Sketching in Sevilla

I’ve never been sure where I come from.  I was born in Madrid and at the age of 10 we moved to the North of England (Madrid - Preston… a radical change!).  My mum is English (from a very English family) and my father was Spanish (from a very Spanish family), hence why I was never sure where I belonged.

My father died when I was 6, so when a few years later we moved to the UK and I became anglicised, I quickly distanced myself from my ‘spanishness’.  I was at that awkward age where all I wanted was to blend in and fit the mould.  Quick sharp I lost any trace of Spain, but my roots remained strong within me, and as we traveled back to see my father’s family a couple of times a year, I was consistently reminded of my heritage.

When I say my English family was very English, I mean that mum’s family was a fairly typical, happy family based in Preston, in the North of England.  My beautiful grandmother Norma was a Landgirl during the war, and my grandfather ‘Papa Bill’ owned a joinery company and was chums with world-class footballer Tom Finney.

My Spanish family was very Spanish in a very different sense - it was large, Catholic, well-to-do and right-wing. My grandfather was an eminent figure: adviser to two Popes and set up the Spanish Catholic Press (which among other things published the newspaper ‘El Ya’) - he was also Director of Aesthetics at Madrid University.  

Muniain, my surname, is a village in Navarra, in the North of Spain. My father’s family were landowners and the Kings of Spain would stay in the family house when passing through the area. Or so I’ve been told.

My parents met at Leeds University - mum was doing a post-grad course, and my father was at the time lecturing on American Literature.  When mum married my father and landed in Franco’s Spain in the 60s, she was told in no uncertain terms to dispose of all her mini skirts and show some respect! In Madrid we lived quite literally in the shadows of the ‘Santiago Bernabeu’ stadium surrounded by politicians, writers, actors, diplomats  and football players.  We had a wonderful childhood there surrounded by lots of family (including my wonderful two great aunts Angeles y Mercedes) and mum has countless stories to tell of friendships with well-known personalities - I’ve been asking her to write a book for years - she has a wonderful memory and her anecdotes are legendary.  

So, you see, when my English husband Michael agreed to my plan of finally returning to Spain, age 36, I really did feel like I’d come home. I may have been away for a very long time, but my strong iberian roots are flourishing now and I feel truly at peace.

I have three young children: Deia, William and little dumpling Lola, and I am over the moon to be giving them the gift of life in a child’s paradise where they can play outside all day long, climb old gnarly carob trees, and there is very little danger. They don’t realise just how lucky they are, but one day they will.