Embra – 20 April 2019

We’d said we’d go to Embra and we did.

Set off early and did our usual walk up from Haymarket station to Nero on Lothian Road then from there through the farmers market where I got a piece of Hogget Leg Steak and Scamp got a chunk of Focaccia. I also grabbed a PoD of the folk sitting in the sun.

From there we walked up to the Grassmarket and Scamp bought a wee bottle of Elderberry liqueur, although the rum liqueur they were selling tasted very nice. They didn’t have wee bottles of it, unfortunately, only big bottles. The place was mobbed. In fact Embra in general was mobbed. It was a beautiful day. Warm sunshine and very little wind which is strange for Embra because it quite often is the Windy City. I was beginning to regret wearing my leather jacket AND a jersey. One had to go, in fact, eventually both had to go.

We couldn’t decide where to go for lunch, so we headed for Princes Street Gardens via M&S where I went to get some fresh fruit while Scamp searched for the trousers she’s been looking for for the last week or so. I got the fruit, but Scamp didn’t find the trousers she wanted. However she did find a sun hat that looked good, so after some swithering about a colour, she opted for the plain white one.

We sat in the gardens for a while eating the fruit and people watching, but decided eventually that it was far too busy in Embra and we should just head for home. Went for the 2pm train and were there in plenty of time. Sat waiting for what seemed a long time when a message came over the tannoy that with apologies, the train was cancelled. There was nothing to do but walk back to the concourse and wait for the next train which was in half an hour. Then Scamp noticed that it too was cancelled. Apparently due to a signalling fault. She suggested we get the 2.15 train which wouldn’t stop at Croy, but we could go straight to Glasgow and get another train back. After all the ticket did say “Valid via any permitted route”, so we could have gone via Inverness if we’d fancied, but we didn’t, we just wanted to get home now. Got the 2.15 which did take us all the way to Glasgow and then got the Stirling train back to Croy. A journey that should have taken us 40mins had taken 2 hours. Strangely, the 2.15 train travelled exactly the same route as the one that was cancelled because of a signalling fault. Did they magically repair the fault for the 2.15 train to pass, but knew that it would be broken again when the 2.30 train was due to leave? Maybe they should just be more honest and say “Due to staff not being available because it was such a nice day”. Anyway, we got home.

Sat in the garden and scoffed a bottle of wine that had been in the fridge since Christmas. It would be getting near it’s sell-by date anyway!

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory.

Not such a bright day – 16 April 2019

Today was Chris’s dad’s funeral. JIC had flown up specially for it last night.

He might have come up for the funeral, but before that JIC had to take a conference call with California and China. That’s just the kind of circles he moves in these days. Half past eight this morning and he was on Skype, doing work.

The funeral went well, I suppose. Well, as good as these things get. This was the first Humanist funeral I’d been to. I don’t confess to be a Christian. I suppose the closest I can get to religion is Buddhism, but even elements of that don’t work for me. I didn’t like the delivery of the woman who took the ceremony. Maybe she was new to it, but her delivery was too fast, too rushed with pauses that were too long and sometimes in the wrong places. It didn’t have the solemnity of a Church of Scotland funeral, but the delivery there has a style all of its own too and its not a pleasant one either. I’d guess it’s only someone who knew the person who has died who can really speak about them, from the heart, and that’s what the people listening want to hear.

We went to the ‘tea’ afterwards and met a few folk we knew. I liked the way Andy, JIC and Chris shared memories of Chris’s dad. That’s more like what folk do at a traditional ‘tea’ after a funeral. They remember the good bits in a person’s life and forgive the bad bits.

In the afternoon we went for a late lunch with JIC before he got the flight home. Unfortunately time seemed to slip away and the next thing I knew it was 5pm, we should have been on our way by then and we still hadn’t had our pudding. Eventually we got served and left for the drive into Glasgow. CITRAC was displaying its usual useless nonsense. “Nineteen minutes to the airport” it said. Actually it took nearly forty five minutes through what is euphemistically called ‘Rush Hour’, except nobody was rushing. Finally dropped him off at the airport to go through security. We turned round and started to drive home when Scamp suggested we go for a coffee at Braehead. That gave just enough time for the congestion to decrease and allow us to drive at a fairly steady pace back home through the rain. The plants need the rain Scamp said. She’s probably right.

Today’s PoD was made possible by that rain on the back bedroom window. I liked it. I called it “Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes” lyrics from The Final Cut by Roger Waters. Seemed somehow fitting.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing. Let’s hope it’s a happier day than today.

Off Home – 27 March 2019

Bags packed, ready for the off.

After an uncomfortable nightwith a swollen finger and a pain in the side after yesterday’s gymnastics, it was time for the last breakfast.

