• Ben Etchells-Rimmer

A very old post. Menorca (part of it).

From an old blog of mine, dating back to 2011. Here’s a snippet…

The beautiful Arenal D'en Castell.

Well, today has been a long day. Sort of. There was no particularly early start, as we didn’t have to leave for the airport until 9:30 as the flight wasn’t until 1:15 in the afternoon.

It was a very uneventful journey there – nothing happened that would make you think ‘ha, that’s funny’, or anything at all. I listened to my iPod and John to his on the way to Liverpool, which is inevitably for the best as John has probably the worst music taste ever. Alongside his normal line-up of shocking music, I today discovered that he has a couple of tracks by The Choirboys. This is not normal. But then again, neither is the owner of said tracks.

The flight passed without a hitch, and the customary bottle of champagne raised the same confused eyebrows it raises every time we order champagne on an easyJet flight. Every time we order a bottle of the nicest sparkling tipple in the world on a budget airline, we are always greeted with the same line: ‘but it’s not chilled…’. Anyone would think that they have it there for a bit of a laugh, and so people can look in the book and go ‘oh, look at that champagne. Wouldn’t that be nice? Can of lager please.’ I’m sure that’s not what happens all the time, but I’m also certain the petit bottle of champers is not for show. So, when money has changed hands and the orange hostess in her less-orange-than-her-face uniform has given me only the finest plastic cups to decant our heavily overpriced French tipple into, we have to chill it with ice. Ice. In champagne. Still, it tasted nice.

Retrieving the bags from the very long baggage belt was painless too, within a few minutes our bags were there, zooming round the belt being stared at by everyone, with more than a couple probably thinking ‘I could have that’. Which is a thought that often crosses my mind, almost like a clothing lottery – you may win a suitcase of wonderful clothes or, if you aren’t lucky, could end up dressed like Vera Duckworth for a week. As the bags came round, John’s blue case, the same case he’s had for a while now, came tottering along.

‘I don’t think that’s mine’ ‘It is’ ‘No, I don’t think it is’

It was.

The following hour was spent bored senseless queuing up to get the hire car. This was down SOLELY to one couple who cocked up their booking somehow and had to rehire their car. Quite honestly, after 10 minutes of waiting, we were all bored, and really couldn’t care less. However, a further 50 minutes later, I was really in no mood to hear the occasional comment passed from the counter where a man, barely able to speak English, was expected to reply to her. I, like a couple of my readers, can sympathise with the plight of the customer service assistant – everything is your fault. Throughout the last week in work it is my fault – and no others – that corned beef is now expensive, figs have only 3 in a pack and not 4, and most impressively, that when I’m in the back bottling innocent smoothies, I have decided to shrink the size of the carton and increase the price. I hope innocent don’t mind, it was very bad of me.

The squeak of polished shoes and the rolling of cases on the polished floor was soon replaced by the whinging of the old bag keeping us waiting and her entourage of annoying, screamy kids, the nagging of Spanish parents and the sound of lots of huffing Brits. I say lots, I mean about 4. There was no one around anymore, just us. An entertaining game of ‘eye spy’ passed all of about thirty seconds, where it turns out shoelaces and watches are hard to guess. Bricks came in third. I was tempted to use bones when John guessed right, but I figured that should bones be visible enough to be used in a game of eye spy, then the game of eye spy wouldn’t be happening, as something infinitely more interesting would be occurring.

Poor little Manuel on the desk (I don’t know his name, but he looked like a Manuel) was having a bit of a nightmare at one point. Dad, in his attempt to make light hearted remarks to the poor, confused assistant, had to point out to him that the reason he was having trouble understanding the numbers printed on the card was because he was holding the card upside down. I’m fairly certain in any county that this would still rank highly amongst stupid things to do. Probably not a story he’s going to rush home with and tell his wife and kids, assuming he has them, as he may have got his wife upside down and got that all wrong to, and without anyone to point out his mistake, who knows what mess he could have gotten into.

He also made a comment on the fuel. It turns out the red writing on the fuel cap of the white Citroën is not enough to warn you that it is a DIESEL car, and the helpful man stated that to my attentive father, who replied with ‘ok, well I’ll make sure I put the right one in at the end of the week!’, followed by a little which really said ‘I’m not that stupid, but I shall take your warning and heed your thoughtful advice as to the good maintenance of the vehicle’.

