My family have had a long relationship with Spain, and in particular Benalmadena. In the late seventies and early eighties, my grandparents on my mother's side had apartments in Arroyo-de-la-Miel and Torremolinos. Both died before I was five years old, and one of the apartments stayed in the family. In 1986, my grandparents on my father's side decided to move out to Spain to live. I remember the day that they flew out and how devastated I was, but the perk was that when the six week school summer holidays, both my sister and I were shipped out on a plane as unaccompanied minors to spend the entire holiday with Gran and Grandad. Sun, a pool and a fairly long leash meant a lot of good memories, good friends and fun.
Things took a turn for the worse in the late nineties when Gran became ill, and by 2000 both of my Grandparents had to take the hard, and probably heartbreaking decision to return to the UK. Their dreams of living their days out on the south coast of Spain abruptly coming to an end. The last time I went out to Benalmadena was in February 2003; I've deliberately avoided the area for two reasons: firstly having been there for many a school holiday, I'd seen and done almost everything that the area had to offer, and secondly it wouldn't feel right.
But twelve years on, I have a hankering to go back. I'm not sure why, maybe just to see what has changed, maybe to walk down memory lane. The walk up to the hypermarket, the visit to the chemist for drops because the chlorine in the pool is irritating my eyes, shopping for shoes at Manferga in the village. All things that I want to do again for no real reason.
I'm off out there this May; I've deliberately picked a hotel outside of the area I stayed as a kid - it's in walking distance, but sufficiently far away to not have to go there if I decide against it.
I was thinking about some of the people I met when I was a kid there - probably some 20 years ago now. Ryan Hunt from Maerdy who I kept in touch with for a short while, Phil McMahon from Northern Ireland (Dad was Trevor) in the apartment next door, and Jon (whose Grandad was Jess Dunn) across the corridor. I'd like to catch up with them and see what they're up to now.
Let's see what May brings.