NeliG’s Cafe Bar

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.

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Visit London!

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!

 

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Review: Route 66 Marbella

When my friend and I decided to buy Cooldeals vouchers for a new restaurant in Puerto Banus called Route 66, we didn’t know much about it. But there was a great picture of a humungous juicy steak on the website, and we thought our other halves would enjoy that!

A couple of weeks later, Route 66 was all over Facebook after Peter Crouch his girlfriend Abbey Clancy ate there with Stoke teammate Matthew Etherington and his partner Stephanie. Slightly daunted by the Puerto Banús elite who were now frequenting this new hot spot, we booked our table…

… then completely forgot about it until the day before! Having remembered that it was in the diary, I had a quick look at the Route 66 website and Facebook page. Having reassured myself that it wasn’t going to be too much of a typical Banús designer hang out where people are too thin to eat anyway, nor a place with super ironed tablecloths (which my other half would hate), I started to look forward to the evening.

We found it easily on the west side of Antonio Banderas Square in Puerto Banús. It’s right above the carpark so couldn’t be simpler to locate. The atmosphere was much more friendly than Banús with a sporting focus. The waiting staff were all super nice, very welcoming and explained anything that wasn’t clear on the menu. Our friends who used to live in Lanzarote were hugely impressed that Canarian beer was on offer – well, he was anyway!

Courtesy of www.route66marbella.com

The food was very tasty. We each ordered a starter which we shared between us, plus a main course. The portions are quite large so go hungry. Not normally a steak eater, I decided to be a carnivore for one night only and was amazed at how melt in the mouth tender the ribeye steak was (I know it sounds clichéd but it really was). We ate far too much but the tex-mex menu was so tempting that I could easily go back and eat far too much again!

Clientele wise, Route 66 seemed to appeal to a real mixed bag. There were some groups of guys and girls (probably hen and stag dos), several families, couples and smaller mixed groups. We obviously weren’t beautiful enough though as the staff keenly took photos of their customers, but we didn’t make it on to the facebook page. Perhaps my other half was pulling that face again!

I’m just glad I didn’t embarrass myself by telling the manager he sounded just like Dom Aldworth from Talk Radio Europe

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Spanish Property Mag

Valencian real estate agent, Graham Hunt, has recently introduced a brand new concept in property publications with the fantastic Spanish Property Mag – Valprop Ltd.

Spain Mag

This completely new style of publication successfully combines the latest technology with all of the benefits of traditional publishing. The Spanish Property Mag – Valprop Ltd is available only on the iPad and you can download your copy from the Newsstand App Store here:
Spanish Property Mag - Valprop Ltd

Its creator, Graham Hunt, describes it as using “cutting edge technology to bring you a new way to view Spanish Property without a viewing trip”. The magazine is packed full with sections on lifestyle, tips on living in Spain, editorials written by English language writers and bloggers in Spain and, obviously, featured properties.

We looked at the first edition and were amazed to find so much great information that applied to the viewer, wherever in Spain he was located. There are special features on Valencia and Mijas as well as informative articles on attic living, mid range properties and bank repossessions. Get advice from the professionals on how to buy property safely in Spain, read Paddy’s Artichoke Adventures in Inland Valencia plus The Seven Steps to Spain and Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Moving To Spain. It’s a “must see” whether you’re thinking about moving to Spain, or are already here!

But you don’t just read Spanish Property Mag – Valprop Ltd. The magazine includes property descriptions plus full length videos embedded within the issue so that you can see the properties for yourself.

Subscriptions to the magazine are available with up to 40% discount on the individual price of future editions from the home screen on the app.
Spanish Property Mag - Valprop Ltd

For more information, check out this video put together by Graham Hunt to explain his project in more detail:

 

Happy downloading!

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Review: In My Father’s Footsteps by Stephen Lloyd-Morgan

Welsh tenor and Costa del Sol resident, Stephen Lloyd-Morgan, has this morning released his new album in support of Spanish and Welsh cancer charities Cudeca and Tenovus. 

In My Father's Footsteps - Stephen Lloyd-Morgan
 

In My Father’s Footsteps is dedicated to the memory of his father Bryant, who passed away 18 months ago having been diagnosed with cancer only five weeks previously. Its primary purpose is to raise money for the Cudeca Hospice in Spain and Welsh cancer charity Tenovus – with all sales income being donated.

