Friday, 30 May 2008

last day

We had an early pick-up and transfer to the airport for a 10:30 flight. With the long drive across the island, we were on the coach at 7:40, which means we missed breakfast. We made do with a few pieces of fruit and reached the airport to discover that our plane was delayed until 14:30. So we settled in to wait..

check this double banana...Cameron thought it was awesome!

All of a sudden our flight disappeared from the board, and an unintelligable message with our flight number came over the system. Our plane would depart earliest 17:00! So they packed us onto coaches and shipped us to a local hotel.

There were many cross Germans (more on them later), but we took the attitude that it was an extra day on the island and we were going to enjoy it!

So, we went for a great beach walk, had a nice lunch, and relaxed at this hotel (shame we didnt have bathers, a swim would have been nice!). Eventually we were loaded onto coaches and shipped back to the airport for our flight.

One intersting thing was the area that this other hotel was in. It was obviously the area for British tourists and had really been 'colonised' - you could drink in the O'Connells Irish Pub, the Trafalgar Pub, the Lord Nelson, and all of the shops catered for the Brits (Even the prices were 30-50% more than where we stayed, catering for the conversion from the pound). I think I quite liked the area that we were in better - better beaches and more local character (outside the hotel, that is).

Nicole managed to knit 3/4 of a sock during the wait in the airport and on the plane (managed to get the needles in carry on luggage :)

We finally arrived in Berlin at about 10 minutes to 11, with now grumpy and tired Germans everywhere. As I was getting the bags off the luggage belt, one cranky old German decided to kick my bags (he thought that would somehow make his bags appear faster? he couldn't see over them?) I used my very best gutter German to politely leave my posessions alone and that I would not look kindly on him doing that again. I think he got the message (I repeated it in English to be sure he understood....)

So, we had an extra day on the island and a very late return home (we were all really looking forward to our beds) and a lazy Sunday to recover from our holiday!

Now the washing is (nearly) done, and its back to work to save up for the next adventure!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Last day (or so we thought...)

Our last day on the island (or so we thought.. read the next post...) we 'broke with the routine' and went for a walk along the beach as a family for the morning. We knew that it would contain all the things the boys would love - the beach, investigating rockpools, seeing the kiteboarders and feeding the Barbary Ground Squirrels that have tamed all of the tourists.

The walk was great, and we splashed in the waves, investigated lots of rockpools (it was just after high tide, so these were great! There were lots of crabs and small creatures for the kids to see, and they had a wonderful time exploring.

Along the cliffs behind the beach live colonies of Barbary Ground Squirrels. These are small squirrels that were imported many years ago, and so liked the place that there are now about 300,000 living on the island. They are incredibly brave, and have 'trained' the tourists to feed them (by being 'cute'). We stopped at a couple of colonies and fed them pieces of apple, which they loved, but they didn't like banana (well, its true they are not monkeys...).

They would take pieces right out of the hand and the boys loved feeding them. They were 'turbocharged' and scampered about, often racing up nearly verticle cliffs and rocks, and chasing each other about. At first, it was a novelty seeing them. By the end of the week, we had seen them everywhere and were quite used to them scampering about.

When we reached the kiteboarding centre, the boys were fascinated to watch a guy blow up the skeleton of his 'kite' using a bicycle pump. As they were investigating his rig, he invited them to try out his board - which he duly 'wiggled' to give them the impression of surfing the waves. He then told the boys that in 2 years, they would be old enough to start learning...the boys think this is a great idea!

They loved to watch the kite surfers race across the bay, then leap into the air and sail along behind their kites for ages.

We finally made it back to the hotel for an afternoon by the pool, then a final play on the beach and swim in the sea. A great family day.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Our view from our rooms

great beaches

and lots of rock pools to explore

the rest of the island away from the resort is just rocky hills....

Barbary Ground Squirrels make their homes in the cliff faces.

lovely coloured hibiscus

loved the colour of the water

Great colours of bogenvillias

lots of fun in the pools

and on the beach...

to get a good photo, sometimes you need to "shake the sillies out" first!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

A typical day

So... how did we fill our day? It was amazing how quickly the 'resort routine' set in...

Up late, for a long lazy breakfast. Cameron concentrated on the coco-pops and the cold chocolate milk. Alexander works on the principle of " how many types of egg?". The food quality was great, and the big buffets allowed the boys plenty of choice to 'graze'.

We would get the boys lathered in sunscreen and they would go off to 'Mini-club'. Here they would do craft and sport activities, and play with the other kids. The boys did this almost exclusively in German, which is great practice for them.

