I came across this old unpublished blog post while discovering long forgotten apps on my iPad (which OH has commandeered so I don’t get to use it that often anymore!). It made me chuckle so hopefully you’ll enjoy it too! I should point out that the new Gibraltar airport building is now functional and by all accounts a zillion times better than the old one… if you can get across the border to it, that is!

May be it’s just me that’s odd, but is there really any pleasure to be had from drinking vodka and coke at 10am?

I was flying out of Gibraltar airport for the first time in years. The border queue looked a bit frightening but luckily my chauffeur (Dad) was on the ball. He dropped off his precious cargo (me) right by passport control before doubling back to join the long line of cars snaking around the roundabout and into Gibraltar.

Anticipating the luxury of a shiny new airport building, I subsequently learned that this was a treat reserved exclusively for those arriving at Gibraltar rather than departing. So I followed the same old route as before, through pedestrian passport control, past a busier than usual customs area (they now have desks and everything), shimmied alongside the Rock Tour taxi drivers and crossed the road next to the traditional British style red phone box. I smiled at the British bobby complete with rounded helmet and headed into the main airport building.

Bless Gibraltar airport. You couldn’t get lost there. The five or six check in desks were right at the entrance. The line of sunburnt faces appeared to all be flying on Easyjet so I was able to walk straight up to the Monarch desk and relieve the very jolly clerk of her boredom. I was slightly disappointed that she didn’t weigh my hand luggage after I’d worked so hard to get it to under 10kg!

Then on through passport control and security, a whole ten paces away. I unloaded all my 9.9kg of gadgets from my bag for uninterested scrutiny by the X-ray machine operator and then coped very well with my pat down search. I was more concerned when the security lady ran off with my shoes but she came back after a minute or two. Phew. I thought she’d cottoned on that my £10 Primark boots were a crime against the Marbella lifestyle and was going to dob me in!

Great, time for a coffee and a wonder around the shops. I had forgotten completely how dismal the Gibraltar airport shops were unless you’re an alcoholic or ciggie addict. The Last time I had flown from this airport I was a foul smelling Marlboro Light aficionado and I remember sitting in the bar area wallowing in mine and others’ smoke. You didn’t really need to smoke back then. The passive smoke in that bar would have done for you just as quickly.

Thankfully the bar had become a more humane area in which to enjoy your coffee, just. But it was full of men and women, British of course, drinking pints of beer, glasses of wine and spirits! One girl sitting next to me exclaimed over and over that she couldn’t get over how strong her drink was. Of course it’s strong dear, it’s 10 o’clock in the bleeding morning!!!

May be it’s just me. I am the girl who can’t even do breakfast before 11am. And we’re not big drinkers. It reminded me of a flight we took about ten years ago from Gatwick. We were on a Virgin package tour flight to Tenerife and neither of us knew quite where to put ourselves when the stewardess on the plane greeted us with a fruit vodka cocktail at 6am. Never mind the vodka, it was a bright turquoise cocktail. Knocked us out for the entire flight despite the e-numbers, colouring and preservatives!

Back in Gib, I quietly drank my cafe con leche, happily people watching from the bar and was over the moon to see the vodka lasses board the Gatwick flight. It did make me laugh though that Easyjet managed to lose several of their passengers including one person who needed special assistance to board the plane. Come on, how far away could they have got in an airport departure lounge the size of a large living room? Just how strong were those drinks?

My airport experience was redeemed by an amazing take off with the pilot flying around the Rock and along the Costa del Sol. It was a beautifully clear day; the Mediterranean was glistening, the container ships and tankers looked like toys bobbing in the water (no warships that day!), Africa was rising out of the sea and the over built Costa looked quite magnificent. I was almost sad to be returning via Malaga and missing out on the shiny new arrivals building at Gib. But at least there’s Starbucks at Malaga airport!

We were super excited to pay a visit to the newly opened cafe bar in Benavista (Estepona) yesterday. It’s been much anticipated (mainly because we’ve tasted their chef’s cakes before!) and we’ve enjoyed watching the place take shape over the last few weeks.

NeliG’s Cafe Bar is a refreshingly chilled out haven for residents of El Paraiso / Benavista and, of course, visitors to the area. It serves a great selection of really delicious sandwiches, paninis, salads and lunch time meals / snacks / soups / quiches and, oh my word, a whopping great choice of cakes. Let’s gloss over the healthy stuff: yesterday among other sweet delights they were serving mouth watering millionaires shortbread, lemon drizzle cake, rocky road and beetroot cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting. I’ll let Seb tell you about the cupcakes…

Seb enjoying his Beetroot and Orange Frosting cupcake at Neli Gs

Seb enjoying his Beetroot and Orange Frosting cupcake at Neli Gs

I, on the other hand was having a holier than thou day yesterday and so resisted the cake temptation and scoffed instead a delicious prawn in pink sauce sandwich on granary.