Album cover photograph copyright and courtesy David Toms

The album was released this morning, 1st July 2012, on iTunes  and all leading download stores, including Amazon MP3 & Spotify. CDs are available from Amazon on Demand and a limited number are available directly from the Cudeca Hospice and Tenovus shops. Stephen was very clear when deciding which charities he wanted to support with the album and why:

“The treatment and care of those suffering from cancer is something that is very important to me. It is a cruel disease that rips the heart out of families, mine included. There is no discrimination; it can hit anyone and at any age. Anything that can be done by any of us to raise money to improve the odds, whether in terms of treatment or palliative care is similarly vitally important. Cudeca and Tenovus both provide a vital service to cancer sufferers on the Costa del Sol and in Wales. Tenovus gave my family an amazing amount of support while my Dad was in hospital; and this is my way of giving something back – trying to give back what I can!”

The choice of recording studio also brought the personal story full circle for Stephen: he recorded In My Father’s Footsteps at the famous Pop Factory Studios in The Rhondda, South Wales. Not only are they located in Porth where Stephen was born, but the building was originally the Corona Pop factory and depot where his father once worked as a delivery driver.

“I had a very close bond with my father, and I think I owe much of my love of music to him,” says Steve. “He was a singer and bass guitarist in the 60s band The Zendars, who supported The Who, so when I was growing up there was always an eclectic mix of music around me.”

As a Daddy’s girl, I would love to make my Dad as proud as Stephen’s father would have been if he could hear this new album today. It’s made all the more special when you consider the thought that has gone into the selection of music and that all proceeds are being donated to such worthwhile charities.

That aside, I have hugely enjoyed listening to the album this morning. Chasing Cars, one of my favourite songs, is just as brilliant as the original with a charming Welsh lilt – close your eyes and you could be listening to Tom Jones (that’s a compliment by the way!) The superb mix of contemporary and more classical music will appeal to listeners of all nationalities and ages. I loved Canto Della Terra (and by the way had no idea that Starry Starry Night was called Vincent or was about Vincent Van Gogh).Stephen wanted to create an album of two halves: one half includes the popular classical, musical theatre and crossover-opera that Stephen is best known for, certainly on the Coast. The other half is a mix of tracks from the 60s through to the 80s that were his Dad’s favourites and with which Stephen grew up, including covers of songs by The Everly Brothers, Bread, Simon & Garfunkel, Don McLean and Tom Jones.

I don’t know Stephen personally although I have seen him perform live once or twice. But having listened to his album this morning, I really feel like I have been granted a personal insight into his love and dedication to his father’s memory.

  • Let It Be Me
  • Make It With You
  • Chasing Cars
  • Daniel
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Vincent
  • A Boy From Nowhere
  • Granada
  • Torna A Surriento
  • Volare
  • Sometimes I Dream
  • Canto Della Terra
  • No Day But Today
  • Myfanwy

For further details see www.slmlive.com/album.htm and catch up on all the latest news via Stephen’s new weblog www.slmlive.com/blog.

But first, go and buy the album. It’s been the perfect accompaniment to my Sunday morning.

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Review: Jaipur Purple – Indian Cuisine in Estepona

I’ve lived very near to Jaipur Purple for nearly five years and have never been inside. To be honest, we very rarely go out for Indian food – that’s my excuse anyway!

Some friends invited us there this week and so we went along without any real expectations, either good or bad.

Wow, what a restaurant. The owner and chef, Dev, was super friendly (apparently he used to live on my street – oops!) without being over familiar or obtrusive. All the other waiting staff were professional and courteous. The decor inside was very enchanting with lots of things to look at and admire.

Jaipur Purple, Estepona

We’re not aficionados of Indian food but found the menu really straightforward. The descriptions of all the different dishes were clear, well written and comprehensive without being mind boggling. To start with, we were offered a selection of appetisers that were light and tasty – just enough to get the taste buds going but not too heavy as to spoil the rest of the meal.

Next, I had lamb rogan josh which was full of flavour. The meat tasted like lamb. Strange comment you may think but whenever I’ve been to an Indian restaurant, the sauces have overpowered the meat. My OH had chicken bhuna (sorry if my spelling is incorrect) and said he could eat it all over again! The pilau rice was light and fluffy, cooked beautifully, and I also shared a peshwari naan (my favourite!). Our friends ordered a couple of side dishes including a scrumptious spinach dish and a pattaya (?) which was quite fruity and sweet – not dissimilar to a hot chutney dish but that doesn’t do it justice. It was delicious!

