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Just A Minute!: Children Welcome

Our hapless Englishman muses over the Spanish attitude towards children... Awww!

The other evening I was sat with my friend Sabine at one of my favourite restaurants, Villa Manchega, San Antonio.

I truly find it amazing (heartening & inspiring to boot) that restaurants in Spain are so child friendly. It is in no way unusual to see local Spanish residents enjoying a great meal with three generations of family and just as many friends at an hour most of Northern Europe would frown upon.

I commented to Sabine, that in England, and no doubt Germany, where she is from, that children in a restaurant at that time of night (10.30pm) would not only be frowned upon, but positively discouraged. Raised eyebrows from diners and mutterings of 'should be in bed at this time of night' as a passable risotto and a good glass of Château de Chasselas is passed to their lips. With a doff of my cap to Monty Python, no doubt a man in the background is strumming 'Farewell to Thee' on a Hawaiian guitar and the comments passed are in a fake Yorkshire accent?

But in Ibiza, and I've no doubt most southern European countries, children are part of the family 24hrs a day. Not for the local inhabitants a babysitter at 15€ an hour. Children need to understand the etiquette of table manners and the rules of healthy eating on an island where the midday temperatures sometimes reach 40 degrees. Spain is all about community, families and sharing, through good times and bad. Grand-parents, parents, children and friends. I guess that's one of the reasons I've decided to try and haplessly settle down here.

The waiters were making a fuss of the children as if they were their own. As the adults tucked onto their generous helpings of tapas, washed down with a house Rioja, the children did the same. Except of course, they were drinking lemonade.

Maybe some island 5 star/high end establishments might not be so accommodating if a toddler was disturbing the dining experience of others, but I've noticed that on the whole, all family run restaurants in Ibiza, especially Spanish establishments, have no issue at all with children being on their premises at any time of the day. In fact they positively welcome it.

Food for thought, if you'll pardon the pun, for families visiting Ibiza and wanting to eat an evening meal at a café or restaurant. Do you fancy a change from the all-inclusive fare or want a break from cooking in your accommodation? Take your children with you. I guarantee that you'll receive a warm welcome.

The phrase 'children should be seen and not heard' does not apply over here.

Just a minute.

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