What a proper holiday is about

Mon 11 – Sun 18 Nov 2019

We all go on holiday and yet do we really use this as the recharging facility that it should be? For the last week, I’ve been in the Costa Del Sol resort of Torremolinos. I’ve been here before and there is a lot to be said for taking a holiday in a place you know rather than expend energy on discovering anew. Though, of course, there is something wonderful about finding a new place to fall in love with.

Obviously I realise the climate cost of flights and so I have taken an extended break in Torremolinos – over a week. Much as I admire Greta, I can’t pretend I can give up flying completely. But I am trying to take less but longer breaks and no weekend / short breaks.

I haven’t switched off completely

Still looking at emails both work and personal. But I’m not responding to the former. Rather this is key for keeping me in the picture of what is happening in the wider world without being involved. And that is helping my thinking processes as well as softening the blow when I return.

Plus I still engage with social media because I love the cut and thrust of it. It contributes, as well, to my thinking processes particularly my plans for the future. And who can ignore the fun of a general election campaign?

What I have done differently this holiday:

  • Lots of thinking time particularly over a glass of wine – one of my big weaknesses in life
  • Power reading getting through several books
  • Sleeping — early nights, late mornings, afternoon snoozes
  • Left off the exercising and enjoyed my food but also done lots of walking and kept an eye on my weight
  • Enjoyed the company of friends

Why I like Torremolinos

Because of the wonderful gay, Spanish, faded futuristic atmosphere of the town. Not really a traditional Spanish pueblo, it’s heyday was the 70s and 80s as exemplified by the majority of architecture. I would describe it as Blackpool with sunshine and it is definitely not as swish as the Catalan gay centre of Sitges. But it has a fun little gay scene, it’s relatively cheap, and the weather is decent enough even in winter.

Average temperature has been around 15 degrees which is cold for Andalucia (Spanish people are in scarves, hats and puffa jackets). Tried sunbathing on the hotel roof one day but too windy. Indeed, wind has been the main problem – cooling down the sun that is still shining. Very little rain though – that’s coming after I have left. 🙂

Thinking about the future

The point of a holiday is to have a break and recharge your batteries. I have been doing that. I have spent lots of time just thinking particularly about the future. No point in dwelling on the past, the future is all that matters. Which is quite annoying when you hear the old British migrants here (they call themselves expats) and elderly tourists (average age of my flight out must have been 70) talk nostalgically about the past. Sums up our general election and Brexit perfectly, some of us trying to think how Britain fits into the modern world whilst older people focus on resurrecting the long-dead British Empire.

The joy of wine

Holiday wine in Torremolinos

And much of that thinking has been over a glass of wine. Only 2 Euros and so easy to down at least 3 a day. I will have to curtail it when I get back to the UK. But you have to do something different on holiday and wine has been a guilty pleasure on this one. 🙂 Apologies to my friends who are abstinent; afraid I’m not as strong as you.

Books and Reading

It’s good to be unpredictable. In this light, I decided to take on holiday a book that brings together 4 classic Gothic novels. All from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Dark and mournful stories that set the trend for a lot of modern writing. I skipped the last book (Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’) as I have already read it. But powered my way through the other three.

‘The Castle of Otranto’ by Horace Walpole

skulls in wall

Deemed the first Gothic novel, it is short and written by a Prime Minister! An 18th century version of a medieval Italian story, it feels Shakespearean and transitory to the modern novel. Plenty of inconsistencies and gloom-ridden rather than scary or horrific.

‘Vachek’

Written a few years after Otranto, this reveals the period’s fascination with the Orient. The story of an Islamic ruler on a spiritual but also physical journey. Again not that scary and it does wander in many directions. It reminds me of modern stories based on hallucinatory writing by people using drugs such as LSD.

‘The Monk’

A black crow

An absolute Gothic classic and it is pretty good. A late eighteenth century novel that could be written in modern times and a clear forerunner for modern horror. Fundamentally the story of a corrupted monk who interfaces with the occult to be able to abuse a woman he is infatuated with.

Some other interesting stories also inter-act including that of travellers waylaid by people pretending to be hospitable and a pregnant nun imprisoned by her fellow nuns in a crypt. There’s a clear trend of anti-clericalism (anti-religion) and British prejudice of the time against Catholic Spain. But the horror continually comes through magnified by superstition and religious hypocrisy. Sun-drenched religion-based gothic horror. 🙂

I’ve also got a couple of other books still on the go. The latest adventures of Tudor lawyer Matthew Shardlake by the brilliant C J Sansom (‘Tombland’) and a collection of sci-fi short stories by the excellent Ted Chiang.

Sleep

I cannot deny that I have had some early nights influenced by alcohol. Plus I have switch the alarm off and just woken when I have wanted to. Feels wonderful and I hope I have banked sleep for when I get back to normal life. But I have also been having indulgent afternoon snoozes to set me up for late night clubbing (disco naps). More holiday indulgence, fitting in with the Spanish late night culture and going out clubbing till the early hours of the morning.

Health and Efficiency

There is a small hotel gym and pool though the latter is open-air. I did think about using the former but I’ve ended up with a week off. Lots of pottering around town and sea-front walks whilst reading my kindle. Did pop to the big gay sauna on Sat (Apolo) – really impressive place.

Unfortunately my food intake has been quite indulgent including the wonderful Menu Del Dia – a 3 course midday meal for about 10 Euros; introduced by Franco to ensure the working class could get at least one decent meal each day. And curries at night, taking advantage of the fact that my partner Dave doesn’t like spicy food.

Great idea to have scales in the hotel room. Enabled me to check my weight each day and slam on the brakes if it appeared to be going up. I always have a big issue in controlling my eating on holiday. It’s so easy just to pig out and drink crazily with no exercise with which to burn calories and counter-act over-indulgence.

Friends

Phyllis

Caught up with my old work colleague Phyllis (real name Philip) who lives in Andalucia. First of all on Wed lunchtime when he was in Torremolinos to see the doctor. Then he came down on Fri for the weekend locating himself in the same hotel as me. Late dinner and drinks on Fri followed by a session at the gay men’s club, Querell. Met up for lunch on Sat and Sun but Sat night he met up with an old flame. We do have a laugh together. 🙂

David & Gordon on the Fuengirola tapas run

Over to Fuengirola on Thurs evening to meet my friends David and Gordon who live in Mijas. Fuengirola is a really nice town and easy to get to from Torremolinos by a 20 minute metro trip (public transport on the Costa Del Sol is pretty good generally – 20 mins airport to the centre of Torremolinos).

Spanish flag

We did the tapas run. Basically you are provided with a ‘passport’ and go around tapas bars in the town paying 2.5 Euros for a glass of wine or beer and a tapas. You get a stamp on the passport for each purchase. Once the passport is filled you can enter a very attractive prize draw. There was also a theme of ‘erotica’ so lots of tapas done up to look like private parts LOL. 🙂

After about 8 or 9 glasses of wine and tapas I was pleasantly sloshed. 🙂 Back on the metro after a great night out with two very good friends. Good conversations about the pros and cons of whether to permanently relocate from the UK.

The Week Ahead

  • One last full day in Torremolinos on Mon then back to London on Tues
  • All day Wed in work plus the afternoons of Thurs and Fri
  • Exercise proper restarts: gym on Thurs and Sun morning, yoga Fri morning, and hopefully my 10K jog-run on Sat morning
  • Finish my current reading books
  • Start to get more involved with the General Election
  • Next stop: Xmas/New Year and Gran Canaria for 10 days in Jan 🙂

And Finally…

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