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Travels 2018 – Lanzarote revisited! Part 4 – Celebrations!

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!

Alfie

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Posted by on March 21, 2018 in Holidays, Travel related

 

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Travels 2018 – Lanzarote revisited! Part 3 – Night Life.

In the first Lanzarote series back in March/April 2013 I somewhat denigrated the Hesperia Playa Dorada’s offerings on the entertainment front so I thought it would be worthwhile to return to the subject 5 years on.

If you remember (and if you don’t you can find it at: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2013/03/15) the main “act” at the hotel in 2013 was a duet comprising a (probably German) guy with a synthesiser/backing track machine and a (possibly Dutch)young lady doing Tambourine/Vocals. They murdered so many old pop standards on our first visit down to the lounge that we subsequently went out every night rather than experience them again!

Generally speaking our experience of Canary Island evening entertainment has been what can only be called “varied”.

We first came to these islands in July 1995 when we stayed at Corralejo in Fuerteventura but neither of us can recall ANY bands or shows of any sort in either the hotel complex or the town.  We either weren’t interested or just didn’t find the right places during our evening strolls.

Things improved on our first ever visit to Lanzarote – to a Barceló hotel in Costa Teguise in February 2003. That hotel was somewhat off the beaten track as far as external venues were concerned so it was perhaps fortunate that the quality of the acts brought in by Barceló was so high!  During that week we thoroughly enjoyed really good “tribute acts” accurately presenting the musical works of The Beatles, The Four Tops and Neil Diamond respectively.

After that came Puerto Santiago in Tenerife in March 2010 but that falls within the scope of this blog and this topic was well documented at the time – if you to the Archive menu on this page you will find the whole saga in April 2010 under the heading of “Poolside jottings”.

The band that I mention there, “Old Dogs New Tricks” are, according to Facebook, still going strong in the Route 66 bar in Puerto Santiago.

I have already mentioned the dire entertainment at this hotel in 2013 many more times than they deserved and I don’t think last years at Gran Canaria can have been much better as I don’t recall one damn thing about it!

So, at last, to this visit!

I should just explain that I am only considering MUSICAL acts here – African Acrobats (however talented), Tri-lingual Bingo and the like are not our “scene” so we go out when they are on.

The first musical act we tried here was billed as “Starman” and turned out to be a rather talented gentleman who gave 20 minute renderings of songs by, respectively, Luciano Pavarotti, Robbie Williams, George Michael and Freddie Mercury with short rests for costume changes in between.

We thought he was brilliant and we reasoned that if the in-house entertainment had improved, so too must that available at the various bars beside the promenade leading into the town.

Not so!

We visited “The Harp” (which sold Guinness – surprise, surprise!), primarily a big-screen football pub which advertised live music from 9.30 every night. The night we paid our visit the board outside proclaimed “The Beatles” and while we knew it couldn’t be the real thing we hoped for a tribute act as good as the four Dutch lads we saw in 2003.

What we got was THREE Spanish gentlemen; a bass guitarist/vocalist with a frizzy perm more suitable to a rock band dating from 20 years after the Beatles’ time; a guitarist dressed in the style of the 1980s Mod Revival and a drummer who closely resembled Del Trotter’s mate Denzil from “Only Fools and Horses”!

They weren’t completely awful (if you shut your eyes) but it was necessary to ignore some linguistic anomalies – the words “kees” and “leetle” seemed to come over painfully clearly! All they really needed was a fourth musician and a token effort to look a bit like the band they were portraying and they would do well. It is possible, however, that they do other bands as well and don’t wish to over-specialise.

We didn’t return to that bar for music although we did frequently walk past it in the evenings and saw announcements for “The Boss” which may have been a Bruce Springsteen “tribute” and “Atalanta versus Borussia Dortmund” which was more likely a football match!

So, somewhat disillusioned, we returned to examine the “coming attractions” board in the hotel lobby. There was only one more musical act scheduled during our stay – another tribute act. This one had accompanying pictures of a trio portraying “The Drifters” and, as this was music that we like, we decided to give it a go.

