Menorca 2013

Day 1 – August 30th
5:15 alarm
6:10 depart home – delayed by panic last-minute repacking, when bags that were last night under the limit suddenly are overweight!
6:50 arrived Meet-and-greet car park
7:00 drop bags and negotiate security via the Fast Lane; just over an hour to eat egg butties and wander the duty-free
8:15 called to gate
8:35 begin boarding
8:55 pilot announces slight delay, due to ATC restrictions; as it turns out, there is a delay, but more to do with confusion over passenger manifest
9:20 push back
9:35 airborne; flight time of about 2h 10m, says captain
11:40 (local) touch down at Mahon — not bad going!
13:30-ish finally leave the airport, after interminable wait at hire-car desk

Shopped at the Eroski Centre supermarket in Mahon, then on to Arenal for customary lunch at the beach bar.
Arrived at Tamarindos around 5pm — Christine says she was beginning to think we weren’t coming!
Weather rather cloudy and the wind beginning to get up.
Pork chops with mushroos and sautee potatoes for tea

Day 2 (Saturday)
Bright and sunny, but high wind and wooshy sea — here we go again!
Coffee or tea (hard to tell which!) with Jacqui and Peter
To Fornells late morning for a couple of items at the Spar, then beer in the square
Swam in the pool, before a late lunch and siesta.
Spaghetti with runner-bean and corned beef sauce; ice-cream puddings

Day 3 (Sunday)
No change in the weather (had to shut bedroom windows during the night, due to the noise)
To Mahon late morning, where we parked as usual, just east of Pedro’s Boat Centre, and strolled along the harbour and up the steps into town. Beer at one of the few cafes operating (it being Sunday, all was pretty quiet) and purchased Palo Cremas for pudding tonight (the cake shop fortuitously being one of only a handful of shops open!)
Pre-packed polo asado with Bachelors Golden Rice and Green Giant corn for tea.

Day 4 (Monday)

Weather still rather wild, though perhaps subsiding a little. Some cloud for a time.
Hung around at home all day. Coffee at Es Cactus to take advantage of the wi-fi. Had a swim in the pool — rather too invigorating!
Es Cactus for tea: EUR14.95 menu. Both started with grilled prawns (huge!) then steak for me and duck leg for JL; crema catalana for afters (remembered too late that this is not one of their better offerings!). Coffee and free liqueurs to finish.

Day 5 (Tuesday)

To Mercadal for a bit of shopping in the morning. Strolled through town first and had a coffee in the middle. Bought sausages and pork loin from a little butchers in the street, fruit and veg from the little shop near the supermarket, then into the super itself — pleased to find it has changed hands and had some investment.
Off to Son Parc for a bit of an outing: parked initially at the western end of the beach and had a paddle in the sea; didn’t fancy the bar/restaurant that end, so moved round to the main resort and had lunch in the beach bar there. (Pizza for me and omelette for JL.)
Swam in the pool back home.
Sausages for tea with Ainsley’s mediterrean couscous and Wistaston courgettes — not greatly impressed with the sausages!

Day 6 (Wednesday)

Church in Es Castell. Expected to meet the new resident priest, but apparently he’s away! — service taken by the nice old guy who was filling in last year, during the inter regnum. A number of familiar faces present.
To Sol del Este, expecting to partake of a beer at the Rising Sun but distressed to find it’s been turned into an eating house, with clearly no intent to serve the midday toper. Drove back into Mahon and along the port: parked up by the ferry terminal, to make use of the facilities. As we strolled back towards the centre, we found a French cruise ship coming in, so settled at a handy bar on the water’s edge to watch the proceedings.
Es Grau for lunch of tapas at the Bar es Mol — good as every, and quite busy.
Swam in the sea late afternoon.
Pork loin with mushroom and garlic sauce for tea — compliments due to the little butcher in Mercadal. Flan huevos for afters.

Day 7 (Thursday)

Es Cactus for wi-fi mid-morning. Otherwise at home all day.

Cafe del Nord for tea, following strong recommendation from Jacqui; actually turned out rather disappointing, IMHO. We chose from the specials board: shared carpaccio of some fish (can’t remeber what) that was nice but not overgenerous; then grilled monkfish, also in rather parsimonious measure; finished with Menorcan almond cake and ice-cream for JL and fig ice-cream for me. All was nicely enough cooked and presented, but really not worth the €82 bill!

Day 8 (Friday)

To Mercadal supermarket to stock-up on some essentials. Tried ferretería for small-wattage light bulb, but 25W was the smallest available. Entrecôte steak from the carnicería for tea tonight. Beer at the bar on the corner opposite the ferretería — only €3.00 for two canas, with peanuts!
Pool and sea swimming.
Steak very satisfactory, with mushrooms and fried potatoes; followed by flan huevos.

Day 9 (Saturday)

Another at-home-day.
Minor shopping at the far supermarket. Got lunch bread there too, for a change. Disappointed they had only English butter.
Had a look at the little beach in the Cala Tirant complex, but decided we aren’t missing anything there, and the way over to Tirant beach proper looks too much like hard work!
Swam in the pool before lunch, and in the sea late afternoon.
Afternoon tea with J&P.
Late afternoon, spotted a cormorant down on the rocks at the water’s edge. Never seen one with quite so much white on it, but the bird-book says it can be like that for Europen varieties, in the breeding season (?!)
Weather began to cloud up in the evening — rain is forecast tomorrow.
Microwave roast chicken with corn and Ainsley’s couscous. Lemon ice-creams for afters.