Although we didn’t order desserts, a small platter arrived with taster portions of pistachio ice-cream and little balls of sponge soaked in something fruity and very yummy! I can’t comment on the price as we were lucky enough to be treated by our friends but I would imagine that the ambience, welcome and the food were well worth it. We’ll definitely head back there next time we have friends visiting.

Jaipur Purple is located on the ground floor of the Centro Comercial Costasol, just off the A7/CN340 between Estepona and San Pedro at KM 169 (north side). For reservations or take away/deliveries, telephone +34 952 888 353.

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Review: Cocomo in Benamara, Estepona

Cocomo’s a relative newcomer on the scene in the well established tourist, residential and commercial areas of El Paraiso and Benamara, just between San Pedro and Estepona on the Costa del Sol. Saying that, it’s hardly brand new. Cocomo opened its doors in 2010 but still manages to bring much needed life and vitality to the area (and cocktails!).

Cocomo restaurant, Benamara

As a local resident, I’m not ashamed to declare Cocomo as my favourite “special occasion” restaurant! We always aim to arrive a bit early so that we can enjoy a glass of chilled fizz on the terrace before going in. Or a cocktail. I love the fact they offer a selection of interesting “virgin” cocktails – so much more fun when you’re not drinking alcohol than the same old, same old soft drinks or water options!

The food is always beautifully prepared and presented on interesting crockery – a great talking point! Plus it tastes amazing! My current favourite dish is their risotto with smoked fish and poached egg. Scrumptious! I have been tempted to order it as a starter AND a main course before now!

Birthday desserts at Cocomo!

Earlier this month we took my parents and in-laws to Cocomo to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. She was delighted with the special birthday sparkler in her dessert!

The service is not always as fast as it is in other restaurants nearby. This is probably because they are not trying to turn around the tables super quickly like other places we visit, and everything is cooked to order by master chef Simon Taylor-Lane. The wait is never uncomfortable. It’s just a more relaxed dining experience than in other restaurants where sometimes you feel obliged to eat and run! We did notice some new waiting staff on our last visit who were not quite as fab as our old favourites, but I’m sure Sally the boss will have them trained up to the normal Cocomo standard soon!

Price wise, it’s great value for money. The “12 euros for two courses” price does fool some people into thinking it is going to be a very cheap night out. It’s not. Obviously the drinks add up, there are extras available on the menu and the desserts are far too tempting to be ignored. However, it’s still incredible value when you consider the quality of the food on offer (Simon trained under Marco Pierre White so, as you can imagine, he sets the standard very high).

Cocomo's special offer!

We’re not used to having to book a table around here and that sometimes catches me out. You do need to book, especially in peak holiday times, but I suggest you do so whatever the time of year, just to make sure. That’s no criticism though as surely, it’s a good thing if a restaurant is so great you have to book a table! Especially as it’s often surrounded by restaurants with empty tables!!!

Cocomo. In my humble opinion, you really can’t beat it in the El Paraiso/Benamara area. Please don’t change Cocomo!

Cocomo is located just off the A7/CN340 at KM168, right next door to the Crowne Plaza Estepona. For more information, visit their website on www.cocomorestaurant.com. For reservations, telephone +34 685 218 054.

 

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Bella Bellaria

 

Bellaria

Bellaria

Bellaria, the new artisan cake shop and cafe in Nueva Andalucia, is not on our normal dog walking/stomping ground but it’s been on my mental “to visit” list since I first met co-owner Amanda Gedeon at the studios of Talk Radio Europe late last year.

We were appearing on Women Talk together and she completely obliterated any willpower I may have possessed when she presented us all with her chocolate brownies after the show. I was hooked.

Bellaria opened in January of this year. As we were house sitting nearby in Nueva Andalucia this weekend, Bailey the labrador and I grabbed at the chance to walk over there and give it a try.

The weather was amazing as we set off on our stroll through a pretty quiet Puerto Banus this afternoon. A few of the beautiful people were out and about and although I can’t claim to be one of them, Bailey obviously fitted right in and attracted many admiring glances and comments! (Apologies to the young beautiful people who asked me the way to the bus stop – I think I may have given them duff information. Sorry, the heat must have cooked my directions braincell.)

Thankfully, I knew where I was supposed to be headed and we found Bellaria very easily behind the Marbella Casino.

