More photos… Granada, Torrevieja, Las Heredades…

Endless piss-taking of the old man
he can’t wear non-prescription glasses
so these were only good for his pate.

The midday chill – Jamie scranning crisps – Granada flat

And Ana with her Cheetos (wallpaper paste tasting puffs)

Catedral de Granada – The Cathedral of the Incarnation
Vast wealth and power of the church was like a punch to the plexus.
The scale of the building – astonishing.

Bizarre – pop a 20 cent in the box and a ‘candle’ lights up.
There’s 2 Euros worth lit up here. 

Robert is 6’6″ – even he is dwarfed by this place

Penitents buy your soul’s ease here – a bit of almsgiving
boxes liberally placed throughout the Catedral.

Ana – signalling a good-natured ‘time to go now Mum’

Looking for God. Marvelling at what man made.

Best confession booth I’ve seen.

Back in Las Heredades. Ipad in hand.

Yip. I succumbed. Back on the fags.
Holiday reading hit the holiday spot.

Fun of the evening fair – Torrevieja

Sleeping cat on warm rocks – Torrevieja

Ana on the Torrevieja pier

Self-conscious camera-shy – who’d have thought that of
Jamie the exhibitionist. Taken at a Santa Pola Kiosko

Jamie and Ana – Torrevieja pier.

Face on the Torrevieja rocks

Ana and Mamie – Torrevieja

They were looking over to the Marina and dreaming of yachts


The Alhambra… Albaicin… Granada – Family Holiday 2013

Robert and Jamie onboard the Citysightseeing tour – a hop-on hop-off cheap way
 to get around Granada – Albaicin glimpsed from the Gran Via, Granada

I’m cheating. There’s so much to tell. So many words to select. The month in Spain is behind me now and I am desperate to be back. Looking at the photos has me aching with a longing to be away from here – to be in Andalusia or Valenciana or Murcia or…

I drove the hired 7-seater down to Granada for our second week.

The rented city flat was stunning. Positioned just beside the Cathedral.

Here are a few photos – just until I get myself sorted.

Megan, Ana and Jamie (oh bald one – he of the bloody awful haircut) – waiting for our food to arrive – City Centre, Granada
Robert and Ana walking past the Granada Madraza – City Centre

Megan and Ana – Granada city centre – on our way back to our rented flat
Street pointing towards the Cathedral, Granada

Albaicin, Granada

Part of the Alhambra – viewed from Albaicin (old Moorish quarter) Granada

Palaces of the Nasrid, Alhambra

Court of the Lions, Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra

Megan propping up the columns of the Alhambra, other tourists and the impossibility of getting a good shot.

Court of the Lions, Nasrid Palaces, Granada

Megan and Ana, Court of the Lions, Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra, Granada

Ceiling detail is difficult to capture on an iphone… I wish you could see how breath-taking this was. An exquisite honeycomb.

Tile detail – Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra

They’re just so transparent, my girls… Looking out towards Albaicin from the Alhambra

View from the Palace – out over Albaicin and towards the Sierra Nevada

Alhambra, Granada 

Ana looking out towards Granada from the Alhambra

My Mum and Dad – taking shelter from the midday sun…, Alhambra, Granada

Ana and I, Generalife Gardens, Alhambra

My Mum, Generalife Gardens, Alhambra (this was after her snart – and for those of you who do not know what that means I think I’ll leave you in a state of blissful ignorance).

Robert – looking out from the Alhambra fortress 

The Holiday – The Road Home

We counted off the junctions to home. There is a point on a familiar road where the car seems to embrace remembered contours. The engine hums a soothing pulsating home-coming. Seems to pull with new determination. Our magnetic North become home.

Motorway parallel with the hills and the West Coast train line.

Gretna, Ecclefechan, Dumfries, Moffat, Beattoc Summit, Drumlanrig, Abington, Douglas, Lanark…

The old water tower appears on the horizon. The church steeple rising above the toothy silhouette of a hill town splayed against a greying sky. Soon we are crossing the elegantly curving, 5 arch, single-track Hyndford Bridge. 1773 carved into its sandstone. Crossing the Clyde at the site of an ancient Ford – the old Ferry Toll House facing up towards Lanark, now blind, shuttered, unused.

