We look at the red and yellow sun set as we catch our breath from the excitement of seeing so many of our very special people in such quick succession, it was all a little overwhelming – but in a good way you understand, just all very very emotional catching up with people’s lives, remembering the old times and talking about the future too.
We enjoy some much needed family playtime after covering more than 4,500 miles in just a few weeks. We run on the beaches right beside the lovely Kiko Park campsite (one of many so kindly arranged by the Camping & Caravanning Club) and Mr Colin Dog digs big holes in the white sand much to the children’s delight. We play football together and discover that Darley, aged just three, is actually quite the little footballer! A new discovery of a hidden talent! Big brother Daniel teaches him a few FC Barcelona (and Arsenal FC) skills too!
As we walk to the local market to buy fruit and veg, Daniel is excited and keen to know the Spanish word for absolutely everything we see. He uses his pleases and thank yous brilliantly in Spanish and his latest favourite phrase (mostly used loudly when setting off on his bike) is: ready steady go – or “Listo, preperado, YA!”
We also buy some delicious churros from the market: the stallholder smiles and pats Dan’s head affectionately as he orders his churros in Spanish. Darley is just starting to get to grips with the prospect of a new language and is clearly very happy with Daniel’s efforts in obtaining the churros. “They are a bit tasty!” he squeaks. He has also started saying hello and thank you in Spanish.
We decide to drive an hour north to Valencia for the day. What a fantastic city!
We parked up our lovely and aptly named Swift Escape motorhome – for free all day in a city!
We love Valencia and this time visit lovely Ester at the city’s tourist board. Then we went to the brilliant science museum, which is in the most stunning modern building we’ve seen, both from outside and from inside.
Finally we went to Valencia’s beach to watch the sun set on this fabulous city and eat some tapas.
The next day we drive to Moraira with its old castle, and then Javea, the town where I went to school.
It was also where I kept my beloved pony Charlie. We all went exploring in the motorhome to see if I could find the stables – some things looked familiar but everything had changed so much. I recognised an old wall by a riverbed and had clear memories of riding through the water with Charlie, jumping the small bank, cantering down a track bordered by orange groves. A familiar paddock wall remained but nothing else, so then I questioned whether I could remember things as clearly as I’d first thought… Maybe it wasn’t here after all, maybe we were in the wrong place…
An old Spanish gentleman came walking towards us. I explained I’d lived here 25 years ago and what I was looking for, he nodded and smiled and told me they’d knocked down the stables and house about six years ago to make way for a new development (that was still waiting to happen, maybe mañana!). He was happy to help, a very lovely old Spanish gentleman.
As I look at the old paddock wall that still remains it seems not that long ago that I would spend hours here with Charlie. I even recall falling asleep in his stable with him one summer’s evening when my parents were a little late picking me up.
Then I found the old school premises that I went to, just a short way from the stables, now just a residential house, but I can vividly remember playing there, eating my lunch sat on the old wall.
Having the motorhome has been ideal for doing these kind of searches for old friends and familiar places. Even when David went to search for two old Spanish friends – not seen for more than 25 years! – around the nightclubs of Benidorm (where David had heard one of his old mates owned some) we parked up by the beach, prepared and ate a meal, then David went on his mission, weaving between the already staggering British stag and hen parties… Alas, his search proved fruitless for both Pedro and little Jesus, but David concluded the evening had been a cultural education!
My old school is still going I’m pleased to see, and we did find the new school premises. None of the staff I knew are still there now, but by chance I managed to meet up with the then school secretary (now retired) and lovely lady Elaine who was always very kind to me. We chatted about old teachers and pupils, funny to think the last time we spoke it was a child to adult conversation and it was strange to now speak as adults whilst my own two little boys ran around my feet and tugged at my blouse as we chatted!
I also visited my old doctor who still has a clinic in Moraira. He was another person who I will never forget. He helped me after a very bad horse riding accident when I was ten. I needed more than 40 stitches to my arm after being dragged on gravel. I stopped by to thank him for being there to help me at a very scary time in my childhood. At the time I was too young to thank him properly myself although I’m sure my Mum did. His kindness and care has always lived with me. We discovered he’d retired a month ago – to live in Thailand. We’ve been in touch by email, and we’ll have to have a Thai trip soon to see him!
It suddenly hit me on this trip that events, people, places, all really shape us and affect how we perceive the world. It makes us who we are. I hope this journey, this family adventure lives with our boys and reminds them always of the love we all have for each other and the importance of showing kindness to others. I know this is such a valuable education for them.
What we say, do and write shapes the world around us.
Returning to my childhood home has been a stark realisation for me that things don’t stay the same: I suppose when you are a child you expect things to always be the same, to stand still and never alter. I remember when I fell pregnant with Daniel, I called my sister in tears as my world was about to change and I was terrified of the outcome, and I didn’t think I could cope. The world is constantly changing, that’s just how it is she told me, life changes it has to, it always has, always will and this change will be brilliant, you’ll see.
And she was so right! Our two little boys are just that: totally brilliant, and I’m so happy to show them how wonderful life can be in this remarkable world.