Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Family Holiday in the Alpujarras

The blog has been quiet over the summer, but we haven't been. In the next few weeks I'll try to update some of what we've been up to. Starting with - Spain.

Small mountain villages with no kids entertainment where the main attraction is hiking - perhaps not the obvious choice for a holiday with an (almost) four year old and a baby, but this July we headed up into the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia and, surprisingly,  had a wonderful time.

As ever, we didn't so much wind down towards the holidays as accelerate head long at them. F was working longer and longer hours while I was left to deal with a furiously energetic E and a rarely sleeping baby M. I was also beginning to question our decision to book a weeks holiday in an area that we'd previously visited for some pretty serious hiking. But somehow, as our overstuffed hire car wound it's way up the mountain roads above Travellez I suddenly recognised an old sensation - I actually felt relaxed.

Despite arriving horribly late at our accommodation, Ludwig the owner came straight out to welcome us and show us around our apartment. He seemed more concerned that we might have got lost on the way than that we'd kept him from his bed. Horray for Spain (and it's German ex-pats), no icy glares from BnB owners because you turned up after 8.30pm here! 

Patio of one of the other apartments

We were staying at Cortijo Prado Toro. A beautiful old stone house that has been divided into apartments. We stayed in the largest (El Taller) which was spacious and well equipped, it also had shutters which kept the bedrooms so dark and so quiet that even baby M slept in late in the morning (thinking about this again now - perhaps I should just move there).

One of the Geckos, who joined us for dinner on the roof of our patio

I needn't have worried about keeping everyone entertained, we quickly discovered a great activity for all the family - lunch. Ludwig provided us with a list of the best restaurants in the area we managed to make a mid day meal start at 2pm and last most of the day. This was aided by the shutter induced lie- ins.  By the time we'd had a light, lazy breakfast on the patio, and driven over the winding roads to one of the villages it was time for lunch. Everywhere offered a "Menu Del Dia" - three courses for 8-10 euros - bargain, although by the end of the week we were happily parting with more than that for massive plates of the fabulous local ham.

Gazpacho+Cherries+3 year old = happy mess
When we were finally able to move again the little white villages of Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileira were good for a bit of a potter (you may recognise the names from the Driving Over Lemons books) and then it was back up the dirt road, past the helipad(!) to the Cortijo to cool off in the pool - or rather to be jumped on and splashed repeatedly by a small child.

Pool with a view

We even managed to get in a bit of walking. Thanks to another of  Ludwig's print outs we did a 5km loop from the cortijo which took us past little waterfalls, alongside an ancient acequia (watercourse) and under enormous old chestnut trees. E did amazingly well despite the Spanish heat, and only had to be bribed with Haribo for about he last km. M rode along in the sling  (although that did get rather sweaty!). Not quite the length of walk we've done in the area previously, but it was lovely to be able to share with the girls something that we've enjoyed so much as a couple.

Before we arrived I'd been expecting to end the week desperate to get somewhere with a kids club and a beach, or at least a TV with kids channels. In fact that was exactly what we had booked for the following week, but when the time came to shoe horn everything back into the (now utterly filthy) hire car we were wishing we had 2 weeks in the Alpujarras instead. Maybe next year.

Some info:

Where: The Alpujarras is a small (and beautiful) area on the Southern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia, southern Spain.

Fly: We flew to Malaga, Granada is slightly nearer but has fewer flights

Stay: We loved Cortijo Prado Del Toro, but there are also quite a few places in the villages if you want to be walking distance from bars and restaurants

Bring:  - Arm bands - the one negative about the cortijo was that the pool is very deep, we're super tall and                neither of us could stand up in it so we were glad to have arm bands on E.
          - Insect repellent - I had a total of 57 bites by the end of the week, I was especially lucky though, F                  only got 2 and the girls got none!
           - The full excess waver for the hire car - this is the only place we've ever paid for this and it was a                    good thing we did, both times. (I don't think hire companies in Malaga expect you to be taking the                 little hatch back up mountain dirt roads, oops)

Before we left we took the girls higher up into the mountains to a mirador (viewpoint) that we'd been to on our first trip to the area - so we could take a photo:



Sunday, 22 September 2013

I Really Hate This Symbol

Let me share with you a little symbol that really, REALLY annoys me:

It appears on the labels of bottles of wine and beer, making it quite clear that pregnant women should not be drinking.

Now, I certainly don't advocate going out and getting lashed when you're pregnant. In fact this post came to mind after I read about a recent study which showed some of the harm done by binge drinking during the second trimester, but my question is this:

Why is this the only warning label on my Friday night beer?

There is currently no evidence that an occasional drink is harmful, it's clear that heavy drinking is a really really bad idea but exactly where the cut off lies is unknown and is likely to vary for every individual (the same could of course be said for driving after drinking alcohol). Official advice is to drink nothing or stick to nothing for the first three months then one or two units once or twice a week. But there is concern that exactly what constitutes a unit is a bit confusing and that some women won't be responsible enough to limit themselves, so best just stop them drinking all together.

Ok fine, there is some sense to that, there are always a few people who act like idiots, who are irresponsible enough to go out and get drunk despite the damage it could do and who don't pay attention to official limits.

So we have:
Don't drink anything if you're pregnant

But where is:?
Don't drink anything if you're driving
Don't drink anything if you're 14 and sitting in a park
Don't drink anything if you're likley to wake up next to someone you really don't want to wake up next to
Don't drink anything if you tend to get so wrecked that you end up wasting precious NHS resources
Don't drink anything if you might get aggressive and start fights

Don't drink anything if you have a history of going home drunk and beating up your partner.

Now I'm going to say it again, just to be quite clear: I don't advocate heavy or regular consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. But why is it ok to single out pregnant woman as the one group that need a special symbol to remind them of the dangers of alcohol? What about the brawlers, the pukers and the wife beaters? Are all pregnant women assumed to be more brainless and selfish than them?