Deone’s Seat – 11 October 2019

Today’s topic from my list was “Butterfly”. In October, in Scotland? Really?

Then I remembered Deone’s Seat. It’s to remember Deone MacRae who died, aged 15, from cancer. The story is much longer. Google her name if you’re interested. It’s not a memorial. First and foremost it’s a seat. It’s been powder coated a cheerful bright pink and it sits beside the pond at St Maurices park. The seat is cut and welded from 1/4″ sheet steel and is a fitting tribute. I went out this morning to sketch it and then added some colour later. It was my interpretation of the prompt.

Came back and Scamp was getting herself ready for a trip in to Glasgow, solo. That suited me. I’d a bit of virus killing to do on the iMac. Probably only the second time I’ve had to resort to a virus killer. I’d tried Bitdefender last night, but it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It took 25 minutes last night and it still was only about 75% through on a short scan. Nah, I needed something quicker. I’d found the offending article, it was an extension in Safari, Apple’s worthless browser. Worthless or not it was harbouring a piece of dodgy software that needed excising. I’d read that Malwarebites was good, so I downloaded that and it quickly found, not one, but two pieces of malware and deleted them, or to be precise, quarantined them. I don’t like quarantine, I prefer deletion. So that’s what I did. Malwarebites it’s the way to go.

By this time Scamp was on the bus to Glasgow, so I had time to add some colour to today’s sketch. Plenty of time, so for once, I let one colour dry before adding the next. I was pleased with the result. Yes I know it’s not totally symmetrical and there are some rogue lines, but that’s what happens when you’ve half an eye on the rain clouds, half an eye on the swan that’s sidling up to you looking for an early lunch and half an eye on nosy folk asking “Are you drawing?” Luckily the only person who passed was a bloke jogging around the pond and he just nodded and gave me a Scottish “Aye” which can mean “Good Morning”, “Looks like rain” or just “Hi”. It never means “What are you doing here?” It’s just a nod and an “Aye.” I don’t think they do that anywhere else in the world.

With the sketch and the painting done, I did a bit of flying from Fuerteventura to Lanzarote. Not far, but still taxing until you work out how to do the ILS approach under autopilot. I know this is gibberish, but it’s interesting gibberish to me. Gave up after the third attempt and made my lunch. Piece on brie, apple and honey. Totally heavenly. Home grown apples too, James Grieve.

After lunch I walked down to M&S to get chicken for tonight’s dinner and also a box of their delicious Turkish Delights, bread and a couple of pastries for after dinner. Got a text to say that it was back to business, Scamp had returned.

PoD was a photo of St Mo’s pond that I took after sketching Deone’s seat. Looks very pleasant once you’ve spotted out the Bucky bottles and the crisp wrappers. Swans seem to like it anyway.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. It depends on the weather, but I expect I’ll be driving part of the way, which means I won’t be able to partake of tomorrows prompt: A Fruity Cocktail.

Remember that buzz from last night? – 22 November 2018

Woke fairly early because we needed to get dressed, do the final pack of last night’s clothes, get fed and be out by 11am. Went in to the bathroom to boil the kettle for my coffee and Scamp’s ‘white tea’. That’s when I noticed ‘the bump’. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that someone had sneaked in during the night and injected a boiled egg into my left elbow! It was squidgy, but not sore and it was just starting to bruise. I think that bloody (literally ‘bloody’) mosquito must be lying around the room somewhere saying to itself “What the hell was I drinking last night?” Two pirotin tablets right away with the coffee. Made in the Aeropress by the way JIC because the Oomph has developed a crack.

After coffee the world looked better (it always does) but the lump was still there. Scamp had a few bites too, but none so dramatic looking as mine. We did toy with going to the in-house doctor, but the surgery didn’t open until after 10am and that was getting close to departure time. We’d decide after breakfast.

Breakfasts were designed to suit the German palette because the Riu is a German hotel. Frankfurter sausages, fried spam and boiled bacon. Such a strange diet, but fried spam is quite delicious. Not good for you, but delicious. I remember cooking it when we used to go to youth hostels, back in the early 70s. Frankfurter sausages? They’re not real sausages. Boiled bacon. Why boil when you can fry? Fried eggs were fine and the lovely dark rye bread was delicious. Loads of fruit, great for keeping you regular!!

