Monday, 7 January 2008

Episode 1 - Fliss’ Story

It was an effort to get out of bed this morning but lying in wasn’t an option. If I want to get fit and lose some weight I have to get up early. This far south it’s far too hot to do anything as strenuous as running after about 10 o’clock in the morning.

I love the countryside in this part of Spain with its miles of rolling hills and meadows of wild herbs. The early morning air is filled with the herby smells that remind me of foccacia bread still warm from the oven. I feel at peace with the world. Pounding the country lanes with only the buzzards circling the hill tops for company, I don’t have a care in the world.

But if I’m to be honest with you, and if I am going to tell you my story I know that I must be completely honest, the best sight of all is when I am running back down the hill and can see our villa, because that means the end is in sight and I can get some flipping breakfast.

We couldn’t believe it when the Estate Agent brought us out to see the villa. It looked so impressive sitting on the side of the hill overlooking the valley. There is no way that we could have afforded anything so grand in London. It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a pool, Jacuzzi and a kitchen big enough to cater for a small army.

Of course it’s far too big for just the two of us. Isn’t it funny how things turn out? Here we are with all the space we ever dreamt of and now there’s only the two of us to fill it. When our daughters were still at home our house in London always seemed to be bursting at the seams. Sophie and Ella were always having friends over to stay and Martin thought nothing of inviting clients for dinner at the drop off a hat. In those days I would have been grateful for a bigger kitchen never mind a poolside changing room!

As much as I love the villa sometimes, especially after my morning run, I can’t help feeling a little intimidated by it. Martin thinks I’m mad. Nothing ever seems to faze him. He always looks relaxed wherever he is but at times like this, when I am standing sweating all over the Italian marble tiles in the hallway, I feel more like a scruffy tramp rather than the lady of the house.

This hall is meant for beautiful young women in elegant evening dresses, not a slightly overweight, sweaty, middle aged woman in baggy shorts. But let’s face it I’m here on my own so there’s nobody to see me looking a mess. Martin is back in London and I have the house to myself for the rest of the week.

When we moved out to Spain the girls and I thought that he was going to retire and sell his business interests in the UK. But Martin wasn’t ready to retire. He said that he enjoyed his job too much to give it all up and told us that being self employed meant that, providing he has a decent Broadband connection, he could do most of his work via email from Spain.

I’m sure that he meant it at the time but over the last couple of years he has realised that he needs to be where the work is and that isn’t our little village in Southern Spain. London is where the majority of his clients are, so that’s where he has to be during the week.

Not that staying on his own during the week in London is cramping his style. The last time I was over there visiting the girls I’ll admit that I was amazed to see how he had made our little flat in Southwark into a very comfortable bachelor pad. Flat screen TV, state of the art hifi and a very respectable wine collection. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge him a nice place. It’s just that I hadn’t realised that he had made it quite so cosy without me even knowing.

I’m not grumbling though. I’ve a very full life here in Spain, with or without Martin, and as usual, my whole day is planned out. I do like to have a plan.

Take today for example, start the day with an early morning run, swim 20 lengths of pool, have a light lunch, make the effort to go to the resident’s committee meeting at the Westbury’s and then phone the girls to finalise the arrangements for Martin’s surprise birthday party next month.

The running and swimming are all part of my new healthy lifestyle. The only problem with living in the sun is that it is far too easy to start putting on weight. When we first settled here the most strenuous thing I did apart from the odd round of golf was to stroll down to the market in the village twice a week. With nothing to rush around for it’s amazing how the weight can creep on. One day you look in the mirror and think My God when did that happen, I used to be a size 12 and look at me now. I can’t even wear a bikini without blocking out the sun.

The last thing I need before Martin’s party is for Sophie to have another excuse to give me the ‘Mother is letting herself go’ lecture. So I’m determined to tone up, lose half a stone and look a million dollars in my beautiful red silk Marc Jacobs dress. It’s not new you understand, in fact it’s been hanging in the wardrobe for two years, a mad impulse buy in the January Sales. I have been saving it for the right occasion and what could be better than Martin’s party when for the first time in ages the whole family will be together again.