Day 10 (Sunday)

Rained overnight and off-and-on most of the day.
Christine and Des departed about 5pm.
Tea at C’an Na Marga. Pork chop for JL, followed by tiramisu; lamb chop for me, then Texturas de Chocolate. We were again greeted with enthusiasm as returning customers, which is nice.

Day 11 (Monday)

Quite cloudy at times, but enough sun to get by — swam late afternoon.
Half-time knicker wash after breakfast.
To the Red Indian Trading Centre (!) to buy new avarcas for me. Chose brown for change, and was persuaded by the shop assistant that 42 was the correct size — I think this is a mistake: we shall see as they wear in.
On to Mahon, to shop at the Eroski; then into the town centre, where I planned to buy palo crema and possibly a small-wattage bulb, but thwarted when both shops were closed!
Nice lunch at the port bar in Addaia.
Phoned Mother-in-Law when we got home: obliged to use mobile, because all public phones have now disappeared from the urbanizacion!
Duck breast and pepper sauce for tea with courgette and garlic fried potatoes. Somewhat stressed by spitting duck fat, pestillant cat and boiled-over sauce! Further aggravated by high level of insect/moth activity during the evening.

Day 12 (Tuesday)

Fornells in the morning, to order paella at Es Cranc, where we were again pleased to be recognized (apparently) by the boss. Coffee in the square followed by unsatisfactory attempt at shopping for t-shirts.
Afternoon at home.
Paella for tea — JL rather picked at hers, and didn’t eat a full share; I enjoyed it OK, but wonder if this is a tradition that has had its day?

Day 13 (Wednesday)

To Es Castell for church, clutching our umbrellas: a few spots of raining walking up C/Stuart, but sunny by the time we emerged. New vicar took the service (well, I assume it was he, though he made no attempt to introduce himself — seems a rather hesitant, if not retiring type, but maybe that’s just in contrast to the previous incumbent!). Coffee on the water-front afterwards.
Lunch at Canutells, where we again got some sun, and wished we had not been so pessimistic in not packing our swimming things. Sardines and chips — why does JL always get the larger portion?!
Corned beef hash for tea, with chocolate ice-creams to follow.

Day 14 (Thursday)

Rather too much cloud again, but some sunny spells.
Returned the paella pan to Es Cranc, then up the mountain for coffee and to try and guess best direction to find the sun.
To Cala Galdana, where we enjoyed a nice salad lunch at El Mirador bar/restaurant overlooking the bay. Bought new t-shirts. The resort seems much expanded and the beach was pretty packed — maybe it’s a few years since we’ve been there? Noted en route that Cala Mitjana now has a new entry point off the main road: clearly the increasing popularity has obliged the powers that be to improve access.
Swam in the pool mid-afternoon, but it was really rather on the chilly side!
Frozen microwave ready-meals for tea (from Mercadal Super): seafood spaghetti for JL and tuna lasagne for me — found mine rather inadequate, size-wise!

Day 15 (Friday)

Another mixed day, but quite a lot of sun.
Shopping for one or two things in Mercadal; coffee at the crossroads in the centre.
Jacqui came around early evening, expressing some concern about Peter: sounds as if he’s got a virus of some sort. She’s worried about how they will get on with going home on Monday. Gave her our business card for Salus medical service and tod her about my experience of them when I had ear infection a few years ago.
Tea at Es Cactus: prawns followed by garlic chicken for JL, with almond cake to finish; mussels followed by “Pork Knuckle” for me, finishing with creme caramel. Rather busy — we didn’t get either a nice appetizer or free digestif, though there was a bowl of olives.

Day 16 (Saturday)

Nice day, weatherwise — mostly sunny
Called to see J&P in the morning; he’s a little better, but she may be coming down with it! Offered to go with them to airport on Monday, if necessary, to help with luggage, etc.
Swam in the pool in the morning (rather cold again). After lunch and siesta, drove round to Cavelleria and swam from the little nudist “beach” — got stung by jellyfish! JL not really happy with sea swimming got her in up to armpit depth but couldn’t get going.
Lomo de cerdo from the little butcher’s in Mercadal, with mushrooms and mushroom sauce. Lemon icecreams for afters.

Day 17 (Sunday 15th)

100% cloud all day; some rain, but forecast thunder didn’t materialize.
To Mahon to pass the time with a wander along the port from ferry terminal to the start of The Posh Boats; had a beer in a little bar and walked back.
Es Cranc for tea. JL had melon and port wine starter, with fish soup for me (should have had shellfish soup — this plain fish variety was quite nice but rather boney). For mains, JL had gambas again, while I enjoyed grouper. At this point I was feeling pretty stuffed, since the fish soup is really a meal in itself! — but we managed crema Catalana puddings and coffee.

Day 18 (Monday)

Started nice and sunny until midday, then a couple of hours solid cloud, finally clearing for a reasonable end to the day.
Jacqui arrived quite early with a load of stuff to pass on — mostly things we could do without, to be honest! They had been pleased with the pre-cooked roast chicken that I told them about, and we inherited the remains, which we ate for lunch. Feeling quite well recovered, they have decided they can make their own way to the airport. More handouts appeared mid afternoon, and we said our goodbyes.
Burgers, beans and fried potatoes for tea, followed by creme caramels. (NOTE for future years: avoid burgers and sausages — proper meat is generally of good quality and flavour, particularly from the little butcher; same cannot be said of the processed items!)