Wow.

It would appear the chocolate brownies still hold the same power over me.

Bailey and I were greeted by Amanda upon our arrival and sat at one of the tables outside on the terrace. Amanda, clearly on the doggy wavelength, has provided water bowls for four legged visitors and lead hooks to which you can attach your hound while you ogle the cakes on display inside. And, even if you’re a dog, it gets better!

I ordered a soft drink and one of those criminally good chocolate brownies. I didn’t even hesitate or think about the alternatives before ordering. In fact, no other thoughts entered my head. I was there for brownie! I did feel slightly sorry for Bailey who would not be able to do anything but drool. (I’m uber strict on the no chocolate for dogs rule; not only does it mean more for me but it can be poisonous to dogs.) But Bailey was thrilled to hear that Bellaria also bake treats especially for dogs!

The brownie was as good as I remembered: slightly crunchy on the outside and delightfully warm and gooey in the middle. It’s so rich and chocolately that even I couldn’t eat two, and that’s saying something!

Bailey was over the moon with his nommy beef and cheese star biscuits and scoffed them in such a way I was left in no doubt that they tasted fantastic. I thought about giving him just one and saving the others until later but he persuaded me that such practicality was futile and there was no way he was sharing them with the other dogs. In other words, he gave me the pleading eye look that wins every time!

Fortified by our drinks and snacks, we walked back to our temporary home at double speed hoping to counteract the chocolate brownie calories. It’s probably best that Bellaria isn’t on our normal route (although I understand there are sin free cakes available too) but, believe me, we will be making special detours in the future to enjoy their hospitality and scrumptious cakes again.
If you’d like to try Bellaria’s artisan cakes for yourself, it’s easy to find their cafe on Calle Azahar behind the Marbella Casino in Nueva Andalucia.
And if your tooth isn’t as sweet as mine, Bellaria also serve lunch and snacks such as:
  • Soup of the day served with home baked organic bread
  • Chicken, cream cheese, pesto and avocado sandwich (now I’m hungry again…)
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese, rocket, lemon and black pepper sandwich.
And more!
They can also create bespoke cakes for your event or special occasion. For more information, visit www.bellaria.es.
Go on, you know you want to!
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A Night of Queen

16th August 2011

Admittedly it wasn’t too tricky for a couple of friends to convince me to organise a night out at the Queen tribute concert last week. I’m not going to profess to be the biggest fan of Queen but I can sing along with their tunes and flick my hair at the rocky bits so I was quite looking forward to it.

I’d read lots of great reviews on the tribute band, Gary Mullen and the Works and vaguely remember seeing the lead singer on Stars in Their Eyes way back in 2000. The hype wasn’t wrong – Gary impersonates Freddie Mercury fantastically, right down to the way he struts across the stage and interacts with the audience in that impervious manner of his.

I had clicked on a few websites here and there during the weeks leading up to the concert in a half hearted attempt to win tickets but it wasn’t until an hour after I bought the tickets (the night before the concert) that I received a lovely email from My Destination Info Marbella to say that I had won two freebie tickets plus, even more excitingly, a meal for two at Hard Rock Cafe Marbella (now you know where my beloved will be taking me for my birthday dinner). I coerced two more friends to join our group, one of whom it has to be said, wasn’t very keen!) and off we set.

The venue was Playa del Pinillo in Marbella, where a stage has been custom built for the various concerts and performances taking place this summer. Parking was haphazard but we found spaces not too far away on the industrial estate and ambled down to the beach. As venues go, it’s very romantic with the sand, the sea and the sunset but perhaps not enclosed enough to provide a real concert crush experience. More of a one act festival feel.

But most of Marbella’s good and bad seemed to be there and ready to party, together with a number of pickled tourists thrown in for good measure. The mobile toilets were being maintained amazingly by a brave group of cleaners and were in a much better state than those I was forced to use at the Take That concert in Milan last month! The Italians could have learnt a thing or two from the organisers, Dream Ticket Promotions - well, in general the people of Milan could have benefitted from lessons in Spanish hospitality and charm. But I digress. Enough to say that in Italy I crossed my legs for almost 8 hours while in Playa del Pinillo I was happy enough to venture into the dark dungeons of pee more than once!

