I want to start by writing how incredibly grateful I am that this blog means wonderful travel opportunities for my family and I which allows us to see and experience parts of the world we’ve not visited before, both near and far.
These trips give my kids the gift of new culture, language, food, adventure and hopefully magical childhood memories they will always cherish.
Our latest holiday with James Villas kindly offered us a much craved for hideaway from our hectic lives, in the picturesque Jalon Valley area, 90 minutes from Alicante airport, a quintessentially Spanish terrain, a traditional country villa for the family, full of character.
Onesie c/o Half-Pint Chic
The villa’s breathtaking views of achingly beautiful misty mountains and vineyards as far as the eye could see (you literally walked through the vineyards to get to the front door), made this rather a special place to while away a week in.
The boys were fascinated with the grapes and along with a trip to a local winery, learnt a lot about growing and making wine (and grape juice)!
…Being surrounded by the mountains meant that thankfully despite the roaring heat, there was always a breeze, the same when we were by the sea, just twenty minutes away in Calpe and also Moraira, both must-see upmarket towns nearby…
I think the dream might just be a holiday home with acres of vineyards to make our own wine. A lot of vino was enjoyed away!
…I loved this worn white washed neighbouring house to the villa also enveloped by perfect rows of vineyards bursting with purple grapes.
Peter took so many stunning vineyard shots I have to share them here-
Vineyards by night
But back to the beginning, from the moment we arrived, a sweet serenity seemed to wash over us all, we began to somewhat float around our rustic villa, a far cry from deadlines and nursery runs-a sanctuary if you like, a Spanish retreat, and in a place that reminded us of my late Grandma’s house in Cyprus, with even the same sweet jasmine scent filling the air. Divine.
…With high ceilings, an open plan layout and ample room for 6, it could have done with a lick of paint interior wise, and some tlc and renovation, but our time was mostly spent by the pretty pool in the back garden swimming, playing (setting up an XFactor style karaoke event, Dad Greek dancing, Oliver doing his best Simon Cowell impression) and dining al fresco.
And Papa G certainly lived up to his award winning restaurateur title cooking up a feast of local fresh fish and seasonal fare.
Having produce literally on our doorstep was incredible too from fresh figs the owner of the villa brought round to us and prickly pears that reminded my Dad of Cyprus!
I’m not sure there’s anything tastier than fine golden rings of calamari eaten outside, I’m yet to find it if there is!
Another favourite pastime was Dad and I cooking in the kitchen today-the stand out meal was lightly fried free range chicken doused in oregano and fresh lemon, with a mammoth coriander, sweet baby tomato and cucumber salad, picked up at the local grocers, the meat from the most spectacular supermaket I’ve ever set eyes on, five minutes from our villa.
Tasty, simple pleasures that mean so much in your home from home abroad.
We often ventured to the local tapas restaurants and even tried a tasty local pizzeria run by French residents round the corner which the kids adored.
Talk about eating ALL the carbs and ice cream! I know I did!
A few more culinary highlights below to get you hungry-
Smoked salmon canapes with garlic butter and black olives
Russian salad I’m desperate to recreate at home
Honey roasted chicken thighs
…Below we enjoy mixed fish, cuttlefish, paella (of course) followed by mint chocolate chic ice cream.
The latter enjoyed on the seafront in our closest coastal town of Calp. Boy do I miss that view.
I fell in love with Calp, a metropolis that reminded us of the South of France (our go-to destination with my folks since kids) with it’s glossy and gorgeous luxe stores, pristine side walks and clear, warm sea. A must-visit if you’re ever in these parts.
We adored Moraira too, the boys spent hours at a central funfair and the surrounding are like something from a Bond movie!
..I’m also proud to announce I pushed myself out of my comfort zone while we visited the town, picking up a rental car there which I drove around for the whole holiday as neither my folks nor husband fancied driving on the right side of the road.
Navigating dual carriageways, roundabouts, side streets and main roads (so you know, DRIVING), I was crazily-scared to start, but soon got used and even enjoyed my Spanish driving adventure and felt happy I felt the fear but did it anyway. Whoop!
