Read through the V-Toe’s Christmas postings and decided that it had done a good job – so moving on swiftly to Lanzarote! Yay!
I will try to write the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth but it does get difficult when your imagination runs away with you……
Warning – there is a bit of tourist information here but we spent most of the week eating and drinking, and then drinking and eating.
Leaving my Uni Boy at home was a bit of a wrench – but I lent him my debit card and opened an Ocado account so I knew he wouldn’t starve – he didn’t and my card didn’t take much of a bashing either.
So 0900 hrs on 29th December saw Lovely Hub, College Boy, me and my walking stick (plus luggage) huddled in a minibus headed for the home of CB’s friend – known henceforth as the Stoic because of his patience and remarkable tenacity in dealing with CB. I know his parents are very proud of him – and so they should be. I liked him when we invited him on holiday with us and after a week in his company I like him even more. CB is very lucky to have him as a friend.
CB is often quite scathing about the V-toe and the way it hampers my progress; it may have healed up but stairs and long walks can be agonisingly slow – courtesy of one size 7 mock-Ugg boot and one size 9 with a hole cut out of it to stop the V-toe from being rubbed. I found some gloriously fluffy bed socks which help to pad out the big boot but it still makes me feel lop-sided. In view of this and CB’s rock-bottom tolerance level, I contacted the airline a few days before Christmas and was advised that although I didn’t actually need assistance (I had three able-bodied men to support me), I should still notify staff at check in.
So I did. They were brilliant. Good old Monarch. The four of us were boarded first, together with a lady in a wheelchair. Behind us at the boarding gate there were quite a few dour faces, some of which were deeply lined and perma-tanned, wearing clothing that sat ill with the cold and rainy Manchester weather but which would look fine once we got to sunnier climes.
The flight was four hours long. Hub slept, I was plugged into a Kindle and listening to ‘the Lovely Bones’- not really holiday fodder but a long enough audio book to distract me. The Stoic and CB were plugged into i-things and apart from when CB got the munchies, it was a peaceful flight – well, I say peaceful but the inane chunnerings of the scally quartet sat behind us meant that sleep or earphones were necessities.
So weird – touching down at five in the afternoon, in brilliant sunshine but with Christmas decorations in abundance. Lovely Hub sorted out our hire car and it was just getting dark as we set off to the villa, some 40 minutes drive away in Playa Blanca. Driving on the wrong side of the road (for us) through small villages lit up with more Christmas decorations, it looked like December but the temperature had dipped to 18 degrees.
We hit lucky with the villa; everything we needed, heated swimming pool, barbecue, plenty of room for the four of us to eat, drink, ablute and take time out. We had a welcome food pack but the person who did the shopping obviously had a very strange idea of what English people want to eat after a long day of travelling.
I unpacked and the males of the pack went hunter gathering for the real necessities of life – bread, cheese, meat, chocolate, water and much beer and wine.
There was only one problem with the villa – our bed was made of concrete, on an iron bedstead with bolster pillows that had little use other than doorstops. We coped though because we were knackered, and a day or so later found a warehouse up the road that sold big cushions.
I had breakfast out by the pool in blazing sunshine the next morning; one of my favourite parts of being in a more clement climate. Hub and I were both hobbling due to sore backs and a shell-shocked V-toe. We hit the local supermarkets and did what most English people do. We loaded our trolley with a combination of recognisable foods from home, interspersed with Spanish delicacies we remembered from other holidays and some other things that looked mysterious and interesting (some were and some were binned in disgusto).
If we thought that arriving at the airport in the sunshine was weird, then sitting outside in the sunshine, in 24 degrees and having a barbecue lunch on 30th December was even more weird. The boys and I braved the swimming pool. Cold but bearable and CB turned even happier when the neighbourhood cat joined us for lunch. The V-toe revelled in the salty water and I revelled in the fact that I could wear fit-flops rather than my clompy boots and bed socks. I missed my Uni Boy but we’d spoken on the phone and he didn’t seem to be missing us that much (a bit jel of the sunshine but he likes to sleep all day and hates sand anyway).