Beautifully presented and scrummy sandwiches

Beautifully presented and scrummy sandwiches

I also resisted the milkshakes although I’m not sure I’ll make it throughout today without trying one. Well you can’t blame me for at least wanting to taste their Snickers milkshake, oh and the Crunchie one, and may be the Oreo one? So many to choose from! What if I limit myself to one a day, I wonder how long it will take me to sample the whole lot? And for those who like a tipple, you can add a splash of your favourite liqueur. Who needs a hip flask – you can now get away with pretending you’re enjoying an innocent milkshake!

Relaxing atmosphere at NeliGs

Relaxing atmosphere at NeliGs

Terrace at NeliGs

Terrace at NeliGs

Comfy sofas to relax on and a mini kitchen for the children to play with

Comfy sofas for chilling out

Cake!

Cake! (And a mini kitchen for the kids’ playtime)

I’m thinking of moving the office there. Anyone want to come to work with me? There’s free wifi so you can keep up with your emails while scoffing your cake and a mini kitchen for the children to play with. Owners Lisa and Neville are more than happy for you to bring your little ones into the cafe and they’ve even been thoughtful enough to provide a bowl of water outside for hungry hounds.

That settles it then. If you need us, Bailey and I will be on the terrace at NeliG’s Cafe Bar. See you there!

For more information about NeliGs, check them out on facebook and twitter or visit their website! You can also reach them by phone on +34 952 928 576 or email yummy@neligs.com.

It looks like every fashionista worth her salt is going to the forthcoming Costa Women Marbella: 50 Shades of PINK party, taking place at the celebrity hang out, SkyBar at Guey Restaurant in Nueva Andalucia on Tuesday, 5th of February.

Costa Women: 50 Shades of Pink

Costa Women: 50 Shades of Pink

The party is having unprecedented support from the sponsors, guests and media, all in the name of “girls just want to have fun” and cancer charity, Positively Pink. With over 100 RSVPs and still 9 days to go, it looks like it will be more than a full house, so make sure you get your sparkling slice of this delicious action!

Positively Pink

Positively Pink

VIP tickets are still available (just €30, all proceeds going to Positively Pink Charity, and include entry to the pre-party fun workshop “Love & Passion”, a glass of bubbly, canapés and cupcakes!).

For free entrance get there early!

The social crème de la crème of the coast will make it a resounding success. Laura Charles of Reviva Weddings will transform the Skybar into a pink wonderland, with floral creations supplied by Virginia Florista. Sweet Things By Fi will be spoiling the fun-loving ladies with their gorgeous desserts, Rob Rocks the House will be the DJ with the tunes to get the party started. There will be a fashion show with participation from A La Folie Boutique and a cocktail competition. The cherry on top will be guest appearance from MyCheekyButlerMarbella!

Rob Rocks The House

Rob Rocks The House

Other entertainment includes a performance from Tene Sommer, a Social Media flurry competition and a “pop-up boutique” which will incorporate some divine treats. The boutique will be open for one hour from  21.30 to 22.30, with 15% of all sales being donated to Positively Pink.

Official photographer for the night is Agata Jensen.

Behind the scenes gossip, photographs and fundraising results can be found on the dedicated 50 Shades of Pink website.

Costa Women is a social and business networking group for women living in Spain. Membership is free.

I’m not a Londoner, I’m not even a southerner. I’m a Salopian (that’s someone from Shropshire for those not in the know) and have been an expat for a pretty long time. So I can be forgiven for having got totally overexcited about a trip to London last summer!

We were back in the UK for a party to celebrate my southern OH’s parents Golden Wedding anniversary. Held in a great hotel in Swindon (can hugely recommend the De Vere if anyone is passing or looking for a venue in Swindon?), the party went brilliantly. We got there early to help decorate the room and drink scrummy coffee (yes, the De Vere in Swindon has its own heavenly branch of Starbucks inside!) and then I hovered downstairs to meet and greet guests and show them to the bar. Funny when you think that it wasn’t my family and I didn’t really know many of them then – I don’t think I inadvertently invited any uninvited strangers up the stairs but you never know!

Ready for the guests!

The staff in the hotel were amazingly helpful, the family super welcoming to me and the happy couple had a great day, as did we! The OH did a super speech and his Dad entertained us also with his words and a cine film taken on their wedding day.

We raced back to the OH’s family home in Surrey that night to make sure that our flag waving arms were in the right place for the Olympic Cycle Road Race (Women) heading through the village the next morning. After a quick trip to everyone’s favourite supermarket (every little helps) to stock up on flags and inflatable hands, we donned waterproofs and baggsied our places in the village. The atmosphere was tremendously jolly with neighbours all lining the streets to get the best view. There were no barriers where we were and so we stood right on the grass verge.

The first signs that the cyclists were on their way came from the helicopters hovering over head. And then came the police, security and Olympic support cars racing through the village. Never have I seen policemen having such a jolly time! On their motorcycles they sped through, high fiving my brother in law, hand slapping the crowds, waving and one even “borrowed” a lady’s umbrella and held it over his bike for a while!

