Climbing The Sand Dune In Bolonia

Last week we we did something that we haven’t done since having our children. We climbed the sand dune at the far end of our favourite beach in Bolonia, Cádiz. I don’t quite know why we haven’t taken the children up there before now, because after all it is an ideal place for two boisterous boys to burn off some energy. They are currently going through what I think of as a ‘bundle’ phase, because they spend most of their time bundling on top of each other and rolling about on the ground while trying to smack each other’s bottom and shouting “bottom, bottom!” Consequently any location that has very wide open spaces, relatively few other people within a 100m radius and lots of opportunities to roll around on the ground is an ideal place for us!

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To get to the dune we parked at the far end of town, near to the Baelo Claudia Roman ruins. Parking there is limited and a bit of a ‘find whichever small space you can to squeeze your car in’ experience and we ended up having a bit of a minor altercation with a family in a campervan as we both vied for the same space but it was resolved almost amicably when I bounded across to say hello and cheerily offered the rather grumpy, muttering campervan family the space and we went off to find another. Having found a new ‘space’ and parked lopsidedly in the middle of a grassy, puddly, uneven bit of land we set off to begin our adventure.

The weather was very strange that day. As we drove there we noticed a thick blanket of cloud just over Bolonia but as we passed by we saw that Tarifa was bathed in glorious sunshine, Punta Paloma was also sunny, in fact everywhere was sunny except Bolonia which was grey and chilly. We weren’t discouraged though and actually it was rather advantageous because as I remember from the last time we climbed the dune, about 9 years ago, it was quite difficult climbing it in the heat of the sun. I also seem to recall that we were hungover on that particular day too which wouldn’t have helped, but those were our pre-children days when we seemed to do most things at the weekend with a hangover. Now, in our post-children days we just do everything in a constant state of extreme tiredness. But anyway, I’m digressing.

Now then, where was I? Oh yes, climbing the dune in the cloud. We had gone along the wooden walkway from where the car was parked until we reached the base of the dune. Looking up to the top of the dune from the beach you realise just how high it actually is and climbing on sand isn’t the easiest thing in the world. We started off full of enthusiasm, the boys running on ahead and throwing themselves down the steep sides of the dunes, running, rolling and bundling and generally getting covered head to foot in sand. As we got closer to the top Henry needed more coaxing as his energy levels depleted which resulted in him throwing himself down in the sand and refusing to move from his comfy, sandy nest and eventually we had to carry him some of the way as his little legs were tired and we feared we may never reach the top otherwise!

As we made our ascent we came across all sorts of different people. There was a group of three French lads with their bikes which they had pushed up to the top and were attempting to ride down some of the very steep slopes with various degrees of success! There was a small group of tourists being given a guided tour and we eavesdropped on what the guide was saying as he pointed out some interesting, little known places that could just be made out in the distance. There were other families with children and dogs leaping around excitedly, people sat on their own reading on the peaks of the dunes and groups of people who had set up windbreaks, deckchairs and picnic tables in the troughs of the dunes and who looked like they were set to spend the day there.

When we finally reached the top we sat down for a few minutes and admired the views before we all ran and rolled back down again. We tried surfing down on a bit of plastic that we found but it didn’t work, even when we tried sending little Henry down. So instead we continued rolling and running, frequently needing to coax Henry back up from where he was contentedly lying flat out in the sand refusing to get up again. Eventually I ended up carrying him back and felt like I’d had a very thorough workout by the time I reached the wooden walkway again.

On reaching the walkway we emptied our shoes of the copious amounts of dune that had collected inside them and then attempted to de-sand the boys which proved to be a job almost too big, even for expert de-grubbers like us to handle. Brushing off as much as we could and making a mental note to stick them both in the shower when we got back home we set off to a nearby chiringuito to get some lunch.

