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Holidays 2003

Edinburgh, Scotland, 17- 20 December 2003

To celebrate my 21st (ahem!) Lisa surprised me with a visit to bonny Scotland and booked us into the Terrace Hotel, Royal Terrace in Edinburgh for a few days. Heading into the city itself we took a detour around Carlton Hill with a fab view of Leith Docks, the city itself, the famous Arthur's seat and Easter Rd footy stadium. The view got even better (small view (25K) large view (250K)) up the 143 steps on a spiral staircase of Nelsons Monument which comes complete with its own Timeball. Erected in 1852 this signal enabled seamen aboard ships in the Firth of Forth (try saying that after a few pints of their Caledonian beer!) to adjust their chronometers without having to come ashore. This is timed to coincide with the firing of one o'clock gun. As well as this monument there's a few other features such as the Observatory and the beginnings of a replica Pathenon (hmmm not the same somehow...).

Deacon Brodie's Tavern. Not that we went inHow do I get out of Holyrood Houseyes it was supposed to be the Parthenon but apparently they ran out of cash

Into the city walking along Princes St we could see the dramatic Edinburgh Castle high on its volcanic plug overlooking the Christmas German market, outdoor ice rink and small corral of festive reindeer in Princes Street Gardens. The whole area looked so festive once the sun was setting as the whole area was lit up. Scott Monument, which is enormous, unfortunately was closed but when I found out there were 287 step to the top I wasn't too upset. It wasn't too long before we discovered the pedestrian Rose Street, running parallel to Pinces St and its array of bars and restaurants, Dirty Dicks being the most homely, with soft lighting and golf clubs hanging from the ceiling. Although Clever Dicks on the Royal Mile itself came a close second. Every pub we went in seemed to have T lights on the tables making the whole place seem really laid back.

Tolbooth Tavern est 1820! still never went inPrinces Street, Scott monument (and big wheel!)Scott monument.. shut it was. phew saved me 287 steps!Jenners... ha who needs Harods

The next day we walked the Royal mile (more than once) taking in the sites of the new parliament building, Holyrood House (the Queens official residence in Edinburgh... I mean what's wrong with the castle?), Tron Kirk, the Whisky Centre (well just the we don't like whisky but didn't shout that too loudly!) oh and the Castle. We returned to the Royal Mile the following night too as the city, being the Friday before Christmas, was heaving and all the bars were full. The Ensign Ewart near the Castle gave a cheery welcome, fine beers and with entertainment coming from a 3 man band they didn't complain too much when we drank Brandy instead of whisky!

 German outdoor marketWaverlay Station and Edinburgh CastleNew Scotts paliament..wierd building

We had a wide variety of meals around the city, George Street being the more up market, including pastas, pizza (how many Pizzas Huts have they got!!?) and tapas. The Shazem Indian restaurant at the corner of Leith St/London Rd had been rated highly and we were not disappointed, well recommended should you visit... and if you've not been before you'll not be disappointed either with this friendly, cosmopolitan and yet historical city.

Nelsons Monument... 143 steps... good view thoughDirty Dicks, Rose St.. great pub but where was the Ladies?some dude on a horse... & LisaWipe ya feet!

Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria, 15- 30 September 2003

Well its about time we had two full weeks of sun and we were not disappointed, glorious weather all the time. We stayed at the plush Sunwing Resort in Playa del Ingles overlooking the Faro2 Commercial centre, one of many, and the huge changing sand dunes of Maspalomas complete with nudist bathing area (too far to see though). The Sunwing had a great pool overlooked by a bar which was candle lit in the evening. Taking a stroll in the baking heat (I mean why?) and not far from the apartments was the Campo De Golf golf course.. an oasis of bright lush greenery. Stopping in a nearby apartment complex for some much needed shade we came across a vending machine giving out ice creams in cans! now what a good idea (waste of packaging though!).

