E1221648- blog

Back to reality – 14 November 2017

Taxi booked for 11am. Arrived a bit late, but got us to the airport with time to spare … luckily! Enormous zig-zag queue but with the good organization we got through check-in and security in about an hour. Flight was on time or just ahead of time and then we drove in a great long queue along the M8 behind a wide load with police car outriders moderating the overtaking traffic. Finally arrived home later than intended, tired, but pleased to be back to reality. Fish fingers, egg and tomato for dinner. Not the three course meals we had become used to, but certainly a lot less fattening!

PoD is the view from the balcony in a warm place.

Tomorrow is recuperation day.

E1221648- blog

The last day in a warm place – 13 November 2017

The last day here and it was a cloudy, dull one! Honest, it was just preparing us for what is to come.

We didn’t waste it. We spent some time on the roof reading and snoozing. I also took the opportunity to take some moody shots of the mountains covered in cloud. As if that was unusual. Well it is here, but not in Scotland. Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch we walked down to the town and on the way we calle in to The Pantry and I had one final baraquito. This one served in a small champagne glass as you can see. Try getting that kind of service in Costa.

When we came back it was time to face the dreaded packing. Actually it was fairly easy this time because the case was only about two thirds full because I didn’t have a kilt roll, a jacket, sporran or heavy brogues. It’s amazing the weight and bulk that accrues from them. By the time we got them fairly well organized we just had enough time to go and sit on the roof for an hour before getting ready for dinner. We were both agreed that the roof space with its astro-turf, pools and of course the bar was the highlight of the hotel. Also, for safety reasons it’s off limits to children, so it’s quiet. Well, it’s usually quiet, but four fat permatanned morons who were screaming, shouting and just being arseholes at the far side were making more noise than any children down in the kids pool below. I smiled to think the kind of noise they would make if they fell the five stories to the concrete below. But then again, someone would have to clean up that mess and if it got into the pool it would have clogged the filters and there would have to be an investigation and we’d all have to give statements. Still, just think of the sound a watermelon makes dropped on concrete …

Our last two G&Ts were wasted because they’d run out of tonic and a G&T without T is just a G & . It’s not the same. Anyway, it was time to go get ready for a last dinner. Then a last walk down town for a Long Island for Scamp and a Mojito for me. It was actually getting cool when we made our way back to the hotel, up the ‘killer hill’. Our name for a long slow climb.

And so to bed for one last time in the land of the heat and reversing bin motors at 3am almost every morning. Looking forward to sleeping in our own beds tomorrow.

E1221648- blog

Foodies – 12 November 2017

P1030626I had omelette for breakfast.  Only, when I cut into it, I realised that I had another diner’s food. I should have had ham and cheese and I had tuna and cheese.  Not a marriage made in food heaven IMO.  To prevent a recurrence of yesterday’s alleged theft of sunbeds, we went straight to the top floor after breakfast.

Afterwards,we went for a walk along to the posh hotels, but couldn’t settle on anywhere for lunch.  Walked back to what looked a likely Italian we’d earmarked during the week.
Bloke who took our order only seemed to do grunts, but he did type something into what looked like a mobile phone.  Starter, which was flat bread with rosemary, took 20 mins.  Maybe they were waiting for the rosemary to grow.  Scamp’s main was fine, but mine was totally wrong.  It tasted fine, but just in case there were shellfish somewhere in it, I sent it back and got a new one, the one I’d ordered this time.  Maybe the bloke wasn’t typing an order into his wee phone thing.  Maybe he was just phoning Mama back in the old country.  Anyway, I wasn’t pleased – we paid and left after scamp had finished.

Further down the road we dropped into a bar and had a mojito each to make us feel better.  It was lovely.  The best so far this year.  Sat and watched the world go by while the sun beat down.

By the time we got back I was exhausted, so I had a snooze for about an hour while Scamp went up on the roof again.  Later, I joined her then came down to the room to get ready for dinner.  We’re now sitting on the balcony while I write up today’s blog.  It’s just after 7pm and I’m sitting in a tee shirt and swimming trunks.  Aren’t winter holidays wonderful!

Today’s PoD was taken in the land of the posh hotels

Last full day tomorrow.  Going to make the most of it.  Mojitos will probably figure in it somewhere.

