Entering a Different World by Going on Holiday

The good thing about knowing when and what brings you down is that you can take action to make it less painful. Every year I find January and February bloody hard. Grim and grey describes it best – you can read about it in my last blog here. And the bigger world picture is deeply depressing particularly with the strong potential of the return of Trump and the ever growing threat of wider spread war. So I have entered a different world (of denial?) by going on holiday.

Me and Dave love Gran Canaria. We booked this trip about a year ago, pretty much as soon as we arrived back from our last time here. We have a particular hotel we like and it’s great to be set up for a couple of weeks. Life is so different to London. There is sun and we generally spend the day lounging, sleeping, eating, and drinking. It won’t last forever but we are enjoying the difference whilst we can.

  • Adventures in Gran Can on our big annual getaway in the sun including two reviews from my big holiday reading list
  • Thoughts about our friends and family back home, hopefully they are coping
  • Dealing with the issue of only a limited hotel gym, and the constant temptation of food and alcohol

We arrived on Wednesday. An early morning flight so we stayed at an airport hotel the night before. Not luxury but it makes life so much easier to check in your luggage the evening before flying. And not having to deal with the very early train journey on the morning of your flight. Tuesday daytime was taken up with the usual pre-holiday stuff like packing, changing currency, and watering plants.

A perfectly decent four and a half hour flight and then our journey to the hotel. The nice thing about not going to a new place on holiday is to have the easy routine you can slip into when you are here. Less ambitious but also more restful and less stressful.

As said our days here are totally different from London but rarely different in themselves: 14 days of lying on a sunbed with a book, afternoon snoozing, and drinking in the big open air gay Yumbo Shopping Centre at night. Pretty much my idea of heaven and one of the reasons I am seriously considering having my ashes scattered in the Yumbo when I die – there are far worse places to spend eternity.

Fun in Gran Canaria

Holiday highlights to date

Dull to do a day by day description of the holiday, rather here are some of the more memorable moments to date.

  • There’s always the surprise of which room we get in the hotel and delighted that this year we’ve got one with a great balcony. It sticks out so you can see across the whole pool area and catches the sun at all times of the day.
  • Great to see some familiar faces. In particular, John and Chris who love coming to Gran Can and this hotel in particular as much as we do. They are wonderfully gregarious and the centre of the poolside social network.
  • A couple of sad losses since we were last here. Our favourite cafe, Nuevo Rokoko, is gone. Stripped bare and empty. Wonder what the story is there? And the owner of one of our favourite Yumbo bars has gone. Dave had a real soft spot for him but apparently they sold and moved on in September.
  • A few amusing incidents. First, I nearly got locked in one of the hotel toilets. Came to unlock the cubicle door and it wouldn’t open. Took about 5 mins of fiddling with the handle to get it open. Really thought I was going to have to shout out to the next person who came in to get help.
  • Second, funny incident was me and Dave at a busy cafe with a stressed waiter. The waiter and the people on the next door table started having a very loud argument. And it took ages to get the bill when we wanted to leave. All a bit reminiscent of the ‘Two soups’ sketch (watch it here). I find it fascinating that increasing numbers of people have never seen this comedy classic.
  • Third, Dave in the hotel restaurant criticising another hotel guest for wearing clothes that are far too young for him without realising said guest was sitting at the table next door.
shot from space of gran canaria

Dave on holiday

Obviously I am on holiday with my partner Dave. Though I don’t think he always gets how different Gran Can is to London. For two weeks, we are existing in a gay bubble world of hedonism and see / be seen. It was quite funny that one of the waiters in a bar made a comment about him ordering a smoothie (everyone drinks alcohol) whilst reading ‘House and Garden’.

Meanwhile, he has also brought his Waitrose shopping bag which he uses when he goes to Spar in the Yumbo – the heart of the Gran Can gay universe. Whilst others are done up to the nines, often very much mutton dressed as lamb, Dave is wandering around with his bag for life. He also has a love of air hockey, currently he is beating me 4 games to 3.

Worrying and caring about people at home

A big worry about going on holiday is hoping that both our mums and our friend Patrick will be OK with us away. Dave’s mum has a good network of local family and friends. And we have done everything we can to put in place the structures so that my mum and Patrick are alright. Plus we are phoning them regularly whilst we are away. Indeed, mum gets a daily call and is keeping me up to date on events in ‘Emmerdale’.

Time was spent with both of them at the start of the week before we flew. My mum wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere so we simply spent time chilling and enjoying each other’s company. And Patrick I escorted to his local supermarket to stock up as well as a coffee catch-up at Starbucks. Enjoy the simple things in life as one day they will be gone.

One of the things that makes life different on holiday is that I have loads more time to read. I suppose you could say I can do that anyway in London being effectively semi-retired. But there are always other things to do whereas on holiday I make it my main focus is reading and do nothing else whilst I lounge in the sun.

