Freezing winter's day brings back memories of wild Spain holiday

Jacqui and Brian "in holiday mode". Image: Supplied

It’s a cold wet winter morning today; in fact, it’s been cold and wet for most of the past month. Cold, anyway – I’m afraid we still haven’t had any decent rain and we’re getting perilously close to a drought situation, which is ridiculous in the middle of winter. We expect drought conditions in the middle of summer, when everything is tinder dry and a piece of broken glass, lying in the grass can start a real forest conflagration.

The trouble is, we’re decidedly not as young as we once were, and what we used to look on as “balmy” we now reckon is “frigid” and that’s not altogether the weathers fault! I have noticed in the past few years that my internal thermostat isn’t functioning as it should, and as it did before. In the middle of summer these days, I go out into the sunshine to do a bit of light gardening, and within ten minutes I have to go back inside, sweating streams and feeling quite weak at the knees.

And yet 40 or more years ago, when we used to go to places like Spain every summer, we would spend nearly the whole day sprawled out on one of those banana beds with the full sun blazing down on us, mainly because we were duty-bound to return to England with deeper tans than our friends, who had been away somewhere too.

Jacqui and I were true sun-worshippers in those days, and the amazing thing, in retrospect, is that we never got actually burnt, just a nice rich pink for a few days, until our tans began to develop. Of course, it helped to have the nice, warm Mediterranean just ten paces away across the beach, warm enough not to give us the sort of pimply skin we’d develop in England, called goose-bumps, and not so hot that it wouldn’t cool us down at all. What’s the word I’m looking for? Yes, “PERFECT!”

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Of course, the sun in the Mediterranean was a lot kinder to the human body than the one we live with here (it’s okay, I know it’s the same sun, but the atmosphere it has to shine through is nowhere near as friendly here as in Europe). We just have to be that much more careful here.

One of the other pleasures of the Spanish beach was the fact that there were always several bars and cafes, not across the road at the top of the sand, but right there, where we were sunbaking. This meant that, virtually without moving, you could sunbathe, swim, get a bit drunk, and enjoy the Spanish hospitality as well.

The owners of these beach bars had a fairly light hearted attitude towards life too. I don’t know if you’ve ever bought sangria, either here in Australia, or on the Pacific Islands, but the Spanish beach bar drink is fairly unrecognisable by comparison. Buy Sangria here, usually bottled, and it comprises mainly a mixture of wine and lemonade, with a few bits and pieces chucked in to make it look good. You would need to drink a considerable amount for it to affect you.

But the Spanish beach version is slightly different! I have stood watching them make up a jug of sangria for me, and the method they employ involves starting at one end of their fairly extensive spirits shelf and putting a shot from each in the jug until they reach the other end. They then top up the jug with red wine and a handful or two of ice cubes.

Every time we had one of these killers, as we lay sunbathing, we seemed to find it quite hard to walk when we wanted to go back to our villa. At the time I put it down to the soft sand we were walking on, but in retrospect I’m inclined to think the problem lay elsewhere!

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Those were great holidays, but I don’t think Jacqui or I would be able to stand the pace these days. At least we have pleasant memories though, to see us through our later years.

What are your favourite holiday memories?