The former X-Factor contestant, Ruth Lorenzo, kicked off proceedings with a classical number and then let her hair down a little, performing more of the rock and pop numbers you would expect from her, plus a song she had written herself and dedicated to her Mum in the audience. She seems a popular choice with promotors over here at the moment, presumably because of her Spanish blood in an attempt to appeal to the locals but I have to say that she was more entertaining than I had envisaged. Having heard her opening, I did wonder if she would join “Freddie” on stage for a rendition of Barcelona but, somewhat confusingly for my small brain, another Ruth (who looked quite similar from where we were standing) filled in for Montserrat Caballe.

The crowd seemed slow to get going and even Gary Mullen had his work cut out getting them up and enthusiastic. Maybe the heat or simply the relaxed and chilled out atmosphere were to blame but the first few Queen songs did seem to drag a little and not whip up the excited frenzy that I had been expecting. I heard a rumour that the chair police were on duty in the posh area, ensuring people’s bottoms remained firmly on seats throughout. To be honest, with a small crowd like that the bottoms would have been perfectly safe if allowed to shake and wobble a bit more.

Perhaps if Gary and his band had played some of the more rocky, classic Queen hits in the first half, the atmosphere would have built up quicker as during the second half the crowd were really starting to wake up and by the encore there was some some proper rocking going on! I happily sang along to Barcelona and I think most of the audience members found their voices for at least part of Bohemian Rhapsody but it was Crazy Little Thing Called Love that turned out to be the number that got them all up on their feet.

I have to mention DJ Russell Sodon who entertained the crowd between acts – what a guy! He looked like he was having the time of his life behind his decks up there on the stage and played exactly the right music to keep the audience happy and bouncy.

There are some great pictures of the event over on Celebrities in Marbella showing just how similar Gary Mullen is to the great Freddie Mercury. I’m afraid my pictures do no justice to the evening at all!

I’m so glad that we went (and paid for the tickets!). To me, this is what the summer in Marbella is all about. Going to events that perhaps you would never have thought of attending back in the UK, spending time together and meeting up with friends in a relaxed atmosphere while enjoying some fabulous music and entertainment.

On behalf of my friends, a HUGE thank you to My Destination Info Marbella for the free tickets. I can’t wait to enjoy my dinner for two at Hard Rock Cafe and will definitely report back. Thank you!

Freddie or Gary?

Gorgeous Playa del Pinillo

I wanted to watch from up there!

Gary Mullen and the Works rocking as Queen

The very talented Ruth Lorenzo got the evening started

Sunset over Playa del Pinillo

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One Day by David Nicholls

I was given a copy of “One Day” by David Nicholls as a belated birthday present, just in time for me to indulge in some reading for pleasure over the Christmas holidays.

Now, I pride myself on being quite up there when it comes to new book releases but I’m mortified to share that I’d never even heard of it!

The cover is very eye catching with its bright orange profile silhouettes. Ever since I received my copy, I’ve been running into other people reading it wherever I go! That hasn’t happened since Alex Garland’s “The Beach”.

Somewhat unusually, in our household at least, “One Day” was a book that appealed to my partner as much as to me. In fact, no sooner had I got my copy home, than he grabbed it and became immediately engrossed. That’s pretty unusual for him – he quite often will have a number of books on the go all at the same time and will dip into one and then into another. But “One Day” had him gripped.

Its appeal to men and women may stem from the story being told from both a his and her perspective all the way through as it chronicles one day each year (15th July) in the lives of Dexter and Emma from their first meeting in 1988 and for the next 20 years.

Dexter and Emma are also more or less the same age as my partner. They experienced university life, post-graduation conundrums, first serious (and complicated) relationships and important political and cultural events in the UK, all at the same time as him.

For me, it was a fantastic romantic comedy/love story that captured my attention completely from about the second paragraph onwards. It sounds overblown but I truly felt that Dexter and Emma were becoming my friends and, in some chapters, they seemed to be mirroring my own life, fears and triumphs.

I miss them now that it’s over but I’m hoping it won’t be too long until they’re back in my lives as a classic Richard Curtis rom-com. Hugh Grant (although perhaps he’s too old now!) as Dexter and as Emma? I’m not sure. Perhaps Anne Hathaway?

I’ve passed the book on to a friend but despite my very limited storage space at home, I might have to buy another copy of this book. It’s definitely a keeper!

In fact, I’m off to buy it again right now together with whatever else David Nicholls has written! You can get your copy from Amazon by clicking on the link below. Enjoy!

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