Preparing for visitors

Living in the wonderful climate which Spain has to offer inevitably means that friends and relations from the uncertain weather of northern Europe want to descend on you and bask in the sun. Many you welcome - it is fun to see family and renew old friendships - but sometimes you struggle to find a reason to wriggle out of a situation. "Who on earth are Kevin and Annabel? Oh I remember, we shared neighbouring villas when we were in the Costa Brava back in 2005, or was it 2006? Do you remember what they looked like?"

Having wriggled out of situations like that and focused on the friends and relations you really want to see, there are certain problems when you are pet owners and your visitors are not. They are not prepared for a household where animals can be a real danger. I am not referring to dangerous dogs or vicious cats. Pets may mean well and want to be friends with your visitors but it does not often work out that way.

Children like to play with pets when pets want to be left alone and do not relish their tails or intimate parts being pulled. They see such intrusion as an attack.

Pets snuggle up to visitors and visitors fall over them. Elderly people stumble over pets which have chosen some strange place to take a nap.

Visitors with a disability are especially at risk. Five years ago we invited my favourite cousin to come here from Wales for a summer break. She was blind and elderly so we put her in the downstairs bedroom with bathroom, fenced off the swimming pool and blocked off steps together with all hazards we could think of. But she almost tripped over the cats on two occasions and the dog had some narrow encounters. We breathed a sigh of relief when the holiday concluded without mishap.

We are not keen on inviting visitors to our home. But when we welcome guests who are not animal lovers and are not familiar with pet tricks, we do everyone a favour and put the pets into kennels. I suggest you do the same.