Friday, 25 August 2017

Lazy - Days in Gran Canaria

A couple of weeks ago we took ourselves off on a last minute booking to Gran Canaria. Play del Ingles to be precise. Doug wanted a bit of sunshine (which had been sadly lacking in the UK) but we’d forgotten that it was, in fact, high summer in the Canaries and it was HOT!

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Our little complex of “adults only”  villas was extremely well cared for and was the nearest thing to “Benidorm” we’ve experienced! Lol.

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Being summer (and very hot) in the Canaries it’s termed as “low season” so nowhere was very busy.

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We were situated about 20 minutes walk from the centre of Playa del Ingles so we got good exercise doing it twice a day. Everywhere is perfectly manicured ………

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…….. and, with all the plants and trees trimmed and watered …….

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…… it felt rather like walking through a botanical garden. The watering, we found out to our cost, is done automatically in the late evening just when we took our walk back into town for some ‘night life’. It’s a bit of a shock when you walk into the sprinklers in the dark!

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Between Play del Ingles and the beach is an awesome area of dunes which stretches for a long way. Walking across them to the beach is not recommended in the temperatures we were experiencing. According to the digital display in the town it was 37 C at 7 o’clock one evening. That would put these dunes at well over 40 C at mid day.

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One of the main attractions at Play del Ingles is the Yumbo Centre. It’s basically a huge hole in the ground filled with shops, eateries and large open spaces for recreation. 

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At night (11pm onwards) it comes alive with bars, clubs and cabaret venues with lots of loud music and partying. This was our view at ‘Mardi Gras’ bar as we relaxed and supped our aperitifs before the clubs opened at eleven.

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People were able to walk around in a much cooler temperature during the late evening and eating al fresco was a real pleasure.

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With clubs opening at 11pm the partying went on until 4 or 5 in the morning and it was an incredibly friendly atmosphere. We met people from many countries who’d also flown in for a week of “night life”. This is Tommy from Poland – an international hair stylist, of all things, and a real character. 

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The bar staff also added greatly to fun and vibrancy of the night and this one – Mark, was just one of the amazingly nice guys that supplied the lubrication for our partying.

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We dined out twice at La Gustera. A wonderful restaurant with friendly staff and excellent food. The attire is very informal – sadly dictated by the heat!

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Think this must have been an early selfie as we look decidedly pasty. Not so by the end of the week!

Well, we had a very lazy week in the sun. Sleep all morning, beach in the afternoon, a quick evening kip before dinner then party all night. Living life on the edge occasionally just has to be done.

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Flying back to Manchester was so simple. We’re just a twenty minute train ride to the airport which meant, with just hand luggage, we were back indoors, unpacked, washing on and in bed in just over an hour after landing. As soon as we got back we were in time to catch up with friend Regu who was in Manchester on business. We had a few drinks and dinner at the newly opened “No 1 Canal Street”. Great food and company and we hope to catch up again with Regu soon.

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Yesterday we took a quick trip to Chester. Its a while since we’ve been to this charming walled city. Normally we’d have travelled by narrow boat but this time we had to find a car park. (That’s Doug in the pink shirt.)

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A view looking towards the famous clock.

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Chester’s charm is enhanced by the numerous raised arcades and walkways in the timbered buildings.

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Close by we found somewhere for a spot of lunch. The Victoria Inn – a lovely interior fit out.

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Here’s a pic of us, in one of the pub’s little cubby-holes waiting for lunch, taken by ……..

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……… the lovely cheerful barman John. It’s a small world – just chatting to him and we find we have a number of FB friends in common!

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It’s a dreary pic but James wanted to take a photo of the canal as we left to find the car park. We’ve travelled into Chester many times on both our boats “Spirit” and “Chance”.

Next event – Manchester Pride bank holiday weekend!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Goodness – We Haven’t Blogged for Ages!!

It’s been over two months since we took over our apartment in Manchester and some of our first visitors were Lake District friends Pam and Geoff.

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After a bottle or two of bubbly at home (something which has, in a short time, become a bit of a tradition!) we took a walk across the city centre (stopping for some shopping and a pit stop) ………

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…….. to Albert’s Shed in Castlefield for a splendid late lunch. It’s always a hoot with Pam and Geoff and we look forward to seeing them again soon.

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After the initial few weeks of decorating and furnishing the Manchester ‘pad’ we travelled south for a couple of weeks in Selsey. During our absence the dear old Lifeboat station building had been removed – leaving us with a full panoramic view across the bay and the brand new lifeboat in it’s brand new, land based, lifeboat station.

