Mañana Mellie



I am a great one for procrastinating. Why not put off what could be done today until tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow or the day after that. Or till next week? In fact I am very Spanish in all things mañana, mañana, mañana. So I have been happily putting off one of the most important things I have to do before I go to live in Madrid. I need to find a lodger.  Matt would have us pack everything up and rent the whole house out for mega bucks but that ain’t happening. I don’t win many battles but I’m holding my ground on this one. Because it is not just a house, it’s our home.  The girls are only going to be at university, they’ve not actually, properly, left home yet. We all still need to have a home to come back to at Christmas and other holidays and I will have to have somewhere to come back to when I need to see my friends, family and the sea (so that’s every other weekend then!)

Anyway, I have agreed on the lodger. The house should not be empty while I’m in Madrid. Not only is there the ethics behind leaving an empty house while so many are homeless (not that I’m advocating opening my doors and yelling “come on in” to all and sundry – I’m not that philanthropic!) but an empty house is inviting all sorts of problems from unwelcome burglar types to frozen pipes. So a lodger is the best solution. They can take the upstairs spare room while leaving all the other bedrooms just like they should be for when we all come home.

I need to get someone in sooner rather that later so we can get to know each other and more importantly, I can check them out so I know they can be trusted not to turn the house into a crack den the minute we all leave. They will need to get used to this, slightly unconventional, living situation too. Most lodgers live with/alongside the host family all the time but in our case sometimes they will be living in the craziness that is our whole family together and sometimes totally alone in a largish empty house.

I am really not keen on picking someone at random from Gumtree (other lodger finding websites are available I’m sure). I am hoping that someone will serendipitously drop into my lap. I say ‘hoping’ but I’m actually dreading it! Now I love having people to stay. For a night or three but any longer and I start to get twitchy! I need my space and my privacy and …. my space!  It will be strange for me to share my kitchen and sitting room.  What if they like to cook up foul smelling chicken stock (yuk) while listening to death metal? Or plinkity plonkity jazz?  In my kitchen! They may want to watch endless re-runs of Friends in my sitting room when I want to watch something quality like Big Brother! Will they be a neat freak? Or a total slob? Eeek. Actually, I like the sound of a neat freak! Will I be judged if I’m found curled up on the sofa at three in the afternoon having a siesta? What if I find them curled up on the sofa a three in the afternoon having a siesta? How very dare they be on my sofa, where I want to be!

Well no more mañana. I have put this off long enough. This week the room is going to be given a very quick lick of paint and I am going to be prepared for Serendipity to work her magic and introduce me to the perfect tenant who will come bearing a bottle of prosecco and a promise to love and care for my house the way I do and who I will like so much I won’t mind the death metal or chicken stock or even finding them curled up on my sofa at three in the afternoon having a siesta!


Mellie and the MP

I am a lady of leisure! No, I don’t work and yes, I admit, I love not working. Sometimes I don’t know how I ever had the time to work and bring up a family. There’s the gym to go to, friends to meet, Spanish to learn and long weekends in Madrid to squeeze into my life. It’s tough sometimes! But, having said that, there are days that are not so fun-filled and I have to try to find other ways to occupy my time so I don’t slip into a Jeremy Kyle watching, sofa squatting slob, which would be oh so easy especially in the winter months. Anyhow, I have been trying to keep my brain active by doing a bit of writing. I suppose that’s also one of the reasons I decided to start this blog. So, a few poems have falteringly been written (maybe after a bit of tweaking some of them may find a way onto here at a later date so hold onto your hats – this may be a bumpy ride!) and recently, after a trip to Tennessee in February to visit Isabella who has been studying there for the last year, I decided to write up one of our road-trip adventures. Anyway here it is. It’s far from perfect, but I enjoyed writing it. And I guess that’s the most important thing. Enjoy x

No One Walks in America

“We could walk?”

“No one in America walks!”

“We’re not American. We’re British. We walk. Anyway, we need some fresh air and exercise.”

We had been snowed in all day. A very un-Tennessee-like snow storm had dumped a load of the white stuff overnight and driving anywhere in our little Dinky Toy hire car was a health and safety disaster waiting to happen. But we were hungry and we needed food and we knew there was a great BBQ place on the main road. It was only a few blocks away, maybe twenty minutes walk, Patty, our guest house landlady, told us. So, wrapped up warmly, we set off. 

The snow wasn’t snow. It was ice. The ice was a few inches deep in parts but we found our way down the drive and onto the street. Icicles decorated the mail boxes and sunlight shone jewels on the whited-out front gardens. Our faces tightened in the cold and shone bright pink. We laughed as we slipped and held onto each other as the ice cracked beneath our weight. This was fun! This was a lovely mother-daughter moment. Creating memories for our own memory boxes.

The twenty minute walk took much longer. We were not really walking, we were tiptoeing, creeping along gingerly. As we walked past the block-long playing field of a nearby school the sun had had enough and started its descent. The girlish giggles had begun to give way to tired sighs and irritated gasps at bone-jarring miss-footings. 

