Joe and I have never once suffered from homesickness since we moved to our tiny Spanish mountain village back in 2004. We adore everything about our life in El Hoyo; the people, the weather, the food and the slow pace of life centred around families.
Summer in our village is so hot that people rarely venture outside during the heat of the day. But when the sun sinks and shadows grow long, the streets begin to fill. Families emerge from their homes to chatter with neighbours and to promenade around the square.
Children, burnt nut-brown by endless weeks without school, race up and down and yell to each other. Dogs bark and scooters whizz by. Grandfathers sit at tables outside El Hoyo’s only bar, playing cards and discussing politics. Mothers stand in groups, all talking at once, with babies on their hips and toddlers tugging at their hands. This is probably the time when I most miss having family around.But not this month.
My lovely daughter inherited my adventurous spirit and thirst for travel. She married an Aussie, set up home in Sydney, and my gorgeous new granddaughter entered the world a year later. Last year, when little Indy was born, I travelled to Australia to meet her and help her mum. How I drank in every detail of that tiny baby. I counted her fingers and toes, watched her expressions and tried to memorise everything about her, fully aware it would be a long time before I saw her again.
Ten months slipped by, eased a little by the daily photos sent from Australia to El Hoyo. They showed Indy smiling, then crawling, then standing.
“Time to drive to the airport,” said Joe, as I checked the waiting cot, the baby stroller, the paddling-pool, the toys and the borrowed highchair for the last and umpteenth time.
And then suddenly, there she was, bouncing in her mother’s arms. Our house came to life, ringing with Indy’s giggles. Floors, once clean and tidy, were strewn with toys and smeared with discarded food. Books were pulled out of the bookcase and papers scattered across the floor. Baby bottles appeared on the draining-board and baby paraphernalia covered every surface. We loved it.
We celebrated Indy’s first birthday with cake, bubbles and new toys. More fun, more mess, and fifty party balloons to trip over. But how we loved it.
Now we too had family to show off to the villagers. Of course our neighbours were fascinated by Indy’s blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin.
“Guapa!” they exclaimed, ruffling her curls, and stroking her soft, pink skin.
But all too soon, the visit came to an end.
“Time to drive to the airport,” said Joe. With leaden hearts, we waved them goodbye.
I’ve tidied away the books, packed away the cot and stroller, washed the sticky fingerprints off the walls and emptied the paddling-pool. A few balloons still remain, drifting aimlessly around the floor. I know I should pop them and throw them away, but I don’t. The balloons remind me of Indy, giving chase, crawling across the floor at a rate of knots, squealing with delight when she caught one.
No, when you relocate to a different country, you won’t necessarily suffer from homesickness. But you may find, like me, being parted from family is tough.
~ 10 minutes preparation ~
~ 1 hour chilling ~
This is our favourite version of Sangria, of which there are many. It is rather strong, so probably best enjoyed in moderation, perhaps as an aperitif before the evening meal or with tapas. Our neighbour, Paco, insists that the name sangria derives from sangre meaning ‘blood’, both blood and sangria being red and essential for life.
750ml (251⁄2 US fl.oz) dry red wine
300ml (10 US fl.oz) soda water
100ml (31⁄2 US fl.oz) gin
100ml (31⁄2 US fl.oz) vodka
100ml (31⁄2 US fl.oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
100ml (31⁄2 US fl.oz) apple juice
100ml (31⁄2 US fl.oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 small lemon
1 small orange
1 small lime
-Slice the fruit crosswise into thin rounds.
-Place all of the ingredients into a large sangria jug, mix well, and chill for at least an hour before serving.
-Serve over crushed ice.
by Victoria Twead.
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here or click the button below to view her own blog…