The fact Chris and I can go on holiday together this year makes me feel luckier than ever before. In April I started back at work as an English Mentor at Campion Secondary School and in September I was still pursuing my dream of working in a school. Funnily enough, this led me to realise this is not what I want for myself and my life. It pushed me to become a Private English tutor. I currently have 7 tutees and I enjoy the fact that I can make money whilst using my skills and still be in the home. This means that I’m not restricted by the Monday- Friday 8:30am-4pm working schedule and that we could book a holiday to go away during our Anniversary and Chris’ Birthday as usual.
We chose La Palma which completes our collection of Canary Islands visited. This is the smallest and most un-spoilt of all the islands with beautiful scenery and black volcanic sand. We like to travel to the sun this time of the year as it is such a contrast to the climate at home. When we left this morning, temperatures were down to 2•c.
Due to the inclement weather and massive delay last year, I wanted to fly from a more major airport this time. Also, EasyJet was one of the airlines that we witnessed successfully taking off in the snow that day, so flying from Gatwick with EasyJet at a scheduled leaving time of 9:05am couldn’t have been more perfect. This did however mean that we had to get up at 5am (to leave at 5:30am) which (according to the sat nav) would mean us arriving at the airport at just before 7:30am. This would give us a good hour and a half before our flight would leave. I checked the distance time on a couple of occasions to make sure that we were allowing enough travel time to be comfortable.
Unfortunately our arrival time went up by 10 minutes once we were in the car and then (due to congestion) we watched our estimated arrival time creep up and up until we were dangerously close to the hold luggage check-in desks being closed. I am a nightmare when it comes to worrying about being late to the airport at the best of times- even the little things about it once I’ve arrived stress me out. In normal life I particularly hate being late. I abhor waiting around for people to arrive and so, by the same token, it worries me to think that I should make other people go through this kind of discomfort. This doesn’t apply in this situation, if you are late to check-in for your flight then the plane will simply leave without you! I was so uncomfortable fretting about missing our flight and was beside myself when the time of arrival went up to 8:10am!
Finally we arrived at the car valet area. The check-in desks were closing at 8:20am. Fortunately the parking company we had chosen were very efficient and we had dropped our car with them and were on our way to the desk in a matter of minutes. It was self check-in and after a short queue we weighed our bag in manually, printed the sticker for the suitcase and were able to quickly head for security. After a bit more queueing we were through without a hitch (unlike last time due to the Anniversary-present-perfume-debacle). I then noticed that our plane was boarding and the gate was closing at 8:40am. At this point it was 8:37am. We ran to our gate where there was no queue and only a family standing to the side of the gate desperately scrambling around with the items in their hand luggage. It seemed like they were experiencing some kind of issue with the amount of luggage they were allowed to bring on the plane.
I had needed the toilet for a couple of hours by this point, so we showed our boarding passes and then Chris stood in the boarding queue whilst I nipped back up the stairs and used the toilet. I really should keep an eye on my liquid consumption at times like these. I knew that if I didn’t take the opportunity to go at that point, it might be a while before they turned the seat belt signs off and I would have been trapped in my seat in agony like last year!
On the walk back from the toilet, I looked out the window and saw people getting on the plane -we had pretty much made it by the skin of our teeth. There was no time for us to buy our usual Boots meal deals to eat during the flight but once we were on the plane and had taken off, we bought the onboard meal deals instead. I had a cheese toastie and a hot chocolate with a Kit Kat and Chris opted for a calzone, paprika pringles and a San Pellegrino. We shared the hot chocolate, crisps and the KitKat.
The flight arrived at the La Palma airport 25 minutes ahead of schedule. During the flight I actually enjoyed being able to sit and relax knowing that the hardest part of going away was done. I read and Chris managed to sleep for a bit:
The build up to leaving was difficult. Sam had sickness and diarrhoea on the Tuesday (a week before we were scheduled to go away). He was off school for 2 days and meanwhile, Emma climbed up and fell off a stack of chairs at church, bruising her big toe and the side of her foot. She had to wear a surgical support shoe and was given special consideration at school. This meant she could leave lessons 5 minutes early and got to use the lift. Sam went back to school on the Wednesday but had to come home again because of toilet issues. Fortunately on the Thursday he was entirely well enough to go back to school. Friday was Emma’s 13th Birthday. She was still wearing the shoe but could move around more easily. She was able to shop in town and spend her Birthday money with Mum and Dad and also was able to bowl for her party the next day.
