Saturday, 26 January 2013

Want to remember your big six-oh? Celebrate in a desert

There are times when you just have to do something memorable, and there’s nothing much more memorable than plunging into a desertic, volcanic landscape, desolate though not barren, as life clings on to the surface of an apparent wilderness.

Especially memorable if you’re going there for lunch.

Timanfaya national park: just the place for a memorable lunch

One of my sons summed it up. ‘It’s really lunar, isn’t it?’ Unfortunately he then confused me by adding, ‘It looks martian.’ Still, I think I got the message.

Yes, I won’t forget my sixtieth birthday in a hurry. It’ll be like remembering where I was when I heard that JFK had died, though as it happens I don’t think I actually do remember where I was. Still, you get the message.

The national park of Timanfaya (pronounced to rhyme with ‘I’m on fire’, as long as you stretch out ‘fire’ in a bit of a southern drawl) is on Lanzarote, the island a whole bunch of us are visiting in the Canaries at the moment.

On the highest point of the highest peak of the park, stands a restaurant where you can get volcano-grilled barbecue. No burgers as it happens, but hey, why would I want a burger? I always think of them as belonging to Calais in Northern France and coming in a six-pack.

Rodin's Burghers of Calais. In Calais. Of course
Magnificent but hardly appetising.
So instead we had sardines or chicken, steak or Argentinian sausage, according to taste. All excellent, though I couldn’t help feeling that bringing sausages all the way from Argentina was perhaps taking a demand for the esoteric in gastronomy a little too far.

The grill sits above a vent down into the heart of the volcano. It generates quite enough heat to singe your meat more than adequately. I’m not sure whether it’d be hot enough to destroy a ring of power and bring down the Dark Tower, but as it happened no-one had one on them to try the experiment.

I guess rings of power aren’t that easy to come across. Presumably, they all hang around waiting for one ring to rule them all, one ring to find, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. And it was nothing like dark enough today.

That didn
’t stop it being a great and memorable experience. As was dinner last night, overlooking the port at Playa Blanca (the ‘white beach’ turned out to be a short strip of perfectly ordinary sand laid down artificially – honestly, people will say anything if they think it’ll bring tourists). The food was outstanding and the evening provided just as memorable a celebration for the birthday of one of my sons; on Tuesday we’ll go and celebrate the birthday of another; the third made the error of being born in the summer, so he’ll just have to tag along and drink toasts to the the rest of us, but he seems to be doing that with gusto so I imagine he doesn’t see it as a hardship.

Then, the birthdays over, I suppose we’ll just have to find some other way of entertaining ourselves for the rest of the week on this charming little island. Not that I expect that’ll prove to be too much of a hardship either.

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