We’ve just had a four day weekend here in Spain. I’ll be honest, I was slightly dreading it as I was going to be on my own with my four year old son for the whole time. That makes me sound terrible, doesn’t it? Possibly accurately. But really it was just a sense that 4×24 intense one-on-one hours can be a little tricky to fill, without one or other of us needing a time out at some point.
When the weekend kicked off with the little fella arriving home from school on Thursday afternoon in a state of exhaustion, running a mild temperature and threatening to vomit, my sense of foreboding deepened. If this was how things were shaping up maybe I needed to make the 20 minute drive to town in order to stock up on some emergency supplies (booze, obvs ). I refrained, and made do with administering a dose of Dalsy (children’s ibuprofen) and letting the patient sleep it off while I
tried not to think about wine busied myself with useful jobs like cleaning (I must have been sickening for something myself.)
A hefty dose of sleep worked its magic and on Friday we both woke (at a quarter to ten!!) in fine fettle and to a gloriously sunny day. Ah, this is how every weekend should start.
Perfect climbing weather but no climbing partner has been my curse for the last week. But perfect climbing weather is also perfect gardening weather and I did have the perfect little garden buddy at hand so we loaded up our tools and headed out to the garden. Jack does love to plant and dig and generally get down and dirty out there and now that he’s a little bit older, more physically able and less prone to falling into nettles or brambles within 30 seconds (my unruly garden is a minefield for small children), it’s great to see the joy he takes from it. But really the thing he loves best about gardening is that within 5 or 10 minutes of his voluble presence out there at least one of his friends from the neighbouring houses will have dashed out to join him.
And so it was on Friday. Five year old Elena came skipping out to see what he was up to and to join him in ‘helping’ me. Never mind that their helping mainly took the form of a game of ‘hide the seeds and tools’, I couldn’t have wished for better. The hours flew by in the warmth and sunshine as Elena and Jack entertained each other and I managed to clear vast swathes of weeds, take loads of cuttings and plant out some peas. With just a break for lunch (and to rest my aching back) we spent the whole day in this way until the shade started to encroach and brought a bite to the air around 5/5.30pm. Then it was indoors for tea, bath and bed. And what a blissful bedtime. After a full day in the outdoors Jack could barely keep his eyes open through one bedtime story and sank into sleep with nary a murmur of protest. (A rarefied nirvana when parenting small children.)
And so our pattern for the weekend was set. Every morning Jack was begging to get out in the garden as soon as possible in order to kick off the day’s playing with Elena. Every night he tumbled into bed gloriously exhausted. Gradually my garden started to emerge from the overgrowth of weeds. And every evening I, too, would tumble into bed gloriously exhausted.
The weather is not always perfect here. But the truth is that year-round it is very often kind enough to permit us to live an outdoor life. It is mostly gentle, negating the need to wrap a toddler up in layer after layer of restrictive, lose-able cold weather gear every time you want to leave the house in winter. For me this is probably the greatest thing about living in northern Spain, spending more time outdoors through every season. The outdoor life really is the life for us.