Gran Canaria Holiday 2018

Having not had a proper holiday this year, we decided to chance a late booking with Thomas Cook Holidays. We wanted guaranteed sun, so we looked at the Canaries.  We had been to Puerto Rico in Gran Canaria with our children 7 years ago. That was a bit of nightmare, in a hotel in the valley and right opposite the main club area and town centre. Good for insomniacs, but not if you wanted to sleep. It had multiple beats of music bouncing of the valley sides and hotels until 4.00am every day.

We wanted to go south because the wind is generally north easterly and you are well protected from it on the South West side of the island. we didn’t want to stay in Puerto, because of the last experience, so we looked just a little bit further along the coast, but wanted to be in a position to go in to Puerto if needed for food and beverages. We found a hotel in the cliffs around the next headland call the Altamar it is built down the cliff wall over 6 floors with the entrance at the top of the Hotel.

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The Hotel is both self catering and various levels of board including “all inclusive”. The location of the hotel was in between Puerto and Amadores Bay, a beautiful beach with multiple restaurants and shops. Both were accessible by road only from the hotel, no cliff paths or lifts, so easy to get down, but very step to walk up.

The hotel met our needs for self catering, as we wanted to fend for ourselves and not be tied to the hotel for food. as said earlier the beach had plenty of restaurants and we found two that we regularly used, serving various Mediterranean foods, so you had a good choice and it was generally freshly made.  These restaurants required a down hill walk (20 minutes) and a taxi back (average cost €3.50 for the ride). as the hotel entrance was at the top of the cliff, there was a small shopping centre about 500 metres up the road, called the Europa Centre with bars, restaurants and shops.  Well, let me put it this way, it was definitely built for the Brits, English Breakfast, Sunday Roast, Kebab, fast food etc.  Every bar had multiple TV screens and all they showed was football. Everyone was wearing football shirts or some form of sports attire… The bars were even serving canned English beer, when the local beers are actually very refreshing. We could have been in Blackpool, Skegness or even Minehead, but in the Sun…

We eventually found a very good Spanish restaurant call “Picasso” as small family run restaurant with excellent Spanish and European cuisine opposite the Europe Centre. The menu provided various courses but affordable, we had a three course meal one night with drinks and it was less than €75, and the meals included both Duck and Steak. The family, father and two sons, were polite with a great sense of humour.  I could honestly say, if our budget was a little more for the holiday, we would have eaten there every night. However, if we had, I probably would have increased in size around my midriff.

We ventured in to Puerto Rico once, walking down to Amadores and then along the cliff path to Puerto. We didn’t stay long, nothing had changed or improved from the last visit 7 years ago, if anything it was worse.

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We also took the ferry to Mogan a small port further west along the coast from Puerto Rico. A very picturesque village and know as Little Venice, with its waterways and Spanish cottages around the harbour and water ways. All around the harbour and side streets, there are plenty of restaurants and small shops. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant and ordered mixed Tapas for two with a couple of cold beers. We had been sat there for 5 or 10 minutes, when I remembered that this was the restaurant we ate at 7 years ago with the children. Its sometime strange how you are drawn back to places. So a shout out for Restaurant Balero who’s food was also really good.

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Overall we had a relaxing holiday, the average temperature was around 28C, Although I do not like Puerto Rico itself, just around the corner is very pleasant if you can get away from those who like football and everything English.  If you go to Spain and or any other, don’t abuse the culture and expect everything English.

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To Finish off, I have created a small video of the holiday, this can be found on my Youtube site:

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Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Hinton Ampner & Wickham Square

The last summer UK Bank holiday has now passed, the weather this summer has been extremely good, but, unfortunately lacking in riding days at the weekends. Where have they all gone, in fact where has the year gone? I started this challenge with the easy intention of visiting 60 tea rooms by my 60th Birthday, in November. That so far has proven to be a challenge, not because of lack of tea rooms, but everything else that goes on in life. Anyway, the challenge continues, and we are aiming to complete, even if it means rainy day riding, but please don’t tell my wife.

We recently joined the National Trust again to take in a few more stately homes and English family history and tea rooms. Today we ventured into Mid-Hampshire, to Hinton Ampner House.

