Homesickness – Do I miss England?

Although it comes every year, you’re still taken back by it each time.

img_6162

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?”

When I say that I’ve been living in Spain for a while now and over the time people ask me “Do you miss England?” and, like always, I reply “Not really. I miss my family, but not really England”. I’ve said it so often that it becomes a natural reaction. The response is so common that I don’t think I even stop to question, do I actually miss England?

As it comes into winter, it’s usually when I find myself a little homesick. After spending the summer surrounded by family, it’s a shock to go back to spending time just the three of us again. The apartment feels bigger, yet quieter. The once bustling apartment with people dotted around suddenly becomes much quieter.

benidorm skyline hotel bali intempo poniente

I love the Autumn and Winter here, there’s no way I miss waking up and seeing the grey drizzly skies, but the lack of people gets tough. Once busy streets and bustling bars become locked up shells of a business and the once hectic pavements are reserved just for you. Although it comes every year, you’re still taken back by it each time, like a wave of emotion.

It’s times like those that I start to remember what I miss about being back in England. Things we’d do, places we’d go. The place where no matter what time of year, you’d still see the same faces around. Even if people were cosied up more at home in the winter due to the cold, but you’d still see more people at work. I think it makes a bigger difference for me working in such a small workplace. Being a small group of 5, there are never many people to smile at in the corridor or have a chat with on your lunch break.

Perhaps the fact that I miss England sometimes will come as a surprise, or perhaps you’ll think, well obviously. But admitting I miss home at times is something I don’t even admit to myself at times.

Sometimes, I miss it a lot more than others. I miss having our families in the same country and knowing that they can help sort out something straight the way. I miss having friends in the same city that I could meet up with for a coffee or a cocktail without having to match our times to schedule a 30-minute gap.

For somebody who isn’t living the other side of the continent, it all seems mundane and trivial to miss things other than your family.

Moving away you start to appreciate the little things. It’s not that we haven’t created a wonderful life in the sun but sometimes, we get homesick and that’s perfectly normal.

The distance has taken a toll on so many friendships that have dwindled away and I know it’s hard on many people, so I sometimes feel selfish. I don’t regret moving to Alicante at all and I love it here. This is where I want my life to exist. But, sometimes, I wish that all the people I love from back home could be here as well, selfish right?

So, here’s what we miss about home and how we deal with homesickness.

Family and Friends

standing at disney castle

The beauty of technology means that family are only a call or a FaceTime away. I try to head back to England for a weekend once a month or once every other month in winter. We also keep up with what friends and family are doing over on social media. I always find it hard visiting family briefly when I head back and even more so in June.

Cinema dates

aladdin 2019 spoiler free review

This was one thing that I found quite difficult. I love going to the cinema and watching the new releases. I love watching the trailers and deciding which film I’m going to see next (all of them and then I forget and watch none). Since getting a car, this has become so much easier. We now head over to the cinema 45 minutes drive away and watch the big releases. Even if the popcorn isn’t as good.

UK TV

I must say, I do miss TV in the UK a lot. Spending all summer scrolling social media seeing updates about love island and having no clue what’s going on makes you feel like an outsider. I don’t even like Love Island, it’s ridiculous isn’t it? The fear of missing out is real. I definitely miss being able to watch whatever trash everybody else is watching, though having Netflix has made a massive difference, there was only so much Big Bang Theory I could watch before I went insane.

Straight forward paperwork

Not being fluent is the hardest when it comes to paperwork. Things that were so easy in England like nipping and sorting something at the bank or reading paperwork from work is 10000 times harder when it’s in your second language. Loopholes, appointments, residency paperwork, contracts, they’re all just so hard work when you’ve got to do it in a language you’re not completely confident in.

Comfort food restaurants

Yep, I miss you Nando’s and TGI’s. Sometimes I’d love a Jack Daniels chicken wing or a half chicken lemon and herb but, there’s not a chance I’m getting it here. Don’t get me wrong, I love so many restaurants here and we can get things that are similar, but they’re just not the same. I did use to miss a good fish and chips but we’ve found our local favourite now. Northern Sole in the Old Town for anybody wondering!

The Language

I adore the Spanish language. I love listening to it and I love speaking it, when I feel confident. But, I get so self conscious that I’ll say something wrong or sound funny that I don’t do it. I know how words should be and I can hear other people’s errors so I get conscious that people are picking up mine. I try to practise Spanish on Duolingo regularly and use as much Spanish as I can when I’m out. Alex and I also talk Spanish to each other sometimes. But, when the language is causing me grief, I try to remember to be kinder to myself and remember that I’m doing my best and it will improve. Every day I learn something more, or piece something else together. Then, I plan to work on more of my Spanish. Yep, I did just recently finish an entire Spanish workbook in just two hours. 

Hobbies

afternoon tea at the colonnades signet library edinburgh

I missed having a hobby. Whether that was cheerleading or dancing or something else I was flitting between, but since opening my blog it’s given me something to work on and build. It’s like when you’d have to do a project of your choice at school and it was the best task ever. Seeing your work come together. Seeing people enjoy what you put out or the ideas it’s given them or how it’s helped them. Even if it’s just a moment of escape, or some information about where to go. I love that it helps other people as well as me. Plus, the odd freebies are always amazing, especially when I can treat my family to them too, like when we headed to the Escape Room or when we jetted off to Edinburgh and Seville.

Shopping

outside house in altea spain 2019 spring tommy hilfiger primark

You all know how I like to save my shopping for when I’m in England. They just don’t have as good shops here as they do back home. The Primark just isn’t as good, there aren’t so many designer shops selling authentic designer gear and Bershka and Pull and Bear just aren’t as good as TopShop and New Look. I love heading back to Fosse when I’m back in Leicester. But, I love coming back home with my new bits and pieces and taking photos of them here!

I love living in Spain and I love the new life we’ve adapted and built. I’m hoping that at some point we can have our house in the mountains, with the garden for Rio to play and the double door fridge.

Some days we do miss England, but the best way to cope is to remember the reasons you moved in the first place and took the plunge. Look for ways to expose those reasons and embrace them. If all else fails, book yourself a flight to visit family or nip to the supermarket and buy a bottle of vino that would have cost you 3 times that amount at home. Just kidding. Sort of.

Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature

 

 

Travelling the World via Spain

but what I have done is started seeing the world of Costa Blanca differently.

Contrary to what the title slightly suggests, I haven’t found a get rich scheme to enable me to start making elaborate plans to travel the world, I haven’t started packing my bags and booking trips, but what I have done is started seeing the world of Costa Blanca differently.

cartagena spain girl in glasses

The world is one. We all feature one another, I’ve always known that. You’d have to be going around blindfolded to think that stepping into Valencia you don’t see elements of Madrid and Barcelona or stepping into California there are definitive elements of the Costa Blanca.

la nucia carbon bar barony of polop

But, as I wrote this I was sitting in the Carbon bar in La Nucia overlooking Polop devouring a margarita pizza washing it down with white wine, all I could think of is that this must be what Tuscany is like.

la nucia carbon bar barony of polop

The wine. The pizza. The mountains protecting us from every direction. The blue skies. The greenery growing flourished as ever thanks to our downfall of rain a few weekends ago. Everything about right then screamed everything I’d ever known and saw whilst in Italy.

The bar we were at sits perched on top of La Nucia offering spectacular views. The ranch style decor with a rustic feel makes you feel a million miles away from the Benidorm we’ve just left. It wouldn’t be out of place in Texas. A steakhouse that prides itself on meats and more meat. To be fair to them, the chicken fingers were incredible!

IMG_5573

That’s when I started thinking about all the other places that throw you back to somewhere else in the world. The other times we travel the world without leaving our doorstep. Xàbia and its elements of Greece, the Guadalest reservoir and a village in the Alps or Altea and its flashbacks of Morocco and Spain collided. So many times, we head somewhere and feel like we’re somewhere else, even though we’re just a short drive away.

walking along main street altea spain

It makes sense. Spain has had so many influences impact on its architecture and growth over the years that it’s obvious that structural and architectural wise there would be similarities. But then I think about the world. The landscape.

