Sunny Spain and a catch up

Hi *waves* I’ve unintentionally had the longest break from my little blog since I started it over a year ago. Last week we were in sunny Spain and the week leading up to the holiday was really busy! Apologies in advance, because I fear this post will jump around from topic to topic as my head catches up!

I finally got round to taking some cuttings two weeks ago today. I bought a couple of beautiful Coleus which have done really well over the Summer.

In fact, they’ve got bigger than anticipated and taken over the pot! They’re not hardy, but the leaves are so vibrant I thought I’d take cuttings now and see if I can over Winter them in the greenhouse ready to plant out next Summer.

Regular readers will know of my slight obsession with my Eupatorium. I’ve taken cuttings of that too.

I was a bit concerned about them drying out while we were away, but a quick inspection of the greenhouse on our return yesterday put my mind at rest. They look pretty much the same now as they did in the picture taken before we flew off. I guess now I have to employ patience and wait for the roots to grow and establish.

On the Wednesday before our holiday I went to the theatre to see 9 to 5, the musical based in the film of the same name starring Dolly Parton.

It was really good! Very funny. I went with my sister-in-law and a couple of female friends and I’d highly recommend it for a fun girlie night out. There weren’t many men in the audience, and those that were there looked like they’d been dragged there kicking and screaming!

On Thursday the holiday preparation started properly – nails! I do like to have nicely manicured nails for a holiday. It somehow makes it all the more exciting! Here they are taken while we were away.

What you can’t really see is that my thumbs are the colour of the other four fingers on the other hand. You can get such fancy manicures these days that it seems a bit dull to have all one colour, especially for a holiday. Pink (especially baby pink – eugh) is probably my least favourite colour so I rarely go for ‘traditional’ nails.

We didn’t fly until early afternoon so I had time to pop out in the garden for a last minute peruse before we left. There was still a lot of colour.

It’s still looking pretty good now.

I was convinced our giant Sunflower would bloom while we were away, but it still hasn’t. I hope it does. I’ve nurtured this plant for months, from seed, and it would be a real disappointment not to see it through to its natural ending. The weather’s not looking good for the foreseeable future, so I guess it might give up on me!

Saturday morning came around and we were rushing around doing last minute preparations, checking all the doors had doorstops so the cats couldn’t lock themselves in anywhere, watering the pots, packing last minute essentials, chucking perishables (although we missed the carrots and came back to a bag of black, furry mush!) but soon we were on our way.

I really wanted to try to stick to Slimming World as much as possible so I had a gluten free breakfast in Wetherspoons at the airport which I figured was mostly free and for probably the first time ever, I didn’t buy any chocolate whilst telling myself that calories don’t count at the airport! I managed to be good for the first couple of days when we arrived, but it got too difficult to make good choices under pressure of a massive queue behind me! I did my best at breakfast and went for eggs, muesli and yoghurt or fruit, but a lot of the fruit wasn’t ripe so I couldn’t eat it and I bet the muesli wasn’t sugar free or the yoghurt fat free (I’m basing this on the fact that it tasted lovely!) There was a pretty good salad bar at lunch and dinner so I tried at least to stick to the principle of having a third of my plate as speed food to limit the damage. I’ve got straight back on it now we’re home so I’ll claw back any gain soon, and I enjoyed my holiday (especially the two Magnums that I couldn’t resist) so it was worth it.

We stayed in Salou and our hotel was called MedPlaya Calypso. It’s in the process of being refurbished and we were all (we went with hubby’s side of the family) in the not-yet-refurbed block. The rooms are definitely in need of updating but we didn’t spend much time in there so it wasn’t a big issue.

They were clean and safe, which is the most important thing, there was air con and the beds were comfy. Every night when hubby got in the shower I jumped as there was a huge bang as the shower attachment fell off the wall (didn’t do it for me for some reason) and you couldn’t leave the tap on for any length of time because it leaked from the bottom and flooded the floor!

We overlooked one of the pools, the snack bar and the evening entertainment area.

After the first couple of days we discovered another pool round the back of the refurbed block which was quieter and more relaxing. It was away from the bar so I guess it didn’t appeal to some of the rowdier guests, but it suited us much better.

We walked down to Salou beach one day. Hubby loves going in the sea so he was in his element. I didn’t take any photos because it was a very busy beach so I would’ve just got photos of lots of other people setting up camp for the day.

