Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kitting out your apartment on a budget

Took the girls to my friend's house after school. She has just bought an apartment to rent out in Sabinillas. We decided that we would go shopping for some bits and bobs in the local shops with the girls in tow.

If you are furnishing a house or an apartment you have got to check out the Euro shops and the Chinese shops for all kinds of things. You can pick up lots of essentials such as cutlery, pots and pans and even the 'extras' to dress the rooms such as colour coordinating throws. Don't forget to stop off at Lidl where you can find all kinds of bargain goodies such as small cupboards, bathroom fixtures etc.

I realised that there is no need to go driving all over the coast, just do what the Spanish tend to do and find things in the local shops. You not only pick up what you need at good prices but you also save money on petrol and time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A morning with Marta

I've just had such a fun morning with Marta, my language exchange partner. She is from Madrid and a bit of a rebel. She teaches me loads about the Spanish culture and the people etc i.e what makes them tick etc in a generalised kind of way. In return I am teaching her English from scratch. Although, she didn't study and hasn't qualifications, she is really bright and is very enthusiastic.

This evening I want to find out the timetable for the girls music and movement classes because I want to find some other activites for them to do on the other days. I know I sound pushy but it's better than them hanging around the apartment in the winter watching TV or playing with the same toys every afternoon.

Tonight I am going to Belen's house, another Spanish friend to language exchange and chat. I have to admit I have more friends here both Spanish and English than I ever did in my life in the UK!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Morning Jobs

Since, it's Monday I thought that I would get all my jobs done today to leave me with a free week to get on with some work. Of course, I have only got half the jobs done such as drop a bag of stuff into the Charity shop to free up space in my ever shrinking apartment and drop into the Chinese shop which is conveniently located next door. I love the Chinese shop in Sabinillas as they sell absolutely everything you need and don't need. Today I bought the following:

2 small plastic tupperware boxes for my girls to put their desayuno (breakfast) for school in, one with peach lid the other with lilac.
a sheet of Hello Kitty stickers for them to cutomise their lunch boxes
2 barbie colouring in/ sticker books to put away as Christmas presents (yes I have started already)
a Disney princess Alice Band as part of a birthday present for one of their friends.

I then dropped into the Factory to have yet another pair of trousers altered. I love that place, it's just like stepping into Baldwins but Spanish style. Conscious of my hair hanging around my face not doing anything special in particular I decided to drop into the hairdressers for a quick cut or should I say hack! I'm not convinced yet with what she's done especially the shearing away at the roots. Any hairdressers, is this a normal procedure nowadays on long hair?

Anyway, I didn't quite manage to accomplish everything. I still have nothing to clean my lenses with tonight, I haven't picked up the girls maths books and the cupboards and fridge remain empty but oh well the shops open again at five. Oh I forgot we are going to a friend's house which is right on the beach this afternoon and will be there all evening so the jobs will have to wait.

Times have Changed

We weren't sure about the weather (yes that happens here too) and finally we decided to go out for lunch. We decided upon our favourite chiringuito Andrey y Maria, on the beach in Castillo (a few minutes away from Duquesa). The tables and chairs might be plastic and it all feels a bit make shift but the food is exquisite and there's lot of it. The seafood is really good and the portions are huge! As usual, we over ordered but there was no waste! Four of us ate (myself, partner and the two girls) and with wine it came to just 35euros. After lunch, it was quite comfortably warm so we sat on the cove next to the chiringuito whilst the girls splashed about in the rock pools.

They fell asleep in the car and we made our way to meet the parents of a little girl in their class at school. We met at Blue Planet at Estepona, a soft play cafe with designated areas for different age groups. The girls ran off to explore whilst Paqi and Diego told us stories of Manilva and Estepona in days gone by. According to them, it all changed overnight and they are quite nostalgic about the days when everyone left their doors open and the children darted in and out of the nieghbours houses. However, they also went on to say that before tourism there weren't the activites on offer such as Selwlo Park, the Aqua Parks etc but knowing the Spanish I am sure they still had a good time in those days too with their ferias etc!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Birthday Parties in Spain

