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2020 - Lanzarote - Travel Day and before

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

That was a maxim that Mum used to say to me all the time when I was young. Presumably in an effort to get me to go up to bed. I do remember that I was always the first one to be called in from all the other children playing outside on the road. Writing this has also brought to mind another one she used to chase me up the stairs with ‘Off to bed sir, off at once, less you want to be a dunce’.

These two are actually derivations of the same thing. I often used to wonder if it really was just a pretence for grown ups to get rid of the kids for the evening, but as I grew ‘older and wiser’ it is something I firmly believe in. It is certainly something we tried to practise with our two boys. In her teaching capacity, Karen confirms that there is a noticeable difference with children who are ‘parented’ in this way, for a start they are not so tired during the day so that they are not sufficiently awake to be taught. She also talks about the guilty parent syndrome she notices which is where both parents work and so consequently put the children to bed later as they feel bad because as they have not seen them all day. Sadly this is now all too common where both parents have to work just to keep a roof over their heads.

Anyhow our first 10 days back from the Land down under were marred by not getting enough proper sleep. We both suffered badly from the jet lag. Actually Karen got over it quicker and we put this down to her being booked into work from the Monday onwards whereas I didn’t have a routine to be forced into. I felt all out of kilter through not getting enough sleep at the right time. My body likes routine and the requisite amount of sleep at the right time. I felt as though I was in a dull haze all of the time.

Despite convincing myself that I didn’t have cellulitis, I did have a scare when getting out of the shower three days after getting home. I discovered two blisters on my shin that looked suspicious and had appeared for no reason. They burst almost immediately but looked pink and healthy underneath. Karen wanted me to go back onto the antibiotics immediately but I resisted as I knew I had a check up at the Doctors a day later. I feel fortunate that I have a really good relationship with my GP and he was happy to take a look at my leg at the end of my scheduled appointment. He examined it and asked ‘Do you think it’s Cellulitus?’ I said No. His response was that I know my legs better than anyone and in that case it probably wasn’t but to come back if I was worried. The blisters healed fine, but it was a reminder to me that I need to be more careful about how I look after myself especially when in foreign climes.

We knew we were only going to be home for less than 20 days before going away again and so we had to cram in many other appointments as well as trying to catch up with as many people as possible. My appointments at the Dentist, Dental hygienist and Osteopath all came and went in a blur.

Without wanting to turn this completely into a medical update, I have also suffered from what has now been diagnosed as Plantar Fasciitis. This is incredibly painful and feels like there is either a needle sticking into my left heel when I put weight on it or like I am stepping on Lego bricks all the time. I have been told to have a specific orthotic insole as well as having strapping on the foot to try and alleviate the pain. Sadly this is apparently all self inflicted and has arisen through walking miles at a time in either my sandals or flip flops on our last trip.

As I get older I find any problem in my feet and legs has a large knock on effect. The pain in my heel is causing me to walk differently which is causing strains elsewhere in my legs and making my back even sorer than normal. I am struggling to walk long distances and seriously stiffening as the day progresses. As Karen would confirm, all of this makes me even grumpier than normal.

The main events during this period were Karen’s and Neil’s birthdays. I did my best to make both of them as good as possible. For Karen’s we had a meal in the panelled room at Cinema City a couple of days prior which was very nice although she did complain that the portion sizes were too small. On the day itself we went to The Dales in Sheringham for lunch with a walk beforehand. Our planned walking route through Sheringham Park was curtailed as it was closed due to the damage caused by Storm Ciara that had passed through the previous day.

Disappointingly our planned trip to the Cinema in Norwich had to be abandoned due to a short but sharp snow shower which caused traffic gridlock and meant we arrived 20 minutes after the film ‘1917’ had started. They were good enough to exchange our tickets for a showing the following night which was not quite the same as it wasn't then her birthday (my 4 word film review - Good but over-hyped).

Neil had to work on his birthday and then had Korfball training directly afterwards and so didn’t get to open any cards or presents until he got home at 9.30pm. We managed to not buy him him presents he wanted which upset me, I had put so much effort into them but he is so very difficult to buy for. What he apparently really really wanted was a Dyson and an Ironing board for his house (when he finds one), but I managed to exchange the other things for him. We then celebrated his birthday with a meal at Coast to Coast with Barry & Ellie directly after the Liverpool match on the Saturday and that was really good fun.

In between all this I also managed to play 9 holes of golf, catch up with a few people, book another holiday for September (meaning we will be out of the UK for almost 16 weeks this year), and progress the Kitchen Project (implementaion starts set for 23rd March).

And so the what is now almost an annual trip to Lanzarote (Karen tells me off for calling it Lanzagrotty all the time). Being a short trip I didn’t have any anxiety beforehand and was looking forward to some good weather after 20 days in the miserable UK.

We travelled down to Stansted the evening before staying at the Premier Inn as our flight was scheduled for 7.15am. Despite Lenny Henry’s comfy bed, neither of us slept very well which wasn’t helped when the alarm went off at 3.15am. We were back in the car at exactly 4am to drive the very short distance to the Meet & Greet car park service. This was all very quick and efficient.