We were all one, once upon a time.

The landscape changes from skyscraper buildings to open fields and towering mountains just by heading in one direction or the other. Within minutes, brown sunburned fields turn into flourishing green crops and the rugged coastline changes again.

poble nou viewpoint

When we were heading North on our road trip, we would always be so stunned that a few miles down the road would lead us to a whole new sense of landscape, architecture and wildlife. Everywhere was somewhere new.

We were once one world that split apart. But we took pieces of one another away with us.

It makes me think of the world. How much of the world left to see. Places I want to go and places I want to see. I am already thinking of where we should go for the Christmas holidays. Isn’t it funny? We’re all working and counting down for our next holiday, our next day off. We sometimes forget to live in the now.

The Costa Blanca is beautiful. Spain is beautiful. The world is beautiful.

It just needs to be discovered. I hope my blog helps you discover it.

Now excuse me whilst I head over to Skyscanner and find an excuse to search for a flight to anywhere.

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

 

 

A Year On: What Blogging Has Taught Me

What has blogging given you?

IMG_3837.JPG

You know in thank, u next when Ariana Grande says “look what I got, look what you taught me…” well, it gave me inspiration for a blog post to celebrate one year (and a week or so) on from opening my blog, Diary of a Spanglish Girl and what exactly it has taught me in the past 12 months.

Looking back, it doesn’t seem a year ago since I was sitting in our bedroom in our old apartment toying with the idea of opening a blog. Normally, people have these rather inspiring reasons about why they opened a blog, wanting to inspire others, wanting to share ideas, wanting to have an outlet, wanting to support their mental health. But, mine was for none of those reasons, I don’t think. It was purely because I was bored.

I was working much fewer hours back then and I spent a lot of time doing not an awful lot, except playing Supercell games. It seemed pointless. There isn’t any goal, per se. I’ll never be the best supercell game player, so what’s the point? So, then I’d go shopping. Something to do. Or buy a coffee and sit for an hour in a coffee shop on my phone. It all seemed pointless.

I was also aware of the talk of others. The stigma of Benidorm. The stick it gets and the back talk we’d have to put it with from other people because we’d chosen here. People had this impression of us and our lives, when they hadn’t even been to Spain, let alone Benidorm. People see what the media shows them and construct their own views. We’d get talked down on, we’d get judged on how we live our lives. For why? Because the media share the negatives.

daniel wellington watches diary of a spanglish girl benidorm discount code

So, I wanted to change it. I wanted to show everybody that we don’t live how you might have thought we did. We don’t sit in an English pocket and hang around with English people all of the time. We have Spanish friends, we have English friends, we have Russian friends, the list goes on. Benidorm is multicultural. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: Benidorm is only trash if you head to the trash area. Every city has pockets, imagine if London was judged purely on Peckham? Imagine if New York was based on Tremont?

I think I changed a few opinions along the way. So, taking everything else out of the equation, I achieved what I set out to do. So, am I a successful blogger? Yes. Maybe not in the same way somebody else would define a successful blogger. But, I did what I wanted to do. I know there are people who have visited Benidorm who used to ridicule me for visiting Benidorm. I know there are people who have come to Benidorm who when I first opened my blog were sceptical and then carried on reading. I have people message me saying they would have never visited Benidorm, but now they would. That to me defines success.

If you set out to make money and get freebies – you will more than likely never become a successful blogger. 

So if you are considering starting a blog, do it for the right reasons.

But enough on that, I wanted to talk about what blogging has given me over the past 12 months, which by the time this posts, will be 14  months. I also wanted to find out what other bloggers have gained from blogging. I’m not talking a fancy press trip to somewhere exotic, or a pr package from a company or two, as nice as they are, they’re materialistic things. Perks of the job, I guess. 

It’s always funny to me when people ask why bloggers get so many freebies. Or people message you and say “You get loads of freebies, I’m going to start a blog, any tips?“. First of all, hello – it’s been six years since we last spoke, right? Secondly, doesn’t every job come with perks? I see travel agent friends jetting off to Mauritius to test out a new hotel before the travel company decides to add it to their hotel umbrella or so that they can give first-hand recommendations to customers who walk in the door. I see friends who work at high-end businesses heading off to fancy business events with big fancy dinners. But never do I message and say “hey, your job looks easy! I might start!“. So why do people do it to bloggers? Bizarre.

The amount of blogs I see open and close within months, sometimes weeks, when people realise it is harder than it looks. It is not a case of writing a quick post and pressing send. There are photos to take. Editing. Promotion. More editing. Technical Setup. Bug fixes.

Nothing worth it ever came easy.

Time Management

mr wonderful planner pens and flowers flatlay

This one is fairly recent because if I’m honest, blogging stripped me of time management in 2018. But, since getting myself in gear this year – my time management has been exceptional. Granted, it might be something to do with a pr gift or two that got me into gear, but effectively – it was my blog.

Now that I set alarms for each activity, I have been so productive in terms of writing, housework and general life. I used to spend each weekend on the computer for hours on end and every weekday. It was too much. Now, I have an alarm in the morning where I have breakfast. I spend no more than two hours in the morning on either my blog or pitching to brands. Then, it’s time to turn off, clean the house, walk the dog and just relax before heading to work. The computer doesn’t get turned on in the evenings or at the weekends anymore. That’s time for us. Time to go out. Technically speaking, the weekends are research time now. 

Adventure

pointing to princes street from edinburgh castle girl wearing skirt jumper and tartan bow

My blog has given me so many opportunities to get outside and try different things. Not even necessarily as part of a blogging assignment. But, people would ask questions about different bars, hotels, activities, so I have a list of different things to try. If the company says no to sponsorship, we go out and do it anyway. We have found so many nice spots thanks to my blog.

Perseverance and Determination

how i gained 100k traffic in my first year blogging

Anybody will tell you that I don’t stick at things. I think everybody that knows me is as surprised as I am that I actually still have a blog. I used to go through so many phases, cheerleading, acting, singing, wanting to learn the piano, netball. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. But, for some reason blogging and social media have stuck.

I used to always want to work on social media. I mean, when I first got my job at 15 at Tesco, I used to always ask to be the person to take over the social media. Granted, I didn’t know you needed a degree in it and that there is far more than just dropping a tweet or two, but since opening my blog, I have managed to take social media management and add it to my CV. Incredible.

People are Interested in us

instagrammable locations in benidorm old town

This one sounds quite egocentric but I promise it isn’t supposed to come across that way. But, I was always convinced that what I had to say was boring. I tend to stay fairly quiet. I have a lot to say and a lot of views, apparently. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to hear that people love to hear what I have to say and trust my opinion, whether I’m rambling on about a fairly decent meal or writing chapter and verse about a couple of gifts that are cute or sharing what we did on our travels, it’s lovely to receive such lovely feedback.

photo by gohar photography at guadalest boy hugging girl my year in review 2018

I always try not to get hooked on numbers. Something I vouched not to get caught up in 2019, but it is nice to see the numbers grow and grow on social media and on my blog when more and more people are clicking follow to see what I get up to. I mean, there are 8,000 people who will receive this rambling into their email inbox. Another 700-800 will click on it from social media. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. Thank you for caring what little old me has to say.

Enough about me. Let’s see what a few other bloggers had to say when I asked them what their blog has taught or gave them:

Rouge and Rouge

Perspective

As a vocational writer, my life has been dominated by the unavoidable fear of judgment.  For a long time I was too worried to share my work — would others like it, hate it, or feel the most devastating lack of interest? After working on the copywriting industry for a while, I finally decided to give my creative side a chance and planned my blog launch. Blogging has provided me with some perspective. It is true what they say: it is not about others but about you. Be passionate about your work and do your very best. You will never regret it and on time, it will be rewarded.

