Hotel Review x 2 – Spanish Costa Weekend – Budget and Luxury

You might be wondering about the title: it’s simple really. We chose to stay at two properties for a coastal break in one Spanish coastal destination, picking top-rated properties at both ends of the scale, budget, and luxury. What did we find? Read on!

Scoring high

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Ever use the rating system on these booking websites? We do, in fact, we tend to book depending on other people’s views and recommendations. Word of mouth is better of course, but choosing somewhere new to go means we rely on this little 8s and 9s – in fact, I would not book anywhere not in the top 20%. It doesn’t always work – we have stayed in several squeaking bed ‘suites’ that have left a lot to be desired!

The destination

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Salobreña was the point of the pin on the map back on a very hot late May weekend, and we rode the Harley down from our home in Granada to the fresh and breezy Costa Tropical. Previously only for a stretch of the legs on the Málaga airport run, a trek up to the castle, or to see my daughter dance in the Traditional Trovo group from Murtas. Up to now, Salobreña featured as an away day rather than a layover type of stop – but Mick and I love a weekend away and it’s nice and close. With a history stretching back 6000 years, old and new towns to explore and 5 beaches to ramble – it’s a good choice. Coming from Málaga? It’s just a bare hour along the usually empty A7, and still remains typically Spanish so is a nice alternative away day from the bustling and touristy Costa del Sol.

Choice 1 – Budget: Hostal Jayma

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Score on Booking: 9.4

Small and family-run, Hostal Jayma is situated in the Old Town, and parking is a bit of a nightmare, there is none at the accommodation. Having said that, it’s easy enough in May to find a space in town – it might be a little more frustrating in high season. 10/10 for friendliness, the hostal owner is helpful and chatty – he also speaks English if you need it. Our room on the first floor had Wifi, a small flat screen TV, and a decent bathroom with toiletries and towels aplenty. The room was clean and quiet, had a little balcony to sit on at the front, and although a bit basic and tired when it came to decor, was not unpleasant. The hostal is central, a few minutes stagger to local bars and restaurants, and for that all-important Spanish breakfast of coffee and Tostada con todo times two. Would we return? Yes, for the odd night it’s perfectly fine and reasonably priced from just €50.

Hostal Jayma

C/ Cristo 24
18680 Salobreña
Granada, Spain
(+34) 958 610 231
info@hostaljayma.com

Choice 2 – Luxury: Hotel Miba

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Score on Booking: 9.2

The next morning we had that leisurely breakfast and checked out. Harley parked up, boots off and flip-flops on and a morning spent on the beach and a 2pm chiringuito fresh fish lunch a few steps from our sun loungers (which served as storage for the boots, helmets, bags and all the ‘stuff’ a ride down brings!) At check-in time we put back on the leather and took the short ride up to Hotel Miba for the second leg of the weekend.

Hotel Miba is fairly new – I remember driving past as it was built a few years back and wondering if I would ever stay there. Sometimes you get what you wish for! We booked the best room, the larger of the two suites (Queen Suite) for the ultimate luxurious experience. Oh My! It was everything you might expect. Parking is free in front of the hotel which is directly off the A7, perched right at the top with views over the sea. Reception staff are chatty and helpful. Our room was priced at €180 (with drinks, dinner and breakfast about €300ish) and worth every single cent. It was big – 65 m² – with two large double beds together to make an ocean of a bed. The roll-top bath was in front of the (not overlooked!) expansive terrace doors, the fridge has Cava to drink, perfect in the bath 🙂  there was a separate large luxury bathroom with a shower to fit a party of 10 (no, I didn’t!) and the terrace was all around the suite. The decor is funky ethnic, there are a rooftop Skybar and pool (which we had all to ourselves) and both breakfast and dinner were phenomenal. The quality of food and service is outstanding, and dinner was the best I have had in Spain. Any drawbacks? Could be a better choice of toiletries at that price – maybe some really good bath foam for that fabulous bath? Would we return? Yes, in a heartbeat…!

Hotel Miba

N-340, Km. 325,

18680 Salobreña,

Granada

Contact form

The reviews in this article are not paid for or sponsored  – views are my own.

Reinstate wellness at Camino Recovery, Spain

Of all of the proven methods for recovery from addiction and stress, the most reliable has to include a healthy dose of sunshine! Knowing that you are on your personal Camino – or road – to solid recovery can only be made better by a superb location underneath the Spanish sun.

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Selection: Why choose Spain for recovery?