STOP PRESS  ::: STOP PRESS

Neither Scamp nor I fancied watching a Beatles tribute band tonight and as the singer who should have been on at the hotel was sitting glued to her phone in the downstairs bar there was little prospect of anything there.  We went for a walk down to the beach esplanade.

We found a bar with two seats together and after we’d ordered, noticed a star in our midst.  Yes, another one!  It was Leah MacRae who plays Ellie McLean in River City.  She was sitting there with her Gran.  Even better, she sounded just the same as she did in the soap.  Thankfully she never asked Scamp for her autograph or to have her photo taken with her, otherwise it might have caused a riot!!  After all, Scamp and Gloria Hunniford (or Gaynor if you’re german) are BFF now.

STOP PRESS  ::: STOP PRESS

 

E1221648- blog

In the presence of a star – 11 November 2017

P1030582After breakfast we went for a rest beside the pool.  We’d been there for half an hour or so when this opinionated english woman came along and started throwing here weight about saying SOMEONE had moved her towels.  The pitch and volume of her voice got higher as she nearer us.  As if we would stoop to touch a towel an english person had used.  I nearly released my inner ned, but luckily for her, he stayed silent.  I just laughed as she got more and more incandescent.  We let her go and ‘appropriate’ more sunbeds to get back to the full quota, then we left to go up to the top floor.

On the top floor, a film crew were setting up.  After about half an hour the ‘star’ Gloria Hunniford (not Gloria Gaynor as some germans thought.  I think it was them that moved the english woman’s towels!) appeared.  We watched her speaking her piece time after time to camera interrupted by buses, wee trains and motorbikes.  It seems that just about anything can interrupt the sound on a recording.  Scamp plucked up courage and went and asked her if she could have her photo taken with her and said that she was very pleasant.  Thankfully the other two of her companions weren’t there.

Walked down to the beach later, when the excitement was over, to dip our wee toesies in the water.  Walked along the sand for quite a distance before we came back, had lunch and I posted yesterday’s blog. Went back up to the top floor once the blogging was done and had a quick swim in the deep plunge pool.  It was supposed to be 25c.  I think they missed out the decimal point between the 2 and the 5.  Before we went down I got a sketch done of the buildings next door.  Gloria had left the building!!

After dinner watched the kids show and then sat through a home-made film quiz.  Went and listened to a bloke playing the guitar and singing at the front of the hotel.  I thought he was quite good, but Scamp was not impressed.

Tomorrow will be hot apparently!

Went

E1221648- blog

Friday is Pizza Day – 10 November 2017

P1030567-2After breakfast we went up on the roof to relax and soak up some rays.

We’d only intended staying for an hour or so, then we realised we’d missed the 11am Wee Train and the next one wasn’t for an hour, so we might as well have another beer and read a few more chapters in our books.  That’s the speed that life runs at  here.

At 11.45 we were ready and waiting for the train and it arrived promptly just before 12 noon.  It was €9 each for the round trip of 1 hour.  We’d actually intended getting off half way round, but agreed that we would hang the expense and go for the round trip.  It was worth it to endure the bumps and wobbles over the cobbles as we made our way out to Port Colon <Snigger!> and then back.  We saw lots of bits we’d seen last time and a few that we hadn’t.  The trip took us round the ‘Sky Park’ sort of amusement park that didn’t look as if it had had any visitors since we last saw it two years ago.  Lots of new buildings going up everywhere.

When we got back to the hotel, we walked down to the Blue Cactus pizza place we’d gone to two years ago.  The pizzas were just as big as last time, but the base had a mass-produced feel to it and there was far too much cheese (not Mozzarella).  Quantity without the quality.  Because of a misunderstanding we ended up with a jug of sangria, not the glass, Scamp wanted.  We weren’t all that worried.  We managed to put it away!

Walked home and after a rest, went for a swim, then went back up top to warm up, because the sunbeds below were in shade by this time.

After dinner we watched the kids show with the strange palm tree, Gofi (?), the mascot of the kids club.  After that it was a less-than-brilliant Queen tribute band.

Then bed.  A long day, but an enjoyable one.

PoD is called Red Stripe, for obvious reasons.

Tomorrow, more of the same, hopefully.

E1221648- blog

A Mojito, A Barraquito and some Flamenco – 9 November 2017

P1030544The Mojito is based on white rum, the Barraquito has Liquor 43 and the Flamenco is fiery enough without the alcohol.

