A hanging Johnny in the parque

The last day of my week’s holiday was certainly full of activity, and was topped off with very weird find in a parque.

I actually set my alarm for 7.30am. You see, I’m one of those weird people who like to set their alarm half an hour before they actually have to get up on the Monday after a holiday; just to get myself in the routine. So I did. It was horrible after 10 days of no official alarms (just my son running in), but alas, we did get up at 8am on a Sunday, which meant we could go to Parque Porzuma.

We’d been meaning to go to Parque Porzuma for some time. It’s about a 30 minute walk from where we live, out in Mairena del Aljarafe in Sevilla, and it’s perfect weather now to go and spend the morning there.

As usual, even though we got up early, we didn’t leave the house till 11am. It’s one of those mysteries that I can’t get my head round. During the week, when the kids have to be up and out the house by 8.45am, we manage it. Of course with the usual stress of force feeding our kids and making sure they have the right pair of shoes on and have clean faces, but we’ve never been late (at least I haven’t). But when the weekend comes, no matter where we go in the morning, we never get out before 11am.


By the time we got to Porzuma, the sun was in full swing and the kids were eager to arrive to the parque.
“Donde esta? – Where is it?” asked my son, 15 times in the 30 minute walk. Each time he asked I did actually explain it to him, but as he’s only 3 so he doesn’t understand directions. He was still asking when we got near the entrance.

“Where’s the parque Daddy?”
“Just there, where those people are.” A couple were walking towards us. When they got to us, they’d obviously gone passed the door.
“Now Daddy?”
“No, it’s still up there a bit.”

When we finally got to the parque, my son ran up the steep welcome hill and almost fell over at the top. Then he went barmy when he saw the huge tunnel – slide (it must have been at least 6 times his height so no wonder he got a bit overjoyed). He jumped up and down and shouted that he’d seen a massive tunnel.

My daughter was equally excited, so much so that she started to take off her shoes. She’s only 2 and forgets that she needs shoes to walk, at least she does in the parque. So off we went to the huge tunnel, and I had a great time throwing myself down it, as did my son of course.

If you live in Sevilla, or are ever passing through then I’d recommend exploring Parque Porzuma. You can take a picnic and there are those funny public barbecues that people share. There’s also a great path all the way round and takes you past pretty flowers, and a dog training place, an overgrowing allotment, and two lakes, one which has water, and one which has dried up. This is where we set off next.

It was a struggle getting my son away from the parque, but I felt I had to. For some reason a couple of 6 years old Spanish kids were discussing the benefits of adding the word ‘f$cking’ to the phrase ‘Oh my God’. An interesting conversation, but not one for a 3 year old. So I had to get my son out of there because he’s picking up so much language recently.

So we got to the lake, which was my favourite part because I’m a fisherman at heart. I always wanted to give up my A Levels to become a professional fisherman, but my Dad wouldn’t let me. Or hang on, was that a footballer? Anyway, we got to the lake and saw a few turtles, so, as you do, we chucked in a biscuit. Then the carps started to come out. My son was as fascinated as I was. So I jumped over the protective fence and lifted him over so we could get a closer look.


This was great, but I forgot his sense of spacial awareness isn’t great so got plenty of frights each time he darted for the water. We emptied a good 20 biscuits or so in the lake for the fish and turtles. My daughter was getting annoyed though, she was making the usual moaning noises. So I did a swap to give her a closer look as well, she was just as eager to do a belly-flop in the lake, so we went round the other side in the hunt for some frogs.

It was the perfect end to a great holiday with my kids: being with nature, animal spotting, and just chilling out before going back to work. Luckily I had my new phone with me, so I managed to get some lovely photos too.


Then we saw the hanging Johnny.

We were on our way back to the massive tunnel, my son hoping to throw himself down it again, and I hoping to avoid any ‘Oh my God’ swearing kids, when I noticed a security bloke on a motorbike stop in front of us. My first thought was ‘Oh my Jesus he spotted me jumping over the fence,’ but I wasn’t the guilty one.

“Hi,” said my wife as we got closer.
“Can you believe it?” he said, nodding towards the outdoor gym, specifically to some pull-up rings.
“What’s that?” my wife said.
“It’s a hanging Johnny,” I wanted to say, but neither of them would have known what a hanging Johnny was, plus the security guard wouldn’t have been pleased with my joke.
“Can you believe it,” he said, again.
“But how? Isn’t the parque shut at night?” asked my wife.
“They jump over the fences and do what they need to do.” Literally. “At least I have gloves,” he said, tightening up the straps on his gloves. Rather him than me.

What did you do at the parque today Darling?
Oh, just the usual, stopped some fathers and kids from emptying biscuits into the lake, and tore off a used condom from the pull-up rings.

Que asco,” said my wife, which my son repeated, even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t know exactly what was disgusting (you see how he’s picking up everything so fast?)
We didn’t stick around (or hang around) to find out how the security guard got off the Johnny. I was desperate to take a photo, but my wife wouldn’t let me. He survived though as we saw him a little further up the road telling someone else about the hanging johnny.

