FOLLOWER OF THE SUN

Traditionally the end of January is considered the most miserable time of the year in the UK. This Monday was pronounced to be “Blue Monday,” i.e. the most depressing day of the year.  I can kind of understand it, there is no snow here, not enough sunlight, no carnival to cheer us up and the post-Christmas financially dry period, highlighted only by sales, can be really dragging.

For me, on another hand, this is the time to plan my spring holiday. I know myself far too well to postpone this holiday for any reason. Typically by mid-March I get slightly claustrophobic and bit unhappy in London for the lack of a clear horizon, blue sky and sun, and very itchy feet for travel! Therefore every January I’m planning my escape to some warm and sunny place where I can recharge my batteries. If I don’t go anywhere by the end of March I turn into a monster and make life very difficult for myself and everyone else.

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However this year I’m a bit limited with my choice of holiday destinations. I’m planning a longer trip to Central and South America later this year and I don’t want to spend my holiday savings now as I will need them later on.  So faraway lands like the Far East, Pacific Islands, Caribbean and South American coast are clearly off limits.  I’m not sure if I want go near South America twice in the same year; I’ll be in that part of the world in autumn.  I don’t like to visit the same places too many times because I believe that the world is too big and life too short to revisit the same places all the time.

I thought Jordan or the Arabian Gulf or Dubai but when I checked the prices I think it may be a little above my budget this time. North Africa, maybe Egypt or Morocco? Ok, but I was in Tunisia last spring.  Egypt, well great I would love to go there sometime but Cairo is off limits due to the civil unrest and consequently the pyramids and major historical sites too.  And with the current political situation and unrest in North Africa and Middle East I’m not sure if I want or risk it or end up in some walled-up tourist resort with no way out….

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It took a whole weekend of planning and researching where to go. Ok I may be a bit restricted in my resources but I wasn’t willing to compromise on my absolute essentials which are:  SUN, WARM WEATHER, SEA, BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES OR HISTORICAL SIGHTSEEING, AND DECENT ACCOMMODATION (preferably an apartment or lovely B&B as massive all-inclusive hotels and resorts aren’t really my cup of tea).  In the end we settled on Tenerife, one of the most beautiful Canary Islands. It seems to tick all the boxes: gorgeous weather all year around, fabulous landscapes, not bad prices in March, great food and plenty to see and only a four hour flight.

Yes, I think this is the place, unless any of you can suggest something better. I’ll consider any idea you send – if there are places you have visited at that time of year which are worth seeing and would like to share with me.  Also, any links or photos would be great!

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So what I was drinking this week? Plotting my escape has put me into holiday mode. I opened Southern Right Pinotage, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley from South Africa (£13.99 Waitrose). It’s made by Anthony Hamilton Russell who claims that that Pinotage grown in cooler areas with a slower but longer ripening session is better, and I think he may be right. His Pinotage is very elegant and really complex. This is a full bodied wine with a velvety texture and lovely blackcurrant, mulberry and raspberry fruit aromas, themed down with a tough savoury, earthy flavours and some oak. Well developed but subtle and smooth tannins give the wine structure and finesse.  This is a beautiful wine to have on its own or with grilled red meat and game dishes.

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Interesting trivia: Pinotage is a man-made grape variety crated in 1925 by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsaul (known as Hermitage in South Africa hence the name. )

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P.S. The ballet night last week was AWESOME! I’ll happily do it again. It was the most beautiful ballet performance I have ever seen and I can’t recommend it enough. If you can – go and see Swan Lake!

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