We had entry into a local water park, Aquopolis, included in the package so we went there twice. It was a short bus ride away (and the bus ticket was also included). I didn’t have particularly high expectations for the water park because the only other water park I’ve been to in Spain is a bit basic and I was worried I’d compare it to Volcano Bay in Orlando which is fully immersive and, let’s face it, awesome, but it was really good and the days there were my favourite two days. Since I’ve had the experience of rides in Orlando I’ve become much braver so I went on most rides. My favourite was the black hole, which I didn’t manage to get a photo of. It was a two person ride on a tube and it was a fully enclosed black slide with fairy lights so it was like being in a star.

We got sun beds in front of the main pool which also had a section with bubbles and fountains.

There was a ride where you sat in a raft to slide down to a pool below. We all went on this one, even my mother-in-law who is most cautious of water rides.

It’s great having a waterproof phone. I videoed hubby and I coming down and got a (slightly dodgy – excuse the state of me!) selfie.

This next one was the first ride I went on – I’d seen it on the leaflet and really wanted to try it.

It was pretty steep as you went over the edge but it was good fun!

These are two random people just to illustrate the ride. It lifted you up at the top and launched you down and then you skimmed over the water at the bottom. Pretty cool.

There was a lazy river, which I LOVE, but it was closed unfortunately and there was a wave pool but I didn’t get round to going in it, and there was a racer ride which was pretty fun too.

There were lots of elements which reminded me of parks in Orlando.

The Hawaii theme is very similar to Volcano Bay (but Aquopolis is definitely older so did it first), there’s a signpost like this at SeaWorld and, of course, the famous jaws statue at Universal Studios.

On our last night we decided to have a break from all inclusive and went for a Chinese. It was a really nice meal, and I managed to remedy my lack of Sangria so far, which is obviously an essential part of a holiday in Spain! Afterwards we strolled back along the seafront which was a really nice walk. We happened upon a gorgeous merry-go-round.

I’ve never seen a two tier merry-go-round before. It was very ‘Mary Poppins’.

I managed to get a lot of r and r in, and for me, this means catching up on reading and crochet/knitting. I made good progress on my knitted jumper on a couple of evenings when we chose to retire early and I finished a Little Box of Crochet project which has been to Malta, USA, Italy, Germany and Spain.

He’s called Donovan Chalmers.

I also finished the third instalment of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

I’ve moved on to the prequel, the Book of Dust, now because I couldn’t bear to leave the daemon world behind!

I’ll finish on a particular high which was taken as we were waiting for our coach back to the airport.

I’m back off to Spain tomorrow, but unfortunately for work this time, so I’ll see you on the other side!

Busy week

I’m writing this without a title at the moment because I’m not actually sure what I’m going to write about!

I haven’t posted for nearly a week, which I think is the longest I’ve been away from my blog. In my defence, it’s been a very busy week, at a time when I could’ve really done without it, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, isn’t it?

I’m not feeling quite myself at the moment, partly, I think due being such a busy bee this week. This was my first week back at work after our lovely break in Mexico. For anyone who missed the posts, here’s the best of our trip in pics (arachnophobes don’t worry, I won’t traumatise you with the tarantula again!)

 

It was only a four day week back too! I’d booked Monday off to try to get over the jetlag. Massive fail! Tuesday back at work I was a complete zombie! Wednesday I had to fly to Frankfurt for a business workshop on Thursday, which meant as well as not being over the jetlag from Mexico, I was now another hour in front of myself!

I flew Lufthansa which was a reasonably pleasant experience. I know geographical stereotypes are generally to be taken with a pinch of salt, but German efficiency isn’t one of them. This was the first time I’d been to Germany, but I have many German colleagues, and they are always super efficient. In my experience they make you feel reassured and confident because their efficiency shines through. They get annoyed with themselves if anything causes them to be anything less than spot on the mark, so they work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. The whole Lufthansa experience was the same. Everything happened on time, not a minute before or after. Frankfurt was the same. Shuttle bus turned up when and as expected, hotel check in and out was a breeze and service overall was commendable.

As this was a business occasion, I couldn’t take as many photos as I would normally. Remember I’m new to this job, and I don’t want my new colleagues to think I’m some sort of weirdo who takes photos every three seconds (whether that, in fact, is true or not!) I did manage to sneak a couple though when I was on my own.

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This was when I got to put my head down after a team dinner. It was really nice to chat with my colleagues that I don’t see often, and some I met for the first time, I’m part of a really great team, but the old jetlag means I needed my bed, or rather, the NH Frankfurt Airport’s bed, but you catch my drift. At first I thought it strange that I only had a singe duvet, but then I realised it was another example of German efficiency. Why provide a double duvet for a double for single occupancy room? Less washing, less space, less carbon footprint.

