Monday, 28 October 2013

Back in Blighty...

Spain and  the Spanish islands have never been my first choice for a quick hop abroad, I got to know France well and the South would be my preferred destination for a cheeky bit of sunshine.
I went to Tenerife to do a 4 day course using exercise for rehabilitation, not as in-depth as physio work, but class based activities for attendees who are recovered/recovering from previous physical impairment.
It was a great course, and spending time with locals (most of the teachers were from Valencia) was a fascinating insight into another feminine culture.

A more glamorous group of women I have never met.  Most sports people are permanently in gym gear, with lank hair, no make up and no accessories.  This lot rocked their keep fit gear with sparkling jewellery, flash watches and statement bags, and of course those long luscious locks that are genetic magic unique to Southern Med beauties.
If, like me, you thought that the natural slimness of Southern climes was another genetic blessing, you would be wrong, they work out like loonies, even in 30+ heat and seem to survive almost solely on fresh fish and salad.  Every night was treated like an opportunity to put on an outfit suitable for dining at the Ritz, the favoured look was black fitted dress, jewellery and sky high heels.  I have been to Tenerife before, but this time was a completely different experience.  The recurring question in my mind was how everyone afforded to look quite as fabulous as they did, since most were on less than UK minimum wage and living costs in Tenerife are not that much cheaper than in the UK.

Then I realised that most of the outfits were made by their fantastic sparkling gems, which in most cases were total fakes picked up for a few euros from the tourist shops by the ports.  But worn with the right outfit, that beautiful olive skin and luscious thick hair, you noticed an overall opulence rather than any obvious faux sparkle.  I think that there came a time in the UK when we stopped wearing jewellery that could be real (if it wasn't) and opted instead for big, obviously over the top neon, plastic and glass 'statement' necklaces.  The idea of dressing with a sense of humour, or with your tongue a little in cheek is totally alien to the Spanish babes who always dress to look their most beautiful, most alluring and most expensive.

Of course I hadn't packed anything even as glamorous as they all wore to work out let along for nights out, so I was the obvious English, who, it has to be said, in the main, are considered a different species by this group. 

They are totally the reverse of me, where I was trying to work out how they looked so amazing with so little, they would ask, how can these people stay in a hotel that cost 500 euro a night and look as they do? I think the inference was that with that kind of disposible income there is access to every sort of aesthetic improvement, so why do the Brits get it so wrong?  Feeling obliged to defend the nation, I took the line, that in the main, Brits just don't set much store by how they look.  The time and energy required to maintain the Spanish ideal, is spent looking after other people, so they may not look like supermodels at 50, but Bits are generally kind, understanding, patient and friendly.  And may be when those qualities become less important than the size of your waist, it is time to reassess your priorities. 

What would you have said if you were asked the same? Is our laziness defensible? Should we try harder? Or are the nicest people the least vain ones?


  1. A great read and a very interesting post. I have to say in all the years of going to Spain, I have never met nor seen any locals anywhere remotely near to the glam group you describe and the complex we stay on has an awful lot of locals living among the 250 apartments. I don't think of the Spanish as a classy lot, just like they obviously don't think we are. I think I would have been terribly defensive! xx

  2. I think I was, I basically accused them of being shallow! I have to say, I, like you,thought the Spanish to generally be quite laid back, so it was a real eye opener, I wonder if it was something to do with having left Spain and living in Tenerife, may be with such a small society there is more to prove. It was also much more exercise conscious than in France, there you struggle to find any where to do a work out, everyone walks, runs and swims but don't really bother with gyms. But in Tenerife there was everything from pilates studios with reformer machines to a gym with poles for pole dancing work outs! Pretty much all the main towns had at least two studios. Definitely not the Tenerife I had seen before.... that was mainly ice cream, kids clubs and Bingo (which I LOVED!)

  3. I also think of the Spanish as quite laid back dresses, I do like their look however...... Jeans shirts & ballet pumps. I think they may see the worse of some of our Brits on holiday drink fuelled ect..... but I would of been defensive side also. Interesting read.

    1. It's so true, it's like someone criticising your family, things that you might think yourself, you would never let anyone outside your family say!


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