Cancun Mexico

Cancun. Wow! What an amazing place!

I spent 7 wonderful nights at the Moon Palace resort in Cancun between the 10th and 17th of November, the temperature there was 29oC and that’s slightly warmer than the frosty temperature back in the UK!

The beautiful Moon Palace resort is split into 3 different zones, Sunrise (more suited to younger couples and family orientated), The Grand (an Exclusive, grandiose and 5 diamonds rated luxury resort aimed at ‘nobby nob nob’ America and Arabic holidaymakers) and Nizuk (a more boutique experience and somewhere in the middle of the other two).

Normally, entry to the Grand resort is exclusive only to guests staying at the Grand; Nizuk and Sunrise guests can crossover into each other’s resort and I liked what I had seen in both places, so being a completionist I was curious to see what the Grand was like!

So I volunteered for an uncomfortable 3 hour tour/timeshare presentation to get a ‘free’ 1 day pass which is normally worth a couple of hundred US dollars.

Folks, don’t do what I did…..just buy the damned day pass if you want to check out the Grand! The Grand has its own water park with loads of slides and the Habibi Labanese restaurant is worth the price of the day pass alone.

However, avoid, avoid, avoid, the pushy Narcos timeshare sales pitch by Miguel at all costs!

Here’s the main bar at the Grand, which had what looked like a Murano glass ceiling. Funnily enough, I experienced gangsters at Mureno in Venice, so it was ironic to see Murano glass having just had a brush with the timeshare bandits.

Whatever zone you choose, you will see spectacularly landscaped gardens, several swimming pools, golf carts with dedicated staff who are only too happy to zip you off somewhere. Night or day, it all looks stunning.

All-inclusive at the Nizuk is a 5 star experience from start to finish. I had a Jacuzzi bath in my hotel room, access to 24 hour room service and fully stocked bottomless mini bar.

I saw my first raccoon and so many species of birds at the resort, Moon Palace has won lots of conservation awards and it’s easy to see this in their daily practices around the resort. I also saw some turtle nests, sadly I did not get to see the little chaps scuttle off into the sea but that’s ok.

What makes Nizuk special are the staff. Yutucan Mexicans (where most of the staff commute in from) are probably the hardest working professional people that I have ever met in my life and they all manage it, every day, with a smile and the kind of genuine warmth that humbled me to my core. If you are ever in their company, please tip very graciously.

Dinning at the exceptional El Manglar buffet restaurant is a spectacular affair; a couple of nights I also went to the resort a la carte traditional Los Caporales Mexican restaurant where I had the hottest habanero sauce of my life! Holy fuck it melted my mouth and tongue!

I think my favourite experience in Cancun was getting up early every day to watch the Sun rise from my balcony or down by the beachfront which was only a stones throw from my room.

I don’t think I would ever get bored of seeing such beauty.

I always enjoy a good swim, but drinking margaritas in the pool? Well that is just bloody fabulous?!?

The bottom line here is that you are not left wanting for anything here.

Going all-inclusive, you also get access to the other hotels that are part of the same group.

The Beach Palace hotel is about 20 minutes away from Moon Palace is on a stretch of beach that has the bluest water I’ve ever seen and has a spectacular rooftop terrace which gives a 360 degrees view of the surrounding area. Showing how the hotel zone strip acts as a divider between the lagoon and the sea.

There is also the Sun palace hotel, which is probably more of a local weekend break option. It was nice enough, but appeared to be very cramped compared to the others and in all honesty I couldn’t be arsed taking photos of all the sardine-like guests there!

I am glad I ventured out around the hotel zone because I saw first hand how local people go about their daily lives.

Mexicans live together and work together in such a fashion that can only make one conclude how disconnected the average London city worker is in compaison.

During lunchtime in Cancun, you see people sheltering together in the shade under the trees to stay out of the roasting Sun, people are sharing out food between each other; in some cases, cars are delivering lunches to everyone at the roadside and I thought this was beautiful, humanity at its finest and something that I really took to my heart (Corazon!).

If anything, it made me consider how extremely privileged I was to holiday at somewhere like the Moon Palace resort, knowing that I was eventually going back to my home and to all the things that I try not to take for granted.

I very much hope to go back to Mexico, next time for 2 weeks if possible, so that I can go on some tours!

I went to Cancun to have fun and relax for the first time in 5 years and I achieved that in abundance; but I think my trip also refreshed my moral compass which was definitely unexpected.

And for that, I say, gracias and salud!

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Santorini Tomatoes

Today I harvested the first batch of my Santorini tomatoes! I am pleased to report that they are every bit as tasty as they look!!!

Santorinis, or Mafiosa tomatoes, as they are known in Tooting, take a little longer to ripen compared to all the other varieties that I have grown this year, but they are well worth the wait!

They are comparable in size to a beef tomato, so I roasted these in the oven with a little olive oil, vegan spread and garlic. Then stirred into pasta.

Perfecto!

