Now we’re in southern Spain, mostly around the coast – and so the beaches are often our classroom. You can’t beat a bit of “beach teach”…
It’s great energetic fun: writing words and numbers in the sand and playing various games that often involve racing to a specific letter or number before the tide washes it away. Fantastic exercise for us all too!
Here in the great outdoors, the sun is shining brightly, the flowers – and geckos – are out, nature is aplenty, the fruit is juicy (and Daniel actually loves eating fruit in Spain, unlike in England…) and our two boys are bonding so well as they can run around to their utmost delight. And then hug each other to their hearts’ delights.
After all that energy used, and thanks to natural rhythms being put back in place due to camping and the lack of artificial lights, it also means for two great sleepers (in their new Batboy sleeping bags that came complete with little bat pillows, funky rainbow-coloured zips and, best of all, a little torch clipped onto the sleeping bags, that’s ideal for using to read bedtime stories).
We’ve chosen our life by doing this and the freedom feels amazing! The great outdoors is where that freedom is, whether for a few months or a couple of hours, and it’s so wonderful for learning about the world out there. The outdoors life’s not the life that seems to be encouraged as much these days as it used to be, something that’s perhaps in fact been happening in the western world since the building of the “dark Satanic mills”.
But make your own choice about this. It’s your one life you have; make sure it is yours.
The sunshine and light energises us all, and means we can teach on the beach or on our new fab Outwell fold-away picnic table, or if we need some shade we can sit inside the also new and fab Outwell awning. This has opened up and increased our camping experience. The boys also loved the boxes it all came in…
Another amazing place we discovered with some considerable shade was the Caves Of Nerja. Absolutely stunning, like jagged underground cathedrals and featuring the world’s largest column (formed by the merging of a stalagmite and a stalactite) at 32m in height.
The mammoth size of these caves – stretching underground as they do for three miles – can only really be taken in when inside. But dozens of double-decker buses could easily park inside them, on top of each other and side by side.
There was some more great art here, as is dotted around Spain so much, plus details of how in the 1950s the caves were discovered by some local schoolboys bunking off. You could even see the hole they’d climbed down.
It kickstarted an interesting chat between Daniel and us on how taking risks can be really rewarding, but don’t climb down holes unless grown-ups are around and say it’s okay… The schoolboys weren’t the first people to find the caves though because there’s evidence our ancestors lived in them 25,000 years ago.
Back in the bright sunlight, we headed past the 19th-Century Aqueduct of Nerja (what a fantastic visual lesson in Design) for nearby Torrox where there are Roman ruins by the lighthouse. And another of Spain’s stunning beaches that stretch for miles. Using beach stones, sand and some water we could show Daniel how caves are created.
Then more fun and games (aka learning!) here on the beach, and we then moved on, riding in our trusty white Swift Escape 696 via Torre del Mar – where we watched fishing boats heading back to harbour. It’s been brilliantly educational for the boys to see such as this along with the olive, orange, lemon, avocado and apple trees, not forgetting Brussel sprouts and spuds growing – that food doesn’t develop wrapped up in needless packaging on bland supermarket shelves.
From here, our travels took us to Camping Cabopino (booked as ever for us by the friendly folk at The Camping & Caravanning Club), a popular campsite down the coast from Marbella. It’s easy to see why: very friendly and fun campers, many of whom stay here for months; restaurants on site (Italian and Indian); indoor and outdoor swimming pools; many sporty activities; and of course, as on all campsites, a playground.
The marina at Cabopino is just five minutes away, with more restaurants around the boats as well as a couple of beach bars, and we love hanging out at Andy’s bar there, a perfect base for learning on the beach – and its café bombóns certainly energise Debs and I to teach!
It might be unconventional and not the norm (presently anyway… but then look at this stunning Spanish roundabout, like most of them in this country, arty and beautiful – and wouldn’t it be an amazing improvement if all British roundabouts looked as astonishing as this – in fact, a symbolic change of direction!) But our boys are learning so much and we’re seeing them grow in so many astounding ways.
Do what you believe to be best. Don’t die with your music still inside you, and when that music comes out make sure you dance to it like no one’s watching. We all have to go our own way, be the people we’re supposed to be, and not listen to the critics or doubters. So as long as it does no harm, and you know in your heart that the universe approves – go for it!