How lucky am I?

I have an iPad, had one for years. Somehow it seems to have the ability every now and then to surprise me with a trick I didn’t know, and I’m pretty tech savvy!

Today it presented me with a memory of last year at this time. It produces a flawless collage of my playing with family, our annual holiday in the Canaries and a short break in Rome to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

Thank you Apple!

Tenerife – Another Bloody Sundae!

Here in the garden of eden it’s often difficult to separate the days but Sunday is always just that little bit special. My good nephew, Daniel, is looking after our house while we are away. He came here last year on our recommendation and, of course, for Sunday we suggested the walk to La Caleta and lunch at Rosso sul Mare.

Could we do any different? Off we set today at around 10:00am (it seems that we always set off to somewhere at 10’o’clock whether it’s to church, to a family celebration, to somewhere in France or somewhere over here – always 10:00). The sun was, as always, beaming down on us; the waves were rustling over the black volcanic pebbles; waiters were brushing down pristine tablecloths; tourists were wandering bemused along this westernmost part of the ‘Geranium Walk’.

We passed easily from the golden beaches at Playa del Duque to the black sand beaches of Costa Caleta. Occasionally, an idiot family of cyclists decide that a footpath can also be a velodrome track if it’s more fun than cycling on the road. Originally we would dive out of the way if we saw them coming in time but recently we, like many other walkers, are beginning to stand our ground forcing these two wheeled sociopaths to either swerve, wobbling precariously around us or screech to a halt, brakes juddering inches from our vulnerable posteriors. Either way we have won a pyrrhic victory. The bicycled horde is kept from the doors of Pedestria.

Before we realise it we are walking the short path past the old fishermen’s houses in old La Caleta and in front of our destination, the Italian restaurant of Rosso sul Mare (again). It’s nearing eleven in the morning but they don’t start serving lunch until 13:00 hours. We spot an empty table on the front rank – the Elite – probably the same table as last week, and settle down for some pre-lunch drinks. We take the precaution at this point of reserving this table for lunch and then we sit back in the warm sunshine to discuss the day’s plans.

We originally intended to secure a table then go for a walk around La Caleta harbour and admire the bronzed young men diving from the crude rock platforms into the turbulent waters of the bay. But the sun is warm, our drinks are cold and… we can see those men anyway from where we are sat.

We decide instead to have another drink and do some people-watching, a cruel but enjoyable sport. In earlier times we would watch for men or women who walked past in this idyllic place with a sour or grumpy look on their faces. What we call in Yorkshire ‘a face like a smacked arse’. When we spotted one we would call out a number, the next in a sequence of smacked arse features. They have no idea they are being cruelly tagged and we take some mean spirited enjoyment from the act. On one walk from Fañabe to Los Christianos and back we hit a three figure total. How can all these people seem so unhappy in this paradise?

This time we decide to be less cruel and concentrate on sartorial ability instead. I mean, how can someone be in brilliant sunshine and yet look as if they got dressed in pitch blackness.

  • Sandals and socks? Nooo!
  • Sweaty shirtless gut-stretching middle aged men? Nooo!
  • An attempt to meld every colour of the rainbow in one garment? No, please
  • Men in football strip who have neither the health or ability to kick a ball? No
  • Men in little more than sweat stained vests and budgie smugglers? Please no.
  • Men and women in matching Camouflage tops and shorts? WTF?
  • Those too short shorts? OMG!
  • Those too tight tights? Purleese!

The list could go on but it’s now 1pm and the waitress is here with menus and an inviting smile. I look carefully… at the menu, sipping my Ricard around the small icebergs they add to the tall glass. The salmon filet looks good but I had that last Sunday. Then I remember that our nephew, Daniel, was rapturous about the lasagna, ‘the best he had ever tasted’. Clearly overdue for a visit to our house! In the end his description of Lasagna Ferrarese Style seems too good to miss out. I look for a decent bottle of red to add to it and some potatoes sautéed with rosemary on the side. Nothing too heavy, it’s only lunchtime! I settle for a bottle of Gran Feudo Ed Crianza which has Tempranillo, Granacha and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in it. We settle down to wait in mouthwatering anticipation.

Next to us a noisy group of what I take to be Italians are being seated. Conversation hits an ear damaging high, overwhelming the soft bossa nova sounds the restaurant usually offers. One fat young Rompicoglioni‘ is shouting at another Rompicoglioni about something in a coarse dialect. Three are smoking, one older couple have the sophistication to look embarrassed.

The first man puts down his cigarette momentarily to gnaw at the bread offered as a pre-starter. Then his phone begins to ring. Most of us would politely get up from the table, move to a quiet area and answer the phone with a whisper. Not this joker! He leans back, spreads his paunch on the dinner table and begins to launch forth a diatribe against what can only be assumed is an ex-girlfriend or business partner. After ten minutes he hangs up with a grunt. What is worse is that the other five are giving him the thumbs up and slapping his back as if he has just single-handedly cleared the Italian deficit and been elected pope.