What are the other factors for choosing Spain as a destination for your walk back to happiness and wellness? It’s about much more than that warm and relaxing weather. Factor in the relatively short hop from the UK or Ireland – you can be here in just a couple of hours. Trust is paramount – the quality of clinical care has to feature high on anyone’s list – and the level of professional healthcare in Spain is rated very highly, in fact, the 7th best in the world, and is what you can expect with a stay using the superb facilities at Camino Recovery.

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Arrival: A tranquil setting

Sunshine-filled and peaceful surroundings are the calm and dignified frame that greet you on arrival at the picture-perfect destination of Camino Recovery, found nestled beneath the Sierra de Tejeda mountain range in Andalusia, in a location that oozes a sense of secret seclusion. Rest assured that the luxury location is matched perfectly by cutting-edge treatments and well respected, world-class clinical staff. 

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Treatments available

Those cutting-edge tratments are just the ticket for a variety of issues you may be curently facing. Dealing with life has it’s downs as well as ups, and a decision to reinstate wellness at a respected residential Recovery centre might be for a whole host of reasons:

Perhaps you (or your loved one) have decided to give up alcohol and need a little support.

You may be suffering from addiction; drugs, alcohol, gaming, eating disorders, unresolved trauma, anxiety, depression – the list of reasons is endless, and we all need a hand occasionally to get back onto the right track.

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Stay and be cared for

A residential stay in one of the superbly appointed suites is favourable as it provides you with a total immmersion away from the world of tempation and is an intensive treatment with high results. There are never more than eight clients at any one time, ensuring a personalised and high quality treatment, adapted entirely to your needs.

There are many different approaches to therapy, one being intensity. For some the positive benefits of being removed from their immediate environment are immeasurable. 

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Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Horses for courses? Horses can respond to the emotional state of humans, without need for verbal communication. They can sense fear, anxiety and respect, and they react accordingly without the preconceptions that exist with human interaction. Therefore the Equine Assisted Therapy is one of the most successful treatments at Camino Recovery, and it’s one of the world’s leading centres. Worried about riding prowess? There’s no horse-riding involved – watch the video here. Instead, it uses activities and tasks to bring the horse and patient closer together in a gentle environment from the ground and involves no riding of the horse itself.

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The perfect time to book

Christmas is fast approaching – for some of us it’s a festive season to be greeted warmly, but for others it’s far from the season of Goodwill – handle it knowing that you’re looking forward to a New Year and a new you in the form of a 2020 stay at Camino recovery – a vacation with long-lasting and life-changing results.

Walking in the Alpujarra area of Andalusia

The rolling foothills of the Alpujarras region of Andalusia are still a pretty well-kept secret. Step away from the sand of the Costa Tropical and wind your way uphill, where a patchwork quilt of open countryside – most of it unchanged since Moorish times – unfurls before you, as far as the eye can see. Most first-time visitors describe their worries and stresses falling away as quickly as the coast drops below them. Roads where you’re unlikely to meet another vehicle snake up and around the mountainsides, calling you to explore more…

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Carol Byrne

Pack and go

Pack your boots, sensible layers of outdoor clothing and come and join our recommended Walking Tour operator Spanish Highs, as they show you around this time-forgotten area, and introduce you to a traditional Spanish area you will unlikely forget. Make some memories that last long beyond the suntan, and meet a destination you will wish to return to, time and again.

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The walking routes

With the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea at your feet, way below, and the Sierra Nevada mountains as the snowy frame, walking in the Alpujarras is a visual pleasure. Your senses will be instantly revived also, with the scent of fresh mountain herbs trampled underfoot, and the clear, clean air.

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Come on an Alpujarras Escape Walking Holiday

  • 5 days of the best walking and hiking tours in the Alpujarras!
  • Any dates between September and June (inclusive)
  • 7 nights in 3* hotel accommodation in Lanjarón
  • Choose between 2 fine hotels
  • Experienced local mountain and walking guides
  • Most days can be extended or shortened as necessary to suit the group
  • Shorter breaks available on request.
  • Optional (May to Oct) is an ascent of Mulhacén, the highest mountain in mainland Spain (3482m)

Level of challenge

Expect altitude gains of about 400m to 850m ascent and between 5 and 7 hours of walking per day. Bring sensible clothing and good hiking boots. Hiking poles are useful. Sun hats, sun glasses, sun block and a water bottle are essential.

Want to know more? Contact us: via our Contact Page or emailinfo@spanishhighs.co.uk. Tel +44 7505 753259 by prior appointment (email) only please.

 

 

Lettuce Pray

Those words I always thought the priest uttered at Mass on soft Irish Sunday mornings – I was an almost-adult before – like many song lyrics – I realised I had it all wrong. Young folk have no idea how lucky they are that they have lyric sites at the swipe of an iPhone – and that they’re not bullied into Mass, for that matter.

