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A beautiful morning

Recollections of a three day golf vacation on the Costa Del Sol

Golf at Santana and our last night.
27 May 2009


When young my mother used to insist a window was kept open in the bedroom, even in the depths of winter, yet still I can clearly feel the comfort in snuggling deeper down into the layered blankets and the warmth they afforded. To this day I find it hard to sleep without a window open. And so it was with the smell of salty air and a cool breeze on my face that I awoke the next morning. The curtain shifted slightly, an unseen hand pushing it aside, inviting me to sit up and look out to see what the day had in store. Once wakened further sleep would be impossible to find and so my thoughts drifted to the night before. Glancing over to the bed opposite I could see its inhabitant was paying for the greater lateness of his return. My watch told me it was eight thirty, so I got up and showered. Tee off time at Santana was at eleven. Before leaving the apartment I popped my head into the bedroom shouted the time and my advice to get up and shower.
This time instead of going directly to the dining room for breakfast I went to the front of the hotel and out into the street beyond. Turning right I walked along its front crossed the side road that led to the beach and set off along the path. I didn’t go far, just enough to enjoy the solitude and to look out over the smoothed sandy beach and the calm sea beyond. Half an hour later I found myself in the dining room, tray in hand with coffee, croissant and jam. Taking a seat near the centre of the room I sipped the much needed liquid and enjoyed the light breakfast. When I had finished I took an apple and banana from the counter incase they were required later. The other boys did not show for breakfast. Nevertheless at ten o’clock we assembled at reception and I must say the extra hour or so in bed seemed to do the trick for them because the conversation was lively and they were rearing to go.
Santana is a favourite of mine because it was one of the first courses I ever played in Spain and I will never forget the anticipation or excitement of that occasion. This day I hit par the first and the second par three, in fact I played well the front nine. The tenth, from memory, is a par 5 with a lake to shoot over to reach the green. I hit a terrific long drive down the fairway but slightly left and I was determined my second shot would lay up at the waters edge, but an obvious rush of blood to my head sent my nine iron shot into the middle of the water. The same old story repeats itself and at the eighteenth I knew it was all over. We shook hands indicating the battles and indeed the war was over, but somehow that was not what I was actually feeling. I had good sport, good company, good food and wine and the sun shone down on our little band as we made our way to the club house. This time we didn’t stay to eat. The club house, in my opinion is uninviting. So leaving it behind we set off back to the hotel with our adventures nearly over.
After a few drinks at the hotel bar we went to our rooms and packed for the homeward journey, leaving out our clothes for the next day. Later we walked to the Irish bar for food and pool. Just after midnight we finished our drinks and began to move outside for the short return journey. I always find the last night of a trip fills me with regret, I never know exactly why. Perhaps it’s the thought of the daily routine that lies ahead, or of those cold, dark and wet winter days. Yet maybe it’s just that we all live life to the full in those few short days than is possible back home and I suppose that’s how it should be. As I glance round one last time I closed the book and looked forward to home.

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The end to a perfect evening.
27 May 2009