We had a fantastic afternoon climbing the dune and we decided that next time we would take our dog Joey as he also enjoys our favourite family pastimes of running and rolling and ‘bundling’! If you too like to roll/run/bundle then I would encourage you to climb the dune too. Or if you are more accustomed to leisurely, sedate walks (lucky you!) then I would also encourage you to climb the dune. And while you are there, if you hear repeated and increasingly weary calls of “Come on Henry! Up you get!” or “Come on Henry, you can’t lie there all day!” or “Come on then Henry, mummy will carry you!” travelling to your ears on the wind from across the dunes then it’s more than likely that we are there too.
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Surviving The Summer With Children

I remember when I used to look forward to the Summer holidays. The holidays offered the promise of warm, sunny weather with no need for an alarm clock and most importantly, weeks of leisurely, relaxing, stress-free tranquility stretched ahead of me. As a primary school teacher one of the perks of the job, in the absence of any satisfactory financial remuneration or opportunities to have a quiet 5 minutes with a cup of tea, is the holidays. Especially the long Summer holiday. That is unless you happen to have the pleasure of living with my children, Sam, aged 5 and Henry, aged 3. Purveyors of the finest tantrums, tears and arguments, often imitated, never bettered. In fact as I write, the continuous soundtrack to my life is playing in the background – “no, that’s mine!”, “mummy!”, “ouch, that hurts!”, “get off of me!”, “give that back!” “I had it first!” and so on, all punctuated with the obligatory screams, shouts, wails and shrieks. Of course it isn’t all unbearable, at the end of each daily tunnel is the light known as bedtime. It’s just that sometimes, and by that I mean frequently, it can be a very long tunnel to get through. A very, very long tunnel.

Take today for example. The joy began at about 8am when I heard the boys’ bedroom door open, the approaching patter of small running feet and the familiar cry of “angry birds, mummy, angry birds”, which is Henry’s way of saying “good morning mummy and how are you today?” as he reaches for my iPad, settles himself in bed next to me and lights up the room with the glare and racket that accompanies the game that he is currently obsessed with. Not long after Sam appears at the door, clearly drawn by the frantic screeching of angry birds being flung against towers of crumbling blocks and then the two of them get busy arguing about whose turn it is and wrestling the iPad from one to the other. Suddenly getting up and about is a much more attractive prospect so up I get, intending to prepare breakfast for the boys. With cereal ready in bowls, juice poured in cups, chairs set up around the table and the television on, all that’s left to do is to negotiate the surrender of the iPad, placate the resulting hysterical tears and settle my little angels into their places for breakfast.

Breakfast turns out to be a very sedate affair, if you ignore the Weetabix splattered up the wall and the juice spilt on the table and then splashed into far reaching corners of the room by little hands slapping into the puddle. The televisual entertainment provides a short interval for a cup of tea and a quick shower before the calls of “mummy, finished!” signal the start of a new chapter of chaos and activity. Soon the children are washed, brushed and dressed, presenting a short lived illusion of calm, coiffed and well behaved little cherubs. Let the day’s entertainment commence.

We spend a happy hour going for a walk around the neighbourhood. The calm is only broken whenever we meet a junction and both boys decide they want to go in opposite directions, regardless of any plan mummy may have had for the walk, and then squabble and point and shout “no this way!” and throw themselves on the floor kicking legs and waving arms and wailing in despair and temper. Eventually I will be helped along by some such blessing as a passing tractor, a cat or even an ant which brings both boys to their feet, tantrums forgotten in an attempt to pursue whatever has just been spied. I breathe a sigh of relief and we continue peacefully once more until the next junction.

Eventually our lovely walk must come to an end and we return home for a drink of juice. Once the battle over who gets the blue cup has been won by one or the other, we are able to move on and then they settle down while I make lunch. Again, this is surprisingly relaxed with the two boys happily chattering away about general nonsense. I sit and watch them and laugh at their topics of conversation and the good humour that binds them, however rarely it is seen, and allow myself to pretend that this is how life always is. Then it is Henry’s nap time and I spend about an hour rubbing his back in an effort to get him to sleep, only for him to wake up after about half an hour ready for more fun.

The afternoon is spent at the pool and after the battle of wills that is also known as applying sun cream we are ready to go, armed with various inflatables. We have a brief delay due to Henry having a wee on the floor, but after a quick bout of mopping and disinfecting, we are finally out the door. This afternoon we are lucky in that the oasis of contentment is maintained for some considerable time. Very occasionally I hear a familiar wail that reaches me on the breeze, but for most of the time I am able to sit undisturbed poolside and read. Once again I find myself wondering why can’t life always be like this? I watch my boys playing goodnaturedly together, jumping in the pool, laughing, swimming about and having fun. Of course though this isn’t the reality of my life and the interval of cooperation is soon forgotten as I attempt to get the boys out of the pool so that we can go home for dinner. It is unsurprisingly tricky to retrieve two reluctant children from a pool, but I persevere and am soon rewarded by claiming my heartbroken, crying, fun-deprived children back onto dry land and the many bemused poolside spectators of our floor show are soon denied further entertainment as we head back home.