After breakfast the bump was slightly smaller, so as I was feeling no ill effects, we decided to go ahead and book the taxi just after 11.30.

Taxi came within 5mins of being ordered and we were on our way. At the airport we couldn’t believe it, we were first in the queue. Straight through security for me, but Scamp had to be swabbed down for some reason (not given). Finally found a seat in the departure hall and then I noticed our flight was delayed. After an hour it transpired that the delay was only 15 mins. All the UK flights were delayed, apparently because of the poor weather in Lanzarote had meant a later departure for them. Yes, I could understand that, the clouds were down and it was raining hard, but why were all the other European flights not delayed? I blame Brexit.

Anyway, we took off in the rain after I’d got my last Lanzarote picture and PoD, and we were only about half an hour late getting to Glasgow where we had to wait the usual half an hour for the bags to arrive.

Home in another half an hour.

Last full day in the sun – 21 November 2018

The sun was out so we were too.

After breakfast we sat and read in the sun, then we went for a walk, but we were soon back again in the sun. There was packing to do, but the sun was more important and it won again.

After lunch Scamp went down to the pool for more sunbathing and I went for a final walk over the lava rocks, hoping for a good final pic. I got some more shots of the Brimstone that was still fluttering around the rocks. However, the winner of PoD was a moody shot of some cactus against the sky. I also remembered to get some shots of baked mud to use as textures in photos that need a bit of extra grunge.

Back at the hotel I started my packing because Scamp had already completed 90% of hers. Then it was out to dinner in the main dining room. Sat inside after dinner and played another round of UNO. No definite winner this time round, so it looks like Scamp is the 2018 Holiday UNO Champion. A few drinks and back to the room to finalise my packing and finish off the gin. Neither of us were desperate to see the Crazy Show by the entertainment team and the last time we’d looked there were dozens of kids from the kids club pushing little chairs round the dance floor while the singers, who were the live music for the night, were trying to ignore them. Chair pushing seems to be a big thing at Riu Paraiso. Kids seem to practise it every night, getting in everyone’s way. If the americans can get good at it, look out for it in the next Olympics. As a result, it didn’t look as if we’d get a dance tonight. What we did do was sit in the room with the sliding door open and finish the aforementioned gin.

Just before we went to bed, I was sure I could hear a mosquito’s high pitched buzz and once we turned out the lights, I was sure there was one in the room. I thought I’d silenced the little buzzer, but I was wrong.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day. We needed a bit of sleep.

On the Beach – 20 November 2018

We’ve been left. We’ve been right. Today we went straight ahead, across the road and down to the beach.

Paddled in the sea and walked right. Sea was cold but not as rough as the day we went to see the airies.

Walked up through the holiday houses and continued left into Puerto del Carmen and found the post boxes, loads of them! Posted the cards.

Stopped for lunch (burgers with chips) washed down with a beer and a G&T respectively in The Galleon II. A decent Irish pub. Earwigged a conversation between two ‘nice boys’ sitting behind. Watched the yachts sailing past far out in the sea, disappearing then reappearing behind some decorative trees.

Bought some stuff to take back home to the cold country. All the cheap shops are owned or run by Asians!

Back at the hotel Scamp sat and read by the pool and I went to get more photos. Most interesting was a locust and an unconfirmed sighting of a Shrike. I’m beginning to think that the ‘dragonfly’ I was was in fact a locust. They make the same clattering noise with their wings that a dragonfly makes and are just large enough to be mistaken for a small dragon.

Dinner was in the Mexican restaurant at the hotel. It was just ok. The strangest thing I had was Chicken with Mole sauce. The Mole sauce that the chicken is coated in is made from paprika and dark chocolate. Very strange how the sweet spicy sauce works with the chicken. Quesedilas were good to. Afterwards we got an inside seat at the bar with no problem. Not so many German voices now, more English and Irish.

Played UNO and I think I won, but not by the margin Scamp achieved last night.