Day 19 (Tuesday)

Heavy rain in the night. Woke to grey skies and increasingly heavy seas.
Es Cactus for coffee and internet.
One hour’s sunshine late afternoon.
Na Marga for tea. Shared scampi with wasabi mayonnaise starter (good). Sirloin (aka entrecot) steak for me, pork chops again for JL (two this time!). Finished with cheesecake and raspberry sauce for me and crema catalana for JL. Another good meal.

Day 20 (Wednesday)

Much better day weatherwise — sun most of the day, with just a little occasional cloud.
Church in the morning: the new vicar gave another interesting sermon, but is otherwise rather uninspiring. I read first lesson.
Nice lunch as Addaia port bar — various tapas, with 1 1/2 beers for me and 2 rosé for JL.
Frozen packet ready-meals for tea. (NOTE for future years: whilst my lasagne and mousaka choices were OK, they were a bit sparse compared to JL’s spaghetti and tagliatelle!)

Day 21 (Thursday)

Crap weather again, to start with: all morning, heavy grey overcast, with strong wind; cold!! Then suddenly around midday, bright sun and blue skies, with just the odd cloud; but still very strong winds and dramatic seas.
Packing off and on all day.
Beer at Es Cactus at midday.
To Fornells for tea, to try out El Pescador, since J&P and Anna bang on about how good it is. Well, frankly, pretty average IMHO — guess it all depends on what sort of pace you like. It certainly had a busy atmosphere and was quite full by the time we left; and the food was OK, but nothing outstanding. My main course of cod loin with a nondescript sauce, in particular, was disappointing (and cold!); JL had shoulder of lamb, which was tasty. For starters, I had “stuffed aubergine with prawns” — not really stuffed in any meaningful sense, just sliced aubergine in a cheese sauce with a few (too few!) prawns; JL had the inevitable grilled prawns, which looked good. Pudding was profiteroles for me and almond cake for JL. The set menu from which we ate is reasonable value, but rather limited (compared, say, to Es Cactus).

Day 22 (Friday)

08.00 alarm
11.00 dep. Tamarindos
11.45 check-in (no queues, 5 desks operating)
13.00 (approx) information boards show gate number, but being skeptical / laid-back, we don’t move for a while.
13.20 “final call” broadcast as we saunter towards the gate
13.00 onboard, doors closed
13.45 airborne ahead of schedule
15.05 (local) touchdown
15.45 leave car park
17.00 (approx) home after shopping at Sainsbury

Another good holiday, despite mixed weather.

OK, I give up — BBQ it is

After managing only one barbie last summer, I vowed I wouldn’t even bother to get the gubbins out of the garage this year. But have to admit, this really is barbie  weather, good and proper, so I give in …

2013-07-19 19.19.50

Beef shish kebab, by Sainsbury — good, if rather overcooked

Chicken breast kebabs with tikka marinade, by Sainsbury — good

Peppered pork kebab, by me — disappointing (I thought pork tenderloin would barbecue OK, but I was wrong)

Chilean syrah, by Karu ( — very pleasant

Only question now is, have I initiated the end of this rather nice summer weather, or will there be time for another cook-out? — only time will tell.

Menorca 2012

Day 1 Friday 31st August
Alarm 5:15. Left home just before 6 o’clock and reached the airport in plenty of time: just as well, because when we presented ourselves at the car park reception, I discovered that I’d somehow managed to book only one week’s parking — major panic! Somewhat surprisingly, I felt, the staff seemed to have no ready-made procedure to handle this; surely I’m not the first idiot to get his dates wrong? Eventually, it was agreed by phone to the booking department that my only option was to leave the car and be prepared to pay a humongous overstay charge on our return. Great start to the holiday, then!
Baggage drop uneventful (had checked-in online beforehand, and so avoided check-in queue) and Fastlane through security again proved well worth the £7 fee. So we had about an hour to eat our egg butties, in accordance with tradition, and mooch around the shops, before boarding on time and taking off more-or-less on schedule.
Good flight, though a little lumpy over the Pyrenees; the pilot informed us as we began our approach that there were strong northerly winds and the landing mighty be  touch bumpy, and he was not wrong (though I have known worse).
Lunch at the Arenal beach bar, again in line with tradition, where we found to no great surprise that the northerly wind was indeed strong, and blowing up a fairly lively sea. After shopping for provisions at the Spar in Mercadal, which has changed somewhat, and not for the better, we arrived at the apartment around 4 o’clock. Huge seas rolling in, with much noise and spray.
Weather not great so far, and looking to worsen, but the forecast is more promising as the week progresses, so we must make the best of it and be thankful we have a reasonably long stay.
Pork loin and mushrooms for tea.

Day 2 Saturday 1st September
Grotty weather: much wind, some rain, occasional glimpses of sun.
Drove into Mahon and had a walk around and a beer. Bought palo crema for tea to cheer ourselves up. Got rather wet walking back to the car.
Spaghetti with corned-beef and runner bean sauce for tea.

Day 3 Sunday
Woke to sunshine and a more hopeful-looking sky, though still very windy: generally not a bad day weather-wise, but considerable improvement still required!
To Fornells around midday; had coffee in the square and toured a couple of shops. We both want new “Menorcan sandals” (Avarcas) and I needed to buy a belt, having omitted to pack one for my shorts; managed to resolve the latter and saw some possible option for the sandals.
Tea at Es Cactus: the menu del dia at EUR14.50 very good value, with a reasonable house red at EUR8.95. Both started with king prawns, six large and juicy individuals grilled in butter and a little garlic; then pork loin with a cheese sauce to JL and most acceptable entrecote steak for me; finished with a good creme caramel and a disappointing creme brulee (looking back at last year’s blog, I see that this should have been anticipated).

