And I would walk five hundred miles…

And I would walk five hundred more…*sings obnoxiously in hideously inaccurate Scottish accent*

If there was a memo, I’ve missed it. I don’t understand.

The practise seemed even more prevalent in Laredo…

Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed that its a “thing” for three quarters of the beach population to walk, nay stride, purposely up and down the length of the beach, back and forth, like ants carrying food to their nest under the watchful eye of their queen…ok where exactly do I think I’m going with this?

I don’t now if its just me, but it all seems a little bit strange… When I, for one, am on the beach, I…well…beach myself, like a whale…in the optimum “sunbathing position”…basting in Hawaiian Tropic. I refuse to move other than to lightly toast (read: burn) my other side or if I near mummify from dehydration (naughty, don’t actually do this).

I’m starting to think this is the reason why google didn’t bother mapping Lidls in Laredo, or any of the supermarkets for that matter (I’m totally over it….totally…), it would have been too hard to photoshop out all of the “ants” obscuring the view.

Out of pure curiosity, I decided to partake in this bizarre activity, and have concluded that it looks suspiciously like exercise…

Am I skinny yet?

P.S. Do you “walk the walk”? If so, why? It it just for the lols, the exercise *shudder* or is there a secret underground practise I don’t know about ‘coz I’m English?

P.P.S. My “research” walk along Benicassim beach was actually quite pleasant. I would have done it again but that’s my monthly exercise quota all used up…

Shits and giggles…

Well here I am again with another poo related post for you. “Matter” for those of you with a more sensitive stomach…

Don’t lie, you’ve been waiting for this all week.

Well there I was, going about my daily business, making sandcastles and building ‘mountains’ with the kids when all of a sudden, the baby freezes and pulls that face. The “yes I’m taking a shit, right here right now, am I cute or am I cute?” face.

So what? You ask. Take off his nappy and throw it away…

He wasn’t wearing a nappy.

Or swimming trunks.

He pooed directly onto the sand.

We had to scoop it up in a spare plastic bag. It was like we’d suddenly acquired a chihuahua. I bloody hate dogs.

When I went to pick him up to carry him home, he started weeing.

Excuse me while I go lay down in a dark room….

What is life?

P.S. I now have a full and hearty appreciation for the invention of the pooper scooper.

P.P.S. He found this absolutely hilarious, and has now learnt to say “caca”. In fact, he said it this morning while holding his stomach and smiling knowingly. I had a nice present to deal with then too…

What not to do at the beach…

Aside from the aforementioned perils associated with beach-going (invest in a good pair of sunglasses, the dark tinted ones obscure the jiggle a little), there are a number of things about the beach that just down right piss me off. Want me to share? Well I’m going to anyway…

Would it be absolute sacrilege to say that at times, I wish I didn’t have to go to the beach every day? Yes? *Runs (haha jk, fast walks)…away…quickly…*

Here is my list of what not to do at the beach…

1) Invade someone’s personal space…

With 2 miles of gorgeous, sandy beach, why do people feel they have to set up camp directly next to you? This happened to me today and I spent the whole time not reading my book and instead doing the whole I’m-looking-at-you-looking-at-me-isn’t-this-awkward thing. Such fun!

2) Bring kids…

See aforementioned post ‘Shits and giggles…’. Add to this the fact that they dig holes for you, unawares, to fall in to, run past you kicking sand onto your towel (cardinal sin), scream, shout, fight, throw frisbees and balls at your head (four times in one day!), throw tantrums and splash you with freezing cold water. As an Au Pair I am guilty of this. I am deeply sorry.

3) Inadvertently or purposely put sand on someone else’s towel…or your own for that matter…

I know I mentioned this above but I think it warrants it’s own bullet point, don’t you? Sand on towel generally means getting sand in places sand should never be…you know what I’m talking about…. It also seems to disappear until a completely inappropriate moment, five months post holiday, when a weeks worth of debris (or in my case 3 months worth) materialises out of nowhere… I think my suitcase was already two parts sand before I even started packing for this trip.

4) Strike up a conversation with a stranger…

Ok so this one doesn’t always apply but since I got out here, I am constantly being approached by dubious members of the elderly population who are intent on cooing over the kids. One guy just sat and shouted things at us. It’s creepy. At first my Spanish was so rusty I couldn’t even understand what they were saying…if you’re ever in this situation, smile and wave boys, smile and wave…

I would hedge bets  that you’re much safer on this front in England…

5) Throw litter/otherwise pollute…

It’s just gross, and dirty. And don’t you just hate it when the person who has just placed their towel inappropriately close to yours, pulls out a cigarette and starts smoking. Is it just me?

