Another Trip down Memory Lane

We’ve just returned from a few days in Marbella, one of our old stomping grounds, where we were watching the initial stages of this year’s Vuelta a Espana. It’s an area we first visited almost 40 years ago when my parents bought an apartment there. As newly weds with little money, we spent many a happy fortnight in the sun, exploring the surrounding area. My younger sisters spent all summer there prompting me to speculate why my parents hadn’t invested earlier. Two words – dollar premium.

Iconic Bridge
Iconic Bridge
In the early 1980s, we spent a month there one Xmas and New Year, taking the ferry to Santander and driving to Marbella via Madrid and Toledo. That was our longest holiday ever and truly relaxing apart from my beloved, a noted swimmer, getting swept out to sea on his windsurfer. He managed to paddle his way back to shore, albeit several kilometres down the coast, without the assistance of the Spanish coastguard, although it was touch and go.
Puerto Banus has mushroomed in size
Puerto Banus has mushroomed in size
As the years rolled by, we typically spent a week in Marbella either in May or September when the weather was warm but not so hot as to prevent us playing tennis for several hours. Retirement beckoned for my father and my parents decided to sell the flat, preferring to use the proceeds to holiday elsewhere. We however continued to spend a week there most years, often over the late May Bank Holiday.
Los Monteros still serves best club sandwich on the Costa del Sol
Los Monteros still serves best club sandwich on the Costa del Sol
From time to time my parents accompanied us, as did their closest friends. On my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, we spent what was to be our final family holiday together at one of our favourite hotels, courtesy of my Dad, and we’ve not been back largely due to our move to France.
Family favourite: Marbella Club
Family favourite: Marbella Club
When we saw that the Vuelta was kicking off there this year, my beloved and I decided to take a trip down memory lane. In the intervening years, much has changed but our old haunts are still there and happily flourishing. The trip bought back many happy memories, particularly of times spent with my parents who are no longer with us. We’re not going to leave it quite so long before paying the area another visit.

A Culinary Adventure

I’m enjoying a few, rare days of peace and quiet while my beloved is on a business trip to India. Recently he’s been home underfoot a lot which has had its benefits, particularly as I’ve been ill. In truth I hadn’t been feeling well for some time and a recurrent bout of what I had assumed was gastroenteritis left me listless and in bed for a week. Friends kindly, and fortunately, frog-marched me to see their doctor, a holistic practitioner.

A series of blood tests and scans later and the verdict was in. I had a large stone blocking my bile duct in my liver which the doctor described as “chronic”  – never a favourable description. I opted to try and cure the problem with a different regime rather than opt for a quick solution with micro-surgery.

My new diet can best be described as vegan with fish but no coffee (sob) or alcohol. The doctor told me to breakfast like the English. While that may conjure up visions of a full English fry up, she meant protein for breakfast. Lunch should include grilled or steamed (yuck) fish and either steamed vegetables or salad. Dinner, to be consumed early, should be a delicious vegetable soup. If I feel peckish, I can have an apple to two. Don’t all rush to join me on this culinary adventure.

These restrictions have posed one or two challenges particularly when we’ve travelled to the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain to watch live racing. Generally I’ve managed to find something on a menu that I can eat though it’s fair to say I’ve been a very cheap date. At home I’ve enjoyed seeking out and trying new recipes and I’ve bought myself some new toys to better dice, slice and liquidise said vegetables. There’s no end to the things I can produce with quinoa, including a delicious vegan chocolate cake!

Here’s a few pictures of recipes taken from The Grand Tour Cookbook by Hannah Grant. If it’s good enough for Alberto Contador et al, then it’s good enough for me.


2015-gtcb-bean2015-gtcb-gazpacho2015-gtcb-salm--06-28 19.18.10 HDR2015-gtcb-cauli-06-28 18.58.412015-gtcb-chickpeas

My beloved has stuck resolutely to his usual fare though he’s not been above trying some of the delicious new recipes I’ve whipped up. Nor has it prevented me entertaining or cooking for others. After all, I can hardly inflict my regime on them.

The good news is that after nearly three months the stone is much reduced in size, my thyroid function is slowly getting back to normal and my former hi-energy levels are returning. It’s always been my proud boast that I’ve yet to meet the kid who can wear me out. Luckily no one recently took me up on that challenge otherwise I’d have been a goner.

One of the more visually unpleasant side effects of my disorder has been the eczema on my hands, arms and face. It first started on my wedding finger last September. I removed my ring, applied a soothing ungent and that did the trick. The eczema returned in early February and required a more liberal application of the soothing lotion to get it under control. Sadly it returned with a vengeance in May. So much so that I’ve spent the entire summer hiding under a straw hat and shades lest I frighten people.

The eczema made my skin very soft and I found it almost impossible to open bottles or cans and carry heavy bags as the handles bit into my skin. All jobs which my beloved has undertaken. When I was first ill, he even had to shop and cook his own meals. Needless to say he was mightily relieved when normal service resumed. On the plus side, my skin has been spared the ravages of a very warm summer and I’ve had the equivalent of a cheap chemical face peel. My eyelids are still a bit scaly but once they’re back to normal I should look radiant.

The doctor isn’t sure what caused the stone as I don’t exhibit any of the other symptoms more commonly associated with such problems. She believes I’ve had it for some time and that it’s been caused by stress. There’s only one person who stresses me out and he’s fortunately away for a few days.

Photographs of recipes all taken from The Grand Tour Cookbook by Hannah Grant