While the boys keep themselves busy by fighting and arguing in the front room, I hurry to get dinner ready before any serious injury is sustained, and then settled in their chairs once again I spend a quiet half hour while they eat their dinner and I have a cup of tea and a rest while steeling myself for the prospect of bath time ahead of me. With everything cleared away I am able to chase the boys around the room gradually undressing them as I catch them, and then breathe a sigh of relief when they are finally contained in the bath. Hair is washed, teeth are cleaned, battles for toys are fought and won, and then before I know it the boys are out of the bath, dried, powdered, dressed in pyjamas and we are ready for a bedtime story. After another brief chase I am able to gather them in bed for the story. As soon as the book is finished and closed, like greyhounds out of a trap they are off and running around the house chasing each other. Giving it one last effort, and spurred on by the prospect of the end of the day coming ever closer, I give one last chase.

Finally both boys are in bed and I roam around the house tidying away the detritus of the day. A potato with teeth marks in that has been put in the fruit bowl is returned to its rightful place. A stray spoon crusted with what looks like yogurt that is lurking behind the curtain is put away. Numerous toy cars are rounded up and placed in the garage. The dog, sensing it is at last safe, emerges from under the dining room table and with a wary look from side to side, takes his place on the sofa. Normality and calm is gradually restored.

Later I go in to check on the boys and I find them cuddled up in the same bed together, snoring soundly. I feel such a strong surge of love as I gaze upon them, all the tension of the day forgotten as I tuck them in, close the door softly and head for the bottle of wine waiting in the kitchen. However, as much as I can reflect on the day through rose tinted glasses now that the boys are fast asleep, I know that when I hear that bedroom door open in the morning and hear the approaching patter of small running feet, and anticipate the day ahead with all the tantrums and arguments that it will bring, the first words that will go through my mind will be, “I remember when I used to look forward to the Summer holidays.”

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Making & Baking With My Children – Plum & Apple Jam

Sometimes in our family we like to take a short break from being chaotic and dysfunctional and do something productive. My boys love cooking and baking and one of our favourite things to make is jam. We made several jars of jam at Christmas which we gifted to friends and family, but this is a great thing to make all year round and not only to give away as presents but to keep for ourselves too!

This is the recipe that we use. It’s never gone wrong and it always tastes delicious!

Plum and Apple Jam

Ingredients
1kg plums
1kg apples
1.8kg sugar
600 mls water
Juice of 1 lemon

Note – Recipes often state that you should use a particular types of fruit, such as Bramley apples, but we just use whatever apples we have in the fruit bowl (which are usually the cheapest apples we can find!) and they always work perfectly well. Also, some recipes state that you need to use preserving sugar or that you should add pectin, none of which we ever have in the house. We use ordinary granulated sugar instead and that works just fine too and we add the lemon juice to help set the jam in the absence of pectin. We don’t have anything as fancy as a preserving pan either so we just use an ordinary, large pan.)

Method
1. Chop the plums in half, remove the stone, then chop roughly into smaller pieces. Don’t remove the skin.
2. Peel, core and chop the apples.
3. Put into a pan with the water and simmer until softened. This took about 40 minutes.
4. Turn down the heat to low, add the sugar and keep stirring until it is dissolved. This took about 5 minutes.
5. Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes. Keep stirring to avoid burning!
6. Test the jam to see if it is ready for setting by putting a spoonful on a chilled plate. Put it in the fridge far a minute or two and if it crinkles when you push it then it is ready. If not, boil for a few minutes more and then repeat.
7. Put into sterilised jars, seal and label.

This fills approximately six 350ml jars.

Note – to sterilise our jars we wash them in hot, soapy water and then rinse them. We set the oven to 140 degrees celsius (fan oven), put a sheet of newspaper on the oven shelf and then put the jars on the newspaper in the oven for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the lids are put in a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes to sterilise them. Then the jars and lids are left to cool a little before filling with the jam.

Whenever we make this for presents we tie some ribbon around the top of the jars to make them look pretty!