6) Be ridiculously hot / exit the water like Ursula Andress…

If you’re female, it’s just not fair, especially as I haven’t shaved my legs and my hair has inflated to mane like proportions (thanks 83% humidity). If you’re male, you are distracting me from broadening my knowledge base through the art of reading (lol jk I’m actually reading Cosmo…I totally read all of the requisite books for GCSE English…from start to finish….)

Well there you go. Have I missed anything? Is there anything you’d add to my list?

As an added little bonus, here is “Dear beach, 10 things I hate about you…”

Sand in bits, pits and tits

Sand on towel

Sand in handbag

Sand in kindle

Sand in ice cream

Sand in between toes

Sand in…(oh who am I kidding, sand full stop…nasty bugger)

Having to do things other than lying beached like a whale (occupational hazard, don’t become an Au Pair)

Overheating (the worst!)

Getting burnt

Having to pack everything up to go to the loo/buy drink/ buy ice cream as you die from the heat, then having to unpack to resume sunbathing

Well, I hope that was rant-y enough for you..

P.S. If you didn’t get the Madagascar reference, what are you doing with your life? Ditto the Miranda reference if you’re in the UK.

Pits, tits and wobbly bits…

The European beach…

Long stretches of fine, golden sand and clear, azure water; cloudless skies painted with a watercolour sunset, swaying palms…

Well….that and a few added extras…of the wobbly kind…

We British are prudes. Whether we like to admit it or not.

If you head down to say….Southend beach, you’ll see people hiding a multitude of sins beneath wraps, sarongs, shorts, tshirts, beach dresses, and in some cases, Jeans! Actually in quite a lot of cases, on the hottest day in August you’ll still see some nutter walking down the street in a leather jacket (probably a testament and a middle finger up to the fact we’re lucky to get five days of good weather…) We are so hung up about our bodies, we have pioneered new ways of artfully tying our towels (Ooooh look! No hands *shimmies to demonstrate the non-falling-down-ness of said towel….runway walk…and pose….and pose*).

In Europe, however, the rule is: if you’ve got it, flaunt it; if you don’t got it, fuck it, flaunt it anyway.

For the duration of my stay, my views of the ocean have been partially obscured by wayward exposed tits, arses and spare tyres, cellulite and sagging skin.

It’s bloody fantastic.

Never have I ever felt so at ease showing some skin in a public place. Not that I’ve actually shown any more skin than normal…no really…stop it , I’m serious….you have such dirty minds…

I’ve gone back and forth on the “to tatas or not to tatas” debate (I’m sure it’s what Shakespeare actually wanted to write about…it just wasn’t era appropriate) and have, until now, settled on no tatas (No Sex Please, We’re British….oooh and just think of the sunburn. Don’t even get me started on the hazards of g string bikinis…did you read that story in the mail a few years ago?)

For me, this liberation is reminiscent of my holiday a few years back to Tenerife, where there was more German schnitzel than, well….German schnitzel… Back then, I was horrified. Now, I appreciate the charm…

Young or old, fat or thin, pale or tanned…here it just hunkey-dorey to let it all hang out.

Maybe it’s the heat that’s getting to me…I’m sounding decidedly un-British.

Excuse me while I go wear an actual bikini, sans cover-up (shock, horror!) to the beach…

*Does bikini strut…falls into hole that some tearaway has dug in the sand*

P.S. No, I am not just about to run off and join a nudist society, I said I was wearing a bikini…a bikini…oh I give up…

P.P.S. I’m not saying the view was always a particularly nice one…trust me, I’ve seen some things I can never un-see…on the other hand, that group of French boys….ooh la la indeed…

P.P.P.S. Legs or hotdogs ;P

WUWH…

This first month and a half has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

I’m not going to lie, there has been many a time when I have wanted to call home and throw a full blown tantrum, either demanding I come home or making my family come to me. God knows I’ve had enough instruction on how to throw a good ‘un, courtesy of beeble one and beeble two…

But when my mum emailed me to say a travel zoo holiday to Valencia had come up, and they could come and visit me I had mixed feelings…

On the one hand I was desperate for hugs and a good old chat (the language barrier, misunderstanding of my sense of humour and the fact that we essentially have an employer and employee relationship has prevented this with the family). On the other I stubbornly feel like I want to do this on my own. To assert my own independence. I am a walking cliché…

The deal was snapped up to fast to book it, so I am taking this as a sign.

My secondary school, an all girls grammar, in the last two years of me being there introduced a “learner profile”, listing the qualities that they hoped to foster in us students. The head’s favourite word was resiliance. It was pretentious and therefore it became absolutely necessary for the whole school to take the piss out of it.

Teachers would ironically slip “resilience” into their assemblies (my cynical English teacher was particularly hilarious in lessons), and we would band it about between us to the point that the head clocked, and upper school assemblies became a pantomime. She’d steer conversation towards the profile, pause, and all 400 of us would shout back “resilience”.