Sunset Beach hotel is located at the top of the Benalmadena coast just before the N340 merges with Torrequebrada. For us the location and accommodation was ideal. The one bedroom, two single bed apartment, used for sleeping and showering, didn’t warrant any further visits and with the twenty four hour square a short taxi ride away it was perfect. Virtually across the road was the Ha’penny Bridge Irish bar, that had an excellent bar menu, a pool table and attracted a variety of nationalities.
That second night was really our last opportunity to sample the nightlife of the coast as the following night was ‘prepare for home’ and a late night was not anticipated. And so it was after siesta and shower we found ourselves in the Ha’penny Bridge sipping (or more correctly downing) Barcardi and coke and playing a few games of ‘doubles’. We had got chatting to a couple from Newcastle and who like most northerners had a good sense of humor and a down to earth attitude that made the two hours pass pleasantly. Two years ago on a previous trip to a rented detached villa (could slept 16 in total but was dividisable into two semi’s to accommodate smaller groups) our party had trouble finding its location and on arrival we had to wait outside in the baking sun until it was cleaned. Eventually on entering I could see the pool and it called out to me so in reply I recklessly stripped naked, pulled back the sliding door, ran across the grass and dove with a splash into its cool inviting waters. Imagine my embarrassment when surfacing to find two Yorkshire lasses sunbathing in the same garden. They had rented the other have of the villa! Suffice to say that my ‘friends’, highly amused at my predicament, refused me a towel and with a bemused look the women watched as I climbed out and retreated red faced, to the safety of the villas interior.
The Taxi brought us to Da Fano’s restaurant in the main square and with a hunger we sat down to a most enjoyable meal. A pizza starter between four was followed in my case by meatballs in a tomato sauce. Once again bottled beer and red wine was the order of the day and the finale a large brandy.
Personally one of the most seductive and sensual things a man can experience is to hold a woman tight while dancing. I think its the softness of her hair on the face, the closeness of our bodies offering the imagination the possibility of things to come and then there’s the ever so soft scent of perfume that when breathed deeply excites the senses.
For November the nightclub was busy. The scene was typical of all night clubs, some were dancing, others were loud and boisterous while others sat and chatted intimately in the quieter corners.
I watched the her as she got from her tall stool, her coloured Picasso type patterned dress (sorry for the inept description) set above the knee with a plunging neckline that left little to the imagination She kept on walking in our direction, squeezed between us and the table next and pulling up a vacant chair set down beside me.
She lent closer, ‘Your married’, she said pointing to my wedding ring.
‘Buy me a drink and dance with me’.
Now sometimes women do this, it happened on one particular occasion at a disco in Blackpool. However, now it just didn’t seem quite right but hell what did I care. Just one dance would round off the evening and that’s what I did. When the dance finished we both went to the bar I ordered and paid for a Baileys, let go of her hand, simply told her I had to go. She was surprised if not shocked but  I walked to the exit with a nod to my friends.
I found myself outside in the cold morning air heading up the incline ( Calle de Fragata, I think) to the taxi stand at its top and back to the hotel.
As I pushed the button in the lift I couldn’t help but smile to myself. It was the end to a perfect evening.

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Breakfast and golf at Rio Real
22 May 2009

I sat down at a table on the right hand side of the dining room. My initial venture to the self service bar produced a slice of melon a cup of coffee and round of toast. My eye was caught by a young spanish waiteress whose light brown hair was tied back in a pony tail. Her olive skin and dark hazel eyes held me in fascination. she was, of course, totally oblivious to my glances and yet for some reason I didn't want to voice my thoughts to my friend, who at that moment lifted himself slightly off his seat and raised a hand to beckon the others who had just entered the dining room. she continued her work, lithe and beautiful her pony tail swingly slightly with the occassional swish enforcing the attraction. Pleasantries and conversation commenced around the table that soon merged into smiles and laughter as recollections of the previous night were recalled and I knew a spell was broken as thoughts turned to the day ahead. A second visit to self service, this time to the hot food bar resulted in two slices of bacon, an egg, some more toast and another coffee but most was left untoutch so after fifteen minutes we headed to the car and Rio Real.

The ride to Rio Real didn't take too long. The turn off the main road seem wrong but soon it opened out to reveal a most pleasant club house. As we were early for tee off we proceeded downstairs to the restaurant for coffee but to our surprise and that of some other visitors coffee would not be served unless food was ordered. The huge room we stood in had the biggest fireplace I had ever seen and photos just had to be taken, it struck me how spectacular that room must be on a cold winters evening with soft light and a blazing fire in the hearth. Paying our fees and armed with several bottles of water and keys for buggies we set off to find the practice greens, which sat beside the first tee box, behind the starters office.