Thinking back, it was pretty sick, but I suppose when young people need to do their thang, then they have nowhere else to go. But it was a bit harsh to tie the used condom up on the ring. Did they not think that someone had to pull it down again?

I’d still recommend going to the park though; it’s a great place for kids, has a massive tunnel, and a lovely spot to feed some fish, turtles, and go frog spotting.

Expat Focus blogs, Uncategorized

Interview with Expat Focus

Photo by Steve Bustin

My latest article for Expat Focus is an interview about being an expat. I was asked to answer a few questions related to my experiences living in Spain, including information about why I came here, what first surprised me, challenges of bringing up bilingual children, and advice for families wanting to move to Spain.

For a look at my previous articles for Expat Focus check out my columnist page.



Blogs about Spain, Spain

Best Blogs about Spain: Desert coming, Olive Oil, and tapas…

I’ve decided to bring back my monthly list of the best blogs and posts about Spain and Expat life. Here’s a list of the best ones I’ve read in the last month.

Southern Spain could end up like this… Photo by Moyan Brenn

Southern Spain a Desert

This summer has been the hottest for me in the last 10 years, so it’s no surprise that people are saying Southern Spain will turn into a desert by the start of next century. I guess that means I don’t need to worry anymore about the local government wanting to build a park in front of my house.

Olive Oil

You can’t live in Spain for long without becoming a slight addict to this medicinal liquid. I used to think it was vile and expensive, but I now see the benefits of using it over traditional sunflower oil. Check out this blog on Lindsey O’Connor’s website, titled Can I get more olive oil please.

A-Z of Spanish Cuisine

Have a look at Josh’s latest post on Spain for Pleasure titled The Eatapas A-Z of Spanish Cuisine. It’s a great run down on useful and interesting facts about eating in Spain, which we all love to do!

Views of Toledo

If you’re thinking of going to Toledo then have a look at this post on ISA Student Blog written by Clarissa Fischer titled Breathtaking Views of Toledo.

Seville Series and Mr Cake

Have you heard of a cake shop in Seville called Mr Cake? Well, me neither. Check out this post by Jordan, a university student, who is also writing about his adventures in Seville. The post is called Seville Series, Mr Cake.

That’s all for this month. Hope you enjoyed these posts.


From One to Two, From a Dog to a Zoo

About three weeks back, a good friend of mine asked me how it was going.

“How you coping with two kids? Hair gone grey yet? Do you know the expression from one to two, from a dog to a zoo?”

I’d never heard it before, but after just a week of being a dad of two little monkeys, with only 18 months apart, I knew exactly what he was going on about.

dog to zoo
“How long shall we give them before we start screaming for food?” “Let’s just get on with it.” Photo by Herls Tom

As a dog owner I can safely say that looking after a westie is no comparison to trying to manage two kids. Westies don’t interrupt your sleep, they don’t need burping at 5am after a bottle of milk, and when hungry they don’t scream as if you’ve just dipped their toe in a boiling cup of water.

I’ve been to a few zoos around the world, but I’ve never been drawn to the idea of feeding penguins for a living, running after giraffes in the evening to get them back in their tall houses, or having to clean out monkey cages. I guess it’s hard to compare my new life to one of a zoo keeper, but I reckon a zoo keeper probably has it quite easy. Continue reading “From One to Two, From a Dog to a Zoo”

Expat Focus blogs, Great things about Spain, Life as a guiri

Why you should try being an expat

Considering leaving your home soil for some fresh mud? Ever wondered what it would be like to live abroad in a foreign country where no one knows your name, cares about what you have for breakfast, or gives a damn about your bizarre taste in trashy pop music? It’s not for everyone, you have to be a bit mental, like putting yourself through agonising situations, and have enough patience to tolerate frustrating foreign bus drivers.

Expat life in Spain - curiosity
Nothing more to say. Photo by mnwatts

If you think you might be up to the challenge of being an expat, more difficult than just going on a safe trip around the world, then have a look at my latest blog on Expat Focus titled Why everyone should have a bash at being an expat. In the article I talk about the power of curiosity, learning another language, in need of fresh romance, and wanting to have a fistful of anecdotes to tell your loved ones.

If you’re keen to know more about Expat Life in Spain then check out my Columnist page.

Thanks for reading.

Expat Focus blogs, Expat Issues

Expat Focus: Does being an expat corrupt your mind?

How have you been corrupted? Photo by liquidnight
How have you been corrupted?
Photo by liquidnight

It does to me. Living abroad has affected my habits, personality, and morals in a number of ways. When I first arrived in Sevilla I was hell bent on learning as much as possible about Spain, its culture, and people. I certainly have done, but in the meantime I’ve even changed my own outlook on life, and started doing things that I never thought I would, and not all for good.

Sound familiar? Interested in reading more? Then have a look at my monthly column on Expat Focus titled How has living abroad corrupted your mind? In the article I focus on aspects such as being false, moaning, coffee, and how I speak. Hopefully you can relate.

Expat Focus is a great website and has loads of articles written by expats from all over the world. It’s worth subscribing for their free newsletter too. I’ll be writing for them every month so make sure you follow me if you’re interested in life as an expat in Spain.