All in all, the flight went very smoothly but the Prosecco from my small golden bottle that I purchased on board helped. Shona started laughing hard when I put the bottle between my legs.

“Get you and your golden knob” and she immediately summoned the air hostess to bring another bottle. “I`m jealous” She said, “I want my own golden knob too”. There was then a lot of banter about our golden knobs, but as this is not 50 Shades of Grey, I won`t go into too much detail. However, we both kept our empty bottles and brought them back to England with us as a souvenir.

As our flight was running behind the scheduled time, we were still in the air as the clock struck midnight, which meant, it was now officially Shona’s birthday. The 3 of us started to sing “Happy birthday” quietly amongst ourselves, but by the end of the verse, we were rather loud and a lot of people on board joined in. Now that is how to sing Happy Birthday to your bestie.

We all raised our almost finished bottles of Prosecco and wine and then packed the “Golden Knobs” as they are now affectionally called in our handbags.

Shona had kept the owner of the property updated of our delay and when we finally started to land, Shona confirmed with the landlady that we would see her mum in Arrivals in about 45 minutes. The landlady`s mum was a cabbie by trade and had quoted us roughly 60 euros to take us from the airport to our apartment, and as we knew our flight was going to (allegedly) arriving at 11:45 Spanish time, we took her up on the offer. Unfortunately for Madre, (as we had now nick-named her) we didn`t land until 12:30am, but there she was, patiently waiting with Shona`s name on a board.

We all started to chat to her, but quite quickly realised she didn`t speak any English. What she did understand was my sign language for “have we got time for a quick cigarette”, so she loaded up the car whilst most of us all filled our lungs and body with much need nicotine.

Rupy sat in the front and the rest of us sat in the back, taking in the views, well, the views that we could see in the dark of night.

Poor Madre! There we were all gassing away about this and that very loudly, and she didn`t seem to amused. We gradually left the motorway and started our journey up many steep hills and round numerous fast sharp bends. Madre must have been knackered as she was not frightened off putting her foot down and getting us home ASAP. One small roundabout , not to near the end of our journey, was infront of two enormous wooden gates set within an archway surrounded by two very large stone walls spreading either way. It looked amazing. It was very old and authentic and I finally felt like I was in rural Spain.

Overall, it took 30 minutes from airport to `home` and a charge of 70 Euros (yes she had a meter..which she had started, according to Rupy, as soon as she sat in the car and we lit our cigarettes).

We were greeted by an extremely beautiful Roberta outside the apartment gate.

We tipped her mum another 10 Euros which she finally made her smile. It had just gone 1am in the morning and the four of us lugged our heavy hand luggage & Shona`s suitcase down very narrow and steep steps which were very poorly lit. Actually they weren`t lit at all! All we had were the stars and moonlight to guide us.

When we arrived down the bottom of the winding steps, Roberto opened the door and we were led into a very homely apartment which looked exactly like the pictures we were sent prior to our journey.

She quickly showed us around and pointed us towards a bottle of wine she had left for us and a local map that someone had written and drawn in local landmarks. She pointed out various places on the map of restaurants, bus stations etc in the town of Alella. I asked what the amazing stone wall was that we had passed earlier and she informed us it was the front off a very once beautiful but now a very old ruin building that the Russians had bought years ago and had neglected and now it was derelict, covered in grafetti and broken windows.

“When you get to that roundabout, if you go straight over, there is a small supermarket run by a n Indian man that will supply you with all you need” she added pointing to the map . ” He is open from 10am-10pm”

“Just like home” Bindya smiled.

After exchanging mobile numbers – incase of any problems – she left us to it and we quickly unpacked and opened one of the bottles of wine we had brought with us, putting the other bottles and the bottle left for us in the fridge.

Large patio doors divided the very large balcony from the front room. We opened them all the way and sat outside on the balcony that had plenty of room for 3 wicker sofas, surrounding a large glass table, and views that were to die for, even at night. The sky was clear and the constellations were a plenty. Sipping our wine, we all sat in silence for the first time since ordering our food back in with Curly Hair, We heard a nearby hoot from an owl and then another hoot.