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Estepona Art Trail – Part 2

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Well, it’s been a while since I started my art trail hasn’t it? This isn’t because I have lost interest in my mission already. I can only explain this away as me having been very busy at work for the first part of my absence and then swept up in school type things for the last part of it. But today I was determined to get out on my bike and find some more murals! And I did!

There was one small hiccup in my plan though. I have recently been having technological issues with my phone. You see I am one of those people that puts my phone on to charge at night and then I unplug it in the morning. Apparently this is not a good thing to do and it has resulted in my phone battery swelling into a pillow shape that doesn’t quite fit in the phone anymore. This means that my battery is ok for a short while but then, when it feels like it, the power percentage remaining rapidly depletes in front of my eyes until moments later my phone will beep that the battery level is critically low and then it turns itself off! In preparation for my mission I had charged my phone to 100% and having set my app to record my distance travelled and time taken I cycled off into the wind. I had been forewarned about the possibility of it being a bit windy out but I hadn’t listened, choosing only to notice the cloudless, blue sky and so instead decided to wear my Summer cycling clothes of shorts and a vest top, despite it being the end of December. As the chill wind hit me I was sure that as I cycled on I would warm up. And I did. After about 15 minutes pelting along the N340 I did indeed feel very slightly less hypothermic.

As I arrived in Estepona I excitedly cycled through the back streets looking for murals. I hadn’t gone far when I found one! It was a black and white mural called ‘La mirada de un niño’ by Francisco Alarcon. I reached into my bag to get my phone out to take a photo and found that my pillow battery had decided to escape from inside the phone (which isn’t too difficult seeing as the back doesn’t fit on too well since the battery grew) and so I had to put it all back together before I could take the photo. This wasn’t so much of an inconvenience though because just as I had got off my bike a rather dishevelled woman shuffled along and stopped right in front of the mural eating ‘pipas’ and spitting the shells all over the place. Oblivious to my tuts and stares that were intended to signal that she should move along a little bit, she stayed there showering the ground with her spat out bits. Luckily in the 5 minutes it took me to reassemble my phone and log in and get the camera up and running she had shuffled off to spit elsewhere.

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This wasn’t the most exciting of murals in my opinion but on returning home and looking up about the mural online I discovered that had I just turned around and looked at the wall behind me I would have seen the second part of the mural, depicting a girl with a bowl of lentils! Unfortunately I didn’t notice this and so will have to save taking that particular photo for my next outing.

I popped my camera back in my bag, cycled on a mere few feet and found another mural! This was one I had been hoping to find as I’ve seen pictures of it before and it’s a great one. The child in the mural above is perhaps supposed to be looking at this next one. It’s called ‘ Día de pesca’ and it’s by José Fernández Rios. It’s the biggest vertical mural in Spain and it is painted over 6 walls of a block of flats, taking up over 1000 square metres of the building. I like this one because you need to get just the right perspective to fully appreciate the design which is of a fisherman casting his line to catch a fish, but when you do it looks fantastic. Amazingly it only took 3 weeks to paint which seems quite fast to me.

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I hurried to get my camera out once more only to find that the pillow had popped out again! Tutting in annoyance I had to put it all back together again before I could take my photo.

As I took my photo I saw that the battery level was getting low! I noticed that despite the fact the battery had come out twice the app that records my distance travelled was still going! I hastily attempted to close it down in an effort to save battery but instead managed to open up the Internet browser and then Whatsapp which I’m sure didn’t help my battery preservation efforts. The clock on the phone was also showing the wrong time but I wasn’t too fussed about resetting it seeing as my distance/time app was probably going to be all wrong anyway. I also noticed that my photo hadn’t quite captured the best viewing angle of the mural but I was hoping to get at least one more mural ticked off before my phone completely died so I determined to take a better picture next time and hurried off.

I cycled along again and soon saw another mural! I quickly turned off the main road towards it and raced to get my phone out again. Unfortunately it had switched off though and when I tried to restart it the battery level showed 2% and it started beeping again. Defeated and disappointed I decided to call it a day and set off for home, making sure to come back next time to get a photo of it.

I cycled back home and plugged the phone in to charge. Rather frustratingly, as I plugged it in, the battery showed 47% as opposed to the 2% of power that it had offered me while I was out and about. Silly phone. On the plus side by some miracle my distance tracker had somehow continued recording how far I had gone and it informed me I had travelled 21.3 km in minus 15 minutes, which I have to admit is a super human effort and a new personal best!

