Monday Morning Moves

This was how Monday morning was supposed to go: arise refreshed, calmly feed, water and dispatch child to school, hit the gym at opening time (8.30, this is Spain after all), have invigorating workout, return home raring to go and race through lengthy list of tasks. Boom! Take that Monday.

Here’s how Monday morning actually went: arose reasonably refreshed, plonked child in front of his Weetabix while I prepared his mid-morning snack for school, child commented he was feeling dizzy, I dismissed his Monday morning dissembling, child vomited on breakfast table. Arse. Take that Mummy.

So, no school today. And therefore no gym and very little work for me. I am sadly not one of those multi-tasking marvel mothers that taunt my inadequacies you read about in the media. The extent of my multi-tasking this morning has been snuggling the poorly boy in bed and simultaneously fannying on on social media on the ipad. I know. Get me a medal someone.

I rationalize this lack of productivity by telling myself that the continued propagation of the ideal of feminine multi-tasking is plainly anti-feminist.  That, and the fact that I really do perform so much more effectively when I have time and undivided attention to devote to tasks.

Whatever. As I lie here at an incredibly unergonomic angle that I know my neck will pay for later, typing on my laptop, listening to my son’s snuffling sleep breathing and feeling his hand clutching my hair for that extra bit of reassurance that feeling poorly makes necessary, I know that I am privileged to be able to take this time with him. The years where snuggles in bed are demanded will pass all too quickly.

Here’s a little video of the poorly one busting some moves on a happier occasion last weekend to cheer me everyone up on this Monday morning.

Please note: this may seem like a cheap and lazy use of some cute footage of my son on which to hang a blog post. It is. Did I mention he also vomited in my shoe this morning? #heowesme


Toddler Style

This week, Jack has been mainly channelling Olivia Newton John whilst working his ‘early 80s fitness fanatic’ look. Glasses: by Baby Banz; Hair: by Mum, Pout: Model’s own

Fame At Last?

I got a call from a tv producer today. No, really. Ok, it was only from our local tv station, TPA (Televisión del Principado de Asturias) but nonetheless. (Just to put things into perspective one of their ‘programmes’ is actually an hour-long feed of live web-cam images from the beach. Not that they’re desperate to fill airtime or anything.)

This related to an actual bona-fide programme in production however. And, no, before you say it, it’s not for an Asturian version of ‘How Clean is Your House?’ The show is called ‘Objetivo Asturias’ and it’s actually an Asturian version of a national show called ‘Destino Espana’. So that clears that up then.

For those of you unfamiliar with the output of Spanish tv (you lucky people) it’s a programme that shows Spain through the eyes of foreigners who live there, with Bolivians bigging up Barcelona, Ecuadoreans eulogizing Extremadura and so on. This was to be our chance to celebrate Cabranes, the beautiful concejo where we live, nestled between the mountains and the sea.

Naturally the mayor, el alcalde, is particularly keen on this programme being made and it was he who put the TPA in touch with us. We have form, you see. Over 5 years ago, newly-arrived in Asturias we were interviewed for both the TPA and La Nueva Espana daily newspaper.The hook then was two young(ish) foreigners moving into the back of beyond in a tiny concejo with the oldest demographic of all Spain and suffering from rampant de-population. Oh, and the local council’s new broadband scheme that enabled us to work from home here, in this unlikeliest of ‘connected’ places.

The piece in the paper was particularly lovely – a full page spread headlining us as ‘cabraneses’ or natives to the area. It ended with a sweet paragraph full of journalistic cliche hoping that we might bring ‘the greatest gift of all to the concejo – the gift of life.'(!) Which, sure enough, not wishing to disappoint, three years later we did. (I do wonder sometimes if I’m just too eager to please.)

So you see, normally I’m the kind of gal who likes to say yes but in what is surely just a sign of creeping middle-age,  for once I’d like to look before I leap and to actually ask the question, what’s in it for me?

Would we earn el alcalde’s undying gratitude? And if so, would we have some leverage to get the licence through that we’ve been awaiting from the town hall for nearly two years? (This despite the town architect telling me at the time of application that it was ‘nothing’ and would be dealt with in a jiffy. Ha.)

Maybe I could get the tv crew to follow me to the town hall in Villaviciosa while I complain about the latest completely unjustified ticket I’ve been sent by the Guardia Civil. (They’re on a campaign to single-handedly resolve the Spanish national debt. Starting by bankrupting me.) Perhaps that might persuade them to waive the fine? (Double ha ha.)

Back in the real world, what I do know is that I’d get super-stressed and caught up in it all and leave all the important things on my to-do list to fester for even longer than they already have. I’m afraid crossing things off rather than adding new stuff has to be my priority right now. I need to get tough, like a night-club bouncer. If you’re not on the list, you’re not getting in.

Of course, I can’t help but fantasize a little about how my 15 minutes of fame would be and I’ve been running through in my head exactly where I’d take ‘my’ film crew and what I’d say to them.

