Exploring festivals abroad

Not the musical variety, in fact I don’t  think I’ve ever been to one of those home or away. There were Glasgow’s Big Day concerts in 1990, somehow I got into the then Copthorne hotel to watch the George Square gig and then went down to Glasgow Green in the evening (that was the time Sheena Easton got booed* for her Mid Atlantic twang); and I was at the Nelson Mandela Tribute concert at Wembley the same year,  but the full mud and music experience?  No.   The festivals I mean are the holiday ones, Christmas, New Year, Twelfth Night, Thanksgiving. The latter one first, but far from traditionally when two of MrS’s American colleagues invited us to celebrate it with them in Curacao, instead of turkey we ate curry.

curacao beach

the beach in Curacao

Then in 2016 while we were in the throes of building works we sought out some Christmas sunshine in Lanzarote

cactus tree

Festive cactus in Arrecife

And last year we welcomed the arrival of the Kings in Tenerife

three kings

waiting for The Kings

This year we spent New Year or Saint Sylvestre in France.

Of course there were still signs of Christmas

 

 

and portents of L’Epiphanie

But the main event was New Year.

Restaurants offered festival menus

st sylvestr menu

This is ours from Augusto Chez Laurent

Here are those puds

augusto pudding

and yes they all contained lobster butter!

But it seemed lots of people would be enjoying seafood platters at home

preparing seafood platters

hard at work at the fishmarket

Midnight and the arrival of 2019 was a low key affair. We headed to the Mairie

mairei

to watch the clock.

midnight

But missed the crowds you’d see in Scotland

It was a little livelier at the casino

where we could hear a party. But we just enjoyed the lights and headed back to our hotel.

Where we might* have had a kiss under the mistletoe**

mistletoe

of course we couldn’t fit under it here

Best wishes for 2019 and Happy New Year to anyone celebrating it tonight.

Marina xx

*and worse

**we did

***”gui” in French it appeared in the shops on New Year’s Eve

PS Almost back home I became “King” of the day when I found the bean in our pie

 

Keeping track…..

What will I write in my diary tonight?

Last Thursday in Deauville was mostly about food!

later breakfast

Breakfast at Eric Kayser*, Deauville

It might have been a tad chilly outdoors but this was our favourite cafe and we didn’t want to leave @southfieldchat   (aka B) behind. That would have added insult to injury. Thursday was “le vet” day, she had to go for her mandatory examination and worm treatment before travelling back to the UK.

place morny

Place Morny from the cafe (not as cold as it looks, that’s fake snow on the trees)

After breakfast we had a little urban walk,

 

made a note to buy our Gallette du Roi,  and stopped  for another coffee.

looking out from cafe

View from Le Cyrano**

After that it was time for “le vet”.  Now we’ve been to France twice before with B and had two very different experiences at the vets. First time in Ile de Re was great with a nice young vet who did a very thorough examination and was kind and gentle; second time around in Bergerac, mmm a little less so, the vet had a  blood spattered tunic and did a strange “flip” manoeuvre to check B’s bones. She was very much less than impressed. Happily Mme le Vet. in Deauville was lovely and certainly came top in B’s book. She hid the tablet in cheese! B would have stayed there all day.

 

“What?  That was medicine?!?!?”

Wormed, passed fit and with all her papers signed (in all the right places ****) B was legal for re-entry to the UK  and we were all free to enjoy the afternoon.  So we a took little drive along the coast to Villerville where we popped into a Brocante and took B for a walk on the beach. Because that’s her favourite thing,  home or away.

 

And well, we might have had a spot of lunch……

Villerville was the location for the 1960s movie un Singe en Hiver  (in English “A Monkey in Winter” or  “It’s Hot in Hell”) and the Cabaret Normand is a restaurant still, but we ate galletes in the creperie across the road.

 

Now you might think that after all that we’d be done with food for the day, and you could be justified in thinking that. But you’d also be wrong. Very, very wrong.

This was our last evening after all!