Until next time…………

A Weekend Of Firsts

Before this weekend I hadn’t…

1. …ever bought paraguayos. In fact I hadn’t actually intended to buy them at all but when we went to the supermarket yesterday afternoon I noticed Henry in the fruit section picking them up and licking them one by one and so I felt obliged to buy whichever wet ones I could find.

2. …realised you could injure a child by hula hooping. To be honest I didn’t actually manage to hula hoop at all because just as I made my first energetic spin of the hula hoop, Sam had the misfortune of walking past me and unfortunately collided with the hoop, resulting in quite a big cut on his face.

3. …ever bought, rather than make, a cake for a special occasion. Today I realised how doing this simplifies life considerably but ultimately gives little satisfaction. The boys and I were making a Fathers’ Day cake. I think it was a combination of the boys adding too much milk to the cake mixture (which subsequently meant we had to add a lot of extra flour), along with the fact that the mixture was quite likely over whisked by two excitable boys who were having so much fun using the ‘whisky thing’ that they just couldn’t stop which resulted in our usually light, fluffy sponge instead resembling a very dense and weighty suet pudding. We were supposed to be going out at 6pm having baked, cooled and lovingly decorated our cake. The suetty puddingy ‘cake’ was removed from the oven at 5.15pm and tipped out with an alarming thud as it crashed on to the cooling rack. This wasn’t a good cake. Cue numerous, stressed calls of, “quick, we have to go to the shop!”, “put your shoes on!”, “have you got your shoes on yet?”, “quickly, we have to go!”, “put your shoes on!” and “PUT YOUR SHOES ON!!!” followed by a rushed trip to the supermarket where we picked up the first cake we saw (and the impromptu paraguayos), rushed back home, hurriedly plastered some chocolate spread on top, threw some sweets at it, deposited it in the fridge and set off for a friend’s BBQ (scene of the hula hoop maiming incident). So yes, the final cake was quick and simple but ultimately not as personalised or as satisfying as a homemade one.

4. …ridden a unicycle. I’m not sure if it can really be counted as ‘riding a unicycle’ if all you actually manage to do is travel a few centimetres forward, clinging onto the people on either side of you with a ‘whatever you do, don’t let me go!’ death grip before the wheel spins uncontrollably from underneath you and you end up falling off, but that is what I managed.

5. … known that you could have two different time zones in one house. Last night the boys went to bed very late and I forgot to close the shutter on their bedroom window. When Henry woke up this morning and came in to see me he was very confused that it was still dark in my room. “Mummy, it’s still nighttime in here but in my room it’s morning!”

And it’s only Sunday! What other firsts might today bring?…..

Mad About The Boys

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have my two wonderful little boys, so there is one thing that continues to frustrate me and that I’ve heard many times since my second son was born;

“So when are you going to try for a girl?”

There are people who appear to be convinced that I couldn’t possibly be satisfied because I don’t have a daughter, that because I ‘only’ have two boys something must surely be missing from my life. When I was pregnant the second time and I found out that I was having another boy, somebody even consoled me thinking I would be disappointed by the revelation! But having two boys is great and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Of course there are the obvious advantages; clothes can be passed down from the eldest to the youngest, I save a fortune by recycling school uniform and both boys enjoy and play with the same toys, but there is so much more to having two boys than just that.

My sons, Sam and Henry, are the best of friends. They are two very noisy peas in a pod. Obviously a brother and sister can be just as close, I wouldn’t suggest that they can’t, but I just love to see that when my boys are together they have such a very close bond. They are little soul mates. Every morning when they wake up they come out of their bedroom together. I’ve still not quite worked out if one wakes the other up or if they both wake up at the same time, but they always emerge as one. They look out for each other and look after each other. They hold hands in the car and when walking along together. When they are in the bath having their hair washed Sam will put his hand over Henry’s face because he knows Henry doesn’t like getting water in his eyes and he willingly gives his little brother the last raisins from his breakfast bowl because they are Henry’s favourite. When they are not together they want to know where their brother is. When Sam returns home from being out the first words he will utter are “Where’s Henry?” and vice versa. They truly are the best of friends.