Slap hands!

The cyclists sped through in a compact group, one managing to spray my mother in law with a nearly empty bottle as she threw it into the crowd (the cyclist, not the MIL!). And then they were gone! We watched the rest of the race from the safety of the sitting room which seemed like a plan considering the pouring rain outside, met up with some very good friends in the afternoon and whiled away a few hours watching their kids at a soft play centre and before we knew it another day was gone.

To celebrate the in laws Golden anniversary, we bought us and them tickets to Billy Elliott in London for the next night. As I mentioned, I’m not from the south and have not visited London much so I was up for the full pre-theatre sightseeing works! My unusually patient OH agreed to come with me (I think his Mother threatened him) and we spent a fantastic day walking along the South Bank, visiting the Tate Modern, riding a red tour bus and even managed to fit in a quick mini river cruise!

Tower Bridge decked up with Olympic rings

I’m not completely convinced by my ability to appreciate modern art (especially when you can’t tell whether the exhibit is under construction or if that’s the art) but I was in heaven on the tour bus and boat. We saw everything that I wanted to see. I could have easily spent another day there (and a lot more money going on the wheel, visiting the Tower and so many more places I would love to have gone) but time was precious and we had a date with the in laws at Rubens Restaurant for pre-theatre dinner.

Boris’ bikes!

Lovely London

The Tower

It goes without saying that Billy Elliott was out of this world. We all sat there fidget free while they entertained us with comedy, drama, song and incredible dance moves. I particularly liked the scene where Billy danced with his older shadow. Blew me away! I was so tired when we got home but had the best time. I’m so envious that the in laws have London on their doorstep (only half an hour by train) and vowed to visit the Capital again next time we go to stay.

The Diamond Jubilee and Olympic fever created such a buzz and, although the streets were surprisingly quiet, the spirit of London was overflowing. It was oozing with patriotism, goaded by vast numbers of displays selling London and GB paraphernalia (I did leave some for everyone else but not much). Everyone seemed proud to be a Londoner, even British – something we haven’t seen for such a long time.

Our fantastic summer day as tourists in London made the decision to visit again this New Year particularly easy. However, we were on a mission to shop on this occasion, rather than sightsee. Another quick train trip into Waterloo and an underground ride up to Charing Cross left us in the ideal location to start on operation “Fill the OH’s Wardrobe for 2013″. (I hadn’t been very well over Christmas so my shopping mojo had disappeared temporarily – I was quite good at carrying his bags though!) After a cup of my favourite coffee for sustenance, we headed up to Oxford Street and he was able to visit an enormous branch of his new favourite store, Primark! We explored a few other London favourites (including a fantastic Nespresso shop on Regents Street and The Apple Store) before meeting up with the in laws for a pre theatre feast at Little Sicily in Rupert Street.

The highlight of my day, and our festive period, was War Horse. Wow. If you can get to London to see it, please do. It was an incredible show. The New London Theatre on Drury Lane is small (and very warm!) and so whatever tickets you buy, you’re never too far from the circular stage. The horses are in fact puppets, controlled by three puppeteers. When they first appeared on the stage, I confess to a moment of disillusion when I thought I would never get into the play and believe that Joey was really a horse while I could see the puppeteers but within seconds I was memorised. The very talented singers on stage narrated the story brilliantly. There is hardly any scenery that is not created by the puppeteers themselves apart from a projected scene on the back wall and, as with all good plays, moments of comedy are provided by a puppet goose – yes, you read that correctly. Who’d have thought it.

So, despite a bit of illness, a lot of trailing after him through the shops and some mighty cold temperatures, my love affair with London (and particularly, let’s face it, the outstanding selection of theatre productions) continues.

Visit London? Yes please!

London Calling!

 

Review: Route 66 Marbella

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Charlotte enjoyed her visit to new restaurant Route 66 Marbella but recommends going hungry next time!

 

The Book Show on Talk Radio Europe

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Hannah Murray invited me to take part in The Book Show on Talk Radio Europe a few weeks ago, to talk about my Top Five Books of All Time. Now, when someone puts you on the spot like that, it …

 

Spanish Property Mag

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A brand new Spanish Property Mag created especially for iPad packed full with features and articles about property and living in Spain.

 

Mad About Sofas

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Mad About Furniture is one of the Costa del Sol’s leading furniture shops, furnishing homes in Spain and Portugal with furniture packs and individual items.

 

Fire Aid Concert – Simply Amazing

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The simply amazing Fire Aid Concert was put together by a team of volunteers led by Maurice Boland and Nick Lloyd Morgan in just seven days!

 

A Little Help From My Friends – Wildfire on the Costa del Sol

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A small idea to collect some money from friends to buy pet food for rescue shelters damaged by the wildfire on the Costa del Sol turned out to be much more that Charlotte bargained for!