Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

29 February 2012

Tortola and Virgin Gorda

< Dominican Republic | Index | No later items >

We visited the islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda today. We enjoyed the morning exploring the capital, Road Town. In the afternoon we visited an unusual beach scattered with big granite boulders.

The coastline of TortolaWe arrived in the British Virgin Islands and docked at Road Town on the south of Tortola.

We spent the morning in the town, walking along the main road from the harbour and then Waterfront Drive, Main Street and Pickenin Street up to St George's Episcopal Church.

Retracing our steps we stopped at the bakery for a cookie and some water, fed cookie crumbs to a hen and her three chicks, visited the museum, and bought and posted a card for Megan and our Tuesday evening Small Group.

The bakery in Pickinin Road, Road TownWe strolled back to the ship for a light lunch, then on to the harbour and a powerful catamaran for an afternoon trip to Virgin Gorda. Richard Branson's private island of Necker is not far from here. Once on the island we were taken by local bus to 'The Baths' a swimming beach and national park.

The area is littered with granite boulders, small, large and enormous (up to the size of a small house). These were ejected by a volcano long ago, enclosed in lava, and then as the lava eroded they were released. These boulders lie all over this part of the island - on the hilly ground inland, on the beach itself, and partially or totally submerged just offshore.

Beach and boulders on Virgin GordaA jumbled pile of these boulders forms a 'cave' network through which the next beach can be reached. It proved to be quite a scramble and there was little in the way of guidance. We made several false turns and had to retrace our steps to a familiar point and try again. While amongst the boulders Donna swam in the sea before we returned by a different route to catch the bus home.

In the boat we chatted with a Canadian couple who reminded us of of our old friends, Geoff and Dawn. We didn't learn their names, but began to think of him as 'Canadian Geoff'!

Back at the ship we went to the theatre to hear Jeri Sager sing some of her Broadway and other songs before dinner in the Aqua Restaurant and a relaxed evening. Cruising is most enjoyable, I could get used to it!

See also - More photos from our day

< Dominican Republic | Index | No later items >

28 February 2012

Dominican Republic

< Day at sea | Index | Tortola and Virgin Gorda >

We were ferried by tender boats to a small island near Samana in the Dominican Republic. We also spent some time relaxing on the ship. Having been ashore today, we're looking forward to some interesting visits to other islands during the rest of the cruise.

Several of the ship's lifeboats were used
Today was our first landfall in the Caribbean, at Samana on the south coast of a long peninsula in the north-east of the island.

After breakfast we decided to visit the town of Samana and then transfer later to Cayo Levantado where there's a tourist beach. But we changed our minds, instead staying aboard the ship and relaxing with a good read, having a light lunch in the Garden Restaurant, and then getting the tender to the Cayo.

By all accounts there wouldn't have been much to see in Samana and the crossing was longer in quite choppy conditions. The tender boats are the ship's lifeboats and it was interesting to travel in one. There is no deep water harbour at Cayo Levantado, and the ship has a deployable landing stage to make it really easy to board small boats.

The stalls on Cayo LevantadoThe lifeboat dropped us at a jetty right by the sandy beach. We found ourselves in an area of public parkland with shady trees, paved walkways, and a range of stalls and open air bars and little restaurants. We stopped for a refreshing drink and checked out the stalls, some selling artwork, others with T-shirts or hats, and some with gifts and local crafts.

A local bandThere was a band playing local Dominican music, they were very willing to pose for a photo in exchange for a small gift in their collecting box. The Dominican Republic is mostly quite poor and I think the band members and the stallholders are much better off than the folk on the mainland, particularly away from resort areas.

After exploring, we found a shady spot on a grassy bank right by the sandy beach and spent some more time reading.

I'm going through Jonathan Aitken's excellent book 'John Newton' on Donna's Kindle, while she's reading Jim Palmer's 'Divine Nobodies' on mine.

Back on board the ship in the late afternoon we headed out of the bay and Donna got a good look at some humpback whales as we passed from bay to open ocean. This is the same population we saw on our trip to Boston a few years ago. All I saw were waterspouts, but Donna might have caught a glimpse of a whale or two as well.

We've decided we really like the freestyle dining experience, and I'm enjoying the informal dress.