As we turned into the main road the distant lights of Taco Bell and McDonald’s shone like beacons in the dusk. But there was no sense of welcome despite their brightly coloured frontages. Their deserted car parking lots looked sad and threatening. Our light mood had been sucked out as the daylight had been sucked out by the dusk. This was the main drag through this part of town but it felt empty. A few pick-up trucks had braved the conditions, a couple hooted their horns at the sight of us …. maybe an encouraging “way to go girls” – but probably not. The sound felt ominous. We started to feel vulnerable and we were very alone.

No one walks in America. Let alone in the snow! 

The darkness had really taken hold by now and we realised that somehow we were going to have to get back home. It had been hard enough to walk in the light of day. The street lights on the main road were helping us now but we knew that the long walk back past the deserted school playing field and down the unlit residential streets was going to be virtually impossible in these conditions, and very scary! We had come out for dinner but the hunger had left us. What should we do? Should we start walking back now?

I was floundering. I could not make a decision. Then I saw a taxi. Why oh why did I not just hail it then and there? But I was floundering and I could not make a decision. 

“Why don’t we go to the BBQ place, then order a taxi from there? OK. Sorted. Decision made. Let’s go!”

But the BBQ place was closed. Domino’s Pizza was closed. The Mexican was closed. Almost everywhere was closed. Maybe the staff couldn’t get in. Maybe there was so little custom that they had shut up early. Who knows? But it added to the post-apocalyptic feeling that had descended over this part of East Memphis. 

Then we saw a convenience store. We would go in get some snacks, and ask for the phone number of a taxi company. The lovely guy behind the counter dialled the number for us on his landline and handed me the phone. All the tension left me as I was waiting on hold for the cab control. Two grubby looking men walked in. I hardly noticed. My danger antenna had gone as I imagined a taxi pulling up in five minutes to do the scary icy drive that would not be scary because the taxi driver would be an experienced driver. Right? Nothing more to worry about now except the lack of decent snacks!

“It will be at least an hour ma’am. Maybe an hour and a half.”

“Really? We can’t wait that long. Sorry, I don’t want it.”

“You want to cancel ma’am?”

“Yes I want to cancel.”

I handed back the phone to Lovely Convenience Store Guy as he was serving the two men their six packs of beer.

“You can wait here if you like.”

“Thanks, but it’s fine. It’s going to take too long. We will figure something out.”

Back to floundering indecision.  We stepped outside.

As we hit the dark I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach. My danger antenna jumped right back up. I had just had a conversation about needing a cab, where I wanted it to go to, cancelling it and that we would walk …. in front of two men who were now getting into their truck as we stood hesitating outside the store. 

It was only 7pm but it felt like midnight in the deserted darkness and I realised that I had just potentially put us in danger. We headed back along the road towards our turn off trying to look confidently as if we knew where we were going. 

“If anyone asks us if we need a ride we tell them we have sorted something.”

Why did I even think we would be asked? Sixth sense? Just then a truck pulled up. It was the two men from the convenience store.

“Need a ride?”

“We’re fine thanks. We’ve got someone on the way to get us.”

Just keep walking keep walking keep walking. We held hands, clinging onto each other, gripping tighter every time another pick-up truck drove past us. Then we saw another minimart type store.

“Ok. Let’s go in here. We just need to get off this road.”

The store was bright and warm with a sullen-faced woman behind the counter and empty apart from four, yes four, policemen. They looked like superheroes standing around a self-serve coffee station at the end of the store. I knew that I needed to talk to them. I needed them to know we were not from around here. That we were English. I needed them to know we were in a spot of bother. 

“Umm, excuse me. I’m sorry to trouble you but could you tell me the area code so I can try to call a taxi from my mobile.”

I waved my iPhone around as if I had never used one before.  After a little joke about where I came from and that it’s a cell not a mobile and did we even have phones in England they gave me the number for a taxi.

“Number not recognised. Number not recognised.”

The recorded voice was more than I could bear.

“It doesn’t work!!” 

Was that really my voice? The desperate whine sounded pitiful. I was holding the phone looking at it as if it had personally let me down. 

“Where are you two ladies trying to get to?” the main joker policemen with his big fluffy greying moustache asked. “Do you feel safe to come with me?”

I nearly cried! It was pathetic how thankful I was.

“Really? Really? Are you going to drive us home? Really? Oh thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.”

He was my angel. I wanted to kiss him.

So, for the first time in either of our lives we went in a police car. A police car in the USA. A police car with ‘Memphis Police’ written on the side.

We were giddy with adrenaline as we recounted our story to Patty when we got home.

“I’m sure the truck guys were probably nice and genuinely trying to help us get home.” I said.

“I’m sure they were not,” said Patty. 

Mellie no mates?…No matter!


