Location: locating: located

Location

They were half way through their holiday. Grimble was pleased. Bags for men had been bought. G had become the proud owner of two from one market visit.

This purchase had not been without some issues. After their trip to the shopping centre and market, there had been an impasse of sorts. This was not due to G being truculent or diffident. It was due to their remote location: Comares.

Comares was stunning. It was originally an Arabic hilltop fort. It’s white village outline could be seen for miles…and miles. In fact, it was approximately a mile and a half in the air. They had observed its stellar height on their first day when Satnav lady was desperate to journey them down some dirt track, seeming in the opposite direction to this lofty hilltop village. Perhaps this was because she was all too aware of the journey to follow.

They travelled the winding, bending, tortuous road ever upwards. They noted the lack of crash barrier at prime hairpin bends and their ears popped. As they arrived at their holiday rental, they felt dizzy from the thinness of the air. Comares could not be denied it’s status as a hilltop fortress. After this hill was sky. There was no other way back than down the treacherous death defying road.

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Comares…on a big hill

As a result, all road trips had to be evaluated against a day lazing by the pool. Often the pool won outright, without discussion. Any trip taken had to be of value. There was no purposeless ambling from Comares. They might decide to stagger uphill on foot to the square for a coffee, beer or flamenco night. They would not use the car without good reason.

Locating.

G had set his sights on purchasing bags at Torre del Mar Thursday market which luckily coincided with a trip to Sevilla. Their planned trip to Sevilla was no less barking mad as leaving Comares, with it’s recent August temperature of 47. However, they were not planning to stay in Sevilla. The sole purpose was to collect their amiga, the Emster. Charitably they were releasing her from the hellish Sevillian heat for a week of Comares mountain retreat.

After several hours of morning phaffing and dawdling, they left Comares at 11.30. Grimble knew this was not a good time as they would hit Torre at prime beach and shopping hour, just prior to siesta. Grimble, ever knowledgeable about the vagaries of Spanish life, was not far wrong. There was no where to park despite circling the town several times. Huge 4×4 crammed themselves into spaces where a Fiat 500 would have struggled to negotiate. They could almost smell the scent of leather man bags, they were so close. But, finally, it was not to be.

With limited options available, they decided to quit the seaside and depart immediately for the frying pan of Europe. The motorway journey was uneventful, hot and deserted. This was the joy of travelling at siesta. They briefly discussed a short detour at the Sevilla Airport Outlet Mall. But, as the temperature rose steadily through the 30s and into the low 40s, they swiftly dismissed this ridiculous suggestion.

In theory, they were going to bundle the Emster into the car and drive straight out of Sevilla. It might be a beautiful city at other times off the year but in August it was the epitome of a living hell. However, the Emster was not to be rushed or, usually, even ready. After more than a decade in Spain, she had mastered the slow, steady pace of life that meant nothing was hurried. She had fond farewells to say to her mad dog and evil bird before leaving. Plus she still had to finalise packing, eat lunch and double checking her travel arrangements.

By 6pm, they were finally on their way. Making sure that every journey counted, they called off at the large Torre del Mar supermarket for essentials: milk, eggs, chocolate milk, crab sticks, cava and various other irrelevant items. It was dark when they ascended the steep path to Comares. It was hard to say if this was better or worse. It was simply dark and dangerous.

Located

Planning the purchase of a man bag with other pursuits was not easy. Grimble and G had forsaken shopping trips as they were desperately trying to avoid clutter. They wanted to go on a pedalo on Lake Viñuela not shop til they dropped. This was a great way to spend two hours, pedalling for ten minutes and spending the remaining time jumping off the pedalo and safely floating in a life jacket. It hadn’t required a great deal of exertion. All thoughts of man bags were easily forgotten as they floated aimlessly around the still lake waters.

Again utilising the car away from Comares scenario, they visited a supermarket to replenish cava, which seemed to evaporate in the altitude, buy ice pops and cheese.

Their next trip was Torre to join a group heading to the Malaga Feria. This was an overnighter. They departed Torre at 1pm, in theory, though this was a Spanish trip. The coach finally pulled out 30 minutes late. They left Malaga nine hours later. With G still awaiting his ideal man bag, Grimble found herself laden with an awful lot of stuff to cover a protracted adventure. She muttered and cussed to no avail. She also advised that this would be the last such packing of her bag.

