Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Spain Day 2

Needless to say after being up for 24hours the day before we were definitely slow to start in the morning! Finally once up and showered and sunscreened up against the hot day we headed out. Caught the bus into Palma again to see it in the daylight. We stroll back along the pedestrian area to find somewhere to eat ...it is now 1/2pm and we haven't eaten yet. We found a lovely shady strip of cafes and tapas places across from the cathedral.

After a nice long wait at the table for the menu (Spanish time is so much slower then Africa time!) and then trying to decipher the menu and order it from the non English speaking staff. There was loads of pointing going on!

We then strolled around to the 'lake' next to the cathedral and then up to the cathedral where we went in and had a look around. I must say that the Spanish catholics were a pretty morbid bunch. The seemed to be obsessed with bones and skulls. There was lots of this in the imagery around the inside as well as certain items(relics, artifacts) like goblets with pieces of the persons skull built into the design and rosary crosses with actual finger bones used as the cross with gold surrounds. The inside was beautiful with all the Gothic architecture and amazing height. There was even a section on the nave to the one side of the alter which was redone by Gaudi - which of course you could tell right away.

After that we carried on strolling around the old city with all it cute Spanish lanes and balconies over flowing with flowers. It all looked so unreal like something out of a movie or book. We enjoyed taking random turns and seeing where we would land up. we got ourself stunning ice creams along the way and also did some shopping while we were at it. C was def in need of flip flops in the heat as he only had heavy hiking shoes.

Then we make it back to Illetas and back down to the beach as the tan is now coming along nicely and we do need to soak up as much sunlight and UV rays as possible. Am very glad that even though it was so hot the UV rays in Spain dont seem s to be as harsh as the ozoneless rays that we get in SA.

By now it is about 5/6pm and food is calling us so we stop at the other resturant on the beach for a snack. We are by now getting better with our Spanish and are able to make orders and use other single words like thanks. This causes the waiters to speak to us in Spanish but doesn seem to be too much of a problem since we got what we wanted and didnt have to speak english and point to make ourselves understood.

Then eventually we head back to the flat from 8pm to say goodbye to Ingrid as she is off to cover the Americas cup in Valencia. After the hot day and time on the beach we freshened up with a shower and head out to meet Kev and Cala at his local little bar restaurant which is basically an open to the street tiled room with cafe tables. It does happen to be a mins walk from the flat and is always on the route back from walking Cala. It is called du peitte jardin (the small garden - no garden in sight?!?!) but the locals call it deigos as that is the owners name !

We enjoyed the evening out there drinking with Kev and a friend of his Filthy Fiona and of course Cala ...who is enjoying greeting everyone going passed and trying to beg food as all dogs do. We finally eat at about midnight which is becoming a habit !

Then off to much needed bed as a heavy night is promised for the next (friday) night.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Spain Day 1

Ok so I've been trying for this whole week to sit down and start writing some blogs about Spain but have been way too exhausted to even think! Luckily it has been a really quiet week at work and have been able to tune out a bit.

so here I go:

Thanks to one very lazy Sunday afternoon I booked our flights to Palma, Mallorca for 6am thinking it was 6pm on Tuesday the 20th June. I have no idea how I did that but I just did. But even though it was an early start I still think it turned out pretty well giving us more time in Spain!

So this early start was 2am !!! which was only possible thanks to much harassment by C to get me up and into the shower. 20 mins later the taxi was at the door and I was throwing clothes on. Thankfully we had been pretty good at planning ahead on the packing and had the bag already waiting :)

Jumped into the taxi and down to Kentish town station for the very 1st train of the morning ! It was actually great being on the train so early with hardly anyone cept an entertaining (but don't make eye contact) drunk footie supporter ! We cruised into gatwick before you knew it and onto the self service check in machines. Which were very cool !

Then it was time for a spot of food at 5am ...and off to the boarding gate. After sitting there for about 10 mins we get the announcement that the flight has been delay for a short while due to the navigation system having to be checked. We only sat there for another 30 mins and then got to board the plane. once on the plane we get another announcement from the pilot that something else is needing to be sorted out and that it shouldn't be too long. After about 15 mins of waiting for that to be resolved we get told that there are too many bags on the plane and that all of the bag will have to be taken off the plane rescanned to sort to the ones that truly have to be on the plane and then pack them back. Since I'm sitting over the baggage compartment i get to watch them truly do all of this. Finally we are told that we can take off now and that they had just miscounted the bag in the rear and that they were all back on the plane.

