The Darling Buds of Prey – Ep 4

My husband, coated in mud, is standing on my doorstep which is actually physically impossible unless he is the latest companion of Tom Baker. Pressing my face up against the window I look for a Blue Police Box but all I can see is the velvet sky. The man I’m married to only left the UK via our ancient Jeep this morning and as far as I am aware, time travel was not mentioned once in our courtship.  I take a step back and rub my eyes.  This dream is extremely realistic, I can even feel the wooden floor creaking beneath my toes as I head back up the stairs to bed.

‘Mum, stop being a div, let dad in!  He text me and asked me to keep it a secret.  He didn’t leave Hastings this morning, he left yesterday afternoon after dropping us off at that crappy Gatwick hotel. While we were sleeping he was driving across France!”

I stop dead in my tracks and turn around.  Brian, the dog is standing outside next to his jaded master, wagging his tail and looking wistfully up at the door handle.  I decide to throw caution to the wind and let both apparitions in.  The hairy one greets me with his usual kisses and slobbers gratefully over my outstretched hand but I hastily avoid the lips of my spouse as he smells distinctly of stale coffee and animal poo.  It transpires that on entering the drive, my other half tripped over several dozing goats and went face first into their ablutions.  I try not to laugh and fail dismally

Placating the man child with a mug of something hot and sweet I spend the following 30 minutes running around after our dog that appears intent on weeing on every piece of wood in the house.

After the men folk are showered I manage to find some pasta and a red sauce in the cupboard and throw together a meat free Bolognese that for once, no-one complains about.  Bleary eyed and slightly delirious we all head upstairs to bed, exhilarated and exhausted in equal measures.

I am awoken just before the sun has chance to rise by the sound of several dogs barking, 403 birds singing, a Rooster yelling and a husband snoring.  Turning to look at my watch I see it’s almost 6am.  Lying in bed looking at the ceiling I decide it’s no use even attempting to go back to sleep so I head downstairs to put the kettle on.

The sun is streaming through the windows and I open the patio doors to let the dog out and the warm breeze in.  Stretching, Brian heads outside and sniffs the air and ambles off into the brush.  Seconds later he is back indoors and hiding under the table.  I cajole him out with a biscuit and he stands shivering, staring at the brush and wining, Hobnob untouched.  I drag my flip flops on and go out to investigate as to why a hound that should be programmed to round up sheep is currently trying to crawl under the fridge.

I wander the perimeter, gently humming to myself.  I shake my head and smile, there’s absolutely nothing here to be afraid of, that dog is as yellow as…. oh!

Mingled in amongst the weeds is a tiny tortoiseshell kitten.  Only something isn’t quite right.  I take a step back and tilt my chin.  It takes a few seconds to realise what’s wrong with the tiny corpse.  It has no head, just a little furry body of about 8 weeks old.  It’s 6am, I’ve not even had anything with caffeine in and already I’m staring at a decapitated pussy.  I look around and instantly I see another striped body further down the embankment. This one has it’s head intact but is also motionless.  Within seconds I spot another sibling, also dead with puncture marks to its chest.  Three dead cats.  It’s like a sadistic nursery rhyme penned by a juvenile Steven King.  I stagger back into the house and pelt up the stairs to awake my sleeping partner.

“Marcus…  MARCUS!!  There are three dead cats in the garden and one has no head!!!’

My husband, never the earliest of risers mumbles something about Winona Ryder, laughs, farts and promptly starts snoring again.  I sigh; shake my head and return downstairs in search of some gardening gloves, resigned to my task ahead.

And so, this is how you will find me at 6.13am on a sunny Saturday morning. I’m the slightly overweight middle aged woman staggering about on the gravel drive clad in an ‘I love Disco’ Onesie, clutching a bin bag in one hand and a trowel in the other.  It wasn’t the welcome I expected on my first morning in Spain but it’s one I certainly won’t forget.  Now if you will excuse me, I have three small bodies to bury.

