About Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart, By Alan Cuthbertson
Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart is the humorous but true story of what happens when the Cuthbertson family decides to sell everything (including the family business), load the family car, and move from England to Spain.
As author Alan Cuthbertson and wife, Heather, begin their move, daughters Ashlie and Stacey have other ideas and take off on their own adventure to Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. The girls swim with sharks and work in a gold mine, their enthusiasm and naivety shown in the e-mails and texts received by their parents, who themselves are finding Spanish life a very steep learning curve. Who knew fried sparrow was a delicacy? And Alan’s first hunting trip is not a completely successful expedition, but a very funny one.
We are giving away 3x copies of Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart in Kindle format and 3 copies in audio format.
For a chance to win answer the following question.
What did Heather pull from her mouth?
(The answer can be found in the excerpt below)
Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart can be purchased from Amazon.
For more information, please visit www.alancuthbertson.com
Excerpt from: Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart
Antonio and Encarna are good friends from our village. Antonio is referred to as Lee Van Cleef, getting the nickname after I pointed out his similarity to the spaghetti western star
A couple of days later we sat with Van Cleef and his wife Encarna and the conversation got onto the subject of food once again. “Rabbit is my favourite,” confessed Van Cleef.
“I’ve never had rabbit,” admitted Heather.
“Mi casa, Domingo próximo.” Van Cleef’s invitation to Sunday dinner will have been the first time we have eaten with a proper Spanish family in their own home. It was something we looked forward to with mixed emotions.
Not knowing Spanish etiquette for such an occasion, we dressed casually and before leaving the house, selected a bottle of wine to take. “I’ve just remembered. Encarna doesn’t drink and Van Cleef only drinks whiskey,” said Heather, so I swapped the bottle of wine for one of whiskey.
During the short walk to their house, Heather and I mulled over the possible menu.
“He said it was going to be rabbit,” I pointed out.
“I’m just thinking back to the bar when they were all eating sparrows and snails,” Heather said nervously, her nose curling a little.
“We have to eat whatever they put in front of us,” I said, “it would be rude not to.”
We knocked on the door and were greeted by Van Cleef himself. I passed him the bottle of whiskey. He looked at me, then the bottle, then back at me. His expression said, “You have a drink problem my friend.” Inside the house it was quite dark, as most Spanish houses are. Alfonso, Van Cleef’s son, was engrossed in a cartoon on the TV and seemed to be finding it hysterical, a little unusual when you consider he is 19 years old.
We took our positions at the table and right on cue in walked Encarna carrying individual plates full of assorted vegetables and…animal. Heather and I glanced at each other recalling our vow to eat, or at least try, whatever was put in front of us.
Now I know this was to be Heather’s first taste of rabbit, but I just don’t ever remember seeing a rabbit with wings, so presumably some kind of last minute substitution had been made. We all picked up our knives and forks and began to dig in. Encarna saw me pushing the meat around, got up and disappeared in to the kitchen. When she returned she passed me a pair of scissors. “What the hell are these for?” I whispered to Heather. Across the table from me, Alfonso had rejected the knife and fork and was pulling the animal on his plate apart with his fingers, so I did likewise. The wing looked tempting, so I gave it a tug. It came away from the body. Unfortunately, where it had been joined hung the veins and tendons, still dripping with blood and bodily fluids.
“Antonio, no conejo?” Not rabbit? I asked.
“No,” he replied. He then stood up, hooked his thumbs under his armpits and waved his elbows up and down. From this I deduced he was either trying to tell me we were eating bird, or we had progressed on to charades and this was his Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
Heather, who had been sitting at the side of me throughout the meal, let out a faint squeal that fortunately only I heard. As I turned my head I saw her pulling something from her mouth. Was it a bone? A bit of gristle maybe? Or even a filling? No, it was a piece of buck shot the size of a small rock. “I guess he shot it himself,” I said.
After the main course, a bowl of fruit was brought from the kitchen, and Heather selected a pear and took her first bite. “No, No,” called Encarna thrusting a knife toward Heather.
“I think she wanted the pear,” I said a little worried. As it transpires, the knife was to peel the pear, as they never eat the skins of fruits concerned about what they may have been sprayed with.