Lucy Kate Burton

Assurance

Blogging has enabled me to be assured about my writing. It’s allowed me to explore different topics and styles, and writing my blog alongside working for a digital marketing agency and studying an apprenticeship in this field has allowed me to understand the wider picture from each viewpoint, whether I’m approaching a brand myself or approaching as a brand. Blogging has helped cement my knowledge on these topics and I am now confident to share this with others.

Jason Likes to Travel

Realisation 

“Have you read it yet?” Five simple words that have stuck with me. We had a weekend-long family get-together and there was one topic on everyone’s lips – my latest blog post! Writing anonymously was easy but knowing family, friends and colleagues would potentially read this had left me in two minds about publishing it. The feedback was overwhelming, I was blown away. It had vindicated the decision to post it. It’s hard putting yourself out there but blogging gave me a realisation that people are really supportive if you give them the opportunity.

Emily Becca

Business Ethics

Blogging was never something I saw myself doing but I gave it a go and never looked back. It’s let me become a little more confident in myself and my style, but also in a business sense. I’m not afraid of branching out to new ideas and projects I could have only ever dreamed of doing. And if they go wrong? Oh well, onto the next thing. I definitely have to thank blogging for bringing out the business savvy in me and making me want to do more with myself.
What has blogging given you?
Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature

 

 

Why You Should Visit Pamplona, Spain

Ernest Hemingway’s first obsession and a city he held so dear, it’s not hard to see why.

visit pamplona spain.png

Hear the city “Pamplona” and everyone thinks of bulls. The Bull Run, The Bull Fight. But there’s so much more to Pamplona than just that. Ernest Hemingway’s first obsession and a city he held so dear, it’s not hard to see why.

Even when the bulls aren’t thundering down the streets with the cheers and screams of the townspeople, Pamplona is still a fascinating and vibrant place to visit. Pamplona is certainly captivating.

Other than being home to the famous “bull run”, we didn’t know anything about Pamplona either. It was somewhere we headed to purely because it was a name we recognised and we were already going to pretty much drive through it, it made sense to stop and take a look.

Pamplona is in the North of Spain, it’s the capital of the Navarre autonomous area. Navarre truly is a beautiful region in Spain. Driving through the North, it changed so drastically. From green silhouettes of the Pyrannese to low river plains. The diversity was incredible. It was even more noticeable since we’d just came back from our trip to Sevilla and Granada, and driving through the Andalusia region, there are not a lot of changes!

Considering it was the height of summer, the morning was cold. The chill in the air punished me for wearing a strapless top and bright yellow skirt. I stood out. Passing me by are locals in coats and trousers, how was I to know? It was late August! It’s impossible to believe that once the sun made an appearance, it would soar up to 30 degrees.

IMG_7043

We arrived at 8:00a.m and left the car at the Plaza del Castillo. From there, we followed the route towards the beautiful ayuntamiento. The 17th century Town Hall.

Once we arrived in Pamplona, I almost knew I was going to love it. Which was bizarre because it was somewhere that we thought we wouldn’t like, that much.

We ended up spending a little bit more time in Pamplona than we originally planned, purely because it was so interesting. The coloured houses lined the winding cobbled streets that opened into a quaint, but bustling plaza. The streets were filled with people wandering around and meeting up for a morning coffee.

why you should visit pamplona

They have a great coffee shop over the road from the city hall in the plaza where there was an amazing deal on cookies and coffee. Who am I to turn down coffee? Who is Alex to turn down cookies? They had bar stools set outside and a hatch to pass your coffee through. The whole plaza felt Spanish. It probably sounds weird to say that, but not everywhere always feels Spanish!

why you should visit pamplona

Lined next to the Town Hall is a permanent gate structure, one that is part of the San Fermin celebrations. Walking around Pamplona, you really feel the atmosphere. You can feel like you’re there. You can imagine what it’s like. It feels like San Fermin never stops.

Most places, once a festival is over, it’s over. But, in Pamplona, San Fermin is a way of life. It’s instilled. There’s no forgetting about it until next year. It’s truly their pride.

why you should visit pamplona

Alex and I weren’t sure about Pamplona, Alex wasn’t even too keen about stopping in Pamplona, but I wanted to go out of curiosity. Once you’re there the city pulls you in. Pamplona surprised me, in the best possible way.

why you should visit pamplona

I wouldn’t want to be in Pamplona whilst the Bullrun is happening. I wouldn’t any part of it. But, I wouldn’t be against returning to Pamplona and spending more time wandering around the cobbled, winding and taking in the city. For such a small city, there are so many reasons to visit Pamplona, if you’re in the area.

Rich with History

cof

Pamplona has some beautiful historic sites, especially in the Old Town which is lined with medieval city walls. Pamplona is bursting with history, taken over by the Romans in around 75BC by Julius Caesar’s rival, Pompey, it was named accordingly.

San Fermin

why you should visit pamplona

Aside from the Bullrun, San Fermin is renowned to be an amazing festival. With street markets, dancing, traditional music and full-on feasting. The fiestas run from 6th July until 14th July.

Celebrations of San Fermin date back to the 12th century, when it was originally celebrated in October. The festivities officially begin at 12p.m on 6th July, marked by a “txupinazo”, which is basically a rocket fired from the City Hall balcony.

During the week, Pamplona is filled with red handkerchiefs and white t-shirts, which are on sale all of the time! Walk along the shops in Pamplona and everything is geared around San Fermin.

The Bullrun, “encierro”, is the most famous and talked about feature of San Fermin. Every morning during the festivities at 8 o’clock, the runners are chased by six bulls for around 800 metres from the City Hall to the bullring (Plaza de Toros).

San Fermin is a way of life when this is something they’ve always done. It’s celebrated, it’s their history.

Alex’s words to me when he pulled up “but.. you’re sure that Bullrun isn’t on?“. I did have to do a quick Google check first!

Food

Spain is such a foodie country on the whole, so the fact it has a wide range of bars and restaurants is barely revolutionary. Nonetheless, it’s a city that has combined influences from the Basque Country and the Peninsula. It has a variety of pintxos bars and traditional modern restaurants. Pamplona, surprisingly, also has a very vibrant nightlife. Spots that look like garage doors in the day open up to reveal nightclubs, music venues and wine bars.

Quaint Cafe’s

One of my favourite bits about Pamplona was the cute little coffee shops. Especially the one perched next to the City Hall that had amazing views, a spot perfect for people watching. Not to mention they had a scrumptious coffee and cookie deal. Scattered around Pamplona, like many parts of Spain, friends had met up to drink a morning cafe con leche, it’s a cultural routine that I have been more than happy to adapt to.

Friendly and Safe

why you should visit pamplona

There were some places that didn’t feel as welcoming and safe to go to but Pamplona wasn’t one of them. Whilst I definitely stood out as a tourist, it didn’t stop the locals saying good morning and the barista recommending me the best cookie. It’s not often I stand out. But that day, I did.

Pamplona is said to have one of the highest standards of living across the whole of Spain. With a wealth of recreation parks and outdoor space, quality industry, a high standard of education and health system – it’s a desired place to be in Spain. It also has one of the lowest rates of crime across Spain, making it a fantastic choice for a city break in the North of Spain. Friendly and tranquil, it was one of my favourite stop off points on our road trip.

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

Pinterest:

pamplona travel guide.png

 

 

Day Trips from Benidorm for Christmas

Day Trips from Benidorm for Christmas – Christmas markets, Snow, Santa’s Grotto and more!

Day trips.png

Over the Christmas period, it’s the best time of year to do a quick day trip and experience some of the beautiful villages and bustling cities that surround Benidorm. Whether you’re thinking about taking a trip for Christmas shopping, for Christmas markets or for a change of scenery, there are plenty of ideas for Day Trips from Benidorm for Christmas.

During Christmas, most of us are fortunate enough to get some holiday time and be able to relax a little. If you’re over on holiday, you might be thinking about a change of scenery too. After all, it’s nice to take the opportunity to get out and explore the surroundings. There’s more to the Costa Blanca than meets the eye.