Malaga Feria was fun, busy and sweaty. They were able to drink for free as each caseta enticed them in with free beer, tinto verano and paella. Their group was formed from a salsa bar and they were not afraid to take over any caseta and dance salsa to any music. Despite one dance looking suspiciously like the Hokey Cokey, they were rewarded with tequila shots and lots of applause. By 5pm they were half cut. By 7pm, they were hungry and flagging. At 9pm, G, Emster and Grimble had forsaken the others and were drinking strong coffee outside of the Feria.

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Community dancing

The trip back should have been quiet given the exhaustion. However, this was Spain and the return was far from silent. Shouting Spanish ladies conducted full conversations from one end of the coach to the other with barely time to breathe. Staggering through fatigue and tentinitous, they made their way to the B and B and bed.

The next day, there was a halfhearted attempt to buy a man bag. G adorned himself with a decent leather bag, slung gamely over his shoulder but he was too tired to commit. They left Torre vowing to return on Thursday for the market. The market which had become like a holy shrine for all things man bag. It was as if this was the only place a man bag of quality could be found.

And that’s what happened. They set off earlier. They found parking. Within the hour, and after a coffee, two bags were bartered for and bought. One brown leather, the other black. They each had a variety of flaps and pockets.

There was one disconcerting moment when Grimble seemed to be carrying her bag and the carrier bag containing G’s bags. However, another café and coffee later, G’s bag was filled most of his items. Grimble would continue to find odd bits here and there for the next few days. He carried it like a man. Well like a British man. Which meant that there was some self conscious moments, a little grumbling and a defiance that stated that neither bag would be used or even seen in Blighty.

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Man bags take up residence

In the intervening days, the bags had a chequered life. G filled them with stuff then decided that he wasn’t taking a bag. This resulted his items of importance, namely toothpicks and tissues, being left behind. Grimble grittily held her position. She would not refill her own bag with G’s clutter. It was a war of attrition. Bag training was even more complex than puppy training, it seemed.

Man bag nil: beach bag 1

Yet another bloody beach bag

Grimble had to be very careful how she introduced the topic of a man bag to G. If she simply announced it, G would spiral into inconsolable misery. He would refuse to leave the pool or have a siesta that lasted well into the night. All Grimble’s devious wiles would be required to make this search seem fun and worthwhile.

G had shown a level of unexpected cooperation. He had communicated his needs in terms of a hypothetical bag. Grimble worried that his description might result in a fantasy bag. He itemised: pockets that opened easily, not too big or heavy, could carry a phone, iPad and stuff. It had to be in leather. He also said ideally he’d require two.

Grimble had nipped herself to make certain that she wasn’t on siesta or in a drunken haze at this declaration of a double purchase. The bag would be needed in black and brown to allow for maximum accessorising. This was a hopeful sign.

Their first foray into man bag territory was El Ingenio, a monster shopping mall by Velez. This name, roughly translated, meant ingenuity or wit. This seemed apt given Grimble would need both to keep G entertained and focused in a shopping centre. She motivated him with the idea that they needed a fan for the apartment. Air Con used energy insanely and it made them feel like they lived in a freezer. A manly electrical item would be enough to entice G into El Ingenio. Once inside, if there were coffee breaks and gadget shops, he would not complain too much.

G took charge of all things fan like. In the colossal Eroski supermarket, G located a plethora of suitable fans at a good price. However, they had only been in the mall for 10 minutes and, for G, his work here was done. Grimble showed an unnatural interest in large screen TVs in order to prolong this shopping adventure and keep G busy.

In reality, El Ingenio was a bit of a disappointment. The shops had a rebejas of 70% and clothes that no sane person would wear. Dunnes was filled with overpriced tat. Who, in their right mind, would purchase Irish tea at 5€ for 160 bags? Even the coffee shops were far too busy with abandoned men looking forlornly into their third café con leche.