Day 4 Monday
Promising start to the day: some good spells of sunshine and the wind slightly abated (or is that wishful thinking?) but it deteriorate after lunch.
Hung around home in the morning, with a visit to local supermarkets for bread and a couple of other odds and ends. Made use of the free wifi at Es Cactus (password ESCACTUS2012).
Following lunch and the inevitable siesta, drove into Mercadal to find a replacement tube light for the kitchen area. Came upon a useful fruiteria just near the Spar. Home as the rain began to spit, but thankfully it came to nothing.
Beefburgers, beans and fried potatoes to tea

Day 5 Tuesday
Started badly, weather-wise, with rain quite heavy for most of the morning; things improved lunchtime onwards and ended with the hope that tomorrow’s forecast of full sunshine might be fulfilled.
Hung around home most of the morning, catching up on email to Tophes; ventured out for bread towards midday, and had a run into Fornells for some odds and ends from the Spar and  a beer in the square.
Christine came to hand over some odds and ends, and to say farewell in case we miss them in the morning.
Chicken-in-a-bag for tea with couscous and sweet corn. Actually got a reasonably nice sunset to end the day.

Day 6 Wednesday
Things are looking up! Bright start to the day, leading to sunshine with only the occasional cloud.
To church in Es Castel as usual. Michael Bunce having departed some time in July, the church is temporarily in the hands of a new Michael while the process of appointing a new chaplain takes place; could take a year or more, apparently. The new Michael is a very nice old chap: softly but well spoken vicar of the old style, I would say.
Beer at the Rising Sun after church, then on to Es Grau for lunch. Surprisingly quiet at Bar Es Moll, but tapas enjoyable as ever, washed down with a couple of glasses of rosado.
Home for a swim in the pool!! Quite sure it’s the first time we’ve gone as far as Day 6 before saying that.
Pizza at Es Cactus for tea

Day 7 Thursday
Another sunny day — this is more like it!
Hung around home most of the day, apart from a bit of shopping.
Jacky (of Jacky-and-Peter) stopped by for a chat. They have been in Es Castel for a week at a friend’s apartment, but didn’t greatly enjoy it, I think, having got the extreme heat at the tail end of August followed by the grotty stuff that we arrive to at the end of last week.
Steak (from Eroski in Mahon) for tea, with a pepper sauce that was a touch too peppery, Christine’s mixed veg and jacket potato.

Day 8 Friday
Good grief — one third into the holiday already. Weather again pretty good, though with a couple of spells of cloud.
Again stayed home all day. Walked up to the top supermarket (by Es Cactus) for lunch bread and to buy their last two lemon ice creams; very hot — we feared for the ice creams, but they seemed to survive the walk back: straight into the pool to cool off
Contemplated a dip in the sea late afternoon, but it looked a bit choppy, so wimped out.
Duck breast (again from Eroski) with peas and fried potatoes; and the lemon ice creams, of course.

Day 9 Saturday
Sunny all day. Swam twice in the sea — almost a mill pond.
Checked out the leather shop that Christine talked about, just at the top of the hill past Red Indian Rock on the main road coming out of Es Mercadal towards Mahon: good range of shoes, including avarcas that looked better than the ones we’ve seen in Fornells, but none that seemed to take JL’s fancy; also some very nice leather jackets with no price tags!
To Na Marga for tea. JL had lamb chops, which looked very good; Gazapo (“young rabbit”) for me — turns out there’s not a lot of meat on a young rabbit! Both had had Quatro Texturas de Chocolate for afters: excellent. The cook and rest of the staff unchanged (we take them to be family members, though we have no grounds for this — it’s just the way we choose to picture them).

Day 10 Sunday
Pre-breakfast swim for the first time this year — water absolutely perfect.
To Es Cactus late morning for the free wi-fi: finally managed to get renewal of domain sorted, plus DropBox password reset — why does some technological complication always arise when away from the home internet connexion?!
The Wrights arrived at No. 010 midday.
Swam in the sea again. Had planned to snorkel, but found the rubber has perished so had to abandon that idea: is it worthwhile trying to buy new gear?
Corned beef hash for tea.

Day 11 Monday
Lazy morning at home, once we had cleaned up the remains of all the miniature flies that had invaded the previous evening.
Most pleasant lunch at the bar La Cantina in Port d’ Addaia: burger for me (very large!) and ham omelette sandwich for JL.
Brief sighting of a large bird catching fish just off-shore, heading off in the direction of Fornells. Osprey perhaps?
Microwaved frozen pasta ready-meals for tea — definitely a good find (at the Mercadal Spar).

Day 12 Tuesday
Definite sighting of Osprey passing by this morning, hovering and searching, but finding nothing to eat on this occasion.
To Fornells around midday to order paella for tea and to reserve a table for Saturday evening.
Paella from Es Cranc for tea. Pretty good, as ever, but I’m inclined to wonder whether we are in danger of doing this just for the sake of form — can’t honestly say it would break my heart to drop this particular tradition: there’s really far too much of it for two people, and I end up stuffing it away just to avoid wasting too much.

Day 13 Wednesday
Church in the morning. The new temporary vicar missing, on a trip to England to sort out the builders working on the house he just bought, so we were treated to our first experience of the Reserved Sacrament liturgy.
After the usual beer at the Rising Sun, made our way to Canutells for a nice swim in the sea followed by lunch of sardines and fries.
Home to find the wind beginning to rise; by early evening the clouds had set in and rain was forecast, though it never came before we went to bed.
Tea of chicken portions with rice and sweet corn, in process of cooking which, the microwave blew up!

