Saturday, 31 August 2013

Changeover day

So today, Mel and Xara leave, and Tash and Steve arrive. On the same plane, as it happens. The children spend the morning in the pool and we begin the afternoon with a visit to the beach at Cala Llonga, which has become a favourite. Xara wants to build a sandcastle and Alex wants to go in the sea which is perfect as his friend Angus is there.

Angus is staying in the apartments right on the beach and he's from Manchester - he's there with his Mum and two of her friends and Alex met him when I dropped Mel and the children at the beach and left them there. It's very windy today and Angus' rubber tyre blows away and wheels up the beach at quite a pace - I try to chase it down but I'm too slow, but I finally retrieve it and return it to his Mum.

Later, our plan to hire a pedalo turns out to be less than ideal. Mel and I pedal for all we're worth but the wind and the waves are too strong and keep pushing us inshore where it's too shallow to use the slide. I resort to jumping overboard and digging my feet in, pulling against the tide to keep the pedalo in place. Lucky it's shallow!

When we get back from the beach the children hit the pool again while Mel and I go in search of a boutique we spotted on the main road. We end up at Reine y Rose, a gorgeous shop with many wonderful dresses and cover-ups, with prices to match. I buy a bracelet for Leigh (oops, spoiled the surprise!) and a cover-up for me reduced from 69 to 10 Euros.

After a late lunch, during which Christine and co arrive to change our bedding and try to fix the electrics, we set off for San Antonio via a shop in Santa Eularia Christine has recommended to Mel. While she shops, Simon and I do a trolley dash at the supermarket before everything closes for Sunday. Our goal is to reach Café del Mar in time to watch the sunset and we make it with 10 minutes to spare. Parking proves to be tricky and the delay costs us the last unreserved table so Simon offers to take Alex and Xara for a walk down the strip while Mel and I enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset.

This is clearly a big event in Ibiza - the rocky shore is packed with people and there are many boats in the harbour. The music is cleverly mixed to synchronise with the sunset, rising to a crescendo just as the sun goes down. Applause. Then the tempo quickens and shifts into party gear. Simon, Xara and Alex return and we stay for a while at the bar before moving on to a make your own frozen yoghurt shop Mel spotted on our way here. The yoghurts are great but the yobs in the apartments opposite less so, and I'm glad we're not staying in San Antonio!

We get Mel and Xara to the airport in good time for their flight and Simon drops Alex and me back at the villa where we all grab a snack before Tash and Steve arrive. Simon's back with them before 1am and we have cava and crisps before bed.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tunes and dunes

Mel's last full day here dawns and - horrors! - it's cloudy! And, from time to time, a little rainy too. We consider our options and decide that we'll go to Salinas beach - if it's too cloudy to be on the beach there are dunes to explore and beach bars to shelter from the rain.

It's after 3 by the time we get our backsides into gear, but as we drive away the sun breaks through. We arrive at Salinas beach to light rain, and take a stroll down the beach. There are several beach bars and we all agree that The Jockey Club has the best music. It also has a lovely sandy beach and nearby rock pools so it ticks all our boxes. We grab the towels from the car and settle there for the afternoon.

Alex and Xara have great fun catching crabs, shrimps and mudskippers in the rock pools and make friends with some other English children. Simon reads his book with a beer and Mel and I alternate between cloud-bathing and pool-dipping - in my case with a bit of dancing thrown in. It brightens up, but never becomes really sunny and as sunset approaches it begins to rain again so we pack up and leave.

As we drive away past the salt pans the sunset is quite spectacular. We arrive back at 9, ready for a late barbeque.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Here comes the sun

At last! We wake to sun and spend the morning sunbathing (adults) and swimming (children) before the customary late lunch. After lunch, Mel takes the children to Cala Llonga beach  - we drop them off there so we can take the car to check out the route to Santa Eularia town. It’s very close but much of the road has nowhere to walk so we don’t want to set off unprepared. Turns out that the centre of town is only about a mile away and there’s a pedestrian route across the river over the old bridge. A quick supermarket dash and back to the villa.

Simon collects Mel and co from the beach while I prepare a beef casserole with chocolate for tonight’s dinner. Then we put it in the oven to cook slowly while we take a stroll to Santa Eularia. The pedestrian route turns out not just to cross the river but to continue along its length to the sea; it’s crossed near the end by a pedestrian bridge to Siesta and we realise that we can go home that way to avoid walking along the busy road.
The beach is full of seaweed, but the promenade is attractive and there are hotels and bars all along it. We get as far as the central street and then stop for a drink and some tapas before Mel hits the Pacha shop and the small market for some last minute shopping.  Then we wander back to the villa for dinner. It starts to rain just as we arrive, but this is just a brief shower rather than the epic thunderstorms we have had before.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Hippy Market

Mel, Xara and I set off early for the Hippy Market at Punta Arabi, arriving just before it opens at 10am. It’s already very busy and there are so many stalls, laid out in a most confusing way so that three hours later we’re still not sure we’ve seen everything but agree that we’ve spent enough time there. We’ve all bought a few things – mainly T-shirts, jewellery and hair ornaments.

When we get back to the villa we all spend time around and in the pool before wandering over to the Es Riu bar for a late lunch. We all eat far too much and spend the afternoon snoozing it off around the pool. This is why there are no photos today – much too busy relaxing!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Grötte Höhle

We wake to more or less fine weather – it’s a bit cloudy but the sun burns through and we spend some time in and around the pool before and after breakfast. We seem to be on Spanish time – breakfast occurs shortly before 12, lunch around 4 and dinner has been very late so far. Today we decide to lunch at the villa as we spot the impending dark clouds before the heavens open once again.

