Offsite – Part 1

Off site – Chaos and Pandemonium

And that was just the airport! We arrived in dribs and drabs, in various states of alertness but mostly yawning. We watched with the giggles as a stag night arrived in fancy dress, there was Barney Rubble, a few dresses, a pimp and a really sharp suit with snorkel, face mask and flippers clomping through the terminal. Milling around as people checked in we went in search of breakfast, by the time we had queued up, eaten, gossiped and drunk our coffees we ran out of time to go into duty free. Becky and I went to check what gate we had to get on the plane, to find they were closing it. So a fairly quick dash to the gate, to be met by a plane full of scowling people as we were the really annoying group that leave it to the last minute.

The plane was only ¾ full, so we were able to move about and stretch out, Holly, Anna and Katharine had 3 seats each so they could lay flat, Becky and I had a seat in between us so we spread out and tried to doze. Flying Monarch we decided that we didn’t want to pay for a thimble full of coffee, or breakfast so chattering, reading and listening to iPods we passed the time away.

We were met at the airport in Malaga by Dusty, Peta, gallons of water, and a lady whose name I forget, but she whizzed through the airport holding a sign aloft in true fashion walking us to the coach. The transfer to the hotel didn’t take long, only about 30 minutes. I wasn’t surprised to see how much the Southern Spanish landscape looked like Morocco, same red sand, bushes clinging on for dear life on the side of hills and mountains, but there were so many golf courses carved out the side of the hills, it gave a false look of green to the country side. Everywhere we looked they were also building; houses, flats, more golf courses. Totally ruining the countryside, what was left of it.

The Don Carlos hotel was a mixture of hacienda style long, low buildings hugging the hills to the coast line, and a 1960s monstrosity of a tower block tacked onto the side of it. Guess where my room was? Checking in we had the first of a few problems on the trip. Kate who was already having a dodgey day, she had spilt red nail varnish onto her cream carpet and had to leave it as the taxi was due any minute, organised us in Reception. Even though there was probably 15-20 of us milling around, her wallet and sunglasses were stolen from her bag. This straight away put a downer on all of us, as you can imagine, but we rallied round, we all signed in, although our rooms weren’t ready yet, the concierge took our bags to a secure room, we then trooped down to the pool for lunch.

Two large round tables were laid for us, although there weren’t enough seats for all of us to sit, this seemed to happen a lot through the few days we were there, even though figures were phoned and emailed ahead of us, we were often asking for waiters to add extra places onto tables. We chose from the normal poolside menu, the food was nice, it arrived quickly and although I got some funny looks from everyone for taking my chicken out of its bun and leaving it on my plate, I was so hungry I demolished it. Steph and I were ordering drinks, Katharine had ordered a bottle of white Rioja, but we fancied a gin and tonic and a vodka and tonic respectively. Steph ended up with two as we asked two different waiters for it, as they also had a habit of wandering off in mid-order so we had no idea how many drinks were taken or not. She forced herself to drink them though.

We wanted to check out our rooms, as we had been given our room keys at lunch, mine was in the tower block. Not right next to the lift which is where I normally am, but not far from it, all the better for staggering home at the end of a night, but not too noisy. I had a twin room, looking out over another tower block and the hills of Marbella. There are some photos on my yahoo site. After unpacking, I changed into my bikini and parked myself by the pool. For the next two hours, every time I turned over or went in for a swim to cool off, I looked for other people from work, but saw no-one. In the end I was so hot and sleepy, I didn’t want to fall asleep and burn, also the workers that had been having their siesta had started banging around on the building they were assembling next to the pool, so it wasn’t the most relaxing place to be, I went up to my room. I set my alarm on my phone and fell into a blissful sleep.
Coming downstairs to the bar, we met up, swapped stories on the afternoon, everyone asking where I had been. My nearly 6’ lily white body obviously not sticking out enough, and again got stuck into round and round of drinks. One of the Partners Paul was ordering them, the barman would collect the order, Paul would sign for it, and another round would have to be ordered as more people had arrived at our tables. This cycle went on for about half an hour, only stopping when the last of us appeared we walked down to the Beach Club and Nikki Beach for dinner.
Nikki Beach is a chain of clubs, bars and has a clothing range too. It is where the beautiful people hang out, during the high season I can imagine it being packed, but it was really quiet the few days we were there. All wood tables, white linen, curtains, gorgeous barmen and women, all wearing big thick brown/black leather belts with openers, knives, notebooks tucked away in convenient pockets, they wore long linen trousers and white t-shirts. The music was loud Euro-Pop, not too loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, but loud enough to create an atmosphere.
Again drinks were got in, we stood and mingled, laughing at stories about the guys playing tennis in the afternoon, then sat down on two tables for dinner – can we have a few more seats please?

We had pre-ordered our food so that it was easier on the restaurant, the tables were split by the list of names written 1,2,1,2 next to them. No other scientific way about doing it, but it gave a good mix of people. The food was lovely, copious amounts of alcohol were consumed and a rip-roaring time was had by all. Cameras were being wielded all night, there were a lot of laughs, not least over Ken having a secret party on the terrace. You could only join if he touched you on the shoulder, the only problem was he only touched about two people. So after a while, we all gate crashed it. When the bar closed I went up to bed, dodging the sprinklers as we went through the gardens. Holly wasn’t so lucky, she got soaked as she was dragged through them by one of the Birmingham guys.

More tomorrow!

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