The Canarian Diary

Thursday 24 January
7.30pm Arrive at Las Palmas airport. So does our luggage. I don’t care what happens now, so far as I’m concerned I’m ahead of the game.

Friday 25 January
We open all the curtains to let the lovely sunshine in and incur the wrath of our cleaner. Not a good start. ‘Ees nice for you but ees not nice for ME!’, she hisses. Rightio, we won’t do that again then. Anyone would think we were trying to have a holiday here!

Gran Canaria does exactly what it says on the tin. Wall to wall sunshine and more bars and restaurants than you could shake a stick at. Our apartment is identical to any other you see across the Med. It has a big (unheated) pool for the tourists and a little muddy pool for four terrapins. Actually it’s quite hard to tell the difference between the terrapins and some of the tourists. Oh, except the terrapins don’t bag sunbeds with towels or have tattoos on their ancient, leathery skin.

Sunday 26 January
We are slap between two shopping centres. Normally we walk down (and up) several hundred steps to the lower one but the travel rep has informed us is that the upper one is better for eating out ‘on special occasions’. Perhaps we don’t walk up high enough because the centre we arrive at is a concrete monstrosity with all the ambience of a multi-story car park where the restaurant touts are trying to persuade us to come in for some ‘good English grub.’ In the supermarket I notice a man who looks vaguely familiar, seconds later I spot his wife and my blood runs cold. I steal another quick glance because I can’t believe what I’m seeing. It’s the same hair, the same glasses and a blink rate three times that of any normal person. It is The Boss From Hell, the woman who for a few short months until she buggered off, made my life a complete and utter misery. Seeing her again, even after several years have passed, makes me shake with rage and fear. We get out fast.

Tuesday 28 January
No more sighting of TBFH. The weather continues to be fab and we are on good terms with our cleaner. Largely because we clean up before she arrives and are not Finnish. There are many Finnish people in this resort including our neighbours who, apart from chainsmoking and drinking booze all day, don’t seem to be doing anyone but themselves any harm. Clearly they irritate the cleaner who says they ‘yabber, yabber, yabber.’ ‘Ireland people good,’ she says, thoughtfully. ‘Galles?’ we offer. ‘Pah!’ she says. ‘All Ingles to me. Ireland people very good.’

I am very fair skinned and although I have spent large chunks of the day swathed in high-factor sunscreen, a kaftan, sun hat and dark glasses, I develop something very like sunstroke. My skin is burning, I am freezing and I spend all night, as Jay’s mum used to say, ‘Shivering and shaking like a little dog sh*tting’ which is a bit ironic since one thing I haven’t been able to do at all since arriving here is go to the loo.

Friday 1 February
A strange thing has happened. Since getting over the lurgy and feeling grateful that I will live to see my children again. I’ve relaxed and got into holiday mode – I must be enjoying it because every time the bus rolls up to take another group of people back to the airport, I’m glad I’m still here. I’m enjoying the sunshine, I brave the sub-zero pool every day and I’m getting some writing done.

Wednesday 6 February
I’m worried about the Norwegian man two balconies along. In his sixties and with no one to play with he looks very sad and down to me. ‘He must be very lonely,’ I say to Tom. No sooner have the words left my mouth when two taxis draw up below and half of Norway spills out. Soon a Viking rave is full swing, two balconies along, and continues throughout the night. Next time I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

Thursday 7 February
Apart from one day of feeling stir crazy from being in what is essentially a giant holiday camp, I’ve had a great time and the break has done us both good. I go to check out.
‘Wah!’ says the man at the desk. ‘I no see you before!’
‘Erm, you have.’
‘But no! I would remember you – you have such an interesting face!’
Great. Interesting face suggests Princess Ann or Les Dawson. ‘Your computer was broken,’ I add, helpfully.
He smiles happily. ‘Yes! Now I remember. I think perhaps you can help me.’
Oh Good. Does he want me to present a trophy or play the piano badly? I end up composing a carefully worded email to the travel who have omitted to put the apartments on their website causing the owner much distress.

Our plane is broken and will be delayed. Several people start complaining. As far as I’m concerned given a choice between fixing the plane and falling out the sky I can wait all night. Which is just as well because we do wait all night and finally crawl into bed 12 hours later! Ah, but it’s good to be home!
And finally...
FTT pretty much finished but needs time to rest before final spit and polish.
Clocks on grand tour, first with 'One Night Only' and then with 'Scouting For Girls'.
For a book that's worth all the hype, read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's, 'Half of a Yellow Sun' .

Hwyl fawr!


Inthemud said…
Glad your luggage arrrived with you! Did you see that they are going to start putting microchips into luggage to be able to track where they get lost to!

Sounds like a lovely week, shame about the lurgy and even more annoying about the delay on way home.........Hate being stuck in airports!
An Interesting face! Strange thing to say, but from your photo you look lovely!
Lane said…
Not a holiday from hell then!
Sounds fun and I love your 'people watching' observations:-)

Well done of finishing FTT. Hurrah!!
LittleBrownDog said…
I've been waiting with baited breath to hear how your holiday went, and relieved to hear the only blips were in the shape of the boss from hell who didn't spot you and the lonely viking. Oh, and a brief lurgy, which I hope wasn't too horrible. Well done for getting FTT all but done! Am now all agog to read it.

(PS Have just finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's first book, Purple Hibiscus, which was fantastic - just about to get my teeth into HOAYS)
Debs said…
So pleased you had a lovely time even if you had to clean your apartment, cope with the lurgy, listen to the vikings etc. Sounds great fun. Oh to go away for a week or so and relax.

I also had a Boss from Hell, she was an utter cow and thankfully left. Unfortunately for me she married a chap who is now one of my Directors at work.
Slight mometn when I was overcome by panic thinking i had wrong blog due to lack of Toms paintings but foudn it was you in disquises as a tourist adn a jolly good disguise it is too!!
loved your people watching...great hobby,,,see the holiday was not as bad as you feared'll have to go again now!!!
Pondside said…
How awful for you to meet up with TBFH! That sort of shock is better than a jump start for the heart anyday! If a change is as good as a rest........then you had a change, by the sounds of it!
Frances said…
Well, Chris, I do think that you and Tom may have broken the evil spell cast by past vacations.

Well done.

That blue sky was spectacular!

I laughed when you described your it's a small world after all sighting of TBFH. It is so strange when you travel lots of miles and then encounter something/one best left behind.

I take it that your luggage also returned home with you!

So, Chris, I think that in a few months, you all might just want to start dreaming of your next journey.

Well done. xo
Milla said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milla said…
that was great, and a small novel in itself, truly all human (and some inhuman - 3x the blink rate indeed!) life was there. Loved it. And Scouting For Girls, eh, there's grand! But WHEN is their album out?? Will def buy. And good girl on the novel. VERY impressive. Do you really really hate it by now or will you be terribly terribly sorry to say goodbye and goodluck to it??
elizabethm said…
so glad you have broken the holiday hex and had a good time and loved the blue sky pic- had almost forgotten it looked like that. And I'm so impressed that you have finished the rewrite. You are clearly a model of self discipline and determination!
Hannah Velten said…
Now you've had a good break, without major disaster there will be no stopping you now! And well done with FTT...have you got a publisher yet? Mootia x
Flowerpot said…
glad you had a good holiday Chris - I know what you mean though. It's good to come home, isnt it? Brilliant news about finishing FTT - well done!
Pipany said…
Brilliantly written Chris and I love your observations on people - so love people watching xx

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