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But this post is neither religious or musical, though I suspect a Mel Brooks-style treat is being hastily scribbled in the wings.

I ask you to to forget about world hunger. Begone Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and those irritating refugees looking for non-essentials such as shelter and water. The new kid on the block is Britain. Yes, in true OLIVER style, the begging bowl is out. The supermarkets are bare and the Sun editor is doing back-flips. It’s the scoop of the century. There is no lettuce. In February. That’s winter, right? But there’s no use whining and begging. Spain is NOT for sharing.

So, let’s consider the great #LettuceGate scandal of 2017 as a great hunger, perhaps even a Famine. Ah yes, we knew we’d have you eventually, landowners and bigwigs. You thought you could get us with our own potatoes when the chips were down.

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There’s a monumental disaster afoot and it’s caused by a lack of Lactuca Sativa.

What if #LettuceGate has the same consequences as the Great Famine? Starvation. Disease. Lettuce is a rich source of Vitamin K and Vitamin A. It’s a source of Folate. The National Health Service will crumble.

There’ll be mass emigration. The fact that no-one will want you is a bridge you’ll just have to cross in search of Iceberg, Cos or your next bag of Looseleaf.

What’s the solution? Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP might like to know that it’s possible to wait until lettuce is actually in season and grow her own.

Remember one more thing, Britain. Where did all the Irish go after An Gorta Mór? Oh yes, but now, sure, isn’t that ‘just desserts’?

Spanish Road Trips: Happy in Valladolid

Lovely though it is on our mountain way up in the Alpujarra, sometimes we need to come down and go exploring, and see more of Spain! Usually its a quick weekend in a nearby city to soak up some carbon monoxide and culture, or if I stamp my feet I can wangle a relaxing coastal chill-out; the pebbles of the nearby Costa Almería or Costa Tropical rounding off my laptop shoulders and returning my smile.

No 1 Son was over from wet Wales for Easter, and because he turned 21 recently, and also happens to also be the No 1 UD ALMERÍA fan, we opted for the next available away match as a getaway destination. Having browsed the fixtures, that turned out to be Valladolid. Unfolding the map and hopping into the car, we discovered one sure thing. It’s a blooming long way!

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About Valladolid

Valladolid is the de facto capital of the Spanish region, Castile and Leon. It supposedly had at one time the highest number of Franco’s supporters living there, but I may need citation on that! However, don’t allow that fact to put you off – or perhaps turn you on…as you’ll see, we encountered some fabulous folk.

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With a population of half a million, first impressions are of an northern industrial town (indulge me, going all Billy Bragg there 🙂). Rows upon rows of dingy rust coloured high rise flats, it looks a bit depressing after the calm, flat and green La Mancha landscape we were lulled by, on the way ooop north. But then again, it was raining, hard. It would all look better in the sunshine.

I’m not going to go all Wiki on you, but you can read more of the facts here if you wish. However, the strong links to the Catholic Monarchs, Columbus and Cervantes are of more than passing interest.

Heading past the stern exterior, we drove on without a problem – a well-signed one way system that’s easy to navigate –  straight into the centre, following the rail line, and into the Old Town, where we had booked some accommodation (see below). Brimming with history and superb renaissance architecture, we perked up, even if the weather did not. But I’m Irish, and sure what harm is a soft day? 🙂

Sightseeing

You’ll love Valladolid for sightseeing. Be prepared to walk and crane your neck a lot. Top of our list – and possibly yours –  will be Casa de Cervantes (where Quixote lived) Christopher Columbus Casa/Museo, the Cathedral, the National Sculpture Museum and although we didn’t go in, there’s an interesting looking Oriental Museum too. The Plaza Mayor is a great meet-me-if-we-get-lost spot, and looks amazing at night with all of the buildings around the square, illuminated.

 

Casa de Cervantes is FREE on Sundays. It has as a fantastic book collection of editions of THAT book from all over the world. The rooms are restored as per in Cervantes’ time. The Columbus museum is modern and interactive, and more about the discovery of the Indies than the man, not hugely interesting if you don’t speak at least a little Spanish.

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The parks, open spaces and many-spired skyline and bustling streets of city life in Valladolid are as interesting as the guidebook sights.

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Best Bars

Head for the Plaza Mayor and you’ll probably find it difficult to get round all the bars there, as they’re numerous. Prices are more than reasonable, so although you may pay for tapas, it’s no more expensive for a round than it is with free food back here in Granada, the beer is cheaper and we drank Estrella Galicia which seemed to be served everywhere.