We’d booked at one of Deauville’s Michelin starred restaurants***:  Maximin Hellio.

I don’t have many photos of the food, we were too busy enjoying it.

 

We’d chosen our menu when we booked but hadn’t realised it would be at the “chef’s table”,  actually a very comfortable banquette looking into the kitchen. Normally that wouldn’t be my choice but this was interesting, and as things got less busy M. Hellio chatted to us, well mostly to MrS.  I’m fairly proficient at reading menus and know more food vocab. than any other type but struggle with anything more than basic conversation. But even with my poor language skills I could appreciate the care and pleasure he put into his craft.

We left clutching our loot, boxed up petit fours we were too full to eat and an autographed Michelin guide. Stopping off in the Place for one last look at the Christmas lights and then back to the hotel and our beds.

 

 

A Bientôt

 

Marina xx

 

 

 

 

*Eric Kayser, Place de Morny, Deauville

**Le Cyrano

***the other is L’Essentiel (more about that later)

****VERY IMPORTANT, we’ve seen dogs turned away at Calais even though they’d been to a vet but their passports had been stamped or signed in the wrong place.

Cartagena

We sneaked away from the Easter snows and enjoyed a few days in the city of Cartagena. The one in Spain, though I’d like to visit the Colombian one too. What a fascinating place, inhabited for nearly three thousand years,  layers peel away,  almost literally in some cases* to display its history.

Now  MrS is the historian so I may get this wrong but New Carthage** has been Punic, Phoenician, Roman, Moorish and now Spanish. There are lots of museums where you can discover all this history or you can simply wander around the streets.

We did quite a bit of both…..

Here’s the Roman theatre where I practised my voice projection

roman theatre

“Can you hear me at the back MrS?”

And he could, those Romans knew a thing or two about acoustics.  Lots of money has been spent, and well spent, on interpreting Cartagena’s rich history.   I found the Roman

remains the easiest to understand of any I’ve visited. All around the city you can come across vestiges of the past,  Roman roads peeking through a square, villas hidden under a  modern street, temples, baths and workshops. Many reused over the centuries and then emerging again, the theatre once lay under the Cathedral, which was itself destroyed during the Civil War.

It’s not just land based history, there are museums of the sea, one the fascinating Museum of Underwater Archeology explores the objects lost overboard or otherwise to the sea over the centuries.  And you can also visit the one of the  first submarines at The Naval Museum although that’s one we had to leave for  another  visit.

We spent most of our time wandering around the city, it’s very walkable, but did take a morning out on the Feve train to Los Nietos on the Mar Menor.  I’d thought of having a swim or perhaps lunch beside this inland sea, Europe’s largest.

 

But.  It was closed. Well not completely, the yacht club, a restaurant  and one other bar was open, but the resort had a desolate air with houses shut up for the season and perhaps permanently? People must visit, the marina was full of boats, many of them very smart motor cruisers;  the beach was clean and being cleaned, we saw  a couple of women settling down for some sun there,  and there were others like us enjoying a stroll along the promenade.  But where was everyone else?  Over on the La Manga strip perhaps?  I don’t know, but we decided to head  back to Cartagena for lunch.

Ah lunch…..We stayed at The NH hotel Cartagena it was comfortable, very central and we had a terrace with a view of the Port. But we stayed on a room only basis so there was none of that filling up on breakfast to see you through the day. Instead we ate breakfast at cafes***

 

……….and had a stop for lunch in the early afternoon;  useful as shops etc tended to close over lunch time.  Lunch became progressively longer and more elaborate as the week went on…

Culminating in a  three hour lunch at La Marquesita  on Friday before leaving for the airport. Excellent food and great people watching too.

That lunch was superb but our best meal was dinner at Magoga.  The Blue Cheesecake being one of my top three puds EVER.

 

The dish on the right? Pork and smoked sardine, sounds odd, looks a bit brown? Tasted amazing.

Four days and we didn’t see everything, though we did our best to eat everything!