Finally we taxi onto the runway and start the take off...we accelerate and then it seems that just as we would be taking off the pilot puts on the brakes ! Flaps up screeching to a halt suddenly we are standing still on the runway. Then we are taxi-ing back. We get told that the system is still broken and that they couldn't read their speed and had to replace the part. So there we sat on the runway for another hour or so. We are now hitting the time that we are supposed to be landing in Palma and we haven't even left yet ! The flight was shorter then the delay was but finally we cruise into Palma at 11:30am.

We called my brother, Kevin, as we landed and he cruised through and was waiting for us once we had come through immigration and collecting our bags. We then headed off to his place. He has a flat that is a block up from the sea with a stunning view of the med through the pine trees. We basically dumped our bags changed into beach gear, meet his little dog Cala and head off to the beach to find my other brother's ex girlfriend who was also staying with Kevin since she was in town photographing the regatta of HUGE power yachts. These are yachts that are minimum 150 foot long - that are crazy huge !!! The main Illetas (the little 'town' - more like a suburb - where Kevin lives) beach is only 5 mins walk from his flat. We walked down there found ourselves a spot on the busy beach by the water. And of course had to go and try out the Mediterranean water. Wow is it stunning and warm - it was absolutely beautiful and very refreshing in the intense heat that is Spain. Then we started on the much needed tan !!!

I would just like to comment that the Spanish seem to have going topless on the beach as part of their culture. It is almost weird to have a bikini top on. It obviously is just completely natural cause it was like this on every single beach we visited and then more locals on the beach the more topless woman...so if there are topless woman in our holiday pics, it was unavoidable !



We all then decided that it was time for lunch and head to one of the restaurants on the beach for a stunning lunch of fresh fish. Was so yummy ! and had very full tummies as C, Ingrid and myself head back to the beach to lie in the sun more.

Finally after sunning ourselves and swimming and sunning ourselves more and chatting we realise that it is about 6:30 (the sun still being pretty high in the sky put us off the time) and we head back to the flat to get ourselves ready to head off to Palma for some dinner and drinks.

A 15 minute bus ride and we arrive in the centre of Palma and Kevin leads us off down one of the many alleyways to a cute till Tapas restaurant. Now I have been to what are called Tapas restaurants in Cape Town but they really are nothing like the true Spanish tapas. You basically walk up to the counter whenever you want which has always got lots of little plates with little picky food things (half of which i had no idea what they were). You get a large plate and then just pick what you want from all the little plates. then you keep the toothpicks that are stuck in the food and that is how you are charged for your meal. There is a constant flow of new things arriving on the counter. I was picking food that I had no idea what it was. Mostly they were great! C and I only made one mistake each, I picked a deep fried chilli (kinda like chilli poppers) which C was more then happy to take off my hands and he picked a fishy thing that neither of us liked. Anyway was def a great experience and have since heard of an authentic Spanish tapas bar here in Camden that we are going to have to make a plan to go to.

After dinner we take a stroll though a bit of the old town and then main pedestrian walkway down passed the cathedral all lit up white in the dark night sky (yes it was finally dark !) We then made our way to a place called Abaco. It is basically an old traditional Spanish house that they have restored and then made into a very swanky drinks bar - where the drinks are seriously costly ...cept if you are spending Pounds like we were so was normal London cocktail prices to us. We had a wonder around the house through the old restored rooms. It was really great to see. We then settled down in the beautiful courtyard with a fountain in the centre and lights everywhere. There was classical music playing and an avery of birds filling the air with their song. We were sadly rushed through our cocktails by a very rude Spanish maitrd (spelling?).

After more strolling through the streets we realise that it is about 1am ... so we head off home getting to bead about about 2:30. I would just like to point out that this is 24.5 hours after we got up !!! I just couldnt beleive that I had survived 24 hours and wasnt to worse for wear ! But was definitely glad to be going to sleep !

Monday, 18 June 2007

Pre Spain catch up

Well it has been ages since I've written a blog and it has been a very busy few week affording me very little time to stop and write it all down !

