|Image: Sue Elias|
At times, I had no clue what time of the day it was never mind the day of the week. And that was when the holiday hit its peak for me. This past year has been very busy on a personal and work level and so my main aim to be able to say my holiday over the past two weeks was a hit, was to be able to forget about the presence of time. And I achieved it.
After a nice lunch at my parents’ house on the 17th, the journey out to Portugal went without any hitches (minor 90 minute delay, which was spent in the bar) and we arrived late on the Saturday night. The first few days were spent relaxing by the pool, and it was during this time that time started to slip away. I couldn’t have told you where in the week we were and wasn’t even bothering to wear my watch any longer. What a feeling, to be able to get up in the morning not having to do anything except wonder where to plonk my backside for the day, and not have to worry about anything at all in the world. Time simply melted away.
It was a very good two week break. I’ve deliberately not used the words “great” or “fantastic” because it wasn’t. It was just good and that was fine for me. The areas that dropped my valuation on our hotel were that 1) it was in the middle of nowhere, and 2) there was next to no decent evening entertainment whatsoever. Those elements aside, the food was lovely if not a bit predictable, the weather a constant sunny and hot, the views and walks spectacular and the swimming pool just right for floating in.
Portugal, or the small area of the Algarve where we were situated, was lovely. The people were very friendly and accommodating and the views from our cliff-top hotel were spectacular. The hotel was a large complex of two hotels merged into the one. Each has their own pool with adjoining restaurants, cafes, bars and facilities. The complex was ringed, though, as it lies remotely between Albuifera and Vilamoura, the latter a long walk along the beach and the first a short bus ride away, two journeys we made a couple of times.
I did a LOT of reading over the past fortnight (well, for me it was, anyway). Aside the day trips and time spent in the swimming pool, I read six and a half novels, the first four of which were read in the first four days! Unheard of in my other life. 4 novels in 96 hours!!
THE GRAVE TATTOO by Val McDermid – brilliantly written and enjoyed the historical and geographical references (Lake District). Loved the “Italian Job” ending that left me hanging and yelling for more.
THE PAPERS OF TONY VEITCH by William McIlvanney – classic McIlvanney: funny, dark and real. Hugely inspiring and I particularly enjoyed the final scene set in Glasgow in the very street I used to live!
MAN IN THE DARK by Paul Auster – a shorter novel from Auster but very much with in the voice I love. An easy read but I prefer more of his other work.
THE PLAGUE by Albert Camus – a tougher read than I imagined but intensely vivid and brilliantly written. Very satisfying and enjoyable, though The Outsider still remains my favourite of his.
FLESHMARKET CLOSE by Ian Rankin – a great read and one of his best. Made particularly enjoyable given the amount of scenes in Leith and bars familiar to me, and also the descriptions of Cafferty’s house, given I’ve sat in the same room as the scenes being described. Laughed regularly throughout and was hooked from the first page. Hugely inspiring.
THE ISLAND by Victoria Hyslop – obvious to see why it won book of the year but really one for the ladies. A truly absorbing read but tended to drag in scenes where the emotional side was lost on me or I never felt the need. Glad to have finally gotten round to reading it, though; the perfect beach holiday book.
THE LAST EXILE by EV Seymour – still in progress, I bought this in the hotel shop. Bit iffy from the first page; unrealistic plot developments and characters making it hard to get into.
We got back into Glasgow at around 2am in the early hours of Sunday morning and I spent Sunday lying on the couch vegetating, watching Two and a Half Men with my daughter, and then later on eating a giant Domino’s pizza. It was the most slobbish end to a slobbish holiday one could possibly have desired.
I’ll post a selection of photographs from the holiday tomorrow and speak some more about some of the finer details. I squeezed a few poems and story ideas out while I was gone, so I’ll have plenty to say about that later on.
Rising from my kip for my first day back at work yesterday morning was most difficult. Most days over the past fortnight I was up around 8am and sitting in one of the hotel cafes with my book, drinking coffee and eating ham, cheese or tomato with mozzarella rolls for breakfast, while watching the sun rising over the blue horizon where the Mediterranean meets the sky. Yesterday it was coffee and toast then a bus ride through Leith in the rain.
While I was sunning my rather large posterior under the Algarve sun, some things happened while I was away:
- My application for the Story Shop reading programme at the Edinburgh Book Festival was not accepted. I was pretty gutted by that one as I thought I was in with a great shout.
- I received a rejection from Streetcake Magazine for a piece of flash fiction.
- My tickets for next year’s ROGER WATERS gig at the O2 in London arrived.
- GORILLAZ cancelled heir tour in September so I am awaiting a refund of the two tickets I bought.
- MADNESS announced a UK tour and my sister got two tickets for the Glasgow leg at the Academy on 27th November (big relief that one).
And so, the holiday is over. Two weeks in the Algarve and I managed to unwind fully, forget everything and concentrate on reading, lying down, floating, eating and drinking. It was just what I needed and the rest of the family agreed. We all needed it and we all got a slice of what we wanted.
Now it’s back to work, back to Leith and Edinburgh, and back to reality.
Welcome home, Colly, welcome home.