And we weren’t disappointed! Not only did this trio look the part, they sounded like the Drifters and covered every hit of that band that I could think of as well as quite a few that I had forgotten were theirs! They went at it with so much energy that they couldn’t stop at the end of The Drifters’ songs and moved on into other Motown songs from the 1960s and 1970s. The Hotel’s Entertainment Manager has certainly redeemed his/herself.

Before we left we looked at the entertainment board for the coming week. There were the same three gentlemen billed, this time, as “Motown Magic” so it would seem they can either specialise or generalise as required. The visitors arriving as we left had a treat coming!

So, to summarise, the Hotel entertainment had vastly improved while that available outside had gone downhill. Mind you we should remember that we are talking about February here – one of the 2 coldest months in Lanzarote’s year so it may be that entertainment is always going to be at a low point at this time of year.

Perhaps we need to move our next Canary Islands trip to a slightly later time of year!

 

Alfie

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2018 in Holidays, Travel related

 

Travels 2018 – Lanzarote revisited! Part 2 – Déjà vu.

……or to put it another way – nothing much changes! Except when it does!

Our hotel is shaped, very roughly, like a letter “H” (presumably because its name is the Hesperia Playa Dorada) but on Google Maps it looks more like a Spider with only 4 legs – two bent forwards towards the sea and two trailing behind. It might help you to follow what I’m talking about if you a look at it with the aforementioned Google Maps or similar.

Anyway, as you look down on it, our room is on the first floor of the Spider’s back right leg looking inwards to the smaller (and cooler) of the Hotel’s two pools. Five years ago we were one floor higher on the outside of the same “leg” looking out at nothing in particular – although if we leaned out over our balcony to a dangerous degree and looked to the right we could just see the sea!

They probably charged us extra for that “sea view”!

Those two pools are unchanged and I remain unsure as to whether the main one nearest the sea is heated to some extent. It definitely seems warmer and my three or four “dips” were all in that one – although the other one is more of a sun trap and a lot of my somewhat minimal tan was obtained on a sunbed just below our balcony beside that one.

Almost everything else was where we expected it to be except for the place where we eat! The hotel has two main dining areas, the bright open room which then and now is used for serving breakfasts and a rather claustrophobic basement dining area which used to be where all guests without exception took their evening buffet meal. We never liked it!

Somewhere in the intervening period between our visits the Hesperia chain has introduced a “first class” service (called “de luxe”) and those paying extra for this get segregated sunbathing areas (with real Astroturf underfoot instead of concrete) and their own exclusive facility for their evening dining pleasure!

See if you can guess which of the above mentioned rooms they get to use!

Wrong!

By some strange ordering of events (I suspect a member of hotel management with Socialist leanings) the “top people” get to eat in the “dungeon”. Faith and I are quite happy about this.

There are also some changes going on in that we were warned in advance of some building works going on here and there and the entertainment area known as ”the Show Room” is not currently available. We found this rather odd as, while we cannot remember what WAS there 5 years ago, there was no such thing as a Show Room then.

We now have to find out exactly where the booked acts will be appearing – my guess is that, as last time, it will be in the lounge area outside the breakfast dining room and handy for the bar. That topic, however, is impinging on my next article so we’ll leave it there!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2018 in Holidays, Travel related

 

Travels 2018 – Lanzarote revisited! Part 1 – Departures and Arrivals.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I don’t mean going on holidays – we do THAT because we can!

No, what I mean specifically is getting up at 4 a.m. in order to leave the house at 4.45, wipe the frost off the car windscreen and drive 65 miles (with intermittent “Danger of Ice” warnings flashing on the dashboard) from Peterborough to Stansted Airport!

While there were many more large trucks on the A14 and M11 compared to the similar journey that I related in an article published on 3rd October 2016, there were no unexpected delays and we arrived at the “mid-stay” car park almost exactly on our pre-booked 6 a.m. arrival time.