As we said our goodbyes I returned the invitation and promised that next time they would have to come to our house for a meal. Van Cleef turned his nose up and curled his top lip. A rough translation of what he said would be. “I don’t think so; I don’t eat that English muck.”
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No matter how excited you are about moving to Spain, there is very little that can distract you from the daunting process of packing up your whole life to move abroad.
In our article How To Calculate the Cost of Moving to Spain, we provided you with a free online calculator to work out your own personal costs when planning your relocation. In this article, we are going to show you how to save money by using removal companies who will make the packing process a lot less stressful.
This guide of tips compiled by award-winning removal comparison company, Compare My Move. They’ve put together a few hints and tips on what to leave behind, what to donate to charity and how to help the removal company.
Step 1 – Have a Clear Out
Moving to a new house in the UK is a great way to have a thorough clear out of the rubbish you’ve built up over the years – but when you’re moving the items that make up your life overseas, you become brutal with what you must get rid of. Packing up and moving to Spain is the perfect opportunity to go through everything you own from clothes, hats, shoes to books, kitchen appliances and cutlery and decide if you really need it.
Most of your stuff can go to charity shops, be sold on eBay/Gumtree or pass on to a friend or family. You could even have an American style ‘yard sale’ for your neighbours, friends and family to truly give your unwanted items to a good home. Alternatively, any unwanted toiletries, towels or shoes can be put to beneficial use in a local women’s shelter or a homeless organization.
‘Flamingos Vintage Kilo’ in Malaga is an opportunity for you to replace the clothes you donated or sold with the chance to grab some bargains as you’ll be charged per kilo, not per item. ‘La Señora Henderson’ in Valencia is another affordable vintage, second-hand clothing shop.
- TIP – Let the removal company know any additional services you wish to use such as packing services or dismantling/reassembling furniture and the number of items you’re taking, for an accurate quote.
Step 2 – Plan Your Move
It’s highly recommended to hire a removal company to help get your items to Spain quickly and safely. Most companies offer a packing and unpacking service designed to make your life easier.
After you’ve figured out what’s going to charity and what’s coming with you that’s when you can arrange your move to Spain. You can tell the removal company exactly what they can expect to be packing and unpacking. If you don’t choose a dismantling/reassembling service, make sure you dismantle all the furniture you plan on taking abroad.
We understand it can be awkward to take every item of furniture with you. It could be useful to keep some of it in storage, which is a service widely offered by removal companies. The idea could be that these items could be sent over to you in Spain once you’ve settled in, giving you a bit of time to put aside money for the second removal delivery.
If you’re worried about not taking enough furniture with you, then the money you make from donating and selling your unwanted items gives you the opportunity to buy second-hand furniture from charity shops or local upcycling businesses once you’ve moved to Spain.
Like Martha’s Homestore and Cow and Ghost Vintage, both independent shops selling upcycled furniture and vintage homewares in Wales, ‘Mercat del Encants’ in Barcelona offers you the chance to help furnish your new house with over 500 stalls to get stuck into.
- TIP – Don’t surprise the removal company on the day with an extra item you decided to pack, this will only delay the process, cost more money and most likely annoy them.
Step 3 – Hire a Removal Company
A removal company will do most of the hard work for you to ensure you have everything covered for your move to Spain, but you should know in advance if there’s anything they don’t cover.
International movers will pack your items professionally for a safe arrival in Spain, offering high quality and strong packing materials. Most companies also offer a dismantling/reassembling service for your furniture, saving you a lot of work.
However, when getting a quote for your move, it’s essential you check the optional add-ons the company provides. International Removals Insurance is a specialist type of insurance that will cover your belongings during transit when moving from one country to another. It’s vital you have this insurance as it covers any damages your items could face travelling via sea freight etc.
Questions to Ask –
- Communicate with the removal company on what exactly you can and can’t take, this will make packing easier for both you and the removal firm.
- If you’re planning on taking your pet with you, find out if the removal company will provide a service for this.
- Find out exactly what you’re paying for. Ask how much each additional service is and avoid any hidden fees.
