“It’s a really cool city this, but I’m not sure I could ever live here – or anywhere out in this part of the world actually.’
As me and my pal Gibbo zig-zagged through the narrow, labyrinthine streets and alleys of Seville, this was the statement that the day’s bucket load of cheap Cruzcampo made me blurt out. Gibbo looked at me bemused – and he was right to be bemused. We’d just spent the past 24 hours in what can only be described as an utterly magnificent city. The beer had been cheap but good; the more expensive craft beer had been excellent; the locals had been friendly; the tapas had been superb; and the city…well it’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful (in most places at least). Plus, we were walking back from the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, where we had just watched Sevilla CF triumph over Lazio in the Europa League, and it was 10pm in February and the weather was still glorious. So, really? You couldn’t live here? Well, apparently, that night, some bizarre gut feeling was telling me Andalucía wasn’t the place for me to lay my flat cap. Columbo always trusted a ‘hunch’ but it seems best if I no longer follow his suit and in future totally dismiss moronic hunches such as this ‘I’m-not-going-to-live-in-Spain’ one.
Jump forward 2 months after that night in Seville, I found myself in a beach bar in Marbella, on a reconnaissance visit. Days earlier I had accepted a teaching job in Marbella – of course a part of Andalucía; a part of a world I had totally dismissed just a couple of months previous and written off as a place to ever call ‘home’. This was now to be home.
There were probably two turning points in me reversing my initial dismissal of a future life in Southern Spain. Firstly, it took me a matter of hours into day two of my Seville trip to realise I’m an idiot and of course I could live in Seville – it’s bloody awesome! Plus, weeks after my Seville trip, my then other half decided that it was suddenly a good idea for his career to go work out in Gibraltar and so I decided to follow behind. It beat staying in my then adopted home of Horsham for another year.
Of course, I’d need a new job too and having spent the past 8 years as a secondary English teacher, I looked at teaching posts in Gibraltar. That was a dead end. Gibraltar is just a small town around a big rock really, so I looked further up the ‘Costa del Sol’ where jobs were (only slightly) more bountiful. And that’s where Marbella came into play. I should probably refer back to ‘then other half’ of the previous paragraph as I am now out here solo, but I could certainly think of worse places to end up to go and fully attack the nascent years of my 30s.
I struck gold with a job in a school there and pertinently the school was called ‘Swans’. The aforementioned pertinence comes from the fact I am a supporter of the mighty footballing Swans – Swansea City. I should probably mention here that I’m a proud Valleys boy born and bred Welshman – Merthyr Tydfil to be precise (yes, that supposed rough place you’ve heard about on the news). Although I’ve not lived in my home town for over 10 years now having spent time living in Manchester, Slovakia and then Horsham in West Sussex over the past decade. My true home in the Merthyr valleys does tick many of the stereotypes of Welshness’: male voice choirs, sheep, abandoned coal mines and, of course, rugby. Rugby has never really been my bag though and certainly my chief love in life is football – which finally brings us onto this new blogging venture I suppose…
Los Boyos. Clever that, ain’t it? As 1) ‘Los’ is Spanish 2) ‘Boyo’ is an endearing term for a Welshman and 3) there’s that cool film with Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim and all those vampires called The Lost Boys. You can add a number 4) in there too, if you are aware that me and my brother also used to write a football/travel blog called ‘Lost Boyos’. Anyway, enough of the egotistical name praising, what’s this going to be all about? Is it going to be just a Spanish version of the semi-heralded Lost Boyos football adventures that I used to publish?…
My answer to that as I write this is certainly ‘yes’, but maybe a bit of ‘no’ too. Yes, I think there will be plenty of football involved as I continue to ‘groundhop’ (google it if you are new to the term) around Spain and maybe just some bits about Spanish football too – a country whose football I’ve adored since a 20-year-old me won £40 thanks to the national team winning Euro 2008. However, I’d also like to go down other avenues too, maybe writing about things like: Where is the best craft beer in Marbella? Where’s the best place for craft beer in the whole of Spain? You can certainly expect beer that’s fair to say; I do like beer. Also, I’ll try to throw in a bit of culture too for good measure – although culture is a pretty vague word isn’t it? So we’ll see where that takes me.
Ultimately, this is going to be me writing about my now more Spanish-tinged football travels, other bits of Spanish football paraphernalia, my experiences of living on the famous Costa Del Sol and whatever else takes my fancy really; and hopefully takes other people’s fancy too.
To summarise though, these pages will almost definitely feature:
Football. Travel. Beer. And a Valleys Boy.
If you like any or all of those things, then maybe come back soon.