We have two visitors; first the post woman and then, shortly after, our landlady Christine. She has come to apologise for the weather and has brought fresh figs and a couple of games to keep the children occupied – a lovely thought.
After lunch – which is to say about 4pm – we set off for the Cova San Marca caves which like everything on Ibiza is about 20 minutes’ drive away (and which has amusing signs that provided the title of this post). Nokia Drive sends us along a single track road which is really off the beaten track; it’s very picturesque and by the time we arrive the sun has come out again. There’s a guided tour at the caves which leaves in 40 minutes so we mooch around and admire the view of the other side of the bay which is really quite spectacular.

The caves are approached down steep steps that wind down the cliff side and we are rewarded with amazing views along the way. We’re separated into language groups and ours contains only us and a man with an adorable 3 year old daughter who seems very mature and interested. Having been used by smugglers to hide contraband, the caves were converted to a tourist attraction in 1980 and old water courses have been reinstated to provide an impressive water and light show.
After the caves we drive back via Benirassa beach, where we arrive about an hour before sunset to the sound of drums at one side of the bay and some pumping dance tunes at the other. The children paddle but we deter them from getting too wet as we haven’t brought swimwear and towels with us – rookie error! We manage to get them out before they become too wet to sit in the car and before long we’re home. Tonight Mel and I cook from my Spanish recipe book, chicken with peppers and cumin – not bad!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Deja vu

Disaster! We are woken by thunder and heavy rain. Mel checks the weather forecast and rain is predicted for the next three days. This is not good news. But on the plus side, Alex’s reluctance to leave the pool yesterday left him a little pink so at least we won’t have to worry about sunburn.

Mel is determined to be optimistic: these are “clearing up” showers … but come lunchtime it still hasn’t really cleared up and although it’s warm the black clouds persist. There’s worse news from work – there’s a problem with email that Simon needs to solve and that’s not going well either. We hang around while he endeavours to sort that out but by 3pm neither email nor weather have improved. We resolve to set off for Ibiza town come rain or shine, and with or without Simon. Last time we visited Ibiza – as a stop on a cruise – it also rained all day, so at least we’re consistent!
A breakthrough occurs in both senses and we finally leave the villa around 3.30 and arrive in Ibiza town to sunshine. After an abortive attempt to find a reasonably priced restaurant in the old town, we return to the port area and have a late lunch of pizza, pasta and salad. The kids buy snap-backs at a shop around the corner and then we return to explore the old town –this time mainly in the sunshine. We stop to buy frozen yoghurts at a place opposite the restaurant where we had lunch and the heavens open again. We make our way back to the car, stopping to shelter from the rain along the way.

We had seen a large supermarket on the way into town and decide to stop there for groceries. We emerge to find a thunderstorm of quite epic proportions underway. The drive back to Santa Eularia is brief but eventful – the lightning is almost constant and at one stage the rain falls so fast that the windscreen wipers can’t keep up. Simon does a sterling job getting us home in one piece but when we arrive the electric gate wouldn’t open – the power is out. It turns out to be a problem which affects only our villa; Alex solves it by remembering what Christine told us to do if the power tripped out.
We had been planning a barbeque but our kindling is damp, and so is pretty much everything else. After an abortive attempt to light the barbeque we resort to using griddles on the indoor hob. The food turns out OK and the rain finally stops, although the thunder continues to grumble. It’s much cooler, too. Let’s hope that the storm has passed and we can enjoy fine weather for the rest of the week – the weather forecasts suggest otherwise, though.



Sunday, 25 August 2013

Settling in

Naturally, the first thing the children want to do is go in the pool and we have to lure them out with breakfast. Everybody wakes up at different times, so some of us have breakfast twice. Simon wants a lazy day so we leave him behind and go in search of adventure.

The first expedition is on foot to the end of our lane, then we take the car and set off with no particular destination in mind. We find signs to Cala Llonga and to Jesus – we decide to go to Cala Llonga and save Jesus for later.

It’s only 5 minutes away and it’s a resort with a busy but not excessively crowded beach with activities – pedalos with slides, a snorkelling area – and a gently sloping sandy beach. The sea is so warm even I get in and Alex and Xara have a fantastic time. Once again we have to tempt them out of the water with food – a snack in a beachfront café followed by watermelon ice lollies.

When we get back the children go in the pool – again – while the adults potter about. Later, I cook dinner in the outside kitchen and the children play Jenga. It’s a relatively early night by Spanish standards.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Ibiza bound

After an uneventful journey, we arrive at the villa around 7pm to be greeted by the owner, Christine. It’s a traditional Ibizan house with bougainvillea draped over two arched windows, tucked away down a short unsurfaced track on the outskirts of Santa Eularia. The tour reveals a spacious house with generous outside living space and quirky décor – it feels very homely. Two of the bedrooms are separately approached and one of them is tucked right behind the house down a short flight of steps. That's the pink room Xara had her heart set on, but I’m pretty sure Mel won’t be happy to have her so isolated. We prepare Alex for the possibility that he may have to share, but he doesn’t mind at all.

The supermarket will close at 9 and won’t reopen until Monday, so we set off to buy enough groceries to last us until then. We’ve decided on a barbeque in the casita for the first night and Alex is in charge of building the fire. It’s pretty late by the time we eat but Mel is due to arrive just after midnight so there’s no rush. There’s a minor drama when I go to unpack and find a tiny gecko on the ceiling of our room and have to catch it and liberate it in the garden. By 11.30 Alex is beginning to flag and despite our best efforts falls asleep on the sofa.
I’m a little late setting off on the 20 minute drive to the airport and arrive around 12.30 by which time amazingly Mel and Xara are already outside waiting. Xara is very excited but is happy to concede that the pink room should be her dressing room rather than her bedroom; I help her put away her things while Mel unpacks and finally we are all ready for bed.