Alcoy

 

alcoy at christmas
Alcoi Turismo

 

I couldn’t write about places to go during Christmas without mentioning Christmas village itself. Situated up in the mountains, Alcoy is a town that is an hour drive from Benidorm. Don’t be surprised to see a beautiful Christmas market, a stunning nativity and if you’re lucky, even a blanket of snow! Home to the first King’s Day Parade, it’s worth stopping by, if you can!

Guadalest

beautiful photo of the mountains and blue water at guadalest village near benidorm

Guadalest is one of the most idyllic villages on the Costa Blanca and arguably in Spain. It’s a truly lovely little village that will delight you from the moment you step foot in it. With day trips offered by various companies across Benidorm and the local bus travelling, it’s super easy to get up into the mountains and experience Guadalest first hand.

Guadalest is one of those villages that each time you visit it mesmerises you a little more, with quaint streets and towering mountains, each visit is the same as the one before yet it still feels just as enchanting.

Altea

Blue domed church in Altea, Spain

Altea is such a change of pace from Benidorm and I’d recommend visiting it if you’re over in Benidorm. With stooping white buildings and a splash of blue, it’s a completely different alternate holiday destination to the booming and happening Benidorm. Altea also has its own Christmas parade and plenty of fireworks.

There are lots of cosy bars scattered across the beachfront and a bustling square located at the top of the hill, it’s an unmissable location.

Whenever we want a change of pace, Altea is the place to go. For such a short journey, it feels a million miles away. A calm and serene atmosphere, Altea is truly la bella.

Villajoyosa

villajoyosa in winter

Home of the chocolate factory, you’re guaranteed to have the smells of chocolate fill the air and Christmas will really feel like it’s coming to life. With parades, regular live brass bands at the park and a genuine friendly community feel, it’s one of the best places to visit on the Costa Blanca.

Don’t forget to stop by Valor chocolate factory cafe and enjoy one of their hot chocolate varieties. If you’re feeling like a big treat, you can get your own chocolate fountain complete with fruit skewers!

I never tire of the coloured houses, walking along the promenade makes me feel like I’ve been teleported to the land of Beauty and the Beast. I may have listened to “Belle”, whilst walking around a few times… It’s one of those cities that has such a comfortable feel about it, everyone is smiling, everyone says hello. Villajoyosa is a delight.

Valencia

valencia at christmas

What is Christmas without a stooping Christmas tree, a bustling plaza complete with Christmas markets and all of the favourite shops? Valencia has the answer. With some of the best Christmas lights on the Costa Blanca, a day trip to Valencia for shopping is possible, though I would recommend staying over the night! There are plenty of hotels that offer one-night stays for around 30€!

Valencia is a gorgeous city that offers it all. Long stretches of beaches, the Oceonagraphic, shopping for all and bars and cafe’s to watch the hours pass by. It won’t just look and feel like Christmas but smell like Christmas too, thanks to the street stalls roasting chestnuts, almonds and much more.

You’ll also find an intricate Nativity scene which will be placed at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for the duration of December and early January.

Though, the biggest draw to Valencia during Christmas is Expojove, which is held from 26th December until 4th January at Feria València which involves lots of different fun activities for children. There will also be a Christmas Fair with tombolas, sweets and children’s toys.

Alicante

 

Another day, another city. Easily accessible by tram or bus, with the tram only taking an hour and being such low-priced, it’s a great place for a change of scenery in December. In Alicante, there are a range of different shops to do some Christmas Shopping, though if you’re planning to go to Primark, you’ll need to take another bus out of the centre to Gran Via, which takes an additional 20 minutes.

In Alicante, they also have Santa’s Grotto in the  Parque de la Ereta which is below Santa Barbara castle. There are lots of games and activities for children, Christmas music and the opportunity to meet Father Christmas, for free! Father Christmas can be visited from the 6th to the 23rd December from 12:00 to 20:00 and on the 24th & 25th December from 10:00 to 14:00.

There is also a temporary ice skating rink at the Town Hall, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, from 1st December until 7th January. This is open every day from 10:00 to 14:00 and then again from 16:00 to 23:00.

Feliz Navidad,

laurensignature-final

 

 

Why We Should Be Reading To Children | Usborne English Readers Review*

As teachers, we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can by the children in our class. We want to give them the best start possible. We want to see them grow and learn. We want to see them progress. We want to help them as much as we can. 

Usborne English Readers are a series of English language books for young learners. If you watched my Instagram story, you will have seen me unbox a lovely selection of the Usborne English Readers books. Today, I’m sharing with you why they have been an invaluable resource in the classroom.

As teachers, we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can by the children in our class. We want to give them the best start possible. We want to see them grow and learn. We want to see them progress. We want to help them as much as we can.

But how can we do that?

As teachers, we’re always looking to keep ahead of the curve. Something to engage the children and keep them wanting to learn more. We want to enrich their minds with information that makes them crave more and more. We want them to succeed. We are their biggest cheerleaders. We want to keep it fresh and up-to-date. We’re constantly trying to keep up.

Usborne English Readers does just that.

IMG_6266

I found out about the Usborne English Readers books on Usborne and knew I had to get in touch with them. I knew the children in my class would adore them. The vibrant colours that bring those classics to life. Stories that I knew and loved from my childhood, I wanted to share them with my class in a whole new light. With beautiful illustrations that fill every page, the story comes to life.

My children are all avid readers. They have a desire and a passion to read and it’s so refreshing to see. Sure, they love YouTube just as much as the next child, but they still love a story. Their faces light up when a new book comes to the classroom so imagine their delight when each day they’ve been introduced to a new Usborne English Readers book. Their faces and eyes light up at the sight of a new book. It’s so heartwarming. These books are so loved by the children.

Usborne sent out all three levels of their Usborne English Readers, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These books will grow with the different levels. Stories that my older children are enjoying now, will be perfect for the younger ones in a few years time. They will continue to be used and used because I know how much the children love them. They have responded so well to the Usborne English Readers books. They are able to keep up with the story, which is proven thanks to their comprehension activities at the back that we have done as a class.

Usborne English Readers Levels

Level 1: Elementary (CEFR A1)

IMG_6265

We have children from across the board of The Common European Framework of Reference. The A1 is the most popular and the biggest groups at the moment.

Usborne was kind enough to send us 6 of their 9 Level 1 books available.

  • Cinderella
  • The Emperor and the Nightingale
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Puss in Boots
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Gingerbread Man

The Level 1 books are typically around 800-1,200 words which are just long enough to keep their attention and not too difficult for them to keep up with. The stories are all well-loved fairy tale favourites that I recall from my childhood. I was so excited to read Beauty and the Beast to the children, so that was the first one we used.

IMG_6243 2.jpg

The stories come with a vocabulary list too which explains further in simplified terms what the word means which has been perfect for aiding explanation. Tools like these are so valuable in a classroom when you’re sometimes thrown into a question and you feel you can’t actually explain the word! Usborne has done the hard work creating definitions that are accessible for their level.

Another great aspect of the Usborne English Readers is you can actually access their Grammar Structures and expectations for the levels. It gives a clear guideline for what the children should know and understand for their level. You can view Level 1 guidelines here: Level 1 Grammar Structures

Level 2: Pre-intermediate (CEFR A2)

IMG_6263 2

We have a good amount of A2 students too. These are just as into reading as the A1 students. Just like the children, these books grow slightly to adapt to the needs and learning requirements of the children.

The Level 2 books are typically around 1,400-2,400 words, so they’re perfect for splitting between two classes to leave the children on a little cliffhanger, waiting and hoping for more reading and learning! The stories not only are longer fairy tales but also classics, myths and legends.

We were sent 3 of the 8 titles available and the children are absolutely loving them. We have the following:

  • Snow Queen
  • Pinocchio
  • The Phantom of the Opera

I was really excited to give these books a try. I was concerned as to whether The Phantom of the Opera might be too difficult for the children to understand, but they loved it. The illustrations and vocabulary list really helped them to understand the storyline and access the book successfully.