The house was owned by the Dutton Family and was left to the national Trust in 1985 when the last member of the family, Ralph Dutton 8th Baron Sherborne passed away at the age of 87. The house was refurbished after a major fire in 1960 and back to the Georgian style that it originally was and has remained in full since the Ralph Dutton passed away.

The house has full access to all rooms, however, at present the first floor had the floor boards up for wiring and other electrical work. So, we will be going back for another look. The house is in 1600 acres of land and the gardens are beautiful to walk around. The tea room was the standard food fayre for a National Trust site and they also had Judy’s Ice Cream. The team room has plenty of seating both in an outside and in quiet surroundings.

Note for riders, the carpark is effectively a field on a hill and difficult to park. There is a flat gravel car park at the top of the hill by the entrance and it would be worth asking if you can park in there for ease (especially if you have a heavy bike like mine).

The ride out was a familiar one, A32 and A272, so nice ride all the way and back to Wickham.

Our second visit for the day was back to Wickham Square and Lilly’s Tea and Coffee House. We have been before and always enjoyed it. Generally, it is very busy, we didn’t arrive until about 1.45pm, so it had quietened down, so we managed to get a table outside overlooking the square. The menu is great and lots to choose from, Salad, sandwiches, afternoon tea and cake etc. Prices are reasonable across all offerings and food tastes great. Today we both went for Baked Camembert Ploughman’s, effectively a baguette with salad, pickle and a full baked cheese ring, delicious.

Well that’s was todays ride out, back to work tomorrow, three days, then it’s the weekend again, hopefully for another ride out.

Safe riding people…

Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Cornwall Day Three

End of day two saw us enjoying a beer or two and a BBQ, as the night drew in the clouds and the wind came with it. As the skies grew darker, it was time to check the forecast for the next day, and it was not good! Heavy rain showers forecast, and they were going to be with us for the next couple of days.  Over night the wind got up and the rain began to fall, and I mean like stair rods.

Its 8.30 and the wind had died down, but the sky was thick with heavy rain clouds. Command decision was made, move to four wheels for day and are we glad we did, the rain when it did fall during the day was heavy! The trip for the day was going to take us up to Minions (Menyon) village on top of the Moors and then to Lanhydrock House (National Trust).

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Minions Village is located at the edge of Bodmin Moor, but is also the highest village in Cornwall, you could say it also has the two highest tea shops in Cornwall. Minions Village is a mining heritage village that still has the remains of several tin mines surrounding the village. Also local to the area are the Cheesewring (a stacked stone formation) and the Hurlers Circles (three Bronze age circles 1500 BC). The sites provide some fantastic aerial photo opportunities (will be going back with the drone) as well as other photographic opportunities.

Anyway, back to the original challenge regarding tea shops. We decided to go to the Hurlers Halt, there is also the Cheeswring Hotel and Restaurant opposite. Anyway, we strolled in to the Hurlers Halt and took a seat and looked at the menu. A great choice of food and other beverages. Just over our shoulder was a glass cabinet full of very big cakes and they looked delicious.  So, cream tea was of the cards and cake was on.  The owner was friendly and had a great sense of humour as we found out towards to end.  Our friend said after finishing tea and cake “so that’s the sample what are you going to provide for the main deal” he looked at us and said “have you read the bottom of the menu?” in red the following words were written:

WARNING – prices may vary according to the attitude of the customer!!”

Laughing, we paid our bill and left. If you like history and a good cuppa and good food, worth a visit.

Next stop, Lanhydrock House, a National Trust run house and gardens and normally guaranteed to have a good tea room and normally a restaurant. We have always found that the food and beverages in all the National Trust houses are good, so I am not going to say much, but the cream tea was good, but they really need to stop serving the jam and cream in sealed tubs… because you don’t get enough. The house history is fascinating but also tragic, with many members of the family being killed during the Great War. The house has some great artefacts and fabulously decorated rooms. The park and garden are beautiful with a small chapel at the back of the house. A good end to a few days in Cornwall.

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Our final day took us back home the quickest possible route, dodging raining showers and thunder storms. Luckily, we did not encounter them, we skirted around them, plenty of wet roads, but not rain fell on us. Overall we have a good few days and we will be going back and venturing further a field in to deepest darkest Cornwall.