Tonight’s ‘Acrobat’ show was poor. Two guys who were the acrobats and a girl whose job was to shout “Woo!” at random intervals. Her specialty seemed to be dropping hula hoops. One of the guys was a ‘strongman’. The other did the best act of the night inside a giant hula hoop, looking like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man.

Sat listening to a singer who thought she was better than she was, accompanied by a good guitarist. Had one dance. Other dancing couple had one dance too. I don’t think the singer wanted us there disturbing her concert. Good luck with the singing career dear, just don’t give up the day job.

Sat on the balcony with G&Ts watching the stars.

Bad Loser! – 19 November 2018

After breakfast we sat in the warm sun in case it would disappear. It didn’t.

We sat in the sun for most of the morning. Later when it appeared that the sun was staying with us for the day, we went swimming. I swam in both the pools. One was cold and the other was warm by comparison, but not by absolute temperature. Some people who waded in to the ‘warm’ pool thought it cold! This was the pool with the bar and the underwater bar stools. All it lacked today was a barman. He was otherwise engaged clearing tables and serving drinks in the other bar outside the pool.

After lunch Scamp went sunbathing I went looking for dragonflies. I thought I’d seen one yesterday when I was coming back from the lava fields. I didn’t find any dragons, but got a few shots of a Brimstone butterfly photos. I wished I’d brought the Oly M5 with the macro lens, but you can’t have everything. The Teazer and the iPhone were doing sterling duty as default image grabbers. Thought I saw a young fox, but it turned out to be a feral cat.

Later we went for a walk and got then wrote postcards. Couldn’t find a postbox, so that’s tomorrow’s task.

Watched a beautiful sunset this evening. Lovely colours and massed clouds with the sun finally going down behind some palm trees just outside Los Pocillos. That became PoD.

We had forgotten to bring our usual assortment of games, so I bought an UNO card game. Scamp won five games in a row against my none! Not a happy bunny! Sitting in the covered area with the flame heaters on.

Tonight’s show was about dance. Quite funny and enjoyable. Lady in Red sketch was memorable. Drunk woman at the end of the night was not funny! Not Scamp I hasten to add!!

Watching the Airies – 18 November 2018

Out through the hotel gate getting the code right this time. Just in case you ever need it, it’s C2018Y and turn the handle anticlockwise! Then we walked left for a mile or so to watch the airies taking off or landing under cloudy skies.

It rained halfway there and we took shelter in a shopping arcade we’d never been in before. It was a bit ramshackle and had a pub called The Horseshoe Bar! Not the elegant Victorian edifice in Drury Street in Glasgow, although it might have been, we’ll never know because we didn’t go in as the rain shower was over. Saw an interesting shot of a lifeguard’s hut against a gloomy sky. It became PoD.

At the airies, Scamp heard one know-all telling anyone who’d listen that half of the planes were ‘aborting’ their takeoff. What they were doing was landing and using reverse thrust to slow down. Bampot!

It wasn’t a very interesting day at the end of the airport runway. There was a cooling breeze, there was the threat of more rain and the airies were taking off over our heads. It’s much more interesting when you see them coming in towards you from over the water. Or maybe that’s just me. Actually the rain didn’t come, but it was cloudy.

After lunch Scamp went to read by the pool. I took a walk over the lava rocks, but there was little to see apart from cactus plants.

Went to Lotto Dance at night. Didn’t win a star prize … or any prize. The idea was for the group to play some music to dance to. Anyone who got up to dance and lasted to the end of the song got a lotto ticket. At the end of the night, the winning lotto tickets were drawn and prizes were won. Good fun.

Kong Bao & Pineapple Chicken–17 November 2018

P1050667-1After breakfast we walked in to town.  The town in question today was Puerto del Carmen.

It was a fairly pleasant walk in to the town. Past the Crazy Golf course which used to have tumbleweed growing on it.  No tumbleweed today,  but still in disrepair.  No sign of it opening any year soon.

