Torremolinos, I Am Back In You

Mon 30 Oct – Sun 5 Nov 2023

Yep the return to Torremolinos, as I wrote in my previous blog here, one of my personal happy places. I regularly return at this time of year as it is good to get some sun before winter hits. And to be around for Halloween which is always fun in a ‘Spanish-style fiesta’ way. You can look at other blogs when I have been here between 2017-2022 with a pandemic break in 2020.

TLDR

  • The key features of my vacation in Torremolinos
  • Reviews of 2 interesting books: a dense Roman Emperor’s biography and a ‘fictional’ reflection on being an old gay man
  • Thoughts on if I know where I am going next career-wise

My Holiday in Torremolinos

The key features of this year’s holiday:

  • Not wall to wall sunshine as I seem to remember it was last year (though perhaps that is just nostalgia on my part). So a case of checking the weather everyday on the BBC App. Several days when I wasn’t able to get sun as there was none or it was too windy.
  • Indeed, 2 particular days stuck in my head. First of all, Halloween. I love being in Spain for this as people really get into it by dressing up and partying. This year we had a massive downpour during Tuesday evening and so the kids weren’t out in all their costumes. 🙁
  • Second, we had some side-effects of Storm Ciaran that hit parts of the UK. No rain but very strong winds from Thursday onwards both day and night time. Such that when I was out on Thursday evening, tables and chairs were being blown about and bars were having to close down outside seating areas.
  • Perhaps because I can’t get out in the sun so much this year, I was less worried about trying to get a tan. It could also be me coming to terms with the fact that I don’t really tan. Thus, I should just enjoy it when there is light and sunshine rather than obsessing with getting colour.
  • I’ve also got less caring about how people perceive me. I love Torremolinos because it’s a big gay resort but that means it attracts the body beautiful gay people. However, I really don’t care any more if people find me attractive any more – I am my own man.
  • I really think this holiday has made me feel my age more than any other one. But that’s not all bad. As I said, I have more of a sense of not carrying what others think and finding that I only need to please myself. Though I do look at my skin sometimes and think how much it looks like that of an old man.
  • One of my big bugbears has been the seemingly ubiquitous Spanish habit of owning little dogs. Dog shit is generally picked up. But dogs seem to be allowed in most eating places plus the bloody yapping. For me there’s also that thing about people treating dogs like children whilst real children are maltreated and dying around the world.
What to do? Giving it over to fate

Health and Efficiency

Gym

One of the great things about my current break has been the ability of my mate Philip to get me entry to his gym. It’s got some great equipment, both machines and free weights. This has enabled me to do leg exercises involving machines not in my London gym that work my thigh muscles without impacting on my dodgy lower leg.

Although it’s not a massive gym and one of the most popular in Torremolinos. So it is prone to get very busy and there is some attitude from the ‘roided’ crew. You just need to face them down as is the case with most people who throw their weight about. And the opening hours are a bit strange especially at the weekend when they are significantly shorter than weekdays – really makes no sense.

Dumbells

My ankle / Achilles injury

I think this is getting better but it is a slow process. I actually stopped wearing my compression bandage at the start of my holiday and it was OK for a few days. But then I had to put it back on as my injury was hurting. I have since found out that tripling over the compression bandage (rather than just doubling) and leaving it on for a prolonged period (such as while sleeping) seems to provide very good support and pain relief.

Weight

One of the reasons I love this hotel is because of the scales in my room so I can keep an eye on my weight. Perhaps a bit depressing to do this on holiday but it gives you the chance to take remedial action. In many ways better than arriving back from holiday to find out you had unexpectedly ballooned.

And I have found that as per normal I am not eating so much as I do in London. A combination of being more relaxed and the hot weather making food less appealing. However, I have been drinking a lot and so I haven’t had major weight loss. Plus, I know I should have been eating more fruit and veg rather than indulgent holiday carbs like pizza and ice cream.

Books and Reading

One of the big things I do on holiday is to read. In my previous blog, I identified the little pile of books I wanted to get through in Torremolinos. Didn’t make us much progress as I was hoping for but isn’t that the story of our lives? What was interesting is that my eyes appear to be getting worse and I am increasingly reliant on my reading glasses. I have also had to increase the font size on my kindle.

‘Marcus Aurelius’ by Frank McLynn

This is a dense book that I have been meaning to read for ages. It’s a biography of probably the most respected Roman Emperor whose greatness covered several angles as the book’s sub-title says: ‘Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor’. It’s a very wide-ranging review of his reign – you can find a shorter review of his life on Wikipedia here. I am left with 2 main things from this book.

Less is more

First, it is a classic example of when more is not necessarily better. It’s a very long book that looks at Marcus Aurelius life from several angles. But it also includes details on his predecessor and successor. As well an in-depth review of his stoical philosophy (general details here) and its place in intellectual history. There is a fair element of repetition. This could have been a much better book and more accessible if it had been more concise and better edited; a lesson for us all.

