Halfterm holiday in Spain, 2000


We woke at 03:10, thanks to a good piece of alarm clock setting by Dad! Everyone dressed, and quick drinks while we waited for a taxi. (Actually, it was a minibus that arrived for us. A painless trip to the airport.

Unbelievable! We found the checkin desk at the second attempt - we were confused because there wasn't a queue. We only waited about two minutes to check in - and then went for brekkie. Sausage and bacon baps all round for breakfast number 1. No What Satellite mag for Tom but we managed to buy Auntie Pip some earplugs. She went to look for a watch - as she'd left hers at home.

The flight was on time - but our take off slot was delayed for about 15 minutes. I think the children enjoyed the flight - I am unsure about Pip, as she was sitting in the aisle seat next to them. I was across the aisle from them. I whiled away my time reading a tech mag and pointing out things I wanted to Pip. Which I am sure she was most grateful for. The children paid attention to the safety briefing, and then worked on the puzzle magazines they'd been given. Everyone ate their breakfast, but I don't think they liked it as much as the morning baps.

We waltzed through passport control - but I think the children would rather have had their passports stamped.

We got the bags relatively easily and then went out and saw our car hire place. We were then taken to a courtesy bus - which nipped us out to the car garage - 6k pesetas later we were off. Pip navigated us out of Malaga very easily, and the little Fiat seiscento whirred through the familiar mountain and seaside landscapes towards Torrox Costa. Pip caught me in time before I headed up to Tom's and we went on towards Nerja.

The map provided by the villa firm was truly awful, and we went twice through and round Nerja before we decide to park up. When we did so, we *still* couldn't find the agency. I rang them up - very pleased that my mobile worked here - and after a rather testy phone call, we found our way to the agency. There was about a 20-minute wait for our guide, so Pip and kids grabbed some food, while I fetched the car. We were then introduced to our moped riding guide... we followed him about 1k out of Nerja, up the Frigiliana road to our villa (between a road and a beer bottling plant.) Actually, it wasn't bad - 3 nice big bedrooms, patio, roof terrace and pool. A quick unpack, cheese on toast - then down the coast to Torrox Costa for a shop. After buying makings for tea, we went for a walk on the beach. Much starfish rescuing later - Rowan anxiously, Philip reluctantly - we walked on. Beers and cokes in a promenade cafe then back to the car.

We got back to the villa flawlessly, and all had an hours sleep. The kids and I had an extra half-hour as Pip laboured mightily in the kitchen producing a wonderful smelling spag bog.

We managed a look on the roof top terrace - and though it would be nice to have brekkie up there - we'll see.

Pip and I finished a bottle of Vina Albali with tea - and we all shared some mousses/egg custards for pudding... and then the children and I washed up. A game of snakes and ladders - baths all round - and bed. Exhausted.


Oh Dear. Rain. We slept very well - the children having some 11 hours sleep.

A cuddle followed by discussion of what to do today. Definitely not breakfast on the roof as rain thundered down.

While we cooked breakfast we ignored imploring looks from two small black kittens

Sausage butties - and amazing... the rain stopped. Diary write up, while Philip and Rowan debate swimming and Pip sorts out stuff to take up to Tom's.

Eventually, swimming was confirmed - two towel wrapped children dashed for the outside - through the pools of water resting on the terrace. They were highly amused by the cold water shower by the pool - which they both indulged in. Two small people slowly lowered themselves into the blue water (liberally sprinkled with snuffed flies) They had a swift splash about for a few minutes and did a couple of lengths. Rinse off under cold shower - then in for a hot one - which turned the bathroom into a sauna. We packed up for Tom's and then locked up the villa, and went down to Nerja.

We walked along the promenade, and looked down to the rocks below, and admired the beautiful clear water. We explored the side streets, and we found a number of interesting little restaurants - including a Marisquerea where we might eat on Tuesday.

We also found a flamenco bar, which we might risk so Philip and Rowan can see flamenco - Pip says she will endure this.

We went down to the seafront again - and Philip and Rowan were told not to go on the beach - but were allowed to go on the rocks on the proviso that they didn't get wet. Of course, Philip took that as an instruction to slip into the deepest nearby rock pool. Wet trousers, socks and trainers... so we wrung those out and went back up the hill to the car (missing our way a bit, and walking a huge circle back to the car park).

