Rutland columnist Allan Grey discusses post-lockdown trip abroad
Two years on from our lockdown in Lanzarote experience and we’re back at East Midlands airport, writes Rutland columnist Allan Grey.
It’s about 7am and we’re having breakfast, waiting to relocate to our Canary Island happy place. It’s a bacon cob for me and egg and beans on toast for the lovely lady, plus a couple of lacklustre lattes, the food distinguished only by it’s awfulness, Otters it most definitely is not.
An early morning holiday flight out of many UK airports offers an amazing insight into the wonderful diversity of our population, and it’s hellish difficult not to be a tad judgemental. There’s those that tend toward breakfast and a hot beverage, with few tattoos in sight, and even less exposed flesh. Then there’s others that feature extensive body artwork, exposed upper and lower aplenty, and consume as many pints of lager as time will allow before staggering their way to the departure gate.
Up, up and away and then four hours of queueing at either end of the plane for the three tiny latrines on board, squeezing past the drinks trolleys, desperate to dispose of all that San Miguel and Prosecco. It’s a sneaky in flight G&T for yours truly, and as we descend into Arrecife, the flight attendants get stuck into selling duty free booze and perfume with the now familiar promise of once in a lifetime, never to be repeated offers… until the flight home that is. Before we know it we’re on the ground in Lanzarote, disembarking, showing our passport, having our passenger locator QR code scanned, temperature taken and looking for our transfer to the little fishing village of Playa Blanca. Well it might have been a little fishing village back in the day. It’s now a fast developing, year round destination for us sun seekers, with it’s spanking new cruise liner terminal approaching completion, but still with a couple of old fishing boats permanently moored in the harbour in order to retain that rustic appeal.
The lovely lady and I first visited Playa Blanca back in the mid ‘90s, a free week after buying timeshare at Barnsdale, now long sold on as the maintenance fees headed north toward four figures. We’ve had a timeshare in Playa Blanca for the last 10 years, and look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones each time we visit; for three weeks of the year it’s home from home, with benefits, like sunshine, no unattended roadworks, no bothersome level crossing and €4.50 for a very large gin and tonic.
Prior to the Easter holidays, the age profile at the laid back Las Brisas resort guarantees we all qualify for our spring booster on returning home in a few weeks time. At the other end of the age and shape spectrum are the svelte triathletes, nearly 1,200 of them out here on the island for the week, putting in their final training runs and rides in preparation for the weekend’s Half Ironman, or The 70.3 if you’re up with the latest triathlon vernacular.
Later in May, they’ll be back for the famous Lanzarote Ironman, the real McCoy, comprising a 2.4 mile open water swim, followed by 112 miles on the bike, and a full marathon to finish, over some extremely challenging terrain.
As you might imagine my triathlon days are now behind me, just (OK, 20 years behind me, who’s counting?) but the chance to cycle through the amazing volcanic landscape on beautifully smooth roads that have never become acquainted with a pothole is always too good to miss, and I’ll be out on a road bike as always but sadly with far fewer motorists to annoy.
And whilst on the subject of transport, the last two years have seen a new virus take hold down here, e-scooters. Download the Link app, find a vacant scooter at any road junction, scan the QR code and ride. A fantastic invention, ride it anywhere, but please, do try not to maim any pedestrians. When you’ve had enough, just abandon the scooter within the ‘geofence’ ready for the next rider, sounds simple, but they have become the scourge of the pedestrian classes everywhere. On the local information website it is explained very succinctly that this scourge is not the fault of the scooter, but rather the rider; sounds like we’re in Range Rover territory to me.
We were here two years ago, locked down for nine days, before escaping on the last Jet2 flight back to the UK. Back again and we’re wondering just where the heck those two years went? Of course we know the answer to that: trips to Barnard Castle to get our eyes tested, saving the NHS, succumbing to Zoom fatigue, vaccinating three quarters of the population, and then getting smashed after work at dress down Friday garden parties, all behind us in a flash.
Within a few hours we meet many old friends, and a few new applicants, recognising that the early days of the trip will be fully occupied regaling one another with our latest operation, condition, medication and possibly even terminal prognosis. “I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had my left knee replaced two months ago, I’ve had no stomach for 20 years, I may only have 10 years left, I really shouldn’t mention my painful testicular wart, oh, you as well, what a coincidence Shirley.”
And the unknown lady who explains in every agonising detail the terrible problems she’d had with her Achilles’ tendon: “Here look, I’ve got the photos on my phone, this is what my foot looked like after my second operation, before and after the gangrene set in.” Look, right swipe, right swipe, and all this stood next to me whilst I’m having my much anticipated first full English breakfast on the sun terrace. So sorry sweetheart, application denied, and now time for a large San Miguel me thinks!