‘It will not work’, stated Manuel. He could have laughed it off, like a lot of people, if not every people would have done, but no. Not Manuel. Manuel simply stated, rather vacantly, that the car would not work should this occur. Dad simply replied with ‘yes’ and gave up in his attempts to make any more light hearted remarks to the Menorcan car rental people. We found the car, and headed to the villa.

To be continued…

Well, I say to be continued, but since then I have now spent a day on a beach and having written that at 1am in an ant infested bedroom, I actually can’t remember what I was going to put. However having got to the villa, which is upside down (the living room is upstairs and the bedroom downstairs) we went out for a meal.

The meal was nice, and my ‘combinated burguer and French fries’ was lovely, as was John’s ‘combinated grillsteak, egg and French fries’. The view was lovely. It was warm, the beer was cold, and we looked down on the beach that, 24 hours later, we’d all be leaving. Sunburnt.

One thing that did catch my eye there was, strolling round the beach like he owned the place, was quite probably the BIGGEST seagull ever known. It was huge, and compared to other seagulls, it was still enormous. If I was stood next to it, had it not killed me, it would probably have come up to my waste. Should this seagull have been reprimanded, it would certainly have tested positive for steroids. I took a photo, but it doesn’t do it justice. It. Was. HUGE. It flew away shortly after, attacking other seagulls.

Day two was an interesting day to begin with as I’m pretty certain looking back now that my early morning drink of orange juice was actually a refreshing combination of orange and ants. My room, in one corner, has a small hole, where ants thought it would be entertaining to sneak through and fill my room. Not nice to sleep in, nor to drink, lucky for me I wasn’t awake enough to notice the tiny little things sliding down my throat to an orangey, acidic death.

Upon waking John decided to share with us the bright idea of ‘if you’re hot in your room, open your window’, which he found out all too well isn’t such a good idea, given he awoke with a minimum of 30 mosquito bites. Poor Johnny looked a little dismayed and shocked by this, so I did all I could to help by laughing and pointing, which I’m sure if you check in any medical textbook is a great treatment for multiple mosquito bites.

The morning saw us potter down the supermarket, back to the villa and eventually head on down to the beach. It’s a lovely beach, and was fairly busy today. A few things became apparent on our 6 hours stakeout of the beach.

1) It’s probably cheaper to buy a sun lounger and parasol in the UK, pay to have it sent over to Menorca, collect it in a horse drawn carriage and hand deliver it to the beach. Yep, €30 to hire 4 sun loungers and two parasols. That equates to nearly 10 beers. That is not good.

2) Some people shouldn’t be allowed topless on beaches. Now I don’t wish to offend, and I have a lot of respect for people who wish to flash their nudity around on a beach given how judgmental people can be, but still, there were more than a few people out there today who really, honestly, should not be allowed to walk top-naked around a beach. It was, for want of a better word, shocking. Those shapes should be banned.

3) People need to learn to put suntan lotion on properly. Having said that, it was amusing seeing bright red people walking round with pure white patches. This same rule does also apply to me and John. Given we both have sunburn. Already.

The occasional bout of people watching was interspersed with falling asleep on the sun loungers that cost us £30 to hire for the day. Which, for four plastic sun loungers and two big umbrellas was quite expensive, and when you look how many were on the beach, the chirpy little Spaniard must have been raking in almost a million euros a day.

Regardless of his money making scam, falling asleep on them in the glorious sunshine is not wise, as we were to find out. It may have only been 30 minutes here and ten or so there, but when a morning’s suntan lotion is washed off in an instant in the far-too-salty sea, burning is inevitable. And that we did. Although the full extent of which would not be revealed until later.

Having returned to the villa from the beach at around 4pm, and pottered around the villa listening to a little sample of my exquisite music taste followed by a bite to eat, it seemed only fair that we do our bit for the economy and go and have some drinks in the bar across the road.

The Alcade was a beautiful little bar/restaurant with an outside area for drinking which was kept separate from that which was for eating. The inside bar was fairly long, and the wall behind had a fancy colour change thing going on, which baffled me at first. Having looked up to see a neon blue bar, I remarked to mum that it was a nice colour blue only to turn round and find it was green – a moments vacant stare soon cleared up the faux pas on my part and decided against telling anyone. This action was taken as it appeared immediately obvious to everyone else that it was a colour changing bar, apart from me. So if you read this, don’t tell anyone.

