Men in Black

On John’s schedule our next port of call was due to be Blanes, but we decided to make up some lost time by putting in a longer stretch to Palamos. We set off just before eight and all was calm and fine, but still fleece and long trouser weather. What little wind there was sat right on the nose, so we motored along making progress.

P1160630 At around eleven the wind had veered to the East and was up to force three, so we put out the sails. It is the first time the main has been out this season and it was a relief to have it unfurl easily and a pleasure to see it fill and set. Even so there was not enough wind to make much headway just under sail, so we left the engine ticking along to keep us going at seven knots. Mid day heralded a rise in temperature as passed the popular Costa Brava resorts.

There we were sat under the shade of the spray hood, pootling along nicely on autopilot. Next moment a huge launch loomed up in our wake, as high as Lyra, dark blue and menacing. At the rear a group of big men in black sat looking at us through their sunglasses. John climbed back behind our wheel, smiled and waved to them. They grinned and waved back, pulled up alongside and then spun round and thrust back to shore as fast as they had come. Aduanas was written in capital letters along its side, customs officers, not pirates then. We must not have the look of drug smugglers, thankfully. I would not care to be boarded. They had come out from our destination and we were soon tied up to the pontoon in the pretty marina at Palamos.

It was just after three and most things were closed for a bank holiday, but luckily the taverna at the end of our pontoon was still serving. We sat in the shade, John with an impressively ice beer glass and myself with a white wine. All around us people were sat chatting amongst the debris of long lunches. Wine bottles in chillers, the melted remains of massive G&T’s and tiny shot glasses signaled some very relaxing lunches. A group of people in a motley assortment of fancy dress were feeding the jukebox and selecting a stream of eighties pop hits. They were very laid-back, leaning against the building sharing a cigarette listening to Pulp. It was so good to have moved on and for everything to have gone so smoothly we felt pretty mellow ourselves and ordered a couple of the massive G&T’s as Eddie Grant asked Joanna for hope. By the time they were reduced to meltwater the chords of Mamma Mia were starting and the girls were beginning to dance. The music morphed into Spanish covers and we meandered back to the boat for tea.P1160639

Palamos is lovely, a proper seaside town. When we went into the marina office to pay, the girl behind the desk said we were in luck as Tuesday was market day. At the market in town stalls would sell fresh fruit and veg and then all along both sides of the main street would be stalls selling anything and everything. I should watch my pocketbook, but it would not be as busy as in the summer months. Then tonight at six thirty the fishing boats would open another market and sell their catch. She showed us on a map and we set off with a rucksack, but no pocket book. There were some really nice shops on the way. An art shop full of familiar smells, several bakers and a couple of really nice delis. We were just beginning to doubt ourselves when we found the market, thronged with shoppers picking amongst the produce with great focus. We bought oranges, peaches, courgettes and a giant red pepper. It was all amazingly cheap. Then we carried on down the street and there were indeed all manner of stalls, plants and shoes and dauntingly large ladies underwear sat cheek by jowl with jewelry and sarongs. One towel shop had a disturbing photograph of the Barcelona team, looking much less than attractive. I could not decide quite what was wrong with it until John commented that the image must have been taken off a beer bottle. The hustle and bustle soon became too much for John, so we retraced our steps and bought bread and cheeses and headed back with our spoils for lunch.

That evening we set out for the fish market. It took a bit of finding, as it was not where we had originally thought. We wandered the docks and spotted the customs launch tied up, looking much less threatening than when it rears up behind your boat. Eventually we found the fish market. An old dockside building with tables of glittering, bright-eyed fish and seafood ranged on ice. Old ladies with large shopping baskets wandered around, looking like they meant business. At the back of the room a doorway lead through to a wet dock, which they were hosing down. I am afraid I was not brave enough to try to buy anything, but it was the best display of fresh fish I have ever seen. Afterwards we walked along the shore and sat in front of a seafood bar to watch the sun go down over a glass of wine.


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