We headed out along the coast back towards Torrox Costa, with the chief navigator doing a sterling job. We pointed out the signs that boasted that Torrox had the best climate in Europe. We wound up the steep narrow roads towards Tom's and showed the children the depositos, the terracing and the grape drying areas. We discussed what it must be like to have to walk up the hills - and were pleased we had the car.

Interestingly, the roads seemed much less windy than the 3 previous times we've driven up here. Acclimatisation?

We reached the Pavo Real, where we stopped for a couple o drinks - and a large plate of chips. Carl and Jenny (Joan too) seemed very pleased to see us, and asked after my Dad.

We wound down the dirt road to the Cortijo Algorrobo - and when we turned the car round Tom was there to see us.

He took us round on the grand tour of the house, and showed us where we all sleeping - he has reorganised the living room again - including putting castors on the bottom of his swivel chair.

After a drink we were taken round the "land".

The children ate fresh figs from the tree, and we picked a lemon. The trees include... Cup of Gold, false pepper, pitosporum, avocado, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, mango, persimmon, palm, algorrobo (carob), eucalyptus, illowara flame tree, fig, olive, jacaranda, willow, peach, conifer (cypress), plum, chirimoya, almond and mimosa, wisteria, lemon grass.

We picked a persimmon (which we all tasted at teatime). We helped Tom do dinner - I peeled veg and Row helped make stuffing. While tea cooked we had a drink on the terrace - and we all looked through Tom's good binoculars round the valley. The kids and I walked in the bottom of the pool. - Empty, of course.

Tea wasn't an unmitigated success - I'd overcooked the chicken, and oversalted the carrots. We enjoyed the meal and ate goat cheese (with virgin olive oil) and Brie.

We went out onto the dark terrace and played with bright torches until it got chilly. The kids had a swift clean of teeth and went to bed about 10ish - After a few minutes wait Tom went in to kiss them goodnight.

The lightning we'd seen flashing for hours in the distance (lighting the distant sky) had proved to be a forerunner of the driving, torrential rain that persisted all through the night.

Pip and I woke frequently through the night, but she didn't rouse properly till about 7:10 and me about 8:45. The kids came in about 8:50 and I was booted out of bed to make drinks for everyone.

We chatted about the day's agenda, which changed as the rain persisted. We had cornflakes and pain au chocolat for breakfast - and as the rain fell we decided to write up our diaries - while Pip knitted a dishcloth, and Tom looked up Spanish trees in an Australian garden book.

We may go to the market later - but more of the day's activities tomorrow.


As I indicated in the previous thrilling instalment, we went down to Torrox Costa market. Merde! Il pleut. But rather a lot. The market was effectively closing when we got there, as I guess there was virtually no trade... Row saw some silver butterfly hair clips that she just had to have, and we managed to buy some leeks for tea... We decided to give the beach a miss, and pip and the kids went to the supermarket. I had to walk back in the driving rain to get the car. When I got to the supermarket they hadn't even got the trolley - as they wouldn't pay the 100 pesetas. Actually, they didn't have any change - so Auntie Pip bought some cards and stamps - but still didn't get change. We shopped and shopped and shopped - and queued for Queso de cabra Fresco. Since it was still raining we decided that we would have lunch at the villa; the kids were made up that we had such a varied lunch. Much to the children's delight - Auntie Pip thought the baby eels were much too squirmy, even though they were dead. We had smoked sardines, Baby Bel, octopus, sausages and bread.

The swimming pool was nearly full to the top - which showed how much rain had fallen. We had a very sad time eating lunch - as we had to resist the begging dogs and cats that had come to the door. Auntie Pip felt she had to give the dogs some biccies to lure them out of the gates. Still doesn't explain why we had to give the cats the left over fish!

As the rain had then stopped, we went for a walk round Nerja, and then went down to the promenade and back to the car.

We had an easy run back to Tom's and while I installed software on Dad's PC, Pip made a rather tasty (though slow cooking) risotto. Philip and Rowan played ludo and Chinese checkers with Tom - unsurprisingly he won both games.

After we'd eaten, we washed up (well, Pip did) and then went up to the Pavo Real - with our torches helping us to avoid the puddles. A couple of beers were very pleasant - and we watched the children throwing darts (some of which missed Barney the dog and hit the dart board).