Fortunately we were only out of the car in the freezing morning air for about 5 minutes before the courtesy bus for the terminal arrived and within 15 minutes of entering the car park we were indoors again – possibly a record for these trips!

Once inside the terminal we rapidly divested ourselves of our hold luggage at Check-in and headed off for the ghastly Security checks that seem to get more stringent and intrusive each year. Normally it is Faith who triggers the walk-through metal detector (I think she enjoys the frisking that follows!) but this time I was the potential terrorist!

After the alarm went off and everyone around naturally stopped to look I was made to remove my shoes, was given a full body scan in a special Perspex cabinet and a thorough patting down by the male security person in attendance. Nothing was found and I can only assume that the whole alert was set off by the stylised representation of Thor’s Hammer, Mjollnir that I was wearing around my neck!

I should explain that the reason I wear that is to ward off both lightning strikes on the aeroplane on which I shall be flying and Fundamentalist Christians. It obviously works as I wasn’t bothered by either on the 4 hour flight out!

Most of what you have read so far was written during the uneventful 2 hours between the post-frisking breakfast and actually getting on the aeroplane (which just for a change is not called either Thomas Cook or Thomson).

Right now we are sitting at the very start of the runway and I have a vivid mental picture of what is happening in the cockpit. Thus:

The pilot and co-pilot, both hyped up on airport coffee or caffeinated cold fizzy drinks, give each other broad grins, shout “KICK IT!” ram the throttles hard forward and scream like small children as the aeroplane rapidly accelerates down the runway and into the sky!

That’s what would happen if I was flying it anyway!

As you will have gathered we are returning to the volcanic wilderness of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to celebrate my officially becoming a grumpy old age pensioner (at least I hope we are – if not we’re on the wrong plane)! I wrote about the last visit here in a short series that began on this site on 13th March 2013. Why not look it up in the archive section on this page and refresh your memory.

And we are not just heading for the same island as 5 years ago. For the first time in our nearly 40 years of taking holidays together we are returning to the same hotel. We enjoyed the location so much last time that there wasn’t much point in looking elsewhere on the island.

We duly landed at Arrecife Airport without incident although I did think the pilot slammed the brakes on rather hard after touching down as if he couldn’t decide whether to run a “Stop” light or realised that he’d strayed into a “BMW only” lane on the runway!

We then had a spot of bother with the luggage carousel – about 5 bags from our flight came through but then the conveyor belt stopped and absolutely sod all happened for about 20 minutes! Faith reckons that the weight of her suitcase blew a fuse in the mechanism but I suspect we were just unlucky in catching a baggage handlers’ union statutory fag break/siesta!

Anyway, when the belt eventually restarted (to the traditional sarcastic British cheers and applause) our bags were among the first to appear so we were comparatively quickly onto our designated coach for hotels in Playa Blanca.

When we checked in to the hotel the reception area was exactly as we remembered it although other areas described to us by the multi-lingual clerk at the desk didn’t mean anything until we actually saw them. I’m not sure whether that’s just down to the passage of five years or something that happens at our age!

I don’t care! It’s going to be fun and there WILL be Mojitos!

 

Alfie

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Holidays, Travel related

 

A Duck nibbled your WHAT?!

Many years ago – so long ago, in fact, that I think I still had a full-time job – I wrote about a holiday and detailed the huge list of other countries and towns where I had singularly failed to catch ANYTHING AT ALL when indulging in holiday fishing. If you wish to read it you can find it here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2009/07/07

Well…….

This week Faith and I have accompanied our six month old Grandson, his other grandparents and his mummy and daddy to the CenterParcs “resort” at Elveden Forest in Suffolk.

It has been a steaming hot few days so far and as I write the beginnings of this piece outside our villa at 9.30pm on the longest day of the year it is still comfortably warm and still daylight.

If I look up from my notebook and away from the villa I can see nothing but ferns, tall trees and a clear blue sky. Various birds, squirrels and Muntjac deer also make fleeting appearances and off in the distance I can hear a Peacock screeching.

It’s all rather idyllic and what I feel retirement is supposed to be about!