Further along the road we passed the chain link fence with the inevitable padlocks.  Hundreds of padlocks.  I’ve a theory it’s the shops that sell the padlocks who put up the chain link fences.  An even more efficient use of the padlock craze is to put steel bars along the back of the bench seating by the side of the road.  This also attracts hundreds of padlocks, but by the simple removal of a nut at the end of the bar, the padlocks can be slid into the sea at night, thus ensuring a never ending source of income for the sellers of the padlocks.  However, it’s only a matter of time before David Attenborough’s next nature program highlights the dangers to sealife caused by these rusting padlocks in our coastal waters.

P1050671Saw this neat little beach buggy just leaving a pub on the front.  I thought at first it was a Smart Car, but now I’m not so sure.  Engine sounded like it was air cooled and maybe even a two stroke, but the radiator grille gives a lie to that theory.  A neat car, but I wonder how comfortable it would be in the snow and ice?  Maybe it’s never even seen snow and ice!

Yet further along on our walk we passed today’s objective, the Chinese restaurant.  THE best Kong Bao Chicken and Pineapple Chicken we’ve each had.  With the certainty that our lunch was going to be available we went and watched what appeared to be a Frisbee Football tournament with about ten pitches set out on the sandy beach.  Its proper name is Ultimate.  Who knew that such a thing existed?  We tried for a drink in a beachside cafe, but it appeared the service was really terrible and the wind was gusting along the beach, so we gave up.  Scamp got a new fan in a posh shop and then we went and enjoyed our chicken lunch, with Scamp’s Pineapple Chicken being served from a real pineapple and my Kong Bao served in a searingly hot platter.  While we were in the restaurant the wind started dragging some rain along the street, but although the sliding windows were partly open we didn’t get wet.

By the time we were leaving the restaurant, the rain was off and we walked back towards the hotel.  We did think of getting a taxi, but weren’t sure how long it would take as all the roads seem to be one-way, which makes navigating it difficult, and probably quicker to walk.  It rained a bit more on and off as we made our way back and by the time we got to the hotel it was beginning to rain properly.  We sat in the covered areas with the flame heaters on.

At night we watched the Hollywood Show which was quite well choreographed.  It was even better when you’d had a couple of whiskies on ice.  Later a couple were singing and playing keyboards.  We danced Salsa, Jive and even Bachata to anything they would play.

Staggered home around 11.30.

Tomorrow we may go out to watch the airies.

Sunbathing and Swimming – 16 November 2018

P1050658- blogAfter a restless night.  Too cold!  We saw the sun!!

We both agreed that the reason we didn’t sleep well was that it was too cold.  Yes, the weather is the problem this year.  It’s been a problem since January and it still is.  Who would have thought we’d be saying that it was too cold in Lanzarote?  Well, it was.  Not so this morning.   Blue skies and sunshine was on offer, so we took it.

Yesterday we hadn’t even unpacked after our adventures.  This morning we did, then went for breakfast.  As usual I over did things and piled too much on my plate.  Even Scamp had a bit of cake with her coffee, after her omelette of course!  Went down to one of the paddling pools and found a couple of sun beds there sheltered from the wind.  It was a bit breezy today, but not cold in the morning, thankfully.  After lying there for an hour or so we went in search of pool towels and also booked the Asian restaurant for tonight’s dinner.  Went for lunch to one of the pool bars.  Scamp had salad and I had a hamburger.  Both were fine.  Got changed for swimming and found a sun bed near the big pool.  The big pool is divided into two.  One half is just a cold water swimming pool, the other pool has a swim-up bar with bar stools in the water!  What we didn’t realise was that the bar pool is heated.  Scamp was first in the water and just swam in the cold part.  I was more adventurous and made the warm water discovery.  Although it’s usually me who gets accused of earwigging, today it was Scamp who tuned in to a conversation from two couples in front of us.  One of them didn’t need much tuning in to, her Minnie Mouse voice cut through you whether you were interested or not.  Apparently they were singing the praises of Thomson cruise ships.  That was the only company they had cruised with, so that gave them a broad enough base to compare them, apparently! An interesting conversation, or maybe a lecture. Actually we stayed there all afternoon, despite the droning, until the drizzle started around 4.30.  When it looked as if it was on for the rest of the day we packed up and went back to the room for a G&T and a seat on the balcony, then the rain went off.  While we were sitting , there was a knock at the door.  When I answered it there was a bloke standing there who handed me a letter and a rose for Scamp!  The letter was from the management thanking us for making a return visit to their hotel!  Ok, it cost them next to nothing to do, but it was a lovely gesture.  What British hotel would do that

