Here we sit on Sunday morning looking out over the hills and vales that are Malaga, well in our world they’re Malaga. We’re certainly in the province of Malaga, and the drive was only about an hour, backwards if looking at the map or to be precise inland from there. We are in small Andalusian town by the name of Periana, and are parked on a camper stop in the parking area of Finca Oasis las Palmeras.
It’s the world of difference from Malaga, Marbella etc where we headed from after leaving Barbate. The countryside is spectacular and there is a lake in view at some points as well. The olive trees are back in abundance, and some are interspersed with almond trees just sprouting blossom. The drive was through fruit and plant orchards. After parking up yesterday afternoon, we did our usual and made the short walk into the town, and it was like a step back in time. The bars and restaurants were simple, no glass or chrome on show, just the usual dodgy yellowed white plastic chairs, TV blaring in the corner, generally speaking to itself, and the dialect of the locals was yet again different. But what made us laugh more, was the haircuts of the middle-aged group of men who mainly frequented the bars. It was like a step back to Saturday Night Fever, mullets, bouffants, the lot. Another difference was that the two beers and one wine was only €3.50. We could have done with another difference and that would have been the weather, but the Costa del Sol, is continuing not to be sol, but dull and grey, with splattering’s of rain as well.
The locals in the bar were friendly and the ‘landlady’ offered us some pollo. They were grilling them on a rotisserie, along with a scrumptious looking leg of pork. Of course, under normal circumstances we would have had a grilled chicken, in this hole in the wall bar. But and a big but, we have eaten out all of last week and the tuna that we took out to have one evening was now nearing a dodgy time and needed to be eaten. Plus, when the lady asked us if we wanted some chicken, we weren’t actually sure if she meant a whole one or a tapa, and we certainly couldn’t risk having a whole one and so we aired on the side of caution and said No, embarrassingly so with David’s mouth drooling like a boxer dog at the smell and sites of the roasted chicken and pork. As we looked around the bar, we also saw many of the men just sitting shucking and eating haba’s with their beers. We had in fact noticed fresh crops of these wonder delights in the fields around, but rather odd just having a pile of them with your beer. I love broad beans and quite happily eat them raw, so I like David with the chicken was yum drooling. This time the barman saw us and laughingly said would you like some, and given that a few beans wouldn’t interfere with dinner we nearly took his hand off in a reply. Well, what to say about the lovely, just picked new season haba’s, I have never tasted them so good, sweet and just tender.
Each pod was packed and the handful lasted with my last glass of white wine and both went very well with each other. I tried to entice David to try, but no, he wasn’t having any, which was a shame, because just so different from the shop brought ones. A lovely touch and end to the afternoon, before we headed back to Buster and did have the barbate tuna, with my usual caper, coriander vinaigrette jus, before settling down for the night, reading and watching a bit of TV.
But back to the start of this week, and Monday was Andalusian bank holiday in the area. We took advantage and braved the weather, walked from Zahora to Vejer to once again eat in Califa restaurant. We felt no guilt, as we would be leaving the area the next day, never to return certainly for this year. Plus, our dear friend Mark had offered to pay for lunch for our birthdays, so what could be finer and yet again the food, wine, atmosphere was exceptional.
We then spent four nights at Cabopino with our recently relocated friends from Greenwich, Darren and Jonny. Despite the weather, we had four lovely days with them eating and drinking along that wonderful Costa del Sol, without the sol. The truth is, it can’t always be sunny can it! The piste de resistance was on the Friday, when they took us to La Scala restaurant in Elvira. The restaurant was understated Llewelyn Bowen in its design, and given the rain there was a lovely open fire in the main restaurant. It was a menu del dia of sorts, Marbella style, but nevertheless exceptional and part of my birthday celebrations and a thank you to them as well. My starter stood out for me, which was prawns and pear in tempura batter with soya and wasabi dips. Both the prawns and the pears just worked so well with the batter and each other. The rest of the food was equally stunning and the staff were attentive, but not overbearing. The restaurant on the Friday was more or less full, but for both the Saturday and Sunday fully booked, which is great to hear given the times we are going through.
Before that David and I did a lovely boardwalk walk along the seafront in Mijas on the Thursday, some 18k’s and we both marvelled and horrified at the beach front flats, hotels and apartments along the walk, before having a lunch break of rabo de toro for David. At the moment the curfew in Malaga, remains at 6pm, but some areas including Malaga itself are entering level two and might now be able to stay open until 9.30pm.
There is of course an elephant in the room, or the story, which of course is our Pino and what happened to us leaving Barbate with him on Tuesday. So, without expanding too much on the story and thus upsetting ourselves and all you cat lovers, it was a near disaster. We got Pino into the van when we left on Tuesday, and given he loved us so much expected this lovely juvenile untamed cat to almost sit on our laps as we drove the two and half hours away from his home. That of course didn’t happen and we had to put him in his basket, where of course he got upset for the drive, but we made it to Marbella and the campsite before we were due to hand him over to his foster Mum until we take him back to England. When we arrived, as non-cat people we did the wrong thing again, thinking it was the right thing and to cut a long story short we lost Pino, with him biting David in his upset state and bid for freedom. So, the Tuesday night curry with Darren & Jonny was more than tinged with sadness and remorse, plus the afternoon/evening had resulted thanks to D&J’ s persistence in a visit to a pharmacy and then on to A&E to repair David’s bite. Sleepless nights perused, but upon looking for him the next morning, I found him not far from us, on site. He came to me when called and let me stroke him and pick him up, and also for David to cuddle him and make amends in the van before we handed him over to Martina, his foster Mum, who is a pure cat and animal lover.
We now realise that we cannot manage to get him back to the UK in Buster, on a ferry coupled with Covid restrictions, and so with Darren & Jonny’s help, combined with Triple A charity, he will at some point after his next rabies injection be transported home by people who know how to deal with cats and in vehicles that are equipped for this kind of transportation, to his new life in the UK to family who will love and care for him.
But for now, Sunday evening, here in Periana, the sun such as it is, is just setting, the rain has held off and we have again have had a lovely lunch in the restaurant where we are parked. Again, the highlight for me was the soup of the day, which was haba’s with local green asparagus, in a stunning broth. David had local goat, of which we had seen many in the fields when we made our walk this morning.
Tomorrow, we move on again and so for us, the wheels on the bus are definitely once again going around and around.