I felt a bit nervous driving out of the multi-storey car park in the bean can; there was a faint smell of smoke/BO/magic tree air freshener, the gear stick seemed flimsy and the steering wheel like a toy car, however once on the motorway (intoning in my head "driving on the right, driving on the right, driving on the....")
|Tin 'o' beans|
there was hardly another car to be seen and with the aid of a satnav and printed directions I was soon putting the can in first and taking a series of hairpin bends, leading to the final stretch to Caserio del Mirador.
|Arriving at CDM|
I had planned to arrive in time for the promised 2 pm paella and with I will admit it, a touch of the smugs, we pulled up at 1.40 pm to a very promising-looking scene.
There a few keys things to know about this place
It's beautifully thought-out: Toys, baby equipment, baby baths, buggies, blenders, changing mats are all provided or available
It's in a gorgeous location: The terraced mountains are covered in almond trees, olives, frangrant pines and flowers
The hosts, Johnny and Sarah can't do enough for you
Sarah, a whirlwind of a person (1 part steel, 1 part Boden model, I part English eccentric, 7 parts warm & friendly,) greeted us and settled us into our neat, yet spacious apartment and within minutes we were whizzed upstairs to rosato wine and paella and warm introductions all round with the other guests and a gaggle of babies, toddlers and children.
The week stretched out ahead of us and it was filled with walks, a trip to the beach, tapas, playing by the pool, visiting the animals (pigs, goats, chickens, ponies, rabbits) and all at a leisurely pace. The apartment was tidied daily, so with no boring chores to do, I could devote myself to baby.
Most afternoons, there communal children's meals where all the different age groups were catered for. Baby tried (and liked) gazpacho, roast lamb (sucked on....) and lovely home-made purees ("mush!"). Sarah also cooked a number of grown up communal meals that were incredible - her stream of entertaining chat and questions never seeming to interrupt the flow of beautifully cooked things that came out of the outdoor kitchen; tortilla, tapas, croquettes, slow-cooked lamb, white bean puree, manchego - I can't remember all the things we ate, but they made me happy! There were some lovely wines too - rose isn't usually my thing but it was just right in the sun and there was a really fine dessert wine, Moscatel de Valencia, which I regret not buying to take home.
As the only guest utterly failing to get my offspring to sleep at the same time as the late feasts, everyone else was remarkably kind and tolerant of this fact, and babalu was passed from hand to hand for bounces and smiles and occasional roars of protest. I was given the chance to finish my dinner while people helped out, which was lovely. One comment sticks in my mind from the husband of a couple who said "if we had a daughter, I would like them to be just like her" which made me feel proud and a bit teary. Of course I pity anyone who doesn't have her for a daughter....!
|Where the hell is my tapas?!|
Some of the things we enjoyed were some mammoth sleeps at night - three nights we had ten hours in a row; playing in the sandpit under the Mirador; pottering about in the can to the local town Xalon ("the village" as it was referred to); a great massage for me while Sarah very kindly minded baby, carting her about on her rounds of the animals and finally having the opportunity to talk to other parents of very young children was a good experience to hear just how much of what you do and feel as a new parent is universal and normal.
And I took some photos! In particular, I took a series when she had just woken up and was playing with a toy clown - its weighted base made it wobble then return back to centre....she seems to be conversing with it.
The week was over too quickly, we journeyed back, stopping off at Altea for some bloody weird tapas. To be honest, I didn't know what I was ordering, but it wasn't the gelatinous, grey, fishy balls that I was after!
Lovely spot though!