February 11 Two days before we left for Maspalomas, our central heating boiler packed up. The day we left, it snowed in England. When we got there it was 24º. For once we got it right – then why do I feel guilty – rats leaving sinking ship and all that? Plus I had not met my Feb 7 deadline – hope my editor doesn’t read this.
It’s at the southern tip of Gran Canaria, one of the group of islands off the west coast of Africa where northern Europeans go in winter to defrost – at the risk of being called a wimp I have to admit that even the Riviera doesn’t quite do it in midwinter
The last time I was here my kids were younger than my grandkids are now – it was more than 30 years ago. And how it has changed! It was just a place name that looked like a failed anagram of the capital, Las Palmas, and some sand dunes – they shot bits of Lawrence of Arabia here. Now you can hardly find the dunes.
It’s a man-made international vacation centre – a sort of Disney-less Florida, with the same green, planet-draining golf courses and the same Hispanic natives. Which means everything looks new; but nicely new: it's tastefully developed – even the big hotels are hidden behind vast gardens of bougainvillia and hibiscus. The whole place looks pristine and the only workers to be seen apart from domestics are men in white overalls with white-spotted faces, carrying buckets of paint
We got here just in time to watch Spain beat the NEW England team. Well no, only the coach was new – the players were the same eerie-dreary mustn’t lose automatons as before. When you see how hard they play when they play club football, you have to assume that the new coach is no better motivator than the old one.
It’s a truly multicultural place – the area we live in is called Campo Internacional. You can distinguish people’s nationality from their feeding times: FWVSCs (families with very small children) and Americans dine at around 5.30, followed by Dutch and Germans. Brits and French tend to turn up around eight, then when everyone has left and the restaurants are so deserted you think they're on the verge of closing, the Spanish start to arrive: waiters cheer up and enjoy animated banter about the relatIve merits of Real Madrid and Barca.
All in all, a very nice place, and it will do nicely until the worst of the winter’s past. Other assets – not much to do and no internet access: ie. very conducive to work. And as for the deadline – what’s Spanish for mañana?
But it's a great comfort, as we sit here surrounded by electric heaters waiting for the boiler men to arrive, to know that it's now 28 degrees in Maspalomas.
Sign language You see some odd signs in Maspalomas, but this one is about the oddest. Even in Spanish it doesn’t seem to make sense – although it must. But in German it does – it's that Kamelstation. Thus I think it must
mean ‘Access only to the camels’ place.’
Carbon Dating We were walking along the promenade the other night. It was a warm evening of the kind we sometimes see in UK in mid-August, and there was a gentle sea breeze. As we rounded a bend, there was a fountain – well, not so much a fountain as a mini-Niagara without the men in yellow coats telling you obvious things like ‘do not walk too near the falls’. Anyway, whether it was the surprise of seeing and hearing all that water cascading over pink rocks, or the balmy evening or the wine I don’t know, but we were both moved just enough to exchange a spontaneous - but perfunctory and discreet - kiss. And my immediate thought was of a recent post in which a dear fellow-blogger – who I’m sure would never entertain the slightest age-ist thought - complained about not liking to see old people snog. Now I’d say I’m not a fan of public snoggery by anyone, and can never understand how it is that the escalators on London Underground – especially the Bakerloo Line - tend to make people feel romantic.
But next morning, when we spoke to our neighbour, he asked us if we’d enjoyed our meal the previous evening, so we asked if they’d seen us. ‘Yes,’ they said, ‘by the fountain’.
Should we apologise?