Day 14 Thursday
Woke to furious winds once more, and the sea crashing in ferociously again. No morning swim today!
To Fornells to return the paella pan to Es Cranc and to draw more cash from hole-in-the wall. Coffee in the square and one or two essentials from the Spar. Then drove up to the Tower to observe the sea pounding into the harbour in a manner we have never seen before; wind almost too strong the stand against.
Decided to pack a picnic lunch and head south in the hope of calmer conditions. In fact though, arrived at Santo Tomas to find the sea was far from calm there, and the wind pretty wild there too, but not in the same league as the north coast. Ate our lunch on a convenient bench (facilities have been improved quite a lot since our last visit there) and a leisurely beer in the bar/restaurant. Wandered on the beach and had a bit of a paddle and lay in the sun for a while — couldn’t be bothered to change for swimming. Home via Ferreries.
Es Cactus for tea. Wrights in attendance. JL prawns and duck leg, then almond cake; mussels and “roast lamb” for me with creme caramel to finish.

Day 15 Friday
Still windy.
To Ciutadella.
Lunch at Cala Santandria: ravioli stuffed with salmon and spaghetti with seafood and chilli.
Diverted by forest fire on the way home
Pork loin for tea

Day 16 Saturday
Weather improving again; still a bit breezy.
Spent time at Es Cactus looking for sermon material/inspiration
The Wrights said goodbye and handed over some mundane leftovers; departing early tomorrow.
Es Cranc for tea. JL melon with port wine and grilled prawns for main; fish soup followed by grilled angler fish for me; both finished with cheese cake.

Day 17 Sunday
Weather pretty calm, but not inspired for early morning swim
Worked on sermon a bit
Hung around home
Young Spanish couple departed
Chilli con carne for tea with expensive (overpriced) ice creams for pud

Day 18 Monday
Early morning swim
More sermon work
Jackie delivered a few leftovers
Lunch and afternoon at home. Swam in the sea with new mask and snorkel.
Jacquie a Peter depart
Na Marga for tea

Day 19 Tuesday
Early swim — well not that early actually, since we didn’t wake until 8:40!!
Abortive trip to Ferreries to check out Jaime Mascaro for shoes: obviously avarcas are a bit too down-market for their clientele! The cheapo place that used to be just nearby has closed down too, so we hightailed it back to Christine’s recommended outlet at Red Indian rock. JL settled for a pair of plain navy avarcas; after some umming-and-ahhing about the size, the assistant convinced us it was better to have size 39, even though a bit tight: she assured us they could be persuaded to fit if you put them in the freezer overnight! Made ourselves known to the owner (Suzanne) as friends of Christine.
Via the Cami d’en Kane to Allaior then on the Addaia for lunch — I fancied tapas, but JL not enthusiastic, so we ended up repeating last week’s selection (Day 11): boy those hamburgers are big! (as were the glasses of a most acceptable rose).
Home for a swim and a nap. Contemplated a dip in the sea late on, but decided not — should’ve taken the chance while I had it (see Day 20)!
Risotto al funghi for tea: two frozen microwave packets we bought last week — in the absence of a microwave, just heated in frying pan; quite acceptable.

Day 20 Wednesday
Wind has returned overnight. No early swim today! Cloudy start and almost chilly at times, but improving later with sun and blue skies afternoon, but no let-up in the wind.
To church in Es Castell for the last time this year. Pro-tem vicar has returned and the reader chappy had remembered me saying I would read, so was handed a chunk of Proverbs. Reasonable congregation, including a couple of faces we didn’t recognize.
Beer at Rising Sun not totally enjoyable, due to being in the shade and windy. Shopped at Eroski in Mahon again. Decided to abandon lunch at Es Grau because it was cloudy and rather uninspiring; sun beginning to break through by the time we got home, but too late to change our minds.
Afternoon at home
Tea of duck breast with fried potatoes and sweetcorn, served with garlic mushroom and cream sauce; fresh strawberries and creme fraiche for afters.

Day 21 Thursday
Sea still crashing, but some let-up in the wind during the day.
At home all day — tidying up and packing.
To Es Cactus for tea
The end is nigh . . .

Day 22 Friday
Up in time for a final pre-breakfast swim.
Finished packing, which took longer than planned!
Departed for airport 11:05; arrived 11:40, with stop for petrol.
Check-in took about 20 minutes, so we had time for a beer and sandwich, and a browse in duty-free, before lifting off 4 minutes ahead of schedule.
Good flight home, with very reasonable in-flight meal.
Landing in Manchester with a temperature of 11 degrees and rain was a bit of a shock to the system! — somewhat alleviated by getting away without any car park surcharge : -)

So all-in-all, another jolly good holiday: we really are most fortunate to have been able to do this for so many years — this being the 25th anniversary of our first Menorca holiday, and the 14th successive year at this location!

Shugborough in the Sunshine

Ignoring the forecast of “possible showers”, we took the MX-5 for a run down to Shugborough today, meeting up with Diane and Les for one of our periodic outings.

Decent early lunch in the Lady Walk Tearoom, followed by a look round the house and gardens.

Impressed with the comfortable, “lived-in” feel of many of the rooms. Enjoyed looking at the reconstruction of Patrick Lichfield’s portrait studio, with various items of period photgraphic gear; some really nice photos too, of course.