< Day at sea | Index | Tortola and Virgin Gorda >

27 February 2012

Day at sea

< Join the cruise and sail | Index | Dominican Republic >

Our first full day at sea took us further south and east. There was plenty to do and see, exploring the ship, an art auction, enjoying a restaurant meal, entertainment in the theatre, chatting with other passengers, and of course reading.

The art auctionThe ship headed east and south all last night and all of today, putting on the miles. The sea was quite choppy today, Atlantic weather rather than Caribbean weather.

We spent the day reading, chatting, learning our way around the ship, and investigating an art auction. I have no idea how much artwork was sold, but the display was busy as you can see in the photo.

We ended the day eating at the Aqua Restaurant this time. The menu is the same as the Venetian but the decor and lighting is more relaxed and pleasant. Like the Venetian it is a large space filling the ship's entire beam.

Our first full day at seaAfter eating we watched a show in the theatre, a tribute to the music of the 1970's and very well done. The theatre is surprisingly large, filling much of the front of the vessel, and it even has a rotating section in the middle.

Paul Scally, the Cruise Director, reminds us so much of Clive Urquhart from Kingdom Faith - his Luton accent and style of speaking are just the same! He doesn't look like Clive, but hearing him make announcements on the ship's public address system was uncanny!

< Join the cruise and sail | Index | Dominican Republic >

26 February 2012

Join the cruise and sail

< Fly to Miami | Index | Day at sea >

Today we boarded our ship, the 'Norwegian Dawn' and sailed out of Miami towards the south and east. The rest of the day we were busy exploring the ship and eating our first two meals on board.

The Norwegian DawnI managed to adjust to the time difference without a problem, going to bed a little early and waking up around 07:00 local time. We relaxed in our room, reading and writing. We had to vacate the room at 11:00 but the shuttle to the ship left at 11:30 so that was very acceptable timing.

In the hotel lobby we met several others aiming for cruises. We chatted with Doug and Diane who were sailing on the Norwegian Pearl and he gave me his email address, hoping to keep in touch with us. We boarded our cruise ship, the Norwegian Dawn, after one of the longest queuing experiences ever, about two hours. Our ship was on its first outing after a refit and the computerised boarding systems were new. Much of the delay may have been due to lack of familiarity with  the new system.

Following the Norwegian Pearl out of MiamiA welcome buffet was available in the Garden Restaurant. What a spread! Leaving port a little late at about 16:15 (we had to wait for some passengers who phoned from the airport to say they were just heading for the port), we sailed out into the Atlantic and some choppy water in a strong wind. There was a bit of rolling, but nothing too bad and I didn't suffer any ill effects.

We explored the ship systematically, it's a very nice vessel with lots of facilities and some excellent restaurants. We ate in the Venetian this evening, a large and ornate space filling the full width of the ship. The food on board is very good with something available 24/7 and an option for room service at no extra charge. Buffet in the Garden RestaurantThe restaurants range from an enormous buffet with an extraordinary range of hot and cold options, through pleasant restaurants like the Venetian, to some unusual alternatives attracting a surcharge.

We went to the theatre to see the day excursion presentation and left with a pretty good idea of the available options for each of the islands we are going to visit.

And finally, back to our bijoux cabin, officially known as our 'state room'. That's a rather grand term for a space just about large enough for a bed and an en suite shower and loo.

I wrote up the day's events and we turned in for the night.

< Fly to Miami | Index | Day at sea >

25 February 2012

Fly to Miami

< St Neots to Heathrow | Index | Join the cruise and sail >

We arrive at our hotel in Miami, tired but looking forward to exploring the cruise ship tomorrow. The eleven hour flight felt longer and the hotel was disappointing - but we're on our way!

The view from our hotel windowWe slept well but were up early as our flight with Delta was mid morning. The shuttle bus took us to Heathrow Terminal 4 and so to check in and an 11 hour flight to Miami. Somehow they'd given us seats that were not together, but the cabin crew sorted that out for us.

There's not a lot to say about an 11 hour flight (except it seems longer). I watched Dr Zhivago for the second time (the first time was when it was originally released back in the late 1960s)

I read some more of Ross Rhode's book 'Viral Jesus' and enjoyed it immensely. Dozed a bit, read a bit, listened to Igor Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, read a bit, dozed a bit.

By mid afternoon Florida time we were in Miami Airport trying to find the hotel shuttle - and failing. In the end we took a taxi (I almost lost Donna in the process) and made our way to the Miami Ramada Airport North. This place is actually quite some way from the airport and a bit run down, very different from our Holiday Inn experience at Heathrow yesterday.