On Sunday morning we were woken up at 8am by shouts of “Mum!” and sounds of retching. Emma couldn’t keep anything down for 12 hours, at which point our Doctor friend Sam Hartley advised us to go to A&E as her vomit was green. I thought this was to be expected at this point considering her stomach was empty and bile was the only thing left to come up, but I was concerned that she was continuing to vomit despite there being no food left in her.
When we checked in at the hospital reception we were told that they normally discourage people who are vomiting from coming to A&E. This did not set me up for feeling particularly happy about us being there! We were told to go through to Children’s A&E. At this point it was about 9:05pm. We waited for just over an hour (during which Emma tried to sleep) before she was beckoned into triage.
They did a few tests and found that her heart rate was 148 bpm. We were told that a normal heart rate for someone of Emma’s age would be just under 100 bpm. They gave her this anti-sickness thing to put inside her mouth (on her gum) and then put her on a fluid challenge where I had to syringe 10ml of any liquid (Emma chose lemon juice) into her mouth every 5 minutes for an hour.
An hour and 15 minutes later they tested her heart rate and it was still high so I had to do the fluid test for another half an hour.
Then they tested again and it was too high so I had to do the fluid thing for another half an hour after that. She kept everything down so the anti-sickness worked. I was stressing out as my sinuses were throbbing and I could see Emma was just wanting to be at home. -Her heart rate never went down as she didn’t like being there. In the end I pleaded with one of the nurses and said that her heart rate was up because she was stressed about being able to leave, so they sent us home. We arrived back just before 2am!
The next morning I tested Emma’s resting heart rate and it was at 88bpm. -This was a relief. She was obviously off school but fortunately the only things I had left to do were to pack and put petrol in the car for the trip to the airport. Emma started to feel better but couldn’t face much in the way of food. When I dropped the children off to stay at Mum and Dad’s on Monday night, Mum told me that it wouldn’t be a problem for Emma to stay off school the next day as she wasn’t working. -Its great that the kids get to stay with their Grandparents for a week while we go away. They love going there and Mum and Dad enjoy having them so it’s a win-win.
So, after we had gone through passport control, our transfer details said we should walk out into the arrivals area and look for a sign with our name on it. I’ve never experienced that before! We easily found the guy who was holding my name up. Our paperwork had said that our journey to our hotel was a private trip with a maximum of 4 people, so we didn’t expect him to tell us that it was the massive orange coach in the carpark that was waiting for us! We approached the driver, he checked our paperwork to find out which hotel he was dropping us at and then we left straight away! There was no waiting around for the driver or even other passengers as we were the only 2 people on the bus! The drive was 10 minutes long and before we knew it we were checking in! By this point it was only 1:40pm. Chris said it was crazy that it was only around 6 hours door to door!
We were told we had a sea view room which we were pleased about. Our agent had actually requested a refurbished suite for us but I later found out that they only have a shower and I love having a bath after a day of sunbathing. So we were quite happy with the room we had been given, despite hearing that the suites have a tassimo machine and complimentary chocolates every day!
We were even early enough for lunch and we sat outside to enjoy this. It was quite cloudy but still pleasant. We had a hot chocolate topped with cream and chocolate powder and were able to look out at the sea while sitting. I think we were just pleased to be able to relax after the stress of getting to the airport that morning.
We sat for a few hours enjoying some drinks and then went inside get ready for dinner. I was impressed at the choice of food in the restaurant at lunchtime but dinner didn’t seem to have much more choice available. No matter though, as I knew I could always enjoy the small bread rolls and butter that are readily available in the all inclusive Spanish resorts.
We went through to the bar area and watched an acrobatics show. It was particularly impressive as you can see from the pictures.
The next morning we woke for breakfast. We were impressed at the choice of things to eat. -After our cereal, I had my usual filthy streaky bacon swimming in grease (and some eggs) whilst Chris had a freshly made omelette and some pancakes. Afterwards I sat on the balcony for a bit trying to get some rays from the small sliver of sun that was peeping through. Our balcony is mostly in the shade so I had to angle myself to feel even the slightest amount of heat. Chris slept for a couple of hours and so after feeling a bit chilly, I decided to have a bit of a nap too.