Spotted this chap fishing on the far bank of the river. (Though I’m not sure if “fishing” is quite accurate — that catch looks distinctly un-fish-like to me!)


A Fine Day Out (More-or-Less)

Very nice outing to Trentham Gardens with Rosemary & Mervyn, in somewhat belated celebration of their Ruby Wedding.

Italian Gardens at Trentham

The forecasters earlier in the week had promised all sorts of unpleasantness, including thunderstorms, but happily they were wrong again: it wasn’t exactly summer  weather as we might wish it to be, but the sun peeped through briefly and when we did eventually get a shower it was mercifully short-lived.

Really good lunch at David’s Brasserie, marred only by a rather long delay before pudding arrived — serves us right for having a third course that we really didn’t need (though it was good when it came)!

Peak Enjoyment

Nice day on the edge of the Peak District, on the sunniest day for some time.

Forecast said wall-to-wall sunshine, so decided to take the MX-5 for a bit of a run, in the general direction of the Peaks and Staffordshire Moorlands. Headed to Congleton and out on the A53 towards Buxton.

Enjoyed lunch at the Rose and Crown, Allgreave — sandwiches in the beer garden, with an excellent pint of Robinsons.

Cross country to pick up the A53 near Flash, then south to Leek, and on towards Rudyard Lake. Stopped to take in the steam trains, which are obviously a popular school holiday attraction, especially on a day like this.

Over the top and down toward Biddulph. Had a wander round Biddulph Grange Gardens, and enjoyed a Snugburys banana and toffee ice cream.

Home via Astbury, avoiding the centre of Congleton.

A great little outing, with some superb views in all directions at times.

Paris 2012

St Michel from Pont Neuf

Last week, we once again enjoyed what has become our annual trip to Paris. Like the UK, it seems that northern France has been suffering somewhat of a lack of summer weather, so we were braced for a damp visit, but as it turned out we were pretty lucky.

Day 1 – Tuesday 10th July

Left home about 06.45, heading for the “Meet & Greet” car parking facility at Terminal 3. We used a service of that name on our trip to La Palma in January (leaving from T2) and were quite pleased, but this time the arrangement was a lot less not impressive. At T3, it’s not really a meet-and-greet service at all: you have to drive into the multistory car park and make your way to the reserved area, park your car and then go to their “reception” to hand over your keys; which sounds OK, until you have to wait several minutes at the barrier before being let into the reserved area, then find it jammed full and poorly signed, then wait to be served at the reception.

T3 check-in was pretty tedious, too: the do-it-yourself machine failed and the queue for the baggage drop was slow; and I’ve decided I don’t like T3 anyway — it’s too small and poky!

Things improved though, with a prompt takeoff at 9.30 and the usual pleasant Air France service. We touched down at CDG 11.40 local, with the inevitable 13 minutes taxiing, followed by endless walking to passport control and baggage claim, then to train station. After an uneventful train journey, we finally reached hotel 14.10!

Much-needed beer and pleasant lunch at Le Depart. Passed the rest of the afternoon with a bit of a wander round and a snooze.

Tea at Le Clou de Paris, rue Danton, just near the hotel: egg mayo for JL, artichoke salad for me, a bit uninspiring; both had magret de canard for mains — OK-ish; decided not risk puddings here! I have concluded eateries in this area are economy class: must try and remember not to eat around here again! Coffee and cognac at the Bar, Brasserie of Hotel Notre-Dame, on the corner opposite Petit Pont, made me feel better; and crepes from a place just around the corner gave a nice finish to the evening.

Day 2 – Wednesday

Breakfast as usual at Le Depart.

Decided to explore a bit to the east of the Latin Quarter.

Up B. St Michel and past the Sorbonne, to approach the Panthéon along R. Soufflot; admired the building from outside, but declined to pay €9 to enter. Chose instead to explore the church of St Etienne-du-Mont nearby — fascinating interior, including some nice stained glass: the Pantheon is dedicated to Ste Genevieve, but she’s actually buried in the crypt of St Etienne, so we got a good deal!

Checked out a piece of the 12th Century city wall in R. Clovis; then along R Descartes to Place de la Contrescarpe for coffee.

On down the cobbled R. Mouffetard towards the church of St Medard. The final part of this street has a delicious-looking selection of shops: cheese, wine, seafood, fruit, pate, foie gras — you name it!

Next, to the Paris Mosque, which was unfortunately just closing for the lunch period, so we manage only a quick glance into the courtyard.

Then on through the Jardin des Plantes, with its natural history museums and zoo, and so down to the river.

Towards home along Quai St Bernard, taking in the slightly scruffy exhibits of the Musee de Sculpture en Plein Air, then across Pont La Tournelle to Ile St Louis and over the bridge to Ile de la Cite, and to the cafe Esméralda for a late lunch.

Afternoon snooze and doss around

Evening aperitif at le Depart. Evening meal at Le Bar a Huitres on R St Jaques: expensive, but very nice; the menu was presented to us on iPads!


Day 3 – Thursday

Decided to take to open-top buses for the day — we haven’t done that since our first visit to Paris, and it is a good way to get around a few sights, and generally take in the city. Chose L’Open Tour service, which is not exactly cheap, but does cover just about everything

Crossing Pont Alexandre III

From Notre Dame via the left bank to Place de la Concorde, then up Champs Élysées. Hopped off halfway and walked up to Arc de Triophe, with a stop for coffee along the way. Bought butties for lunch at M&S! Back on the bus to Trocadéro and down to the Eiffel Tower, where for once we didn’t stop (we seem to pay homage there almost every year, though only ever went op once). On past École Militaire, round Les Invalides, across Pont Alexandre III, and eventually to Ste Marie Madelaine, where we transferred to the L’Open Tour yellow route to Montmartre.

