Tag Archives: Shopping

Lanzarote – Costa Teguise and the Gran Melia Salinas Hotel

The Melia Salinas, beautiful

The Melia Salinas, beautiful

My first impression of Lanzarote was that people seemed very friendly. A taxi driver, seeing us looking lost as we emerged from the terminal directed us to the kiosk where we needed to pick up our transfer. The Scottish woman working there was super helpful, telling us about the island and what to see, obviously a little in love with it herself. An unfamiliar vista of volcanic mountains, black soil and strange contorted larva mounds beside the roads sped by outside the window of our transfer taxi. The hotel, designed by César Manrique, was beautiful. Best of all there is free wifi, ok so it doesn’t seem to be the speediest or most reliable but the price is good.

We took a little walk to get acclimatised to the twenty seven degree heat and our surroundings. The scenery is stark in comparison to England’s verdant hills and verges but it has a beauty to it, black or red soil dotted with fat trunked, stubby palms and globular spiny cacti, square white buildings and everywhere black volcanic rock. Walls, paths, sculptures all carved from blocks of grey black porous stone. I guess you build with what you have available and on a volcanic island that means igneous rock.

The sun was getting low in the sky as we walked up the hill past little supermarkets, shops and bars, low cloud hid it from view but the clouds were haloed with bright light and beams spread out across the blue sky like something in a painting. Snap, snap, snap went my phone. Strange papery petals in brilliant cerise on the bourganvillia outside the hotel were blowing about so much I had trouble taking a photo. In actual fact the papery petals are not petals at all, but bracts of leaves, the flowers are the tiny white frilled circles in the centre that look like stamens.

The sun, low of the Costa Teguise shops

The sun, low over the Costa Teguise shops

Bougainvillea, if only they'd kept still I'd have taken a better photo

Bougainvillea, if only they’d kept still I’d have taken a better photo

A pre dinner walk along the shore outside the hotel gave me even more beautiful snaps of the sunbeams radiating from a golden cloud turning the waves breaking on the greyish sand to liquid gold. Breathtaking stuff. Then there are the huge black boulders, worn smooth by the waves framing a gold flecked sea and the white buildings of Costa Teguise spread out before us. There will probably be walks along this shore and lounging on this beach tomorrow.

A pre dinner walk along the shore

A pre dinner walk along the shore

Big black boulders, a gold flecked sea, paradise

Big black boulders, a gold flecked sea, paradise

Hunger took us into the hotel restaurant for dinner. Our half board meals are buffet style with a banquet of fresh salads, meat and fish cooked to order, pastas and fresh sauces not to mention the array of fruits and ice creams. With good food like this every day I’m hoping for a nice healthy holiday and not too much extra poundage at the end of it. Mind you the tiramisu ice cream probably doesn’t count as healthy but still, it’s been a long day, with not much in the way of food at all and I am on holiday!

We found a lovely spot by the pool

We found a lovely quiet spot by the pool

Part of being on holiday is relaxing and the next day was a chill out day. After breakfast we wandered round the pool looking for some sun beds that hadn’t already been nabbed by the early morning towel brigade. Luckily, as it’s out of season and the hotel is by no means full, we managed to find two beds in a quiet corner by a little pool with tinkling fountains and a fringe of umbrella plants. We set out our blue towels and Commando settled down to sunbathe. Continue reading

London – The Moonwalk marathon, what a way to see the city at night!

