A holiday week of power reading

Mon 20 – Sun 26 Jan 2020

Gran Can

My ideal holiday is being in a nice hotel and spending days lazing by the pool in the sunshine with evenings out for eating, drinking and clubbing. No roughing it for me. And no bloody activity holidays either or anywhere cold – skiing = my idea of hell. Thus the annual trip to Gran Can fits my needs exactly (and my blog ‘ABC of a bloody good holiday’ the year before pretty much sums up this year’s trip – details here). Apart from if there is no sun. 🙁

The nightmare of a holiday without sun

sunny sky with bits of cloud

And lo that is what came to pass for 3 out of 9 days last week. The previous magnificent weekend was followed by cloud on Mon morning and we didn’t see the sun again until Wed late afternoon. Good weather again on Thurs and Fri with some cloud back on Sat and Sun.

Mon, Tues and most of Wed weren’t spent lying on the lounger in clothing waiting for the sun to burst through. Occasional tempting glimpses for the huddled masses heralding the turning point might have come. But then the cloud, dullness and cold returned.

OK it is not ‘cold’ as in UK cold. But the whole of Maspalomas is designed on the basis of sunshine. There’s not a lot to do otherwise. There is the Dunes but I have been several times before. I could get on a bus and go to Las Palmas but that would take effort that I had not intended to use this holiday.

But when the sun returns 🙂

Sun returned late on Wed afternoon and then has been generally good again for the next lot of days though with occasional cloud. So back to business of covering myself in factor 30 and lying on the lounger doing power reading. Obviously with breaks for coffee and alcohol normally at the next door 70s shopping centre / gay hub – the Yumbo Centre or the magnificently crazy Nuevo Rokoko coffee shop.

There’s lots of gay guys at our hotel (though it is not a gay hotel, rather just adults only i.e. no kids 🙂 ) and a couple pointed out when I was getting too red as well as how pale I am to start out with! Bloody gays.

Health and Efficiency

The joy of good sleep

Snoozing happens a lot on holiday primarily on the lounger. That lovely feeling of lying in the sun and drifting off. Usually put a hat over my face to stop that getting burnt. And there were some snoozes on the lounger often waiting for the sun to (not) appear. Plus beautiful proper sleep at night. Partly alcohol induced but also the sleep of the righteous with no work to worry about.

The holiday risk of over-eating and drinking

man weighing himself

A clear holiday risk is over indulgence. No useful scales in Gran Can like there was in the hotel on my last trip to Torremolinos. So just gut feeling to go with and my gut tells me I will be lucky not to return to London without weight gain.

The main way I have been trying to keep things under control is by having a big breakfast and a big evening dinner but nothing in-between. Easier to maintain when there is sun to lie in. 🙁 However, on all days there has been lots of alcohol.

Becoming a cocktail connoisseur

One of my favourite things on holiday is to try a range of new drinks and cocktails with good old wine to fall back on. G&T is OK but I don’t totally get why people are so into them. Irish coffees were great for the cold (which it could be at night) whilst a range of sweeter and more fruity drinks such as daiquiri, Pina Colada, San Francisco, and Porn Star Martini were also nice. My fave was espresso martinis – little bursts of coffee and vodka. Bit like a cold Irish coffee but smaller and a real pick-me-up.

A distinct lack of exercise…

I did take my gym / running kit but didn’t use it. Running doesn’t really work as there is no great long space to run free. Rather lots of roads and roundabouts to run along and cross. And the gym hotel was a disappointing affair compared to my home gym and the one at the airport hotel before we arrived (details on that and the weekend of good weather in Gran Can the week before can be found in my blog here). It screamed out for an update and makeover with limited and broken equipment. 🙁

But some yoga learning applied

Yoga position

One thing I have been trying to do is to introduce yoga stretching into everything. Particularly just lying on the sun lounger. I have paid particular attention to my spine and neck, hamstrings, hips and core. Stretching them all as much as possible in everyday movements. 🙂

Books and Reading

I really went into overdrive with my power reading on holiday. That is one of the main things why I love beach / hotel poolside holidays, the simple ability to power through a pile of books.