You can take a look at the grammar structures that students should know at Level 2 here: Level 2 Grammar Structures

Level 3: Intermediate (CEFR B1)

IMG_6259 2

We have a smaller amount of B1 students and finding things to keep them engaged can be difficult. Especially when they’re still such a young age, it can be hard to find books that are not too mature for them or too easy that it just doesn’t challenge them. That’s where Usborne English Readers comes in.

These books have been invaluable for my B1 children students. Challenging books that are suitable for their age range. They are truly the perfect books for B1 children students. I have found them an incredibly useful resource in the classroom.

The Level 3 books are typically around 3,000-3,600 words, which means they’ve been a great resource to use as a ten-minute activity at the end of the lesson. It’s great for winding down after some intense grammar sessions, whilst still encouraging English language structure learning in a more subtle and relaxed atmosphere. I’m able to find a suitable spot for the children to stop to be able to continue for the next lesson. They’ve been a great resource for a reward! “Finish this page and we can continue the book…” *sounds of pencils writing 100mph*. 

The stories are English language classics which are brought to life with the wonderful illustrations. We were kindly sent the following:

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Frankenstein

You can view the grammar structures for Level 3 here: Level 3 Grammar Structures

If you’re unsure what level you are, you can get your student or child to take the Usborne Online Test which will tell you which level book is appropriate: Usborne Online English Test

Are Usborne English Readers Worth Buying?

img_6308.jpg

Usborne English Readers are an exemplary resource for use both in the classroom and for independent reading. They have been built alongside an ELT expert, Peter Viney.

The books are all fantastically priced at just £6.99 a book. I never go to work without an Usborne English Readers book slipped inside my bag now. We keep them at home to keep them in the best condition.

Reading is incredibly important, not only reading to children but encouraging children to read out loud. I am a huge advocate of reading and would encourage anybody who is in direct contact with children to encourage them wherever possible to pick up and book and read.

Reading gives the foundation of language. It’s how we started as babies, as children, we loved listening to stories and bringing books to life. The core importance of reading stays with ESL children. Whether no level or on the European Framework, reading is important. It teaches the basis of the language and helps to build a basic grasp of a language. I guarantee, even the children who have not yet reached A1 will be copying words that you’re reading to them. They’ll see the brought to life illustrations and they’ll be soaking up the story and a few new words.

Reading supports speaking skills and helps to form social skills. It also builds their vocabulary. As the children have read through the Usborne English Languages books they have desired to learn more. They’ve asked what new words are and I’ve seen them use their new words in their writing and speech. The stories are instilled in them.

I’ve also used the books as a tool for listening. Reading the text and then testing their comprehension by asking simple questions. The illustrations are also useful for asking further questions to support their learning. “How many people are in this picture”, “What colour is this?” “Who is wearing the red dress?”, “What animal is this?”, “Where is The Beast now?”, “How is Romeo feeling now?”, “What is Cinderella doing?”. It’s great for testing their knowledge and using follow-up questions from the class.

How Can I buy Usborne Books?

You can purchase Usborne English Readers direct from their website if you’re in the UK and certain European countries. You find the book you’re interested in and click ‘Buy this book in UK and EU’ button.

There is a money back guarantee, which is a nice reassurance knowing you can send them back within 14 days for a full refund. But, I just know you’d love them as much as I do if you’re a teacher or have young children at home. VAT is also included in the online catalogue. The online shop is secure too!

Why I Love Usborne English Readers

IMG_6321

When did we last let a book transform a child into a world of fantasy and magic? With beautiful illustrations, the books really come to life. A world of fun and fantasy fills the classroom getting children keen and eager to learn English.

The stories are genuinely engaging for the children. They really do want you to turn just one more page. No matter how many times you tell them they have to wait until next time to find out what happens. They want to know now. They want just one more page, please! They get the children speaking, they get the children asking questions, they get the children wanting to practice more English.

I love that the books come with an audio version, in both American English and British English. They are a great resource to help bring the stories to life, plus gives us teacher a little break, even if it is just for a few minutes!

The children genuinely do sit and listen taking it all in. You see them soaking up the language and genuinely enjoying the story. It’s lovely to see their faces taking it all in. Watching their minds process it all.

I would one hundred per cent recommend investing in Usborne English Readers books for either within the classroom or at home with ESL children. I do believe they’d be perfect for native English children too.

The books come with a range of resources that can be used within the classroom or for home learning that capture the beauty of the story whilst aiding additional learning. The activities test comprehension and merge together the understanding of grammar and vocabulary. They also come with information about the story or the author plus a glossary of words. They really engage and involve the children whilst being a fun and rewarding activity.

I have been so impressed with our Usborne books. They arrived quickly and came well packaged. The books are professionally finished and they’re the type of books you want to display. They look interesting. They look like you want to pick them up and read them.

I have been really impressed with the accessibility of the books for our ESL learners. I would definitely purchase more books from Usborne the Usborne English Readers collection. I will definitely look into different collections from Usborne to use in the classroom after being so impressed with the Usborne English Readers collection.

Language learning is fun with Usborne English Readers.

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

The books were gifted to me kindly from Usborne, however, views, photos and words are my own.

Christmas Gift Guide – Gifts for Him 2018

Shopping for the important men in your life isn’t something that should be last minute. Whether you’re looking for a gift for your dad, your son, your brother or your boyfriend, you want to get something thoughtful that will wow them.

Shopping for the important men in your life isn’t something that should be last minute. Whether you’re looking for a gift for your dad, your son, your brother or your boyfriend, you want to get something thoughtful that will wow them.

Photobooks, accessories, DVD’s, clothes, tech gadgets and books are a good place to start. To help spark some gift ideas, I’ve put together a list of fantastic gifts for the men in your life.

*contains affiliate or sponsored products*

Daniel Wellington Watches

Buy HERE!

daniel wellington watches diary of a spanglish girl benidorm discount code

Give an affordable, yet classic and sophisticated Daniel Wellington Watch for the man in your life as a Christmas Gift. Men’s watches have never looked so good. The Daniel Wellington Sheffield is a beautiful watch that Alex hasn’t taken off since he got it.

Ladies, treat yourself to a Rose Gold Watch too whilst you’re at it, Daniel Wellington also stock watches for women that are so stunning and timeless. The Daniel Wellington watch straps are interchangeable so you can switch between different watch straps, today Rose Gold, tomorrow classic white.

Daniel Wellington Discount Code: A Daniel Wellington watch is a perfect Christmas gift! Don’t forget you can get 15% off with the code “LaurenBate” when applied at checkout.

daniel wellington discount code promotional

A Kanken Backpack

Buy HERE!

kanken backpack and essentials kits perfect for christmas men

Kanken backpacks are suitable for both men and women. The best backpacks for men need to be durable, fashionable, well-constructed and long-lasting. Kanken ticks all of those boxes!

The Kanken backpack is great for everyday use and is water-resistant too. Made of Vinylon F, it’s extremely durable and will certainly stand the test of time battling against the elements.

The crossover straps mean that the backpack evenly distributes the weight between your two shoulders, allowing you to not only improve your posture and save back pain but also allows you to carry much more than before! As a result, you feel comfortable, and a bit of a boost of ego too!

The main compartment has a large capacity. It also comes with a comfortable seat pad which means your back stays straight and aligned, but also nothing uncomfortable digs in!

There is also a heavy duty zip and a reflective logo on the front. It’s perfect for everyday use and travelling!

The Office DVD Boxset

Buy HERE!

P1010221.JPG

“Is The Office worth watching” I hear you cry. Don’t worry, it’s taken us this long to watch it too. If you’re a fan of humour and sitcoms, which let’s face it, who isn’t? Then The Office will be perfect for you.