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We soon managed to catch up with Kim and Alan (from just along the coast) who popped over to join us enjoying the sunshine. First we had bubbly on the beach (which was terribly crowded as usual) and then ………….

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………. a BBQ in the back garden. A splendid day we all had and thanks Alan and Kim for popping over to brighten an already very sunny day.

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Next it was off to Southsea and Portsmouth with a friend who’d “popped” down from Manchester to see us. As always, James has to get a photo of the Isle of Wight hovercraft!

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It’s always a treat to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere of Old Portsmouth ………

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…… here’s Sammy and Doug in front of one of the old battlements and the massive round tower which held the winch gear for the huge chain which was pulled across the entrance to the dockyards to protect it from enemy ships.

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A classy sight on Southsea Common – a wedding carriage with two magnificent horses.

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In Selsey, a few days later, we experienced a tremendous thunder storm with continuous lightening from 11:00 until 2:30 in the morning. The lightening was so intense that James was able to take numerous photos from the bedroom window ……..

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……. but he managed to time one of them to exactly coincide with one massive lightening flash. This is 1 o’clock in the morning!

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James decided to take Doug’s new ‘toy’ on a little outing to nearby Arundel on one gorgeously sunny evening ……..

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….. and, deviating slightly from the usual route out of the town, passed the awesomely handsome Roman Catholic Cathedral.

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We got back up to Manchester again just in time to meet up with with our very close friends Pete and Rose who had travelled up to see Pete’s niece Ferne. Here’s Doug, James, Pete, Fern and Rose enjoying lunch at Zizzi.

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We had a marvellous day out at Tatton Park with friend Cris where we enjoyed a Segway adventure. This looks very clever but these machines do all the balancing of course!

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Two very familiar narrow boats came into town a short while back. Del and Al on “Derwent6” and Sian and Mark on “Mochin Du”. We had a few catch-ups with them over the few days they were around. This first one, of course, was to celebrate our meeting up (at BarPop in Canal Street). Al, James, Del, Mark, Sian and Doug.

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We all took a day out to Blackpool for a visit to the Pleasure Beach (which was much better than we’d expected having not been for many years!) ……….

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….. this is a very skilful selfie by Doug on one of the Roller Coasters! Del and Al are in the carriage behind.

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(Doug, Al, Mark, Sian and Del). It wouldn’t be Blackpool for us if we didn’t visit Funny Girls Show Bar in the evening where Betty “Legs” Diamond leads all seven cabarets during the evening plus a stunning finale …….

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….. and DJ “Zoe” holds the evening together with her own brand of humour (and mickey-taking if you don’t watch out!)

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Back in Manchester again, after a great few days with Del, Al, Sian and Mark, James occasionally takes himself off around the city for a bit of (what he calls) culture. The John Rylands library is a regular haunt. This stunning mock Gothic architectural masterpiece is even better inside than out.

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Enriqueter Rylands had the building constructed in memory of her very wealthy Manchester textile merchant husband John.

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Started in 1889, a year after John’s death, it took ten years to finish at a cost of  £224,000.

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The architectural detail is magnificent wherever you look.

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The main Reading Room is like the nave of a cathedral. All the lights are designed to look like cotton flowers and ……..

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….. down both side of the Reading Room are eight exquisitely carved statues of the good and the great. There is always an exhibition taken from the millions of treasures which are housed in the building and it’s always worth a visit – even if it’s just to see the building itself (and the oldest working gents toilets in the country!)

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Leaving the John Rylands library you can glimpse a view of another of Manchester’s great buildings – the Town Hall and Clock Tower.

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Many other things interest James on his walkabouts – this gold Hummer was one! Look at the size of it next to the Mercedes!

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Looking up is much better than looking down. All sorts of treasures and information await the eye when you look around. Who knew that Charlotte Bronte started writing “Jane Eyre” in Manchester?

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On another walkabout (this time down Oxford Road) James visited the city’s Museum. Housed in a fabulous building, the fa├žade being a bit reminiscent of London’s Natural History Museum.

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Further down Oxford Road is the stupendous Catholic Church …….

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…… and, across the road and part of the University complex, is the wonderful Whitworth Building.

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A quick look inside the main hall just takes your breath away!

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As we started this blog with friends, we will end with them also. We had a visit from the lovely Bill and Eileen. Again the day started with bubbly at home followed by a delightful discovery of a Chinese restaurant in the city’s China Town district (obviously!). A laugh a minute was the order of the day and we look forward, as always, to seeing them again.

Life at both ends of the country is beginning to settle down and hopefully we’ll start to explore some of Northern England in addition to parts further afield. That reminds me – I need to pack that suit case!