We had slight hopes of relaxing by the poolside, although the hotel details online had mentioned that the area was being renovated. When we went to look we found that the pool area is currently a wasteland of gravel. 'Renovated' is a misnomer, it has been ripped out and a new pool is going to be developed. Back to the Kindle books!

We finished the day with a strange hotel restaurant meal, I had a pizza that looked and tasted like a frozen 'value' pizza from the local supermarket. Not great but it filled a gap. We headed for bed looking forward to joining our cruise ship in the morning.

< St Neots to Heathrow | Index | Join the cruise and sail >

24 February 2012

St Neots to Heathrow

< No earlier items | Index | Fly to Miami >

This was the beginning of the holiday - drive to the airport. All that will be needed in the morning is a ten minute transfer to departures, check in our luggage, and clear security. Our hotel was amazing, far better than we'd expected.

This might not seem much like a holiday, but Donna was home from work and won't need to go back until next month - so it is a holiday!

We ate a quick meal, completed packing the bags, said goodbye to Truffles (our elderly black cat), and headed off.

We decided to use the A1(M) instead of the M1 as there are extensive roadworks on the M1. It soon turned out that the M25 also had roadworks that we'd have missed if we'd used the M1. This is Britain, there are roadworks everywhere!

Donna had booked a night at the Heathrow Holiday Inn, a special deal that included parking while we are away. Airport parking is expensive and our cheap deal meant we got the overnight stay at very little cost. As you can see from the photo of the lobby on their website, this is a very plush hotel indeed. We were astonished to find rooms on offer at £130 per night at the full rate. We paid considerably less with a couple of weeks parking thrown in. It was a great deal!

< No earlier items | Index | Fly to Miami >

23 February 2012

Caribbean/Florida 2012 - INDEX

< Cornwall 2011 | Index | No later items >

Sailing ship off St KittsWe flew from Heathrow to Miami, Florida. We then boarded a cruise and island-hopped in the Caribbean for ten days, returning to Miami.

From there we caught a train to Lake Worth and spent nearly a week with our friends Steph and Earl.

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.

  • Friday 24th February - St Neots to Heathrow
  • Saturday 25th February - Fly to Miami
  • Sunday 26th February - Join the cruise and sail
  • Monday 27th February - Day at sea
  • Tuesday 28th February - Dominican Republic
  • Wednesday 29th February -Tortola and Virgin Gorda
  • Thursday 1st March - St Martin's
  • Friday 2nd March - Antigua
  • Saturday 3rd March - Barbados
  • Sunday 4th March - St Kitts
  • Monday 5th March - Day at sea
  • Tuesday 6th March - Day at sea
  • Wednesday 7th March - Dock in Miami, train to Lake Worth
  • Thursday 8th March - 
  • Friday 9th March - 
  • Saturday 10th March - 
  • Sunday 11th March - 
  • Monday 12th March - Train to Miami and fly out
  • Tuesday 13th March - Arrive at Heathrow and drive home

< Cornwall 2011 | Index | No later items >

13 September 2011

Holidays - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

This page contains a list of holidays, most recent at the top. I will expand the page as time allows.

Caribbean/Florida, 24th February-13th March

Cornwall, 3rd-9th September
Suffolk, 13th-19th August
Lake District, 11th-18th June
Pembrokeshire,  28th-30th May

North Wales

11 September 2011

FAMILY - Cornish holiday 2011 - INDEX

< Suffolk 2011 | Index | Caribbean/Florida 2012 >

Landrake Methodist ChurchThis was a busy week with lots to do and see and a chance to spend a longer than usual time together as a family. It was good to have Donna's Mum and Dad here as well as Paul (her brother) and Vanessa.

The Methodist Church in the photo is now used as a house, our cottage is hidden right behind it.

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.

  • Saturday 3rd September - Two journeys
  • Sunday 4th September - The coast
  • Monday 5th September - Dartmoor
  • Tuesday 6th September - Plymouth
  • Wednesday 7th September -
  • Thursday 8th September -
  • Friday 9th September -

These pages just record what Donna and I did and the places we visited. We did a lot as a group of six together but not every day.

06 September 2011

FAMILY - Plymouth

< Dartmoor | Index | No later items >

This was a wet day and we didn't fancy visiting the beach or a garden or a walk, so we decided a day in the nearby city of Plymouth would fit the bill.

