Picnics, Car Keys & Motorbikes – Week 41 : 2018

November 2, 2018

So I typed most of this on the veranda of a whitewashed villa in Playa Blanca. Yes, gruelling, I know. We departed to an island just west of the Morrocan coast: Lanzarote en famille. Please note the daughters’ Ryanair ‘in flight’ picnic packs (beautifully packed by yours truly).

Now you could be forgiven for thinking that two mature (old) people were being supervised and entertained by their energetic millennial daughters. Both sprogs turned up with no resemblance to Duracell Bunnies and by 8pm seemed broadly to be behaving like they did as 8 year olds – slumped in front of the TV but protesting to be wide awake and not remotely ready for bed. They did eventually get to staying up later and one of the party did go for a jog/fast walk with her mother most morning whilst the other transferred from her bed to lie prostrate on the veranda furniture!

Despite our sojourn to a hotter climate then York continued to be a hive of visitors in our absence. The inevitable Chinese photographers clutter the main thoroughfares and whilst I would encourage them to devour our architecture and heritage I have visions of some unfortunate relatives on the 18th floor of a tower block in Shanghai having to sit beside someone whilst they flick through c870 photographs.

York also attracts blokes on elderly motorcycles and hundreds of BSAs, Vincents, Triumphs and more recent Japanese models flooded the streets. If the bikes were gleaming then I was impressed with the riders who donned clothing to match the era of the bike. This often entailed 1950s tweed sports jackets and shirts and ties. I would have loved to get a photo of those who motored along with pipes in their mouths.

Anna  and I love our sport and have taken in major events when we can. Leeds United has not been deemed a ‘major event’ due to the club in recent times being run like an implausible soap opera; the football being awful and expensive to watch. Given the recent upturn in form we were lured to watch them despatch Preston North End 3-0, marvelous. Howerver it all matters too much and once we opened ourselves up to the reckless hope that they could continue this form it started to dominate our lives. We have been to concerts and spent a lot of time checking the scores in the dark whilst those seated around us wonder what these ‘saddos’ are doing. I have confidence that by Christmas we will be heading for mid table obscurity.

Lanzarote offered some great cycling with bright hot sunny days and well surfaced roads with light traffic. I ventured out and did 54 miles in up to 35˚C heat and climbed no less than 1100 metres. Feeling fairly pleased with myself I ambled through Playa Blanca back to our villa and overtook a couple on urban bikes who were weaving along the road looking at the surroundings. I then hit a steep hill and found that any ‘legs’ I had were now gone. To ruin a great bike ride these two cyclists then powered by (to prove a point, I think). I am researching contract killers on the island – I’m sure there must be some Russian or Saudi residents here.

So the holiday went well but there was excitement well until the end.

…it was rancorous amongst the family as we passed through Security to the Departure Gate at Lanzarote Airport. All four of us rose successfully at Stupid O’Clock for our 7:05 flight to Leeds Bradford. However, the major challenge of returning the rented car to the Airport with a full tank of fuel loomed. Having done this successfully before then it shouldn’t be a problem to find a petrol station open early in the morning?

Wrong! We’d stayed too far from the Airport to replenish the tank the night before to be able to return it full. No fuel could be found on our drive in. The proverbial last throw of the dice was finding fuel at the large Airport complex. No joy. 

So I’m contemplating heading back out onto the main road in search mode when the other three loudly remonstrated about simply paying whatever cost the car rental company would impose for the shortage and therefore enabling the ‘passengers’ to successfully get to the flight in a relaxed timely fashion. Very grumpily I acquiesced, parked up in a dark deserted car park and dropped off the car keys at the closed car rental counter via a letterbox in the Terminal.

So near the Gate I looked for my wallet to buy a coffee. At this point I remembered that it was left in the hire car. I’d put it beneath the dashboard for when I found that petrol station. Crisis – the wallet contained cash, credit cards, my driving licence, my EU health card etc. Future communication on my return to the UK with the car rental company would be hopeless. I’d already suffered at their hands on earlier calls when the car needed replacing earlier in the holiday – poor English, unsympathetic and short staffed.

So I decided to try and go and retrieve the wallet. Getting back through Security proved easy but could I get the key back out of the letter box?

No, I couldn’t. My hand was too fat to slide through the box to retrieve the key lying tantalisingly on view. I had tried and forced my hand into the box until it hurt the back of my hand badly. Nightmare. Fortunately a lady was depositing keys at an adjacent counter. I asked would she kindly see if her hand fitted? Let’s face it I could have simply been a thief needing an accomplice? It did. The key was retrieved.

Another sprint into the dark car park hoping that we’d got the correct key. We had. Door opened and the wallet grabbed. Another dash to the counter to post the car keys and then back though Security to the Gate to join the depleting queue at Gate 4 as Ryanair loaded the ‘plane.

I think I need another holiday to recover.

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