The Volcan-Toe or V-Toe as it is now known – since it has very kindly stopped erupting – has graciously allowed me to take over the reins of this blog page for a while on the strict instructions that I write about our holiday in Lanzarote and that I MUST write fact – not fiction. I’ll do my best but there hasn’t been much motivation for fact for the last three months – unless you count OU essays – which I don’t because they are largely regurgitated references to obscure publications by groups of people with unpronounceable names that send your spell checker running for the hills.
I know that the V-Toe has already written about this but my viewpoint is somewhat more elevated.
It may take me a few go’s before I finally get to the Lanzarote bit as I have to do the Christmas bit first.
Back in the summer, Lovely Hub hit on the idea of going away for New Year – going somewhere hot and totally different that we hadn’t been to before. Christmas without my Dad – and the smelly cat – was daunting enough but New Year’s Eve presented fresh challenges and an impending feeling of fed-upness (not depression – I won’t do depression because it is like sulking – you can’t do anything else at the same time and it gets boring).
My experience of sunnier climes has hitherto been limited to Mallorca but Hub said it wouldn’t be warm enough. Bowing to his superior knowledge of weather and al things abroad I let him choose our destination. Lanzarote seemed to fit the bill and many hours were spent trying to find accommodation that would suit me, Hub, Uni Boy, College Boy and two of his friends. One of the friends had to drop out courtesy of a clashing skiing trip but I found the ideal villa at last with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a heated swimming pool (UB and CB won’t share rooms any more – CB didn’t want to share with anyone – sharing does not come naturally to him – sometimes it doesn’t come at all).
Hub took the reins after this and did all the arrangements giving us something to focus on – and to look forward to. In the interim we decided to head South just before Christmas and visit the folks to deliver presents and cards – which would have been a great idea if I hadn’t left a pile of cards on the floor at home.
We collected UB from Uni – with most of his worldly goods and came home to prepare for two nights in our favourite posh hotel and intense exposure to some of the family – couldn’t fit everyone in unfortunately.
Looking back, driving 250 miles the weekend before Christmas and driving back on Christmas Eve may not have been the wisest of decisions but we were feeling slightly reckless and ready to break with all previous traditions.
Talking of which, for some years we have ordered the Christmas food from M&S; braving the onslaught of gold handbags and matching shoes wielded by grey-haired old ladies who descend like a plague whenever you need to buy something in a hurry. Every year it gets worse as you queue to pick up your boneless turkey (with stuffing and bacon lattice), an alternative to Christmas Pudding and the red cabbage (not as good as Oma’s). One year we opted for an eight am collection that resulted in the boys being late for school, me being late for work and Hub grinding his teeth in frustration. We went for the evening collection after that – the queues were just as bad but at least you got a thimble-full of mulled wine (or two – or even three on one occasion) for your pains.
This year we were down-sizing as there were only three of us; CB won’t eat Christmas dinner at the table, he prefers to swoop in and grab a few spuds, a bit of meat and fly back up to his room – or make his own delightful concoction of smoky-bacon flavoured super noodles, hot pepperoni and lashings of Tabasco sauce – both my boys are hot stuff.
Whilst sampling the delights of the new Sainsburys that opened just up the road on the new ‘urban development’ (lots of houses in a very small space) we discovered that they too did Christmas food ordering, with very similar items at a considerably lower price. We booked with glee and paid with cold hard cash, arranging to pick up the goodies first thing Saturday morning before we made our journey Southwards, so that the food would be waiting for us to cook it when we returned on Christmas Eve.
So eight am-ish on Saturday saw Hub and I arriving and expecting hoards of other Christmas shoppers to be in attendance too. Nah! Just us and another lady. In and out in ten minutes AND I whizzed round and picked up a couple of other essential items as well.
So, food stowed n the fridge and freezer, bags packed, boys in the car and plugged into earphones so that they wouldn’t have to talk to each other – or us, presents loaded and accessible, cards left lying on the floor and we were off to meet up with family at a riverside pub that we remembered from years ago. Only ten miles from our eventual destination and a good place to bring us all together and swap presents.
I’d been having trouble connecting with Christmas; V-toe had made anything but very brief shopping sojourns almost impossible – especially if it was wet – so on-line present-buying featured heavily. Yes, it is convenient but it doesn’t have the tangible enjoyment of picking something up and realising it is just right for so-and-so. Our decorations had been scaled down too; in fact most of the decorations from Christmas Past stayed in the cupboard and garage whilst we went off to the garden centre and bought a three-foot fibre-optic tree with balls on (it takes five minutes to put up and doesn’t require tinsel). We may decorate a bit in Christmas Yet To Come but – who knows what the fates will allow.
The pub was almost as I remembered it – except that last time we went there it was a blazing hot day in May and I was heavily pregnant with UB. Dressed in its Christmas best, with the River Test swollen by the recent heavy rains, The Mayfly took on a whole different aspect. It was packed with pre-Christmas revellers and we were sandwiched between a group of very imperious old-money Hampshire folk and a loud, tattooed, perma-tanned bunch of Test Valley nouveau riche (they annoyed CB especially as one of their number – mega loud and wearing a huge bunch of keys dangling from his belt – kept squeezing past CB to get to the bar – and had the temerity to touch his shoulder – TWICE).
It was a lovely lunch though; full of talk and laughter and good food. It made me feel like there was a Christmas Present after all.
Gifts and cards were exchanged with hugs and kisses in the muddy car park, and we were on our way to The DeVere Grand Harbour.
When we were young and living in the South, Hub and I watched this hotel being built on the waterfront. The huge pyramid-shaped glass atrium at the front of the building made it stand out even then and the idea of ever being able to afford to stay there was just a pipe dream.
Hey – here we are living the dream!
We stayed at the hotel when the boys were small enough to still tolerate sleeping on the same sofa bed in the same room as us. In the intervening years since our last visit this has become impossible and very unwise – getting them to stay civil in the same car is hard enough. So we had three separate rooms and I dispensed stern instructions about only ordering room service if they checked it out with us first and under no circumstances were they to access the playstation or the adult TV channels. UB looked at me with disdain because he is a Nintendo man. CB just looked at me with disdain and thinly veiled disappointment that I had second-guessed him.
Tired and still stuffed from lunch, UB retired to bed. We had planned to visit the vegetarian nightmare of a steakhouse that we discovered last time we were down but CB was tired and grouchy so Lovely Hub was sent off on a pilgrimage to get kebabs from Zorbas – yes, yes, we ate kebabs in a four-star hotel (used to be five-star but they lost a star when they gave up the valet parking).
Zorbas is a legend. We have been eating kebabs from there since 1989 and their chilli sauce is one of the reasons our boys are hot stuff – they were weaned on it. Good to be back home again – again.
That’ll do for today. We have a new bed being delivered this afternoon and need to dismantle the old one and discover the things that have been lurking under it for many years. Bring on the Dyson and stout (ish) foot wear. I must protect the V-toe (and myself) from any eight-legged marauders.
By the way – it is my birthday tomorrow 🙂