Whatever it is, I think it’s catching…

…goddamnit.

Don’t tell FIBs…

I missed it.

It being FIB, Festival Internacional de Benicassim.

I was originally told by the family that we’d be going to Laredo for a week “sometime in July” but this turned into two weeks smack bang over festival time (it’s very true that the Spanish, famed for the phrase “mañana, mañana”, have a lax sense of time, this two weeks soon bled into three…).

I hadn’t exactly planned to go, I didn’t have a ticket, but a small part of me was hoping that I’d have one glamorous little thing about my trip that I could go back and tell people about.

Today, however, almost made up for it (EDIT: not today, did you read the post: Hello Internet…?). In a haze of post Gastroenteritis I-need-to-get-out-of-this-house-and-into-the-fresh-air,I went for a walk into the town (yes it did hurt my stomach a bit but sacrifices, eh?) and stumbled upon a mini rock festival.

Well not really a festival, but there was a stage set up in the town square for the main act, a smaller gazebo for the warm up, and, of course, a San Miguel tent.

It was great, and something a bit different to break up the weeks looking after the kids, reading and writing.

The first act was a group of local family and friends that had a jam session to some well known rock songs. The second was a electro rock duo that arrived topless wearing bright red skinny jeans and blue ray bans. One, long haired and skinny had “KILL ALL HUMANS” painted on his chest in red paint, and played the keyboard and synthesiser. The other, resembling Zach Galifianakis’s character Alan Garner in the Hangover, wore a tie and a muffin top, and played the drums. Together they made up THEFREETANGAS.

The rain held, the music was great and I had a chance to get some pretty holiday snaps when the sun popped out to say hello.

It would have been weird to go to a festival on my own any way wouldn’t it…

…and it saved me £90.

Never have I ever…

…had so many different things in my mouth than on this trip…

Oi, stop it, mind out of the gutter.

I’m talking food.

Anyone that knows me know I am one of the fussiest eaters on the planet. I like my foods plain and simple, sauce no thank you. I don’t like Chinese or Indian or Thai…or anything for that matter…I avoid anything fishy or sea food-y like it was the plague. I try nothing.

Here, however, I have tried almost everything. The only exception being prawns (just couldn’t do it), squid (they were actual tentacles!), and the UFS given to us at a seafood restaurant. I opted for a hamburgesa, which turned out to be a piece of meat and chips, sans burger bun…This was probably safer for me given the weak constitution of my stomach (have you read the post: Spoke to soon…?).

I’m doing so, I have found that there are a lot more foods I like, and would happily eat at home. I have become, dare I say it, a little teensy bit adventurous. I enjoyed the paella, the fish, the pourré, the rice, the coca (similar to pizza); and I got to taste the yummy Spanish versions of some of my favourite dishes, like macaroni and omelette (tortilla Española).

In both Benicassim and Laredo we are sin oven and con gas, and distinctly lacking a modern contraption called a kettle. Shock, horror! How does a Brit survive without tea you ask me? She doesn’t, she boils water in a pan over the gas stove (is it 2013 or 1813?).

In Laredo, negative: we have to cook toast on a strange flat pan over the stove as there is no kettle, and it comes out a bit gross, positive: there is a microwave in which to heat water for herbal tea *dances in the street*. In Benicassim, negative: no microwave just pots and pans, positives: a toaster *dances in the kitchen* and a gas stove that I can operate without third degree burns.

Don’t tell me I’m not adaptive.

Thank god, with this family I am not expected to cook (another good thing to ask if you’re going to be an Au Pair). I have to make the kids some breakfast but that’s just a bit of toast or cereal, a bottle and some milk with Cola Cao (chocolate powder). In Benicassim, the family makes lunch which I simply have to warm, and then people are at home make dinner. In Laredo, there is family around to make breakfast, lunch and dinner, I just have to feed them.

The one piece of meat that I was asked to watch over turned a little bit…golden, shall we say. The family’s 91 year old grandmother shook her head and told me I was a “muy mala cocinera”. Maybe they had a sixth sense before they hired me…

I’m not really a bad cook…I just normally work with a touch screen induction hob and an oven…

…I bake good cookies!

P.S. Fun fact about me re. the herbal teas…I can’t drink milk, it makes me sick. Apparently I was a nightmare baby and wouldn’t keep down anything they fed me. Guess what they were feeding me…? *facepalm* I also try to avoid caffeine for other health reasons. Plus they’re really yummy.

P.P.S. One thing I am really missing is chicken and asparagus pie. When I was at school my nan would buy uppercrust pies, cook them, keep half for them and drop me round the other half so I just had to warm it (my mum works late so I manage dinner, like a true domestic goddess…). She says that delivery service shall resume at university. Luckiest girl ever…