Good news my fellow ex-pats!!! We are moving at last, towards our favourite time of year and the main reason for most of us becoming 'ex-pats' in the first place. The days are getting longer, the evenings are getting lighter and we will soon be going inside our houses to cool down rather than outside to warm up. Yes, it's almost summertime.
I don't know about you, but it's at this time of year that I start to get really excited about the wonderfully warm, lazy days of a Spanish summer. The thought of waking up each morning to find the sun already streaming through my bedroom window fills me with joy and an unnatural urge to get out of bed (something I've never experienced prior to living in Spain). The knowledge that my poor, neglected feet will once again be given the attention they deserve in order to be presentable in sandals, having spent the winter months crammed into socks and boots. The guarantee that if I put out washing it will be dry and fresh smelling within half an hour, rather than the two days it takes during winter time, always assuming it stays on the line and doesn't get blown halfway down the mountain in the gales! I swear I saw a woman in Torrox Costa wearing a pair of trousers that had blown off my washing line, I didn't say anything obviously, I was however, safe in the knowledge that they had looked better on me!
Rightly or wrongly, one of the things that gives me most pleasure during our lovely summer months is a pastime I like to call “Brit Baiting”. For those of you that don't have the same intrinsic wicked streak as me, “Brit-Baiting” is the art of bragging to family and friends still living in the UK about the days we spend in the hot sun enjoying our pools. Those halcyon days we spend on the beach. The balmy evenings spent drinking cold beers in the Plaza. I admit I derive a fair amount of pleasure from boasting that I can arrange a barbecue with friends and guarantee that I won't have to move the whole darn lot into the garage whilst my guests look on in pity from under their umbrellas. There is also my personal favourite 'boast' of changing my Facebook status to read, “It's great when the water in my outdoor, unheated swimming pool is warmer than the weather in the UK” – oh boy, they love that one!!
Now Newton's third law conveys, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, this basically tells us that we can't have the good without the bad and whilst I understand it is difficult for most of us to find something negative to say about the Spanish summer, there is one thing that at some time or another will concern us all, the scourge of the summer, one word folks..... Visitors!
Visitors? I hear you questioning, yes visitors! Whilst the idea of our loved ones arriving from afar, hopefully bringing decent tea bags and chocolate, is a wonderful one. However, it must be remembered that adages such as, “House guests are like fish – after three days they start to stink” do not come about without containing some element of truth.
That said, I do understand the urge we get to invite them, I do. Having ensconced themselves in my spare room and made use of my pool, they begin to gush furiously about how awe inspiring the scenery is and what an amazing lifestyle I have, during which I try to appear nonplussed and blasé about the whole thing whilst secretly feeling a little bit smug. Let us be honest, the concept of random relatives spewing forth flattering, envious comments about my home is not too much to endure.
In my experience, the first evening will probably involve showing my visitors around our beautiful village and taking them for a meal which they can experience whilst sitting outside and waxing lyrical about my chosen lifestyle once again. It's always a boost when local Expats and Spanish friends wave as they pass by or better still, stop to chat, giving me the ideal opportunity to show how well I've mastered the language. Ok, so I know that my Spanish is diabolical and I may have just informed the Spanish that your cat has two heads and no grandmothers, but hey.... it sounded good, my visitors don't know that and the situation lends itself nicely to more gushing praise.
It is usual during these times to wake the next morning to find my houseguests already prostrating themselves on sun beds or lilos, if I'm lucky they may have made the tea but I guarantee they won't have made breakfast – and this, my friends, is where it starts to go wrong.....
To most people the word, 'Holiday' conj ours up a vision of, room service, all-you-can-eat buffet style dining, all inclusive drink-what-you-like bar and that, is precisely the problem. Call me old-fashioned but you can't expect that at my house! You see I understand that these people are on holiday and of course, I want them to have a lovely time, but as for me, I'm NOT on holiday, wonderful as it seems to my guests, this is my life and it still carries on whether they are here or not.
Prior to their arrival, I do attempt to impart to my visitors how things like, water, electricity, petrol etc are not cheap here and I do also make the suggestion that they hire a car to give them 'independence'. All this though, tends to fall on deaf ears or go straight out of the window once they arrive. After all, why would they need a car, when I already have one?
Now I'm not as much of a meanie as I might seem, I may cook the odd meal or arrange a barbecue for my guests, I will most certainly show them where they can find the tea, coffee and milk in the hope that they will take full advantage of these services (and make me one, whist they're doing so). All very generous acts, in my opinion.
As the days go on and my tongue gets sore from all the times I've had to bite it, I find myself wondering why people who are content to shower once a day in their homes in the UK, feel the need to shower twice, sometimes even three times a day in Spain where water is a valuable and expensive commodity. I had one house guest who insisted on showering (inside in the bathroom not outside by the pool) each time she had a swim, begging the questions, “What's all that about? And, “How much will my water bill be?”
All too soon though, for them at least, I will be wending my way back to the airport, the sad but sunburnt faces of my visitors a glowing vision in the rear view mirror as I wheel spin out of the departures area shouting, “Thank you for coming” out of the window and muttering, “Thank you for going” under my breath. Arriving home again is a delight, it's quiet, there are no soggy towels strewn across the terrace and I am thoroughly content with the idea of having to make my own coffee.
So I guess, it could be said that this is my penance for teasing my poor, deprived nearest and dearest about how brilliant it is here and how rubbish it is where they are, serves me right you might say. Well, if that's true then I deserve everything I get.... this year, it's two lots of visitors and by the way, I'm booking them private villas!!