Since we didn’t need to leave the room until midday, we went for a walk along the front to soak up a last couple of hours of sunshine.  Sat on the same seat as yesterday with the same toy mouse, still unclaimed and gazed at the same sea.  Finally had to drag ourselves away.  Said goodbye to the wee toy mouse and told it we were sure someone would come back to claim it, then turned to face the journey home.

One final check of the bags before heading for reception. Sat and read for a while before we booked the taxi which arrived about two minutes later and we were off to the airport.

Whizzed through check-in and security and settled down to wait. Called to the gate earlier than we’d expected and were off home to a cold Glasgow, then drove home.

There’s not a lot more you can say about the long day at the end of a holiday, certainly not anything interesting.  It wasn’t the best holiday ever, and definitely not the best hotel we’d stayed in, but it was  a week in  the sun and it doesn’t matter what the hotel is like or the food is like, the sun’s the same for everyone, and the sun is free.

PoD was the queue at a gate in Fuerteventura airport.

Tomorrow reality will kick in!

Last Full Day – 26 March 2019

Ticking off the last few things we had to do in The Warm Place.

After breakfast we took the free bus into Caleta after a mystery tour round the various hotels around the town. We were keeping a weather eye on a big black cloud that was getting ominously close and were becoming a bit concerned that we might just need the brollies we’d left in the hotel! With that in mind it was a smart walk around to see the newly renovated Ereza Mar hotel which had been partly torn down the last time we’d been on the Windy Island. It looked really smart, but that was just the white paint and the blue roof tiles. We’d seen the holes in the blockwork of the balconies!

Walking back towards the town we felt the first spits and spots of rain. Warm rain, but rain, none the less. That gave us the opportunity to nip into the Irish bar for a pint of Guinness for me and a half pint of lager for Scamp. By the time we came out the cloud and the rain had disappeared, the streets were dry and the sky was blue once again. Walked along the sands and grabbed today’s PoD which was three seats with a view, but no takers. There is a strange dearth of visitors on the beach this year. It might be something to do with Brexit that’s keeping the Brits at home, but that wouldn’t prevent the French, Germans and Italians from grabbing some early spring warmth. Can’t quite work it out, and we’ve heard quite a few people saying the same thing. Signs of the times perhaps.

Sat on a seat beside a child’s lost toy mouse and had an ice cream, just looking out to sea. Then we said goodbye to the toy mouse and walked on to see the fish in the little river that flows out of Elba Sara. I got some photos of a bird that might be a Turnstone, but PoD remains the three seats.

Just sat by the pool in the afternoon, but the clouds were massing again and it wasn’t looking as good as it had done earlier.

Getting ready for dinner, I slipped getting out of the bath that doubles as a shower. Banged my side against the bath and staved my finger. Silly old fool. It felt reminiscent of November in Lanzarote when I woke up on the last day with a lump the size of an egg on my elbow and no knowledge of how it had happened.

Dinner wasn’t anything special to write home about, so I won’t.

Spent our last evening packing and re-packing the bags and cases. I really must review my bag packing list. With a bit of re-organising I manage to get the carry-on bag down to 4.3kg which was much better than the vastly overloaded 8kg going out.

Tomorrow it’s going to be a long day.

A walk to the harbour – 25 March 2019

Today, a longer walk around the bay to the harbour.

Rather than walk around the entire bay to the Castillo and the harbour, we decided instead to cut a corner and walk across the sand. Watched the fish for a while in the harbour and people-watched the kids feeding them from the little paper cones of fish food. There was little else to see there but we stood for a while watching a bloke on a fly board jetpack doing loops and swoops while hundreds of smartphone videos captured the display. We didn’t. Jaded tourists us. We walked along past the looky-looky men selling knock-off sunglasses, baseball caps and designer handbags and had a beer in a posh bar with a great view over the bay. A view you had to pay for in the price of the beer €5.80 for two small beers, less than half a pint each. Almost UK prices. Still it was worth it for a seat in the shade and the view. While we were in Caleta we bought some cards to post home.

Walked back to the hotel and sat by the pool for a while. I did a bit of drawing and Scamp read. There was a man there almost completely covered in tattoos of red Indians or to be more PC, Native North Americans who was carrying his little girl and as he passed he said to her “Mind you don’t drop me now!” I thought that was so funny. Maybe you had to be there! Wrote the cards and posted them in the hotel. It’s so complicated now abroad, there are so many different mail systems you have to check which stamps you are using so you know which box to drop the cards in. Wrong box and there’s no guarantee the card will arrive at the recipient.

After lunch I had one last walk across the wilderness. Spent some time watching ‘dust devils’ being whipped up by the wind and running along beside the road. PoD is a shot of a green plant growing in a dried up stream bed. Such a bright green on the dull brown dust and grey stones. When I was walking back the clouds grew heavier and darker and the temperature began to drop too.