As the bar bill went up the sun went down, which saw the inevitable onset of mosquitoes. John asked, sensibly given he appeared to be the only thing on the menu for Menorca’s mosquitoes, to have the small citronella candle lit. The helpful Spanish waitress duly obliged. John then decided that one candle wasn’t enough, and proceeded to light the larger, fancier candle also on the table that was probably for decorative purposes, not practical ones, given that nobody else had theirs lit. Now, here I must admit that I do like to play with candles however, although I wanted it lit so I could poke bits in it and make the wax fall down the side in funky ways, I was not responsible for it being lit on this occasion. I just put it at a slightly wonky angle.

Half an hour later, we blew the candle out, and it had totally melted, ran over the edge of the small glass holder, covering the decorative pink sand in a slightly off white coloured wax and generally made a bit of a mess.

We paid and left. I blame John.

It was upon our return to the villa we noticed something. We weren’t tanned. We were burnt. But not nicely burnt, oddly burnt in small patches on our bodies where we’d nodded off in the sun. Still, it wasn’t particularly obvious although John did appear to be going for some kind of fastest burner record, we weren’t there just yet.

Monday was a much better start to the day, as to begin with I was not under attack by millions of tiny ants.

After some tea and toast to start the day, which regardless of where ever you are in the world is a compulsory action, we headed off out. However before I tell you all the exciting details about that, let me raise what I feel is a very important point. Why does foreign bread taste sweeter and nicer than ours? And even though it tastes nicer, why are the slices so small? Sort it out, foreign.

Anyway. We got in the Citroen Sauna and headed off to a beautiful harbour town called Cuitadella. It is full of quaint shops and fancy restaurants, local markets and relaxing bars. The towns old buildings appear to have a slightly Italian feel to them, and the bright reds and yellows these buildings are painted in make it visually stunning. This is all served by the most astonishing lack of parking. Bear in mind that you could probably hop backwards blindfolded on one leg across Menorca in approximately 45 minutes, from where we were at the villa took approximately 20 minutes to get there. To find the ONE remaining parking space the town had to offer in a car park in the middle of nowhere took 35 minutes. And then it would appear the parking ticket machine was powered by quantum physics, as it totally confused Dad and John who, having arrived at the machine at 11:30 had paid €4 to allow us to park in this car park for the grand total of zero minutes. No, I don’t know how they managed it either, but they did. But we didn’t care by this point, and walked off.

Top of the shopping list, after the €10 spent on manly bracelets than real men wear, was bite cream for our walking delicatessen. Having successfully described his ailments to the chemist by pointing at a number of the large, red bites on his arm and saying in a slightly raised voice ‘do you have anything for mosquito bites?’, a small, yellow box was presented to John that came with the instruction ‘put this on twice a day’, as the rest of the instructions were Spanish. John, having now mastered the art of international communications decided to dry to buy some Phenergan cream, which I am reliably informed is excellent for sunburn. And we were sunburnt, so this would have been useful.

‘Do you have any Phernergan Cream’? ‘Sorry?’ ‘Phenergan Cream? For sunburn?’ ‘I…’

By this point it was clear the young female chemist was a little lost by what John was asking for, and had no clue what he was on about. So to help her, John gave the following description.

‘It’s in a white tube with green writing on it.’

I too am still baffled how, in a chemist full of white boxes, tubes and bottles with green writing on, she was unable to understand Johns request. Still, we had Nivea after sun with aloe vera back at the villa. The application of Johns after sun lotion became a routine part of every evening, so thank you John for bringing it!

We did note that as we were walking round, it was quite warm. Upon getting back to the car, we discovered it was 38c. I thought by this point I was going to melt, and would have to be undergoing surgery to move my face back up to my face after it had melted down to somewhere near my stomach. But still, thank the lord for air con, as I went from dying to freezing in a matter of seconds. Still, it was nice.

Back at the villa, after a bite to eat in a restaurant who charge us €2 for a tiny bread roll that we didn’t even want, it was time to chill out by the pool. This turned out to be more of a sleep, as despite trying desperately to stay awake, I couldn’t. Nor could Dad. I now know where I get that from.

In the pool, which was surprisingly warm, the annual world slapball championships began. Slapball is a game that myself, John and my brother-in-law Sam developed several years ago while on holiday in mainland Spain. It involves slapping a tennis ball or other round objects to each other to make the longest rally possible. This year, due to a lack of tennis balls, we used a small Hello Kitty football as the designated game ball, and managed to rack up a career best rally of 67 on the first day. We were very proud of our achievements, but slightly disappointed by the lack of press and TV coverage this generated. I am informed that a game very similar to this is already played in Croatia, but I’m going to stick to my guns and say we made it, and they copied us. Which is obviously the truth.

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