Playa Blanca for dinner; we found a restaurant that looked friendly – complete with bedecked Christmas tree and the world’s most fascinating flambe chef. Lovely Hub and I introduced the Stoic to tapas but as CB doesn’t do sharing much he ordered grilled king prawns, grumbling throughout because they were such high maintenance to eat. Flambe banana for pudding – to die for and complimentary caramel vodka with the bill (or cuente – a word we used often.)
Back to the villa; no English channels but I’d bought plenty of DVDs – even stranger to watch Sherlock Homes taking a dive off the Reichenbach Falls (digitally enhanced) while the temperature was still a balmy 18 degrees.
New Year’s Eve and we were off to the Volcano! The Timanfaya National Park houses quite a few dormant volcanoes but the biggest has a restaurant on top called El Diablo where they cook food over volcano heat. Hub, Stoic and I went for meat but yet again, CB went for high maintenance and a very bony fish. The Volcano-grilled food put barbecues to shame but the service was dire – not even shambolic. We were beginning to realise that the pace of life in Lanzarote was much slower, and that we really needed to slow down and not worry about how long it took for the cuente to arrive. El Diablo staff dropped trays of crockery, wandered aimless and empty-handed around the circular restaurant. They had to be reminded three times about the pudding. We didn’t leave a tip.
We had heard that Playa Blanca pushed the boat on for New Year’s Eve celebrations; it was no lie. Midnight and after a light dinner (still stuffed from the diabolic lunch) the four of us mingled with hundreds of other tourists and locals on the waterfront.
Fireworks, streamers, hooters and party bags. Huge grins everywhere you looked and no sign of aggressive drunks or thugs. All this in 19 degrees – no coats needed. I spoke to UB and felt a bit choked. The Stoic phoned home too and his upper lip lost its starch for a few moments. We walked back to the car along with other revellers heading home and came to the conclusion that this was the way we’d like to spend our New Year’s Eves in future.
All was quiet on New Year’s Day – oh no – another barbecue and into PB for a curry – the waterfront there is truly cosmopolitan.
Tuesday was brilliantly sunny so we headed off to El Golfo; a fishing village with a green lake and absolutely NOTHING to do with boring farty old golf. We lunched al fresco at a seafood restaurant overlooking the sea and a rocky shore. It was so hot CB and the Stoic had to put more sun cream on and have an umbrella erected over them (Hub and I had sensible hats on – mine was a light straw trilby from M&S).
The fish was wonderful – a freshly caught and grilled haddock. CB struck out on his own with breaded fish fillets which bore no resemblance whatsoever to anything named after a seafarer with an avian oculus. It took a long time to get pudding again but by now we were getting very laid back about eating slooooooooowly.
After a day of driving around the island we stayed home and had – another barbecue – after the boys had almost emptied the pool with much swooshing and splashing. Fortunately both CB and the Stoic were pretty good with the tongs once they’d dried off- Hub and I just sat in the sunshine smiling stupidly with wineglasses in our hands.
On Wednesday we hit the north end of the island; hairpin bends, spectacular views, prickly cacti and more Cesar Manrique than you can shake a pointy stick at. Lanzarote is big on Cesare- who was pretty cool actually. He was more than just an artist; he did buildings and landscaping too.
First stop was le Jardin de Cactus – yeah – full of pricks – already did that one on Facebook. CB stayed in the car – he wasn’t doing a load of old cacti.
Shame – he missed a pretty magical place. Cesar’s artistic touch was in abundance and the terraced layout would have been incredible even if the plants had been fairly commonplace but there were so many weird and wonderful varieties of cacti that you had to stand (or sit in my case) still and take stock. The V-toe and I found a lump of volcanic rock to perch on, whilst Lovely Hub and the Stoic went off and happy-snapped to their heart’s content.
An hour and a half later we returned to old Grumpy-tums in the car. To his credit he hadn’t phoned or even texted, but he was definitely grumpy – and hungry.
Next stop was another Cesar special – Mirador del Rio – built into the side of a mountain and overlooking an amazing view of La Graciosa island that would be a bit disturbing if you had vertigo. Luckily we didn’t. Google it – my powers of description wouldn’t do it justice.