Plymouth in the Rain Plymouth is just across the River Tamar from where we are staying, it's in the county of Devon.

We made our way to the Tamar Bridge, paid our toll, and headed for the nearest park and ride site. We were surprised to see it doubles as the car park for the Plymouth Argyle football ground! With the car parked we caught the bus into the rainy city.

We walked to the Hoe in the rain and had to take shelter at one point. The Hoe would have looked much nicer on a sunny day, but it was interesting to be where Drake had played bowls as the Spanish Armada approached the shores of England. Later we made our way down to the Barbican area where we had a fish and chip lunch (or in my case cheesy chips).

Part of the Mayflower plaquePlymouth is a lovely city and full of history. We stood at the place where the pilgrim fathers had set out on the Mayflower and I wondered what they must have felt as they left England for the very last time. Did they watch the shoreline fading into a narrow grey line and then slowly dropping below the horizon?

Back at home in the evening we texted Paul and he and Vanessa came over to join us. Paul cooked an awesome risotto for us, he is a very good chef and we ate well!

After that it was TV, chat, or sorting out photos according to preference, then off to bed ready for another day in Cornwall.

< Dartmoor | Index | No later items >

05 September 2011

FAMILY - Dartmoor

< The Coast | Index | Plymouth >

One place we wanted to visit and explore during our holiday was Dartmoor. The moor itself, the famous prison, and the villages in the valleys on the east side of the moor were all places we wanted to see.

View towards Princetown and the prisonAfter breakfast we headed north east to Dartmoor and drove through some spectacular scenery to Princetown right in the heart of the moors.  This is where the forbidding and infamous Dartmoor Prison stands bleakly on a remote hillside.

Then we turned north, stopping for coffee at Widecombe-in-the-Moor. We found an unusual place for a coffee break here; it included the village library, clearly acted as a community centre, and had logs stacked around the walls. The tables and chairs were made of cane wickerwork and heavily painted.

After our break we returned to the A38 at Bovey Tracey. The mix of cloud and some sunny patches send bright areas scudding across the dark, moorland hills - very beautiful to watch.

Stained glass in Buckfast AbbeyOn the way back to Landrake we stopped for an hour or two at Buckfast Abbey to explore the gardens, the abbey itself (rebuilt on mediaeval foundations from 1907 and completed in 1930), and enjoy another coffee in the little restaurant. It seems extraordinary that this mediaeval-looking building is still less than a hundred years old!

Stopping at a supermarket on the way, we bought what we needed for a sausage and mash evening meal (using potatoes dug from our garden late on Friday). Paul and Vanessa joined us for the meal and an evening of TV and chat.

< The Coast | Index | Plymouth >

04 September 2011

FAMILY - The coast

< Two journeys | Index | Dartmoor >

This was our first full day in Cornwall. We travelled west along the coast and met up with Paul and Vanessa, ending the day with a nice pub meal.

Sunny LooeWe visited Looe in the morning, travelling west along the A38 and then heading south. We had arranged to meet Paul and Vanessa on the seafront, and we all ate our lunch together sitting on the big concrete steps of the coastal defences above the lovely sandy beach. It was a glorious sunny morning, really summer weather although we're now into September, but from 13:00 onwards an Atlantic weather system  moved across and the sky steadily clouded up.

Rainy PolperroIn the afternoon we left Paul and Vanessa in Looe and travelled further along the coast to the pretty little fishing village of Polperro. We parked at the top of the village and as we headed downhill towards the harbour the first raindrops started falling. We didn't stay long and were lucky to get back to the car withoug getting drenched as the rain was setting in more earnestly. It rained hard all the way home in the car but was easing off again by the time we arrived back at the cottage.

For our meal in the evening the six of us tried the local pub in Landrake, 'The Buller's Arms', and were not disappointed. Roast dinners at a good price and friendly service. And I was pleased to find several ciders to choose from with two on draught.

< Two journeys | Index | Dartmoor >

03 September 2011

FAMILY - Two journeys

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

On Saturday 3rd September we set off for a week's holiday in Cornwall. First we travelled to Donna's parents near Poole on the south coast, then we continued to Plymouth and our holiday home in Landrake.

Landrake Church towerThe first part was not a good journey. As we headed south the sat-nav diverted us through Winchester because of heavy traffic congestion on the motorway; the journey to Donna's parents at Broadstone normally takes a little over three hours, but today it took four.