Hyndford Bridge

The children are noisy at the sight of the broken racetrack. We are HOME we are home we are HOME…

And I feel that surge of love that HOME releases. Excitement. Strange excitement to be triggered by such a homely familiar, a tugging reminder of the ties that bind – surely natural when given thought now.

Ana begins to sing about Jaspar and Stan, the ginger and white family moggies.

Jamie begins to wonder about his football. Have Evan and Lewis used it and ruined it or lost it amongst the chaos of brambles in the garden…

The car gathers momentum as it swerves down the hill and swoops the 325 degree bend into New Lanark. The village suddenly unfolds. Tinto hill, Hill of Fire, the dense forestry – all framing the perfect sandstone Georgian surprise that is home.

View from the end of my house – need to get rid of that  post!

You turn off the engine after driving long hours in a car and there is instant quiet. Bones fall silent. Relieved. Free from the gentle but omnipresent, humming vibration of engine and road. The kids don’t notice that of course. They are unbuckled and out. Jumping from the rear and tumbling and squalling onto the cobbles and falling through the front door. 

Robert and I look at one another. A look that says Robert is unpacking… I am going to the supermarket… What kind of mess will we find in there?

And then there is Evan. lumbering to the door. Grinning. Awwww Mummm thank God you’re back… I’m starving…

He is pressed into unpacking service. The first bags just being lifted from the boot when we hear a bellow from the house –

Muuuuuuuummmm….Daaaaaddddddd….Theres a pongy smell in here…..
Yeuchhhhhhh…its STINKING….. 

The Holiday – Part 16

But before gin comes Mamie’s holiday first aid treat…

Cool-shower on raw skin. Mothers running commentary – last time I saw skin like that it was on oor Maggie efter the loft burst an aw they glass fibres went intae hur bed. In fact ye look lik yon cratur fae the co-op – ye jnow the wan – aye – ye ken – that wan thit hud the 3rd degree burns. Yur a bluidy eejit. Whit did ye no jist ston in it the gate fur?

I am wrapped in my Mothers rough bath sheet. Clobbered by her tongue. This is the language of love I say to myself. The love that chaffs and rubs. Burnishing till it brands.

Cocktail of anti-histamine. Witch hazel and aloe vera gel. Paracetamol. Gin and tonic.

Mother is good to herself on holiday. She brings out her Bombay Sapphire Gin. Exotic turquoise in the softening twilight of the cottage. Cuts me slices of lime. Tops up with Fentimans tonic water. And shop bought ice.

Deep sigh…

… and I reflect that if it wasn’t for the flayed skin I might even have been able to relax and enjoy…

The Holiday – Part 15

My family don’t do sympathy. Awwwww poor you? Nope – not in their vocabulary. At least not for blood relatives.

Trip and fall? Derisive snort. Break your wrist? Cant you look where you’re going. Swollen glands? Thats what you get for snogging that boy. Crash the car? Hope you weren’t drunk.

Jump in a ditch of nettles to avoid a sheep-stampede? lose your good flip-flops, your pride and any useful skin on your legs?


At least the hysteria which greeted me stopped them from speaking. For a few minutes. Mother pissed herself (her – you know – eyes drop to below navel, voice lowers– has never been the same since – dramatic pause – Oor Derek – he had shooders like a bulls, you know). But not before saying You silly bitch! What on earth were you doing!

Derek – the farmer/scrapyard owner (not my bull-shouldered brother) – and his wife made noises about how it was easy to get caught out like that. At least I think that’s what they said. The girlfriend could not handle the situation and walked away, hugging herself, shaking a bit with the effort of suppressing the laughs.

And I stood there, legs and hands and forearms beginning to nip from the nettle stings, the cut on the sole of my left foot beginning to throb and thought – if you cant beat em, join em…

Yip, I am a silly bitch I said. Then laughed too.

Then said I think I need a big gin.

The Holiday – Part 14

Hindsight. Would that we were gifted with its piercing insights before we did the deed.

