factory line, but with glossy conditions and payment in fatty meat not 1 pence per hour.
 Cris wrote the words, Miguel printed them on white sticky paper, I cut them out in little strips, Ana stuck them on, and Javier scooped up the paper trimmings.
We stuck the words on clothes pegs along with the message "Que no se te vaya la pinza". It translates as don't forget your peg. Apparently, it is a Spanish expression about not forgetting the important thing. As without your peg you would fall off the clothes line, if you indeed were a piece of clothing.

Javier cutely said that this was the first time he had been allowed to help with invitations. As previously he wasn't any good at them. I feel for him. I can remember when Alex and I were making our 18th birthday invitations which were scanned into dollar bills. I wasn't allowed to do any cutting back then.

It's been a lovely evening after an awful day (Miguel and their cousin left Javier out of playmobil so he pushed Miguel in the cold swimming pool fully clothed. Everyone got so told off we were sad all day, and I was especially sad as Miguel made fun of me for not understanding something and then refused to tell me anyway).

As well as enjoying our cottage industry we enjoyed freshly made red grape juice along with our nightly cheese and ham AND Jennifer Paige Crush played on the radio. Best night of my life.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Braidzen girl

The inevitable has happened. I got a braid. I was concentrating so hard at dinner last night on deflecting  the onslaught of cheese and jam coming my way, whilst trying to remember the Spanish for 'thanks for a nice hol'. Concentrating so hard that I walked head first into the trap of admiring a 13 year old girl's leather hair braid with bells and shells on the end. "You want one?" "Erm, no, it's so beautiful, but I haven't got any money."
"You could ask Ana?" "Erm, no, I can't really, she's already too generous. I'm very sad but it's not to be."

I turned my head to deflect another plate of salt coming my way, and turned back just in time to see the girl whispering with her Mum, who was looking at me and smiling. Minutes later I was in a gaggle of pre teens hurtling towards the little fair nearby. "Are you sure it isn't closed? It is 1.30am." They eat really late, I haven't been exaggerating. "Nope, it's open, fantastic."
"Ten euros!!!!" I'm glad it's not me paying.

I kept it on for at least a day, and hacked it off the next with nail clippers with no small amount of my own hair.

It goes in my hair as well as ham goes dipped in freshly squeezed melon juice. Something else the children like here. I showed Bob the braid on skype and she was nearly sick so I'll leave a photo out. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Seize the pudding!

Last day of the beach today, and like my sweet Sashy and Roast advise, I shall make the most of it.
I haven't had the chance so far as we have been sitting in our own sweat all morning waiting for Cristobal to come back from scuba diving. But I have been very good in that time trying to talk to the boys about their toy cars (ooh that one looks fast!) and not crying when the cleaners threw away my stash of melted Lindt.

Today we are going for lunch with our three best friend families who also holiday here every year. They have all been very sweet to me, practising their English more than can be fun on a two week break. The children, especially the girls, love testing me on my Spanish alphabet and 1-10, and are much less frightening than Javier and Miguel when I make mistakes. I have learnt the Spanish for "I like you pretty dress/hair braid/mood ring/ which goes down a treat.

I'm hoping lunch will be good. Last time we went to this place I misunderstood the pudding question and had to watch unhappily whilst everyone else but me ate chocolate bombe with raspberry icecream.
This time it shall be mine. Mwahahahah.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


The mosquitoes don't strike often, but when they do it's hard. As I inspected how my beach bod was developing this morning, I realised I looked like I'd been punched.

Well, at least the mosquitoes touch me. On hols with friends Alex would plot strategic hugs for me so I felt loved enough to limit my unfortunate visits to Czech doctors.

Here, surrounded by loving families I am feeling a little lonely. I kept hearing this word "quieron", and wondered what it meant. It is never used on me and I was curious why. Oh, it means "my love". Well, not for me.
Cristobal has started giving me a playful slap on the neck as the children get, when we leave wet towels on the floor or don't finish our dinners. Ouch. But I don't get any of the loud smacking skin kisses that any child in range of an adult acquaintance gets.

Oh well, I shall carry on attempting to nestle into the crooks of waitor's arms as they pass me my fatty meat, and cuddling a 2L waterbottle at night (it's very hot here did I mention) pretending I'm camping next to Bob or Chaz's icy cheeks. So refreshing.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Dad diaries 2: Honey I drowned the kids

You will never guess what the Dadz did today! I was busy applying my suncream in great globs in anticipation of our beach trip, when I heard the door slam. Cristobal had responded too willingly to an impromptu suggestion by Dad No.2 and they were taking all the children on the boat. In less than tranquil weather. Oooff. Raised eyebrow, pursed lips ahoy!

Settled under a beach parasol with the other Mums we realised we could see the boat in our stretch of sea. A few pages of my book later I realised all the Mums had stood up and were speaking in tense tones. I couldn't tell you what they were saying but I used my emotional intelligence to sense they were worried about the boat, which was being thrown about somewhat. I could see some 7 year old heads bobbing about in the waves. Eventually a little dingy collected the vulnerable crew and deposited them back in the speedboat.

Ana said, 'Well, Cristobal thinks his friend's wife is irresponsible because she forgets to switch the oven on for dinner......" Huff puff.

