Our Spanish adventure
The first time I flew alone I was 8 years old (in the days where British Airways staff were allowed to accompany solo minors from departures to arrivals). My destination was Spain. It’s a country I’ve been visiting my whole life, a language I speak and somewhere I’ve lived – it will always be a second home to me. So, after our Greek adventure, I decided to book yet another holiday to Spain.
Do you remember when people used to have two week holidays? Now it seems like we are all about the ‘short and sweet’ instead of giving ourselves the time we fully need to recharge. Everything seems to be judged in terms of time; how little, or much, time something will take. We think less about the experience and more about time it will take. We want the insta perfect pic, we want wifi and we want a short, sharp fix to refresh us and then wonder why it doesn’t always work.
There are places in this world that are calm and quiet where the wifi isn’t always perfect but where you can actually switch off and feel completely present. Caserio Del Mirador is just under an hours drive from Alicante and whilst I couldn’t master the wiggly backroads of Wales, the smooth, straight mountain roads of Spain are a doddle – for starters there is hardly any traffic. After the easiest of flights from Bristol to Alicante no sooner had we picked up our hire car than we approached Caserio Del Mirador; a boutique hotel made up of private apartments but this is no ordinary boutique hotel because it specifically caters to families with under 5s. Having travelled a lot with Eddie I wasn’t quite sure how, or why, this could be such a big deal (we always managed) that is, until I arrived.
For starters everyone is a family with an under 5 so your child has instant play dates (Eddie and Barney became inseparable for the week). Then there are the toys; from sit on tractors to wooden train tracks to the most incredible Cowboy and Indian figures (I wish I had taken a photo). We aren’t talking your standard ‘nursery’ bric-a-brac, these were incredibly beautiful toys and they were discreetly placed everywhere – by the pool, next to the dining table, in our room. There was also the most beautiful sandpit overlooking the valley where Eddie would play and I would sit, contemplate and feel incredibly calm. There were two play grounds, a swimming pool and every childhood ‘fantasy’ animal from fluffy bunnies to Ruby the pony.
Although it sounds like these things are entirely for the children, I can not begin to stress how much more relaxed your holiday is when someone else has already catered to your child’s every need. It takes all the worry out of it for you! So Eddie had friends, toys, animals, play parks, a swimming pool and a sandpit. I had; sunshine, mountain air, adult conversation and a beautiful sun lounger. It was the perfect balance. At the heart of Caserio Del Mirador are meal times; specifically the children’s meal time where they all sit around the table at 5 o clock and have dinner together. Which in turn means the parents sit and have a catch up and a chat about the day. Some people went off exploring near by towns and beaches and others would stay put. All the apartments have kitchens so if you felt like cooking for yourself you could.
Sarah and Johnny who own Caserio Del Mirador are incredibly relaxed; as long as you’re happy, they’re happy. You write on the chalk board in the kitchen each day if you’re joining for dinner or doing your own thing. The food was out of this world – for the children (and the adults) – Eddie ate paella, watermelon sticks, home made meat balls, fresh fish and a variety of vegetables. If it was there – he tried it. There were a variety of options each evening for him to choose from. Although I wasn’t drinking there was always a glass of wine on offer for the parents and our evening meal was to die for! Always three courses and always a complete explosion of flavours. Sarah will cater to any dietary requirements and didn’t disappoint with fantastic fish and vegetarian options for me.
After our epic Greek adventure, Eddie and I were happy to stay put and take in the beautiful surroundings and play in the pool. We would occasionally take the 5 minute drive into the nearest town Jalon, which was especially vibrant on market day. I love nothing better than a fresh orange juice in a Spanish plaza and to watch the world go by. Eddie is a great ice breaker as he’ll talk to anyone and people always have fascinating stories to tell. One day Sarah suggested I get a massage and her babysitter could watch Eddie for a couple of hours (which would be the longest we had been apart in a few weeks) and I jumped at the chance. The therapist can be booked with a little notice and offers a range of treatments on site which pretty much everyone took advantage of. Eddie fell in love with Alicia his babysitter and if it was possible, I returned from my massage feeling even more relaxed.
Our days took a very slow and lazy routine; breakfast was delivered to our terrace each morning. We would watch the sun rise over the mountains whilst eating freshly baked croissants and occasionally eggs taken from the chickens. We would head to the sandpit and then into town for a potter. The afternoon was spent playing around the pool and then when the temperature began to cool we’d head for the sandpit and then take the meandering walk to the playpark saying hello to all the animals en route. After that Eddie was definitely ready for his ‘kids dinner’. More than anything it’s the people who make the place – the other families you become close to and for me, in particular, Sarah who was always around for a chat and who gave Eddie his first mini horse riding lesson.
Caserio Del Mirador is not like other hotels where you are a guest who has simply come to share in the wonderful experience the hotel can provide you with, it’s somewhere you make your own experience and truly come away feeling like you’ve left a bit of your heart there. It’s difficult to put into words but I think it’s that, even if, only for a very short time, it actually feels like home.
Clothes from MandM Direct (brand names at discounted prices) www.mandmdirect.com