31 May, 2011

Kids Entertainment at Holiday World Benalmedina

Had we wanted to, not that I would wish it on anyone unrelated (as we toddle into the terrible twos), we *could* have unleashed Thomas on an unsuspecting entertainment team (and retreated to a safe distance) for pretty much all of the break...
When we first arrived at the resort I was astonished to find that (in almost) whichever direction I pointed my head (down by the pools) I could pick out at least *six* members of First Choice staff engaging kids in various activities - zorbing across the pool, egg and spoon races, dancing lessons, raft building, canoeing...
...even as I gawped at the hive of activity taking place around me, a Harry Potter party traipsed past me all dressed in robes (just caught the tail end of it there with the camera) yelling out "Expelliarmus!!" and waving their glittering-kids-club-constructed wands (held together with copydex)...Admittedly, all this was aimed at little-ones a little bit bigger than Thomas, but for him was the soft play room, equipped with one member of staff between every three kids-
- and was filled with all manner of toddler-goodies -
- including dressing up costumes and books -
- *endless* playmats and toys -
- and drawing facilities...
Outside there was a selection of climbing/sliding facilities-
- which Thomas called his "Swings" (even though there wasn't one)... ;)
In the evening the stage came alive in the ballroom-
Evening entertainment
- for a series of energetic shows (featuring the same, now presumably exhausted staff members who had been running around after the kids all day long)-
- to which Thomas danced and yelled until he collapsed, equally exhausted, into his push chair... ;)
Holiday Village Water Park
...and this is, of course, not even to mention the swimming pools and the excellent food... ;)

27 May, 2011

Finks Links #138

Friday!! Sorry for not updating so much lately, just been a bit of a stressful time (for one reason or another)...got some great links to (hopefully) cheer everyone up though... ;)

First off, a Mexican Wrestler, at a protest, on a motorbike, being fired on by riot police (in real life)...


Globe genie!

Rolling robot transforms into helicopter...

The size of Africa...

Silly goalkeeper...

What *do* all those buttons do?

A rather "difficult" document...

...and last but not least a very, *very* patient cat... ;)

Have a lovely weekend everyone! ;)

25 May, 2011

A trip into Benalmadina town...

So on to the third day of the holiday, and we woke up to a bit of an overcast day, it was still definitely shorts and T-shirt temperature, just not very much blue in the sky, so we decided to take the bus into the center of town and have a poke around the shops (in the hope the weather would improve enough for a nice afternoon pool session)...the bus stops were conveniently located right outside the resort so we traipsed down to one of them, trying in vain to conjour enough Spanish to ask the kindly elderly people waiting there if this was the *right* bus stop...Well, I managed to *ask* the question (I think) we just didn't understand very much of the rapidly delivered 300 word reply (which was coming from 4 directions at once), so I thanked them kindly (anyway) and we crossed the road to the other side in the hope of finding some people that spoke English (or slower Spanish)...when we got there (and discovered that we were now at the correct bus stop - which the old people were probably frantically trying to explain to us)...we waved them thanks, at which moment their bus zoomed up, prompting them to fly into the road desperately trying to signal to the driver (apparently in vain) as he just completely ignored them and drove straight past...just as well we didn't want that direction then! :o

Anyway, our bus finally arrived (already almost full) after about a thirty minute wait, we managed to (just) secure the last two fold-down seats as all the other people waiting crammed on (it was bedlam) and then it lurched off on it's twenty minute roller coaster ride into town, literally slamming on the breaks every 40 feet to let people off and cram more on (there seemed to be a bus stop literally outside every single hotel the entire way along)...so, slightly green and rather ruffled, we arrived in town where 90% of the passengers disembarked, struggled to get the push-chair to go back up (where it had been so squashed underneath us) and finally headed off, consulting our little map to see where the best shops were likely to be)...
Turned out the best shopping looked like it was at the "Puerto", so we followed the signs, coming at last to a very large marina, you get a good idea what the area was like from the overhead view...Thomas was *very* excited to see all the boats, and Flyingpops was pleased to see all the shops, so we pottered around-
- noticing the Segway Rides (ten euros was a bit expensive for a guided tour of the car park though)-
- and all the expensive yachts, moored right next to their owners apartment blocks like cars parked in the drive (wow)...
...found the "Fish!" Thomas had been confidently predicting...walked past the Sea Life Center (having just visited one a few weeks ago we saved it just in case of a rainy day later in the break) and then strolled down to-
-and along the beach-
- eventually finding a (very steep) way up the cliffs back to the main road...we found a little supermarket to stock up on some water and crisps etc. (the supermarket on the resort was roughly double the price!) and then found a bus stop where we waited for about half an hour for another extremely busy bus to turn up, Flyingpops only got a seat when she almost fell over holding Thomas and someone gave their seat up, and I struggled up the aisle trying desperately to hold onto multiple shopping bags, the push chair and the rucksack holding all the changing things, bashing people unavoidably until they couldn't stand it any more and allowed me to drop everything in a little bit of space they managed to find near the exit (and then held on for dear life as we lurched all the way back)...it seemed to take forever, and when we *finally* pulled up outside our resort I practically fell off the bus and then felt sick and had to lay in the dark (for about an hour) until everything stopped spinning...No more buses for us... >;P