Starring Steve Carell, The Office is an American television series that aired on NBC from 2005 until 2013, lasting nine series. It’s based on the UK version starring Ricky Gervais.

Following the everyday lives of office employees in Pennsylvania, it highlights some of the drama and hilarities that go on inside an office. Let’s face it, the office is where some of the best tea is spilt!

Steve Carell is a great lead actor and the show is fantastic. It would definitely bring a smile and some laughter this Christmas. We’re halfway through Season One and I can’t wait for cosy weekends binge-watching the show!

Amazon Echo Dot

Buy HERE!

I never knew how much I needed an Amazon Echo Dot until I started writing the Gift Guide to include the Amazon Echo Dot. I’d seen it on the Great British Bake Off ad, but wow, I’ve sold it to myself.

Alexa play “Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that remains a solid favourite amongst many in the sea of smart speakers. The Amazon Echo really brought the craze for voice-controlled speakers to life. Original is always best.

The Amazon Echo is a solid speaker with an AI Smart helper. Alexa really is the addition we all need to our home. It is a low-priced techno-piece that I’m sure the men in your life would love.

What’s best? This is an amazing gift for less than £50.

Get the Amazon Echo Dot here: Amazon Echo Dot

Levi Jeans

Buy HERE!

You can’t go wrong with a pair of Levi jeans. They’re long-lasting, good quality and worth every penny. If you’re wondering what to get men in terms of jeans, then Levi’s are definitely the way forward.

30 & Under Book

Buy HERE!

PLEASE NOTE: This book is only available on Amazon.com so it is in dollars and would need delivering from the US! I would suggest getting the Kindle version if you are in Europe.

We recently got the 30 & under book, which is a selection of short life advice from outliers under 30 and it is fantastic.

It’s packed with life hacks to succeed in your career and well-being, daily habits to adapt and the routines of the most successful people under 30 years of age. There are short interview entries from Forbes List under 30’s, top athletes, entrepreneurs, influencers and contestants from shows such as Shark Tank and Top Chef.

The book is incredible for giving that boost of motivation. It really makes you want to get up and get stuff done. They’re short yet powerful which makes picking it up and reading it so easy. You can have a read of an interview in the morning before getting up or on the commute to work. It’s a great book for picking up and saving another for another day.

“Explore the world around you. The people around you. The cultures around you…”

I also really rate the quote that is added for each person inside. There is a large font quote with a cool background which grabs your attention whilst skimming through.

There is also a section that asks them what advice they would give to their 17-year-old self. There is some really interesting and inspiring advice that is given which would be great for somebody just finishing their A-Levels, or a little off their chosen path, who are seeking a little direction.

Truprint

Buy HERE!

It’s the moments in life that matter and Truprint know that. Men love sentimental gifts too and just imagine their face when they see a beautifully curated high-quality photo book filled with all of your favourite memories.

You can also add little embellishments and text to really bring your creation to life. If you hurry, you can also get 40% off by adding MOMENTS40 at the checkout!

Find Me a Gift

Click HERE to buy!

The Scratch Map is perfect for the man in your life who loves to document his travels. Or, that little gift for your living room, we won’t tell if you don’t!

Keeping track of travel has never been easier, looking gorgeous on a wall in the living room or bedroom, it is a great conversation starter, whilst looking beautiful and rustic. Changing colour when scratched off with a coin, it’s a fun activity to do to share your travels and add a touch of travel to your home decor.

It also features lots of cool travel facts that you can reveal when you’ve visited them!

scratch map find me a gift

The Travel Trivia Game is a great Christmas Day activity and fun for all year around. Bored on the plane? This small trivia game tests your knowledge of travel trivia from around the world. The travel lover and trivia lovers in the family will love this game!

We played this game recently and absolutely loved it. There are some super difficult questions so it will really test their knowledge of the world! With questions ranging from medium to very difficult, it’s sure to test their travel trivia this Christmas! It’s one you’ll definitely pull out when the friends come over to impress them with your travel knowledge! After you’ve revised, of course!

travel trivia game find me a gift

El Camino Bracelets

Buy HERE!

el camino bracelet

The travel lover will love an accessory where they can wear their travels on their wrist. Help them to retrace their steps this Christmas and bring their love of travel to life with El Camino Bracelets.

You can pick out their travels, whether that’s oceans, cities or countries, you can build the mark they have made on the world and share that with them. You can also get a Merry Christmas step as Christmas novelty.

If you’d rather they picked their own steps, you can purchase a voucher from El Camino which allows them to shop freely online.

The El Camino is a beautiful bracelet that they’re sure to love.

Merry Christmas,

Jo Totes Camera Bag Review: Allison Butterscotch*

Stylish and comfortable bags that keep you organised and professional.

jototes

I recently shared a photo on my Instagram of my JoTotes Camera Bag and after the positive response from Instagram and the streams of questions, I thought it was only right to do a full-length review of the camera bag. This should help you make your decision on whether to invest. Which you totally should. 

I had been looking around for a feminine camera bag – one that was super cute, super stylish that looks like a high-end bag but would also keep camera equipment safe with all the padding and dividers to haul photography bits and bobs.

The Jo Totes brand is a fantastic brand that creates just that. Stylish and comfortable bags that keep you organised and professional. They’re perfect for wandering around new cities with your camera in tow, without looking like it! I hate the thought of wandering around a new city getting my bearings and sticking out. I much prefer blending in.

The brand launched in 2009, releasing high-quality bags that are handcrafted using high-quality materials and leather. You can really smell the leather on the bag and the zip is perfect. It’s a YKK zipper and you can truly hear and feel the quality of it. It has that satisfying “zip” sound, do you know which one I mean? It’s a true ZIP.

Each bag comes with extra padding at the sides and the bottom to protect photography equipment. I love that they’re removable and I’m able to use the bag daily. It’s become my day-time bag! It’s perfect for heading to work. There are so many compartments so I can keep everything separate and organised. It’s really light-weight as well and sits comfortably so when I’m walking I’m stocked up with my journal, a jacket, keys, phone charger and all of the other bits and bobs – yet it still feels really light and comfortable to carry.

DELIVERY DELIVERY DELIVERY

Jo Totes also have distribution centres across a variety of bases, they have centres in the USA, United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong. I ordered from the United Kingdom base to Spain and it arrived so quickly.

It was really fast shipping, boxed well, so I was really impressed with it. The bag also comes equipped with a handy cotton JoTotes bag which keeps your bag clean and safe when you’re storing it.

FUNCTIONALITY IS KEY

IMG_5827.jpg

The functionality of the bag is perfect. For me, a bag has to be functional. It has to work. I’m not a “bag person”. I don’t have a huge stock of bags that match different outfits. Bags do a job with me. They’re there for a reason. Not for a fashion statement. But, saying that, Jo Totes are functional and make a fashion statement. 

I love how functional they are. Without functionality, it’s just a pretty accessory. But, The Gracie Butterscotch has rolled it out in one. The shoulder strap is really comfortable and perches nicely on the shoulder without dropping. There is also a removable shoulder pad which helps distribute the weight when it gets heavier. The straps have perfect swivels that don’t get stuck or jammed.

It’s stable and secure which I appreciate. I don’t ever feel like it’s slipping off of my shoulders which I really value.

PERFECT SIZE AND POCKETS APLENTY

IMG_9884

The dimensions are 13″ x 13.25″ x 4.75″. It has plenty of space to fit an iPad, a camera and multiple lenses.

It’s a sophisticated bag with realms of pockets that serve a purpose. There are seven large, spacious pockets. Not silly pockets that you can’t fit anything in.

It’s a great bag for the ability to stuff in all of the camera equipment plus extras. I hate the thought of lumping around two bags and I feel sorry for Alex always carrying around the backpack full of stuff whilst travelling, so it’s great that I can have a bag that keeps camera equipment safe whilst being comfortable to carry.

You can fit so much stuff in, I feel like Mary Poppins constantly whipping out extra bits! The other day, I actually pulled out plasters and a first aid kit?! Me – prepared!? This has never happened before!