In terms of man bags, the only offering was a discounted PVC one in Zara Man. Grimble showed it to G to assess interest. He grunted disappointment. Unlike a woman shopper who will touch and try on just for the hell of it, he would not even entertain it. Grimble was not certain if he was selective or uncommitted to a man bag.

Grimble realised that, if the current bag ownership remained unchanged, her bags did not have the space needed for a sunbathing trip. This actual trip consisted of a 10m stroll from the apartment to pool. However, it still required a big bag to house all the usual stuff plus two towels, puzzle books to keep G occupied, cool drinks and different factor suncreams. As they were about to depart El Ingenio, Grimble spied a bag shop with a sale. She emerged seconds later with a beach bag of immense proportions and a cheap price.

As the drove up the terrifying mountain pass back to Comares, Grimble pondered on how a hunt for G a man bag resulted in her owning yet another seasonal bag that had no function outside of Spain.

She had higher hopes of the next trip. A local market at Trappiche. It claimed it was artisan and crafty. She convinced G a trip here would give them a taste of local life.

G leads the way into Trappiche market

The location was unusual. It was set alongside a disused airstrip: though planes landing and taking off suggested otherwise. The venue housed the market and weddings. As a result, it was a quite ornate affair. There were white cloth draped chairs, marquees and gazebos, chandeliers and artificial grass bedecked with fake rose archways. In between this opulence were a variety of stalls selling anything and everything.

An unusual venue

There was the ubiquitous holiday clothing stall where Grimble got more short season wares. A local farmer selling garlic and eggs which Grimble also decided were essential items. Then there was a very animated and jolly man selling funeral plans. G and Grimble rarely went on holiday to be reminded of their own mortality. Next to him was a chap who would advise you on how best he could spend your pension.

Grimble wasn’t sure if there was a route they should follow as clearly pension thieving chap should come before burial bloke. This market was certainly eccentric and clearly not marketed at Spanish folk. There was another offering to set up TVs to provide the best of British. Then, there was another selling miscellaneous manly things: small tools, torches and stuff in metal. He did sell one man bag: a canvas one.

G had shown an interest in the general stuff on display here. Just as Grimble thought she might sneak a man bag into conversation, she was blindsided by a man modelling this very bag. Sadly, this man was not aspirational. He was a lumbering hairy bloke whose breakfast was still clearly visible on both his beard and T shirt. G looked horrified at the combination of man bag and hairy beast man.

This was not good and it would take some effort on Grimble’s part to separate this memory for G. As a temporary solution, she located a nice Irish lady that gave G a decent 20 minute massage. This seemed to have the desired effect and G left Trappiche market slightly less traumatised. This hunt was proving to be more complex than anticipated.

Repairing a damaged G

The start of a man bag

G and Grimble return to Spain

Grimble had been remiss. It had been many months since her last update. Her day job did not help her creative spirit. There was something about an excel spreadsheet that made her soul die. However, work was not the whole story…

The insanely hot UK summer had meant long weekends languishing by the boat with a succession of BBQs and flowing cava. This self induced haze had not helped Grimble’s power with words. Finally, the weather broke and there was the torrential downpour. Gusts of of 50 mph wind made the serenity of the mooring very dangerous.

Grimble had been forced to tackle a low flying wooden table intent on barging her into the Thames. Matrix like, she belted the vicious table from its trajectory as she side swiped a metal chair with her thigh. Sporting several bruises, she realised a UK summer was a dangerous thing. There was a definitive need of an escape to the safety of Spain. The only hazard there was the threat of record breaking heat.

The mooring pre storm

In England, discussions of record breaking heat rarely exceeded a desultory mid 30 range. In Southern Spain an acceptable norm: an almost clement daily temperature. Now, even the BBC reported that Southern Europe was about to get volcano hot into the high 40s. Grimble recalled melting in Sevilla at 44 degrees. She considered these few digits more as almost irrelevant. Anything above 40 was simply fucking hot as hell.

However, G and Grimble had selected their holiday wisely. They had opted for the hills east of Malaga. This was an area they hoped to relocate to. This trip was as much a test of local facilities rather than merely a cava, tapas and sun seeking holiday. Here, temperatures rarely exceeded 33. In England, this would result in a cessation of all public transport, A and E filled to capacity with sunstroke victims and the local CoOp having no ice for the foreseeable future. In Spain, this was functioning weather.