 

To be continued – Episode 5

Only Goats and Horses – Ep 3

Oblivious to the correct protocol when one is faced with a suitcase eating goat, I did what I thought Bear Grylls would do in this situation; I wrestled it to the ground, chopped it up into bite size pieces and turned it into a nice curry.
Obviously that’s a lie; I’m not actually that keen on curry, so I yelled and shook my hand luggage at the uninvited guest while my son hid behind the nearest bush. Both kids stared at me for a moment, and then the hairier of the two grew bored and decided to relocate to the field opposite, gripping the severed handle of the aforementioned case like a well deserved trophy and disappeared into the brush.
Without further ado, I unlocked the gate, ran through, slammed it shut, heard more yelling, remembered I had a son, let him in, slammed it shut for a second time and made a bid for the safe confines of the house. After a brief knee shuffle we located the keys which were hidden under the BBQ and without further interruption we entered our new temporary home.
Leaning with my back against the closed door I searched for the light and flicked the switch. Several lamps erupted into life, illuminating a warm and welcoming lounge and kitchen area. My son, all thoughts of our wildlife interlude forgotten, ran upstairs to the largest of the four double bedrooms and threw his bag onto the floor and promptly set about finding out where the WIFI code was located. I on the other hand looked for the most important item in the house, the kettle.
After a brief sanity respite containing three sugars and an out of date chocolate bourbon, I finally took stock of our surroundings. The house was completely made of wood, not a brick in sight. An arsonists dream. I trailed my hand against the warm grain and dragged my weary legs upstairs in search of the bathroom. Post wee and wash I wandered down the hall and flopped down onto the first available bed I came to. Without invitation oblivion engulfed me and drifted off into a much welcomed late afternoon siesta.
Just as I was happily chatting away to the tin man about the liberal use of WD40, Dorothy rudely interrupted our conversation by yelling something about not being in Kansas anymore. It was at that point the bed beneath me decided to vibrate, and may I add, not in a pleasant way.
I opened one eye to make sure the ruby slippers were still adorning my trotters when the house was suddenly engulfed in a bright light. Boy child, headphones surgically attached to his head launched himself into my room, almost taking the door off its hinges in the process yelling ‘This is your fault, I knew we should have stayed at the premier inn, this place is haunted!’ and then jumped onto the bed beside me and dived under the covers all the while mumbling about crucifixes and rotating heads. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I looked around the room and at that point another flash of light erupted from behind the curtain followed by an enormous thunder clap. An involuntary yelp seeped out from under the covers followed by a faint whisper … ‘Take her, she’s older and an atheist’.
Staggering from the bed I headed over towards the window and pulled back the blinds. A massive electrical storm was cascading down around us with forked lightning dancing over the sea, causing the house to shake like a 6th grader at his first prom. Opening the balcony door I walked out onto the decking and stood in awe watching Mother Nature conduct her own impromptu light show.
A series of knocks on the front door dragged me back into reality and I stumbled onto the landing and peered around the banister. A tall silhouette stood outside in the dark, hunched against the door frame with his back to the glass, a sack slung over his shoulder. Holding a finger to my lips I motioned to my son to be quiet. The stranger banged on the door again, this time more forceful and I stood still, rooted to the spot with fear, all thoughts of lazy days in the sun fading like a distant memory. Taking a deep breath I steeled another look around the corner, heart in mouth to see the intruder looking directly at me, hair plastered to his head but with strangely familiar eyes.
‘Are you going to bloody let me in or not? I’ve not had a decent cuppa in over a 1000 miles’

To be continued – Episode 4

One Foot in the Brave – Ep 2

“Mum, would you rather die by being sucked down the toilet, rammed by the drinks trolley or catapulted out the window?”

Ignoring the boy child’s Haribo infused fascination with morbid in-flight endings; I fasten my seatbelt and look out the window at the country I call home. Catching my own reflexion in the glass I see my mother’s eyes looking back at me and I wonder if I’ve made the right decision by letting my husband drive all the way to Spain. Tears prickle behind my eyes and I rapidly blink them back.  I really hope he hasn’t crashed travelling through France as I’ve grown quite fond of that glass coffee table he’s got bubble wrapped in the boot.

Anyone thinking about relocating to Spain will find long term accommodation hard to come by, especially in the tourist resorts as the summer season approaches but I have been fortunate enough to be put in touch with a friend of a friend’s auntie’s brother’s great niece who has inherited a family house in the Campo which we can stay in rent free as long as my husband promises to repair a few electrical bits and tidies the garden occasionally.  I don’t quite know what a Campo is but it all sounds very glam and Poldark esque.  I’m consumed by visions of myself riding bareback to the local fruit and veg market on an untamed Palomino stallion.  Hundreds of Looky-Looky men follow my progression through the various stalls as I scoop up several kilo of sundried tomatoes and casually drop them onto my rotating umbrella hat.  In reality, I’d probably have to tuck my breasts into my knickers if I rode anything that went any faster than a slow amble in fear of giving myself a black eye.

Time flies like my transient youth and before I have time to order another vodka chaser we have crossed countries, breezed through customs and are tucked safely on board the fast train to Fuengirola.  Unfortunately most of the 35 minute journey is spent apologising to the local residents as our errant Suitcases decide to take on a Torvil & Dean style skate off down the centre aisle every time the train departs a station.  Straddling both bags with my fluorescent thighs I smile apologetically at our captive olive skinned audience and they shake their heads in weary acceptance at the anaemic interlopers currently invading not only their network system but their country too.