Campo De Golf golf courseThe Sunwingsunset view from the apartments each night

The oddest thing about Playa del Ingles is the fact that being so vast (apparently the largest resort in Europe) it has many commercial centres, not just one central centre.. Quite difficult to get used to. The Faro2 Centre was a strange complex though, spiral in design so by the time you walked round once you were on the next floor.. very strange. The Yumbo Centre, had some very interesting characters indeed but we never went to the Irish Centre, staying mainly in the Gran Chaparral Centre, the English 'hangout' with the Dutch and German bars such as the very friendly Walters.

faro2 commercial centrepuerto rico harbourin the drink!

Amongst the many restaurants we visited, La Rosa Amarilla (the yellow rose) was cheap and cheerful, Ristoranti Italian tasty but the best one we went to was Samaniego on Avenue de Tirajana, free parma ham/bread and glass of whatever to start with and the best steak I had. Incidentally there were loads of weighing machines all over the resorts for some reason... maybe its a weight watchers ploy to stop you enjoying your holidays excesses? We almost had kittens when we came across the Indian and it was shut down. After frantic investigation however we discovered the whereabouts of another at the corner of Plaza Arucas, phew! which wasn't too bad. One of the best meals we had was breakfast in an Irish bar also on the Avenue de Tirajana.. the fact the waitress was gorgeous had nothing to do with it!

statue manweightwatchers beware!postcard homecheers

All in all I didn't really like Playa del Inges, reminded me too much of a high rise estate which just happened to have a lot of bars at the lower levels. No real main town centre as I say which didn't seem right somehow... However we did spend some time in Puerto Rico further up the coast which was a lot better, harbour, beach, nice cafes.. now that's more like it. Our first visit there was part of an excursion, a ride on the Supa cat Catamaran.

Out on the catamaranon boardbelow decks

I always love being on the sea, very calming (even though the waves weren't) and a few hours trip up and down the coast did the trick. Lots of flying fish too... apparently.. I never saw any (scary looking mothers anyway!) Together with a gorgeous on board barbi and free bar we had a great time. We also got chance, from the boat, to see the man made beach at Amadores and the new palatial cliff side hotel, Hotel Gloria Palace both of which we paid visits on our next trip (via manic bus ride) to Puerto Rico... 

amadores beachAll aboardtracy island aka Hotel Gloria Palace

Amadores beach looking east

Amadores beach looking west

Keswick 5 - 7 September 2003

The Bank TavernFour in HandOddfellows ArmsGeorge Hotel Along with us for this trek was John and Helen, who knew a thing or two about mountains. So do I, high and hard work and Skiddaw was no exception! We arrived on the Friday evening where we were staying at the kalgurli Guest House. Didn't take us long before we started to patronise some of the fantastic pubs in Keswick (see snaps below). 

The Pack Horse InnLake Road Inn

Next day saw us blow away the ale fumes on the slopes of Skiddaw. Got some fabulous views across Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite lake, before the cloud came across, clearing with as we got to the top. Later that night a well deserved curry was topped off with one or ten more beers... thirsty work this fell walking!

The Old sawmill tearoomScree on skiddaw slopesI see no ships!!

View of Derwent WaterJohn going down with two women!Survived

Praia da Oura, Portugal 8 - 15 May 2003

Me and Stephen with our catch of the day!Ariel view of the Clube Praia da OuraLisa and Hannah take a dip3Kg of oranges for just a dollar!Lisa in the Beach Cafekareoke girlsBeam me up!!!Lisa loves icecreamLisa like her beerUncle Steve with Daniel and HannahMore kareoke We found out that my aunt and uncle, Val and Don, were on holiday in Portugal and decided to invite ourselves along for their second week. The only thing was that they didn't know we were coming nor my cousins, Louise and Jan with her husband, Ian, and their two kids, Hannah and Daniel, my brother Stephen and to our surprise as well, Val and Don's mates, Irene and Bobby. The look on their faces when the whole family appeared around the swimming pool at the Clube Praia da Oura where we'd also booked into. As is the custom, Don had texted me in the first week teasing me by telling me that life was a 'beach', the weather being too hot and the beer too cold... ha little did he know that we were to join them the following week! Surprise over we soon got into our sun gear and spent the rest of the day around the huge pool making a stab at getting a tan started.

