Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Menorca memories

Views like this make me dream of stories
Mr Snaffle Shorts

I watched Mr Snaffle Shorts sidle around the hotel’s breakfast buffet. He’d carefully secret rolls in napkins before slipping them into his trouser pockets, and a quick sleight of hand would make other things disappear the same way – fruit, foil wrapped butter, cheese and ham, mini croissants. Every morning he’d appear in his special snaffling shorts and would cruise the buffet with a smug little smile – happy to be getting ‘one over’ on the management. I stole a glance at his wife. She didn’t look quite so content. She was probably contemplating yet another lunchtime eating sweaty cheese rolls on the beach, and yet another evening shaking crumbs and ketchup sachets out of the Snaffle Shorts. I’m sure that if asked she would side with her husband – they’ve paid for that food so by gosh they would eat it – but I am equally sure that if one morning he turned to her and said ‘darling – sod the snaffle shorts! Today at lunch let’s find a restaurant!’ – that her face would grow young and her smile would light the room.

‘Si vous plais, per favor’

I was incredibly enamoured with the idea of being able to speak Spanish when I was ten years old. I pestered my mother for a ‘teach yourself Spanish’ book, and was rewarded with one that, although marketed to children,  contained the most bizarre exchanges I’d ever seen. Every phrase was oddly adult -  ‘Excuse me, can I have a safety deposit box?’ and ‘ Hello – I would like to do some laundry, please.’ Somehow out of poor beginnings I managed to cobble together some knowledge – how to count to ten, simple polite greetings, and how to say ‘I like...’ (but of course!). I never actually took Spanish at school, sadly – I stuck to French – but I can still remember that phrase book, so had fun unleashing my Norf Lahndon Spanish accent into Menorca. Luckily my lovely travel buddy, good friend R, is far more knowledgeable at Spanish, and could steer the way when I lapsed into French instead – most memorable being ‘si vous plais, per favor’. Still, I think people were happy we made the effort!

Oblivious sun-worshipers

Sketching on the beach

Art has taken a back seat over the years to writing, but this holiday I was determined to get back into it and start sketching – anywhere we paused for ten minutes or so, out came the sketchbook. It was easier to draw from sight than from memory and I really enjoyed letting my vision absorb the surroundings and pick out little details. When you write or work with computers there is barely any distance between your eyes and the screen, and so it was wonderful to gaze my fill upon distance and colour. I vowed to start carrying my sketchbook with me everywhere again, but oh how quick it is to fall back into city grievances – my bag is too small, there’s no room on the trains and tube, I’m too tired. Pah. Although I could buy a bigger bag... *eyes light up at a solution that involves shopping*

The beach at Cala Galdana -
good friend R is in the foreground
 The pre-school Greek Chorus

As we boarded the homeward bound flight, a high proportion of toddlers boarded with us (and with their parents, naturally). Our little Greek chorus expressed everyone’s most hidden flying fears by wailing as loud as they could on the ascent. Thankfully they quietened when the plane levelled, no doubt pacified by whatever sweet and chewy thing their desperate parents could shove at them, and the flight continued smoothly... for a bit. As we neared the UK we hit a bit of turbulence – and one member of the Greek chorus – a small boy of around three years old – didn’t like it at all. He began a steady sob as the plane started its wobbly slow descent, and then at the top of his lungs suddenly yelled ‘I DON’T WANT TO DIE!’ It’s not the sort of thing you want to hear mid bouncy flight, to be honest. Mostly, though, I felt really sorry for him – someone must’ve scared him about flying or he’d seen something far too adult somewhere down the line – as it’s an odd association for a little boy to make. His parents tried to comfort him, but we were stuck with repeated yells of ‘I DON’T WANT TO DIE!’ all the way to touch down. I’d never been so relieved to land!

A summary

Menorca is a lovely, lovely island – with white sandy beaches, lots of history, individualist housing, and beautiful winding city streets. I did lots of gazing out to sea, and dreaming about future plans, and pondering steps to make future plans part of the present plan, and wondering whether I have a present plan and does it actually involve treats? I also had a fantastic time with lovely travel buddy, as ever – we find the same things incredibly amusing, we like the same quiet moments, and we natter about everything under the sun – and the sun we were under was kind to us, and didn’t burn or disappear behind clouds. If only a week didn’t gallop and recede so fast – feels like a long time ago now!


Out on the prairie said...

What a lovely vacation indeed. I would enjoy a bit of ocean, it has been over a year since I last visited.i like to sketch a bit myself, I took an illustration of plants class last.it was fun to be around some very good artists who filled me with good tips and enthusiasm.

Old Kitty said...

These are your drawings?!?!! Oh Jayne!! How fabulous! They're lovely!!

Please get a bigger bag and never let go of your sketchbook!! Yay!

p.s. glad you had a brill holiday! Ole! Take care

Debbie said...

What a character you have in Mr Snaffle Shorts. I wonder how much stuff he could get in those pockets?

Language confusion. I did the same in Prague. I blame the snow. I said gracias as I was leaving a shop instead of dobry den (good day).

Lovely sketches.

snafu said...

What a great post; yes you must definitely get a bigger bag, those sketches add so much. I like to read books with pictures, to paraphrase Alice. Mr Snaffles seems to be familiar, I have often watched people do that in hotels, I wouldn’t mind betting they don’t give the staff a tip either.
What an awful flight home, screaming kids with a fear of flying certainly made that a memorable one.
Reminds me of a flight I once took, where our aircraft returned to Heathrow not long after taking off with, and I quote, ‘Just a small engine fire’ and instead of putting us on another plane, it was fixed on the runway and we took off again and flew on to Lubiana. No one was actually screaming but we were not a happy bunch of passengers and the gasp of relief when we finally touched down was audible throughout the aircraft.
I once thanked a French shopkeeper in Japnese instead of French by mistake. She didn't seem to mind.

Anne Gallagher said...

What a great trip. Color me jealous. And are those your drawings? God, they are beautiful. I'd frame those and hang them on my wall right now.

My daughter did that screaming thing on a plane once, although in delight, she loved it, and the poor woman behind us was exceedingly upset to the point she fainted.

Jayne said...

Hello Out on the Prairie. Sketching is a wonderful way to commune with nature. I hope you are still enthusiastic about your illustrations.

Hello Old Kitty. Aw - thanks! I still need to get a bigger bag. First I need to get a bigger bank balance.

Hello Debbie. I'm sure Mr Snaffle Shorts only chose those shorts because they had enormous pockets. I would love to visit Prague one days.

Hello Snafu. I think there are a lot of Mr Snaffles out there in the world, pilfering the buffet. I haven't done any sketching since being home from holiday, the time has just flown. But I will take it up again, soon. I might do an art evening class next year. Your plane story - yikes!

Hello Anne. Aw thank you - yes they are. I'm glad your daughter's screams on the plane were in delight, such a shame the woman behind didn't see them in quite the same way!