The last thing I was writing about was the long weekend at the end of May so will try and recall everything from then.

The Monday that was the actual bank holiday we decided to finally make a plan to go to the theater and since we wanted to see Equus and it was closing on the 9th of June we choose to go see it. We missioned off at about lunch time to get the tickets from the half price booth on Leicester square. We also decided that since it was Gary's last night with us and since Simon was also visiting we would drag them along for the experience. After getting the tickets C and I headed off to Oxford street for some retail therapy. The shopping trip was a great success and many items were bought - cept we didn't think about the fact that we would then have to take the shopping bags with us to the theatre! We braved the infamous Primark and then went and found C some nice slim fit shirts.

Laden down with all the bags we find a starbucks across the road from the theatre to wait and meet up with the others. I have definitely never seen such a busy coffee shop with loads of dressed up people all going to one of the many theaters in the area.
As usual I was pretty nervous about seeing the play as it had been alot of my decision on which one to see and I was taking 3 guys into a play that had Daniel Radcliffe running around nude for some of the play and topless for alot more. But it was a success all round with Simon raving about it since he has never done anything like that in his life. It was a very powerful play with a very heavy but well put point. I really enjoyed it and am so glad we got to see it before it went off. It was also cool when I heard that it was the play that my mom had seen when she came to London in the 70's.

After a gloriously long and busy weekend it was back to the grindstone. I think that it was in this week that the design director of the company that I was temping asked to have coffee with me and to see my portfolio. Basically we had coffee and discussed what i wanted and he told me that the team liked me and they are impressed with the quality of my work and would like me to stay on permanently. I was like so happy - a permanent job -yay. I did still feel like I should think it over. So on the 1st I told him that i was keen and would he just let me know what package he would be offering me. Once he told me I have to physically hold myself in the chair i was on to stop myself from jumping up and screaming at the top of my lungs...ok so maybe not that dramatic - but I was seriously shocked and pretty much said yes on the spot. By Monday afternoon (after I had to go mission off to the local job centre for an interview to get a national insurance number - basically so that I don't pay the maximum tax) I had the contract all signed and sealed !

So back to that weekend (1 June) on the Friday we went and met C's work mates at a local bar/clubby venue, Alibi, for drinks and had Simon join us as well. Drinks went on to dancing and then moved over to a club called Bedouin Bar (bed bar to the locals) causing C and I to head home alot later then we hoped, and caused usage of the night buses to get home! Not always a pleasant thing depending on your state of soberness.

Sat morning had us up relatively early for me and off to the borough market to meet up with Simon. I absolutely love borough market - i mean a market with loads and loads of yummy food - what more could you want...alcohol, it has that too! We got young french wine straight out of the barrel into a bottle that you can bring back and reuse. Its a litre of either wine or rose wine for a fiver !



After partaking in loads of little food tastings and buying a few choice things including the ostrich steaks for the braai we were invited to down south (Wimbledon), we made our trek down. Miss M and housemates were having a braai and invited us. It was really good catching up with her and getting to meet more people - loads of saffas in London type thing. We sat and talked and ate more and braaied of course - the ostrich steaks were fantastic ! Then there was a call to go play around in the park across the road. So there C and I sat and watched them play soccer ..oops FOOTBALL! (it is def NOT called soccer here) and some touch rugby as well. Then once it was getting later and all the little kiddies had gone home we went to play on the playground equipment....lots of monkeying around was done my all - but mostly by C. I just love the little child in him as he jumped around and played. And then scaring all the others with his what seemed daring jumping off of tall jungle gyms and his attempts to dynoing off the rings. Which helped him find a fellow climber in the group of people. I would like to comment at this point about the lovely squishy tar that they have in the playgrounds here - not like the hard tarmac like back home...it is basically little bits of rubber put together as a tar looking surface ! SO cool. Had me bouncing everywhere I went! anyway - pics to follow as the pics speak louder then my words. Finally C and I had to make our way as there was the long trek home north again.
So the next work week - I've said that the contract was signed and then I started to get some of my own projects to work on which was great! It turned out to be a week of serious steps forward with the new job and also opening a joint bank account with C. So on Thursday night I took C out to dinner to celebrate. He found this great restaurant in Camden called the Camden brasserie where I had the most stunning lamb steak and creme brulee - was a lovely evening - just perfect :)
And suddenly it was another Friday night which of course meant drinks with C's workmates. It was a certain mates birthday celebrations at a bar called the fence. Was really nice evening with me getting to meet more people that work with C and having to relate again and again our story ...and having more of them telling me he is LOVELY !!! Lol, like I don't know that already !!! :P

