I got back from Mallorca on Tuesday after a peaceful week's stay with Chris and Lisa at the villa. We went for the Sant Antoni and San Sebastia's Firework Fiestas which are amazing and leave our own 'Guy Fawkes Night' standing in the cold. Apparently the arrival by boat of Sant Sebastia's earthly remains banished a deadly plague from the Island for good and so each year they celebrate by burning effigy's of the demons that once beset them on a huge bonfire on every street corner, and setting off fireworks in the local squares where barbeques blaze in every other doorway. The atmosphere was primitively dramatic with showers of sparks from the windswept bonfires; kettle drums; heavenly music and devils dancing in and out of streaming curtains of golden rain. Whirling dervishes on bicycles waved giant Catherine wheels into the crowd. It is fairly easy to get set on fire at this event as Chris's jacket did last year, so we watched the climax of the evening from the balcony of a friend's restaurant till nearly 2am.
The following day just a pile of dusty embers marked the place where the main fire had been. I'm ashamed to say we were all to tired to get up and see the blessing of the animals ceremony which I now regret. We also missed the rather phallic greasy pole contest in which the young boys of the village vie to be the one who gets to the top first!
Once up I went for a walk in the peaceful and deserted Cala streets and found a nearby field full of very friendly animals - goats sheep and pigs all getting on together and who seemed to have been missed by San Antoni (patron Saint - particularly of pigs!) in the casting out devils department and seemed to be doing a bit of blessing themselves!!!
A week without the telly or internet access was a blissful change. Fresh air, good food, walks, 10 hour sleeps and a good book were the order of the day and did me a power of good.
The Marsden is up and running as per usual thank goodness. On Friday I had my fourteenth Herceptin treatment there - three weeks to the day since the fire. It was practically deserted because a lot of people postponed their treatments to a few days later. I got a shot of the damaged roof from the stairs of the main building which is mercifully unscathed.
The week's holiday was preceded by two memorable events. Firstly, a trip to see the Spice Girls - a gift from Father Christmas for Mia organised by my daughter Aimi, whom, I suspect, is a secret fan herself from the look of excitement on her face as we plunged through London on the Jubilee line to the vast 02 (ex Dome) auditorium where we had a meal, and then took our places for the show. After an hour and a half of 25-30 year old girls and a few gay men screaming, flashing lights and spectacular stage effects, we staggered out to get the Jubilee line home again - my hearing, which is not that good nowadays, completely gone - not to return for about 24 hours.
Secondly, a trip to one of this country's finest restaurants - The Fat Duck at Maidenhead
This outing was a treat given by one of my oldest friends Kerry or 'kind uncle' as he is affectionately nicknamed. He took five of us. Another oldest friend, Annie, and her husband Paul de la Grange, me and Bernice - Kerry's second ex wife. We drove through the most appalling stormy weather conditions to the small and unassuming restaurant. Having needed to reserve the table at Bray five months earlier and payment in full in advance, postponing the event was not an option.
The Fat Duck holds the coverted 3 Star Michelin rating - one of only three held in the entire country, the others being Gordon Ramsay's in Royal Hospital Road, London and The Waterside Inn also in Bray.
This is my starter, main course and pudding (l to r above).We had about 3 very attentive waiters per table and intercourse tasters such as soup, venison juice and a miniature ice cream cone arrived from time to time.
Kerry paid the bill cheerfully in spite of this face and I drove us home .
(I'm very useful for that Russell!)
At £200 per head, the more I look at Mia's efforts in the kitchen, the more I am definitely determined to encourage her!