We woke up at about 1pm and went for a walk outside of the hotel. We came across a nice little beach cove.
It was still quite cloudy so we didn’t really want to sit and relax here. We carried on and actually climbed up some steps that Chris had seen a little way off. These took us back up to road level. We carried on round and Chris saw bunches after bunches of bananas growing in plantations.
He wanted me to walk down with him to pick one but I stayed where I was and watched him go. I’ve learned to my detriment that if I want all of my skin in tact, going off-roading with Chris is not a good idea!
He joined my side again, triumphant at his success and we then spent some time walking back in the opposite direction admiring the view from our loftier perspective. We walked past the front of our hotel and found a Spa shop where we bought the essentials (crisps and chocolate) and then went back in for lunch. By this point we realised that lunch and dinner were very similar with not much choice and I noticed a couple behind us who were eating a series of sandwiches on a bed of lettuce. Always eager to not be left out, I asked what they had and how we could get it. They told us that it was a club sandwich from the bar. They were staying half board and had only spent 4 euros on their lunch which seemed like a good deal. We spoke to these people for a couple of hours. They were called Chris and Alan and they are regular visitors to the island and mostly to this hotel, itself. They filled us in on the fact that the weather on this side of La Palma is generally cloudier than Santa Cruz (which they frequent regularly to swim in the sea and shop etc). They told us which bus to catch if we wanted to visit the other side and then Chris told us lots of stories of previous visits and some calamities that befell them. We spoke to them long enough that it had started to get cold so we went in for a bath and to read for a bit.
The evening’s entertainment was a Michael Jackson concert. We sat for longer than I expected we would. We were surprised to see the amount of girls fainting and having to be carried off due to the excitement at their proximity to the superstar!
Our third day here actually turned out to be sunny in the morning. I was desperate to go out in the sun to get a tan so, after breakfast we went right down to the pool area to get some sun beds.
Sun cream does not agree with me. It seems to give me a rash rather than preventing one so I applied it only to my sensitive areas that aren’t normally exposed to the sun. This tac-tic has previously served me well. Unfortunately this time I got burnt all up my legs and right near my arm pits! My arms were okay but that is normally the place where I tan, so I presume my skin there is used to it. The sun was coming and going behind the clouds so I am baffled that I managed to catch so much of it. Chris was happy to have been able to finally sunbathe and we sat out until about 2:30pm.
We tried to get a club sandwich on our all inclusive package but were told that any food from the bar menu was charged as extra. We settled for lunch in the restaurant again and then went inside to rest and play Angry Birds which is a holiday staple for the two of us.
The entertainment that night was a Rock and Roll band. -We could hear the double bass from the restaurant and so went to investigate. It’s not particularly my cup of tea but Chris enjoyed it and the bar area was packed with pensioners who were all having the time of their lives. The odd few even got up to dance!
The next day was our 5th wedding anniversary. Chris gave me my present and card before breakfast but I wanted to enjoy him opening mine so I waited until we were back in our room to give him it. After our first and second year of marriage I had written a monthly account of our movements/ events for each twelve month period. I had been slack for the last few years so I thought it would be a nice idea to go back through all my photos to jog my memory and see what we had done for the last 3 years. I managed to find something of note for every month so I printed this out and put it together with the first two years. We now have a comprehensive list of what we’ve done and when we’ve done it for our first five years as Husband and Wife.
I gave Chris his other presents and then we both sat around and read for a bit. We then slept for about 3 hours, waking in time for a late lunch. We then read by the pool until it got too cold and decided to go for a walk.
