Our hotel was beautifully, wonderfully and (with the exception of several bushes full of crickets and an ostentation of peacocks (I had to look that up!)) silently isolated. It’s a golf course and hotel an hour or so north of Gibraltar and while we saw the occasional lone golf buggy in the distance, and merely catching sight of another person rendered it ‘busy’, for most of the time the hotel seemed empty save for four adults, two tiny girls and our menagerie of baby toys and golf clubs.
Ah the golf. I’ll happily rank my golf skills at awful to mediocre, but H and his father are both really good, the latter getting in a lot more practice than the former who may or may not have had to chivvy spiders out of his golf bag. It was part of the charm of the holiday plan; H would get to play golf, his Dad would have a playing partner, and my mother in law could choose whether to join us in being some of the only people ever to use the pool (the others being my brother and sister in law) or bounce around on the golf cart.
And so most afternoons we would head home to soak away the heat of the morning in that lovely deep cool water, and the boys would load up and head out to go and ‘ruin a good walk’.
After we’d shaken down from the crazy long travelling days, and I found my sea legs driving on the wrong side of the road, and the courage to put them to the test it worked well; and the ladies would lead an advance party somewhere exciting for the late afternoon. But we missed H, and I know Kitty wanted to follow her Daddy.
All was not lost. My parents in law had a surprise for her. Golf travel bags can hide a multitude of sins and as we unpacked the clubs on the first morning, there in Grandad’s bag was something decidedly pink, unmistakably golf-shaped, and very definitely too small for Grandad. A tiny, Kitty sized golf-bag together with a mini 7-iron and a mini putter.
And so with Grandma pushing a sleepy Elma around the shady courtyard, Kitty and her Grandad headed off to the practice range.
I’m told she had a good go at it, although I fear that her mother’s genetics might counteract any chance she has of inheriting her father’s “see it – play it – win it” sporting prowess.
So with the girls happily occupied, H and I scooted off on a bucking bronco buggy ride so that I could see the course. It’s strange, the hotel was down in a hollow and all the time I felt that as we were so near the sea, all I had to do was get to somewhere high and there would be the Atlantic stretched out before me. The sea was close, but somehow the golf course was laid out like the inside of a bowl, there was only one point where the it came into view beneath a telegraph wire, and it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as I’d hoped.
But the views of Verjer more than made up for it; brilliant and white on the hill, and a very reliable trig point on a golf course where every second tree looked the same!
The southern Spanish landscape is just so very different to anything I’ve come across before; dry dusty mountains, and properly scrubby shrubbery. And oh so ever so windy. As soon as we left La Linea (the border town to Gibraltar) and started heading north we could see wind farms; miles upon miles of huge tall white spikes, gently twirling as the breeze roared past and we struggled to hold the car doors open.
The wind dropped a little while we were there, and either the Spanish had enough electricity that day, or there wasn’t enough puff to get them moving, but as we drove back south they were still, an army of enormous silent stars.
They loom by the side of the road, seemingly so close that you could touch them out of the car window, but after the first few there was something a little spooky about seeing them all motionless, all just watching and waiting. Far too many shades of the Dr Who episodes about the Angels; and of all of the Dr Who episodes I’ve seen, they were the only things that had me reaching for the sofa cushions, and turning on a few extra lights.
And so we leave our story with the intrepid explorers heading south. I’ve nearly finished with my postcards from Spain; nearly but not quite, so for the moment as I sit in dreary rain-splattered England, where warm tights and an umbrella are rapidly becoming the order of the day, you’ll forgive me if I sit back, close my eyes, try very hard not to fall asleep, and remember that heat on my skin, and the smells of sunbaked earth and warm salty sea.