Isobel had made bacon rolls for lunch and it was good to stop travelling, stretch our legs, have a cuppa and eat those rolls. Refreshed, we loaded their luggage in the boot and set off on the second leg of the journey to Cornwall, picking up the M5 and A38 from Exeter. For me these are old and familiar roads from years ago when I lived in the Bristol area. We passed the Buckfastleigh turning and headed through the city of Plymouth. The wooded sides of the A38 hide the city from view but we were soon at the bridge over the river Tamar and into Cornwall.

We quickly found Landrake and our cottage, there was a slightly musty smell in the old building (but it vanished once we opened a window, put the kettle on and began unpacking).

After settling into our little cottage Paul and Vanessa joined us and cooked us an evening meal of spaghetti bolognese. What a treat!

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

28 August 2011

FAMILY - Suffolk holiday 2011 - INDEX

< No earlier items | Index | Cornwall 2011 >

An old boat on the beach at AldeburghWe had a great week with Debbie, Beth and their families. Ten of us all together again, what fun!

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.

These pages just record what Donna and I did and the places we visited. As usual, we did a lot as a group of ten together but we also did a lot independently as well.

< No earlier items | Index | Cornwall 2011 >

19 August 2011

FAMILY - Ickworth on the way home

< Crabbing and friends | Index | No later items >

This was the last day of the holiday and we headed home during the morning. We stopped en route to explore another garden and stately home, Ickworth House.

Part of Ickworth House against a summer skyIckworth is a grand house surrounded by magnificent woodland and a series of small, concealed gardens. It was never enjoyed by its eccentric builder as he didn't live to see it finished. The house is circular and has a massive dome. There are long, curved wings on either side intended to hold collections of art.

It's a quirky home and we thought the gardens were disappointing. They are small and limited in scope. But the parkland near the house has some fine clipped yew and box. We strolled through the orangery and ate a packed lunch on a bench in the park.

Then finally, on towards home via the A14 and A428 - familiar roads and countryside.

< Crabbing and friends | Index | No later items >

18 August 2011

FAMILY - Catching crabs and time with friends

< Garden, castle, film | Index | Ickworth House >

Today was the last full day of the holiday. We visited Walberswick (famous for crabbing), met some old friends, and spent some time in the evening tidying and packing for the journey home.

Crabs caught by the grandchildrenWe spent the morning at the delightful village of Walberswick catching crabs and drinking take-away coffee and tea from the cafe on the pretty village green.

Steve, Debbie, Aidan and Sara caught 14 crabs from the beach car park, later Beth, Paz, Meredith and Verity caught some more from the river car park.

Our friends Ken and Gayna joined us between the two crabbing events and met the family, we haven't seen them for ages and it was great to spend time with them. We left the crabbers and took the rowing boat ferry across the river with Ken and Gayna for some excellent fish and chips - the first cod I've eaten for many years!

At Walberswick with Ken and GaynaWe ordered at the counter and then ate the food in the little restaurant, the entrance door is locked and has to be released by the guy behind the counter to let customers through. This seems a rather quaint idea but presumably stops hordes of non-customers trooping in and out to use the chip shop's loos.

By the time we arrived back on the north bank the others had left and we continued to Ken and Gayna's home in Yoxford and spent the afternoon chatting. Church life was the main topic of conversation. Ken has stepped back from managing the church's small groups and they're waiting to see what happens next. They're quite interested in SASHET so I need to go and visit them to spend more time explaining CO2 and answering any questions.

Back at home we enjoyed a relaxed evening and did a bit of tidying up and packing, ready for the departure tomorrow.

< Garden, castle, film | Index | Ickworth House >

17 August 2011

FAMILY - A garden, a castle, a film

< Ancient ship | Index | Crabbing and friends >

Today Donna and I visited a beautiful garden and a mediaeval castle while the others explored Orford Ness. Back at home we ate a simple but enjoyable meal, then Steve and I walked into town to see the film 'Senna'.

Helmingham HallWe drove to Helmingham Hall where there is a fine old house and a lovely series of gardens. The house was built from 1520 as a half-timbered structure but in Georgian times the lower level was faced with brick and the upper levels with matching tiles.

The house itself is not open to the public as the Tollemache family still live there, but we spent an interesting morning in the gardens. Helmingham's beautiful gardensThe house is moated, and the walled garden also has a moat around it, surely a very unusual feature!