Heading for the Big Pink Tent

Heading for the Big Pink Tent

The London Moonwalk is an annual event and this would be my second one. It’s a tough challenge to walk twenty six point two miles but when you don’t start until midnight and you’re dressed in leggings and a decorated bra it is more like torture and should probably be banned under the Geneva Convention. Still, it is to raise money and awareness for breast cancer and it’s a novel way of seeing London. Continue reading

The New Forest – Lord Montague’s Beaulieu Estate

The Beaulieu Estate, cars, bikes, historic houses, gardens and a lovely woodland walk

Regretfully leaving the Easter Egstravaganza behind, but the scales will thank me I hope

Regretfully leaving the Easter Eggstravaganza behind, but the scales will thank me I hope

Beaulieu (pronounced Bewley), for those who don’t know it, is a tiny village on the banks of the Beaulieu river, no more than one street of quaint little houses a few shops and a pub, The Montague Arms. Even so, it attracts masses of visitors being home of the famous National Motor Museum, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. Large swathes of Beaulieu are owned by the eccentric Lord Montague, Palace House is his home and the Motor Museum houses his massive collection of cars and motorbikes. Continue reading

Barcelona – Ghosts and the steep climb to Parc Guell

The gates of Parc Guell

The gates of Parc Guell

If you only visit one place, make it Parc Guell

If you go to Barcelona this is the one sight you must not miss. It really is worth the walk. It’s free to go in, unless you want to go inside Gaudi’s house and I get the feeling you could go back again and again and see something new each time. Continue reading

Barcelona – No disputing girls like shopping!

Palau Guell

Palau Guell

El Ravel, El Barri Gothic & El Born – The old town Barcelona

Next on our list was a visit to the old town. Everything I’d read warned to be on guard against pickpockets here so it was with some trepidation that we took the metro to Parallel and stepped out onto the corner of Carrer Nou de la Rambla. This is a narrow road filled with traffic and run down looking little shops and restaurants leading to La Rambla. The closer we got to La Rambla the more interesting the buildings became culminating in Palau Guell, a town mansion designed by Gaudi with huge wrought iron gates that carriages used to enter. It is possible to go inside but, yet again, time was against us. I guess it is one more reason for us to return to Barcelona in the future though so it’s not all bad news. Continue reading

Southampton – walking the historic medieval city walls

Ferns growing on the historic walls, Southampton

Ferns growing on the historic walls, Southampton

Walking the medieval city walls of Southampton

The last time I walked the walls was when the boys were at school. In fact I think it was part of a school history project. Living in a city packed to the gills with history, I tend to forget about it most of the time. There are bits I stroll past on a regular basis but I don’t really think about them. Other bits I’ve barely even seen, despite living here all my life. Continue reading

Marrakech – driving into the Atlas Mountains

Looking over the roof of our first Berber house

Looking over the roof of our first Berber house, Atlas Mountains, Marrakech

Marrakech – The Atlas Mountains and the Ourika Valley, winding mountain roads and satellite dishes

My third trip to Morocco was a long weekend with Commando, a kind of second honeymoon to make up for the fact we didn’t have a first one when we married ten years earlier. After two days looking at the majestic Atlas Mountains in the distance from our hotel balcony, Commando and I decided it was time to take a closer look. We booked a day trip through Complete Tours http://complete-tours.com/ to the Ourika Valley, about 30 kilometres outside the city. A  journey of about three hours each way on the meandering mountain roads in a little air conditioned Grand Taxi with our driver/guide, Driss. Continue reading

Marrakech – a caleche ride to Majorelle Gardens

The only way to travel

A Caleche ride through Marrakech, the only way to travel

Yves St Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens Marrakech, an artists paradise

I decided my next day in Marrakech would be a lazy one so, on Mohammed’s recommendation, I took a gentle ride in a caleche to the Majorelle Gardens. Basically there are two ways to travel around Marrakech, petit taxis, and caleche. Petit taxis can be picked up almost anywhere, you will see queues of them waiting outside most hotels. They and are cheap, if a little rickety and the driving will probably have you squeezing your eyes shut most of the time. Continue reading

Marrakech Madness – a square, a souk and a mosque

Leather workers of Marrakech

Leather workers of Marrakech

Marrakech, love at first sight

Stepping off the plane into a sultry Marrakech night my first experience of this magical city literally took my breath away. It was late November in England and it made a nice change to the cold and rain I had left behind at Gatwick three hours before. Although it was almost midnight it felt like mid summer to me. Continue reading