Rio is another parkland course and once again I could find little to fault it. I suppose if the truth be told there are three courses I truly enjoy on del sol, La Cala, Guadalhorce and Santana with others like El Chaparral, Mijas, Lauro and now Santa Clara and Rio Real among others also providing great playing pleasure. (Not wishing to offend but in September I stayed at villamartin, Costa Blanca and played the same along with La Finca and Campoamor and I just could not get that same feeling)

At the ninteenth bets were paid, I was out of pocket again. A question to those in the know, why is it when someone mentions out of bounds, water or trees does my ball end up exactly in the thick of it, then when the subject of money is raised I might as well have stayed in the clubhouse. Not you understand that it is for large amounts or indeed that I'm afraid of loosing a few euros but maybe its a fear of letting my partner down or perhaps its the competitive spirit in me where the thought of defeat is compounded by the act of also having to pay for it.

Once again a cold beer and light bite lifted my spirits no end. As I looked out from the balacony my only thoughts were of contentment and gratitude that life had once again provided an oasis where camaraderie and craic filled my glass. 

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Santa Clara and my first night
21 May 2009

My inital impression of Santa Clara golf clubhouse was to be taken back by its sheer size and imposition. What an outstanding structure with arches and an overhanging roof offering shade and escape from the heat of the day. The contrast between the shade and the brilliant sun bathe course startled me. I left it to the others to sort the fees and buggy hire while I let my eyes wander over the vista before me and almost shocked myself with the realisation that I would be soon participating in the theatre that lay before me. I had the same feeling the first time I played golf in Spain at Alhaurin, where you can stand on the balacony of the cubhouse and look down at the long dogleg right thats the first hole.(I've played this course again several years later but was disappointed at its condition and saddened that a great course was let down by what appeared to me to be poor maintenance.)

Now I don't want to give an account of the days golf, I hate that, you know those that after a game giving a blow by blow account and lament how things could have been so different if only.... Suffice to say that on the 18th hole my short chip, second shot on to the green rolled past the flag and on and on and on and then a soft plop could be heard as it quenched its thirst with water. Ten minutes later a pint of ice cold beer with condensation running down the outside of the glass was providing me with relief. A few more followed that and then regretfully it was time to leave. Our nominated driver helped load our clubs and off we set to find our hotel and sort out the rooms.

I don't think I saw the inside of the room properly until the next day as it was the case of throwing our bags in through the door and off to the bar for a drink. Two barcardi and coke later, about seven o' clock, and it was back to the room for an hours siesta. At 9pm we had showered and with glad rags on walk out into the cool night air straight into a taxi bound for the marina where we ate at an Italian restaurant. A bruschetta starter followed by roquefort steak was washed down with excellent red wine, what a treat!

From a bar to a nightclub and from there, well the memory is a bit hazy but we ended up back at the hotel about 3am and as you can imagine as soon as my head and pillow met the night passed on its way without my notice.

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A beautiful morning
19 May 2009

7am the morning of 16 Nov 2008 I stood on our balcony at the Aparthotel, Benalmadena looking out over the little road that led to the beach. The early sun displayed colours of purple orange and red as it rose higher above the horizon and a lonely sea bird glided high in the sky seeking a hidden warmth. Two workers on the beach loaded fallen branches and other debris into a tractor trailer while on the coast road little stirred apart the occasional car.

I had showered and dresssed, setting aside a jumper to put into my sports bag. Further back in the apartment I could hear the sound of my golfing partner getting into the shower and I felt the need to slide the patio doors almost closed to drink in those delights that  feasted my eyes, the stillness that pounded my ears and the taste of the salt on my lips that was carried on the chill wind.

 NOTE:  Now I know this is crap. I've read more interesting lines on the back of a toilet door so take my advice click close and go watch a kettle boil because from here its all down hill. 

The four of us had arrived three days earlier on an easyjet flight, there was a bank manager, two business men who ran quite successful businesses and myself  who made up our fourball. Having collected our bags we made our way to the 'tunnel' at malaga airport to wait on the courtesy bus to take us to the car rental company, can't remember the name began with an N, just at the first roundabout from the airport, (come on anyone who has hired a car at malaga airport will know the number of rental businesses along this block). Anyway about half an our later we emerged into the mayhem and chaos of spanish traffic in our white Peugeot partner car/van heading for my fist visit to Santa Clara golf with its magnificant club house, fantastic food, cold beer and what turned out to be a terrific course.  

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