Step 4 – Leave Behind
- Toaster, kettle, microwave, TV etc. Don’t take up space by packing kitchen appliances that could likely already be in your new house in Spain if it’s furnished.
- Furniture. You can sell most of your furniture and start fresh in Spain with new items.
- Consider putting items into storage such as wardrobe, bed, sofa, heavy and bulky furniture, photo albums/personal keepsakes.
- Books, DVDs, old birthday cards that you’ve kept over the years shouldn’t all be coming with you to Spain.
Step 5 – Don’t Forget to Pack
Important Documents – driving licence, birth certificate, marriage certificate, tax documents, payslips, details for your new home, a map of the area in Spain, passport, credit and debit cards, mixture of pounds and euros.
- TIP – These should all be kept together in one folder and in your hand luggage in case they get misplaced during the move.
Essentials – tablets or medication, sun cream, plug adapters until you sort out appliances and sunglasses.
- TIP – Don’t worry about packing toiletries like shower gel, shampoo or soap. These are all things that are widely available in most shops in Spain and will take up unnecessary room.
Travel Bag – deodorant, face and body wipes, toothbrush, tissues, pain killers, phone and laptop along with the chargers, and all the important documents stated above.
- TIP – It’s always a good idea to pack a travel bag separate from your items that are with the removal company to reassure yourself you know where they are if you need easy access.
Clothes – moving abroad is a good chance to donate a lot of your unworn clothes to charity.
- TIP – vacuum pack the clothes you wish to take to Spain so you’re not taking up too much space.
Furniture – if your personal belongings are moving via airfreight, your items need to be professionally packed.
- TIP – Don’t forget to dismantle furniture if you’re not opting for a dismantling/reassembling service
Get a Quote Now!
This guest post was written by Martha Lott. Martha is a content writer for UK house removal comparison website Compare My Move. Last year, Compare My Move helped more than 65,000 movers save time and money on their house removals costs.
I’d decided when was the best time to switch to bilingual education in Spain. Or so I thought …
I cannot believe that it is almost two years since I started writing this post. This is what happens when I want to write about something that is so important to me. That something is our children’s bilingual education in Spain.
March is decision time. In Spain, school enrollment starts in March for intake in September of that year (read more here).
Both our children have enjoyed Spanish state education in primary ( infantil) and junior (primaria). And I must say that we have been extremely happy with the education provided at CEIP San Sebastián in Mijas Pueblo. Francesca, in particular, has had a few inspiring teachers who have helped her grow and develop in a beautiful way ( Thank you Ruba, Marie Tere, Encarni and last but in no way least Carolina).
Our decision to switch to a private international school in secondary education (ESO) was made based, almost entirely, on language alone. Despite the fact that our children have always spoken English at home, they have only been educated in Spanish. Hence our decision to opt for a change to bilingual education in Spain.
In the year they turn twelve, in Spain, the children move from primary to secondary school. This often means a physical change of school and consequently a division of classes and school friends. An ideal time to make a change without to harsh an impact … or so we thought!
I am writing this post having just been to speak to the director at Joshua’s bilingual school. The meeting was to help me decide whether Francesca’s decision ( yep, you read that correctly!) was the best one.
Mis niños 🙂
Our strong-willed and determined little ten year old had decided, last summer, that starting her new school one year earlier than we had planned was the best idea. Not only did she have her reasoning clear in her head, but she also informed her best friend that that was what was going to happen.
You can imagine my surprise when her best friend’s mum asked me if it was true that Francesa would be changing schools before the end of the course. I am not saying I was disappointed. I was genuinely surprised and very impressed. My little shy girl is growing … in many beautiful ways.
Factors I considered when deciding if bilingual education in Spain was the best option for our children…
- Which subjects are taught in which language?
- Majority language in the school
- Other languages
(I will expand on these points in a later post.)
This Wednesday we are attending the initial interview and entrance tests at Josh’s school. I will report back and complete this post …
Questions I am often asked these days are:
- What is paddle tennis?
- How do you play it?
- Why do you love it so much?
If you follow our Instagram feed you will see why these questions arise …
In this article, I am going to answer these questions and welcome you to the wonderful world of padel.
