I recommend that everyone should undertake a journey aboard a ship. By that, I don’t mean a 3 hour river cruise with a Dixieland band and Chablis for all, and I don’t mean a 3 week cruise of the Caribbean either; no, I recommend a 25 hour crossing from Poole, UK, to Gijon, Spain. Once arrived, you can enjoy a lovely holiday in Spain or Portugal, then take the reverse trip back. It is these two 25 trips I am talking about.
There’s nothing to worry about, and nothing that needs to be done. You couldn’t do anything even if you wanted to. It’s the perfect opportunity to read your book without a sense of guilt about the tasks left undone while reading, for taking time for your manicure or pedicure or idle daydreaming.
I read Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For The Time Being with great pleasure.
While I’m at it, I should also recommend Jonas Jonasson’s The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, which I read between the two sea journeys. This book made me laugh and think of Tom Sharpe a lot.
Friends gave us a bottle of Portuguese red wine. How thoughtful! I am not joking; I love Portugal and the distinct flavour of Portuguese wines.
Vinho Regional Ribatejano, the label reads. So I turn it around and inspect the back label. A very good example of red Ribatejano, I read there. I hope so, and read on. Aromas of blackberry and rasberry, they promise, accompanied by elegant overtones of cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of cigar box.
Those labels always make me smile. Blackberry with cinnamon and vanilla overtones have by now become the industry standard for red wine flavour. The cigar box, however, I will give them. This is an adequate description of the earthly character that makes Portuguese wines unique.
When we went to Lisbon recently, we were pretty excited just how much Lisbon might have changed in those 15-something years since we’ve last been there.
We should not have worried. Although there seems to be a little more prosperity, everything was pretty much as we remembered it. The men still go out in knitted jumpers, and the women still wear quilted coats. The people are still very much no-frills but very friendly, and the restaurants still serve a regular Portuguese meal as
a plate full of steaming greens, potatoes, and fish. €10 still buys a kilo of wind-dried ham, or a bottle of Aquadente, or a little more buys you an entire meal.
It’s that no-frills approach to almost everything that we liked so much about Portugal, and we were very happy to find this hasn’t changed. I guess loosing that touch would be becoming more like Spain, which is of course
the last thing the Portuguese want.
After visiting Lisbon’s Farmers’ Market recently, I checked out our very own local West Ealing Farmers’ Market.
It’s actually pretty good: a fishmonger who does more than just Cod, Haddock and Plaice. Several meat stalls with a variety of traditional meats, game, and poultry, 2 or 3 bread and cake vendors, flowers, fruits and vegetables, pickles, and much more. That’s pretty cool for a tiny Saturday market, but it can of course not compete at all with Lisbon’s gorgeous offerings.
We are not at a total loss, though. The women of West Ealing with the European, African, Asian and rest-of-the-world mix of London, can well compete with those of Lisbon, and certainly outshine that one particular lady with ease.
It’s a draw. England vs Portugal 1:1