It’s a medium sized bag and would come in great for travelling. It will definitely become my hand-luggage bag for flying.

COLOUR

IMG_9902 2.JPG

You can get so many different colour options from Jo Totes, and I am a huge fan of the pastels and mustards that some of the bags offer, I adore the Warm Butterscotch Brown of my bag. It’s great for Autumn/Winter and goes with pretty much anything!

AFFORDABILITY

The Jo Totes bags are super affordable. For the quality of the bag you are getting, I really do think it’s reasonable. If you have camera equipment, you’ll have paid a lot of money for the body and the lenses and the equipment, you want it safe and protected.

They are high-quality bags for keeping equipment safe.

The bags are all priced in dollars, however, they are distributed from the UK, so there isn’t any customs charges or anything like that! They range from $89.00-$199.00.

ANY DRAWBACKS?

I can honestly say I haven’t had any drawbacks to the bag. It stays in place. It fits my iPad and all my extras. It doesn’t become too heavy to hold. It’s stylish and feminine. The only drawback is I don’t have all of the different styles to change it up every day!

IMG_4584.JPG

It goes beautifully with the autumn colours and really finishes off an Autumn/Winter outfit, which means you can go out looking autumnal and fashionable and be able to carry your camera comfortably and capture those gorgeous colours and landscapes that autumn brings.

If you want to get your own Jo Totes bag you can head over to their website here: https://www.jototes.com

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

 

I was gifted the bag from Jo Totes.

A Day in the Life… Episode #6

This week, we’re in Cape Town, South Africa!

image

This week, we’re in Cape Town! I’ve teamed up with Fadwa from helloworldbreakoutgirl.com to bring you the similarities and the differences between living in Alicante, Spain and South Africa.

Don’t forget to read Fadwa’s to read how Fadwa’s day went!

Sunday 11th November 2018:

We woke up late. It’s becoming common to sleep in now the sun isn’t fighting its way through the window forcing us to awake. It’s a lot quieter and darker these days.

We’re in no rush to move today. We have plans for later on, but nothing as of the moment.

Alex takes the dog for his morning walk and he comes bounding back in, excited as ever. There’s not a lot of movement in our house, not before 2pm anyway. We have hot chocolate and play Clash Royale. It’s becoming a Sunday tradition.

We get ready and head out into Benidorm to meet up with a member of the community. Jane is staying in Benidorm and always supports my blog, so whilst she’s over we arranged to meet up. It’s nice to see who the person you know so much about.

We arrive at the bus just as it arrives. You know it’s going to be a good day when that happens. The bus costs just 1,50€ no matter how far along the line you go.

We pass by the town hall and see the fair for the Benidorm November Fiestas 2018. It’s at Plaza de Los Toros, which is the same place the fair will be for Benidorm November Fiestas 2019. Plaza de Los Toros is the bullring located at the back of Julio Iglesias Park. We catch sight of the Ferris Wheel and decide that we definitely need to head there later on!

IMG_6472

We head to Hotel Ambassador Playa and are greeted by their staff members. The reception is simple but bright and clean. We head out into the pool area, where there is an indoor and an outdoor pool. The TV’s are showing the football and it’s like summer is in full swing.

IMG_6475

Do you think we stood out a little bit wearing jumpers and coats whilst everybody else was wearing bikinis? Probably a little.

It had been so cold yet at the pool, it was such a suntrap. Would you believe I got a tan line?! In November!?

Jane brought me over some Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, which we all know I love! *Do you think I should share this to Cadbury’s like a hint?* So many people bring me over bits of Cadbury’s now, it’s really sweet! I enjoy every square of every bar!

IMG_6479

After a while, we head out of the Ambassador and make our way to Nag’s Head, Benidorm. It wasn’t the easiest place to find, we ended up walking around the block along Avenida Europa, which wasn’t the easiest in high-heeled boots! Eventually, we found it tucked away on the main Avenida Europa.

The Nags Head has an archway that leads to their pub garden. It has a very British feel about it. We gave their carvery a whirl. We’re enjoying our Sundays trying different Sundays Roasts preparing for creating “the best places to go for a roast in Benidorm” post.  Research is going well.

IMG_6489

The carvery was good, the starters and puddings weren’t as good as the main attraction, but there was a wide selection. I had a little piece of each meat and they were all good, the gravy was thin, which is how I like mine. They also had lovely roast and mash potatoes and a good range of vegetables, I only had cabbage though!

IMG_6520

The carvery is 9,99€ each, which is all you can eat. I think it’s good value for what you get. You do pay for the drinks separate, which are really reasonably priced.

Feeling a little stuffed, we walked to Plaza de Los Toros, walking off our Sunday lunch. It’s a fairly steep walk up to the fair, which wasn’t the easiest in my boots!

IMG_6592

The fair was great fun! Filled with plenty of rides, stalls and food spots, it was a great place to spend a couple of hours. It’s our first time visiting as part of the Benidorm Fiestas and we definitely enjoyed it.

Alex is the lucky one, he doesn’t have work this week due to the fiestas, though we don’t have any plans to head into the parties.

Roasted chestnuts and swirling candy floss filled the air crashing with the sounds of pop music blaring out of the speakers. The whirls of the rides swish past us as we walk around, getting a feel for the place.

IMG_6614

We mediate towards the Ferris Wheel. Tickets for the rides were between 2€-3€ each. I was surprised at the low-costs. The Ferris Wheel spins round at what feels like 80mph. It wooshes round and round, much quicker than the ones in England. The views outside are just a blur. Once we adjust to the spinning after a few rotations, we manage to focus and see the views below us. It’s a good viewpoint for the bullring.

5738794a-e920-411a-8496-6b49cf4869e8

I spot the dodgems below and rush towards them. There isn’t any “one direction” or “no bumping” here. This is bumper cars and this is savage. There are at least 30 bumper cars going around, bashing from all directions. The screams of laughter are nice to hear.

IMG_6759

I’m cruising along, filling each space dodging those around me, trying to get speed up. I manage it for a little while. Until I’m bumped. Then, my bumper car switches to reverse. I turn the wheel too far and that’s it, I’m stuck in reverse. Imagine me, a target for all to bump into, then becomes a sitting duck. Somebody going backwards. Yes, I looked stupid. But, it was great fun. Finally, I work out how to go forward again and it’s game on. I’m bashing into everyone. My time came.

We finished off going on the ghost train which was hilarious. I screamed majority of the way around. They had 4D effects, things jumping out, things touching your feet plus it was pitch black.

IMG_6711

We finished off grabbing some candy floss on a stick. After all, what is a fair without candy floss? I was holding it for so long for photos that it did start to run down my hands, arms and jacket. The candy floss was 2€ and had every flavour you could possibly think of, I didn’t know so many flavours of candy floss existed!

0a1d593d-c720-4b50-b4f4-007d0129f77d

There were so many other rides around, like the pirate ship and a spinny ride that has you going upside down – not for me! There was also bingo, bouncy castles, stalls and a funhouse amongst other bits and pieces.

We really enjoyed the fair and it was something different to what we’ve done in Benidorm before.

IMG_6556

We headed back home around 20:00. It got dark a few hours ago but there are so many people about. The lights of the fair are so bright that you don’t even notice that nightfall set in long ago.

We arrive back home and binge-watch Celebrity Hunted. It’s an interesting show that has got us hooked. We also finish Celebrity Bake Off before heading off to bed.

Alex takes the dog for his last walk of the day. It’s time to call it a day in Benidorm. It’s time for bed. Felices Fiestas.


Differences and Similarities Between Cape Town and Alicante

bay-boats-cape-town-259447.jpg

The most striking difference for me is the change in the seasons. Summer in South Africa begins in November and lasts until February, like the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. So, whilst we’re starting to reach our cold fronts, South Africa is starting to heat up. Though, saying that, this week we have had temperatures of 20-22 degrees. But, that doesn’t come close to Cape Town’s 27 degrees. It’s similar to summer here.