Funicular railway up to Sacre Coeur, where we ate our butties sitting on the steps; to Place du Tertre for beer; then back down to B. de Rochechouart to rejoin the bus. Onward via Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Place de la Republique, past Folies Bergère and back to Opéra. Here we swapped back to the Green Line for return home via the Louvre.

At this point the rain set in in earnest, and we just got back to the hotel in time to avoided a soaking.

Wet evening, with excellent meal at Brasserie de L’Isle Saint-Louis


Day 4 – Friday

Time to go home already?!

We had an aiport shuttle booked for 12:15, so by the time we had packed our bags and paid the bill, there was time only for a final bit of a wander and a last coffee, at Café Panis just across from Notre Dame.

Although it meant leaving rather early for our 15:50 flight, the shuttle (which we have never used before) was a good idea; probably do this again.

Flight home all OK, aside from having my multitool confiscated at the airport security check — guess I should have known not to have it in hand baggage.



Well, of course we had a nice time — we wouldn’t keep going back year after year if we weren’t hooked on the place. What more to say? — only better weather could have made it more enjoyable, and there’s no way to control that.

The full set of snaps is in this google album


Silverstone Grand Prix 2012

Preamble – Thursday 5th July

Left home just after 2 o’clock and had a reasonable run down to Cherwell Valley services on the M40, where I checked into the Travelodge. Slightly slower than expected, on account of the M6 Toll road being closed, causing traffic chaos on the M6: I fortunately caught it on the radio, and diverted to the cross-country route. 116 miles, 2h15m,51mph
Drove over to the circuit to sign on (14mile, 25 minutes). Considering the weather we’ve had, the camp site and car parks don’t look too bad.
Headed towards Bicester looking for a beer and some tea. Nice pint of Pedigree at Bure Farm, Barberry Place, followed by fish and chips from the chippy next door.

Day One – Friday Practise

Up early with 5.30 alarm; Travelodge breakfast-in-a-box (surprisingly  OK); made food for the day, and on the road by 6.30. Arrived at the circuit and in to the marshal’s  car park without any delay, apart from a little early morning commuter traffic around the motorway junction. Significant queues already forming for routine entry to the circuit but sailed in via the specified route to Winterhill.
Very wet day, with limited action in the second F1 practice; the GP2 and GP3 practise, and Porsche session ran to schedule; HFO session in very wet conditions was pretty tame — but then, if you owned one of those machines, you wouldn’t want to take chances with it, would you?
Listening to Radio Silverstone and the Twitter feed, it became clear as the day progressed that there was chaos in the outside world with people trying and failing to get in. The day ended with the organizers telling people not to come to the Saturday Practise.
Longish journey home, following the recommended route through Buckingham. Tea from Burger King.

Day Two – Qualifying

5.30 alarm again; journey to the circuit quick and uneventful.
Weather started OK but spell of heavy rain after lunch caused an hour’s delay halfway through F1 Q2. Late finish, leaving circuit about 7.30
Salad from M&S for tea

Day Three – Race Day

Once again, 5.30 alarm, and managed to be on the road by 6.25; straightforward run as far as Silverstone village, then slow traffic to the car park; on post just before 7.30.
Some sprinkles of rain for the GP3 and GP2 races, but basically pretty dry. Low cloud base meant Red Arrows display somewhat limited, but stil very impressive. Sun came out about 12.45 and a completely dry GP was run mainly in bright sunlight — actually took my jacket of for the first time!
Excellent race, with a great drive by Alonso; but deservedly won by Webber, who passed him about 4 laps from the end. Disappoinment for the Brits: PDR out on lap one with a puncture; Button again steady but unremarkable, just finishing in the points; Hamilton pretty good, but not good enough. In the end, Red Bull, Ferrari, Ferrari, Red Bull was a fair result.
Very slow getaway from the circuit and deadly crawl to the A43 and on to the A5 roundabout: a tad over two hours to cover about five miles! Once on the A5, good run to M6 and thence home:  just over 100 miles in about two hours, with a brief stop at Corley.

In Summary —
A great experience again, despite the weather; nice to have a bit of variety with some pit lane involvement; enjoyed the racing, both GP and support events (well, perhaps not the Porsches); good bunch of fellow marshals in the team.

Back next year? – if possible, yes!

Sun Shines on the Righteous – And Also on BTCC

Contrary to expectation (after a cold and cloudy Saturday), the annual Touring Cars meeting at Oulton Park yesterday was blessed with a whole day of sunshine on Sunday. The crowds were out in force, as always: I’m told this venue has the largest attendance of any BTCC meeting.

Stationed at the Hilltop post, we had a good view of quite a few interesting incidents, and the pleasure of watching fellow marshals working hard, but for us the day was largely uneventful. One of the Ginetta Juniors made the tyre wall a bit untidy, coming out of the hairpin, and Aron Smith pulled off just over the crest in the last race, but that was about it.

Nice to have a day on the bank without being either soaked or frozen, and some good racing as a bonus.

Lundy 2012

Sunday 12th May

Departed Crewe about 10:45; paused at Cherwell Valley for coffee and to buy lunch butties from M&S; ate butties in a lay-by south of Chievley services; arrived Broadstone towards 3 o’clock. (3hr 20min driving time: 67mph average — pretty respectable.)

Monday 13th

Shopping at Sainsburys, lunch at home then off to Devon mid-afternoon.