Back to Tom's at 10:30pm - he was already in kip. We went straight to sleep, and woke to a dark cloudy morning at about 7:40.

After breakfast I worked on the fireplace and chimney with Dad (the kids were most impressed to see the lizard in the fireplace) while everyone else did cards and diary.

A cup of coffee - and then ....

After we'd done the diary write up (Pip managing to fit the packing in while she did some of the supervision) we decided to go back to Nerja - I think Tom was a bit sad about this, as he suddenly said "Oh, we should go and see Rosario [his neighbour]". We agreed to see her on Thursday. We took Tom's rubbish - as he needs to dump this in a municipal waste bin down in Torrox Pueblo.

We nipped into the Pavo Real for lunch - I had big sole, Pip had trout, Rowan had calimari - all with chips, and Philip had chicken curry, albeit some 15 minutes later. While we ate there, and after making suitable admiring noises at Carl and Jenny's coke drinking 2 year old, Jack - who used a straw with considerable aplomb, it started to rain. The cats came in to shelter, one curling up on a bar stool. The rain started to pour - sufficiently so, that a mat had to be put out, and a large saucepan placed to put umbrellas into.

With no sign of it stopping, we decided to make a run for it, after paying. Slightly soggy, we sat in the car and let it demist. The rain slowed enough for Pip to dump the rubbish, but it was a very nasty journey down the mountain with lashing rain and us driving down through clouds.

We got back to Nerja without incident, and managed to unpack and sort two loads of washing (first load in) and then off for a siesta, Pip and I managing a cuddle before sleep. We got up 2 hours later and managed to get our washing hung up on a makeshift clothesline, recycled from a broken one on the roof terrace. It snapped twice, before eventually holding.

We then decided to set off for where? Frigiliana sounded good, so off we went. The road was once again narrow and windy - we practised our Spanish on "Curva peligrosa" - Dangerous bends anyone? We got to Frigiliana, up a windy road which was being rebuilt - the unmade surface would horrify UK road planners....

The white village appeared before us, in a gap between 2 hills.

We got to a parking place by the valley, having driven through the village on a tiny street, passing some interesting looking shops, but disappointingly few restaurants [suitable for us+kids, anyway]. We parked up and went for a walk. We meandered through the ladderlike streets, climbing steadily - enough so that P ran a bit out of puff, and I welcomed the stop to admire the view. You could see clearly the other hills, terraces, and view of the Mediterranean. We walked right to the top of the town - where there was a barbecue restaurant - closed in winter evenings. Hmm. We could see many roof terraces, with cloth blinds which would provide shade from the inconveniently absent sun. Walking down to the town again, after making a call to Mummy(!) we admired the many flowerpots adorning the white walls, the greenery showing up really clearly. On some of the walls, there were historical scenes in tiles, describing who knows what aspect of Frigiliana history. Some nice knickknack shops, but an absence of restaurants, so far.

We walked round the base of a town, n a big curve, admiring the darkening sky, when we heard some bells. No, not the church bells, we had already heard that mark 7:30. It has to be said the illuminated church tower at the top of the town looked pretty good, and provided a clear focal point to the town. I'm sure the Roman Catholic Church is not too upset about this.

The bells we heard were goat bells. We spent a few minutes watching them clambering up and down steps - the odd ones deciding to walk up and down a near sheer cliff face - the goat herd calling to them. While we walked further along, we saw a lone bat swooping over us - catching insects attracted by the handsome street lighting? We were suitably impressed by the sight of banana trees.

Anyway, we passed the car and continued to look unsuccessfully for a restaurant. Failing in this, we went back to the car, and drove down towards Torrox Costa - to search there. Whilst I successfully negotiated the Curva Peligrosa, the street signs beat me - and I ended up 1/2 way to Velez Malaga. Back we came.

After a moment's hesitation we chose a marisqueria close by the front. When we entered, it seemed most unprepossessing. Cluttered with dirty glasses and children's toys. Oh, right. We'd come in the back way. We ordered Mixed fish for Pip; Giant prawns for me (4 of them!) Mussels for Row and clams for Phil. A minor disaster when some child (I won't mention her name) spilt their drink, but very nice bar that.

The food was all exceptionally tasty - all sharing choice morsels with each other. (Pleasant Vina Albali, too).

After the meal we went out onto the prom and walked along running about - and ringing Granny. We looked at the showers on the beach (including foot showers) - and Philip tried to convince himself (with a little help from Pip) that the lifeguard chairs were shark towers.

