La Familia and Other Animals

Day 649

Mila and abuelo

Mila and abuelo

We’re in a little Spanish village in Andalusia visiting my dad and step-mum for some much needed sun and relaxation.  

It’s pissing down.

“I thought it never rained here?” I say to my father as I gaze sullenly out of the window.

My father’s Facebook feed is rammed full of status updates about the glorious Spanish blue skies and screenshots of weather apps.

“It usually doesn’t.” he replies.


Can I trust a word that this man ever says again?  He promised me sun, but there is none.  Maybe it often rains where he lives.  Maybe this little olive farming village in the mountains actually has a similar climate to Merthyr Tydfil.  Maybe my father’s life is really a wet, soggy miserable mess, but to save face he stubbornly spouts an endless amount of ‘fake news’ via social media.  “Oh look at me, sitting on a terrace in my pants supping vermouth as the glorious sun beats down upon my olive skin!”  All lies.  He’s probably actually in cahoots with Cambridge Analytica.

“Honey.  Could you watch Mila for a second?” asks Zsuzsa, who’s actually been standing alongside me throughout this rainy tale, but whose presence I’ve elected to omit until now so that I can briefly hog the limelight.

I glance at Mila.  She’s surrounded by cats, dogs and fish, all of which she thinks are the greatest things on Earth.  She’s beyond giddy with glee and jumping up and down like a tiny blonde, snotty-nosed Kris Akabusi.

She attempts to plant a kiss on the lips of one of the dogs, but I’m like a blur as I spring across the room to stop this (probably) unwanted physical advance, using nothing but my hyper-developed super dad reflexes.

The five cats, two dogs and three fish all seem friendly enough, but Zsuzsa is wary, and adamant that we must protect our spawn around them at all times.  I think her concern stems from the fact that as a child she was once attacked by a chicken.  The physical scars have healed, but the mental ones are still red raw.

"Just one little kiss?"

"Just one little kiss?"

It’s now several days later and we’re in Madrid.  The sun did eventually manage to make an appearance (burning my nose just to spite me for my doubt) and we also skilfully managed to avoid any savage dog, cat, fish or chicken attacks.  We’ve also now traded in one set of parents for a more Hungarian variety.  At this precise moment Zsuzsa’s parents are keeping our child alive at our holiday dwellings while Zsuzsa and I enjoy our moment of freedom at a fancy restaurant.

Zsuzsa however is a little preoccupied as her mother had her purse stolen from her bag earlier today.

“She seems so sad.  I just wish there was something we could do.” she says sorrowfully.

“Would you like me to tool up and head out in to Madrid’s streets to bring the city’s underworld to their knees?” I helpfully ask.

“No.  That’s okay.”  replies Zsuzsa.

Moments earlier my offer to wander the streets of Madrid with a backpack full of coiled mousetraps or angry cobras was met with a similarly dismissive response.  Sometimes I wonder if she doesn’t rate my skills as a vengeful, super hero vigilante after all.

A spring roll stuffed full of pig mouth, resting on a vinyl record plate substitute is placed in front of me.

Pig mouth spring roll on Italian vinyl.

Pig mouth spring roll on Italian vinyl.

A broad grin suddenly breaks out across Zsuzsa’s tiny Hungarian face.

“You know what would make my mum feel better?” she beams.

“What?” I reply.

“If tomorrow, we go shoe shopping!”


“For me.”

“Your mum would feel better if we go shoe shopping to buy you some new shoes?” I ask.




“New shoes for you?”



“Honestly, nothing makes my mum happier than buying clothes for me.”

I’m highly dubious about this, but shrug and take a bite of my delicious pig mouth spring roll.

The next day we go shoe shopping for Zsuzsa.  Zsuzsa buys some new shoes.  Her mum doesn’t stop smiling.

The Hungarian mob

The Hungarian mob