Pleasant Places Revisited, Saturday 26.09.2015

Pleasant Places Revisited Saturday 26.09.2015

After taking stunning sunrise shots, then the usual ablutions in slightly less muddy water than yesterday’s (no, my hair has not turned any browner) we had breakfast – gluten free cornflakes from Mercadona, strawberry puree from yesterday’s freezer raid and Greek yoghurt. Actually it is Spanish yoghurt but Greek style, but what the hell, lets call it Mediterranean yoghurt.

After breakfast there followed the usual question, ‘What shall we do today?’ This was followed by the customary verbal pantomime,

G – “Dunno, you decide.”
L – “No, you decide. ”
G – No, you decide.”
L -“No, you decide for a change.”
G – “No, I’ll only get it wrong.”
L – “Oh for f*ck’s sake, you decide for a change.”

After this wrangle I determined that we should go to Benissa, a lovely, very Spanish town just a few miles away. Preparations were made and just before we set off Garrath – “I’ve got a hole in my head” – asked,

“Where are we going?” I have a whole repertoire of growls for times like this, particularly since the whole scenario was repeated when the question, ‘Where shall we go for lunch came up.

We haven’t been to Benissa for several years and the changes since out last visit came as a series of pleasant surprises. Having found a parking space within reasonable walking distance of the centre we headed for the main square where there was a Knitted Yoghurt Market on. You know the kind of thing I mean, stalls set up by righteous vegans selling hand made soap, vegetarian artisanal cheese and vegan bolognese – not on the same plate of course. Garrath bought himself right-on wristband (for the prevention of RSI) and we moved on into the main square.

On the main square we found a local bar for teas and wees (one to drink the other to have) a really charming, old building with lovely staff. We went inside in order to avoid the crowd of English expats who were joining the gathering outside. We spent a lovely, short interlude in the proximity of Spanish staff and customers.

Over the ten years that we have been coming here to fix and maintain the house that my mother abandoned we have learned to avoid groups of English expats with the exception of a couple of neighbours who are now good friends. Many of the expats we have come across are eager to talk about the UK, bitch about it even though they no longer live there and blame everything on immigrants. When you say that it is a good thing that the Spanish don’t feel the same way about immigrants it goes completely over their heads, and if you do as I have done in the past, suggest that it is none of their business because they don’t live there, they get offended.

Some English tourists and expats want to create replication of English conditions in Spain – except for the weather, the price of booze and property taxes of course. We had a funny encounter with one such type in the local supermarket in Spain last year. A woman recognised Garrath as English and came over to ask him where the mint sauce was. His face was a picture, a mixture of disbelief and contempt. He answered,

“I don’t know. We don’t eat like that when we are in Spain.”

We have no time for racism or for little Englanders (or little anywhere-ers for that matter) so we steer clear.

We are not alone in avoiding our own Nationals. Many years ago I had two American friends, Claire and Jack, who lived in Altea. I well remember Claire’s exclamation to Jack on Altea market.

“For Christ’s sake Jack speak Spanish. The f*cking Yanks have hit town!” It wasn’t said as a joke or for effect, she really meant it and they did walk past the American contingent avoiding eye contact and speaking only Spanish.

After the brief stay in the cafe we took a further wander and found a delightful market in the town, one section with the usual market hard goods, another more interesting section with comestibles and very good quality comestibles at that. We will remember that for future trips when I do have to cook.

The second pantomimic discussion about where we were to have lunch was ended when I reminded Garrath that we had agreed to go to one of our favourite restaurants in Moraira, so I drove there along incredibly winding roads. All the free car parks were stuffed so Garrath was concerned that we would not find a car parking space. The one you pay for however, was half empty so no problem there.

The restaurant, Meson El Refugio, was up to its usual exceptionally high standard, including their matchless understanding of gluten free catering and we had a lovely, leisurely lunch. A wander around Moraira followed, including tea and coffe at a seaside bar then the return to Calpe on yet more winding roads. We had to stop at another cheap Chinese shop on the way – it would be rude not to – for yet more cables for gadgetry, then home and the compulsory repair to the local watering hole.

Sadly an otherwise pleasant day was spoiled by an obnoxious English couple who became aggressively noisy while watching the England v Wales game. They were reprimanded, quite rightly, by a gentleman whose enjoyment they were spoiling who told them “You are not at home.” They continued rumbling as if spoiling for a fight. Horrible people but I did feel a mite of sympathy for them. After all, life can’t be easy when you are as fat, ugly and ignorant as they were. They did make me ashamed to be English though.

Lets hope that they are not there when next we visit.