Monday 9 July 2012

Long haul to Mijas

After much excitement in the build-up to leaving, not helped by the atrocious weather which has kept the boys penned indoors for large parts of the week, we got up at 7am on Sunday and got the boys dressed, breakfasted and on the road south. With the Scottish school holidays in full swing, but the English ones yet to start, it made plenty sense to book flights from Manchester, as it was around £600-700 cheaper. The down side is a three and a half hour drive to England. Fortunately the torrential rains of the previous 24 hours had abated and driving conditions were much safer and easier than they might have been.

We stopped at Westmoreland services to appease Angus's cries and Finn's sore tummy. They had an excellent soft play area which afforded the boys a chance to let off steam along with their snack. Seventy five minutes later we were at Manchester Airport. We took advantage of the meet and greet Park and Go service and were soon through baggage check-in and security. At first there appeared to be just a bit of a delay to the flight departure and Rowan was becoming increasingly erratic in maintaining attention, running off, hiding under seats and generally not doing what he was told, which is always guaranteed to drive us daft.

Presently, however, it became apparent that there was more than a slight delay. The departure board changed to "More info at 1500" then 1600 then 1700. We should have been away at 1405. From looking out the gate window it appeared there was some sort of engine fault so I suppose we'd rather be on a late plane that flies that on a plane that doesn't get there at all. There was a soft play by the gate and the boys ran themselves ragged, especially Rowan and Angus, who was his usual sweaty self within minutes.

The delay afforded some viewing of the Wimbledon final elsewhere in the terminal. Andy Murray had become the first Briton in 74 years to make the final and was in with a chance of becoming the first Briton since the legendary Fred Perry in 1936 to win the title. He even took the first set off Roger Federer, perhaps the greatest player of the modern era. Alas, as soon as I started watching (not that I'm overly superstitious as a sports spectator, but my viewing of Murray inevitably seems to coincide with his downfall), Federer pinched the second set and a marathon game midway through the third on Murray's serve looked like it would be pivotal. By this time we were in a Frankie & Benny's restaurant, feeding the boys courtesy of meal vouchers from Monarch Airlines. Eventually we were told we would be leaving at 1745 and duly boarded a new plane that had flown in from Faro, only to then be told that fifty of the bags had been misplaced in the transfer and were now being located. It was around 1900 before we took off, some five hours late.

The boys were remarkably patient and relatively well behaved given the boredom of the delay. Finn did well on the flight, not getting too wound-up on take-off and Rowan and Angus were contained. But it was after 2300 local time as we approached southern Spain on a cloudless night. Angus looked out and said "Spain has sparkles on top" as he surveyed the night-lights from the air. Meantime, Andy Murray had lost to Federer, who had claimed his seventh Wimbledon title and his record 17th grand slam title in all.

Once the bags were collected we located our rep who directed us to a bus-stop from where we were transported to the car hire offices. I dealt with the paperwork while Sharon kept the boys amused with a snack out front. We picked up our two cars, a white Toyota Aris for Sharon and a smaller white Seat for me, and drove off into the night, heading west along the E-15 towards Fuengirola. I had Finn and Rowan with me and we managed the initial junctions well so that we made it along to the A-387 in good time before starting the low gear climb up to Mijas Pueblo. The road then took us above Mijas Pueblo, granting us a first glimpse of the spectacular view back down towards the coast as the Coin road wound around the spurs of the Sierra Mijas. From the west end of Mijas I was able to cut back to the edge of town then bear right down the hill and back up into the Urbanizacion Mijas La Nueva. A few bends later and we pulled into the dark, silent car park behind the Villa Cantarranas.

No sign of Sharon, who had left before me. Rowan and Finn were a bit spooked by the cicadas chirruping in the dark and I struggled to locate the key under various flowerpots around the outside of the house. I found it at last and was able to open the door and put on some much needed lights. Fortunately, Sharon arrived soon after, having missed a turn or two but, with Sean as navigator, she had managed to get back on track without too much trouble.

So, after midnight, we were able to get the luggage in, decide on who was sleeping where and have a brief look out from the balcony to the twinkling lights of the Costa del Sol laid out below us. Here's hoping for a peaceful and happy holiday.

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