Our second anchor practise has yet to take place. I woke early and fretted about it a while. I had a look out of the porthole; the mountains were hidden by low cloud and the view out towards the lagoon positively Arthurian, as wisps of vapour floated across the water from the deeper murk beyond. I went back to sleep. Then John woke and said he didn’t really feel like going out to practise anchoring. My hero. On looking out the window once more our prejudices against venturing forth were still confirmed by fog. We headed off into town to have breakfast at the patisserie in the square, a much more appealing prospect. So as not to feel too self-indulgent we shouldered our backpacks so we could return with food stores. John had our empty calor gas bottle in his backpack and planned to call in to Vidal ‘s to buy a refill and see if our rope was ready.
Vidal’s is the nearest chandlery we have found. He seems to deal in most things nautical; the marina sent us there for the gas refill. Chandleries are dear to John’s heart anyway and we have visited regularly. On the balcony above the shop a caged minor bird is often put out to in the fresh air and calls to us convincingly in Spanish. When we are not responsive it wolf whistles. We do not think there is any connection between Vidal and the apartment above his shop. He is a quiet spoken man with a very good command of English and an impressive ability to decipher John’s drawings. He has ordered us a rope with a metal eye for the extra stern anchor, which is increasingly looking like a vital piece of equipment. Vidal’s shop is a very well ordered place, but time runs slowly there. The rope has yet to arrive, probably by tomorrow. No, he no longer deals in gas. He fingered through a pile of papers and came out with a hand drawn map, which he was clearly not planning to relinquish. He explained how to go from his shop to the shop with the gas. There would be no sign to the shop and no symbol for gas. There would be a door between two windows in a building between two side streets, just after the turning to the big square with the fountain. We could not miss it. Whether the man would be there or not, shrug, Vidal could not say. Off we went.
The shop was very easy to find and it was open. Inside two men, both much older than Vidal were talking. It was not immediately obvious if either of them was the man. The shop itself was tiny and full of ancient, very desirable cupboards. In a back room stood a wooden cabinet comprising small square drawers with metal D handles and wide, narrow drawers with small brass knobs. Alongside us, floor to ceiling, were stacked metal units in rusted powder blue, full of small rectangular drawers with integral handles, tacked to any wall space were dusty packets of all manner of things. I noticed a set of Christmas fairy lights attached to a car cigarette lighter connection. The packaging looked about thirty years old. Time here clearly stands absolutely still. In this Aladdin’s cave we could barely find space to take John’s backpack off and remove the gas bottle. It was a particularly disreputable looking one, rusted to the core. At the sight of it the older of the two men shuffled past his companion, picked up our bottle and took a couple of steps into the corner, where he deposited it and picked up a newer heavier full bottle. Neither of us had noticed the gas bottle repository. Everywhere else we have been to has kept gas bottles outside in a caged enclosure, policed by No Smoking signs. Small wonder he was not thrilled with the cut of our specimen, but he accepted it without a murmur. He pointed to his hand written price list, pinned to a door jamb, took our money, nodded and returned to his conversation.
We took our new gas bottle up to the square for a coffee; confident the citizens of Sant Carles had already been exposed to any danger poised by it. The coffees were excellent; John had a ham and cheese sandwich and ordered me a small Danish pastry, custard centre with a dusting of coconut round the edge. All in all a much better start to the day than I had imagined.
Conversely, the end of the day went less well. We settled down to watch the second leg of the other Champions League semi final. All seemed well. There were the massed supporters roaring in bright sunshine, cut to eager sounding pundits in a studio, back to Ronaldo shrugging and flexing. Highlights of last nights game were replayed, then back to this evening’s build up. Then as the whistle was about to blow a black screen with a “No Signal being Received” notice. In Spain pay per view descends suddenly and without warning.