We all thought it could be nice to stay in a penthouse flat at Torrox Costa. Our walk back to the car was punctuated by a search for beautiful smelling flowers. We drove straight back to the villa and hurled everybody to bed. The children marginally were in bed before midnight. Just.

Pip and I were both restless - waking frequently but still woke pretty well rested - with Pip's cold not being so bad today.


Rowan joined us at 8:55 - with Phil being summoned at 9:20. We all got up at 9:30 and breakfasted on cheese on toast with jamon serrano topping garnished with tomatoes followed by bananas.

Diaries again - the never ending slog which seems to take the children so long (Pip and I managing to shower and wash up while they continued to write. later, I'd guess Nerja, Torrox Costa for Chocolate and Churros and Tom's. We'll see...

The day didn't turn out quite as anticipated, but very pleasant for all that.

Down into Nerja, our usual car park, although 2nd level down, and out of the back way. Much to our surprise we found a very attractive looking crepe place - which we noted for later. The key item on the agenda was posting the cards. While waiting to ask in the tourist information I saw a map which showed the location of the post office. We set off. I know I should leave maps to the expert, I got us lost. We ended up in an entirely different part of Nerja - which we recalled form a previous visit. We could see down from the high terraces to the beach below. Pip took the kids down there, past scores of starving cats and kittens, whilst I retraced my steps looking for the post office. I found it a few yards from where we'd started walking. I hurried back to the beach finding an alternative way down, on a very nice footpath, underneath overhanging cliffs, by bamboo, and chumba cactus. I attempted to sneak up on them, walking in the sea, but I was spotted. They all looked a little soggy - and Philip and Rowan were occupied building sandcastles. As usual. We watched the tide rushing in, the sea actually looking quite inviting and certainly warmer than Anglesey - although definitely not warm. The tide was advancing close to the castle moat... when it started to rain. Again. We walked back up the way I'd come - stopping frequently to admire the coves and views. Chumbo and possibly bouginvillea were seen hanging down - and we'd seen palm and banana trees, with tall bamboo at the beach

We paused a gift shop to buy pressies for people - tea towels for Auntie Eileen and Granny, and some decorations for mummy. We wandered back to the car - and stopped at the crepe place to get lunch. Row had 4 cheese, Phil ham and mozzarella; I had tuna and broccoli, while Pip had ham and blue cheese (queso azul). And cokes, and much refreshed, it was back up the mountain to Tom's villa. Last time up the mountain this time for the kids, so they looked hard at all the scenery - the terraces and little white villas, the grape drying racks and so on.

We met Tom at the villa, and Pip and I only stopped long enough for a coffee - it sounded as if the children would have a full itinerary.

Pip and I drove back down the mountain - down to the villa. We played washing for a bit, taking it up to the roof for a walk - where we were going to dry it - until it started to rain...and then had a little cheese and jamon serrano toastie. A bath, cuddle and siesta followed (At about 6pm)

We woke, and it was getting dark (sleep was easier, since we found out how to turn off the water pump). We walked down to the town. We had a little face to face with an irritated burro, which was sufficiently worrying for me to pick up a couple of stones... just to discourage it, you understand. We escaped sagely to the road. It was a bit spooky walking past all the traffic, as we were on the hard shoulder. When we got to the round about we smelt a very strong smell - which transpired to be a small herd of goats in an open shed....

We went to have a look round the supermarket where we would be shopping the following day, and then did a few comparisons with other liquor shops. Most of the interesting looking places seemed to be restaurants only - with a smattering of "See football on widescreen TV. Drink John Smith's beer" type of places that we'd give a wide berth to.

We were getting ready for a drink when we found the Round bar. After a couple of beers we had a little plate of jamon serrano, and following a small vino tinto, I had a couple of olives from Pip's plate (I think she alleges I ate a few more than a couple) We ate at the round bar - me having a kebab and Pip having honey smeared ribs. We drank another bottle of wine, and then meandered round Nerja to find our way back to the villa. While it took us about 20 minutes to get up the hill, it was a pleasant walk for two mildly muzzy, rather pogged people.

We got back to the villa about midnight, having had a detour on the way to admire a lighted fountain. We sat in the living room for a bit - far too full to go straight to bed.