‘Any Human Heart’ by William Boyd

A famous contemporary author I really had not had come into contact with until recently. I loved his most recent book ‘The Romantic’ which I read a few months ago; my review here. The fictional biographic novel of a man born in 1799 and dying in 1882. So witnessing some of the most major events of the nineteenth century. But this was just one of a series of ‘life stories’ the author had written.

‘Any Human Heart’ is one of Boyd’s most celebrated novels. It covers the life of a man born in 1906 and dying in 1991. There’s a whole Wikipedia page about it here. Fundamentally it’s a series of diary entries. And a cynic may point out that it’s the life of someone who had many adventures rather than leading the mundane existence that most of us do.

But then I think Boyd is telling us that, to a large extent, we choose the life we want to lead. Both books are peppered with meetings with famous people often at times when it wasn’t realised how famous they would become. But I suspect that does happen to most of us. Either meeting people who later become famous or getting caught up in events that later become historical milestones.

Reading ‘Any Human Heart’, it is hard to believe that the character Logan Mountstuart we come to love never really existed. Yet he suffers the pain and disappointments we all face as well as some of the highs. As with our own life, he asks if he made the right choices and could things have been different? And like us all, he is left to try to make sense of it all, face the end alone, and realise when the good times were. A beautiful book.

Reflecting and chilling in the quiet

‘Fatal Legacy’ by Lindsey Davis

This is another contemporary author that I really enjoy. She is a writer of a series of historical crime fiction books following the adventures of a Roman private investigator until he retires and then his role is taken over by his daughter. It’s all a bit far-fetched and contrived but then when aren’t thrillers and whodunits? But her writing does manage to convince that life and people in ancient Rome were very similar to life and people now.

This book follows the investigation at a patron’s behest which throws up an internecine struggle between two families. TBH, I always get confused by family relations and I kept having to consult the diagrams of the family trees in the book. This confusion probably means I wouldn’t be very good at genealogy.

The author has done some impressive research into Roman family law and proceedings around Roman wills. It is quite dense but the adventure whips along. It’s all so clever in the end that you just have to admire Davis’ writing skills and mental agility. Already looking forward to the next book in the series to be published soon.

be grateful for books

Gym: Missing the old but taking advantage of the new

A big difference is that I haven’t got my beloved London gym for 2 weeks. I did manage one final session on Monday which went really well, a nice all-body workout. There is a little gym at our hotel. Fairly basic but it does have some different equipment to what is available in my normal gym. So the opportunity to try this new equipment and some new exercises. Managed a session in the hotel gym on Friday and Sunday afternoons.

My check on the value of my gym season ticket (which won’t be updated until I get back to London): 9 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £61 per session.

Weight: The need for discipline

My lovely holiday of lying in the sun and reading books is not conducive to burning calories. Indeed, I often burn around 3,000 to 3,500 per day in London (I can read it on my watch). But here the difference is that I am down to about 2,000 per day. What is massively different is the hugely reduced number of footsteps I am taking; I am really doing very little walking.

So I need to be careful with what I put into the furnace. I am deliberately trying to eat less. Our main meal in the evening but only a light breakfast and snack during the day, sometimes even forgoing one of those. Will it make a difference? There are no scales here so I really just need to chill and cross my fingers that the strategy works with no significant weight gain on my return to London.

man weighing himself

Everyday Espanol

I am keeping up with my Duolingo but focusing just on Spanish (though you can hear lots of German around the pool). Meanwhile, I use the opportunity of being in Spain to pepper Spanish into my life. ‘El gel de ducha esta terminado en nuestra habitacion’: The shower gel is finished in our room.

What is different to London is that I realise how baby level my Spanish still is and how little I really know. But local people seem happy that at least I am trying. Interestingly, in order to keep on top of everything everyday, I am doing mass deletes of emails without reading them. Very liberating and I don’t feel I am missing out on anything.

  • More lying on a lounger in the sun. Plus drinks in the evening watching the world go by in the ‘see and be seen’ place that is the Yumbo.
  • Will carry on trying to get to the hotel gym. Small but better than nothing and the chance to dry different exercises as to what I would do at home.
  • Gotta make sure me and Dave try to keep to not eating too much. Eating little and skipping some feeding opportunities seems to be the only way forward.
  • Looking forward to continue with my reading. Several sci-fi / speculative fiction books to read including one on the Aztec invasion of Britain. I’ve also started a controversial book about the life of Jesus.
  • Continue with my efforts to be more fluent in Spanish.
  • QPR are like a cross I bear in life. Just managed a 1-1 draw to keep the gap between the relegation zone and safety at 3 points. We need points away against Blackburn on Saturday.
If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit

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