Lazy days fit the bill for Ian

Eng­land Test bats­man swaps his bat, pads and whites for a place in the sun travel2013

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - IAN BELL

WIN­NING at cricket is all about seiz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, mak­ing the most of the right mo­ment.

A bit like hol­i­days, in fact. And, for me, find­ing a gap in my sched­ule is al­ways the first hur­dle when it comes to head­ing off with my wife and young son.

I’ve no com­plaints about be­ing a pro­fes­sional sports­man. I travel the world play­ing a game I love. But qual­ity time with fam­ily can be all too scarce.

Even when Eng­land are play­ing at home, I’m shut away in ho­tels.

So when I told my wife, Chantal, we had an op­por­tu­nity to spend a week away, she quickly had her lap­top open to look at hol­i­day op­tions – and it didn’t take us long to make a de­ci­sion. We knew ex­actly what we wanted: some­where hot and rea­son­ably close so we could just re­lax.

In fact, we knew what we wanted, be­cause we had al­ready been there. In 2007, we spent a glo­ri­ous week at the Abama re­sort on Tener­ife. We lazed on the beach, dozed on loungers and ate in ex­cel­lent restau­rants.

Our sec­ond visit was guar­an­teed to be dif­fer­ent to our first. There was just the two of us back then – now we have our nine month old son, Joseph. He is in­quis­i­tive and in­ter­ested in ev­ery­thing around him. Thank­fully, he is also a happy flyer and, a three-hour hop to the Ca­nary Is­lands was never likely to be a prob­lem.

We landed in the mid­dle of one of those warm days that are such a fea­ture of the Ca­naries. We had a quick trans­fer – and sud­denly there we were.

Abama boasts a dra­matic set­ting. It sits on the west coast of Tener­ife, laid out on the lower flank of the gi­ant Mount Teide, where it slopes to the ocean. The re­sort is im­pres­sive when you first see it, with a stylish re­cep­tion area and the ac­com­mo­da­tion be­low, all the way down the hill to the wa­ter.

It is a big place, with more than 450 rooms and vil­las, seven swim­ming pools and its own beach.

Six years ago, we cosied up in one of the vil­las. This time, we opted for the main ho­tel, know­ing we would be nearer to the pools and din­ing ar­eas – cru­cial with a baby. When we en­tered our room and saw the view from the bal­cony, with neigh­bour­ing is­land La Gomera shim­mer­ing in the dis­tance, we knew we had made a per­fect choice.

Not that we could stare for long. Joseph is at that age when, al­though not quite walk­ing, he tends to shuf­fle about and bang into things. I’m not sure what re­quires more of a watch­ful eye – a fast ball from an Aus­tralian bowler, or my son when he feels like ex­plor­ing.

De­spite this, we set­tled in eas­ily. And then did bliss­fully lit­tle. We took Joseph for a splash in the chil­dren’s pool, and to the beach.

But be­yond this, I wanted to switch off. I’m a keen golfer and Abama has a beau­ti­ful course, but I didn’t even think of swing­ing a club. I wanted to spend as much time as pos­si­ble with my fam­ily.

The re­sort has a pair of Miche­lin-starred restau­rants, in­clud­ing a bril­liant Ja­panese op­tion called Kabuki. But we had our best meals out on our bal­cony, or­der­ing room ser­vice, shar­ing a bot­tle of wine once we had put Joseph to bed.

We did, though, slip in a trip to the spa each – where, per­haps in­evitably, I had the sports mas­sage. This was gen­tler than what I’m used to with the Eng­land team phys­ios.

A good thing, too. This month’s Ashes in Aus­tralia is a big­ger chal­lenge than play­ing at home.

With so much time given over to train­ing and prac­tice, we rarely see much of the coun­try. But the boys are look­ing for­ward to when our fam­i­lies come out to sup­port us. They will be in Mel­bourne in time for the fes­tive pe­riod which re­ally boosts team spirit.

And if we are win­ning again in Aus­tralia, it will be a very happy Christ­mas in­deed. – Daily Mail

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