I could certainly ramble on at length about the many natural beauties of Cabranes and accompany them through the woods on a trek, perhaps on horseback with my friend and neighbour Luis and his horses, giving his awesome adventure activity business a plug.

Rayo, one of Luis' beautiful Asturian horses

I would show them the magnificent vistas of the Picos de Europa mountains to the east and of the sea to the north. I would introduce them to my wonderful neighbours who have made us feel so at home here. (Could be risky. Modesta is 90 and has rarely left the village. She’s never seen a plane or been on a train. Imagine the impact of having a tv crew in her house?! Maybe not such a good idea.)

View to the Picos de Europa. Not too shabby, eh?

Then I guess I’d also have to bring them to some of the local hostelries. Now, here’s where it could get tricky. I could take them to the 4 star hotel at Torazo, just up the road from home, where we occasionally go for a glass of wine on the verandah taking in the sunset over the Picos, or for fine dining on a special occasion. I’m sure they’d be very keen on being featured. (Hmmm, do I sense a free meal or Spa passes?)

Then there are the bars in Santolaya. Casa J, where we sometimes go to meet our friends after work early on a Friday evening would have to be first on the list. Here Jack plays football with the barowners’ daughter and the owner herself is not above lying on the floor beside him, kicking her legs in the air, if he has a tantrum. You’ve gotta love Spanish bars and the degree to which they are genuinely family-friendly.

Admittedly it’s maybe not the most telegenic of places. When we arrived 6 years ago it looked like it hadn’t been re-decorated in at least 10 years. And nothing’s changed in the subsequent six years. The neon strip lighting doesn’t do a lot for one’s complexion either (mind you, nor does a couple of glasses of rioja….)

Problem is, there are three other bars in the village (note: village population is 80!) How could we film in just one? Take the bar next door to Casa J. I’ve only just got over my fear of the somewhat surly owner, having decided that she’s probably just a bit shy. Also in her defence, strangling words with a strong foreign accent generally guarantees you’ll receive a pained squint in return from just about anyone.

Anyway, I don’t want to set our relationship back again. It was only really once I got pregnant shortly after her that she really thawed out with me. The lengths some people will go to just to elicit a smile and some friendly conversation from people they barely know. (Too eager? Note to self: a couple of glasses of wine is a far easier and less expensive way of oiling the wheels of social contact.)

And then there’s the corner bar where we sometimes go of a summer evening to sit in the garden and drink a cold cerveza while Jack plays on the swing set. We couldn’t leave them out. Or La L. – we haven’t been in there since the lunch we had some years ago when the owner spent forty minutes regaling us with her theories on alien abduction but, hey, that’s no reason to exclude them from the programme.

Aaaagh. You see, this is precisely what I’m talking about – the problem with being the kind of person who can’t say no. I have no filter. No stopping point. So I’d best not get started. Thank you very much TPA, but no thanks.

The Things Kids Say (And Husbands Don’t)

So, it’s Sunday morning and owing to a (yet to be proved right) rubbish weather forecast we are actually heading down to town from our hill-top hovel rustic cottage rather than out to the mountains for our usual weekend climbing.

In honour of the occasion (and just in case I bump into anyone I know) I decided that a bit of spit and polish was in order. The Spanish are very big on appearance and cleanliness. You will even see young children in play parks wearing things like impossibly clean light-coloured woollen suits with smart leather boots and perfectly coiffed hair. (This is a country where the hospital midwives take your newborn infant for his first bath and return him reeking of the baby cologne that now slicks his sparse hairs into place.)

I, by contrast, spend my life in either ragged, chalk-covered climbing clothes or tatty, muddy gardening gear. My son is dressed almost exclusively in hand-me-downs from English friends – all great gear, but decidedly more casual than that which Spanish children would wear on a Sunday outing. And likely to be accesorized with dried-on food stains/mud and odd socks. I confess, I am a slack mummy. You get the picture.

grubby baby

That’s a combination of climbing chalk and good old-fashioned dirt he’s sporting

Back to today. I conscientiously selected a matching outfit and shoes for the little prince and combed his hair neatly. I excitedly donned my favourite jeans and black sweetheart neckline top with a smart new brown cardigan that I bought in the sales this week (my clothes shopping excursions average about once a year so don’t underestimate my excitement at this.) I even accesorized the outfit with a lovely brown craft necklace that my friend gave me for my birthday in June, that I had yet to wear. So yes, I felt pretty good walking down the stairs to head out into town.

On seeing me my 2 year old virtually did a double-take. ‘Mummy bootiful. Smart,’ he said approvingly. Which, of course, melted my heart and confirmed to me the boy’s genius (natch). Did also tell me something about my normal levels of presentation but for now we’ll gloss over that.

I was quite excited to see the effect that ‘smart’ me would have on my beloved husband but, I think you already know where I’m going with this, he didn’t notice a thing. I mean, come on, if a two year old can notice I’ve made an effort?!

Or maybe I’ve just trained him too well to rise above the superficial valuing of a woman on her appearance? Sure, it must be that…..right?