Oh, the weather did cheer up in the afternoon though... ;)

24 May, 2011

Grand Theft Light Bulb?

Earlswood Path
Very odd...not noticed before thanks to the twin factors of increased foliage and it being light when I'm setting off in the mornings, but it appears that all the street lights that line this path here (which is the route I commonly take to get to Earlswood station) appear to have been vandalised...

It doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to me at the moment of course, but come the winter months this path (if they aren't repaired) is going to be absolutely pitch black instead of punctuated by the incredibly useful occasional pool of light to aim towards as you crash through the woods...Now, the lights are fairly numerous, and also extremely tall which basically means actually going about breaking them would have taken a *considerable* amount of effort, making me wonder what the motivation was...thrill seeking is basically out, climbing up all those slippery poles (dodging attacking crows, squirrels and sharp branches) and bashing away could hardly be considered a form of recreation (unless you are incredibly daft), which only leaves two other possibilities (that spring to mind) - One - the light bulbs are sufficiently valuable to merit going to all the effort of stealing them (but then why aren't we seeing more of this sort of thing?) or -Two- (much more sinister) that someone wants it very, very dark down there at night...

Hrm... :S

Update - They aren't terribly valuable apart from the flashy LED ones (£200-odd quid), which these weren't, they were £20 sodium ones...

19 May, 2011

Swimming at Holiday World, Benalmadina!

Holiday Village Water Park
Oh boy did those baby swimming lessons pay off...Thomas was fearless *and* perfectly safe, he backed carefully into the water and held onto the edge (where appropriate) and behaved with total confidence, when asked what he wanted to do each morning he practically yelled the roof off the apartamento with his enthusiasm for the "SWWMMMMMMMNN POOOOL!!!!!!!!!"...over on our side of the road there were two large pools, one a shallow toddler splashing pool (which the kids could merrily run in and out of)-
- and the other a bigger, deeper pool for proper swimming -
- this is where we typically started our day, collecting (complimentary) towels from the life guard (although there was a deposit of 15 euros to worry about if you accidentally lost one, so we were quite careful)-
Holiday Village Bridge
- and then across the bridge (which was, admittedly, a bit of a struggle with a loaded down pushchair) was the other part of the resort, which I can only refer to as a fully fledged water park...just amazing...
Holiday Village Water Park
There were (I think) 6 pools across there, this one was the one by the spa (up on top in the middle of the ruins), this pool had a large pirate ship with stairs and a slide into the water (of which, inexplicably, I don't appear to have a better picture of), the middle pool (where we normally hung out until lunch time) was another paddling pool (which featured a lot of spraying elephants)-
Holiday Village Water Park
- then there was a panoramic pool with glass walls looking out to sea, next to the rubber ring ride-
Holiday Village Water Park
- a dark and spooky underground crash pool, and a wave pool right at the bottom with water guns (etc)...
Holiday Village Water Park
At the top of the park (by the lunch restaurant) there was a large number of water fountains (that kept Thomas busy by swapping round all the time)-
Holiday Village Water Park
-the volcano pool-
Holiday Village Water Park
- and two other smaller pools around by the bar-
Holiday Village Water Park
-which Thomas kept going back to (on his own) asking for Gelato (roughly Ice Cream)... ;)
Holiday Village Water Park
There was also an amazing tree house and a fake lighthouse -
Holiday Village Water Park
- to explore if all the water became too much... ;) And so we pretty much (blissfully) spent our days, breakfast, first two swimming pools, over the bridge, bottom three swimming pools, lunch, top couple of swimming pools, then back across the road for tea! Maybe stopping at the buffet for some ice cold melon and spicy chicken wings... ;)

18 May, 2011

Food at Holiday World, Benalmadina

Pool Bar
So just before we went to try out the restaurant, we popped quickly out to check out the pools and stumbled upon one of the pool bars, specifically the one with the "All-inclusive Buffet", Thomas and Flyingpops seated safely in the shade, I went to check it out, but was stopped in my tracks by an elderly gentleman who (seeming slightly agitated) was desperately trying to get my attention..."Yoose just arriived?" (he said in a thick Scottish accent), "Yes" I replied..."Ah, then a worrrd te the wise" he winked, "We been eatin tha' sh*te fa *faw* days noo" he said, pointing to the buffet "but ye can owda fresh cooked fer fereee from they lassies at the bar!", "Oh, thanks for the tip!" I replied, "Ay, just wish summon had clued us in, ken?" he remarked bitterly (and returned, wistfully, to his garish cocktail)...