Grimble had taken charge of all the organisation. She had looked at locations en route, documentation and holiday cash.

With almost no time to spare, she had ordered a Halifax infinity card. The lovely, reliable Martin Lewis had advised her to do so. Grimmy loved the advice of Martin Lewis. He was a gem of a man. He took on Facebook, irritating PPI wankers and even looked cross in front of the saintly Philip Scofield and Holly W. Then came a nail biting few days waiting for the card’s arrival. The Halifax taunted G and Grimble with texts to indicate it had been posted and it would arrive within ten days.

It arrived Wednesday morning, two days prior to the EDT of Friday afternoon. So relieved was Grimble that she threw caution to the wind and plans to the recycling. A few deft moments on her iPad and she advised G to gird his loins and sort out his rucksack. They were leaving that afternoon! The were now booked on a lunchtime Le Shuttle on Thursday. Not that this spontaneity was entirely unexpected for Grimble. She had forced G to address his packing on Tuesday night. Ignoring his grumbling of far too fucking early, she had advised him that he would thank her efficiency later.

A note on the packing here. G’s grumbling about being forced to pack was somewhat inaccurate. His packing regime consisted of him lay on the bed as Grimble presented him with various shirts, shorts and other miscellaneous items. He then regally stated yay or nay to these offerings. Whereupon, Grimble rolled and deposited them in a case.

Before the righteous among you demand Grimble cease this level of servitude, consider this. Left to his own devices, G’s packing was unpredictable at best. Briefly, Grimble left the room and then unpacking in Spain discovered irregularities. Neatly tucked in the bottom of the case was a black cashmere jumper and a navy fleece. “Why?” demanded Grimble. “Just on the off chance,” retorted G. The off chance of what thought Grimble. The off chance Satnav lady went temporarily rogue and directed them to Sweden ? Which, incidentally, was also suffering from an unexpected heatwave. Grimble patiently bit her tongue, almost in reality as opposed to literally, at what she had to endure. The winter items remained unpacked in the case.

However, the biggest packing nightmare was the Grimble bag of holiday essentials: documentation, cash in two currencies, cards, licences etc. The Grimble bag had long been a point of contention. Even outside of holiday time, G liked to carry light. Trips to pubs, restaurants or even the boat, consisted of G being item free and Grimble shouldering a bag of epic proportions. At points, so heavy was the bag, that Grimble’s gait resembled Quasimodo. Her chant of the bag, the fucking bag did recall Quasimodo’s bells’ speech.

This year’s bag was particularly stuffed. It exceeded even Grimble’s capacity. Each item that G requested seemed to be located in its Tardis like interior. The usual suspects were present. On request, G was delivered with a toothpick, tissues and loose change. Seemingly, to challenge its never ending contents, G decided that his lips were chapped. A short forage later and a lip balm with SPF factor was located. Rising to the challenge, G then decided his skin was dry. There was a rustling and as if the bag was a magician’s hat, Grimble produced a small tube of extra strength moisturiser.

Ultimately, Grimble knew that this situation was reaching critical bag overload. G continued to pass her more and more items to hold. Lighter, phone, glasses to name a few. She endeavoured to retain bag organisation but the system was imploding. At restaurants, before she could even view a menu, half the insides of her bag had been deposited on the table. Toothpicks, needle and thread, plasters for inevitable blisters cluttered her space before G’s glasses could be located. All his items frustratingly seemed to worm themselves out of Grimble’s hand reach.

There was one request too far and a brave or foolhardy G commented on lack of organisation. At which point, Grimble menacingly looked up from the depths of the bag’s interior. With a darkened and furrowed expression, she revealed her inner thoughts. Bag contents required sharing. They were about to venture to Southern Spain. Everyone knew that here man bags were both de rigueur and on point. In 6 months time, G would need to be adept with such a bag. Therefore, he needed to practice now. She did not expect him to take it truck driving in Swindon. There his rucksack would suffice. But it was going to be the way of all future holidays and, very soon, life.

With this plan firmly entrenched in Grimble’s brain, the hunt for a man bag had begun.

A partially emptied bag and G reclining/supervising