Got ready for dinner after the G&Ts and went to the Asian.  We had been there two years ago and liked it.  It hadn’t changed much.  Food was still good and service was good too.  There must have been a lorry load of Germans dumped on the hotel today.  The place was jumping.  Hardly anywhere to sit.  Finally got a table in a sheltered spot and had a coffee.  Same problem as breakfast.  Eye too big for my belly.

Sat through the Kids Club which was entertaining, loud and colourful.  Then waited an hour for tonight’s star show Flamenco dancers.  Watched about fifteen minutes of it before making a sharp exit.  It was the usual touristy nonsense.  Adjourned to the room.  It was now getting cold, colder than last night.  I think the hoodie will be getting unpacked for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go for a walk, Probably into town.

Another early rise – 15 November 2018

IMG_5304- blogThe alarm didn’t even get a chance to ring this morning.  I turned it off at 5.55am and got ready.  Today would be a long day.

Cases loaded into the boot of the Juke and we were off onto the M80 then the M8 and then parking in the multi at the airport.  All in about 20 mins.  Picked the slowest check-in queue as usual but switched to the quicker one before everyone else noticed what was happening.  Cases disposed off and through security without any trouble this time.  No scanner alert and no bags being shunted into the ‘drugs mule’ siding.  Could hardly believe it.  After the usual over priced breakfast at Frankie & Benny’s we went to the gate, boarded and departed on time.  It was after that things got a bit hairy.

It was the captain’s announcement that cabin crew should prepare for landing that started me worrying.  According to the stewardess we were still a hundred odd miles from Lanzarote and that’s about half an hour in air time.  Then when we started our final descent there was a lot of engine noise, as if the engines were labouring and instead of descending we began ascending then we’d descend again, all the while travelling through cloud without sight of land or sea.  Finally the plane started to climb fairly rapidly and when it broke through the cloud into blue sky again I assumed the captain had aborted the landing and was going for a second attempt.  Then the announcement came that the captain had indeed aborted the landing because the cloud was too low and that plus heavy rain made it difficult to see the landing lights of the runway.  He had made the decision to land at Fuerteventura which was clear of the low cloud instead. Five other planes had already tried and aborted a landing at Lanzarote and were now waiting at Fuerteventura for the weather to clear.  It had all been going so well too.

We landed at Fuerteventura amid great cheers and applause from the passengers and we waited.  Actually we didn’t have to wait all that long, only about half an hour or so and then we got a message to say that the cloud was clearing and we would be leaving for Lanzarote soon.  The captain even left the flight deck and came to tell us all face to face the reason for the failed landing and answered any questions.  Best question I heard was “What team do you support?”  His answer was “Well, what team do YOU support?”  The bloke said “Celtic!” The captain replied “Well, that’s strange, I support Celtic too!”  This got a great laugh and defused what could have been a difficult situation.

We took off on time and had a perfect landing with even more cheers and applause from the passengers.  Unfortunately the baggage handlers couldn’t quite keep up with at least seven planes landing one after another.  It took us over an hour to get our bags from the carousel, but we got a taxi right away and only lost a couple of hours of sunshine.  For some reason there were a host of protesters outside the hotel waving flags, banging drums and shouting out in Spanish.  The receptionist seemed a bit embarrassed by it all and mumbled something about banks.

Sat on the balcony and watched the sun go down.  Had dinner at the hotel and then a few drinks before we went to watch the Jukebox show which was hilarious.  Same entertainment team as two years ago, same jokes, but whether it was the all inclusive drink or the relief that the holiday had started, but I laughed all the way through this time.

G&Ts on the balcony before we went to bed, but neither of us slept well.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for sunshine and a swim in one of the pools.