Because it was 'shoulder season' and there were no school holidays, there were only a few other kids. By the end of the week they were all great friends. They has the same leader all week - Betty - who did a great job and ensured the kids had a great time.

Whilst the kids were in Mini-club, we would walk on the beach (or if Nicole set the direction, past the shops...)for 2 hours. This was really enjoyable, and at least a bit of exercise to balance the sins of the buffet... We walked kilometers in each direction from the hotel - at one end we discovered the Kiteboarding centre (looks great fun - this goes on my list of things to learn!), and we walked to the end of the beach the other way, and along the cliffs.

We would be back in time to pick the kids up from Mini-club. They would then want to have a game of checkers (using the big outdoor chess set - very interesting but confusing for spectators when rooks jumped bishops...) then we would go off to lunch.

Following lunch it would be beach or pool - depending on what the kids wanted. If the kids club were on the beach in the afternoon, we would often wind up there so they could run around with their mates, bury each other, build sandcastles, and splash in the small waves. We would stay there until about 6, when we would go up to our rooms, rinse off all the sand, and head to dinner.

After dinner, we would take the kids to the lounge, where they would join in the 'mini disco' and play games with their mates. Because it was not so busy, the kids could run around quite happily (usually playing some form of chase) and not disturb too many people (normally only the parents...)

We would then stay to watch a bit of the 'entertainment' - one night was an interesting show using parrots that the kids loved, and the rest of the time it was the hotel's sports and entertainment crew putting on a show (skits, dance or something). It must be a looooooong summer for them if they have to do this stuff 3 times a week until October! (At least the guests only get one or two weeks of it!)

Late to bed, with a sleep in the next morning and a lazy start to breakfast...and do it all again.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Fuerteventura - May holiday in the sun

The last week of May has 2 special events - the half-term holiday for the boys, and Nicole's birthday. This year we packed our bathers (swimmers/trunks/cossies depending upon where in the world you are reading this) and sunscreen and headed to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, for a week of total relaxation.

When we asked the kids what sort of holiday they would like, the vote was unanimous: beach and pool! So this was what we aimed for, and we were not disappointed!

We were up early to catch our 6:05 flight - which got us into Fuerteventura about lunchtime. We caught a coach to a lovely part of the Island, the Costa Calma, which has fabulous beaches, not big surf (perfect for the kids) and plenty of resorts. We stayed at the Tindaya, which was great.

As with all of our holidays organised from Berlin, it was organised in line with 'German' tour and resort operators, so once again we were in the language minority (but a great chance to practice real 'conversational' German!)

The weather was calm in the mornings and windy in the afternoons - with flat water for miles it is a sailor's delight! Lots of windsurfers and kiteboards, but (unfortunately) I saw no catamarans - this place is perfect for them! The temperature was about 25-28 degrees every day, although we did get some cloud and one short patch of rain, which bought the temperature down (enough to drive the kids out of the pool...). This was a rarity, though, and we were often still swimming at 6pm, either in the ocean or at the pool.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Crazy Cocktail

Part of Cameron's Maths Homework this week was to make a Crazy Cocktail.
Cameron gave me a shopping list to buy the ingredients during the week.

The only thing I couldn't get was a drink umbrella!

He added lots of ice cubes as well.

So, Here is the Fruit Juice Cocktail...into the blender and mix with lots of ice cubes.
Pour into the glasses.
Add the slice of lemon.
"Cheers!" or in Germany "Prost"

Sorry, Cameron will not let you in on the secret recipe.

Sunday, 11 May 2008


It's not often we get to have visitors stay with us, cause we live so far away!

We have been lucky to have Phil's brother, Stephen and his wife Jane come to visit. They were allowed to visit, as long as they did some shopping for us....oddly, they couldn't find any of this stuff in a health food shop, so they had to go elsewhere for the stash!

We did the first part of the Berlin Wall walk that Nicole had previously done, however we went from the East Side Gallery (the longest stretch of existing Berlin Wall), to Potsdamer Platz...perfect plan, so we could have lunch in town. From there, it was on through Potsdamner Platz to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.

The weather in Berlin is perfect at the moment, sunny days, but not too hot. A great day to take photos!

Here we all are in front of the Reichstag

Spot the Tourist

The Engelcafe infront of the Engelbecken (Angel's Basin)

Brandenburg Gate

We had a great day, and at lunch Jane and Nicole were given a rose each for Mothers Day!