This isn’t our first visit here by any means – Faith and I first came here with our daughters in March 1995, the visit coinciding with our 15th Wedding Anniversary – and was memorable to me for it actually snowing hard while I floated with just my face above water in a gently steaming outdoor pool!

We have returned several times since then, including for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2000 and daughter Hannah’s 18th Birthday in 2001.

After that the main shopping/eating concourse suffered a serious fire and Faith and I returned on our own not long after it reopened after an extensive rebuild. On that occasion we stayed in the hotel by the lake rather than a villa and spent most of our time trying to remember “isn’t that where ‘such and such’ restaurant used to be?” because it was completely unfamiliar in its new form.

I had thought that because I have been here with the current layout in existence there would be no problems finding my way around but that has not been the case. The villas with three bedrooms and an equal number of bathrooms (essential, believe me!) are situated in a bit of the park that did not even exist when last we visited so we are approaching and leaving the facilities at the centre in an unfamiliar way. Indeed, after 3 of our 4 days here I still have to stop and think at every turn despite doing the route from 4 to 6 times a day!

Thus far I have spent a couple of hours swimming (including the “Wild Water Rapids” where I briefly got stuck on a tight bend!) and played Tennis, Table Tennis and Badminton. Of these I have proved best at Table Tennis – I am tall, with long arms and a great deal of the surface area of the table is therefore available to me without the need for all that tedious, sweaty leaping around that the other games entail!

However, as you have probably guessed from the early paragraphs of this story, the most sedentary sport I have taken part in was……… Fishing!

On the grounds that 2 grandmothers plus his mummy and daddy could provide more than enough care and attention for little Xavier, his granddad Pete and I booked fishing permits for the big lake – specifically the fenced off corner free from wind-surfers, water-skiers and massive multi-family sized pedallos.

We arrived on Monday afternoon, picked up our permits early on Tuesday and spent that afternoon on adjacent platforms trying to tempt some of the numerous monster Carp that we could see cruising about just below the surface. They, however, showed no interest whatsoever in our bait offerings and we had to make do with 4 small Roach apiece before returning to the villa before 4pm so that I could go off and get horribly sweaty playing Badminton awfully badly! They should rename the sport “Awfulminton” in honour of my prowess or lack thereof!

On Wednesday we were able to start a bit earlier and fish for longer – again with adjacent (but different) platforms and I was annoyed to see those bloody Carp taking the piss by not only refusing even to look at our bait but also taking a route between the decking we were sitting on and our floats! Some of them were well within the reach of my telescopic-handled landing net and I was seriously tempted to scoop a couple of them out with that, photograph them and put them back!

There is a certain code of honour covering such things though – so I didn’t! Aren’t you proud of me?

I have since discovered that the “wildlife team” here feed those Carp at a regular time and in a place not in the fishing zone so Anglers really have no chance – that IS cheating!

On this second occasion, however, I did hit a patch of much larger Roach and stopped counting when I passed 8 so my total was well into double figures. I was very happy with that!

That was also “finishing on a high” as other booked sports and baby-sitter duties put Thursday out of the picture and the gear had to be re-packed into the car early on Friday.

So, if you bothered to read to the end of my previous piece you will know that it ended with the words “No fish were harmed during the making of this holiday!” Well, because of my careful unhooking and use of barbless hooks, I can still say that. I do, however, feel the need to add to the end of that sentence “…..but at least (and at last) some were actually caught!”

And the odd title of this piece?

Before they learned that I wasn’t going to feed them and went away I was bothered by a number of ducks – one of which thought it would be fun to take a peck at my waggler (it’s a type of float).

The following exchange occurred when I related the story to Faith:

“A duck nibbled your WHAT?!”

“My waggler”.

“Well I’m sure your mother warned you that might happen if you wave it about in public!”

Honestly! What a dirty mind that woman has!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Holidays, Travel related

 

Menorca 2016 – 6 – What are the chances?

And finally…..

