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Gaby Spinks


A sand baby in Ibiza, 1940s

Black and white photograph of the Spinks family next to their camper van.
Gaby, standing on the left beside her stepfather, and with her brothers and sisters, before they set out to drive to their new home in Spain in 1969. © Gaby Spinks


Gaby Spinks had a rather unusual childhood, living in a commune in Ibiza with her mother and siblings for three years. In the sound clip, she describes her life there.

This sound clip lasts for 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

Um, well I think the problem, the way my, sort of childhood has influenced my upbringing was massively, I should think, like most children. I had quite an unorthodox upbringing...I was born in London, and at the age of five or six, my parents separated and my mother took myself and my two brothers and sister to live on a small island off the coast of Ibiza in Spain, where we lived for three years and there was no school and so we just sort of, basically we were sand babies for, for three years, you know. My mother taught us to read and write and she's why I still can't do maths 'cause she can't do maths...and so, yeah, so it, it was a very lovely existence in which, I mean we just met so many people, it was sort of like a giant hippie commune really, you know, people from all over the world, I suppose, and from various small sections of a, a lot of Germans and Dutch and French, Spanish, English, all living on a small island. It's a very, very good upbringing for a child, I would have spent the days, yeah, lots of training in the sea, on the beach, sort of you know, having fun, exploring. And when I came back to Britain, it was a bit of a shock really...I can remember sitting in a shoe shop and not knowing what a sock was, 'cause what did, I actually had to think, 'well it goes on your foot...(laughing) this is a shoe' - and it was, I hadn't worn shoes for three years, you know, I just, let alone sort of buying clothes really I suppose.


So when we moved back to, to Britain or to Wiltshire when I was nine, it was a bit of a, a bit of a shock, to go back to school, and have that sort of structure and again, but I survived and managed to get through and I think I'm a relatively sane adult, so I think it's, you know, it's quite good. I think people get very stressed especially with education, sort of, with young children 'cause you can learn a lot by not going to school, I think, as well.