On exiting the train station we rapidly locate the Taxi rank and I bang on the window of several sleepy drivers who take one look at the hastily scribbled accommodation address and shake their heads in a no nonsense manner.  Finally one elderly chap nods in agreement and looks dramatically up towards the hills.  Without further adieu our bags are hurled into his boot and with his foot on the gas he indicates Left, promptly turns right and without even a nod to the wing mirror,  takes an unscheduled U turn in the road.

Within minutes we are gliding up the A7 motorway through the Costa Del Sol.  Bleached villas envelop the landscape either side of the road and Indigo Pools twinkle in the afternoon sunlight.  Heading towards a sign that reads ‘La Cala de Mijas’ we leave the familiarity of the road and head North onto a dirt track which appears to lead upwards into oblivion.  My adventurer’s spirit rapidly starts to fade as we climb higher and higher into the mountains until the only thing left to view is the horizon. Thunder rolls overhead and the Sun is eclipsed by a cloud the colour of granite. We turn one final corner and come to an abrupt stop in front of a fenced off compound surrounding a rather ramshackle wooden house that wouldn’t look out of place in a Freddy Krueger sequel.

The driver drops our luggage by the fence and disappears in a cloud of dust.  My son shields his eyes and squints towards our new abode and then enquiringly back at me. I smile encouragingly and head towards the padlocked gate but his voice stops me instantly in my tracks.

“I really don’t want to worry you mother but there’s a goat about to eat my suitcase”

To be continued – Episode 3

A New Wife in the Sun

I think my husband finally admitted defeat after being forced to watch channel 4‘s ‘A Place in the Sun’ thirty seven times in one month.

In the deciding episode, Aunt Maude had left a substantial inheritance to a  lacklustre middle aged couple who, after being shown several stunning Spanish properties in Andalucia decided they wanted to stay in Accrington after all.  Shaking my head in disgust whilst inhaling my fifth Jammie Dodger, I sighed and pointed out to my forever weary spouse that come 2019 the choice to relocate in Europe may well be taken away from us Brits and we would have to stay and reside in the UK forever.  Brushing the crumbs off my increasingly expanding belly I sighed loudly and looked out of the kitchen window at the grey clouds rolling heavily across the November sky.

Rubbing away the deeply ingrained London smog from his bleary eyes, the man I married only 7 years earlier raised his hands in a ‘you win’ gesture and uttered the words I’d been longing to hear “Ok, let’s do it, we’ll move,  but you can tell the family!”

Scraping up my disbelieving jaw from the Axminster I screamed in excitement and rushed over to the computer to see how much international Schools cost and what paperwork was required for back-packing pets.  Behind me I could hear my husband mumbling under his breath about Rabies jabs and how they were missing a trick by not administering them to menopausal housewives.

Looking down at the family dog, feet in the air, snoring obliviously, no doubt dreaming of cheese and giant tennis balls. I made a mental note to get his maracas removed before heading off on our adventure.  The last thing I needed was the pitter patter of 24 Spanish feet while quaffing cheap Rioja.

(I did actually enquire with the family GP if the same procedure could be done with my younger husband but alas, the NHS is stretched enough apparently)

So here I am, exactly 5 months later and one week shy of my 51st birthday, staring vacantly out of the airport window onto the grey Gatwick concourse.  Beside me, my twelve year old son mumbles something incoherent about mozzarella and ambles off to purchase a baguette which costs roughly the same price as my first car.  The boy child is more than happy to move abroad.  He’s watched Bay Watch.  He knows that everyone runs in slow motion and looks like Pamela Anderson on warmer shores.  Plus I’ve bribed him with the promise of a certain Xbox game (yes I am a bad parent, but at least I’ll be a bad parent in a vest as opposed to a cardi)

The house is under offer.  The tears have been shed.  Man and dog are loaded up in the Jeep, our worldly possessions crammed into every available crevice. No doubt by now both would be heading over the French border, happily singing Charles Aznavour tunes en route.  The ties with normality had been cut.

I glance down at the suitcase in my hand and grip the one way ticket to Malaga tightly in my fist.  We have no home, we have no jobs.  We don’t speak Spanish.  We are either very brave or very stupid.

Taking a deep breath I drag my belongings and monosyllabic child towards the gate which is now boarding. This is the moment our lives will change forever.  I smile, pull my big girl pants up and take the first step towards our new life in the sun.

To be continued – Episode 2