We came to this hotel firstly because we had seen it (and liked its location right on the beach) during an excursion in 2004 but also because it was thoroughly recommended by a couple of our friends (who I shall refer to obliquely as Barbie and Ken because I don’t have permission to use real names) who came to it on their honeymoon about 30 years ago and have been back many times since.

The Hotel (which has changed hands over the years) is currently called the Melia Cala Galdana and is only slightly grander and slightly better located than the similarly named Hotel Cala Galdana in the town and across the “river” from the beach.

Before we left we were told that another mutual friend and former work colleague of Faith and her above mentioned friend Barbie had also accepted a similar recommendation but had inadvertently booked the wrong hotel.

Our week on Menorca was from Friday to Friday while this friend and her husband (who for similar permission reasons I shall refer to as Sindy and Paul) were flying out on the Wednesday; so discounting their day of arrival and our day of departure the only overlap was the Thursday. We were not expecting therefore that a meeting had much chance of happening and by Wednesday I had forgotten all about these people arriving.

After the excesses of our Wednesday evening buffet meal we felt a need to get some exercise and decided to walk into the town and re-visit a small bar that we had been to earlier in the week and which I knew not only did excellent Mojitos but also put out nice bowls of peanuts (as if I really needed to EAT).

As the hotel restaurant had a “no shorts” dress code and it was still quite warm out we stopped off at our room on the way out to enable me to get comfortable again and then set off along the promenade in the twilight.

We were strolling along listening to the soothing susurration of the small waves on the sand when Faith slowed right down and started to stare intently at some people walking towards us.

“It’s Sindy isn’t it?” she asked after a pause that was probably a lot shorter than it seemed and it transpired this was indeed her former work colleague who with her husband had checked into their hotel, eaten, and then set out to investigate the one that they had meant to book.

After a brief chat during which we arranged to meet up in the bar of their hotel the following night we both continued our on our respective walks and, while I suppose this wasn’t all that surprising an event, Faith and I reflected on the chances of meeting, in that location and at that particular time, the only people on the entire island who either of us knew.

We took a table outside the bar with Faith looking out onto the square and me with a view of the other customers and a large TV screen showing a football match between (I believe) Manchester City and Glasgow Celtic. At some point Celtic scored and I made a comment about it to the man of about my own age who was sitting with his wife at the adjacent table.

This led to a discussion about football and I discovered that he was from Lancaster and supported Blackpool FC despite living in Carlisle. Naturally, Faith and I picked up on this and mentioned our younger daughter who went to University at Lancaster and later worked for a volunteer charity in Carlisle.

This chap (whose name by coincidence was Dave – the same as me and both of my sons-in-law, you may recall) became more interested and asked which charity she worked for. I told him the name and he stared hard at Faith and I for a few seconds.

“Your Daughter’s name isn’t Carla is it?” he asked. And as regular readers will know, it is.

It turned out that he had been involved in a Community Allotment project that Carla had run and remembered fondly her cheerful enthusiasm.

As soon as we left the bar it was, of course, necessary for Faith to call Carla on the phone and report this quite remarkable coincidence and Carla remembered him quite well.

Consider if you will the odds against our happening to go to that bar, taking that table and actually having conversations with strangers who knew our daughter from her brief spell at the extreme other end of England and I think you’ll agree that they had to be astronomical!

I reflected on the way back to our Hotel that if an outlet selling lottery tickets had been available to us at that moment we would surely be millionaires by now!

That’s all for this little series – back now to more mundane topics that don’t make my readership insanely jealous at all my holidays!

 

Alfie

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Holidays, Travel related

 

Menorca 2016 – 5 – Pea Soup ‘n a Brewery!

Whenever I write about overseas holidays there always seems to be a piece on the subject of the catering arrangements, whether it be the appalling lack of queuing etiquette displayed by the German contingent in Lanzarote in 2013 or the still unidentified meat product labelled as “Goat Beef” in Tenerife in 2010.

This is this holiday’s take on the Food and Drink aspect.

Incidentally, if you wish to read about either of the previously mentioned holidays, you can find them in the Archive pages of this site for March or April of either of those years.