“That makes a change from the howling foxes we have back home” I pointed out. To say that we were all in a very relaxing and comfortable peace was an understatement.

In my head, I started to build up Madre`s & Roberta’s profile:

Name: Madre

Age: 68

Description: Looks a bit like Robin Williams in a weird an wonderful , womanly way – maybe Miss Doubtfire

Likes: Putting her meter on early.

Dislikes: English loud girls that keep her up late at night.

Family Status: Loyal Mother to her daughter (Girl Power and all that jazz )

Job: Cabbie!

Name: Roberta

Age: 43

Description: Tall, leggish, flawless suntanned complexion, brunette with dreads and amazing style in clothing (wipe the drool – if we were, we would have!!!!!!!)

Likes: Hanging out with English gals

Dislikes: Hanging out with English girls who arrive at 1am in the morning

Family Status: Still waiting for Mr Right (or Mrs right?)

Job: Trying to be the best hostess with the mostess on Airbnb!

We soon all headed off to bed agreeing to get up at 9am in the morning were we would head off into Alella for some breakfast. Shona and I were sharing a room and Bindya and Rupy were sharing the other double bedroom leaving no one using the 3rd bedroom that consisted of a bunk bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow I fell fast asleep.

…..Only to be woken in the morning by a very loud thud and guffs of laughter. I walked from the bedroom into the front room to see Shona rubbing her head but still laughing.

“What have you gone and done?” I asked

Bindya, wiping the tears from her eyes said

“Shona just walked into the patio doors – look you can still see her mouth print. ” Lipstick marked the spot!

“You donut” I laughed “Do you want some arnica cream?”

“Go on then” Shona replied opening the patio doors “Think it`s best we leave them open for now”

Bindya tried to find a kettle to make a much needed cup of tea for everyone, only to find there was no kettle or tea bags! Luckily I had brought some of my herbal teas from home and the other girls liked coffee, which was supplied..but they had to have it black as there was no milk!

“Not much off a welcome breakfast is there!” Rupy said. “Thought that was included”

“Don`t look like it” said Shona “but I have had a text from Roberta who said she can give us a lift into town in 20 minutes as she is passing this way. 20 minutes, I won`t be ready in time”

“Ask her if she can bring some breakfast stuff” suggested Bindya, “I`m off to have a shower”

“Bagsy next in shower” I yelled after her.

Rupy appeared looking somewhat tired “I`ll bagsy 3rd”

“Oh no, that leaves Shona going in last, we will be here forever!” My stomach groaned. I was starving and then remembered my trusty Mars Bar I had packed and yet to consume. Walking off to find it I left Shona nursing her poor head.

“So, I had a reply from Roberta about breakfast” Shona informed me when I had got out of the very temperamental shower.

” She said she could send us 20 eggs and some brioche for 30 Euros”

“Bloody hell” I replied, “I hope you told her where to stuff her eggs”

” I did indeed, well, actually Bindya did in not such a round about way”

“Good” I said, “Now get your arse in the shower, I want to go get breakfast for 10 euros”

As I was the first to get ready, I wandered around the outside of the apartment and was delighted to see there were different areas for sitting and relaxing. To one side was a grassy area with sun loungers, which would be ideal for sunbathing during the summer months however, as sunny as it was for October, it definitely was not sunbathing weather! Neither could I see us donning our swimming costumes and sitting in the circular tub lower down in the grounds. What I did like the look off was the BBQ area the other side of the apartment which was covered by a huge wooden gazebo providing shelter over a large wooden table and 4 chairs. There was also a bar area next to the BBQ and the beautiful scent of honeysuckle coming from the plants scattered all around.

By 11:30 we were all ready. Shona grabbed the map and started to guide us down the steep hills towards the bus stop that would take us into Alella. The walk was at a slow pace with us admiring the gorgeous flower filled hedge rows and gardens brimming with over scented lime & lemon trees, as well as numerous big hairy barking dogs that scared the living daylights out of us, well, except for Rupy ….who tried to befriend them!