Dinner was in the à la carte Italian restaurant next to the pool bar. We were sitting next to a lady who was the double of Scamp’s Isobel. They say that everyone has a doppelgänger. Food was lovely. Buffet for starters, then Scamp had Mushroom Risotto followed by Lemon Sorbet and I had Gnocchi with Bolognese sauce then Panna Cotta with a fruit sauce. All great.  When we came out of the Italian restaurant it was raining!!

Show tonight was That Fuc**ng Lion King, so we didn’t go. I really hate TFLK and Scamp isn’t too impressed with it either!

Last full day tomorrow. The last time we were here we were watching an old hotel being renovated. Tomorrow we are planning to see how they’re getting on with it.

Happy Birthday Scamp – 24 March 2019

Today was to be Scamp’s day.

I was up early to make Scamp her morning cup of white tea.  After that I sat on the balcony to watch the sun rise because the wind appeared to be coming from a different direction and not howling down the canyon between our hotel and the Sheraton next door.  That’s where I got today’s PoD.

After breakfast, we sat in the sun. The wind, which Fuerteventura is famous for, as well as being from a different direction, was less strong today. That was a double edged sword because it kept the temperature up, but also seemed to bring out the flies. They looked like house flies, but while some were tolerable, some (I’m guessing the females) had mouths like little syringes and seemed to like the taste of blood. Luckily the Jungle Formula we’d brought seemed to keep them at bay … for a while, but eventually we had to move.

We moved in the direction of the little island cafe out over the walkway into the sea. There Scamp had suggested we have a jug of sangria between us as a mid-morning pick-me-up. It worked. The wind was a bit stronger out on the island, but we found a sheltered spot that was warm, but not in direct sun.

After the sangria we walked back and had a light lunch. When we got back to the room we found a birthday card, a bottle of champagne and a little birthday cake complete with candle from the hotel management. It was a nice touch.

Later in the afternoon we walked in to Caleta and went to Fado Rock a favourite restaurant from our past. Scamp had a half chicken with chips and I had a half cow (giant ribeye steak) with chips. We got a taxi back to the hotel.

We found the kids club, eventually and saw Pepé, the multicoloured caterpillar leader of the kids club. Once Scamp had sung along with all the kids club songs and had a birthday wave from Pepé, we went for a few drinks in the reception bar where we listened to Tina and the karaoke until we couldn’t stand it any longer, then went back to the room for another G&T each.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk down to the harbour of Caleta.

Salty Dog – 23 March 2019

Another warm day

After breakfast we sat in the garden and I painted while Scamp read her Kindle.

Later we walked in to Caleta and had lunch in The Trafalgar, an institution in Fuerteventura. We always visit it if only to get a mug of coffee for Scamp. The only place in Caleta that she trusts to give her decent coffee.

When we got back, Scamp went for a swim and I went for a walk over the wilderness to the Museo de la Sal. A museum of salt is not the most interesting of places, but behind it is the original salt pans and a full skeleton of a whale. I’d forgotten about the skeleton the last time we’d been to Caleta and this time I got to see it. I didn’t actually go in to the museum, but having read Tripadvisor reviews, I didn’t miss much. Besides, you can just walk round the salt pans and the skeleton without having to go in to the museum.

On the way back I got some photos of the tough wee desert plants growing on the dunes and it was one of them that became PoD.

It was a long walk over the wilderness and I my feet were quite sore when I came back.

28,025 steps
12.65 miles

Tomorrow is Scamp’s birthday, so she gets to decide on the format of the day.

Puerto del Rosario – 22 March 2019

A day in the Toon

Got a bus timetable from reception for a trip into the big city – Puerto del Rosario.

Found the bus stop. I’d looked everywhere for it yesterday on my walk back from the wilderness, but there it was, just outside the Atlantico Centre. We were first on and paid our exorbitant fare of €1.45 each! Not bad for a 30 minute journey!

Wandered round the Las Rotundas shopping centre in the town. A big shopping centre built in three levels. Really quite impressive range of shops. I found a cheap electronics shop which was offering SSDs (not to be confused with STDs) for really low prices. I was tempted, but I walked away. As it happened, the only things we bought were two little €0.99 fold up shopping bags.

Outside we found the famous church with the bar. The bar isn’t actually inside the church, but it is in the grounds. An excellent way to encourage more worshippers.

On the same street there were a load of statues to various dignitaries from the past, along with another one of a goat. I couldn’t work out the significance of the goat statue. Maybe a political statement.

