58 years ago, I was born to a housewife and an electrical engineer in the south west of England, so there you go, engineering runs in this family!

Being the middle one of three, I was born with a severe case of middle child syndrome and was always something of a rebel/black sheep. As my older sister got carted off to swimming galas and my baby brother was doted on as the longed for son, I was pretty much left to my own devises and developed a sort of devil may care attitude.

I began traveling at the age of sixteen. I once told my parents I was going to Australia for Christmas and stayed six months. Long before the days of mobile telephones and email, they survived on the occasional postcard from the outback and beyond.

On returning to England I found I just didn’t fit in and applied to return to Perth. Failing miserably in the Australian points system of 1985, I found myself journeying to southern Spain a couple of years later in a Volkswagen camper van to lick my wounds. 29 years later here I still am! And what an adventure it has turned out to be, never a dull moment since meeting and marrying a swedish sea captain (have you guessed who I am yet?) Tee hee.

Having brought up two beautiful children here, I would not have had it any other way. My daughter (???) did not seem to suffer much from my useless parenting skills and long working hours, indeed she became quite a good part time receptionist at the age of six in my small hotel near the beach. She developed an amazing spirit and strength of character and brought herself up in spite of me and the aforementioned captain! She seemed to rule us from a young age, becoming completely independent from the age of about nine, when she borrowed the car and had a little practice drive round the country lanes. Five years later, the local police would turn a blind eye to her speeding on a lambretta scooter with Stella, one of our German shepherds wedged between her legs.
She astounded our gypsy neighbor by breaking and training his impossibly wild horse into a gentle giant, he and his brothers made mincemeat of our lawns on a regular basis (the horses not the neighbor). We also had a ferret called Michael that she trained to do circus tricks. Not to mention a surfing, with his own board obviously, cocker spaniel named Harry. We would have a parties on an “any old excuse” basis and lost count if how many couchsurfers came and went.


Here I sit alone today, in a different house to where our little gang resided, and how I miss my family. I’m sitting on a covered terrace watching a pair of swallows re-build the nest I have knocked down at least a dozen times. They have a perfectly good dwelling from last year, but they seem intent on building this new one right outside our kitchen door. The mess is just not cricket, as we used to say in England.


the flying engineers

So today I decided to have a conversation with them, but I had to give into those pesky little engineers. I tried to talk some sense into them about using the house in the corner, which has a poo-catching tray underneath, but they were having none of it. I talked, but they chirped much louder. They glared down at me from a great height with their beady eyes, daring me to cross them. Their sheer persistence made me give in to them. I had to admire them, they would swoop and dive bomb our heads every time we knocked the nest down, so congratulations little guys, you win over the humans, and maybe we can all learn a lesson from them? If you really want to build something, never give up, just do it!

Viva la womenengineers!

With much love from Spain,

Tina Britton

(would you like to guest blog form Womengineer? email


Evita Stenqvist · May 9, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Mother, I am quite surprised, yet very impressed! I am sure other readers will enjoy!
And how lucky am I to have been lumbered with a hippie mother, I dread to think how my spirit would have been broken under the command of “responsible” parents. Phew, to have dodged that bullet.
Maybe your post will give me the courage to start writing again, I’ve anxiously expected being kicked, which hasn’t been the case…!

Thank you, mother, for a lovely post. I’m glowing after reading the description of me as a child, prideful even.
And of course, a little touchy thinking back to much simpler times.

Tina Britton Stenqvist · May 11, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Indeed my rebel daughter, thank you too, for being my inspiration. How we muddled along in those days! Then when we started traveling together, you became the responsible ‘parent’ (where did that come from!!) I can’t imagine a better sixteen years than those amazingly happy days in Mijas when I was bringing you up. (Allegedly). I really do miss those times, but today is also good. I’m on such a high from my first ever blog post that I’m thinking of doing it again, so brace yourselves, you young engineers! Hasta luego!
Me xx

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