Starcat 1 by my favourite artist

Sunday, 16 March 2014

STRANGERS ON THE SHORE

Perhaps a  quick listen to this will set the mood for reading what follows.

Here in southern Spain Spring does indeed spring - one day it just jumps out at you from behind a cloud and all of a sudden it's beach time.

Sanlúcar Beach with Doñana in the
background.

So on Saturday we left home, ambled 300 yards down the road and enjoyed a 2-hour stroll along Sanlúcar's strand. As yet the teeming hordes of Summer tourists haven't descended, so it's possible to go for quiet walks and admire the views across the Guadalquivir Estuary towards Doñana, Europe's largest Nature Park.


 Doñana was once the private hunting estate of the Dukes of Alba[1] and it was there that Goya painted his two famous paintings, La Maja Vestida and La Maja Desnuda of the then Duchess of Alba to whom, it was rumoured, he also rendered services of a more intimate nature. Malicious gossips have it that his daubings and dabblings of the Duchess went beyond the merely pictorial


Chipiona Lighthouse
The Spanish house of Alba Fitzstewart has so  many noble titles that the Dukes or Duchesses of Alba are the only humans on the whole of planet Earth of whom protocol doesn't demand that they bow and scrape to a British monarch - there are those of us, however who wouldn't anyway. The House of Alba also has a claim to the British crown – and why not, indeedy? They’d just be another bunch of foreign benefit tourists to add to the present gang of Germans and Greeks swanning around in golden coaches at the taxpayer’s expense.

Anyhow, I digress. After a walk on the beach in Sanlúcar, we went to a beachfront restaurant for a fish supper and were sore disappointed – the particular member of the finny tribe that we wanted was not on the menu. In fact, we felt like Joseph and Mary when they got to Bethlehem. There was no plaice at the inn! (Sorry, I just couldn't resist it.)

Undaunted, we had a long, cool, refreshing drink of rebujito[2]Manzanilla, Seven-up and loads of ice  before toddling home to have dinner there.
Another client enjoying
a "relaxing cup of
café con leche".

Sunday proved to be just as sunny, so we decided to be adventurous and drive to Chipiona, 8km down the road. In summer Chipiona – or Chipi (pron.: shippy) for the initiated – becomes a  sort of Seville-super-Mare and is to be avoided at all costs. At the moment, however, there so few people that you can actually see the sand on the beach, hear yourself think and not have to suffer the unedifying view of middle-aged fat shouty gits in singlets vaunting their armpit hair at close quarters in the bars and restaurants.


At this time of year, Chipi is a haven of tranquillity. We had a relaxing drink at one of the beachfront cocktail bars, soaking up the sea air in the company of other privileged patrons. After refreshing the inner man – and woman – we continued our stroll along the promenade before stopping for an ice-cream and coffee to fortify us for the long trek home which would take us past the market gardens that produce such delicious tomatoes,  on a par with the famous Worthing tom.s  green peppers,  magnificent new potatoes &c.

On the way back to the car.
Could be Greece or Italy, but these crystalline waters
are the Atlantic Ocean.
Conclusion: out of season, Chipiona is a delightful place to visit and as yet is still off the international tourist radar. At this time of year and with the mild weather that we’re having, it is a wonderful town for a weekend visit.
The sun sets behind the 
lighthouse.



[1] One Duke of Alba was in charge of the famous Spanish Armada – and also of the brutal repression of the Low Countries. In fact the Dutch version of our bogeyman is the aforementioned Duke. As far as the Armada was concerned, and luckily for the English, as they had run out of gunpowder and shot: “God blew and they [the Sapnish ships] were scattered”.
[2] A word to the wise: rebujito is both delicious and refreshing – but also extremely intoxicating; more than one long glass and the ground turns into a trampoline.

2 comments:

  1. You're luckier than we: spring poked its nose around the door on Saturday and Sunday, perhaps didn't like what it saw and so promptly disappeared again. This is not good news in view of our trip to France, starting tomorrow.

    It is one of the paradoxes of pleasant places that they attract so many people that the features that made them pleasant are submerged and lost. Places that are lovely out of season become unlivable in season.

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  2. Me and my big mouth! I spoke too soon! we're back to flannel shirts and jumpers. This weekend is rainy and cold!

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