We ate in the small restaurant in the old stables, then drove to Framlingham to look at the castle. Like so many British castles this one was badly damaged during the Civil War. There is plenty left to see, however, and the uppermost level of the curtain wall has been repaired suffiently to make it possible to walk right the way round. The views are magnificent.

Part of the curtain wall of Framlinham CastleThere was a re-enactment of the Battle of Agincourt going on in the castle grounds. Visiting children were invited to play the part of the English while the adults took the role of the French. There was a lot of laughter as the adults were frequently made to look silly by the man in charge of proceedings. But it was all good fun and very educational into the bargain.

Steve and I both loved the film 'Senna'. It consisted mainly of TV footage from the 1980s and 90s supplemented by snippets of amateur film and some stills. But the poor image quality was more than compensated for by the strength of the story, told as it happened by the people who were there.

< Ancient ship | Index | Crabbing and friends >

13 August 2011

ARTS - Schubert's 10th Symphony

< Aldeburgh | Index | The beach >

This evening, Paz, Donna and I visited Snape Maltings for an evening of classical music. Schubert's unfinished 10th Symphony gave me unexpected food for thought.

The programme at Snape included pieces by Rachmaninoff and Lutoslawski as well, however Schubert's 10th Symphony was never completed and what we heard tonight was a reworking by Berio from the existing manuscript fragments.

Rather than fill the gaps in the style of Schubert, Berio chose instead to link the fragments using a very different and much more modern style. He incorporated the celeste in the additions, which lends an airy, ethereal quality and makes it very clear to the listener that these sections are not by Schubert.

Restored Roman potteryThis reminded me of the way ancient Greek or Roman pottery is restored for display in a museum. Usually, instead of trying to reconstruct the original in every detail, the restoration uses a slightly different colour and reduces or eliminates any attempt to recreate the details of texture, pattern and finish. In this way the overall shape and size of the article is clear, but the original sections and the restored parts are easily distinguished. Exactly the same approach is used for tessellated pavements and painted wall plaster.

Another example is the presentation of images from the Hubble Space Telescope where gaps are filled in using lower resolution sections from other telescopes.

So why did this give me food for thought?

We find much the same principle at work when we try to understand the nature of the Almighty and of the things he is doing in our universe. We have clear fragments - for example we know that his nature is to love - but we also have to fill some gaps.

Why is this? It has nothing to do with him withholding information. It has everything to do with our inability to grasp the fullness of the truth. His nature is beyond our capabilities to fathom. We have the overall 'shape' of his nature, a flavour if you will. And we have some of the detail, aspects that we can understand despite our limitations. So our picture is partly the full truth and partly an approximation.

The danger we face is often in thinking our filled-in approximations are the real thing. They are not! Always, always it's necessary to remind ourselves that we don't know as we are known. And the assumptions we make are frequently the causes of our disagreements.

< Aldeburgh | Index | The beach >

FAMILY - A day in Aldeburgh

< No earlier items | Index | Schubert's 10th >

We all arrived in Aldeburgh on Friday afternoon/evening so Saturday was our first full day. A rainy morning turned into a sunny afternoon and we all enjoyed the shingle beach, the seafront stalls and rides, and the shops in the town.

Our holiday home, 'Curlew House'Aldeburgh is on the Suffolk coast, a quiet little town of brick and pebble houses, but gearing up for festival week. Our holiday home is a ten minute walk from the main street and beach so the cars were unused today.

We explored the bookshops and quirky giftshops along the main street and spotted the fish and chip shop where some of us had eaten last night. Paz noticed there was a classical concert on this evening and we bought three tickets. Donna and I will join him for some pieces by Britten, Schubert, Rachmaninov and others.

Debbie, Steve, Aidan and Sara headed off in one direction while Beth, Paz, Meredith, Verity, Donna and I continued down the High Street to find somewhere to eat. Old boat on the Aldeburgh shingle beachWe chose a little cafe run by a Thai family, good simple food at a modest price. My bacon and cheese toastie was delicious and came with crisps and salad.

Donna and I went off on our own for a while to look through some of the shops. Strolling onto the beach we soon found Debbie, Steve, Aidan and Sara and spent some time throwing pebbles into the sea and seeing how close we could come to the water without getting wet feet. What fun!

