Episode 16: Absolutely Fagulous

‘Mum, why won’t my Xbox work’?  Bellows a familiar voice from behind his bedroom door.

‘We don’t have any internet’ I sigh, and unpack yet another box. ‘WHAT????  How can I survive??  I can’t talk to anyone!  Even the goat house had internet, what am I supposed to do???’ 

‘Get off your arse and go outside and chat to real people?’  I mumble to myself and place a family picture against the wall to be mounted when ‘Lighting Guy’ returns from flattering the luvvies in sepia. Our worldly possessions had finally arrived intact the day before, delivered by a very nice man with a very big van.  Looking now at the mountain of boxes stacked against the walls I realise that I haven’t packed one kitchen utensil, not even a side plate or a fork.  But we had, in our wisdom, brought along the 4 foot long fibreglass sharks head which is currently residing on the balcony underneath the washing line.  Foolishly I had been under the assumption that every fleeing expat with a property to sell in Spain would leave their abode fully furnished, like a Wimpy show home from the 1980’s.  But we purchased from locals, and locals take everything with them, including the shower head apparently.

To add insult to injury we also have no hot water.  The ancient gas boiler didn’t even make an attempt to fire up. It just stood there, white and lacklustre, mocking my sweaty armpits with silent authority.  I wander back through the kitchen, trying to avoid eye contact with the ramshackle lime green Formica units.  I half expect Miss Jones to come wandering around the corner at any given moment asking where Rigsby is lurking.  Standing forlornly with my head pressed against the dining room wall, I try to calm the panic that I can feel, once again, bubbling inside of me.

Standing up straight and brushing Brian’s dog hair off my leggings, I look at the clock.  It’s barely 10am on a Saturday morning but without any wardrobes to place our clothes in, the outside world looks far more appealing than my current enclosure.  Dragging the petulant one out of his bed, we amble over to Miramar shopping centre and stand in line at the Moviestar desk, waiting patiently to speak to the solitary staff member who speaks English, hoping he can enable our access back into the 21st century without the need of a Tardis.

Two hours later we claim possession of a ridiculously extortionate phone contract with the promise that fibre optic will be installed ‘directly’ into our flat forthwith.

The midday sun beats down around scantily clad tourists and we decide to take a pitstop to fill our growling bellies at a local café.  My son orders enough food to feed a small army and I pick at his leftovers whilst clutching a chilled white wine, my personal buoyancy aid amid a sea of uncertainty.

Sitting at the table opposite me is a blonde woman of similar age who is talking rapidly into her mobile phone in French and flicking cigarette ash onto the pavement.  She catches my eye and smiles, raising her eyebrows in a conspiratorial ‘are people actually this stupid’ motion and slams her phone onto the table and inhales another round of nicotine.  Her brown eyes swivel in my direction and land directly on my rapidly evaporating glass of wine.

‘I think I’ll join you in one of those’ she says in perfect clipped English tones and waves the waiter over.  ‘Would you like another?’ she enquires then orders two white wines before I have time to accept her generous offer.  

Devoid of any real adult conversation since moving into our new home, I motion for her to join us at the table and my son, full of tapas and fresh Naranja,  makes his excuses and ambles back towards the direction of the flat, no doubt to see if the god of fibre optic communication has miraculously embedded itself into our walls.

‘Soooo’ my new platinum friend enquires with a wave of her hand, wafting a plume of smoke in my direction ‘What do the people with children do here in the summer months?  My 2 boys don’t start school for another 12 weeks, we’ve literally just moved over here from France and they need to find some form of activity apart from exercising their wrists on the Xbox….’

I smile and lean forward in my plastic chair, fuelled by lack of carbs and too much cheap wine. The person sitting accross from me is a complete stranger but I hear my voice engage before my brain has time to complain.

‘I’m also a New wife in the Sun, and I think I may have an idea….’

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 15: Breaking Bed

‘I told you it was too big!  The first time I laid eyes on it I said it wouldn’t fit up that tiny gap and now it’s well and truly stuck.  You’ll have to find another suitable entrance to shove it in if you’re determined to get it up!’

Storming back up to the apartment I leave my husband and two very confused Spanish delivery men encased on the communal spiral staircase lodged behind one very obstinate king sized mattress.  Slamming the door behind me I wipe the sweat off my menopausal brow and pick up a copy of the local Olive Press newspaper and fan myself back into some semblance of sanity.

Within 4 weeks of saying ‘I do’ to our little Fuengirola flat, papers had been signed, hands had been shaken and just 18 hours earlier the majority of the profit from our Hastings home had been handed over to three squabbling siblings in exchange for a set of rusty keys.  And now, before we can finally settle in to our new life in the Sun, we have to find something to sleep on, and that something is nestling quite comfortably half way up the shady staircase of our hastily purchased first floor abode.

‘Paula, stop moping and get your arse out onto the balcony, we have a plan B!’ yells a familiar voice from outside. Hauling said posterior off the marble floor I peer over the railings and see two tanned plus one beetroot face looking expectantly up at me.

‘Apparently, they are going to wrap a rope around it and I’m going to haul it over the balcony, well I think that’s what they said…either that or they are going to hang me so  PLEASE open the door and let me in!’

Reluctantly I press the buzzer, mumbling profanities to the silent walls and within moments ‘he who knows best’ puffs past me and heads out onto the sunny terrace.

Five minutes later a makeshift pulley has been attached to the railings and my husband stands precariously on the wrong side of the balcony facing the busy road.  One hand grips the wrought iron balustrade and the other a piece of cord which is attached to a very large and cumbersome mattress.

