The holiday part one post was written when we arrived in Spain, but due to a less then desirable wifi speed in the hotel I only got round to posting it half-way through! And this post was fully written when my iPad decided to not auto-save as it should do, and lose everything I had written! But anyways, we are now home and I can write about our holiday and hopefully upload some sunny pictures to accompany it.
I had spent so much time pre-holiday being preoccupied with how she would be on the flight, that I hadn’t really put enough thought into how she would be in the heat. I know it was hot in the UK recently, but this was hot for Spain heat. We went to Ronda one day and gave up walking round, after 20 minutes as the heat reached 46 degrees, and ended up seeking shelter and iced drinks in Burger King.
Now I didn’t try frying an egg, but judging by the fact that put the clothes I put out on the balcony to dry at 3 were dry by 4, I guess I probably could have! As I mentioned in the first holiday post, and as you can see in pictures, Savannah has near on ivory translucent skin, and the two just aren’t compatible. It baffles everyone, including myself and Ian, that she is so white. I know Ian is fairly white, but I am also fairly brown, and for her to come out whiter than Ian was a complete shocker to us both. It also makes it very difficult to expose her to any direct sunlight as she marks just being touched. Spain sun is like kryptonite to her skin!
So on the second day I decided to take her down to the pool to cool down. It was too hot to walk around and having just visited my friend who has a pool and seen Savannah’s reaction, I knew that I was on to a winner. I could tan, she could play, and we wouldn’t be cooped up in the hotel room. So for a good 20 minutes she splashed away having the time of her life. And then I noticed that out of nowhere her nose had begun to stream profusely and her eyes began to squint. So I took her out and dried her off next to Ian; within the next couple of minutes her eyes became more and more closed, then swollen, and she got a red rash all over her face. Cue us running frantically back to the hotel room to shower her, pump her full of water and put her to sleep. She must have reacted badly to something in the pool, but luckily within a few hours she was awake and back to normal. Needless to say this scared the bejesus out of us both, and possibly her, and apart from putting me off taking her back to that pool, it also left me without one of two options for keeping her cool and occupied during the day.
So we decided to take a family trip down to a local supermarket to stock up on the usual holiday hotel room essentials: water and coke to replace what we drunk from the minibar, maltesers, Pringles and bread. We were very limited on what we could buy to eat apart from snack food as we didn’t have a kettle in the room, let alone a fridge that you could put anything larger than a can in. Luckily whilst we were there Savannah grabbed a Princess Sofia balloon, that she now calls baby(?!) and this was a saviour in packing the shopping up, as well becoming an invaluable item in the car, room and out and about. It’s a very well travelled and used balloon that has been used as a chew toy, punching bag, licking thing and cuddly.
One thing that I found in the area, and Marbella and Ronda, was that not many places are baby-friendly; don’t get me wrong, the majority of people loved her. She is such a happy, smiley and cheeky baby that it’s hard not smile when she pokes her tongue out at you or lolls her head to one side when waving and therefore we didn’t receive many disapproving head shakes or glares whilst out. However, everywhere has marble and tile floors which are not ideal for a baby tottering between crawling, standing and walking, who has a tendency to try so hard to be independent that she invariably falls flat on her arse and is used to thick shag pile carpet to land on! I have no doubt that she would have been ok, and as it was she didn’t fall or hurt herself, but the sense of paranoia kept me and Ian on our toes more than ever before. Also there was a distinct lack of baby changing facilities. More often than not I ended up changing her on floors or small gaps in between sinks, and out of the 6 or so places we visited, the one with a changing table was Burger King, and although I was grateful to see it, it wasn’t in any kind of hygienic state.
And all the while, with this extreme heat and baby protection duty, I had not got my usual bronzed lustre. I managed to sneak one hour of tanning time on the balcony whilst she was asleep on our last day, which was just enough to convince someone at home I’d been away. But, one hour is by no means enough to compensate for an entire holiday spent inside limiting the damage one small child can do; my desired and usual Club Tropicana tan is more a hot Brighton glow.