Don, Jan, Val and meOur apartmentLisa and a few friends

Being our first time in the Algarve, throughout the week, we explored the resort's beaches, bars and restaurants and by following the many helpful 'shortcuts' by my Auntie Val we saved loads of beer time!! We always knew what time it was too as my Uncle Don had bought a watch off the Lucky Lucky man on the beach. I'd suggested that it no doubt told the correct time at least twice a day but I think he had the last laugh as he'd got a truly good deal. Nice watch!

Balcony apartments at the Clube Praia da OuraReception at the Clube Praia da OuraEskimo Al and lisa

We spent most of the daytime at the beach, rather than the pool, not too far from the really cool Beach Cafe providing great food and refreshing beers throughout the day. On most days the rest of the family were there too but a phrase that was heard often was 'where's Stephen?'. Where did he get too?? Maybe he was practising for his Kareoke debut and subsequent performances as the kareoke king in Eddies bar and at Eskimo Al's Kareoke (as it turned out he was from Manchester, Eskimo Al not Steve). Lisa and I did a few renditions ourselves, mostly Beatles but I did get roped into Take it easy by the Eagles (pity I didn't know the words but I think Chris in Eddies bar forgave me... Oh congrats on your engagement by the way Chris).

The beachcafe's bayThe beach cafe

Throughout the week we played frisbee and football and generally annoyed everyone on the beach! Heading back the short distance to the apartment (608) took us back via the sauna each day... and yes despite the heat you just gotta have one haven't you? We had brilliant sunshine all the time so we picked a good week to go, even the locals reckoned it was hot.

Got my own cafe in Albufeira it seemsLouise and LisaProfessional job broken out

One day we walked the short distance to the next resort, Albufeira. However this is not recommended in heels according to my cousin Louise, who had to suffer the walk the night before. We had a fab breakfast in Silvia's which was just what was needed after the walk before looking around Albufeira (which became a town in 1986) and enjoying the street entertainers in the main square.

Me and Lisa in AlbufeiraFishermansbeach, Albufeira

In the evenings we visited numerous bars and restaurants and despite bobby wearing a set of big false goofy teeth we were even allowed back into some of them. Lisa and I went to the El Bolero for a Mexican, very nice but no excuse for not using fresh chillies (the pickled sort are so naff, plus I hate vinegar so it really put me off) and Louise, Stephen, Lisa and I went for an Indian in Tai Palace, the starters being great but the main wasn't that brill. We spent a few nights in the Bocage bar, getting beaten (hussled actually) by Ian at pool but managed to keep face by beating Daniel at connect 4!

Our beachCard shark!

We also walked 'the strip' most nights, which is the lively main street that runs through the resort. While in one bar there was a magician who was doing lots of tricks to entertain both old and young, poor Bobby couldn't seem to keep hold of his watch as the magician kept taking from him without Bobby knowing! One night we took it in turns to try out the teeth, while Bobby went one better and got a clown mask.. scary. In the meantime, Jan and Hannah sang a great version of Barbie Girl in the Kareoke at Sultans. I just stuck with the beer that night and ended up with a huge litre glass that was so heavy it needed two hands to lift up... ha someone else to help me drink it

Are those teeth real?Are those teeth real?Are those teeth real?

....and the amount of people who think the Algarve is an island too, you wouldn't believe.. fear of death is the reason I'm not telling you who thinks this by the way.

Val, Lisa, Lou and JanLou, Irene and Val

Kareoke QueensLook up and smile

The gang!Bobby and Ian try hats and bags

Keswick 18 - 20 March 2003

To have a late celebration of Lisa's bithday we went up to our favourite spot in the lakes for a bit of walking and relaxation. Unfortunately I forgot to take my walking boots, hmmm knew I'd forgotten something but managed to walk the Latrigg trail without too much difficulty as the weather was unusually hot and sunny. Paid our homage to the god they call Jennings by consuming refreshing amounts of their wonderful beer, as is the custom now, as is having an indian meal from the best curry house in the world, the Lakeland Spice Cuisine. All this advertising I should get free meals!

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