We awoke in the morning to - no kids, and silent pump. We had a coffee, and breakfasted on cornflakes and bananas. We needed to sort out what we were doing about keys, and get some more money, so we made our way down into Nerja - only stopping to feed the two resident kittens (nicknamed Tip and Mitten) some pulpo. Yes, that's right. Octopus.

We checked where we would hand in our keys on early Saturday morning, and then went to a cash machine, and drew another 100 - where does it all go too? We booked Friday evening - of which more later, and then somehow found our way to the crepe cafe... I had tuna and asparagus - Pip had tuna and artichoke. It was a bit of a change sitting in bright sun, rather than as on Wednesday huddling under the table umbrella from the rain. Back to the car park, pay, and find our way out towards the supermarket. Easy, free parking there, and straight in. We sorted out the grog in a few minutes, including some wine and vodka for my dad - but we had to have a look for interesting bits and pieces. So, with jamon Serano and Manchego cheese purchased I finished my plaintive negotiations for mussels and prawns and squid - including catching myself asking for 500 squid (rather than 500 grams) The little assistant found it all quite amusing and made sure we got an extra handful of everything. We packed it all away in the boot, and went off up the mountain. Again. We worked out it would have been 4 trips up and down in 5 days.

We arrived to a very quiet Tom's villa, no sign of life at all - then we saw a busy looking boy clutching a handful of chives and spring onion tops. Rowan was sitting just inside the door, looking a little sad - we guessed and later had it confirmed that she'd been told that she couldn't go down to the garden with Phil. We were a bit early, but still thought that 2:10 was a bit late for lunch. A very nice looking bowl of salad, tricolour spaghetti and pesto and tomato and olive sauce. Bit of a blow for Phil, there.

Dad and I did washing up, while Pip took the kids up to the Pavo - this was so Dad and I could talk "men's talk" - family stuff. She arrived back at around 4:45 - and we were firmly told that we would not be required for some time. Paella preparation would be undertaken. Of course, before that we had to visit Rosario and Pepe - as usual, she was pleased to see us and chatted rapidly in vernacular Spanish - that Pip, the kids, and I understood none of - and Dad understood 50% of it. Rosario's mum Brigitta was sitting in the chair - rather than lying in the bed, so we all kissed her hello. She indicated we should be eating - so we had crisps, cheese, bread, vino de terrano - she seemed quite affected by the children and cried a little Rosario sympathetically (!) saying "Canta, canta" sing some more.

After half an hour or so, we said our goodbyes and the children allegedly went to help with the paella. I dragged Pip back to the Pavo Real. I played with the cube puzzle that had defeated the children - it beat me too.

I rang Jon - as per my dad's request - getting no reply from him, I rang my Mum and relayed instructions to her. I let Tom know - and was told not to return for at least another half hour - as he was still cooking - and we had a "wounded little girl".

She (and Phil) were lounging in front of the tv - watching cartoons when we came back. Pip and I were not impressed to say the least.

We sat and ate paella which was very nice - After several chats over the meal, the children went off to bed - last night in Tom's. We stayed up and had a call from my Mum to say she'd not reached Jon - then Jon rang. Dad pulled his leg for half an hour or so, while we finished off the wine, then Pip went to bed. My dad and I went shortly after - when he'd finished his scotch and milk.


Tom's garden - fruit

Goodbye to Tom

Hot and sunny today

Nerja caves - truly impressive



Beach S and kids had a swim in the cold not so clear water

Petrol and cokes


Flamenco meal


Early Start 6:00

Loads of stars

Kids on roof to see stars

Lock gates for last time (got it right this time) down quietly through streets (nearly empty to villa agency)

Wrong turn - past villa again wave bye

Down to Malaga to return car - down dark motorway

Courtesy bus to airport - heavy bags...

Early for checkin - 25 minutes wait

Checked all bags in. 64 kilos...

Through security check - called back when they saw palmy. Including Civil Guard looking...

Up to cafe area - jamon serrano and cheese sandwiches (freshly squeezed oj for Phil)

Row bought a doll's flamenco outfit - Pip found an olive and stone tray

Flight back uneventful - pip rented earphones for kids.

Bumpy landing; rain in Manchester

Unpacked - no breakages - bar one split mango.

Pip got 2 loads of washing through - all had siesta; shopped; enjoyed curry for tea.

End of hols....

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