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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Victoria Hislop: ‘The holiday where I could forget about being a mother changed my life forever’

After the release of my best-seller debut novel, The Island, in 2005, I needed a break to get away and clear my head before starting on my next. I was in my mid-40s and both my children – Emma and William – were in secondary school and at the age where they didn’t need as much hands-on time with their mummy. Plus, it’s not like they were rushing to get home to my cooking – no one was, not even my husband! 

It seemed the perfect time for a girly holiday, time to just relax and have fun without my mummy or wife hat on. I went with my old friend Rachel, who is a wonderful soulmate of mine. She’s the warmest person I know and is always smiling. 
Rachel is passionate about Spain, so we settled on Granada, in Andalucia, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Granada is the most staggeringly beautiful place, but you must make a real effort to get there, usually flying into Malaga, followed by a long, tedious taxi transfer.

We wanted to learn a bit of Spanish too, so we stayed with this gorgeous, crazy guy called Victor, in a room in his house. He gave us Spanish lessons in the morning, then we had the afternoons and evenings free. The funny thing was he really was like his namesake, Victor Meldrew. He was so grumpy, almost like he didn’t like having people staying in his place. He’d get really annoyed with us if we didn’t remember what he was teaching us – which we found hilarious. Victor really didn’t like me at all, he much preferred Rachel. It was like we were lodgers in his house, and there was all this creeping around and our lights being on when they shouldn’t. 

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