It will not have escaped your notice that there is often an ulterior motive for Faith and I taking our Canary Island breaks in the first quarter of the year.
Those that take place in February are usually to celebrate significant birthdays of mine; with the exception of 2017 – concerning which I did not write anything anyway – in Gran Canaria, which was for an insignificant Birthday!
Of those that remain, Tenerife in late March 2010 was (as you’ll know if you’ve read the “Poolside Jottings” series that I referred to in the last piece) to enable us to mark our 30th Wedding Anniversary in an appropriate manner.
Then the early March trip to Lanzarote in 2013 was actually for another significant birthday but I was working on my (all-time favourite) contract with Associated British Foods and if I hadn’t stuck it out to completion at the end of February I would have lost all or part of the loyalty bonus that actually paid for the holiday!
So my Sixtieth birthday actually happened while I was staying in the allegedly haunted Larkfield Priory Hotel just outside Maidstone and working at AB World Foods office in West Malling, Kent. I had to wait another week and a half to be able to celebrate it properly.
If your mathematical ability is up to scratch the little clue in the last paragraph will have told you that the 2003 holiday was for my 50th and this one marked my official entry, at age 65, into the ranks of the Old Age Pensioners! That’s an awful term and I won’t use it again – mainly because I still feel about 26 internally and not, therefore, remotely old! OLD is for other people!
Usually, when we are out of the country for my birthday, Faith and I go out for a meal on the actual day (hotel “all-you-can-eat” buffets get a bit “samey” after a while) maybe helped along by a few drinks.
Last year in Gran Canaria we returned to our room after swimming and sunbathing on THAT day to find an ice bucket with a bottle of Cava and a small birthday cake, compliments of the Management – which was nice!
There was no Cava this year although we did get a little chocolate cake with a candle in (but nothing to light it with) from the hotel and a little hand-made card from the maid – she had obviously seen the cards in the room and thereby earned herself a slightly bigger tip at the end of the week.
The thing that was quite different this time was that we actually knew someone who was in Lanzarote at the same time as us.
You may be aware that I continue to take part each year in the Barclays Bank Inter-District Sea Angling Match (it is still called that even though only two or three of the forty or so of us who attend still work for Barclays) and since we re-shuffled the travelling arrangements in 2009 I have car-shared with my former colleague Keith who lives just out of Peterborough.
I have known Keith since the mid-1980s when we used to both be in the BarclayTrust Ten Pin Bowling team. He then became the Tax Training Manager running the senior course that I wrote about on this site in October last year and joined the fishing contingent at the centralised Peterborough Office (where he was our Technical Manager) in 1997 – just in time to witness the “A” team winning the competition for the first time. Subsequent reshuffles have seen Keith join my team and we have since won it twice more (2010 and just a few months ago in 2017).
For some years now Keith and his wife Sue have owned an apartment on the outskirts of Playa Blanca and, as I said above, this was the first time our visits had coincided. We agreed before we came out that they would help me celebrate by finding a restaurant that we might not have picked for ourselves.
We actually met for another equally important reason on the Sunday a couple of days before the birthday meal when we went to a bar that Keith frequents regularly to watch our favourite football team, Ipswich Town, playing away from home against our despised arch-rivals Norwich City!
The only people in the upstairs bar we were in were all Ipswich fans (although a few Glasgow Rangers supporters did turn up later on for the following televised match featuring their team, this was not a problem as we share a common dislike for teams playing in green) and we were elated when Ipswich scored quite near the end of the match. However we were then somewhat deflated when after 5 minutes of added time (in a match that had no obvious stoppages!) a last second equaliser denied us victory. At least we didn’t lose but to come so close……!
Fortunately, many years of being an England football supporter have well accustomed me to disappointments of this sort and I was able to get on with thoroughly enjoying my holiday so that when we all met up again on the Tuesday evening I was my usual jolly self.
And what a great evening it was! The restaurant was admittedly probably not one that we would have ordinarily gone in to but our friends were known there and the Manager/Head Chef pulled out all the stops, cooking our steaks personally on a grill only a few feet from our table. It was delicious – as were the wine, the dessert and the complimentary spirits afterwards (I believe the correct term is “digestif” as opposed to an aperitif at the start of a meal but that’s not a term in common English usage. Not in the circles I frequent anyway!).
Given all that it wasn’t unduly expensive either and I thoroughly recommend it. Should you find yourself in Playa Blanca it is called “Restaurante Cervantes” and it is on Avenue de Papagayo.
After that, two more evenings of hotel multiple choice buffets were a bit of an anti-climax but I still managed to eat my share. The only other out-of-hotel meal to come on that holiday was (and this is now becoming something of a tradition) at the Burger King fast food outlet at the airport – it’s tasty, sustaining and saves having to pre-order food on the aeroplane.
As some of those reading this may be aware I am (from January 2018 to date) back with Slimming World because, I am given to understand, I am once again “too much of a good thing”! Our flights on this trip were on a Friday and our “weigh-in” night is a Thursday so just under a week seemed a bit much to expect to make any headway on the holiday excesses but it seems I must have been subconsciously choosing the right sort of food because I actually managed to be half a pound lighter than the night before we flew out. “Must take more overseas holidays” seems to be the way to go.
Finally, I see that my natural tardiness and interest in writing other things mean that it is now very nearly one month since our return from Lanzarote and I had better make this the final part of this series which means that it will be going on for a few more paragraphs after I had planned to end it here.
If you have been back over the 2013 holiday writings you may remember that I got uncharacteristically sentimental about the thought that I might never come back to Playa Blanca! That didn’t happen this time – probably because I have proved to myself that I CAN. I was still reluctant to leave it though!
In the fashion of Oscar acceptance speeches I have a few “Thank you’s” to dish out:
Firstly, thank you to the Canarian weather – we apparently arrived the day after Lanzarote’s worst spell of winter wind and rain for years had ended and it stayed sunny until the day after we left when they had more storms expected!
Secondly, thanks to all the anonymous hotel and restaurant staff and the various entertainers who made it all stress-free and fun.
Thirdly, thanks to my friends Keith and Sue mentioned above for making my 65th birthday even more memorable.
Finally, thanks as always to my lovely wife Faith for being there with me – and just for existing!
Hasta la vista!