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Treats in the breakout area during the coffee break. I’ve found it’s common on the continent to provide sweets in the coffee area, and I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of this practise. Hours in a meeting room with no fresh air, often on not enough sleep and trying to concentrate for long periods often leads to that feeling in your head as if your brain’s doing slow backflips and it can feel as though you have lead weights attached to your eyelids. What better remedy than oodles of processed sugar? The little glazed profiterole was labelled up as a mini windbag! After a quick peruse of google I have discovered that windbag is indeed what Germans call profiteroles. I love learning stuff like this.

 

The meeting started at 8am and overran somewhat, so I didn’t get back to the airport until after 6pm, which wasn’t a problem timing-wise because my flight wasn’t until 21.55, but was a problem for my mental state. I was feeling completely exhausted and burnt out and as a result my brain was playing tricks on me, so, I decided what I needed was some familiarity so I took myself off to McDonalds. I don’t care what anyone says about the (lack of) nutritional value of McDonalds, it tastes wonderful and as I sat scoffing away and reading my kindle I could feel my woes dissolving and my rational self taking over again. Just to complete the process I did some crocheting. This was nearly a disaster. I’d remembered to pack the yarn and hook  but forgot the pattern and a stitch marker! Thank goodness for technology. I asked hubby to WhatsApp the pattern to me, which he did straight away, bless his heart, and I improvised with a piece of yarn for my stitch marker.

This is as far as I got before I needed stuffing (which I hadn’t brought), but the lights you can see in the background are UK lights so it was all good.

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Exhausted as I was, I could still appreciate the beauty of flying in the dark. I love the lights of the airport (the carbon footprint concerns me, but I appreciate the obvious safety necessity). This was Frankfurt from the air.

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Difficult to take a non-blurry photo when you’re in the process of being accelerated to 500mph!

I was so so glad to get home to my own bed, not that I was in it for long because I had to be back on the boards for a conference call at 8am! No rest for the wicked eh? I’m not complaining though (ok, I may have done a bit in the height of tiredness). I’ve fought for this opportunity and I’m determined to make it work.

I actually made it to 9pm last night before I collapsed into bed with the cats (hubby was out for the night). I read my kindle for a bit (fab book I’m reading at the moment – Kate Morton’s latest) but then this happened.

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Somehow I still don’t feel recovered. I’m still in a bit of a daze! Maybe I had too much sleep!

If I did then it’ll stand me in good stead for next week because on Monday I’m globetrotting again! This time I’m heading for Gijon in northern Spain for training on heavy plates (big bits of steel cut into a big rectangle that can be used to make the JCBs making a building, or the fabric of that building, or even a luxurious cruise ship). Gijon is difficult to get to. I have to drive to Heathrow, fly to Madrid and then catch a connection to Asturias and obviously the same in reverse on Wednesday to come back. I get back to Heathrow after 10pm so won’t be home before midnight. People think travelling for work is glamourous and exciting. Well, whilst it has its moments and sometimes you get some free time to explore, it’s generally the opposite of glamourous. I can now say I’ve physically been to Germany, but all I saw was the inside and outside of an airport and a hotel and a bit of road in between. It gave me a taster though and I’d like to go back for a mini-break with hubby because it looked nice as I flew in. I did once go to a convention in Barcelona and as part of the day the company organised a whistle stop tour around Barcelona so I did get to see Sagrada Familia and some other Gaudi works so that was closer to glamourous.

I haven’t had enough umpf to get out in the garden since we’ve been back from Mexico. I was hoping to this weekend, but I’m still not with it. Hopefully I’ll be back to my normal self next weekend and I’ll be able to get out to do a bit of pottering. I satisfied the gardening urge this morning by tending to my houseplants.

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I’m sad to report that the succulent in the flamingo (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d utter!) is the only one that I’ve managed to keep alive since my brother’s wedding. I think I must’ve over-watered the others. Succulents don’t like too much water. The cacti seem to be happy enough. The Venus Flytrap not so much! Not sure what I’ve done wrong there. It’s still alive so I’ll google for some advice.

 

My mantlepiece is doing well. Either end are my airplants which just need an occasional spritz of water. I’ve managed to keep the two succulents in the typewriter and the floral mug alive so far. The owl and the bounce mug contain the cuttings that my friend gave me. In the mug is a Chinese money plant and in the owl (it seems I don’t really do conventional plant pots!) is my chain of hearts. It’s not so much a chain of hearts as a sprig at the moment, but it’s alive and growing slowly so I’m happy with that.

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My roses look a little sorry for themselves. I’m still working out their watering needs, and I think it’s slightly more than I’ve been doing thus far. These were a birthday present so I’m doing my best to keep the, going in the hope that I’ll be able to plant them outside.

Right, best think of a title and then get ready for a night at our good friends’ house. Hopefully they’ll trigger us out of our jetlag haze!

