January got off to a good start with a trip up to London on a very blustery day to visit the Foundling Museum, a fascinating first for me. Another first was a Yo-sushi lunch, luckily at special January prices otherwise the bill for all those small plates could very easily mount up!
By the second week of January I was on a plane to Goa, along with several friends, to repeat last year’s holiday and visit my daughter. Writing this now in temperatures of 4ºC it’s hard to believe that it was 34ºC every day out there. It was equally hard to imagine gales, rain and snow back home whilst lying by the pool or watching the sunset on the beach.
Open-air breakfasts of fresh fruit and masala scrambled eggs and maybe dhal, sometimes after 8am yoga by the pool (well, twice…) or early morning beach walks, were swiftly followed by taking up the prone position by the pool for sunbathing, reading and, sadly, catching up on FB, Twitter and the world in general. Afternoons featured more of the same, sometimes with lunch at the beach and some sea swimming thrown in for a change. The main decisions were where to eat dinner that night, and where to have sunset drinks. Usually Mojitos on the beach or G & Ts on the roof terrace, but we did venture out for cocktails at Chalston Beach resort.
We weren’t entirely sloth-like – we went to a night market on our first weekend and had dinner there, too. We shopped (several times..) at Rangeela Goa and Eternal, as well as at street stalls and Anjuna. We had a day trip to another beach, Ashwem, with the most fabulous sea for swimming and a lovely beach restaurant, La Plage, complete with paintings hung amongst the palms. We went to a kids book festival organized by Calangute’s sole bookshop, Litterati.
Some of us ventured further afield for an overnight trip to Agonda in south Goa, where we stayed in beach shacks and enjoyed another sublime sea, and a beach complete with herds of (sacred) cows and a (wild?) white horse that roamed the beach at sunset.
We dined at Pink Chilli, home to the exotic tuk-tuk and spicy thalis, A Reverie (mini avocado cornets, anyone?), Nirvana (interesting clientele, cheap food and oh, the karaoke…), Gusto (Mediterranean and Kashmiri menus), Chalston Beach resort (amazing Rajasthani dancers), Pousada on the Beach (lovely setting) and had a wonderful beach BBQ, courtesy of Aggies. A special shout out to Zest in Agonda, for amazing vegan and vegetarian food – I will remember my beetroot ‘ravioli’ for a long time!
I also attended (along with 1200 others) an evening celebration of a 25th wedding anniversary in a stunning hotel setting, and had a day trip to Panjim where I was very taken by the beautiful Portuguese architecture as well as the art and sculpture installations all around the streets, including a whole set of steps decorated with a peacock and its trailing tail. We lunched at a gallery that had a definite Farrow & Ball/western vibe and I spent most of my last few rupees on the lovely handmade cards from Paperworks.
Back in the UK, it was a nasty shock to discover that my boiler had packed up while I was away, and a huge relief once it was working again. Thanks to my lovely neighbours topping up my wood supply I did at least have one toasty room in the house, heated by the woodburner.
Now the tan is fast fading along with the memory of all that heat, and its back to muddy walks, wearing lots of layers. Roll on spring – in the meantime, here’s a Calangute beach sunset!