Lunch was further down the street in an outside cafe and was a meal-deal of a Spanish omelette and salad accompanied by a small beer (half pint) for €6.50 each. Coffee was also included in the price, but we were happy to forego that, much against the better judgement of the waitress who seemed disappointed that we were leaving without getting full value for our €6.50.  However, we weren’t totally in the shade for our meal and the sun was becoming quite hot just after midday, so we felt it would be better to be walking, rather than enjoying the extra coffee.

While we were eating we were people watching. One group of men and one group of women, sensibly sitting at tables in the shade of the cafe building. Men with their beer and cigars, women with coffee and cake. Another group at the next table to us seemed to be the Canarian version of Scamp’s ‘Witches’. All the groups were well into the ‘pensioners’ bracket.

After leaving the cafe we walked down the street, finding more statues and sculptures and also a lot of murals. One especially cleverly painted with exaggerated perspective of Time Square. I’ll hopefully put it up on Flickr once I’ve got the blogs up to date. Today’s PoD was the first mural we saw and we both liked it.

On the subject of blogs, I didn’t write this on the laptop while we were away. I tried a different method this year and made notes and sketches in a sketchbook while we were away and am typing this up at home. The book will make a nice record to look back on.

At the bottom of the street we found PdR beach and esplanade. It’s beautifully laid out and much prettier than we’d expected. Certainly worth another look some time DV. We both liked the bench seating under some shade, each bench painted with a different portrait or scene. Brightened up what could have been a dull seating area.

Back at the hotel I had too much meat for dinner and suffered from protein overload. Scamp was fine.

The show was an ABBA tribute by the in-house entertainment team. We weren’t interested and went back to the room to read.

11,437 steps
5.16 miles

Tomorrow we may go for a swim.

First Day – 21 March 2019

We’d decided that today would be a day of rest after yesterday’s fraught day of travel and that’s what we did.

In the morning we just sat by the pool. Scamp went for a swim but I decided to stay on dry land. My head was not my own. I hadn’t slept well and apart from the excess of alcohol yesterday, I realised I’d had more than my fair share of sun without a head covering. Also, I’d been careful on the flight not to drink too much and the combination of all these things meant I was probably dehydrated and had slight sun stroke. That’s why my head felt slightly woozy. The reason I’d not slept well was because I kept waking up hearing noises during the night. We eventually decided that because our room faced into the prevailing wind, the constant buffeting by that strong wind was causing the chairs to vibrate on the balcony. Not only ours were vibrating, everyone else’s chairs and tables were doing the same thing too. Thankfully in the afternoon, somebody realised what was happening and the chairs were removed into the flat or stacked in such a way that the noise was eliminated. That was a great relief.

Saw a Hoopoe in the gardens of the resort and amazingly it let me get quite close. It made PoD. Haven’t seen one here before, in fact the only one I’ve seen before was in Puerto Rico in Gran Canario about 10 years ago.

In the afternoon we went for a walk as far as the small strip of shops just short of Caleta De Fuste. Walked back along the new walkway.

Later in the afternoon, I went for a walk over to the wild side beyond Elba Sara. Got some photos of the camels walking to their overnight accommodation and also some shots of a curlew.

Show tonight was a music quiz which didn’t interest us and shows the quality of the entertainment in this hotel.

16,179 steps 7.3 miles today.

Tomorrow we may get the bus into Puerto del Rosario.

29 Degrees – 20 March 2019

Set the alarm for 6am. Up and out after a tea and toast breakfast. Drove through fairly heavy traffic along the M80 and the M8 with CITRAC still predicting 42 mins to the airport. Didn’t take near that time, of course. Checked in without any delay and then we reached security where the traffic was heavy and two of the gates were down. Forgot that I’d put my insect repellant spray in the carry-on bag and had to wait while they searched the bag. Flight was on time and we arrived in Fuerteventura to 29 degrees heat ( I wish Windoze 10 would make it simpler to create a degree symbol). For some reason my phone phoned Fred Parker while we were waiting in a long queue for the taxi to the hotel. He wasn’t pleased when I told him about the 29 degrees!

Checked in at the hotel and dumped the cases then went for a first ‘Holiday Beer’ or two. Dinner at night was underwhelming and there were a lot of empty tables. Whether that was because of the quality of the food or the lack of guests is hard to tell on a first night.

Delighted to find that ‘Tina’ was the vocalist and sax player tonight. We’d heard her play last year at Elba Sara and we had danced to her music. Scamp asked her to play some salsa and we danced to Carnival which seems to be the only salsa song she knows. For once we made a mess of things. It might have been because the floor was slippery or it might have been a case of too many ‘Holiday Beers, Mojitos and G&Ts. The jury is still out. Gave up and went to bed. It had been a long day.

Today’s PoD is a quick snap of a serviette in Frankie & Benny’s at Glasgow Airport. Someone must have seen us!

Tomorrow we will be relaxing by the pool, hopefully.