Visit to Sam and Amanda 23-30 Jan

Svetla's friend, Michael, picked us up at 8 am as arranged - he is a lovely man but conversation is somewhat one-sided as he is also quite deaf.  He talked all the way to Gatwick - and was very interesting and entertaining.  He took a route via Hammersmith, Roehampton, A3 and Worcester Park which seemed to take 30 minutes longer than Google was predicting via M25 - but it didn't matter as we were in plenty of time. Swept up by Special Assistance at the check in desk and taken through security - I got a bit flustered as we had been heading for Departures and were suddenly whisked away in another direction.  Finally got to departures lounge where we had a coffee and I did some shopping.  I got Mike a Galaxy Tab 3 for £77 which I thought was quite a bargain.   We wandered off to the gate once it had been displayed - and then got whisked away by someone again and on to the plane - going past all the other passengers who were having to queue in the small corridor.

Amanda was at Palma to meet us and we went and dropped our stuff off at the hotel and then went back to her house (via Eroski to pick up some bits and pieces).  We gave Bethany our present, and the present from Leanne - which she loved.  We all went to Meson Son Ferrer to eat at around 5.30 pm, and then Sam went off to play darts while we went back and watched some TV with Amanda before getting a taxi back to the hotel.

We had a lovely week. Each day we would walk over to Amanda's after breakfast.  Mike of course went off and explored the short cut along the rough track - which worked so he arrived well before me as I had gone back to the normal route.  The weather was good - the sun shone every day and had some warmth, although the wind was cold.  We only had one morning where it rained, and on a couple of days near the end it was up to 16 degrees.

We watched several films on their big screen - I watched The Theory of Everything again as the others hadn't seen it, and also The Imitation Game (which I thought was brilliant) and Gone Girl, which was somewhat different from what I was expecting and which I enjoyed except for the ridiculous ending.  Apparently it was the book everyone was reading last year - perhaps the book is better.  We also watched something called Lone Survivor - which I thought was going to be that new film about the British troops who got stuck in a minefield, but it turned out to be an american adventure in Afghanistan and while it was based on a true story, it seemed to just consist of a lot of shooting and blood and a very small number of Americans killing a very large number of Afghans! We ate out twice more at Meson - the last time Sue looked after Bethany so that Amanda and Sam could enjoy a night out and not worry about getting back.  

We had a barbecue in the garden on the Saturday - which was cold out of the sun so we didn't sit around much other than to eat the food.  Sam's parents, brother and brother's partner came over and it was nice to meet them at last. 

On the Sunday we had intended going over to the Caves of Drach at Porto Cristo but Amanda telephoned and they said it was not possible to do the tour in a wheelchair as there were 129 steps down and 120 back up again.  So we went to Palma and went on the tourist bus tour (hop on hop off).  We had intended to get off at Belver Castel but the driver told us they weren't going to the castle until 2 pm because of a big function up there - so we did the tour and then went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.  It was a very different experience from the London one.  The place was deserted when we went in - although it filled up a bit later on.  The music was not too loud, and quite pleasant to listen to, and did not overpower conversation.  The food was really good - we shared a combo starter which was enormous.  Then we waited for the bus again - and when it turned up the driver said they were not allowed to go to the castle all day now.  So he extended our tickets for a couple of hours the next day.  Mike then wanted to walk round the old part of Palma so we did that for an hour before heading off home. We went back to Palma on the Monday and luckily got a free disabled parking space near the Hard Rock, where we picked up the bus to the castle and spent a couple of hours looking round and in the museum.  The views across Palma were amazing.
Selfie from the top of the castle
We used the indoor pool at the hotel on one occasion - it was lovely and we had it all to ourselves.  There was a sun tanning bed, a sauna and a jacuzzi - although I am not sure whether they would have been in use as we didn't try them.  It was quite a small pool but we had a nice swim.  We both had to wear swim hats - Mike bought one and I borrowed Amanda's.  We had a lazy morning at the hotel that day and I finished the book I was reading - yet another paperback!  It was the one given to me by Sister Elizabeth and was quite a good read if a little far fetched - and the ending was a bit weak.

We went to the caves on Thursday - Amanda, Sam and I did the tour while Mike stayed up top and explored the area.  We were just in time to catch the 12 noon tour - so we rushed along thinking we were going to a meeting place where the tour would start.  However it ended up at an auditorium/seating area in front of a large expanse of water - luckily Amanda had read the booklet on the way down and had alerted us to the fact that there may not be an actual guided tour so we slowed down and took some photos and admired the huge stalactites etc on the way.  The lights were turned off and we were subjected to a "concert" of 4 potboilers (Pachabel's canon etc) played by musicians in the front boat while two more boats just followed on.  The boats were lit around the outside and it was quite pretty.  Then when the musicians disappeared again, the other two boats came alongside and we got in them and were taken to the other end of the cavern where we then went up the steps to the exit.  We met up with Mike and had a coffee and a baguette and then Amanda took us on a scenic drive round some of the south coast which Mike wanted to see.  We also went to Calvia to see where Amanda and Sam would like to move to.

 All too soon it was time to come home - Amanda picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the airport. It had been very windy during the night and I hadn't slept well.  When we got to the airport we discovered that the flight was delayed by an hour - the runway at Stansted needed to be cleared of snow!  We knew what gate it was about two hours before everyone else, so we went and sat there so that I could watch Silent Witness on the iPad without worrying about missing any announcements.  When it came to boarding they processed all the speedy boarders, and then most of the rest of the passengers, before they took the wheelchairs through and I was worried that we would not find space in the overhead lockers - but when we went through we went past everyone queuing in the corridor and boarded first anyway!  This time Mike and I had all 3 seats to ourselves which was nice and gave us plenty of space.  Michael turned up to meet us at Stansted and drove us back - the thick snow disappeared as we got nearer to London - and we were in by 4 pm which was nice.  Mike went off to ring at Barnes but I stayed in at home and caught up with admin, did the washing and unpacked the rest of the stuff.  I also did the envelopes for the Barnes outing the next day.  Then I had an early night - taking a herbal nytol and a hot drink with whisky to help!

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