We found the bus stop, but of course could not make head or tail of it, as it was all in Spanish.

“Let`s just keep walking` Shona suggested taking the lead with her faithful map in front of her. We all followed behind her obediently, it was her birthday after all.

Soon we arrived at the roundabout with the Russian ruined “castle”, and believe me, when Roberta said it was now derelict, she wasn`t wrong.

The two buildings that could now be clearly seen in daylight, up on the hill, behind the large stone wall, were splattered in graffiti and the windows in their gorgeous hand made frames were shattered to smithereens.

Shona consulted her map. She pointed to the road on the right that would lead us to Alella and then pointed straight ahead.

“So that must be where the supermarket shop is that Roberta told us about last night.

“Anyone need anything from there now?”

“Nah, lets just head into Alella” Rupy said and we all agreed.

Ten minutes later, we arrived in what looked like the beginning of Alella. We passed a winery with beer barrels outside it that was the 3rd landmark on our map.

Of course… I said we passed it! but it wasn`t a few yards before we all turned around and went back to it as “it would be rude not too.”

Inside the winery, right up the middle of the vast area were massive barrels piled up on top of each other with a spout attached to each one. To the left were 100`s of wine bottles all carefully balanced one upon the other.

In between the barrels and wine bottles, there were upright barrels with crazy looking decanters on them half filled with white wine. From the decanter was a spout.

Now, I`m not one to judge, as I do like my wine, however, I noted a small rounded man, expertly going up to one of the decanters and raising the spout way above his face and pour what looked like a gallon of wine into his very open mouth. He didn`t spill a drop or even better…gag!! To say I was impressed would be an understatement. The person not impressed was the owner of the winery who was following him closely behind watching him with hawkeyes. I have a feeling he was a frequent customer or “guzzler” as we later named him.

I called the girls away from the rows of bottles of wine that they were browsing and showed them the man, who had now moved on to the red wine barrels. Together, we all watched his performance in awe.

“Our turn” Shona said pulling me towards the barrel that was holding the white wine. We both grabbed a decanter each, pretendeding to be impressed with the name on the side of them and then proceeded to expertly copy the “guzzler”. With our heads titled back and our mouths wide open, we both lifted the spouts about 5 inches from our mouths and tilted the decanters waiting for the alcohol to fill our stomachs. Shonas decanter flowed smoothly and she received a fair amount of wine straight into her mouth. Unfortunately, I was not as professional and proceeded to tip only a small amount into my very large and opened mouths before both spluttering and coughing as the wine trickled `down the wrong hole`.

“MMMMMMMMMMM I like that one” Shona announced swiftly placing down the decanter and quickly starting on the next one.

Rupy and Bindya were by the red wine area and as I walked over, recovering from coughing, I was just in time to see Rupy in action. Just like me and Shona, she raised her decanter up high and expertly managed to miss her mouth!! However, not one for wasting wine, she did manage to capture the liquid all down her white cotton top.

“Shit,shit, shit ” Rupy cried.

“Do it again,” roared Bindya with laugher “but this time I will video it”

We decided enough drinking was done for the early time of now 12pm and we ventured back out on to the street, but not before finding out that you could buy 1 whole litre of wine for just 2 euros! I grabbed their business card and we promised we would be back before we left for England.

We started walking along the road continuing our journey and within 50 steps we came across small a street market selling fresh fruit and veg (Yay for Bindya and Rupy) and an area containing 7 tables covered in shoes (Not yay for me because next to me, leading me by hand was my bestie – Shona – the shoe-aholic)

20 minutes later and thankfully no shoes in a bag, Shona and I found Bindya and Rupy buying humongous olives in an enormous plastic container. Looking closer, I realised that all the fruit and veg were of the gigantic variety, which you would never witness on the shelves off any supermarket or small corner shop in England. Happy with their shopping spree we all decided it was time to eat and find the cheap working man`s pub that Roberta had pointed out on the map the night before.