The danger of religious extremism

Second, it is clear how limited is the ancient source material that can be drawn on. There are whole parts where key voices are missing as well as guesses having to be made on what was happening and why. This links so much to the cultural holocaust that came when Christianity became dominant towards the end of the Roman Empire. Massive numbers of classical documents were destroyed. So we are unable to hear from people who the Christians didn’t like. Religious extremism is a curse in both the modern world and in the past.

Parthenon

‘The Kingdom of Sand’ by Andrew Holleran

This author is a writer of classic gay fiction. And, TBH, I thought he had stopped writing till I found this new book from him at my local library. And it is bloody good. Ostensibly fictional but it feels more like an autobiography. I’m definitely sure it can’t be classed as a novel.

It’s the thinking of a gay man living alone in Florida and getting older. Not totally ‘cut your wrists’ depressing but also not a novel of uplifting joy. It feels so true to life, like this is the actual story of the author. And it rings so many bells with me on a personal level.

We don’t think and talk about death enough in our society. As well as what it will be like getting to the end points of our life. Here, Holleran faces up to issues of looking after dying people, grieving for those that go before us, living alone, dealing with your own declining health, and getting your affairs in order for those who have to deal with them after our death.

A relatively short but deep and thoughtful book.

LGBT rainbow flag

Personal Development

As stated in my previous blog, I have been focusing solely on Spanish via Duolingo and looking to pick up bits of the language as I live my everyday life, albeit temporarily, in Torremolinos. There are definite little phrases I am getting familiar with and I am formulating things to say in my head. I am pretty sure my Spanish has improved since the last time I was here last year though still lots to do.

“What worries you, masters you.”

John Locke

Family and Friends

Mum

After the drama of the electricity going off in her flat on the day I left for my holiday (see my previous blog), I have been phoning daily to check all is OK. Good news is that she saw her GP on Monday and has restarted a treatment to combat a resurgent painful condition. Plus she has an urgent referral to the hospital. She’s carrying on doing her eye drops and we have hospital appointments about those as soon as I return.

But she’s really not feeling motivated to go out without me or someone else there. Rather spending her time indoors and communicating with people where necessary by phone. Though I am not sure if that is actually a bad thing at the moment, The weather is crap and there is the danger of her falling on slippery leaves when out and about.

autumn in london

Dave

I have missed Dave whilst I have been in Torremolinos but he has been really busy with work. However, we’ve been speaking about 3 times a day and having a laugh. It does seem that sometimes we get on better when we are not physically together LOL.

He’s slightly stressed by work stuff and is actively looking forward to our break together in Gran Canaria in 2024. He’s also getting slightly obsessed with decorating and soft furnishings which really doesn’t do a lot for me. I am very grateful that he has also phoned mum and saw her on Saturday taking her newspaper / TV guide so that she didn’t have to go out for it.

Philip

It’s been so great for us both to be in Torremolinos at the same time. Not in each other’s pockets, but able to meet up normally at least once a day though there have been a couple of days where we haven’t met. It’s fascinating how we are both in similar places in our lives and thinking about options as we increasingly move into older age.

outside a street cafe at night

Work Life Balance

I have been dwelling on my ‘career’ whilst chilling in Torremolinos. Indeed, one of the reasons this has been such a relaxing holiday is that it’s the first time I can remember not having to keep track of work e-mails. I love that crap about ‘don’t look at work emails on holiday’. But then you have to deal with an avalanche requiring immediate action on your return. It’s that thing about you being on holiday but others aren’t.

But back to thinking about the future and I haven’t had any revelations about where I go next. It’s really not realistic to assume I cannot work again. But I still don’t know what area is motivating me enough to go into. Plus there is the ongoing reality that mum is needing more care.

I am wondering if my inability to go back to work is perhaps a sign of depression? I have suffered this all my life and usually throw myself into my work as a way of combating it. Indeed, I can see my dedication to work above all else in my brother as well. But perhaps now I have a new response which is about trouncing my traditional work ethic?

Waiting for answers

The Week Ahead

  • Just one full day left in Torremolinos then back to London on Tuesday. Though will be nice to see Dave that evening.
  • Back to my gym happy place on Wed and Fri morning hopefully. Be nice to do a swim but not sure when that could be fitted in.
  • With mum to the hospital on Thursday afternoon for the first of two appointments about her eyes
  • Need to book an INR check on my blood clotting but I’ve got to leave it till I am on a more even keel with my alcohol intake post-holiday
  • Will definitely finish 2 very good books: ‘Babel’ by R F Kuang and ‘The Romantic’ by William Boyd. The latter is an author I didn’t know but I am really impressed with.

And Finally…

Ukraine fights for the rest of Europe

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