Scribbler in Seville

Ups and downs

Lately, my life seems to be a series of peaks and troughs. Nothing dramatic, thankfully – no deaths or major illnesses, or serious disasters. Just one of those times when a week without anything going wrong represents an unusual, and welcome, period of calm.

Last week, I was staying in one of the best hotels in Spain, according to Conde Nast Traveller among others. I’ll be blogging about it in detail soon.

This week, there wasn’t enough money in the bank account to pay the mobile phone bill, and our (other, thankfully) car died. It was a 20-year-old Volvo kindly donated to us, which lasted for a year and was extremely useful for my husband as a second means of fanily transport, especially for ferrying children around and leaving me free, occasionally, to get out and about without my carriage turning into a pumpkin, Cinderella-style, at 2pm when school finishes for the day.

Living half one’s life in a dreamworld can be confusing. When I am lucky enough to be invited to stay in such places, I try to make sure my car isn’t too dirty (failed this time, both inside and out); my suitcase is not too scruffy (oops, handle broken); and my clothes are appropriate (almost, though too plain. Forgot jewellery. No holes, creases or fallen hems, at least).

My knackered laptop looked completely out of place in my huge sea-view suite (I wish now I’d taken a photo of it in situ – at the time, it didn’t occur to me). When my host asked what my husband did, it’s hard to dodge the fact that, rather than being some dashing entrepreneur or successful lawyer, he’s an out-of-work engineer who’s been on the dole for two years. The bubble of our luxe-surroundings conversation bursts, and we come back down to earth with a bump.

All this isn’t to say I’m not happy with my life. I have two gorgeous, healthy children, who are as creative and bilingual and affectionate as I could hope them to be; we live in a small house which belongs to us, not the bank; I have a loving, if not overly industrious husband; an endlessly supportive and helpful mother-in-law; and a group of fantastic friends; and I love my work – well, who wouldn’t? I write for a living.

Swinging between wordly, confident journalist and competent, organised mother isn’t easy for anyone, and nor is being the sole wage-earner, though obviously it’s vastly preferable to both of us being without an income. But please don’t think I’m whinging, because I’m not; I’m just describing my topsy-turvy life.

Tomorrow I’m going to the reopening of a palace-hotel, built as Spain’s most luxurious by the then-king. I’ve already laid out my clothes, just to make sure I don’t inadvertently wear something which will embarrass me (it’s happened before). I’m looking forward to it, though I know I’ll have to do my Wonder Woman role-change spin before I leave the house.

What are you thankful for?

7 thoughts on “Ups and downs

  1. Michi

    “Just one of those times when a week without anything going wrong represents an unusual, and welcome, period of calm.” <– This about sums up what I've been going through as well. We're in similar boats, yet I've started to get worried about Summertime, when work for English teachers is scarce, if even existent here. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that D-Man gets called up for work from the "bolsa" in time (no dole here), even if it means having to relocate again.

    But I'm thankful for being healthy, and that I'm living in one of my favorite Andalusian cities for the time being. Here's to brighter days ahead!

    1. Fiona Flores Watson

      Luckily for me, my work is consistent as I have regular clients. It’s the only way to go these days, as there are so few one-off writing commissions around – although that’s what I’d like to do more of ideally, write for magazines. But it’s harder to find a commission these days than an honest Andalucian politician. Best of luck with your situation. As you said, let’s hope things will get better, though I’m not holding my breath!

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  3. azahar

    Well, hey, at least you have a posh frock. 😉

    I don’t think you sound like you’re whinging, but somewhere between counting one’s blessings and feeling embarrassed about a scruffy laptop is somewhere Fiona needs to be, and should be. And frankly, if there is clearly no engineering work, then it looks like some retraining is in order. I see lots of possibilities for you, but you can’t do it all on your own – nobody can.

    Let’s discuss it over cava at the Alfonso XIII tomorrow night.

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