Artisanal

Whilst perusing the 5 star luxury Easyjet ‘Bistro’ in-flight menu, I happened to notice that the ‘Hot Magherita Mini Calzone’ is described as having “……an artisanal folded pizza base”.

Artisanal. ArtisANAL. Oh my….. Bum art?? Not sure I fancy that?

I know you always get shafted with expensive in-flight slop meals, but paying through the nose for an arty farty anal folding?

No thanks. Think I’ll just settle for the nuts…..

Bloody Bastard Airport Parents

I fucking can’t stand pushy parents who turn up at airport departure gates like they deserve business class VIP treatment, all because they have kids.

You can fucking do one bruv, if you think you are getting to your economy seat before me!

Do me a favour, stow the little bastards in the overhead locker so I can enjoy the safety demo in peace!

Dominic Clegg – In Memoriam

On the morning of Sunday the 29th of October, 2017, I found out that Dominic Clegg, one of my dearest friends, had passed away.

Dom was one of the Universes larger-than-life personalities; if I had to sum him up, I’d say he was a cheeky, mischievous, politically incorrect, Bernard Manning joke-loving schoolboy who was trapped in the body of a pork pie-eating behemothic Yorkshireman.

Cleggy always spoke his mind and was the most gifted wind-up merchant (all in good jest, I say, all in good jest!) who lived for cracking banter and laughter with his friends, but most important of all to him, was his family.  I honestly can’t recall a conversation with Dom, where he didn’t talk about or show me pictures of his wife or his two sons,  That is something I truly respected him for.

I first met Foghorn Clegghorn, as I called him, back in 2007 when we began working together for Mercedes-Benz; in all the time that I have known Dom, I have always wondered how somebody so fucking tight with money could be so amazingly popular?  I even know a few Northerners who thought he was tight!

Tight wasn’t the word!!?  This was a man who claimed absolutely everything he was entitled to on company expenses, Cadbury’s crème eggs, Monster Munch and the now-legendary ‘Triple Decker Pork Supreme’ sandwich that Dom purchased from the dodgiest motorway services stop in England.  He was so tight, he actually squeaked when he walked.

This was a guy who drew collective groans from everyone in the office when he made a rare visit to the office and inevitably tried to sell his infamous Christmas raffle tickets; Andy and I always teased him that we NEVER won any prizes from the poxy raffle and that the Northeners who carried out the draw, probably used to realise they had pulled out a foreigners (Foreigner = anyone south of Bradford) winning ticket and proceeded to draw another until they had found a suitable alternative.

I absolutely relished every second of the close-to-the-mark banter we shared, which was nearly always with Andy, our mutual colleague from Birmingham.  Whenever we met up, it was a case of ‘A Northerner, Brummie and Southerner walk into a bar…….’ and we were the butt of each others faux-distasteful jokes.  They were the best of times.

The biggest joke and ironic thing of all though, is that Dominic was originally from Kensington in London! He was more of a Londoner and a “Southern fairy” than I am!  From aristocratic Kensington no less!  Not that you would ever think that once you saw him wearing his flat cap and clutching his favourite whippet.  He was the embodiment of a true Yorkshireman, loved Rugby league, cider, ale and homing pigeons.  OK, the last one is a fib, but I loved giving him shit about how he had a pigeon called Speckled Jim.

Moving away from the Andy Capp stereotype, Dominic was actually the most unlikely Punk Music fan you’d ever meet (he was extremely passionate about music in general!) and was someone who actually loved curry as much as me.   Imagine that!?!

One of my favourite memories of Dom was sitting together in Kiplings, a curry house in Bradford.  Karma gave the big man a dry slap after he sat teasing me, constantly, whilst grinning ear-to-ear, about my Indian roots, in a fake Indian accent, whilst surrounded by Indian/Pakistani/Bangadeshi (delete as appropriate) waiters.  As I was tucking into my main dish, I suddenly witnessed Dom go bright red and cry like a girl, all because he chomped on the hottest chilli known to Yorkshireman, it was like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon and I can remember it like it was yesterday.

I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend what the World is going to be like without Dominic, how Andy and I will never be the three Mercedes-Benz Stooges ever again with him; I always think people like Dominic are invincible, immortal and ever-lasting because they truly are giants amongst men.

Dom was every bit of that, and will continue to be.
And I shall miss him.

T’Rest In Peace.

Shalob.  Guardian Of The Tomatoes

It won’t be long before the colder weather truly kicks in and finishes off my tomato plants until I go again next year!

So in the spirit of good partnership, I have included some pictures in this post to show my appreciation of my resident spiders, my amazing arachnid guardians who have kept pests such as aphids and other crop destroying gits at bay!

I have enjoyed a fantastic yield of truly tasty cherry and plum tomatoes from my crop this year, all of which were undoubtedly protected by Shalob and her eight legged spinning sisters.

Having an organic security solution to devour pests and parasites is much nicer than using a chemical from Bayer.  Plus its cool to see them at work.  

Scuttle scuttle scuttle.  Web web web.  Yum yum yum.