We both slept better last night.  More relaxed and that may or may not be due to the amount of gin in the tonic, but I cannot comment.  Anyway, we went for breakfast, then headed to level 5 to rest and allow the breakfast to settle before we went anywhere.  We both rested for quite some time to because we both had good books to read and the weather was conducive to relaxation, being around the 23c mark.

When we were fully rested we went to investigate the local market.  With the exception of a few Tissot and Breitling watches for fifteen quid each, there wasn’t much to mark it as special, so after wandering around the stalls and seeing nothing that really interested us, we headed back to the hotel to have lunch.  The big surprise at lunch was the wee cakes, in particular, the Cannoli.  For the uninitiated, cannoli are small crunchy pastry rolls squirted full of cream.  Lovely and very rare outside of Italy.  Here they were on the Tortas table at lunch.  I had one, Scamp had two, but who’s counting cannoli.

After the cannoli and lunch in general, we went for a walk in search of Mojitos.  We walked in the general direction of Los Cristianos and along the way we found a cafe selling ‘The Best Mojitos’  We simply had to investigate the claim.  Now, I’m not sure they were the best, but they came close.
While we were analysing the Mojitos, Scamp was watching a lady sitting on the esplanade, apparently chopping up tee shirts and selling the chopped up articles.  I could see that her interest was piqued, so while I paid for the very good Mojitos, she went to see what the final cost of the tee shirt chopping was.  It turned out that the lady tie-dyed the tee shirts herself and sold them for the princely (or should that be princess-ly) sum of five Euros.  Yes, that was FIVE.  There are still bargains to be had if you just look.  Even better than the price, we watched her chop up a tee shirt for Scamp and the finished article could be bought in most high-street stores of a lot more than £5.  So, cheered up by a mojito and a bargain, we made our way home, and that was when I realised that the mojitos, while good, were not the best.  You see, we could walk home.  That would pose a problem with a REALLY good mojito inside you.  Then you stagger home.  We did that two years ago after a mojito each in Los Christianos.  The search for the Best Mojito continues!

When we got back to Fanabe which is the name for the area we are staying in, I suggested we might go for a coffee.  My ulterior motive was to see if The Pantry still sold the lethal Barraquito.  It did and that is what I had while Scamp had a simple white coffee.  A Barraquito is condensed milk, topped with espresso, which is topped with Liquor 43, which is topped with steamed milk.  This multi-layered drink is served in a short glass and after the barista’s skill in making it, you stir all the layers and drink it in one or two gulps.  Delicious.  Success, they still sold Barraquitos.  That would suffice for my alcohol content for a while.  When we got to the hotel, we went up to the roof to relax and that’s where today’s PoD came from.  I just glanced up and there they were silhouetted in the sunset.  Just a grab shot, but it worked.

After dinner we went to see what the singer was like.  Last night’s was awful.  Tonight’s was simply uninteresting.  We went to watch Kiddies Club and Scamp got involved singing the kids songs while we tried to play Rummikub!  The main entertainment was a bloke playing violin and a flamenco dancer.  She was good.  He was good, but they were nowhere near as entertaining as last night’s combo.

Tomorrow we may go looking again for the ultimate Mojito!  Maybe on the wee train!

E1221648- blog

This isn’t Kansas–08 November 2017

P1030486Woke after a noisy night to sunshine. 

The noise was just normal traffic noise and also a bin lorry reversing into the hotel at 3.30am!  I was annoyed, but think of the poor driver of the bin lorry who was probably halfway through is shift by 3.30am.  Almost as bad as the drivers who were running nose to tail into Embra at 7.30am yesterday morning.  We should be thankful for small mercies.

Today was a much, much more relaxed sort of day.  After breakfast we went to investigate the top floor, ie roof of the hotel.  That is where the sunbathing area is.  There’s also a nudist part, carefully screened off from the punters so as not to frighten the horses, or those of a nervous disposition.  We didn’t go in, just in case you’re wondering.  No, we spent our morning simply soaking up the scenery and the sun from floor 5.  That’s where today’s PoD came from.  When we felt we had made the most of that, we went for a walk along the front in the opposite direction to yesterday.  Walking right instead of left took us in the direction of the really, and I mean REALLY posh hotels.  Brought back memories of a great lunch followed by an expensive G&T the last time we were here.  

