All About That Bass

Evening all! How are you doing? Well I hope? Keep going, it’s nearly the Easter break…

Today I’m going to start with a thought experiment. I want you to picture that cupboard under the sink – the one where you keep all the sprays & detergents etc. Now have a mental rummage at the back of the shelf. Can you find that old forgotten pair of Marigolds? The hideous pink ones? Good. Take them out of the packet, and I want you to blow them both up like balloons – yes really. Now tie them off and place them side by side. What you have in front of you is a very, very close approximation to how my feet look right now – aaaaarrrgh!

For a few minutes, we were Europe’s most south-westerly camper van. But then, Germans!!

On our second day at Sagres we made a further visit to Tonel Beach, this time with sandwiches, drinks and books for a full afternoon. Like a good boy, I had slapped on the factor 50 before we left Vince, but after lunch I fancied a paddle to cool off… so you can probably guess the rest. I took off the socks & trainers and after a refreshing twenty minutes in the cold, cold Atlantic, I sat in the hot, hot sun with my sunblock-free tootsies out in the fresh air. What a pillock. Pass the Paracetomol.

As we can’t go any further west or we’ll fall off, we’ve been making our way back to Spain for Easter, driving barefoot in my case. We stopped off for a couple of nights in Quarteira as we’d liked it so much on our way west. I didn’t mention we’d stopped there in our earlier posts – I mean, I can’t write about every little detail of our travels – you wouldn’t want that would you? Oh, you would? Ok I’ll try a bit harder, I promise. Quarteira is a fairly modern touristy Algarve resort, not remarkable in any way but pleasant enough and full of Brits at this time of year. Particularly in Pedro’s, the beachside bar where we stopped for a sharpener on our evening walk. There wasn’t a Portuguese accent to be heard anywhere.

A vroom with a view – the beach at Quarteira, right outside the door

The main attraction for motorhomers in Quarteira lies just outside the town. A long freshwater lagoon runs down to the sea, separated from it by a only a sandbar. Two roads run down either side of the lagoon, each one ending in a parking area in pine woods overlooking the beautiful golden sands of Praia da Lagoa. On our first visit we stayed on the west side of the lagoon, but there wasn’t a space to be had there when we returned a few days later. We had to take a long run back up the west side, into town and out again to get to the east side. I wouldn’t have minded but the “roads” were just compacted sand, full of potholes and about a Vince wide. Despite her blurred vision, Gill spotted a car pulling out of a space right beside the beach so we squ-e-e-e-zed Vince into the space and hoped that his wheels wouldn’t bog down in the sand when we tried to leave in the morning.

I’ve never seen it so busy down here – I suspect the Spanish & Portuguese schools must have broken up for Easter. When three Spanish motorhomes turned up after us I didn’t reckon they’d be able to find a space further up the road. The first van must have agreed because the driver decided to turn around. Now this wasn’t the smartest decision – especially as if he’d continued on, the road circles back to town. Nope, he was gonna do a three-point turn. On a narrow road. With sandy embankments either side. In an eight metre vehicle. Four hours later, in the dark, we finally managed to dig him out of the position he’d wedged himself in. Not a holiday he’ll forget in a hurry – especially when the poor fella gets the repair bill; he’d done a fair bit of damage to the rear bodywork where it had grounded. He did manage to find a space overnight but his weekend was capped off by being woken up early by a burly bulldozer driver who needed access to the beach – and his damaged motorhome was in the way!

Isla Cristina getting ready for the Easter Parade

Today we’re on another return visit. We’re parked up on the campsite at Isla Cristina once more. After a long stint surviving on solar power and eking out our fresh water we really needed to get some washing done and luxuriate in showers with unlimited hot water. You can only put up with showers in Vince’s broom-cupboard with a tea-cup full of water for so long.

It’s been a good day so far today, I can’t run with my comedy Tom & Jerry feet the way they are, so the bike has come off the rack for the first time
(I’m ashamed to say) in nearly five weeks of travel. It’s an easy cycle into town to the fish market, where I hoped to get something for this afternoon’s barbecue. Now, the market traders don’t speak any English and I have about three words of Spanish (mostly related to ordering beer). So have you ever tried to say “I’ll have two of your plumpest sea-bass my good man, and would you mind awfully de-scaling & gutting them for me too, there’s a good fellow,” through the medium of dance? To Gill’s shock and amazement, Man the Hunter – he return with much food.

So in a Vincent Van Gone one-off, here’s Kenny Oliver’s perfect sea-bass barbecue recipe:

  • Rinse and dry the hunter’s two plump sea-bass
  • Score the fish every two cm with a sharp knife
  • Rub olive oil, salt & fresh lemon juice all over the fish
  • No, more salt than that. More still. That’s fine.
  • Chuck ’em on the griddle, five minutes each side – more if you like the skin crispy.
  • Keep ’em warm and rest them for another five minutes.
  • Bash some boiled new potatoes up a bit, add butter, a dollop of crème frâiche and some dried tarragon.
  • Buy a pack of mixed salad and drizzle with Delia Gill Smith’s dressing of honey, oil, black pepper & fresh lime juice.

If you get it right, and enjoy a glass or several of local wine with the banquet, you’ll find… you’ll have a lovely… afternoon in the sun…. just… dropping… zzzzzz

Before…
…and after!
With a side-order of sunset

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