Well we're back on the shores of a much sunnier UK than we left behind when we headed off to very sunny Spain a few weeks ago. We stayed not far from La Zenia in the Costa Blanca. It's a lovely part of Spain. A bit more commercialised than we would usually head for but, with a child, it's perfect. The beaches are really lovely and sandy and clean and the water is warm. The incline into deeper water is slow so children can play easily in the water. We stayed in the house of a friend in a very friendly, predominantly ex-pat, community.
Oh it was lovely to have a break from everything (including that never-ending rain!) and just relax a bit (as much as any adult can relax with a 4 year old!) in the sunshine. As you can see we almost had an extra bod on the trip with us as Leo decided he wanted to sneak into the suitcase. Considering we got stung for an extra 80 euros by Ryan air on the way home, due to our luggage being overweight, it was lucky we left him at home!
Spending days as a family on the beach and by the pool was much needed as Daddy has been ridiculously busy at work over the past year and has been doing two full time jobs. Hopefully that will change over the next few months now Daddy has been appointed to one of the jobs and interviews for the other job are taking place this week. A rest was needed by us all.
Katie loved the flights again this year and behaved herself really well on both legs of the journey (with flights at 8am outward and 10pm return). She is amazingly cool at take-off and we make a great game of the event and eat sweeties; guessing when the plane will take off and have fun being pinned back into our seats as the plane takes to the sky. I filled her Trunki with lots of toys and books and sticker books to keep her occupied. Two of Katie's current favourite toys (Lady and Amelia) also joined us for the holiday. A flight of around 2 hours is manageable. Not sure if we could manage longer just yet although I'd love to take Katie to The Maldives. We flew into Murcia airport this year which is closer to the house and the journey was amazingly smooth and incident free other than Daddy being very enthusiastically frisked with the electronic gadget by a real jobsworth at the airport because of his watch set the alarm off. We picked up the hire car and were upgraded to a Mercedes C Class Eco (which was a lovely car to drive) although I wonder if the car we ordered (a Citroen Picasso) would have been more practical for the beach as the poor Merc was filled with sand by the end of the holiday!
We returned to the same house that we stayed in last year, having found that Katie settles more quickly when in familiar surroundings, and this plan paid off big time. Also arriving earlier in the day this time worked out better. We were able to go shopping and unpack and spend time by the pool before bedtime so Katie was settled and happy by the time bedtime arrived. We spent lots of time on our favourite nearby beach of Horadada and spent a few days visiting places such as Los Alacazares; Torrevieja and Cartagena. I think Katie's favourite visit was to the castle at San Miguel where we met a gorgeously friendly three-legged cat! Generally it was too hot for sight seeing and I don't think it's fair to drag Katie around (gives me a good excuse to keep things simple as well as I'm not a fan of wandering around in the heat either)
I have to say that something that puzzled and annoyed me the whole time we were in Spain was the fact that the children's play areas appear to have no health and safety regulations. For example the slides are all made from metal. Errrr...hello....it's a hot country and those slides are going to burn those little legs sliding down them! I wonder how many medical emergencies they have each year from these play parks or are the Spanish too clever to actually use them? Maybe they should grow Aloe Vera plants in the parks to help with the burns?
One of the things that Katie loves most about being on holiday is swimming both in the sea and in the pool at the house. By the end of the holiday this year she could swim a whole length of the big pool. She loved being on the Boogie Board in the sea and learning to ride the waves (albeit on her tummy) and loved the inflatable dolphin we bought her for the pool. She is coming on in leaps and bounds in the water. A real water baby. Daddy, Katie and I spent most of our mornings at the beach and our afternoons by the pool with Daddy and I taking shifts with Katie in the water. The local Spanish simply loved Katie's beach outfit. With her blonde little plaits and red suit and hat she was gaining attention from the local Spanish people wherever we went. They must have been wondering what on earth she was wearing as most of the Spanish children only wear bikini bottoms!
We were very brave in booking a homeward flight for 10pm and I did have a bit of anxiety about how Katie's behaviour would be effected by the lateness of the hour (anyone who knows Katie knows how much her behaviour deteriorates when she is overtired). Thankfully Katie helped us out by having a snooze in the car on the way to the airport which gave her a sufficient energy boost to not only last all the through the flight home but be in quite good form (other than wetting herself twice!). She entertained all the people around us in the queue for the plane with her endless conversation about her new toy dog from the market at Torrevieja. She was sound asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the car at around 11.30pm though and I was able to transfer her to her bed at home without incident (or waking up thankfully!).
As we are in the process to adopt again I doubt we will have an overseas holiday next year so it better blooming well be sunny over here in the UK next summer! We flew away from the rain this year for a lovely break and brought the sunshine back home with us. Perfect! Just have the school holiday to nagivate now............