Our lunch arrives. The pot of lasagna sizzles ominously. Clearly the sun will have sunk appreciably lower before it will be cool enough to eat. I pour more wine and examine the horizon. Jet skis buzz faintly like disturbed hornets. I curse them softly in another language. The morning boat tours are returning and the wind brings the faintest murmur of screaming laughter as the heavily laden catamaran brings back its beer sodden clients to disgorge them at Puerto Colon harbour where they themselves will, in all likelihood, disgorge onto the quayside the on-board meal they scoffed like starving gannets less than an a hour ago.

My lasagna cools and I dip in a tentative fork. Sucking in breath as I roll it around my burning tongue I realise that Daniel Westmoreland is correct. This is probably the best lasagna he has ever tasted. I pour more wine. The earlier pastis has not gone to my head and I feel remarkably sober – evidence of a strong constitution, obviously!I eat more and more, faster and faster as I realise how hungry I am. I pour more wine. In moments the bowl is empty and I am bereft.

A hunger still remains. We decide to order desserts and I pick the ‘Degustación de quesos y miel‘, Italian Cheese selection which comes with honey and a glass of muscadet dessert wine. I pour the last of the wine.

In all, including the earlier drinks we have been at the table for a few minutes short of four hours. And we still have to walk home!

Camping at Hutton le Hole

We decided to take a late break in the northern part of Yorkshire to see some of the Christmas festivities and events.

First, though, we decided to do some ‘wild’ camping and we headed towards Pickering with the camper to enjoy some North Yorkshire hospitality. We had called ahead to a pub restaurant in a tiny village called Hutton le Hole which we know has a large car park that they sometimes let out to motorhomes and campers and our idea was to have a nice meal, drink and then to bed.

We found that Pickering was in an unusual mess due to the combined effects of replacing a large gas main at one end of the town and the building of a Lidle supermarket at the other. Roads and pavements were dug up and closed and there was a strong smell of gas around (at the gas works end, not the supermarket end!). Many of the shops were closed since Wednesday seems to be early closing day and in December the trade is slow anyway. All were beautifully decorated for Christmas and the gathering dusk lent an almost magical air despite the fluorescent plastic barriers.

A hot chocolate at ‘Frog Café’ took the chill off our bones and with our spirits revived we wandered through the shops looking for bargains and a few essentials we had forgotten to bring.

Hutton le Hole is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Hoton. Since then it has been known as Hege-Hoton, Hoton under Heg and Hewton. The name Hutton-le-Hole means the place of the burial ground near the hollow, however, the full name only dates form the 19th century.

The Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole contains 13 rescued and reconstructed historic buildings, including an Iron Age round house, period shops, thatched cottages, an Elizabethan manor house, barns and workshops. They display the lives of ordinary people, up to the present day. There is a cafe, a shop, a gift shop and (in season) craft workshops.[6] The folk museum also has the photographic studio of William Hayes, whose studio is believed to be the oldest daylight photographic studio in England, having been set up in the early 20th century.[7]

We wanted to get to Hutton le Hole before dark as we were not exactly sure where they would want us to park the van. Our chosen eating place was ‘The Crown’ which has undergone something of a transformation in the past year with the appointment of a young and innovative chef. Reports of the food quality were generally very good. As it turned out the area at the back of the pub was empty and we parked up, plugged in and waited until the pub opened.

Trip Advisor says this

We were greeted by the Bar Manager, Jake, who pulled an excellent pint of Black Sheep cask bitter for me and a large glass of Pinot Grigiot for Sue. We were not ravenously hungry so we went straight for the main courses. I was spoiled for choice but on this occasion I fancied a piece of gammon. I am always a little apprehensive about ordering gammon because so often I am served a large thin slice of what ends up as boiled bacon. Gammon should, to my mind, always come as a thick steak – no thinner than 1″. I asked Jake what the gammon was like and he confirmed that the chef and he were of similar minds and that I wouldn’t be disappointed. Sue went for one of the vegetarian options: feta cheese and spinach in a pastry parcel with side salad, spiced chickpeas and spicy wedges.

When the food arrived it was magnificent. My thick gammon steak was covered in fresh pineapple and a side order of vegetables filled the plate. Sue remarked on the creaminess of the feta which was excellently complimented by the wilted spinach in a pastry case and the basket of wedges was large enough to share.

Although my hunger was completely sated I couldn’t resist looking at the dessert menu. Big mistake! Lots of choice and some really tempting options but my eyes were drawn to the sticky toffee pudding. Sue favoured a ginger creme brûlée with a mulled fruit compote. Both were superb but I couldn’t finish the large slab of toffee sponge floating in a lake of dark toffee sauce nor the cinder toffee ice cream which accompanied it.

The chef came out later to check if we were satisfied with our meals and we chatted about the way in which he had made the amazing fruit compote for the crème brûlée. We relaxed by the roaring log fire until it was time to leave and head back to the camper van parked just a few yards away. And so to bed…