WARNING: This sport can seriously change your life,
help you get in shape and make you lots of new friends.
What is paddle tennis (padel)?
Padel is a racket sport that combines the elements of tennis, squash and badminton. It is only played in doubles and is practiced outdoors as much as indoors.
The game was invented by Enrique Corcuera of Mexico, who created the first padel club in Marbella in 1974. The sport became very popular in Spain, which has been the professional circuit host of the World Padel Tour where it has been played since 2005. Over the course of the past 10 years, padel has begun to spread rapidly to the rest of Europe and the United States.
Padel is played by over 10 million players and has become the fastest growing sport in the world. #padel
How do you play paddle tennis (padel)?
About the padel court… (La pista de padel)
- Dimensions: 200m² (10x20m)
- A net divides the court into two sides
- Glass walls and netted steel fence surround the court
- The back of the court and the beginning of the sides are made of window glass surmounted by a steel fence (height: 4m)
- Access to the court is on each side of the net
- There are no doors
About the padel rules … (Las reglas)
The game starts with a serve which must be hit diagonally to the opponent on the other side of the net. The ball must bounce within the opponents serving “square”.
The serve is underhanded, with 2 attempts allowed
If the ball hits the net and bounces in the box, it is a let (as in tennis).
During the game:
The ball must bounce on the ground before touching any external walls. If the ball hits an external wall before first bouncing on the floor it is out.
A ball can be returned once it has hit the floor and/or any glass walls. However, it cannot bounce twice.
Volleys are also permitted.
Scoring is the same as tennis, except matches are usually made up of the best of 3 sets (male and female). Six games are needed to win a set and the pair who wins two sets wins the match.
Players will play a 7 points tie-breaker if the score reaches 6/6
About the padel racquet: (La pala)
A padel racquet is solid with no strings and is perforated. It is smaller and more compact than a tennis racquet which makes it very easy to handle.
It weighs between 340g and 370g, slightly heavier than a tennis racquet.
The racquet cannot be more than 45,5cm long, 26cm wide and 38mm thick.
The padel racquet is usually covered by plastic or carbon depending on the quality level. The inside of the racquet is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate which looks like a foam.
Padel balls are similar to tennis balls but have less pressure in order to adapt to the small size of the court but also to the game with the fence.
Why do we love paddle tennis (padel)? This is our story …
In April 2016, I (Lisa) was looking for a sport to enjoy with Joshua, our eldest child.
Joshua has played football in Spain for many years A new school year had begun, a move to secondary education, resulting in a change of school for him and consequent team changes and the inevitable departure of many of his friends. Joshua decided that football was no longer for him.
I must admit that I wasn’t disappointed. We have spent many a wonderful weekend supporting our local CD Mijas team on the pitch. However, as the children grow up and testosterone levels rise, so do conflict and often aggression on the pitch. And let’s not even start about the parents! Not the fun it used to be.
So, it was time for a change.
Reasons why we love paddle tennis (padel):
More time spent in the open air
Great for fitness and flexibility
A quick sport to learn
Age, fitness, strength are not essential requirements to enjoy the game
More time spent together playing sport
Great for integration and making friends
Padel courts are all over Spain
By complete chance, we came across a local padel club and signed up for lessons.
And that my friends was that.
The start of our love affair with this sport…
Eighteen months later and our lives have changed for the better. We have many new friends, mainly Spanish but also other nationalities. We play at least 3 or 4 times a week. That is a total of at least ten hours a week. Not bad hey!
As a work from home mum, (this is my business website) I could never have believed that I would ever find an activity that took up 10 to 15 hours per week of my time that was not work nor child related. It is totally “me” time. I love it.
I also love the fact that my teenage son wants to share a court with me. There are no barriers in this sport …. unless you create them yourself.
Francesca is also taking padel classes but this year she is focusing on her rhythmic gymnastics, as she starts competitions this year. That doesn’t stop us packing four padel racquets whenever we travel though!
So, what are you waiting for?
Do you have any questions about this sport? Have you tried it? Feel free to ask us anything! We’d love to hear from you …