Until next time

Marina x

Version 3

 

 

 

 

 

*many historic 19th and early 20th century facades have been preserved, shored up, behind them empty lots waiting to be rebuilt or perhaps to reveal their pasts.

**those Carthaginians weren’t very imaginative when it came to names.

***actually that coffee in a glass, Cafe Asiatico, a Carthagenian speciality, was an afternoon treat, though we saw it consumed at breakfast.

 

We also visited Muram Cartagena’s museum of modern art in a beautiful modernist mansion the Palacio Aguirre.

Wondering about that spaceship like yacht? Sailing Yacht A

 

Las Islas Canarias

Well the ones I’ve been to anyway.

Last Christmas (2016) we flew off to Lanzarote to escape our renovation works at home. There we discovered the delights of mojo, wrinkly potatoes and its unique volcanic landscape.

 

This year (2017) we spent Christmas and New Year at home, having fun with lots of family and friends.

So after all the festivities we were ready for some sunshine, sightseeing, relaxation  and perhaps the odd night out…….

 

We were based in Garachico, in the gorgeous Hotel San Roque  

 

There was plenty of good food and drink

 

 

But we managed a few little strolls.

Walk sign

Some traditions are familiar

But presents come with The Kings on January 5th.

 

It was strange seeing these seasonal favourites growing outside

Poinsettia

 

And it wasn’t all sunshine

But it always came back

lily pond

 

We saw lots but there’s still more to explore.

map

And other islands too

graciosa form mirador

Until next time

Marina x

 

Tote bag in wine glass photo by Cara Morris at  CaraPrintsThings

We ate at :  Ardeola

Tasca del Vino

Canada de Garachico Espacio Gastronomico

Aristides

all in Garachico, and the

Cofradia de Pescadores

in Puerto de la Cruz. We also enjoyed meals at our hotel, high up in Teno mountains and indulged in cake and ice cream in La Laguna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catching Up

Yikes! It’s been two months since I posted here, and that was a repost of a blog I follow. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything,  I’ve had a couple of trips to Edinburgh, one to Glasgow, an overnight stay Clydeside and a visit to friends in Angus.

st cyrus

St Cyrus beach

 

I’ve  had brunches and lunches*,  and supper at MasterStarke’s.

Cat sat and dog walked.

 

Slept in hotel beds and on couches.

bramble at the novotel

DogStarke, hotel inspector**

Enjoyed sun, snow and the bits in between.

 

Read two and two thirds of the Neapolitan Novels, one Anne Enright and an Inspector Montalbano. Watched back to back Gilmore Girls.

Chose Trainspotting2, enjoyed  a musical, directed a play.

Packed boxes, unpacked boxes. Packed them back up again. Picked bathroom fittings.

Put daffs in a vase, looked up through the blossom.

 

Spent evenings surfing not  blogging. Spent tonight blogging not working.

Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Marina x

 

 

* Brunch at Montpelier’s, Edinburgh, lunch The Honours, Edinburgh

** DogStarke inspecting duties at Novotel, Edinburgh Centre

 

 

 

 

 

Lanzarote, part II

Around and about Arrecife

 

We’ve had cold and windy weather in Scotland and today it’s sleety too. So it’s no surprise that I’m looking back over my holiday snaps for a diversion. And is it a coincidence that while January thoughts so often turn to abstinence and diets,  many of my photos are of food?  And drink.

We started off on a high note at Lilium which fronts onto the new marina in Arrecife.

 

It was fun to have sunshine and warmth (even if a bit windy) at Christmas. We could have morning coffee outside, and on Christmas Day had a lovely long walk along the seafront. We needed it with all that food.

 

Of course we tried to eat healthily

healthy-brekkie

With varying success………….

 

And we did manage to squeeze in some culture…..

sightseeing

And one last lunch

 

Marina x

Places we liked:

Restaurante Lilium

Estrella del Charco

Bar Andalucia

The Altamar restaurant at the Gran Hotel

Casa Amarilla museum

The Contemporary Art museum at Castillo San Jose