There were no such queuing incidents on this occasion – probably because, whatever the nationalities involved, the people staying here this late in the season tend to be around our age and not therefore in a rush to be first for everything.

The buffet system for Breakfast and Lunch still continues to amaze me!

I had no idea that there were so many international requirements for Breakfast!

I can understand the presence of Fruit and Cereals (because that’s what I normally have at home) and at least some of the makings of the proverbial “Full English” with only Mushrooms, some form of fried Potato and Black Pudding failing to appear.

Some of the other offerings do, however, seem a tad weird.

Anyone who has stayed in a UK hotel in the last 40 years or more will have become familiar with the concept of a “Continental Breakfast” (often as the default provided with the “Full English” option as a chargeable alternative) but the British version of this normally comprises not much more than cold Croissants, slices of Edam or Cheddar cheese and a plate with some ham slices on.

It should be no surprise to anybody that, given the range of countries presumably covered by the term “Continental Breakfast” there is actually a lot more to it than that – no less than 5 different sorts of cheese, slices of many varieties of ham plus several regional styles of Salami-type sliced sausage.

So that, what with all that hot and cold choice and the fact that as long as you hang on to your knife and fork you can go back and refill your plate as often as you like (or can manage) the breakfast set up alone explains why we never, ever, pay extra for “full board”! You can easily fill yourself up sufficiently that a small (and cheap) lunchtime snack outside of the hotel will keep you going until the evening where it all starts again, only worse!

Remembering that I am supposed to be losing weight by eating healthily I determined every evening to have a Salad – which under buffet conditions can still amount to quite a plateful. I included allowable items such as Anchovies and Hard Boiled Eggs and dutifully avoided no-no’s like Olives and Cheese (despite being rather fond of both). Sometimes, if I liked the flavour I would also have a bowl of soup.

Unfortunately, this left me feeling so virtuous that I would celebrate by going back for a normal main course!

In my defence I will say that each time I did this I did choose things permitted by my current eating regime, avoiding fried stuff, fatty meat and such like but like the buffet meals in Tenerife in 2010 and Lanzarote in 2013 I ended up with plates containing the most unholy mixtures you could wish for.

One evening Faith pointed at some of my meat selections and asked me what they were.

“Don’t know, don’t know and Ostrich” was my reply. As long as they tasted nice I didn’t really mind, though.

Having now eaten way more than I would have done at home but feeling good because I’d avoided things that were bad for me I then usually rewarded myself by having a big bowl of multi-coloured jelly with several scoops of ice cream on top – which probably undid all the good!

At the start of this piece I mentioned that it would be about Food AND Drink.

Anyone who knew me when I was in my 20’s would be very surprised to learn that most of what I drank on this holiday was some form of diet Cola – not even lightly flavoured with Bourbon or Amaretto – or the occasional small bottle of beer. I must be getting old! I even failed to indulge in the cabinet of Cava available at breakfast – although to be fair it was tucked away in a corner and I didn’t notice it for about 5 days!

I still wonder just who the Spanish hotel management think starts hitting alcohol that early in the day! Must be those Germans!

I did indulge myself with a number of Mojitos both in the hotel and out in the town at various small bars but hit the jackpot with our excursion to the island capital, Mahon. There, as a legacy from the 1700s when Menorca was major British Naval Base, is a still fully functional Gin Distillery and a trip to it was on our itinerary. So much sampling took place that I didn’t even notice how little legroom I had in the coach on the way back!

So, taking liberties with the term “Distillery” back in the restaurant that evening I expressed disappointment that the soup of the day was Mushroom because it denied me the opportunity to title this piece “Pea soup ‘n a Brewery”!

But then I so dazzled myself with the idea that I’ve gone ahead and used it anyway! Faith was also disappointed because the one soup she loves more than any other is Pea!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, by the time I “weighed in” at Slimming World six days after our return I had reduced what could have been a colossal weight gain to a mere one and a half pounds!

Only one more thing to write about now to bring this little series to a close – we have after all now been back over a month!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Holidays, Travel related