A couple of days prior to this, the man at reception had told us that if we wanted shops and restaurants then we could turn left out of the hotel and go down towards the sea. We walked directly left and passed some restaurants and a supermarket and came to the welcome sign for our resort, Los Cancajos:
The original plan was to scope out the area to see if we fancied returning anywhere for Chris’ birthday meal in a couple of days. As we were wandering around, I decided I couldn’t face returning to our hotel to eat the slightly weird tasting food that night. -Even the idea of a roll with butter was getting arduous. For lunch and dinner there is little choice, much of the dishes seem like random concoctions and combinations. When it comes to food, I definitely wouldn’t say I was picky. Normally I really enjoy Spanish food, Canary Potatoes particularly and all of the exotic salads and rice dishes… but this year I’m really not feeling it. I’m having to have plain lettuce, cucumber and potatoes for most of my meals. Some accounts on Trip Advisor echo our experience with the cuisine. I must say at this point, though, there are many other positives about the H10 Taburiente Playa that make up for the food: excessive amounts of sunbeds, 3 pillows on each of our beds as standard, a hairdryer in the room, complimentary shampoo and shower gel (meaning we didn’t have to bring/ but any), free pool towel rental and branded, bottled drinks served to our tables during lunch and dinner. The staff are good and our view from the balcony is the most spectacular we have ever experienced.
We wandered around for a bit, deciding where we would like to eat. I’ve never had lobster so I told Chris that this was something I would like to experience whilst away this year. Nowhere served lobster in this area so we settled on pizza, randomly in a restaurant called Ocean! I fancied something really plain so went for the Hawaiian pizza while Chris chose one with chicken and a stuffed crust. We shared them both as usual. It was lovely to get out for a bit and (as always) I enjoyed Chris’ sparkling company. I also loved celebrating the years we have been together by having a meal on the streets of La Palma during dusk, which has always been my favourite time of the day.
We made the short walk back to the hotel and arrived in time to watch a flamenco dancer, just to add to our Spanish- Island- Experience.
When we woke up on Saturday morning, we could tell that the weather was different and that the clouds had dispersed meaning the day was clear and perfect for sunbathing. This is the view every day that greets us as we walk up and down the stairs inside our hotel.
I was still hurting a bit from sunburn so I sat on the sun lounger with a T-shirt and leggings on, sheltering myself from the sun as much as I could. I knew my face and arms would be okay so I didn’t feel the need to cover those up. It’s funny, these are the only parts of me that people back home will see as proof of our time away in hotter climes, anyway.
After a couple of hours had passed, Chris felt like he had been in the sun for too long. We moved into the shade and realised that it was a bit cold so then came inside for a bit. After lunch I fancied a nap and Chris wanted to go back out to sunbathe so we spent a couple of hours apart, which was the first time this had happened since Monday. -When we are on holiday we are usually constant companions. I slept for about an hour and Chris enjoyed the last of the sun.
That evening, there was another musical kind of entertainment which we sat and watched for a while.
The next day was Chris’ Birthday. I woke him at 9am and asked if he wanted to go for breakfast or have a lie-in. He opted for the latter so I popped downstairs by myself and had some cereal. It was an unusual situation for me to be in; one that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Never in the time that Chris and I have been on our annual trip away have I eaten alone in a hotel restaurant. I felt a little conspicuous and self conscious but I stayed long enough to satiate my appetite and then I went back to the room. I read on the balcony for a bit and then woke Chris at 10am (giving him the extra hour sleep that he had asked for). I was excited to give him his birthday presents.
Having his birthday in December has always meant that separate presents is important to Chris. I have to make sure I get 3 different lots of gifts during this time of the year. One to commemorate our anniversary and the other two for Chris’ Christmas and birthday presents. I feel like I outdid myself this year. I bought some RayBan sunglasses in the Black Friday sale for the anniversary main present, professional teeth whitening at the dentist for his main birthday present and for his main Christmas present I bought him skiing lessons at the Snodome in Milton Keynes.
I also bought him a Leicester Tiger’s top as you can see from the picture that I took of him falling down in between the beds. That is one of the downsides of having two single beds pushed together, that and being too far away from Chris when we sleep.
As Chris hadn’t had breakfast we thought we would see what food was on offer at this time of the day. It was too early for lunch but we were able to go down to the bar and eat some of the sandwiches and cakes they had on offer for the all-inclusive clientele.
This was more elevenses than breakfast for me but it was still a welcomed snack before we set off to Santa Cruz for the day. We weren’t sure on the frequency of the bus so we got the information from reception and didn’t have to wait too long before we were on our way. It was a very short journey but would have probably been a little bit too far to walk. We passed the restaurant and shops we had visited the other evening and then travelled round the corner, following the shore line.
