What is it about the sea? What’s the attraction? Is it the ghost of childhood memories? Mum wiping the ice-cream from your chin with a hankie, dad lifting you on to an easy-going but hard-worked donkey for a stroll up and down the strand? The salt smells invoking candy-floss scents and after-sun? Or is it the memories of our own children, sun-kissed and bath-fresh, dropping off to sleep after a tough day’s shell hunting and splashing in the waves?
All I know is that the perfect days, the ones you bottle up and save for the hard times, always involve the seaside.
And so it was today. We woke in Armação de Pêra this morning with all our washing done the day before, with Vince full of fresh water and his batteries fully charged. I was up and out for my run by 8am instead of the usual 2hr faff to get ready; a sunny but early-morning-cool jog along the seafront past the Easter-in-the-Algarve Brits tucking into their outdoor full English, soaking up last night’s excesses. Lobster-red sunburned faces turned as I passed, thinking ‘What a plonker’ – and they were probably right!
We were on a mission today, heading 50 miles or so west to Sagres, and Cape St. Vincent: Europe’s most south-westerly point. LPG is pretty rare in these parts so as a BP station hove into view Vince threw out the anchor without any input from me and we screeched to a stop beside the pump. As usual, despite Vince’s gas gauge sitting in the red, we only squeezed eight litres into his twenty litre tank. Why do we fall for it – every bloomin’ time? I swear he does it deliberately.
We remembered from our previous visit to Sagres that the medieval fort right out on the point of the peninsula has a huge car park where camper vans & motorhomes are tolerated out of season. Last time here, we were the only motorhome among lots of surfer-dude VW’s with their wet-suits hanging out to dry, but this time the surf must be up somewhere else, as the car park was stuffed with boring older folks in expensive retirement-wagons. Oh, hang on….
On arrival, our perfect day continued just by following our noses. Led by the intoxicating scent of cooking seafood we found a local restaurant serving delicious grilled fresh sea-bass which we washed down with a carafe of ice-cold locally produced rosé.
Coffees were followed by a quick diversion back to Vince to pick up the picnic chairs and the cool-bag, then we took a short walk along the cliff top to Praia do Tonel, our mostest favouritist beach ever. I’m writing this rum & coke-fuelled nonsense on the beach as the sun sinks to my right. The huge waves are filling the air with thunder and salty spray as they break against the rocks and the golden sand, and quite honestly we could sit here gazing out to sea for ever. Maybe we will.