‘Bet you can’t wait to lie flat out on that beach,” offered the cheery fellow at the Meet and Greet reception, as we dropped off our car at Manchester Airport before racing to catch our flight to Gran Canaria.
What to say in response? Of course I couldn’t wait. Especially as the rain was slanting down outside, the sky a forbidding gun-metal grey. Though not as dark, it must be said, as the cloud passing over my husband’s face.
“Oh, I won’t be lying on the beach,” he replied, shaking his head as if to dispel such a contaminating thought.
Well, why would he? I mean there we were, escaping the winter gloom for a week in the Canaries where the daytime temperature was averaging a rather toasty 24C. But here’s the thing. My husband isn’t just another holiday maker. He is also a fanatical — and I mean, fanatical — cyclist.
And while the prospect of leaping off the hamster wheel and onto a lilo couldn’t have been more appealing to me, he had already found places there to rent a bike.
Considering the growing popularity of cycling in the UK, holidaying with a spouse who itches to get in the saddle when all you want to do is relax, is starting to become an occupational relationship hazard.
But this is where Gran Canaria scores. For the active, there are endless places to bike like a lunatic, along with hiking routes. For the rest of us, plenty of opportunity to beach like a whale, helpfully resolving any potential clash of priorities.
Gran Canaria has always been a favourite with the Brits and with its subtropical climate — thanks to its location 130 miles off the coast of western Africa — it’s little wonder
For visitors — on bike (him) or letting the car take the strain (me and two of our children) — the island’s nickname of a “continent in miniature” means there’s a bit of everything. Thanks to varying microclimates you can enjoy a blast of warm sunshine, desert style winds or cool mountain air.
We elected to self-cater since trying to do kosher and eat well is a bit of a challenge with no local Jewish community on the island. Armed with vacuum-packed meat, bags of grated cheese and frozen challah dough, we booked a small, three-bedroom house in the quiet resort of Tauro, in the south-west of the island.
Located in a rocky valley about ten minutes from the beach, it’s also home to a rather splendid golf club, two Spar supermarkets and a local grill bar where the night time entertainment offered variations of one man and his organ.
But in Gran Canaria, nothing is very far away. So on the days when I could be dragged from pool and paperback, my husband would cycle off and we would arrange points to meet.This included taking a boat trip from nearby Puerto Rico and visiting the nature reserve of Maspalomas, which consists of incredible sand dunes — some almost ten metres high. Though we resisted the offer to hire a camel. On another day we idled near the seafront at picturesque Puerto de Mogan, choosing Friday when the resort hosts the island’s largest market. You can buy almost anything, from fruit and fake watches to funky t-shirts and fancy knickers before relaxing by the beach or marina.
The Cordial Mogan Playa Hotel here also hires out bikes, so we could have joined my husband in the saddle — but somehow the effort seemed too great and our time on the island too short.
Instead, while he disappeared on another bike ride, we drove from the coast into the island’s mountainous interior, visiting the lake near Presa de Las Ninas where we sat and watched the sun ripple on the water.
In contrast to this peaceful spot was Aqualand, one of the largest waterparks in Europe, whose splashy adrenaline rush was a hit with our 13-year-old, who had joined us along with her older brother (who as an impecunious student was attracted by the offer of a free holiday in the sun).
Returning to Manchester after seven magical days, each of us felt our holiday boxes had well and truly been ticked. As I told the chap at the Meet and Greet, we had all enjoyed being flat out — whether that was in the saddle or on the sand.