By TheOttawacker

Cactus with a ‘tood

Having come home suffering from the accompaniments to a wonderful sole Meunier (accompaniments being Ricard, wine, limoncello, pints of lager in Pal’s Bar, orujo blanco to help me digest later), I felt (for the first time in a long time) decidedly worse for wear when I woke up this morning.

I did the appropriate thing and decided today would be a lighter day in terms of work. So, as dawn broke (still around 8.30), I popped on my running shoes and went for a long run…

No, I didn’t. I went for a walk, camera in hand. I decided to take the path less travelled and go up the hill away from the beach. Now Calahonda is a nice enough place, but I’d had enough of the same old same old. I was delighted to find new vistas to look at and new areas.

I’d never really been to the area east of El Zoco before, but it is much nicer than where I am staying. You can see that people have done their best with their villas and the whole neighbourhood has a ‘good vibe’ about it that the urbanizacións don’t have. That’s fine: the opening up in the 70s was a painful process – and the fact that Spain has thrived despite being under a dictatorship for so long is incredibly positive.

When I wandered back to the Calypso urbanización, there was a market setting up. Never one to miss a bargain, in I went and spent seven Euros on clothes I don’t need. This rapidly turned into 17 Euros when I discovered the 10 Euro note I was given as change had ceased to be legal tender in around 2008.

Read a lot, then went for drinks to Fran at Chambao Beach and a quick internet surf, and then came back and finished The Riddle of the Sands. Well, how can I give a pithy review of the book without seeming too crude? I can’t. It was crap. If SparseRunner thinks I am verbose, he should check out Erskine Childers. Well, not now, obviously, he got shot by the English for supporting Home Rule in Ireland, and that was a century ago, so he’d be pretty smelly by now. All my life, people have talked about this book: “it’s the first spy novel”; “it’s a classic of its genre”; “it’s one of the best spy novels ever written”. (Actually, that was the blub on the back of the book.) Listen to me people, it isn’t. It isn’t remotely close. It is 300 pages of densely-packed narrative about yachting, fog, two Edwardian gentlemen in a small boat, and an invasion of England (not Britain, mind) by decent Germans (the type portrayed by Gregory Peck) in boats with no bottoms. Or something like that. They smoke pipes (the Edwardian gentlemen, not the Germans, although come to think of it, they might do) and navigate by sounding. It’s the type of book Arthur Ransome wrote for kids – but Ransome wrote it a million times better. If that’s a classic of its genre, then I’m going to be a best-selling novelist a week after I finish my novel.

I’d had enough of my “required reading” after that. So, picked up a book by a chap called Derek Tangye, who was an MI5 employee who gave it all up to live in Cornwall. It’s called Cottage on a Cliff and three chapters in, it is much more my speed at the moment. It’s sort of a James Herriot in Cornwall, but Tangye seems to be much more of a namedropper. I’ll keep you posted.

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