I’m sure all the ‘you can do it’ style images on Pinterest I’ve been seeing recently, helped spur me on. The power of social media is real people 😉
I just wish I’d got a snap of me behind the wheel but I caught these two there!
It must be said I preferred scooting us round our little village of Jalon the most, and we quickly got used to a slower pace of life there, wandering the streets, playing in the children’s playground in the centre and dressing up for dinner in the square-
Oh and this photo makes me laugh!
And Jalon by night was certainly a beauty to behold-
Thanks Mum and Dad for babysitting!
We kept spotting vintage cars too, look at these beauties
The boys were pretty well behaved throughout the holiday, and although they were already close before, they seemed to bond even more during this time away, and almost grew before our eyes, maturing in the sun. I suppose travel can do that to kids somehow, or perhaps it merely provides a window for parents to fully appreciate the growth their kids have made thus far.
A time to reflect, to appreciate life more.
Swimwear c/o Sunuva.
The boys seemed to really relish one another’s company too, swimming, drawing, devising games together, watching films, making dens under restaurant tables and burying one another’s legs in sand by the sea. After all their adventures, they fell fast asleep next to one another, holding hands…
Boys outfits-Xander c/o me&i, Oliver’s shorts c/o Vertbaudet, top c/o St Berts, both shoes c/o Bobux.
Some of my most cherished photos are of the boys playing ‘Jurassic Park’ with these walking, talking dinosaurs we bought from the Saturday market in Jalon, we often had to retrieve them from their beds by night!
Oh and before I forget, one of my own highlights had to be regular night swims when the kids slept-simple ‘me time’, the outside lights on, still 33 degrees out- lap after lap, fully switching off.
And my boys seemed to have taken after me when it came to the water-
…Alexander, my little fish, in particular never wanted to leave the pool or beach- we would head to the sea quite late in the day, missing the peak midday hours, and I adored our sweet little chats as we swam together, the intense, important discussions mostly revolving around what seaweed was made of and whether a lion could kill a shark (!)
Alexander made me laugh when I asked if he preferred the sea or the pool, to which he replied, ‘Erm, the sea (pause) and the pool, and the river’. We live near a river that meets in what we call ‘the beach’ near our home in the Yorkshire countryside so I think that’s where the river reference comes from.
Holding him up as he dislikes arm bands, his little legs kicking so he could swim, are some of my happiest memories, as is the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received from my eldest son Oliver, 5, who handed me a ice lolly stick with the words ‘Mummy Pretty’ carefully written by him in felt tip pen.
Oliver had overheard me complaining to his Dad, of a bloated tummy and wanted to make me feel better.
It was an important reminder that despite me often being mindful of not discussing body image negatively, I must be more careful of what I say, and also be kinder to myself as well.
…Something that served to make me feel more confident was having a swimwear shoot for designer swim and resortwear label heidi klein.
Seeing the Jamaica pictures from the first shoot made me realise how far I’d come in confidence since having my kids, a renewed respect for my body that grew and nourished my kids, and I really hope you like these shoots as well.
The villa certainly proved the perfect backdrop with its cornflower blue exterior, picturesque vineyards and of course magnificent pool.
Ideal too, for a shoot with beautiful beachwear brand BeachHeart Swimwear, founded by my model friend Anna Bailey. Here I wear her ‘Elsa’ Kaftan.
I love rocking holiday style and although I will be sharing it in more detail over on my style blog Mummy’s Got Style, one of my most favourite outfits was for the unforgettable fiesta for The Virgin Mary.
With street food, a live band and cocktails on every corner, it was quite the experience. Jasmine blossom filled the air, church bells merged with jazz music, kids and small dogs played in the town square, as locals gathered in Jalon to come together and celebrate.
With my fab folks! Mum wears necklace by yosa.
Such a happy sun-filled week away with all the people I love most, thank you James Villas for all the memories.
Here’s a short film we made that captures some of these. Enjoy!