‘Don’t drop it’ I yell helpfully as sweat drips off his ‘verging on fifty’ fore-head.  The two delivery men, no doubt used to stupid foreigners purchasing products too big for their humble abodes, haul the bed above their heads and start the countdown.  My husband, tethered to the railings by his Dunelm dressing gown cord, leans precariously over the edge, nervously facing the pavement and grabs the hem of the polythene cover with the tip of his fingers.  Without further instruction, the younger of the two Spanish workers vaults onto his partners shoulders and gives the mattress a final shove and husband, bed and common sense fall backwards over the balcony railings, landing together in an ungainly heap upon the terracotta floor.

Brian (the brave) having watched all this from the comfort of a canopied shady corner, meanders over to see what is occurring and having found not one solitary digestive crumb en route,  circles the area a couple of times before settling himself on the mattress which is currently residing on top of my motionless husband.  Shoving the disgruntled hound off his coveted new bed, I grasp my spouse’s barely visible hand and haul him out from under his plastic prison and between us gently lay the troublesome slumberdown up against the apartment wall.  Delivery forms are finally signed and the other less cumbersome objects are placed in the rooms they were duly purchased for.

‘Well, that’s good, we finally have something to sit on, something to sleep on, and something to eat off and…er, something to look at until the Telly arrives!’. My husband’s eyes dart warily over to the cobalt black, four foot glass mosaic face I hastily purchased after several glasses of Andalucía’s finest export. I glare at him from the comfort of our new sofa bed and ignore his last remark.

Looking around the white washed walls , an empty shell full of possibilities, the truth hits home and I realise I will never, ever have to mow a wet lawn in November again. No mortgage, no biting winters, no more poundland….no more…

A thought suddenly strikes me and it chills me to the core, what properties am I going to covet now whilst watching channel 4???

To Be Continued…

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 13: To the Manor Burn

‘What the hell are you doing here, and more importantly, how on Google earth did you find us?”

I smile and grasp my nomadic friend to my breast and breathe in the heady scent of her travels.  Memories as ripe as a week old nectarine flood into my head and I’m instantly transported back to 1994…

…I’m age 27 and on a one way flight to Hong Kong.  I have no money, nowhere to stay and no idea what I am going to do once I arrive.  I blame Judith Charmers.  It was after a particularly horrendous shift working in Harrods (home to the obscenely rich and rigorously rude) the platinum blonde Irish presenter did a feature on us Brits working side by side in this affluent Asian city and suddenly, all thoughts of attending drama school become nothing but a distant memory.  Without rhyme or reason nor a week’s working notice, I packed up my troubles, purchased a one way ticket and spent the following 2 years of my young life living, laughing, surviving and residing on the 16th floor of  the notorious Chunking Mansions alongside a series of other misfit gweilo expats.  Working till dawn in Chinese karaoke bars to pay for our adventures and then wiping sleep out of our eyes at 5am to appear as extra’s alongside Jackie Chan in his latest action movie. Life was good, life was exciting, life was…

“How did you find me?”  I laugh between hugs “I can’t even find me living out here??”

“I was up in the Andalucía Mountains and I saw on Face book that you had moved to Spain so I thought I’d pop in and see you.  That Goat farmer across the road was really helpful, pointed me in the right direction and even offered me some fresh milk!”  My old acquaintance informs me with a smile a she wipes away the residue on her lips.

Dropping her rucksack onto the wooden floor and stretching out her aching spine, introductions are made and edited adventures are told.  As the final bottle of wine is emptied my newest housemate, of which normality was never an option yawns and closes her well travelled eyes.

Leading her up to the largest of spare rooms to sleep off the most recent of travels I close the door quietly behind me and make my way back into the lounge where my husband is sitting with an open laptop in front of him

“Why didn’t you say you had an interview tomorrow?”  He asks in a sullen tone

“Because if I don’t take the job then you won’t be any the wiser” I reply, almost shutting his fingers between the lid in my haste to close the incriminating email down.

He harrumphs his disagreement and I march off to bed alone with laptop in hand.

The morning is greeted with the usual array of animal activity, culminating in a sparrow flying through the bedroom window and crapping on the duvet before seeking solace behind the wardrobe.  My husband sleeps through the whole arm waving and bird poking adventure so I leave man and feathered friend alone to get better acquainted.

Leaving our guest to sleep off her adventures, I make my way downstairs and steal the jeep before anyone says they need running anywhere.  With the wind in my hair and Ricky Martin bellowing in my ear, I make my way to the hotel where I am to be educated on how to correctly apply sun cream and charm the tourists into buying my wares.

In all honesty, I don’t know how flogging specialised lotion could possibly be classed as a job but with a jaunt in my stride I walk into the foyer to be greeted by a very slim, very brown middle aged woman who instantly has me sign 39 forms on product confidentiality and then strides outside into the pool area to show me how to flog creams to bronzed sitting ducks.

Within 30 minutes I know without hesitation the job is not for me.  Firstly, having to get down on bended knee to talk to customers is not boding well with my clacking joints.  Every time I try to rise I have the grip the sun lounger with such force I almost propel one baking punter into the pool along with his half consumed pinacolada.  Secondly, the amount of spiel you are required to impart to the reluctant purchaser about skin damage makes me seriously wonder about my mahogany companion’s skin care routine and thirdly, when you are not flogging your creams and sprays, you have to stand in the sun, never in the shade to prove how well the product works!

Being the well adjusted, mature middle aged responsible woman I am, I cross my legs and make my excuses, head towards the toilet, veer swift left and make a bid for freedom out the front door and onto the street.  Swinging my bag over my shoulder I head towards the car, picking up a bottle of fizzy wine en route.

Becoming an adult can wait until tomorrow.

To be continued … Episode 14

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.