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All in the family

My son came to Tarifa first in 1986 to join a kindergarten school friend to set up a business in windsurf parts and sail repair. This was in the very early days of windsurfing. Mum and Dad came to visit (as Mums and Dads do) but Mum and Dad decided to stay (which not many Mums and Dads do!). We bought this ruin (‘well, said Dad, we are not actually buying a ruin, we are buying a view’) and spent the next few years applying for permission to rebuild. By the time we got this our son had left Tarifa and was working in the UK. Just as we finished rebuilding, my husband found he had cancer and died shortly afterwards, before we could move in.

I moved in alone. Traumatic. I wanted to leave. A few months later my son decided Tarifa was the one place he wanted to spend his life, so he came back, desperately hoping his girlfriend would come too and would like it. She came. They are now long since married and still here. So am I.I had been in South Africa for my first Christmas alone, and had come across these heating panels I thought would be ideal for Tarifa and round about. Easy to install, ensuring a pleasant temperature in colder days and above all helping to mitigate the damp that tends to invade properties here in the winter. I had an immediate click with the owner of the factory in South Africa and apart from receiving two panels as a present, offered to look for a distributor here. Paul saw this as an opportunity and has since been distributing panels throughout Europe and further afield with great success, albeit now with a new and much improved version (see ).

The ruin next to my house came up for sale. I had to buy it to ensure no-one else did who might have built up higher and stolen my view (call it a ‘defensive purchase’!). This is now my guesthouse Dar Cilla. I couldn’t manage it alone (not the way I wanted to do it including offering lots of extras to my guests). At that very moment the daughter of my former neighbour in the Netherlands (who had been brought up at the English school in Madrid) lost her job as an air hostess with Sabena Airlines which went bankrupt, and she and her husband and baby son came to have a look at Tarifa, and they also stayed. Tarifa has that effect on you.

Martina and I have been working together with a lot of pleasure for the last ten years. Barry, Martina’s husband, has now been working together with my son, Paul, for 5 years and although business is an ongoing challenge in these difficult times, they also have a lot of fun – their stories of their recent trip to China where they are developing another product has us in fits of laughter. Barry is a website guru, and together with Martina and myself has made our new website. No-one else could have done this in the same way – he knows the product inside out !

Paul's wife, MeiLing, has furnished and manages La Casita, which is the ultimate in romantic hideaways. An air of informal serenity with a view to die for (see photo). If interested, please send an email to;

Excuse the opportunism, but i am promoting the family business because it feels good to do so, and i am sure that anyone taking advantage of the information will be glad they have done so.

Suffice to add that my granddaughter, now 8 years, was for some time 'in love' with Martina's son, now 10 years. Unfortunately the undying love was not reciprocated, but this has not caused a rupture between the families! In fact, I think our family entwinement is unique and I think and hope it will continue for years.

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