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Rutland columnist Allan Grey reflects on life in Lanzarote

Given our home from home in practically perfect Playa Blanca lasts three weeks, it will come as no surprise that this column continues to feature life down here, writes Rutland columnist Allan Grey.

Furthermore, I know you will have been waiting with baited breath to find out how the cycling has been going, and whether any permanent posterior musculoskeletal realignment has been occasioned by the sadistic saddle on my velocipede rental. The answer is nothing that a week’s intense course of arnica cream couldn’t ameliorate, albeit though, with my temporary gait, it will be extremely difficult to catch a pig for a while yet.

Now, having previously mentioned that the roads out here are virtually free of pòllidos, I have to confess I was being slightly economical with the actualité. The truth of the matter is that my favourite Lanzarote ride takes me around a spectacular coastal route in the south-west of the island, but which has been closed to vehicular traffic for the last three years, but fortunately not to imaginative cyclists and pedestrians like myself.

Cycling in Lanzarote. Photo: Allan Grey
Cycling in Lanzarote. Photo: Allan Grey

We are able to squeeze past the rusting barriers and bulky bollards and gaze in amazement at the cause of this closure, undoubtedly the world’s largest pòllido, some 20ft in diameter and at least 100ft deep, plunging from the roadside down to the ocean below.

On one side of this route there is lava as far as the eye can see with a backdrop of the colourful volcanoes of Timanfaya National Park. On the other side, the aforementioned hundred or so foot drop down to the restless Atlantic Ocean, unfettered for over 3,000 miles from the west, with giant waves continually crashing against the volcanic edge of the island.

This coastal area has an abundance of underwater caves produced across the millennia by the solidification of lava and erosion by the sea. One particular location along this coast is Los Hervideros, a major tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors each year to wander around pathways on the cliffs and watch the amazing display below that sees unending waves forced into the labyrinth of caves with such dramatic power it appears as if the sea is bubbling and boiling.

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Allan Grey
Allan Grey

This pòllido is nothing more than the continuation of that timeless process, but as yet the filling of this enormous pothole to enable reopening of the road has neither a solution, nor it seems the political will to find one; perhaps we should be grateful we have nothing on this scale in Rutland causing unending road closures, well at least not yet.

Not as ear-splitting as the recent carnival, but just as eagerly anticipated and energetically celebrated, yes March 17 was St. Patrick’s Day, St. Patrick being the patron saint of Ireland and the half of America that rather optimistically trace their roots back to the Emerald Isles.

St. Patrick I find, was actually born in Scotland before being sold into slavery in Ireland, but notwithstanding these origins is as popular in Playa Blanca as he is in Dublin, Boston and New York. Then, add in a back to back rugby Six Nations win for the boys in green and it was a great weekend for the Irish, well actually anyone of any age who wanted to dress up like a leprechaun, visit one of the many bars fully decked out in the green, orange and white of the Irish tricolour, and jig the night away drinking Guinness until dawn.

Although the Lovely Lady and I will be back in Rutland by April 23, it’s the day when all we English come together to celebrate our patron saint, good old St. George. History has it that St. George was born in Turkey and slayed the famous dragon in Libya, so was obviously a ‘shoe-in’ to become England’s patron saint back in the 1300s, well before professional football became the prime sporting passion of the red and white English hordes.

I have it on good authority that St. George’s Day might not be quite as enthusiastically embraced as St. Patrick’s down here in Playa Blanca, but will be treated with appropriate solemnity and no lack of tradition nonetheless. After England’s modest run of results recently, a local curry house is advertising a traditional St. George’s luncheon for loyal England supporters. The menu will offer our national dish of chicken tikka marsala, basmati rice, onion bhajis and naan bread, all washed down by ten pints of San Miguel and rounding off the afternoon with several rousing choruses of Vindaloo by Fat Les. I’m sure you’ll agree, this sounds like another fantastic weekend, such a shame we have to come home and miss these patriotic celebrations.

Winding up our umpteenth visit to PB, a surprise birthday party last Friday for yours truly, celebrated with some of the many friends we have made down here across the years. Unbeknown to me the surprise actually started when the Lovely Lady asked me a few days beforehand to go out and buy four large gateaux and stick them in the freezer.

I did wonder how we were going to get through that much cake during our last week, but I’m never one to pass up a challenge like that, so was rather disappointed to see all these other folk scoffing my cake at the midday party, but very happy to have reached the ripe old age of...

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