Friday, 12 August 2011
So I have been abroad for what was essentially the first proper family holiday that we have had.
We stayed at the port of Estepona on the South Coast opposite North Africa. For all the fears about the European economies, the Spanish seem to just shrug it off as part of life. Of course there re a lot of apartments for sale and it appears that there are quite a few developments that appear to be on hold but the bars and restaurants were full as were the beaches and pools.
What was lovely was the attitude towards children. We quickly adapted to the times of the area so it wasn't rare for my seven-year-old to still be up and about at 11pm and on occasion, when coming back from a meal with our Spanish relatives in the town, to pop into a bar for a quick beer before bed and it was perfectly normal.
In addition, although the curse of the smoking ban has also arrived it didn't matter as you ate and drank outdoors anyway. And there were hardly any phantom coughers aside from English. Indeed, I saw one woman wave her hand in front of her face in disgust and her friend commented: "Good luck, we're in Spain."
One thing that was also apparent in its quality was the train. We went from Madrid to Malaga on the fast train and it was quite frankly astonishing. Leg room, cleanliness, punctuality and free headphones so you could watch a film they put on with both English and Spanish dubbing.
Now I don't know how much we had to pay for it through European funding or whether this was through it's own national funding but as I await going back to work on Monday with the delays and such like, I have to ask myself where the will is to get our ageing system up to the 21st century.