So, forewarned, I perused the buffet, noting 4-hour-old (now slightly crunchy) pasta, steamed burgers and floppy chips (oh and a 'fridge absolutely full of fresh, crispy watermelon which I gathered up and delivered to a delighted Thomas and Flyingpops on a little paper plate) and then returned to the bar to check out the menu, and yes, next to about 40% of the items was a small picture of a drowning man indicating that these items were (indeed) free to wrist-band holders! I ordered Texan chicken wings, which arrived sizzling from the kitchen about 10 minutes later (requiring that I steal the bottle of Tabasco from the bar) and were delicious...so thank you elderly Scottish gentleman for the heads up...! ;)
After this we (slightly greedily) headed to La Perla (the main restaurant), handing over our room key at the entrance-
-passing the chocolate Taj Mahal and being directed to a distant gentleman waving a blue drinks menu guiding us to our seats, we collected a high chair (there are many) and parked Thomas and then checked out the offerings...and it was very impressive -
- absolutely heaps of fresh fruit (it varied day-by-day) -
- piles of sliced cheese, cold cuts, olives, pickles (etc.) -
- a griddle where meat or fish is freshly cooked for you on demand (bacon/omlettes at breakfast time, misc meats and fish for lunch/supper)-
- and a huge selection (10-15 dishes, different every service) of other foods, ranging from kiddie friendly chicken nuggets, 4-5 vegetarian choices and usually some sort of roast dinner (with all the trimmings, yorkshires, gravy, mint sauce etc.)...
...and drinks of all sorts, soft drinks were self service (some people managing coke for breakfast - yuk), alcoholic drinks were served by the (ever-bustling) waiting staff...
Desert was equally lavish, supplimented by infinite ice cream (with sprinkles), a selection of yoghurts and even, on two occasions, a biggest chocolate fountain I have ever seen...
...all in all, the food was pretty much faultless... ;)
Om nom nom... ;)

17 May, 2011

Arriving in Holiday World, Benalmadina!

So we swung (after a very short transfer), in air conditioned (although admittedly slightly cramped) comfort around the many elephant-themed roundabouts surrounding the resort up to reception where we made priority one the grabbing of the push chair, into which Thomas was restrained while I battled to get our suitcases out from under the coach-
- admiring the amazing scenery and wondering what the view was going to be like from our room (suffice it to say we were in for a pleasant surprise)...
Anyway, we were greeted by a nice lady who gave us a number of chilled, red-coloured fruit drinks (Thomas' one went in his little cup) and joined the back of the queue for check-in-
We were given our "all-inclusive" red wrist bands and told our room number (which was 536) and headed off to discover what that actually meant, popping into one of the (many) little lifts by reception, noting (with a smile) that floor 5 was the top one-
-unfortunately though, the lift was so full (with push-chair, suitcases, Thomas and Flyingpops) that I had to get back out and wait for a second one as the door wouldn't close with me in there, finally ascending and gazing (with raised eyebrows) at the yacht(!) in the building-
- and then walked along to find our room (which turned out to be practically the furthest possible distance from the entrance that it could have been - right at the top and right at the end (bar about 2 other apartments) and the view when we got out on to the balcony made all the effort of getting there worth it-
I don't exaggerate when I say it literally took Thomas three full days running around -constantly yelling with excitement- before he calmed down enough to *touch* any of the toys we had brought along with us...He was just *so* thrilled (as to be almost irrepressible)... ;)

Anyway, we got a bit of unpacking done (well, Flyingpops did, while I stopped Thomas turning on the bidet, opening the 'fridge, turning on the TV, trying to thrust himself under the glass on the balcony to fall to his doom, opening the front door and running off down the hall and calling the lift, pulling the drapes open and closed, yelling, climbing into the bath, dismantling the drain cover in the shower, pulling the chairs over, pulling the drawers out, pushing daddies socks through the gap at the bottom of the balcony, jumping on the bed, turning all the lights on and off, exploring the bin, screwing up carefully unpacked clothes and putting them back into the suitcases and poking his fingers in the electrical outlets)...and so, organised, refreshed and calm giving up the game as lost, we headed down to the main restaurant for a welcome bite to eat... :)