And we found the Dadz and kids having a chocolate milk in a cafe raving about their adventure whilst the Mum's choked back their tears. It is lost to me in translation whether it was dangerous or an adventure.

Something else which I don't quite know what to think about is cheese with jam. It is appearing regularly as our starter at dinner.

I don't have a photo of it, any will do, but it is weird. It comes in four slices of spongy cheese ("What cheese is this? "Fresh cheese" "Oh"..) with little pots of blueberry, strawberry, blackberry jam and marmalade. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Dad Diaries

Spending so much time raising my eyebrows with my Mum colleagues I start to blame Dads for everything. Lets go to the cinema without checking the times. Or even if it still exists. Closed for 2012. Oh it must be the crisis. Pretty sure it was something to do with a Dad actually. Bike ride forgot to tell Mum about? Ok, lets go. Oh, now we've got four minutes to change before smart meal out.
Dinner finishes 3am, probably Dad's fault. The walk to it certainly was. Haven't you heard of taxis?

However, once we got to the restaurant it was absolutely amazing. I was trapped sitting at the end of the table with all four middle aged men but it was quite fun, and as the Mum belonging to the most English speaking one was at home caring for their sick child, I had some near comprehensive conversations. Usually I only hear their endless jokes as,

 "Que corriente mucho bien Yo Paco. Yhgu hfh yo tambien no yo Paco! Thghgh tampoco...
Thehgngngj espere mallo verdad estoy Claudia Schiffer!'

But Santi kindly translated them all for me this. Then we had the most enormous platter of steaks swimming in their own blood. I wish I could stop humanising meat.

This doesn't fit into the blog anywhere as it's not funny, mean, or vaguely about food, but on the way home we went past a circus was resting for the night. There were some elephants elegantly curling up some straw. I was sorry their dinner had come so late. As one of the Mum's would say sarcastically, 'the Dad's are always heroes, just because we stay out all night we see an elephant.."

Monday, 3 September 2012

The squids

No complaining today. More than four hours sleep does wonders for ones mood.
However, if anyone is missing my ungrateful poison, I will comment that the cleaners have stolen my old Weekend magazines. And one was mid crossword! How will I get through the next week of beach without old Lucy Mangan columns to keep my misery company?

I'm feeling quite chirpy today. I sprung out of bed, greeted the daily anxious 'Que tal?' with 'Estoy contenta' and was only slightly smug to hear that no one else had slept well. Oh well, I announced, I shall be the entertainment today! They smiled weakly as I skipped back to my bedroom to write some more things about them all.

As I was writing I found that Bob had written already 'time to take your braids out!' Well, Flobablob, you thought you were joking, but I have been wearing woven threads in British flag colours for a week now. Albeit in bracelet form, not hair. It was a new craze the children had, up until yesterday when they discovered pogs. I'm not joking.

Something else you may have thought I was making 'una broma' (possibly the Spanish for a joke) about was the muffins in milk filling every possible space between meals.

Exhibit A: Javier's breakfast. I smuggled my phone sweatily into breakfast in the band of my pants just so I could document this unseen.

After breakfast we played on the beach for a few hours until lunch. I tolerated Javier's sandcastle dictatorship, and still had the strength to pull him around on his surfboard for twenty minutes. "When is it my turn?" "My board! Go more fast. More fast. Bad girl. More fast."

Then we met their friends for a seafood feast. I had an excessive amount of seafood. Both the langoustines and squid have me lolling on my bed right now like Kirstie Alley playing a mermaid.

Although actually I don't think a sack of prawns agrees with me. Madre mia! I'm sure Kirstie Alley never moved this fast... 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Worth my salt

I'm not coping very well on this holiday and I'm starting to think I'm luxury illiterate. I have painful earache from diving into the med too many times off their speedboat. My skin has come out in a very uncomfortable rash from the heady cocktail of 12 hours of daily sunshine and factor 50. Even on days I don't see the beach, about a spadeful of sand falls out of my bra when I get undressed.
Today I didn't realise that you're meant to suck the brains out of those big prawn things and they laughed at me. Really? But it tastes so strong. Yes, so does caviar, I imagine someone might have commented, if they could speak my language. I don't think I should be allowed to leave the apartment.

In return for all the glam I am trying to be the perfect guest. I am enthusiastic (often genuinely) about playing with the children. I didn't even complain when Javier hit me today. I overcame my small town sensibilities to teach them the lyrics to 'Blow my whistle, baby', on request. It felt wrong but it was better than hearing them mumble.
I don't wear any breasty clothes infront of the Dads, and I complain with the Mums about the Dads as best I can. Raised eyebrows and pursed lips are international.
I don't swim against the tide of breakfast times anymore- today I ate my breakfast churros and chocolate milk at 12.30pm. And because that wasn't filling enough, I added some whole wedges of cake to soak up the last of the milk.
I even let the top middle of my back burn so no one is burdened with having to apply my suncream.

I think you would agree that I am a pretty good guest. Possibly the hardest thing is pretending not to choke on their salads. I asked what the Spanish word for salty is today and a stray Dad told me it was salada. "You can remember it as it sounds like salad, and we put a lot of salt in our salads". Don't I know it! I shall pretend that's what got in my eye today not the salty sting of homesickness.