Once we had got off the bus we walked on a path that ran parallel to the beach and got a feel for where we were. We then walked up some of the back streets and noticed some places closing up for Siesta time. We noticed a few market stalls and were just about to take a look when we were rudely interrupted.
At times I feel we are governed by Chris’ bowel movements but fortunately we were able to find somewhere we wanted to eat so that he could use the facilities to relieve himself. I sat and looked at the menu while I waited for Chris to return and when he did we ordered the most amazing sushi.
It was the perfect amount for lunch and tasted fresh and satisfying. Unfortunately by the time we had finished, the market stalls had packed up. We walked back up to where we had been dropped off by the bus and found an ice cream place on the way. I don’t normally opt for ice cream but I really fancied it in a nice waffle cone. -It didn’t disappoint.
When we had arrived in Santa Cruz, Chris was impressed by the huge bauble on the roundabout in the middle of the road. I can’t tell you how long it look me to work out how to take this shot. In the end, this was the best I could do. Chris was particularly pleased because of the additional humour in the placement of the McDonalds sign!
When we arrived back to the hotel room, the staff had left a little present for Chris. I thought this was very kind and was not at all expected. Out of the six hotels we have stayed in, this only the second that has recognised the event.
We bathed and relaxed again in the early evening time. I began obsessing slightly about something small that was bothering me- by this point I had definitely had way too much time to myself to think and worry unnecessarily about things. I tried to put this to the back of my mind and enjoy the evening. It was nothing to do with Chris or anything that had any kind of bearing on my everyday life. The food was better than usual and we sat and watched the entertainment which was again some kind of music appreciation thing. Alan came over to chat at some point and then we went upstairs to read for a bit before going to sleep.
When I woke up in the morning I felt really down. I was really bothered by this insignificant set back I’d had. I couldn’t face doing anything, I just wanted to sleep, so after breakfast I went back to bed. I couldn’t relax because of scraping noises. It was the cleaners going about their every day business but the sound was impossible to ignore. At one point I felt myself getting so worked up that my breathing became shallow. I feel like I was having the beginnings of a panic attack. This is why it’s so important to keep yourself emotionally under control. I then went down to sit by the pool with Chris and read for a bit but I just felt so down that I needed to not be around anyone. I tried to explain to Chris what was bothering me but I just tried to sleep again.
After trying to sleep some more, it occurred to me that (as we were travelling home the following morning) this was the last opportunity to swim in the sea. I was happy not to bother, but I always feel that way inclined when we are abroad. I knew Chris particularly wanted to though, so I physically had to force myself to go down and go through the motions. The evening before I’d gone online to search about how to not let others define your happiness. One of the peices of advice in this article was that you should “fake it until you make it”. I take that to mean that even if you are still upset or bothered by something someone has said or done, there will come a time when it will matter less or even not at all. I had to make myself go and share the experience of swimming in the sea with Chris while we still had the chance. I feel like I tried my best to have the right attitude but I still felt sad.
If I think about it, there are things that bother me that people around me have said or done. Sometimes things are resolved merely by talking to someone but this may not always be an option. What I have learnt through this is that I need to find a way for it to be “okay”. I can’t wait around for someone else to sooth my ego, I need to actively find a solution. In this instance after we swam in the sea and then the pool and I actually started to enjoy these things for what they are, I did start to feel better but it took me calling and chatting to someone about my situation to help me completely move on. I’m glad I did this as I was then able to enjoy our last evening and properly relax. We did the usual routine of Dinner and Entertainment and I slept peacefully again.
In the morning we had time for a last breakfast. Chris enjoyed watching what seemed to be an army helicopter that was landing at the airport close to us. I went up to start the packing while he finished his breakfast. We then filled our suitcases and went down to the bar for a last drink before our mini bus picked us up to take us to the airport. We were the only two passengers on it again!
The flight was slightly delayed but only by 20 minutes or so and we were soon up in the air. We spent our final few euros on some snacks on the plane and we were able to catch the sunset high above the clouds.
All in all we enjoyed a relaxing break. I feel like I’m now ready to try another type of holiday in 2019. With our skiing lessons happening later this year, we might enjoy a colder climate for our next annual trip away.