Mexico in Mexico

I can’t actually believe that tomorrow is our last full day here and that soon I’m going to have to contemplate wearing shoes, drying my hair and, you know, adulting!

As I write this I am lying on a sunbed, with my wireless headphones (thank you NLMK) pumping my holiday playlist into my lugholes, barely inches from a very inviting swimming pool. There are guys and gals regularly wandering past asking me if I’d like a tequila sunrise, a pina colada or any other manner of delectation.

Of course, we could’ve chosen to go and imbibe our choice of poison at the swim-up bar in the next pool, but we prefer the quieter more relaxed vibe of this pool (and we’re drinking Diet Coke so really no need of swim-up bars).

There are coatis wandering around in the foliage behind me, cats lounging in the shade trying to keep cool, tropical birds chattering away to each other in the trees above me and occasionally a flamboyance of flamingos soaring high over head.

Spot the imposter!

This truly is an animal lover’s paradise. Not so good for those not so fond of the fluff and the feather, but really, we’re in their home, not the other way round. A guy flicked water at a coati yesterday on purpose as he got out of the pool (the guy, not the coati). The coati didn’t give two sniffs of his turned up snouty nose and carried on about his important business of snuffling and being cute, but hubby and I were both incensed (in a most internal and private British way).

We’ve had such a fantastic time (and it’s not over yet). We really are so lucky that we have the means and the opportunity to take holidays like this every so often. The luxury of doing nothing, or everything, depending upon your mood is something to be thankful for. Admittedly we’ve spent the vast majority of our time doing the nothing rather than the everything, that’s exactly how we wanted it.

We went to the beach one day. I couldn’t tell you which day as I have very little comprehension of time at the moment. It certainly wasn’t yesterday, because yesterday was somewhat spectacular, but more of that at a later date when I have photographic evidence. Maybe it was the day before? Maybe not. Who really cares?

The beach is just over the road, through one of the sister hotels (where you can also make use of their all inclusive facilities). We walked over, down a lovely sheltered promenade, but for the infirm, over-heating or, dare I say it, exercise-shy you can jump on a golf buggy to be deposited a stone’s throw from the white sands.

The beach was very pretty, although, I think hubby and I have been spoilt by the indescribable, and untouched, beauty of the Maldives and any other beach will now struggle to match it. Still, first world problems and all that.

Hubby went snorkelling but reported slim pickings (or should that be viewings?) on the fish front. I had a bit of a paddle. We stayed at the beach until lunchtime and then headed back along the promenade to our hotel. The only shade on the beach was provided by palm trees and the sun beds were somewhat crammed in and the humidity was high so we were in need of a few minutes of air conditioning to cool down.

Today we could’ve joined in with a coconut party at the next pool. We politely declined due to a serious lack of botheredness, but I have to say, I was slightly intrigued as to the specificities of a coconut party. The entertainment staff promoting it were dressed a la Carmen Miranda, sporting coconuts on their heads, but I assume the actual party entailed more than careful balancing of fruit on one’s bonce. I wasn’t concerned enough to extract my derrière from my sunbed, but from what my ears could detect, there was much whooping and singing of the Macarena. Not sure what that has to do with coconuts, but whatever!

I was just interrupted by a passing band of coatis (I just guessed at the collective noun, but then googled, and I guessed right. Score!) This happens every day towards late afternoon. They’re around all day and evening, but they like to patrol the pool around now. Presumably they’ve learnt people are likely to have dropped (or disposed of) food by now.

This is a common sight. Coati bottom protruding from a rubbish receptacle!

Look at the teeny tiny baby!

Hubby has just gone off to the shop to dispose of another 160 MXN (£6.11) on Cheetos crunchy.

Totally worth it (even though we’re all inclusive), they’re amazing!

Anyway, silly boy left his Diet Coke unattended and a coati, having a very sweet tooth as we’ve discovered coatis do, has knocked over and pilfered said Diet Coke.

This really is a real-time post today!

It was supposed to rain today, but we’ve had about three and a half spots! Hubby is now back with Cheetos, so I think we may make our way back to our room before the weather changes its mind, and also before the dreaded mozzies come to consume our blood. So far I’ve managed just two bites (both before we realised they’re active in the day and therefore had neglected to liberally apply the deet!)

Having re-read my post, I realise that Eleanor Oliphant (fantastic book that I finished in two days at the start of the holiday) has rubbed off on me and my parlance is somewhat loquacious and elaborate (I did that bit on purpose!) Sorry!

Anyway, the coatis are now trying to steal my bag because they can smell my Cheetos so I shall vacate my sunbed forthwith! Chat later!!

That’s my knee bottom right of photo – they get that close when there’s a chance of dinner!!