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To watch a match, head to the Be Bop Bar (Plaza de Martí y Monsó) where the glamorous owner will chat you up and keep the party stoked. We were there to watch El Clasico (between Real Madrid and Barcelona) so it was a busy and fun night!

Afterwards, you’ll have no trouble finding a Gin Joint and someone to sing you a song…

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Shopping

The pedestrianised streets are a pleasure to shop in, where you can buy a purple Valladolid home shirt, or explore the boutiques nested between the usual big-name brands. For inclement weather – which I suspect is a lot of the time – there’s a large shopping centre just outside Valladolid, the Rio Centre.

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Food

Meaty! It’s all sausage and a bit of a meat-feast in Valladolid. Los Zagales de Abadía was recommended to us, as both a bar and for it’s award-winning tapas. It’s certainly different! We found it a little overpriced, slightly pretentious and not particularly tasty, though the presentation was phenomenal. It’s all smoke and mirrors. For example, a well known chocolate Spanish cake bar was replicated as a rolled up fried bread slice with Morcilla and cream cheese sandwiched in the centre. I’m still nauseous at the thought!! It has, however, won many national awards, so perhaps I am just a foodie-heathen. Have a look if you’re in town. Anyway, the sizzling lamb chops were delicious…

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You may wish to browse the Trip Advisor list of Top 10 best restaurants in Valladolid.

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Folk

I can’t emphasise this LOUDLY enough. The words solicitous and friendly were perhaps invented just for the happy people of Valladolid. They are so NICE. Shops, bars, on the street for directions, they’re a matey, polite bunch. The girl at the take-away artisan croquetas shop on Plaza Espana almost came home with us to cook them, she was so helpful – and they were delicious. The main tourist office has super friendly Sonja, who wants to chat and take you all over town. Smashing place to visit – with welcoming and warm, sociable people. Even at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, where as away fans we are used to being segregated, we were all sitting together. It says something about the friendly atmosphere of Valladolid.

Where we stayed

We booked La Pintada, a second floor spacious apartment in an old walk up, right in the centre of things on Calle Nogal. Sleeps 4, fully furnished, centrally heated, spotless, quiet, everything perfect *apart from the communal WiFi, so be prepared for that*.

Urbano –  the owner –  has an office on the same street, is super-friendly, will mark everywhere of interest on a map for you, and is well worth calling if you want a home-from-home with a lot of space in the city centre.

We paid €200 for 2 nights.

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Where you might stay

Let’s look at prices for a weekend in May, one night for 2 people.

Booking.com

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Annual Ferías and Fairs

Here’s a list of 2016 dates for the annual Valladolid shindigs and fiestas.

 

Bring home…

Ribera de Duero wine, quality Sheep cheese, chocolates and elaborate little cakes.

Would we return?

Yes – we would. Valladolid – despite the long drive for us – is one of those easy to explore, friendly small-enough-but-interesting cities to return to. You won’t feel swamped or lost, and you’ll love exploring it and getting to know it a little more each time you go.

And the footie? Meh. We drew…but remember –  UD Almería, nunca se rinde!

Going hunting in Spain (No shootin’, no fishin’)

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Blinking against the intense white light, made even more effulgent by the snowy frame of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I curse the fact I have yet again forgotten my sunglasses. Looking down instead, where the already dried out wild herbs of thyme and mountain sage crackle and snap satisfyingly underfoot, I begin my hunt, the search for orchids. Watching my step too, the uneven ground needs no help to send me flying, I am increasingly awkward with age, and do not welcome another ankle impairment.

I note where the wild boar have already visited this morning, a sounder of swine in party mode, turning over earth, rummaging through the herbs and grasses with vigour. I wonder what they found? Some edible root delectable to swine taste? Who knows? Perhaps a yet to be discovered Michelin-worthy wild ingredient.

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A gunshot bangs closely – too close – and I shudder.  I have no entanglement with the local love affair of blasting the wildlife from this land. I hope the trophy is not our tusked friends. Probably.

I look across the valley, my corner of Spain.  North to snow-capped Mulhacen, south to the Mediterranean, the white villages like handfuls of sugar cubes in between , folded in to the mountain sides. The stretches of pollutant plastic down below the line of smog that is the Costa Almería. No sign of the great white hunter at least from where I survey, and I continue my own pursuit for the first, early orchids.

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I’m rewarded with a coterie of Giant Orchid, with many promising yet to unfold from their shining, stocky green leaves. A very early Mirror Ophrys –  Ophrys s.Speculum – makes this type of hunt completely worthwhile, looking like an ancient Chinese swordsman in full warrior costume. Well, that’s what I see!

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Woodcock or Sawfly (can never tell which) make up the day’s discoveries, as I walk back to the quiet mountain road, passing Grape Hyacinth and treading the perfumed prickly carpet of herbs.

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A deep breath, a good look around, a lungful of pure air. The best remedy for scrunched-up shoulders, tired eyes and a mind that tends to lean to despondency for no reason at all.

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If you’re exploring the Alpujarra, contact me and I’ll happily show you/send you guides to the best local spots for orchids – as long as you’re careful to respect the area, watch where you tread, and unlike some half-baked guests we once hosted – don’t pick them!

 

The 10 commandments for expats in Spain

Thinking of a move to sunny Spain and wondering where to start? Once you have all the travel arrangements and new home sorted out, and finally unpacked, you should then find out how best to fit in. Confused? Then follow some simple rules, and feel more at home in Spain. After a decade here in the Alpujarra region of southern Spain, we have fallen foul of at least a few of these ‘rules’ – so be prepared!

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Commandment 1.

Thou shalt give blood, sweat, tears – and another Xerox copy.

When you go to finalise paperwork (a bit of an oxymoron as there is always more, and never a ‘final’ ream of paper to get through) always remember to bring many, many copies of absolutely everything that pertains to the subject at hand. A vial of blood may also be handy. Add approx one ton of patience and you’re almost there.

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Commandment 2.

Thou shalt punish the liver – an evil organ.

Party etiquette. Your child  – settled in school and lisping like a local – has been invited to a friend’s birthday. Yay – a couple of free hours. Wrong. Forget pinning the tail on the mulo, or birthday games of any sort. You will also be expected to attend. The kids will be kicked into the street to play (whatever the weather) while the adults eat Russian Salad and get completely sloshed on home-made wine. There will be many of these – prepare your liver now.

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Commandment 3.

Thou shalt not poison thy neighbour’s wife.

Foreign food. Never bring a non-Spanish dish to a party. It may as well be labelled ‘radioactive polonium’. Everyone will ask you to explain what it is, what’s in it, how did you make it – but NO-ONE will eat it. You’ll be encouraged to bring it home again, where it can sit in the fridge looking reproachfully at you for 3 days before being slung in the bin. As for curry – ha.

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Commandment 4.

Thou shalt not get frustrated.

Never assume a free morning is the ideal time for popping to the bank, the doctor and the Town Hall. One thing at a time. Always. Listen to everyone’s aches and pains in line at the bank, their marital troubles in the doctor’s, and be prepare to be surprised at the Town Hall – Ayuntamiento – where you’ll be presented with another bill or ten you hadn’t known about.

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Commandment 5.

Thou shalt not arrange anything in August.

Never attempt to get anything at all done in August. Spain is closed. The roofer, gynaecologist and lawyer you desperately need to speak with are all at the beach.

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Commandment 6.

Thou shalt stay pale and interesting.

Oh no. Never go to the beach in August. In addition to it being packed out with all of the above  – see Commandment 5 – you’ll feel hopelessly, pathetically under qualified when you take out your sandwiches. Mama and extended familia next to you will have salad, wood fire cooked Paella and cold beers, coffee and cakes, and a tablecloth on a table to seat 20.

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Commandment 7.

Thou shalt be assertive.

STOP being so polite. Please and Thank You gets you nowhere. If you want another drink, bang your glass hard on the counter. Shout louder, harder, stronger.

No, we still can’t do it either.

©carolmbyrne.com

©carolmbyrne.com

Commandment 8.

Thou shalt become a supergrass.

Be prepared to tell everyone in a room how much you earn, how much you owe to the bank, how much you weigh, and the details of your sex life. In detail. Ya Está…

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Commandment 9.

Thou shalt honour the little people.

Never expect to find somewhere to eat a quiet, romantic meal, with all kids tucked up in bed. Noooo, kids stay up as late as everyone else, and are happily ignored as they scream and run in close proximity to your prawn cocktail. Grin and bear it. Tell one off at your peril. That might be a hanging offence, I’ll have to check…

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Commandment 10.

Thou shalt remain smug.

Enjoy yourself, turn your face to the sun, and your back on stress and worry. Never worriedly say “but what if…” instead wait until it might happen. Have a healthy respect for football and local fiestas, take the generous gifts of fruit and vegetables with gratitude, and you’ll soon settle into your new life in Spain.

Good choice, by the way 😉

relax in hammock, lazy vacations

 

 

Photographs author’s own, Google free images and from Pixabay.