Later  we went for lunch in our own hotel.  It was meant to be a fairly light lunch, so I started with cold meat and salad.  However, Scamp’s half a roast chicken was too much of a temptation, so I went for that as my main course with brussel sprouts.  Yes, I realise that’s a Christmas thing, but there is a Christmas tree up in Reception, so it’s fair.  We rested for a while before going for a swim in the heated pool.  I don’t know how ‘heated’ it is, but it’s much more comfortable than the cold plunge pools up on level 5.

When the sun went down behind the apartment blocks that surround the pool, we headed back up the level 5 to grab some more sun to help us dry off.  Snoozed for a while there and then it was time to get ready for dinner.  It really is a merry-go-round of eating in these hotels!  On the way back to the room we found two lost ladies.  Russian? Polish? Danish? Dutch?  We didn’t find out, but I took them to reception, because that was where they wanted to go.  This hotel is a bit of a maze. 

After dinner, which for me WAS a light dinner, just a salad and a lovely vegetarian stew, we went for a walk down to the esplanade.  After that we listened for a while to  a truly awful singer and then gave up and went to watch the Alma Show which turned out to be the best show we’ve seen in ages.  It was part drag show and part dance show.  All done in the best possible taste.  Really excellent entertainment. 

Now I’m sitting on the balcony writing this blog in total darkness!  So goodnight!

E1221648- blog

Tuesday Morning 4am – 7 November 2017

 

P1030480That’s the time we set on the alarm and that’s the time we got up.

It was a bit of a shock getting up and out this early, but we had just handed the keys in when the bus arrived to take us to the airport.  It only took about ten minutes for the journey then we dropped the bags and got through security.  We had our overpriced breakfast at All Bar One.  Scamp’s was cold and the girl took it away and brought it back on a hot plate.  Eggs and toast were the same, still cold, but the plate was hot.

The flight left on time and just as we were climbing over the M8 we could see the long queue of cars heading in to Embra.  Probably the beginning of  a long day for some unlucky people, and the prospect of the same queues going home.  We, however, were off to sunny climes.

Because we were almost first in the queue for the bag drop at the airport, we were in the last lot to get our cases from the carousel.  It’s always the way at airports.  First on, last off.  However, the taxi was waiting for us and we were soon at the hotel.  Room wouldn’t be ready until between 2pm and 4pm, but that’s normal.  No big deal, we left the big cases at reception and went and had lunch, then went for a quick walk around the hotel.  When we went back the room was ready and they were putting up the Christmas decorations!  This one of my pet hates.  Christmas decorations in November.

Room looked fine.  Only on the first floor, but that’s ok by me.  It was a bit noisy because we are right next to the road, but again, that’s fine.  Had a Hotel Beer and everything was sorted. We went for a walk around the town to see what had changed (not much) and make sure some of the cafes and restaurants we wanted to go to were still there (they were).   Today’s PoD came from the walk.  Away to the south near the strangely named Port Colon (hopefully means something better in Spanish).  Cows on castors, what a strange idea!

Dinner was a low key affair, no posh dressing up here.  After dinner we sat at the front of the hotel in the covered area listening to a bloke singing.  One couple got up and danced a very strange, almost balletic dance.  Then the woman danced in the same style, but solo.  Another couple fumbled their way through Ceroc to a tune and finally an old couple (even older than us) got up and danced a swing routine.  I could see Scamp champing at the bit to dance some salsa.  Finally our chance came and we danced along with the old couple to a Spanish tune.

That was it.  Too many beers, too many G&Ts, not enough sleep last night and not enough energy tonight.  Tomorrow is another day.

E1221648- blog

Out West – 3 November 2017

Not Troon and not Ayr, two of our favourite west coast places. No, it was the one between. The Cinderella of the west coast, Prestwick. That was our destination today.

Coincidentally, Prestwick was one of the favourite destinations for Sunday School trips. It had sea, sand and usually rain, so it fitted the bill perfectly. Today however, we were going for lunch. Scamp had an Itison booking for Elliots and we were going on the bus so I could have a glass of wine with my lunch. What could make it better? It was raining.