We had decided to throw a bit of a dinner party while the housemate was away in Palma in reciprocation to the dinner party Paul and Alice invited us to. So we had a plan ... clean the flat and make bedroom into lounge /dinning room and go buy tuna steaks and fresh produce from the borough market (yes we love that place) All the plans came together perfectly with us all ready and unstressed when Paul and Alice arrived. We had a whole load of picky things for starters including a variety of olives and nuts etc from the market. As well as the most awesome snack that I've been missing out on all my life...DOUGH BALLS --- yummy balls of happiness as Alice calls them :) So good ! Then we had the tuna steak cook beautifully if I say so myself since I cooked them. And finally trifle for desert. And then ending the evening with a whiskey and chocolate (well no whiskey for me) We, as we seem to always do, over catered and sent home very stuffed guests and ourselves with bursting tummies where left to stash the dishes and make up our bed again. It was great to see that our bedroom can do the whole lounge thing really well. And it was also good to give it a clean and organised...cept it is back to utter chaos since this last weekend.
The Sunday was Mom's birthday and so of course started with a call back home to wish her a very happy 60th birthday. I still cant believe that she is 60! She just doesn't act that age :P
We then missioned off to the docklands to the Grand Designs Live show. Which is basically a big design exhibition like design for living back home but centred alot around the self build house projects. But there was still a huge interiors section and a shopping section too. We spent the afternoon wandering around there - me getting loads of idea and inspirations for designs at work and just see what is available here. And C was a very good boyfriend and didn't complain at all :P

We had then been invited to a pub in the old street area by Miss M for a small little Sunday afternoon gig by a friend of hers which just happened to be on the way home. So we stopped by and had a couple of drinks and social time with Miss M, her housemate, Tom and the artist...Tim Kay who happens to be guy behind the title song for Jamie Oliver's new show - Jamie at home - On tv screens in August. Tom was one of the guys that was one of the 'fifteen' graduates, very cool guy. These are all Miss M's friends as she worked with them! Really great down to earth people.
Finally last week was just a crazy crazy week with me having to complete 2 presentations for the end of the week causing me to work late most nights. C was great and stayed late as well to come home with me (we work 2 blocks from each other btw) and cooking me dinner cause I was too exhausted - plus I had a bit of a flu things going on but refused to let it take hold. I must say I was really happy with our decision to have a chill weekend doing nothing since our time has been constantly filled everyday. Thursday saw us having drinks at the castle with his mates and then an early night.
Friday consisted off me rushing my ass off to get to the bank in time to collect our bank cards and then heading home to crash into bed. C worked late to make ready for a new guy starting under him at work today. We then cuddled up and watched alpha dog (brilliant movie! even more hectic that it is a true story !!!) and another early night :)
While lazing in bed on Saturday morning there comes a knock on the door and its the delivery of C's new server that he bought that week...So Saturday was spent setting up new server and then heading out to buy a sound card for it to become a media centre for watching movies, series and listening to music - and now we also have tv channels on it. But he is still figuring out the codex for the video with Linux. So the rest of the weekend was me watching series and playing computer and Callum playing with computers and lots of little naps in between - it was a really great weekend. But now our room is chaos with boxes and stuff everywhere and laundry everywhere and 4 computers (!) and us still having to pack for Spain leaving first thing, bright and early on Wednesday morning! it is a very early start so want to be packed today so that we can get to sleep early as we have to watch up at something like 2am for the train to the airport!!!

well, that is it for now ...I would just like to say that I cant believe that I am where I am. That One night a year ago I firstly told my brother that I would make a plan and def come and visit in a year and that was the night I met C and how that set off the chain of events that got me where I wanted to be - and I still have to pinch myself and wonder how everything could have fallen into place so easily and that I could be in such a different place within a year mentally and physically.

So that is finally it until I'm back from Spain...

Friday, 1 June 2007

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