What were once the adventures of Samantha and Paul are now those of Samantha, Paul and Conway. Conway is our first child and at 3 months old this would be his first trip away, and our first with a baby. Being cautious we opted for something a bit more timid than our earlier adventures; a trip to southern Spain to see where Auntie Amanda lives.
We’d be gone for 10 days, a suitcase for the adults, and one for Conway – a baby must come with all his paraphernalia it seems. Clothes, nappies – reusable and disposable, toys, play mat, wipes, cotton wool, bottles and emergency formula, non-bio detergent tablets (apparently that’s not a thing in Spain), changing mat, bath towel, swimwear, travel cot, cot sheets, muslins big and small, baby and room thermometer. A car seat forms part of the buggy and those two items were free to check-in with EasyJet.
We booked an Airbnb (use our invite link for a discount – but also consider the downside to Airbnb) so we’d have the freedom of a flat with all the amenities we’d need: a kitchen to stay in and cook when we’re too tired to go out, a washing machine for emergency laundry and reusable nappies and a sofa bed for Amanda to use when she stays over. It was a one bedroom in Pedregalejo, close to the beach and with a pool (albeit one too cold to use) and next to a bus stop for the 1, 3, 33 and 34 buses into Centro. It was also near to a large SuperSol supermarket.
We left Brighton in the midst of the “Beast from the East”, a cold snap that saw widespread snow and temperatures well below zero. We were nervous, flights and trains had been cancelled, people were stuck in cars overnight, and for the first time in 8 years we’d had proper snow in Brighton.
At 7am we departed, wrapped up in winter layers, outside it was -5C, but with a wind chill that felt like -10C. Samantha pushed Conway while I lugged the laden suitcases along the snowy paths down to the station. The trains were running, and ours left and arrived on time. The flight was scheduled too, with no delays; at departures a queue of angry travellers waited by the EasyJet customer service desk, we were the lucky ones. As a family with a baby we went through our own security aisle at the airport and were allowed to skip the passenger queues for boarding. After the plane was de-iced, a process that saw someone spray the wings with a high pressure fluid, we were up and on our way. Conway slept for most of the flight, and wasn’t bothered by takeoff or landing.
Amanda met us in Malaga, we boarded the train to the town centre, and then bus number 3 to Pedregalejo, less than an hour from landing and we were at our Airbnb. The sun was shining and the temperature pushed on 20C.
From out flat we were soon up and out again to find food. Along the Pedregalejo beach we found Kelucos, or “orange chairs” as Samantha calls it. Inside Amanda found a friend, and we soon ordered all the things, beer, nachos and guac, various ham and cheese “pitufo” (a small crusty bread roll – not a Smurf), and tomato bread (even though it wasn’t breakfast).
We bought some groceries, ate pizza and called it a night.
When we left for Malaga the forecast said rain all day all week. And while our arrival was greeted with sunshine, the blustery winds soon brought in the alluded to downpours. It rained and rained all day. Sister Amanda visited, so too did another of Sam’s friends and their family, who happened to also be in Malaga, and also happened to be called Amanda. While the rain poured outside we chilled with coffee and snacks, as their toddler twins went to town with Conway’s toys.
When friend Amanda left we set out for lunch, into the wind and rain, our first purchase was a much necessary umbrella. We then rushed along the seafront looking for somewhere to eat. The rain so heavy that at one point the promenade was impassable, a river had formed and we needed to go back up to the road and round.
Behind the plastic windows of La Machina, where the wooden roof dripped and a small heater failed to stop the cold creeping in, we had lunch – burgers all round.
Going out on a day like this wasn’t worth it, we returned home, watched some Netflix (an Amazon firestick makes a good travel companion if you have TV and Wifi you can plug into) and had spaghetti bolognese for dinner.
Amanda and Samantha did make another excursion, to meet Amanda (the other one – confusing, isn’t it?), while I stayed at home. A good plan it seems, as with Sam navigating the sisters missed the house, then climbed all the way to the top of a steep hill, and got soaked through and through. Sam’s boots didn’t dry out for days and I found it all hilarious.
Still overcast, but with a break in the rain, me, Sam, Amanda and baby Conway took the bus into the centre. Of course Conway had decided that now would be a great time for him to poo all the time, and of course we didn’t bring enough nappies for this, nor enough changes of clothes. Following my emergency bus home and back again for supplies we made sure not to repeat that mistake. And while I did that, Sam bought new boots.
El Pimpi is a Malagan institution, a sprawling restaurant alongside the Roman theatre and Gibralfaro castle walls. We found four separate entrances, with passages of bars and seats, and plenty of outdoor seating. We sat outside, watching the sparrows and pigeons fight for scraps amongst the pitter-patter of returning rain.
For the remainder of the day we sheltered at Amanda’s flat, where we slept, watched Snatch, some episodes of Friends and cooked stir fried rice, before ambling home in the damp around midnight.