Out early, which is any time before 10am and this was just about 10am. We got the bus in to Glasgow and then the X77 to Prestwick. That’s when it started raining. We walked along Prestwick main street which didn’t take very long because, apart from some coffee shops there was very little to see. Lunch was really quite good. That may sound like faint praise, but apart from an over-sweet starter and Scamp’s chicken tempura instead of the vegetable she ordered, it was excellent. The aforementioned starter shortcomings reduced Excellent to Quite Good.

After lunch we caught the bus into Ayr. Ayr was almost like Muirkirk yesterday. Not closed, but closed up. There were an amazing number of ‘For Lease’ signs all over the town. It looked like there were much more boarded up signs than the last time we were there. We didn’t even go down the beach this time, just wandered round the shops and that is where I saw today’s PoD.

As darkness began to fall and the light faded we boarded the bus for Glasgow and then the bus home. Not before we froze for a while in the bus station in Ayr where there is no waiting room, no toilets, not even an overpriced newsagents. What they do have is a row of cold aluminium seats and that’s where we sat for almost half an hour. For those tourists flying in to Prestwick then going to Ayr before travelling on, Welcome To Scotland.

Thankfully both bus journeys home were quick, comfortable and with good connections. They weren’t First Bus, of course, they were Stagecoach. You could tell as soon as you sat down on the seats. First Bus have seats made of plywood and cloth. Stagecoach insert a layer of foam plastic between those two strata. That’s one difference. Also, Stagecoach buses have heaters that heat. That’s another difference.

Tomorrow? Maybe Glasgow, maybe Stirling. Probably driving.

E1221648- blog

Cross Country – 16 September 2017

A day driving east, then west, then back east again. Don’t say we don’t get around.

Started out driving Sim and JIC to Chris’s for them to be taken to Embra for the, as yet, undisclosed ‘Birthday Surprise. We knew what it was, but were sworn to secrecy. With the rest of the day ahead of us and no particular place to go, we headed, not for the Kokomo 1, but in a generally western direction. I thought we would go to Gourock or Helensburgh to sit and watch the sea … in the rain. Yes, it was raining, just as the weather fairies had predicted.

All was going well until we reached the Royal Infirmary section of the M8, then things started to clog up. However, our many drives through this part of the motorway meant I had the answer in my head. Never get stuck in the inside lane where all the dimwits ahead of you allow poachers to cut in in front of them. Get into the middle lane and if that clogs up, move over to the outside lane. Using this technique, the Kingston Bridge was a dawdle. Drove on past the airport and out into the country. That’s when traffic jam number 2 started. At first, after two police cars passed at a fair lick, we assumed it was an accident, then it became clear that only the inside lane was clogged. Managed to ease my way into the outside lane by choosing a decent space in front of a fairly new car. (Drivers of new cars will let you in. They don’t want to damage their shiny new car by rear-ending a dirty old car!!) Soon it became clear that the problem wasn’t an accident, well, not that we could see, but it was roadworks on the Erskine Bridge that would have taken us over to Helensburgh. So, we could confidently wipe Helensburger off today’s chalkboard. On to Gourock.

There was a cruise ship docked at Port Glasgow, the Caribbean Princess. I think she was far from the Caribbean. Perhaps she had been blown off course by the recent hurricanes. We did see some bemused looking travellers seeming to come from the ship and wonder why on earth they had been given this wet and miserable place to berth. We both knew exactly how they felt after our admittedly warmer trip to Igoumenitsa or as it will always be known to me,  ‘The Ig Place’ in Greece.

By the time we go to Gourock it was really miserable. The rain was thumping down and the Lomond hills were just smudges on the horizon. We continued to Cardwell Garden Centre near the Cloch lighthouse. It used to be a wee garden centre with a cafe. Now it’s a gigantic place with a children’s zoo, an indoor amusement arcade, a whole host of shops as well as a fairly extensive plants sections. It also sells coffee and scones. Decent enough coffee, but really, really excellent scones. Best I’ve tasted in a long time. We weren’t tempted to buy any plants and just started back the way we had come.

On the way home the weather started improving with the rain finally going to annoy someone else and the sun coming out. We stopped just outside Port Glasgow because the light was getting good and I reckoned I could get some photos. I did, but they needed some work. That’s the PoD above.

From there it was a straight run home in the dry. In fact it was under a clear blue sky.

Tomorrow is to be a better day. Don’t know where we’re going yet.


  1. No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry. Google the lyrics.