Appledore fish and chips for tea and overnight in Barnstaple Travelodge, as usual.

Lundy Office answerphone message hints at possible sailing cancellation and requests us to attend Bideford quay at 8:00am.

Tuesday 14th

Up bright and early, and on the quayside by about 7:15 — no one else to be seen when we arrived, but joined before long by other intrepid travellers. The boat was obviously ready to go, with luggage crates waiting on the key, so we braced ourselves for the likelihood of an unpleasant couple of hours in transit. When the office opened, they immediately posted a notice there would be no sailing for day visitors; we learned in due course the intention was to turn round as quickly as possible at Lundy and sail back to Clovelly where they would shelter until tides allowed them back into Bideford: talk of force 10 winds in the forecast.

In the event, the crossing was not too bad, though very cold by the time we arrived. Customary lunch of burger and chips, washed down with Old Light. Into the house quite early, where we soon unpacked and settled in.

Salmon and asparagus with new potatoes, followed by Chatwins cream swiss roll.

Wednesday 15th

Unable to connect to Lundy wi-fi and no data on any phone networks, so it’s going to be 10 days of internet-free isolation!

Weather picked up during the afternoon. JL & I had a bit of a walk round the South end before tea.

M&S steak-and-kidney puddings; Sainsburys raspberry cheesecake

Thursday 16th

C&P up bright early and out before we were our of bed; eventually returned 9:30 for breakfast.

Lovely sunny day, so after the inevitable trip to the shop, we sat in the suntrap outside the Tavern with a pint, watching the arrivals from the boat — actually, a bit thin on the ground.

After a late-ish lunch, taken outside, we lounged in deck chairs for a couple of hours, before moving back indoors as the weather began to go downhill a bit.

Friday 17th

Another early start by C&P.

After breakfast, the Trinity House ship, Patricia, heave to in the landing bay and off-loaded a few personnel, who were picked up by a Lundy Landrover: purpose of visit unknown (even by Nigel, though he tried to pretend otherwise!) Keith the Painter working on our blue gate.

Packed up lunch and walked over to the West side, to a sheltered spot marked on Topher’s map; after lunch, up to Jenny’s to look for puffins: good sightings of 10-12 on the water, plus aerial display from the peregrine and a view of his/her nest above the pyramid rock.

Pub for tea: garlic mushrooms, whitebait, prawn cocktail; lamb steaks, venison, scampi; home for sponge pud (briefly delayed by short power outage).

Saturday 18th

Another day of sunshine!

To the Ugly in the morning, to watch cod-navy boat, divers’ boat, and Oldenburg.

Curry & RFS

Sunday 19th

Incredibly, a fourth sunny day, with just a bit of an edge to the wind later in the day.

Deckchairs outside in the morning. Short stroll by D&L before lunch (from which C&P abstained); longer walk in the afternoon.

Roast beef; Choc fudge pud; cheese & biscuits with port

Monday 20th

Well, it couldn’t last — overcast morning, though not cold. Shopping then indoor activities.

Soup and sandwiches for lunch, then a walk up the lower east side and across to Jenny’s, puffin hunting. I think I spotted one, but others didn’t see convinced.

Ham with carrots, asparagus and mashed potatoes; sticky-toffee pudding for afters.

Tuesday 21st

Brief sunny spells first thing then cloudy and pretty cool.

JL and I wandered up to the shop mid-morning for lunch bread rolls; encountered a large Warden’s Walk party coming out ot the church.

Topher’s bangers & mash with cauli cheese; banana, toffee sauce & icecream concoction.

Wednesday 22nd

Mostly sunny, but cold wind and cloud at times.

The Great Puffin Hunt. Up the main road to half wall and across to Jennys; watched for a time from south of the wall, eventually spotting a few in the burrow area to the left of the fulmar nesting stack. Lunch in the lee of the wall against the cheese rock, then further north, stopping from time to time to search for other nesting sites. Finally got a really good sighting a little way north side of Phillip’s Stone, on the promontory just left of the Stone itself. Across to the east side, stopping to chat with occupant of Tibbets; then home via the Quarries and Lower path, and up The 107 Steps.

Chilli by Phyl; rhubarb crumble

Thursday 23rd

Quite an overcast day, but with some good spells of sun; strong northerly winds; short sharp hail storm just after lunch.

Watched the boat come in (rough-ish looking crossing); counted about 100 passengers. To the pub for a pint and to watch the new arrivals stagger up.

Indoors most of the afternoon. Walked to the Castle to see the boat leave; then round to the Rocket Pole, and home for scones with jam and cream.

Pub for tea; starters and mains only. Cheese-and-biscuits with port at home.

Friday 24th

Sunny first thing, but clouding over by breakfast; brighter agaion later but windy.

Chris clinging to promise in the forecast that winds will drop overnight!

Packing in the afternoon. As usual, can’t believe it’s nearly over for another year!

Beer-can Chicken; Red-Fruit Salad

Saturday 25th

Bright and sunny all day; hardly any wind.

D & C up the Old Light before lunch, armed with padlock key to let us out on to the outside platform!

Visit by a lot of sailing craft, including several larger wood-hulled boats.

Cruised round the island on the Oldenburg in the afternoon, followed by a mill-pond homeward crossing.

Good chip-shop tea in Bideford; easy journey home, arriving about 10:40pm.

Sunday 26th

C&P on duty at church, so made our farewells by just after 9 o’clock; we left shortly after, and had an easy trip home (65mph ave) arriving just before 3.