I had already checked in online and we were travelling with just cabin bags so made our way to security which unsurprisingly for that time of day was quite quiet. We made it through with no incidents and went to find the Lounge.

Just before we had left home I had cancelled the credit card that had given us free access to airport Lounges for 12 months and so wanted to make use of the facility for probably the last time. The Lounge was reasonably busy but we found a table and settled in with the free hot buffet breakfast for a while. When our gate was announced we made our way there. Boarding was relatively quick and smooth. As soon as the doors shut though the Captain announced that we would be delayed up to 75 minutes due to a French Air Traffic Controllers Strike. We pulled away from the gate but had to sit and wait in a holding area.

When we got under way the flight itself was smooth enough. I read a lot and listened to a Podcast. What made this flight memorable though was that we were surrounded by the loveliest group of strangers we have ever met on a flight. I had refused to pay to select our seats and Karen & I had been allocated seats behind each other which was fine. The people we were both sitting next to, across from and all around were all happy to chat and were all interesting. I particularly took a shine to Lisa who was sat next to me with her son who kept saying she didn’t believe I could have sons in their 30’s. I thought she showed very fine judgement of a person and character.

Whilst in the air I thought about Lanzarote. It is a ‘older person’ destination and one look at the other passengers on the flight confirmed this. It is not a place for younger couples or singles and not especially geared up for young families. The bars and restaurants are also geared for the older clientele. We like it for the weather and the walks. I like the evenings in some of the nicer restaurants and quieter bars. The loud bars with pub singers do nothing for me.

Upon arriving we were waved through passport control and as we had no luggage to collect went to find where to pick up our rental car. Ryanair had sent me an offer to have a car for a week for £30. As the taxi fare to the airport is over £10 each way, it seemed silly not to get a car even if we only go out in it once. The trouble was that the rental hire car on the voucher we had was nowhere to be seen. I asked another company who helpfully told me that the another company that did have a presence acted for them. There was no queue and after the usual attempt to up-sell insurance we were give the keys to a Hyundai 110 and directed to where to find it. In the car park though it was not in its allocated space. When we did find it, it had more damage than was recorded on our rental sheet so I had to get the paperwork amended to reflect this.

We were soon on our way. I found it strange driving on the left hand side in a car that was not an automatic. I stalled a couple of times and found it awkward changing gear with my right hand. Karen got even more confused on roundabouts for some reason.

Instead of heading to the apartment where we were unsure of the earliest check in time, we took advantage of having a car and headed to Lidl on the outskirts of the town to buy some provisions for the week. Then finally we drove back to La Penita apartments where I unsuccessfully tried to find a parking space. Eventually I dropped Karen at the entrance where she took her bags and went to check in. I then drove round for another 10 minutes before giving up and joining a line of other cars on a faded yellow line. This was one of the better places and I figured that any traffic officer would have his hands full with some of the other even more bizarre parking on traffic islands and paths etc before he got to ours.

The trouble now was that I had no idea where Karen was or whether she had been able to check in. I did the sensible thing and tried to call her to find she hadn’t bothered to switch her phone on since landing. I then had to buzz Reception to be let in and give them all my details to try and find out if she had checked in and if so what apartment we were in. Eventually I got the details and was pointed in the right direction. I got to the apartment and rang the bell three times before I was let in. Karen was happily unpacking and had changed into her shorts. I was a tad cross that she hadn’t given any consideration to how I would actually find the apartment and her.

Anyhow we were here. The apartment had a lovely view and was very clean and comfortable. The weather was stunning and the balcony a real sun trap, so much so that we could only sit out there for so long during the afternoon. Karen went and laid by the pool with the others whilst I chilled and read on the balcony for as long as I could.

Whilst getting ready to meet everyone for dinner we were impressed that the apartment TV was tuned into BBC1 & 2. We watched Michael Portillo visiting Singapore which was amazing having only been there last month ourselves. Then I opened the Norfolk Magazine that had arrived at home yesterday before we left. I had stuffed it into my bag without looking at it. The first page I opened had a picture of Karen on it. I had taken her picture in New Zealand with the December edition and sent it into their monthly competition for readers and it had been selected to win the afternoon tea for two at The Assembly Rooms. Karen was very excited by this. I told her not to take me as all the sweet treats would be wasted on me.

It was lovely meeting everyone again in Reception and catching up as we walked down to Pinocchio’s for dinner. I had a Tipica Pizza whilst Karen went for Grilled Chicken. We shared a half bottle of House Red. Everyone else then wanted to go to The Island Bar in old town. I’m never keen on that music bar at the best of times, alone when we have been up since 3.15am so we headed back in the opposite direction. Karen was slightly miffed that we weren’t going, not that she likes that bar much either rather she just thought it would be good to be with everyone else. Instead we went to Cafe La Ola for a quick drink on the way back. It was quite busy and but had a nice relaxed atmosphere. We found a seat outside next to a heater. I had a Cava whilst Karen had a Kir Royale. We sat there planning future trips when in mid sentence Karen just fell asleep. I don’t think she had even realised exactly how tired she was, so we drank up, paid and headed back for an earlish night to hopefully make us healthy, wealthy and wise.

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