South Africa is one hour ahead of Spain, two hours ahead of the UK. However, the flight is lengthy and strenuous. There are no direct flights from Spain to Cape Town, so it’s a case of stopping in Johannesburg or Doha. The shortest journey is 16 hours!

Although Fadwa and I both had what we would call a Sunday lunch, both were very different. I can’t imagine having yellow rice with my roast like I’m sure Fadwa can’t imagine a roast with Yorkshire puddings and gravy! Food is one of the most interesting differentials in life, we all have what we like and what we’re accustomed to. I find it so difficult to try different foods whilst travelling, though admittedly less so in recent years. In Amsterdam, I couldn’t even bring myself to try a stroopwafel and there was absolutely no chance I was trying Gulyás in Budapest!

Interestingly, Cape Town has had a major boom, similar to Benidorm back in the early 70’s. According to News24Wire, the population of central Cape Town has boomed from 750 to almost 7,500 in just over 10 years and the demand for people is continuing to outstrip the supplies available. [business tech]

Is South Africa on your list of places to visit?


Next time, we’ll be comparing the similarities and differences between living in Alicante, Spain and The New Forest, England.

 

Want to know all about living in The New Forest? Well, stay tuned because next time, I’ll be teaming up with Emma from lifeofemmax.co.uk to bring you A Day in the Life in The New Forest compared to Alicante, Spain.

 

Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog so you don’t miss an episode!

Hasta luego,

Lauren signature

If you want to be a part of this exciting series then please feel free to fill in the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

*Please note, next available date is currently July 2019.
If you want to sponsor this blog series or any of the blog posts, please contact me via my Contact page.

 

How to Celebrate Halloween in Benidorm

Instead of Halloween, All Saints’ Day is more the day to be celebrated which includes all ages. Contrasting to Halloween…

Happy Halloween.png

Wednesday 31st October 2018 – Day 31 of Blogtober

Happy Halloween!

This one has gone up slightly later – purely because I can’t talk about what we did until it happened!

It’s the last day of Blogtober – which means, we made it! I managed to power through and post 31 posts, one for every day of October. Strangely, I’m a little proud of myself. I made it!

If you haven’t seen them all yet, then you’ve got a little bit of catching up to do! Or, if you’ve only clicked to the ones that are interest or relevant to you – then I hope they helped!

I’ve worked out that I’ve spent over 60 hours creating posts for blogtober. Sixty. That doesn’t include photos, editing and actually doing some activities. It’s why I accept the odd sponsored post and have some small ads to the right of the page – it keeps the site running. The rest, I do all voluntarily. We spend lots of time (and money!) trying out different restaurants and activities – the ones we don’t think are worth it never even make it to the page. Then there’s the collating information.

Sometimes, it takes hours translating government information or advertising information. It’s all because I enjoy it and hope it gives you a better idea of spending your time in Spain. I hope that if you do like them, you’ll share the posts when you see them. The more the merrier. 

I have been asked a lot this month about why I blog. Is it my job? Is it my hobby? Why did it begin?

It’s a hobby. I like doing it. I don’t think it will ever be my job and I certainly don’t make money. I turn down money for sponsored posts. Instead, I accept gifts for product reviews or advertisement. But, I don’t send rates. My job is teaching and I love that I love my job and my hobby. I love that they’re separate.


 

Anyway, Halloween this year falls on a Wednesday, which means All Saint’s Day, the National Holiday, falls on a Thursday. Instead of going in to work on Friday, I have that off too! Yay for long weekends. 

We’re welcomed by another pink sky to start the morning. The sunrise never fails to amaze me

Today, I have a few younger children to teach, so we’ve got up to a few Halloween Crafts. The kids absolutely love Halloween, they get so excited. As part of the tradition, we all dress up. I have dressed up as a Witch with a Pumpkin on my dress. It’s one I bought a few years ago for a dress up day at Tesco.

3 bats made with plastic, google eyes and paper

I really wanted to spend Halloween at Mundomar at their exclusive Halloween Show and Dinner, but I finished work long after it started which was a shame. I imagine the show was great, plus the Halloween themed food sounded lovely, especially the pumpkin soup.

Kids were out very late, especially around Villajoyosa, they were celebrating and playing together on the local park and sharing out their sweets from truco o trato – which was very, well… sweet!

It’s amazing how you’re able to wear your Halloween costume and for it to be seen. Normally, you have an amazing costume but it’s hidden by gloves, scarves, coats and hats. But here, the costume is stand alone – it’s so much more effective.

We took Rio for a walk along the beach in the evening. It’s so calming to be able to walk along the promenade and hear the bustle from the restaurants, bars and nightclubs travelling through the sound waves. Mixing with the crashing of the waves, it’s a strange but complimenting contrast.

Rio dressed up as a little devil this year, purely because there weren’t any costumes left in Pets at Home when I went back. Instead, he’s wearing an ‘it’s definitely too small for him’ devil cape. He looks cute either way. Plus, it was only 1,50€ from Dealz!

cavalier king charles dog spaniel in devil costume

It’s a lot cooler now at night, which means the jumpers and the boots are well and truly out. It’s a welcomed change being able to cuddle up with a blanket on the sofa at night instead of sitting in a puddle of sweat. Autumn is officially well underway.

Our carved pumpkins are lit and the smell of pumpkin fills the air. The sweet but spicy aroma pairs perfectly with our pumpkin loaf bread. It’s Halloween movie night complete with popcorn. Tonight, it’s Coco.

It’s nice to know that now is the start of a long weekend. Relaxation mode is truly on. Or not, because I’ll spend my time creating blog posts. Either way, it’s a nice change.

How to Celebrate Halloween in Spain

Halloween is a festival reserved for the children. Usually, when the 31st October arrives, it’s a day to continue your daily life and focus on putting the children in the spotlight – even more so than usual.

If you’re here for Halloween, activities will be with young children in mind. Theme parks will focus their activities on the smaller children, with a few bits and pieces aimed at the older ones. Children are to be seen and heard in Spain. They really are welcomed. Halloween is no different.

I like that here trick or treat is reserved for people the children know. Young children go out to their relatives and friends’ houses to trick or treat. There aren’t children knocking the doors of strangers or disturbing those that don’t wish to be a part of it.

activity-adventure-afro-1451356.jpg

Whatever you do this Halloween, please be mindful of others. Please only knock the doors of those who are participating. For some people, this can be an incredibly uncomfortable night, filled with fear and dread. There is no need to knock on the doors of people you don’t know, or interrupt those who have their lights switched off.

What I like about this area at Halloween is the elder children don’t get involved with trick or treat. They dress up and go to parties at their own houses, spending time with kids their own age, usually having sleepovers watching Halloween movies in their ‘casitas‘. They aren’t adding fear to people who aren’t participating.

In England, I was never surprised to wander the streets on November 1st and find broken egg shells, whereas here, it just doesn’t happen. In fact, it’s so rare, that in 2011 it made the news that a group of teenagers had thrown eggs. It wasn’t long before the Civil Guards arrived and sanctioned the teens. There isn’t any messing. Egg throwing isn’t tolerated.

I’m not sure if this extends to the rest of Spain, or just in this area. The sad thing about social media and the global spread is that it’s not just the good that goes global and manipulates the worldwide behaviours, but it’s the bad too.

Instead of Halloween, All Saints’ Day is more the day to be celebrated which includes all ages. Contrasting to Halloween, it is far more traditional and celebrated across the entire country. It is a time to honour the deceased, similar to Dia de Muertos.

bloom-blossom-cemetery-161280.jpg

People will go to the local cemeteries with magnificent bundles of flowers and dress up the tombs. They will celebrate life and just simply enjoy being. After, most will head out to a restaurant for dinner with the entire family then head to somebody’s house for the after gatherings. It includes plenty of food, wine and the emphasis of spending time with family. It’s beautiful, but a quiet day.

I hope you have a great Halloween!

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: