Posts Tagged ‘Veronica Henry’


Friday, July 20th, 2012

La Playa

There’s nothing that focusses the mind on writing a blog like the need to unpack, and wash the contents of, three suitcases from our ten days in Spain. I mean, honestly, HOW did we generate so many dirty clothes? I only remember wearing my bikinis and a beach dress. I think it was bad packing on my part for coming home. It’s all right packing to go away because you have new things and lots of time and you’re excited and you want to make sure that you have everything, so belongings go in neat little piles and everything’s ordered nicely.

the girls suitcase before we flew out

We had one suitcase for us and one for the girls and nothing crossed over between the two. The third was for, well, all the stuff that we didn’t need, frankly. Packing to come home on the other hand, I find a depressing waste of time. I basically feel like the holiday’s over the minute I drag the suitcase out of the wardrobe. It just sits there, accusingly, a black lump in the corner, waiting to be filled and reminding me of planes (I HATE flying). Consequently, I don’t care about packing then; clothes get flung in at random, ours – the girls – other people’s – whatever’s to hand. The ten pairs of shoes I didn’t need, the five pairs of shorts I didn’t wear, the £50 bikini I wore once (I LIVED in the £10 one from TK Maxx) . The dirty beach towels in among the clean t-shirts, the sandy skirts in with pristine tops – they all get muddled and by the time we got home, more or less everything needed washing. Which is wonderful in this wet British weather, so suitable for drying washing lines full of clothes. The girls’ suitcase I haven’t dared go near yet because I know it’s worse. Children’s clothes always are. So in there will be the 90% of clean clothes that they didn’t wear with the 10% that they utterly trashed. Orange juice mixed with Coke blended with ketchup, sand, chocolate sauce – you know, all those nice substances that transfer so easily from one item of clothing to another.  I’ll deal with it all later.

We had a great holiday. I love Spain and I enjoyed the chance to speak Spanish again properly, I’ve missed that. We spent most of our time on the beach or by the pool. The beach was where I fell foul to the temptation of having a henna tattoo done. Well, we all did. But now theirs have all faded and mine is as dark as ever – I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll have a Spanish bull on my ankle forever…..

un toro de Espana

We did a couple of little trips, I say a couple because after the first I told my husband I wasn’t getting in the car with him again. Obviously in Spain they drive on the right, now my husband had a problem with placing the car correctly on the road, he was constantly too far over to the right by about a foot. Which wasn’t a problem unless we were doing 120kmph on the motorway – or we were winding our way through the Spanish mountains to visit the little town of Ronda. The roads on these mountains barely qualify for the description. They were narrow, rutted and with a crash barrier between us, and a sheer drop of hundreds of feet into unforgiving  terrain, of the size that our gerbils could hop over if they spied their food bowl on the other side. A foot to the right on these roads was going to matter very much. I tried telling him, of course I did. I tried telling, yelling, cajoling, but he’s one of those people that just doesn’t listen, so eventually I accepted that I was going to die. This was it. Goodbye, cruel world, I am going over the edge of this mountain because my husband has a problem with spacial awareness.  Obviously, that didn’t happen. He did eventually come off the road because he was too far over but luckily we’d left the mountain by then so it didn’t matter too much. But it made for a tense day, matrimonially speaking. Ronda was glorious though, and worth the drive. I’ve been before and I just adore the bullring, it’s the oldest bullring in Spain; steeped in history. And the view from near the Punte Nuevo was stunning.

bullring at Ronda

There were a couple of downsides to the holiday though, the first of which was flying. I hate flying. I hate it so much that I hadn’t flown for eleven years because, to me, the holiday wasn’t worth it. But the time had come to do it again, so I did it. With diazepam and wine. And having cleaned my teeth thoroughly in case I needed to be identified from them. I was OK-ish going out there, but on the return journey I cried from the boarding gate to mid-way through the flight; not my most edifying moment by any stretch of the imagination. But I DID IT. And that’s what counts.  I only have two phobias, one of which is flying and the other of which is vomiting. Of course on Day 2 of our holiday I took  five year old Alice to the bathroom, turned my back and a millisecond later heard her vomit all over the floor. Twice. Of course I fled the scene and fetched her father, as Molly commented “Oh Mummy, you’ve had to face your two biggest fears in just a couple of days.” Correct. What a great start to a holiday!