The girls were invited to one of the neighbour's little girls birthday party yesterday. I still hadn't bought a present and since her mother had also just had a baby I decided to go to Estepona to look for something. I would usually go all the way to La Canada in Marbella but I wasn't in the mood for the long drive from Manilva and wanted to be out in the open air. I can't believe that I usually drive all the way to the undercover shopping centre that leaves me feeling exhausted for the rest of the day. You can't beat high street shopping and stopping for a coffee outside. We found presents for both the baby and the little girl in Benetton in Calle Real. They have such lovely children's clothes shops in Estepona and I found another really nice one called Charanga. The colours are so bright and varied unlike in the UK where the choice is often pink, pink and more pink and lilac as an alternative. In both the Benetton and Charanga in Estepona, there were all kinds of textures and colours including lime green, orange and bright blue.

The party started at 5.30 Spanish merienda time (tea time) and it was held in a converted garage that a local lady lets for parties etc. People generally don't hold parties in their houses simply because they don't have the space neither indoors nor outdoors. They hired a bouncy castle which was assembled inside the garage. The spanish children's parties couldn't be more different to the British ones. Mothers don't fret about themes, entertainers etc. In fact the emphasis is on the parents enjoyment. Everyone sits at the table for the entire duration of the party eating, drinking and chatting whilst the kids just get on with it. There's no pass the parcel or musical bumps. The parents and children only come together to sing Cumpleanos Feliz (Happy Birthday) and that's it, eat cake and go.

Friday, September 22, 2006

We had a smashing time!

My twins (aged 4) finish school at three everyday. This leaves the afternoons free to entertain them. My probelm is since we work at home, I kind of feel under pressure to keep them out of my partner's way so he can continue working until about six or seven. So, we often end up going to friends houses, the idea being us mothers can chat whilst the children play. Well, this is what we were doing until it all went wrong. My friend's son on pursuit of his favourite DVD, climbed up the glass shelves of a wall unit, covered with wedding gift crystal, only to bring the whole lot crashing down. Thankfully, he was okay with just a slight cut on his foot but that will teach us to be so complacent to think that we can sit and chat whilst the children just get on with it.

I have just discovered a flamenco dance teacher in the village. I would love the girls to learn so I am going to meet her this afternoon to check her out. I also picked up my just new trousers from the factory where they do alterations for El Corte Ingles. I can't believe how cheap it is there just 4Euros to have them shortened, bargain! I went for a fresh orange juice which has become my replacement for coffee. I have never been a big coffee fan, I am more of a tea girl and I only used to have a coffee because it was the thing to do. It's much better to have orange jouce as it doesn't leave that bitter taste in your mouth or give you coffee breath. What's more here in Spain, the juice is made from real oranges in the cafes.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back to school

Well I finally return after long hot summer. It is has been hot and you never get used to or 'aclimitased'. I can't believe that people from the UK take their holidays during the summer to come to Spain. I find the intense heat is just as prohibitive as the icy cold that you get on a bad winter's day in the UK. To be honest after an hour or two the beach gets boring plus it's uncomfortable. Not to mention the amount of sand that you drag into the house afterwards...more work! The pool can get boring and repetitive too. If you have a private pool it can get dull as you don't have the community spirit around you like in a communal pool. However, community pools can be hard work coping with the dynamics between neighbours, holiday makers and children off school.

Which leads me on to just how happy I am that the children are back at school. Back to school just doesn't work the same here in the UK. My children's school (state school) have introduced a uniform. I ran about frantically to pick it up before they returned to school only to discover that it hadn't been delivered to the shop yet!!

The shop keeper who had taken our orders back in April could have been a bit more organised but his argument was that he had 2000 uniforms to take care of. Yes, and???

The school have decided that children will not attend school in uniform until October. There is a sign outside the school saying that the uniforms are now ready and in stock. But I am not rushing this time, in my own time it will have to be. As for the school books, which parents pay for, I copied the list outside the head's office. Now the teacher has informed me that a couple of the books I have bought are wrong and that the list was wrong. Well, that will teach me for being so organised. I will remember not to be prepared next year.

But other than that I have always loved the fresh beginning of back to school time. The temperaures are more comfortable and you can do so much more at the weekend.