Drove home after lunch through more winding roads and heart-stopping hairpins. SO glad that Hub is brilliant driver – even on the wrong side of the road.
Continuing the theme of multiculturalism, we had a Chinese meal that evening. Three of us shared a banquet and grumpy CB got grumpier because his dishes had to tie in with ours and we had more courses than he did. One day he will appreciate the joys of sharing.
At the end of the meal the shot glasses appeared. Hub abstained as he was driving; my glass had fruit (no idea which fruit) brandy and a naked man at the bottom who disappeared once I’d knocked the brandy back. CB and the Stoic had naked girls at the bottom of their glasses – which were filled with a lizard-flavoured liquor. No, honestly, there were two depressed and dead lizards in the bottom of the bottle. I was goaded into trying some. It nearly blew my head off. Staggered back to the car – partlyV-toe and partly lizard juice.
And then it was Friday and our last day. CB wanted to stay at the villa and achieve a tan so Hub, the Stoic and I hit Playa Blanca and spent a leisurely afternoon browsing in nearly every booze shop in the precinct and trying to work out whether we had enough allowance between us to get through Customs – we didn’t – we had to leave some Limoncello and caramel schnapps for the cleaning staff.
CB was looking slightly pinker as a result of his sun-worshipping and after some half-hearted attempts at packing, we went back into town for dinner at the Restaurant Cervantes again. My favourite flambe chef was off but the food and the atmosphere were still good. The Stoic and I had a leisurely stroll and talk (I can only do this if the pace is VERY slow) whilst Hub and CB made another last pilgrimage to the booze shops.
Packing up the next morning was reasonably painless; we had to be out by 1000 hrs but our plane didn’t go till mid afternoon so we decided to drive through some of the places we missed, and to visit the air museum at Arrecife. The nice lady there recommended visiting Playa Honda for lunch (you don’t pronounce the ‘d’ apparently). So we set off for this very tiny village and were driven by hunger and the need for a wee to a fairly ordinary roadside bar.
The tapas was to die for. It was REAL tapas. Not the sort you get trotted out in designer bars in England, nor the slightly regimented version available in the local restaurants. The owner spoke no English and our Spanish was limited to Hola, Adios, Gracias and Cola Lite (I can extend to agua con gas and una bino tinto por favor if pushed however). We ordered a number of dishes off the incomprehensible menu and hoped for the best – and oh, it was the best. The food just kept coming. As soon as we finished one plateful it was followed by another and another and each more inventive and fresh than the last. Definitely going there again.
Back to the airport; dropped off the car and headed for check-in a tad early. It was heaving and it got worse. V-toe won’t let me stand for long so the menfolk queued whilst my Kindle and I sat. The queue for security went right the way round the check-in hall and my heart sunk – so did CB’s. Lovely Hub saved the day and found us an angel called Franco who (after I’d filled out a disability form) shepherded CB and I through security and out the other side in but a few moments.
The wonderful Stoic had saved a place in the queue for Hub so they weren’t too far behind. The female security staff were harridans with no patience for walking stick hobblers or families with babies trying to hastily repack their changing bags.
By stark comparison the gate staff were wonderful. We had a separate seating area (us and the lady in the wheelchair and some heavily tanned and gold-chained couples with duty-free bags who didn’t notice the big blue disability sign until after they had sat down and blushed but defiantly stayed where they were despite CB’s tactless comments).
We got boarded first again – with the lady in the wheelchair – annoyed the same perma-tanned people we had annoyed on the way out, and had an uneventful (if slightly turbulent – which I like) flight home.
Our minibus was waiting when we got to Manch and so was the rain. We were home though and after dropping the Stoic off and thanking his dad for lending him to us, we walked in our own door at about 0100 hrs to be greeted by UB and the house was still in one piece.
Sunday was spent taking UB back to York, then once we were home again Hub was on the internet planning our return to Lanzarote in time for New Year 2014.
It was a wonderful holiday but hampered by the poor old V-toe, not being able to walk or stand for long and feeling that I was holding everyone back – they deny this vehemently of course – but our holiday was planned long before the accident and subsequent angst.
Let’s hope that 2013 is a better year for us all.