the vomiting child

The other downside comes with a warning. Ladies and gentleman, do not – ever – go near a company called Diamond Resorts. They are atrocious. We were accosted one night on our way to dinner by a British lady who said that if we were over 28, married or living together and had time to spare the next morning looking round a hotel we could get a 50% discount on the tickets to the water park that we planned to visit. We looked at each and shrugged, why not? We didn’t have to sign anything or buy anything or give any details. It seemed worth a try. So we duly turned up the next morning, the lady from the night before took us into the hotel, said “Just stay as long as you like” and someone came to chat to us briefly and explained that we would be given a guided tour. Lasting, at the most, 90 minutes. We glanced at each other in alarm. 90 minutes? Wasting 90 minutes of sunshine? The first tendrils of unease began to uncurl themselves in my stomach. Then Donald turned up to guide us. Donald from Diamond Resorts. Diamond Donald. He looked a nice man. He was Scottish, had his sales patter all ready and everything seemed straightforward once again. Until we got to the bar where he insisted we sit for 45 minutes, drinking water that we didn’t want, whilst he transparently acquired the information that he did want. Eventually we left and were taken on a short tour of a very small hotel, which we were assured was just one of about 20 million worldwide. In the same league as the Marriott Hotels, would you believe. To be fair, everything we saw looked fine. Nice, even. But Diamond Donald kept going on about how nice their apartments were, how clean, how inviting, how comfortable – and yet we were not invited to see inside one of those. Which I didn’t care about because by now we’d been there 60 minutes and wanted to leave. So my husband began on the closing stages of the conversation by asking:

“OK, so how much? That’s the information we need.”

The response surprised us: “Ah. I can’t tell you that.”


“Well if you’ll just come to our boardroom, we can sit there and discuss how the company works. It’ll only take an hour.”

“No, I don’t think so, thank you. If you could just give us your price list.”

“I’m not allowed. We need to explain how we work. If you’ll just come this way.”

At this point, my husband’s patience began to expire and Diamond Donald hurried to get his manager to see if he would allow us to be told the price of the accommodation. The man who appeared, his name is Pete by the way, was not only rude and unhelpful, but also quite threatening and without an iota of knowledge of good customer service. We were not to be told of prices (and they’d spent a great deal of time discussing the prices of every other hotel in the area, “£1000 a week you’ll pay, for a room,” we were told cheerfully) unless we sat through God knows what for a further hour with two bored, hot children. Eventually, the conversation got uncomfortable when Pete began a sentence with “If you were an intelligent person….” and we walked out. Not as fast as Pete however, who tripped past us smartly to find a rep and as we left the complex he was busy whispering something to him and looking menacingly at us; presumably informing him that we were not to be allowed our ticket discount. Not a problem – we wanted nothing further to do with the place. I have never felt so uncomfortable or bullied in a hotel in my life. Hence my warning – Diamond Resorts are anything but. Perhaps others have positive experiences, but ours was dreadful.

And now, on to the actual point of this blog! See, I’ve just rambled on for 1,514 words. I originally started this to write about the wonderful books I read while on holiday and I got sidetracked by the holiday itself. The first two books I read were ‘The Beach Hut’ and ‘The Long Weekend’ by Veronica Henry. I wandered around Waterstones before I left and these two books were genuinely the only two to captivate me in the entire shop. I don’t know why, they weren’t on display, they were just on a shelf, but the minute I’d picked one up, read the synopsis and a page or two, I knew I had to have both. I can’t remember the last time that happened. And what a cracking find they were. Both are about the lives of four or five different couples in the same place; a group of beach huts in the first and an hotel in the second. They are delightful; engaging, very emotive, beautifully written and absolutely enchanting. I loved the characters so much I didn’t want the books to end. Especially ‘The Long Weekend’; I preferred that one by an infinitesimal amount. They’re both great books, I thoroughly recommend them, either for the beach or just at home. And Veronica assures me that more are on their way, which I’m thrilled about. She’s hopped straight into my top 5 favourite authors – which is an achievement because there’s tough competition,  Henry 🙂 The next book I read was a very different one. It’s quite a dark, searching, mysterious, tense story by Louise Douglas, called ‘The Secrets Between Us’. I bought it at the airport, I was lured by a sticker which read “If you love Kate Morton, you’ll love this!” And I did love it. It had me spellbound until the last page and the characters and their emotions stayed with me until long after I’d finished the book. It was captivating and deeply moving. And the last new book I read was Sophie Kinsella’s latest, ‘I’ve Got Your Number’. When I read the synopsis I thought it sounded a weak premise for a book but she’s always written strongly before so I thought I’d try it. And I’m glad I did. It was engaging, entertaining and made me laugh out loud; another great, easy holiday read.

Right, I’ve now written about 1,000 words more than I intended so I shall stop here. I need to go and clean the house – and myself – because my in-laws are coming tonight for a belated birthday celebration, it was my Father-in-law’s birthday on Wednesday, so I need to change the tablecloth at the very least. And after that, I’ve agreed to go and stay with my mother for the weekend so that means yet more…..yes, you’ve guessed it….PACKING! Goodness knows what I’ll pack, of course. At this rate ice-cream stained clothes, a dirty beach towel, sandy shorts and a bikini that’s the closest thing I have to clean underwear.

in full Fiesta mode!

Hasta luego!