Aidan on the slideNext was a stroll along the seafront stalls and fairground rides. Aidan had fun on an inflatable slide. Donna bought a pink scarf and a duvet cover. Then we headed home for a cup of tea and a sit down.

Paz, Donna and I are looking forward to the concert, that leaves Beth, Debbie and Steve to get the children off to bed and relax at the house for a while.

It was a good start to a week away.

< No earlier items | Index | Schubert's 10th >

01 December 2010

FAMILY - Holiday in Gran Canaria

Donna and I enjoyed a week in Gran Canaria. It was unexpectedly extended by two days as a result of a strike by Spanish air traffic controllers! The weather was variable, but warm, we loved our hotel, and there was plenty to see and do.

(You can click the images for larger versions and there's a separate picture gallery with more photos. Hint: from the gallery you can use the slideshow button at top-right.)

Frozen fields in EnglandDay One - 27th November - We flew out from Birmingham Airport. The four and a half hour flight was uneventful with views of the frozen English countryside on the way followed by cloudy conditions for the most of the journey. We did have some clear views of the lights on the south-east coast of the island as we approached the airport.

It was wonderful to leave the plane and feel the warm climate. We looked forward to a week of pleasant weather, no shivering, and no need for more than shorts and T-shirt.

Day Two - 28th November - We were staying at Marina Suites in the town of Puerto Rico. When we looked out of our window in the morning there were large puddles everywhere and the sky was grey. It was warm, but jeans and a fleece seemed more appropriate than the expected shorts and T-shirt!

View of the marina from our balconyWe weren't too troubled, we wanted to rest after our journey so we spent most of our time exploring the hotel and the local area (including the Marina), reading, and visiting the local supermarket to stock up with food.

The self-catering apartment where we were staying had a fridge and simple cooking facilities. A nice cup of tea came quite high on our list of priorities.

Day Three - 29th November - We had some torrential rain today, and I do mean absolutely torrential. Stall holders were racing to get their stock inside, cars were throwing up walls of water as they drove by, and we were completely stuck in the little holiday shop where we had been when the rain began.

Lights reflected in the water of the marinaFortunately the rain came as showers so after half an hour or so we were able to head back to the apartment before the next one hit. Puerto Rico is built around a ravine which is completely dry most of the year in this sem-desert climate. But it quickly became a very active little river again following the heavy rain.

Back at the apartment we returned to reading and chilling out, much easier now as we had bought two mugs in the town. Cups are way too small for a decent brew of tea.

As night fell the weather improved and the view from the balcony was beautiful with sparkling lights reflected in the water.

Day Four - 30th November - The weather began to improve markedly today. We had plenty of bright sunshine but there were still some heavy clouds around sweeping in across the ocean from the south-west. Black clouds on a sunny dayThe picture shows the arid hills with holiday homes and hotels and their irrigated trees (the natural coastal vegetation is scrubby bush with large bare areas of baked rock and stone).

We were able to explore the local area more thoroughly on foot today. We arranged to hire a car for the remainder of our stay so that we could explore a bit further afield.

Day Five - 1st December - I picked up the car first thing in the morning and then drove back to the hotel to collect Donna. Looking back from the foothillsWe had decided to head inland and visit the mountains. Although the coastal parts of Gran Canaria are used mainly for tourism, the inland parts have a more temperate and moist climate and are used mainly for agriculture.

We headed south-east along the coast to Maspalomas and then used the GC-60 north to the centre of the island. The rock and scrub gradually changed to Opuntia and dry grass, then eventually to occasional palms and finally pine trees.

Donna in San BartoloméOn the way we passed the small settlements of Artedara, Fataga, and eventually San Bartolomé de Tirajana where we stopped for lunch (Canarian potatoes are very good!). Little in the way of tourist hotels here, and there are some genuinely old, Spanish buildings. Glorious mountain sceneryThese are absolutely beautiful places and we saw some lovely mountain scenery.

Heading on again we visited the cross at Tejeda and then drove to the highest point on the island, Pico de Las Nieves (1949 m above sea level). Pico de Teide 125 km away on TenerifeThe views from here were awesome as we were above the cloud tops and could see Mount Teide on the neighbouring island of Tenerife, about 125 km away!

The journey back home took us east on the GC-130 and GC-120 through Pasadilla and then the GC-196 back to the east coast motorway (the GC-1). There were more spectacular views on the way.

To be continued...


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