The hotel we stayed in was called the Almenara in Sotogrande, and it was beautiful. We were surrounded by vistas of green valleys, Rocky Mountains and sea. The staff were lovely and very tolerant of the tired fits Savannah threw during breakfast or dinner, and the bits of half-eaten food she launched from her highchair.
The food in the restaurants was great and brilliant for Ian as he’s cut out the crap from his diet. The whole week he had copious amounts of fresh fish, grilled vegetables, bread and olive oil and pork, all of which Savannah thoroughly enjoyed taking from our plates, nibbling, then throwing on the floor. It was very difficult getting her to sleep in the extreme heat, and sadly It was just as difficult in the room as the air con seemed to be permanently stuck on freezing, which we should have really said on day one, two, three or four, but kept hoping would just work.
Eventually we found the hotel had a little baby pool, and after testing her for a couple of minutes for a similar reaction to before and her seeming fine, she was quite happy to walk around the sides of the pool splashing herself and everyone around her. We also had my friend and her over for some pool play time and hey both loved being able to stand in a pool as opposed to being held. Savannah loved playing with another baby, and although she can get a bit handsy, they seemed to enjoy each others company, which lightened the load and made me happier as I hated her not having a lot to do.
We had a wonderful walk along the beach after dinner one day at about 8pm, and despite being foggy it was still very warm and just about right to be able to be out. There was a lovely breeze and Ian took Savannah into the sea and she loved watching the sea go in and out, just from the safety of daddy’s arms. I also got some great pictures of them both, which is a real winner, as Ian’s not a huge fan of me me taking pictures of him. It’s also nice for him as I know he feels a bit left out on the bonding front sometimes, what we me having a basic monopoly on feeding her and putting her to sleep!
It was lovely being able to have a drink, especially at lunch time, and so on more than one occasion I indulged in wine and Piña coladas. I didn’t have to worry about driving, sorry Ian, and thought I would be a lot more patient with Savannah and her sleep battle if I had a good couple of glasses inside of me.
In hindsight we probably should have stayed in or closer to Marbella, as there was very little to do in Sotogrande, especially with a baby. Savannah would bounce off the walls in a mansion, let alone a small hotel room with decorative pieces just waiting to be chewed, pulled and or thrown, and with the weather and lack of things to do, this is where she spent a lot of time, literally bouncing around the hotel room whilst we followed her around on damage limitation. I’m not a very active person but the holiday felt wasted being in the hotel room so much!
As we were flying out of Gibraltar we decided to embrace the way of the ex-pat and have a tour around. Unsurprised by the Irish bars, fish and chip shops and faded pictures of chips and chicken Kiev everywhere, but we were surprised at how bad the food was. We went to Charlie’s on the marina, which looked very modern inside, but the food was grim! Ian’s Thai fish cakes were oozing oil and had no sign of Thai to be found, and my fillet steak was served inside a milky brown gravy soup and served with a mouldy carrot and some overcooked veg. We paid and left and moved onto the next place which was just as bad so we settled with getting food and drinks at the airport. I couldn’t quite believe just how badge food was, and how every restaurant was plastered in 1970s Benidorm pictures of badly photographed food. Had tourists and restaurant owners not moved on from this yet? I remember pictures like this seeming dated when I went to Spain with my family and that was 16 years ago!
On the plus side though, Savannah was brilliant on the flight home and spent the majority of the time asleep, and when she was awake she was no trouble at all, much to the pleasure of us and the rest of the plane.
I know I probably sound like a miserable cow bag, and I don’t want to, but I think even with getting over the not holidaying like childless adults anymore I was upset that the heat stopped us from doing anything, as did her age. She’s so nearly walking, but not there enough yet to be able to do things independently as she wants to and this led to a lot of tears because she couldn’t go in fountains, or walk around in the pool. And also being this age, there’s not a lot to do to entertain her in a hotel or different place and it’s difficult trying to contain her in a small space when all she wants to do is move around. It is a shame that we found it so difficult as we were so desperate to have a break from home and enjoy ourselves, but on the plus side we have learnt many invaluable lessons, the top one being that holidays are hard work with a baby!