They share the same sense of humour too. Now I think it could quite accurately be stated that boys don’t generally have the most sophisticated sense of humour. My two can usually be heard laughing raucously about, among other things, bottoms, poo poo, willies and trumps. Simply by adding ‘poo poo’ to the beginning of a word, such as (and brace yourselves, things are about to get quite riotous) ‘poo poo man’ or ‘poo poo banana’ it can be transformed into something so hysterically funny that my boys can hardly contain the hilarity of the whole situation. Now while I don’t find what they are laughing at particularly amusing their giggles are contagious and I end up laughing along with them. Boys’ humour, despite not being at all sophisticated, is very easy to be around.

Dressing boys is so easy too. I’ve never been particularly ‘girly’. I was never a girl who was into pink or frills or sparkles and whenever I attempted to dabble in accessories they never seemed to accessorise very successfully. Consequently, whenever I’m shopping for clothes for my boys I happily pass by the rails of pretty dresses, shiny shoes and sparkly adornments. I walk on past the displays of lip glosses, jewellery, glittery bags and cute purses. I bypass the endless offerings of One Direction embossed everything and I head into the familiar, simpler realms of boys’ clothes. And whereas some of the products designed for girls appear to be aimed at making them grow up too fast, boys clothes are just that, clothes. They are simply practical and they don’t require accessorising! I can effortlessly dress my boys in trousers and a shirt and they are good to go. None of this fiddling around with fiddly extra bits. And hair? I can barely do my own hair let alone anyone else’s! Some of my friend’s daughters have the most wonderful, elaborate hairstyles. I just know I could never aspire to that. But give me a comb and some water and I am a dab hand at coiffing my boys into cherubic little choirboys in mere seconds.

It’s not all just boyish things in our house though. Of course there is an abundance of blue and an overwhelming presence of cars and they love to play sports but I find it quite sweet that one of the TV shows that my sons adore watching is ‘Sofia the First’. They enjoy cooking and baking, and Sam recently did some sewing at school which he enjoyed immensely. Yet they are still very aware of gender stereotypes and amazingly they first began to pick these up when they were very young. They proclaim certain toys, colours and activities to be ‘for girls’ but it always makes me smile that while watching ‘Sofia the First’ they will pull faces and say ‘bleurgh’ when adverts for dolls and princess toys are shown! They believe, despite mummy tirelessly propounding otherwise, that sports such as football are just for boys and that boys and girls should conform to a certain image. When we were on holiday over the Summer, Sam and Henry befriended a young girl who sported a very short haircut and who, the first time that we met her, was wearing a football kit, so they insisted on calling her ‘him’ and ‘that boy’ all evening. On our last night we saw the same girl wearing a dress and Henry was unbelievably confused. He asked, “How come that boy has turned into a girl?” Young children pick up these ideas so early in their lives and although my boys are undeniably very boyish it’s great that they have a sensitive side and will happily participate in what they see as ‘girls’ activities.

Knowing my sons the way I do, I’m amazed that anyone could suggest that something is missing from my life, or that I need a daughter to complete my family.

So the answer is no, I won’t be trying for a girl. Not any time soon. Not ever.
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The Perfect Beach

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Today is a chilly, grey, miserable day. On days like this my thoughts frequently turn to sunnier, warmer times in an attempt to shrug off the gloom. Today is no exception. I’ve been thinking about Bolonia, our family’s favourite beach-day destination. Living on the Costa del Sol we obviously have no shortage of beaches to visit so it is testament to the beauty of the Costa de la Luz that given the choice we venture that way whenever we can.

Bolonia is a small town just past Tarifa in Cádiz and it has lots to offer. Whenever we go we always take a left turn when we get to the town. Incidentally if you follow the road to the right instead then you will come to the Baelo Claudia Roman ruins which are interesting to have a look around. It is well worth a look if you are wanting something other than just a day at the beach. Making a left turn at the town though will take you along a road lined with cafes, small shops and holiday apartments on one side and a variety of chiringuitos and restaurants on the other. To follow in our footsteps drive all the way to the end of the road. It only takes a few minutes, it’s not far. This is where we park our car, unload all the beach paraphernalia and the children and we head off along the track to the beach.