When I was younger, much younger, I would never have dreamt of going out on my own. As a teenager I wouldn’t even go into town on a Saturday on my own, I had to have a mate. Then I grew up a bit and had children so being on my own was pure luxury. Teletubbies was the only way I could even go to the loo without a band of merry anklebiters to accompany me. Sometimes I would snatch a hour or two to have a solitary walk around the shops when I got the chance but that was pretty much it. Then I grew up a bit more and had a bit more time to myself and although I enjoyed my own company, there were things that I would never consider doing alone. I would never walk, go on a bike ride or go to an art gallery alone. I would never, ever go to the cinema alone. I would never, ever, ever, go into a pub, order a drink and sit down, on my own.

But now I am a changed woman! I know that I am not a ‘single woman’ as such, but I do live a large portion of my life without having to check in with or answer to a significant other and I am embracing all of the best bits of being single. Now, sometimes, I do all of these things and more, alone.

OK, I admit, the going into a pub bit is just while waiting for others to join me, I’ve not quite got to solitary drinking yet! But even a year ago I would always be just a little bit late so I wasn’t the first one in the pub. Now I don’t care. I’ve even been chatted up! It’s nice to know I’ve still got it…or is it that a woman on her own in a pub still gives off a certain message? Anyway, the point is I’m not scared any more.

And going to the cinema alone in the afternoon is a secret guilty pleasure. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to chat about the film afterwards with a pal, but having that someone sitting next to you is not a prerequisite to enjoying the film. Matt and I have never been good cinema buddies. I don’t do Bladerunner and he doesn’t do Dior & I. Consequently I have missed so many films over the years that I have wanted to see because I have not found anyone to go with. Now I just go, and who would have thought…there are others who are solo in the cinema too. It’s not just me, there are loads of us! We all sit with a decent number of seats between us – we are British after all and personal space needs to be respected, right? But at the end when the lights go up some of us exchange smiles or pleasantries or mutual embarrassment at tear stained cheeks after a weepy.

Tomorrow night I am going on a Hidden Mysteries Tour of Brighton. I am going with 9 other people. I have never met any of them. I may get murdered, after all isn’t that what we tell our children about meeting up with strangers from the interweb! But I probably won’t get murdered. I will probably have a really interesting evening doing something I would never have done if I had faffed around trying to find someone to go with.

Of course I still love to be sociable. I love going out to restaurants and bars with Matt or with groups of friends. I love a good party and I have a big disco-dancing filled evening with a bunch of friends to look forward to on Saturday night. But I am responsible for my own happiness, I can’t sit festering at home waiting for the weekends I go to Madrid or for the phone to ring with an offer of a quick drink. And this is good practice for when I get to Madrid and I have to build my own life there. I’m definitely not going to be the little lady waiting for her man to get home from work (sorry Matt!). I’m going to be off, out doing stuff….sometimes on my own.

The Language Barrier

The best bits about moving to Spain will be:

a) living with Matt again

b) the food and drink

c) the new experiences and places to visit

d) mastering a new language

Now, the first three things are great, easy, enjoyable etc. But d) …  mastering a new language. Hmm. I don’t think so! Mastering is far too strong a term. If I can learn to just get by in Spanish I will be thrilled, proud of myself even. It’s so crazily hard to learn a new language at my age, but try I must. I really don’t want to be one of the Brits-abroad-who-can’t-be-bothered  crowd. Anyway, it’s Madrid I’m off to, not the Costa del Expat. Some people speak English in Madrid but certainly not everybody and it’s crucial that I try really, really hard to communicate in Spanish or I will find my world a very small and very insular place.

But here I am, eighteen months after my first Spanish lesson, still feeling such a fool when trying to construct the most basic of sentences. In my head I have wonderful conversations with myself in what I think is almost fluent español. I have even dreamt in Spanish but in real-true-life Confidence sits on my shoulder mocking me as I try to give some order to the jumble of words swirling around my mouth. I hear what comes out and I surprise myself with the ghastliness of it all!!

Still, I have to believe those who tell me that it will be easier when I am living here. When I hear Spanish all around me, all day, every day. There is a lovely lady called Ana who looks after Matt’s building. She is there every weekday morning doing porter/cleaning duties. She speaks not one word of English. We have wonderful, nonsensical conversations. She smiles and encourages my attempts. It will come, poco a poco, little by little, she tells me. You just need to come to Spain more often. Es verdad! It’s true. I do need to go more often. Over the next six months I will try to go as much as possible and if I can just get Confidence to stop mocking me and start to cheer me on who knows what I can achieve. Even at my age!

Melliem in Madrid


Hello world! In six months it will time for The Big Move. The Big Move is the move to Madrid to join my husband, Matt, who has been enjoying the bachelor life a little too much if you ask me! It’s time for me to stop saying, “I’m meant to be moving to Madrid” It’s time for me to remind him he has a wife and time to remind myself I have a husband. It’s time for us to live together properly for the first time in over 2 years. It’s also time for me to grab my new life by the horns and see where it takes me. It’s scary! Exciting, yes, but scary! So I thought I would start a blog to give me a kind of diary to record what happens and how I feel as a The Big Move gets closer and then how I get on as I start my new life in España. Let’s see how long I keep it up!