Oh, I enjoyed a moment of piercing insight, of course. After I had leapt.

I saw with absolute clarity that my cover as a sane, functioning, rational human being was blown. I could descend no lower. It was abject humiliation by dodgy ditch. And all compounded by the sheep’s arse eye-level vision.

The slathering baa-ing mess passed within inches of my face – and that was with me pressing up hard against the opposite bank – trying to haul myself up by the hedgerow.

Until I just gave up. And stood there.

I observed, detachedly, that sheep could shit, piss and run at the same time.

I had lost the other flip-flop. Sucked off into the gritty squelching stream at the bottom of the ditch. I couldn’t bend to search for it as that would involve grazing my face along the nettles.

R yoew mithered int ed lass?

He was physically shaking with laughter as he said it. He shook his head. And laughed. And laughed.

He had the sheep penned between dogs in the wider yard. And was hugging his sides as he laughed.

Yoew ad get jist ther – din’t yoew ear mi?

Gate? Gate?

‘appen yoew din‘t. And he actually snorted with laughter.

I looked up at him. Sitting up there on that quad-bike. And wanted to inflict pain. Itched to slap his laughing face.

He got down from the bike. Reached out his hand.

ere lass, gie mi yoer and…

I despised the proffered hand and him. I glared. And he smiled at me, before the laughter burbled up again and he started shaking with the effort of keeping it down. There was laughter just staining the air between us. laughter becoming the absurdity of the situation.

What the hell. At least my Mother and Megan hadn’t seen me.

I took the hand.

Two bungled attempts to haul me out later and we worked out it would be easier if I just did it myself.

He walked down the road a bit and brought back the discarded flip-flop. Trying to wipe the sheep shit from it before he handed it over.

I stood. A bit wobbly. Office white skin mottled with nettle rash – puffy red and white weals that had yet to start itching and stinging. Feet bleeding and mucky.

I looked up towards the house.

And there they all were. Staring back.

Mum, Dad, Megan, Jamie and Ana.

Derek and his wife.

And a boy I later discovered was his son.

And the sons girlfriend.

The Holiday – Part 13

High summer heat-haze, syrupy air laden with insect and birdsong and occasional horse nickering, knowledge that there will be two weeks of no-work… Knots in my shoulders began unknotting. The tension of too many problems and being the one with workable solutions began to dissolve. My breathing was slowing and deepening. I could feel the beating pulse of my heart finding a new rhythm.

Then, through my drunken heat-hazy limb-heavy state I was aware of a new sound. Distant – but getting closer. A low and regular growl. Growing louder. Resolving itself into a mechanical and ripping roar. Enjoined by the yipping, high, bark bark bark yelp squeal of dog. The whistle of man. And the increasingly frantic bleating of what sounded like 1000 sheep. Sheep that were getting closer. Closer to me.

I thought briefly of jumping into the single-track nettle-filled roadside ditches. Nope. Not an option – bare legs and flip-flops.

There was only one way to go and that was up the hill. Now. And at speed. A speed that had to beat the dog and the sheep and the roaring, predatory quad-bike-man. I was panicked into running. I tripped on a flip-flop. And left it lying in the road. My feet stung as they slapped the rubbly tarmac surface. I looked behind and could see the beasts gaining on me. There was a multitude of sheep. A bleating scrabbling mass of grubby wool and yellow satanic eyes pursued by machine and mad barking dog. And the only thing between them and the farmyard was me. A stumbling unfit footsore me.

Above the din I heard shouting. Insistent shouting. Noises that were clearly human but which contained no meaning I could decipher. The heartbeat was sounding so loud against my eardrums. I would as well have been deaf. I stopped, briefly, bewildered by the human insistence. The sheep were gaining on me. They were almost upon me. My nostrils were full of their smell. I could feel their breath. The clatter and slip of their horny feet on the loose road grit as they pushed on towards me. In one split second I saw the newspaper obituary – 44 yr old Mother of Five Trampled to Death by Sheep.

I looked at the ditch. I looked at the sheep. And with one despairing leap I was up to my thighs in nettles…