Today was a glorious day, one of the kind that makes you glad to be voyaging the high seas, able to visit such lovely places. It did not start well. We made our way round the bay away from town and climbed a lot of steps to the Fort entrance. It was shut. At this time of year it only opens at weekends. There were some good views from the car park and then we wandered off to look at the little lighthouse just down from the Fort.
There has obviously been a garden here at some point and a very fragrant blush rose was climbing through a cactus. A set of intriguing narrow steps led down the side of the lighthouse towards the shore. Down we went. The steps led to a concrete walkway that threaded round the shoreline with views to the surf pounding the rocks below. We set out along it. Wildflowers covered the slopes all around, some familiar from our time in Galicia, but here the giant cactus and agaves punctuated the swathes. The rocks abounded, above us huge stone faces fissured with plants, below boulders around which turquoise water sparkled, set off by the dark blue of the deeper water further out. We could have been walking the Cornish coastal path, but with the scent of aromatic herbs hanging in the warm air. Some of the cacti were flowering, large bowls of orange and yellow petals around a crowded boss of stamens and the succulents draped over the rocks were studded with hot pink daisies. As we trekked along each bay below us looked more inviting than the last, with tiny coves scooped under the track. The boulders would have made for an interesting scramble down.
Eventually we turned a corner and a larger bay spread before us with a wide sandy beach complete with a couple of beachfront restaurants and a large white building with Hotel Canyelles written in big blue letters above it. Walking down onto the front we planned to carry on along our path, which we could exiting from the far corner. To reach it we passed alongside a restaurant sitting actually on the sand and decided to pause for a drink. It was one of those pauses that led on to lunch.
It was just too pleasant, finally to be sitting in some sunshine and watching the world go by. Or rather watching some of it go to and fro and the rest of it sprawl in the sun. A woman in a straw hat lugged a basket from lounger to blanket offering massages. She obviously knew her business and we watched as she kneaded a woman’s calves and feet. It looked a pretty full on, but probably felt great afterwards and she moved from job to job. Just in front of us was a large clear space of sand, kept that way by a small boy of two or three playing football with his Dad. He cut an amusing figure in his baseball cap and sunglasses. He would steady the ball, look at his Dad, take a few steps back, look again, take a run up and whack the ball with his left foot. Sometimes he missed and went sailing straight over the top in a flurry of sand. Usually he made good contact and his Dad trapped the ball and sent it back to him. He tired of the game before Dad did and headed off to a mound of sand just in front of the sea. A straw hat with teddy bear ears was waggling about in the hole and as our hero arrived a head emerged. Little sister. After flicking the football temptingly a few times Dad reluctantly headed across to join them and was given the unenviable task of taking the occupant of the hole over to the tap to sluice her down. Big brother went along to help while Mum, who had been sat nearby unfolded a magazine. She just about found her page when the dripping baby arrived back to be swathed in a toweling poncho. At this point our food began to arrive and my focus turned from beach to plate.
We feasted on locally caught prawns, garlicky with lots of buttery juices to mop up with crusty bread. Then came fish, mine grilled, John’s baked in a white sauce with potatoes. It was all so good we allowed ourselves to be tempted by desert, but that was a mistake as the puddings were shop bought Brule and squirty cream. As we were eating them we noticed a change in the weather as the wind came up and the beach began to clear. The family I had been watching earlier headed to the restaurant and the table next to us. The waiter stacked the wicker chairs to make high chairs and padded the one for the baby with cushions. At the sight of her jar of food she became a tiny tyrant and wailed between mouthfuls as Mum plied the spoon in and out. Once fed though she looked round wide eyed. Her brother ate penne pasta, spearing a piece at a time with his fork and eating daintily, managing not to touch the hot plate. All in all the were exemplary, but it took me back to how full on looking after small children is a how little you taste your own food. Our coffee arrived and was very good. By the time we finished it seemed too late to venture into the next bay, so we saved that and headed back. The return journey seemed quicker, as they often do, but was still very beautiful, but by this time the wind was churning the water round the rocks to a milky azure and out in the bay the white horses tumbled.
That evening was a solemn moment as we opened the last tin of Heinz baked beans for tea, but they did make a good end to a perfect day.