I lost my dear friend Carmina on Saturday. She had been fighting melanoma cancer which started on her foot some ten years ago.
Carmina Broadfield, Crawley, Sussex. C.1969
I first met Carmina on a school exchange. I was learning Spanish, ( O-level), she English.
I remember making the journey to her family villa in Castelldefels near Barcelona. It was by train, across France, and I had to sleep on the train, sharing the compartment with people I did not know. It was all very strange. I was only 15.
Anyway, her family made me very welcome. She had four brothers, all very good looking!
The villa was near the sea and we used to go to the beach a lot. Her dad owned a small boat.
In the evenings we went to discos or the cinema. Once when we went to the cinema we took baguettes filled with Spanish omelette ( tortilla de patatas). I wasn’t keen on the idea of cold omelette sandwiches but they were delicious.
I met a few Spanish boys at the discos and got told off by Carmina’s father for dancing too closely to one. Those were Franco days and you were not allowed to even kiss in the street.
Carmina came to stay in my home next, in Crawley, and I showed her the sights of London and Brighton, which she loved.
I have naturally curly hair and hated it. No hair straighteners back then. Carmina showed me a way to straighten it using what’s called an ‘ensaimada’. An ensaimada was a Spanish type of cake made of twisted pastry.
So, you wet the hair and coil the hair tightly round and round your head and clip it down tightly. I don’t think it did a lot for the hair’s condition, but it worked and I often dried my hair in that way, with a big hair roller on top.
Carmina and I kept in touch after the school exchange and wrote to each other often. Carmina would send me my favourite turron at Christmas time.
I went out to Barcelona a few times over the years to see her and she visited the UK , once with her parents, but not lately, due to her illness.
We had so much fun when together. She was always laughing and full of life, with a twinkle in her eyes. I will miss her very much.