In our pre-children days we would often walk further along the beach some way. This is where we stumbled upon the nudist beach one time and we were treated to the vision of a naked man doing tai chi. Now I have no problem with nudist beaches and I have no problem with tai chi but the two combined didn’t make especially harmonious bedfellows. Consequently, on that occasion we carried on further along the beach and as far as I can recall that was the last time we explored that far because soon after came the arrival of our first child and we just didn’t have the available arms or inclination to carry beach paraphernalia, a baby and the extensive paraphernalia required by him on a hike along the beach! So now we stick to the more accessible beaches. These are still natural and wild though. So much so that it is common to see cows and horses roaming along the beach or lying down in groups on the sand which is a rather spectacular sight.
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Another thing that we love about the beach in Bolonia is that on certain days at high tide the sea rushes up, over and then down the beach to create a large lagoon on the other side, near the rocky grassland. This is great for adults and children alike, but especially young children who can paddle and splash in the warm, shallow water without fear of getting out of their depth or being washed over by waves. My boys love floating on body boards there and building dams across the lagoon using the plentiful supply of rocks nearby in an attempt to stem the flow of the water. One day we even dug a channel linking the sea to the lagoon and we watched the water rushing from one side to the other. Many people even stopped and took photos of it! It was great fun.
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Due to the frequent very windy conditions there are several things you might possibly see at Bolonia and I’m not just referring to the rogue parasols that have been swept up and launched at speed by the wind blowing along the length of the beach. These are usually swiftly followed by beach goers trying to retrieve the parasol and also other helpful strangers who will always help you in your quest! This has happened to us many times and luckily so far there have been no injuries sustained by any unwitting sunbather and we have always succeeded in reclaiming our errant parasols. We did once lose a favourite frisbee though on a particularly windy day. It had been thrown at the water’s edge but took a diversion out to sea and rapidly travelled beyond our reach. So do take care if you are there on a windy day! Wind surfers and paragliders can frequently be seen taking advantage of the wind and they provide some entertainment as they range from accomplished experts to first time novices, both offering their own brand of entertainment! You often see divers too who trudge through the surf armed with air tanks and harpoons only to emerge some time later with a bountiful supply of fish.
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After a day on the sand (and sometimes even midway through, especially if we are accompanied by my mother!) it is always lovely to retire to the nearest chiringuito for a restorative glass of wine or beer or whatever takes your fancy. We usually go to chiringuito La Cabaña because it is the nearest one to our favourite beach spot, but also because we like it. I can’t think of a better end to a beach day than sitting outside in a warm breeze, looking out to sea and watching the sun set.
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The only down side of going to Bolonia is the potential for horrendous traffic on the way there and back during the busy Summer months. It doesn’t always happen but we have been unlucky enough to be stuck in incredibly slow moving traffic for hours in the past. One time it was so bad that we even turned around and travelled out of our way,heading towards Medina Sidonia for an hour just to get to the motorway in order to turn around and drive the two hours it took us to get back along the traffic-free motorway! However, despite the heavy volume of traffic that you can often see on the way there, Bolonia itself never seems too over crowded, especially at our end of the beach. Of course it gets busy but never overwhelmingly so.

Bolonia has a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere and you can meet some interesting people there. I once saw a lady walking along the beach who every now and then would stop and write something in the sand, take a photo and then move on. As I watched her I became curious to know what she was doing so I went over to ask. It turned out that she was writing some quotes in the sand for her mother who wasn’t able to get to the beach anymore because she was ill and so she was writing things like ‘te quiero mama’ and ‘siempre pensado a ti’ and then take a photograph of this to send to her. What a wonderful thing to do!
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Often on the way there, or on the way back if there is time, we will turn off just down the road a little at Punta Paloma which is quite a little adventure in itself. After a short drive the road becomes covered in sand, so much so that you have to be careful that your car doesn’t get stuck! It is fun to park at the side of the road and climb up the very steep hill of sand. When you reach the top you are rewarded by the sight of the sand dunes spread out below you reaching down to the sea. It is a lovely but energetic walk down to the water and then back up, especially great for children who can tear around and play in the sand. It can also be fun to try and find your way back to the point where you originally climbed up. We usually manage to surface quite a distance away from where we parked! Or maybe we just have a bad sense of direction!
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For those of you who have been to Bolonia I’m probably preaching to the converted, but if you haven’t been then I would urge you to visit. It is a fantastic place to spend a day or, even better, make a holiday of it and stay in one of the holiday apartments there. And once you have visited please let me know what you think.

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