Power reading

‘The psychology of time travel’ by Kate Mascarenhas

One of my kindle purchases I have been meaning to read for ages. And with very good reviews. Are they warranted? I think so in that this is compact and well-written. It is set in an alternative timeline where time travel is discovered but kept to an elite. As with all modern books, there is no linearity but several inter-connected stories going on at once.


Time-shifting stories have a big problem: how to keep up with the characters and understand how what they do inter-acts. This book reminded me of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton. Both books pull off the trick of just about keeping you up with the author’s thinking.

My main problem with Mascarenhas’ book is the premise that time travel can be kept to an elite that the rest of the world knows all about. Either it stays a huge secret or other parts of the world would make sure they can access it. And I can’t buy into the idea that time travel can be done without changing the timeline even if it is only possible to go into the future. Unless the future timeline is based on people visiting from the past. This is where it all starts to get heavy.

‘The Rosewater Insurrection’ by Tade Thompson

The second part of a trilogy and follow on to ‘Rosewater’, a book I very much enjoyed. It’s the story of an huge alien creature appearing in Nigeria in the near future and a city grows up around it. It does strange things like providing free electricity and reanimating corpses. But people can’t work out if it is benign or malignant. This book re-introduces many characters but also stands alone. This is the story is of the city proclaiming independence and the force of the state it has seceded from attacking it full on.

geographical africa

There is no doubt that this book is in part a commentary on life in contemporary Africa and on African politics. But it is more than that. It sits in the light of similar sci-fi fiction about humanity left with the results of alien contact and not knowing what they have been given. A classic in this genre is ‘Roadside Picnic’ by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky.  

Indeed, this whole trilogy reminds me of the brilliant Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) by Jeff VanderMeer. His is also about an alien presence that humanity struggles to understand. But in Tade Thompson’s there is a humour and humanity missing in VanderMeer’s work. Indeed, if you want a book that will scare you with the weakness of humanity in the face of an incomprehensible alien onslaught then Southern Reach is it.

‘Murder on the Orient Express’

As part of my holiday power reading, I finally got round to this classic by Agatha Christie. Indeed, I have a big guilty admission – I have never read any of her stuff before! Obviously I have seen adaptations on the TV and at the cinema. But I’ve never got round to reading the actual books.

This is one that has been lingering on my kindle for ages. I think I downloaded it free of charge at some point. And what a pleasure it was to read. Actually quite a short book and slightly ruined by my remembering the plot from having seen an adaptation.

But what was pleasantly surprising was how simple and engaging the writing was. I thought it would be old-fashioned. And there is definite stereotyping of national characteristics with Americans loud and brash, Brits reserved and quietly cunning, and ‘Europeans’ passionate and emotional. Though in fact there is an element of truth in all of that.

And the clever little clues sprinkled through the book that lead to the inevitable conclusion. So clever the way Christie worked these clues out and then built the story of them. Do not under-estimate how easy it is to make a clever thriller that twists and turns so much that it ends up eating itself.

The Week Ahead

‘I am so looking forward to getting back to home and work after this holiday’ said hardly anybody ever. But it will happen and I must continue with my philosophy of letting things wash over me. Remember, even this too shall pass.

  • Carry on power reading finishing my 2 current books then moving onto the final part of the Rosewater trilogy
  • Gonna keep up the language learning I managed to do on the apps whilst away and by tuning into the cosmopolitan mix of European languages in Gran Can
  • Back to the gym on Tues morning and renew my annual membership
  • Aim next week: 3 gym sessions, Fri yoga, and weekend 10K jog-run
  • Catch-up with mum who my brother has been keeping an eye on. Though I’ve also been phoning each day to check how she is.
  • Work on Wed, Thurs and Fri
  • Must get some art and culture in next week

And Finally…

How has it come to this?

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