A couple of weeks ago I wrote a story about a visit we made with K’s parents to a sherry bodega in Jerez. It was an enjoyable but in some respects frustrating experience, mainly because it did not culminate – as I had hoped it might – with a sampling of the wine I went there for; the beautiful Apostoles, an aged Palo Cortado with a twist of the Pedro Ximénez grape.
I’m not sure how effectively I depicted the pleasure of the visit, but it would seem that I did do a fairly good job of conveying my frustration, because barely a week later what should arrive in the post but a gift-wrapped bottle of the aforementioned wine.
No, not a PR exercise courtesy of the bodega (wake up, bodega people), but a very thoughtful and kind gesture by a regular reader here who had enjoyed the story and decided that, to hell with it, I would have my sherry.
As well as illustrating a reassuring human decency (God bless the aul’ gene pool) it did rather bring home the awesome power of the electrical interweb.
I wanted the wine; I said so on my computertelly; I got the wine.
And with this very much in mind, today’s story will focus mainly on the Rangerover V8.
(Note: not the standard issue Westminster, in which I have no interest at all, but the Autobiography 5.0 V8 Supercharged with additional passenger memory and homelink garage door opener – much more my type of thing.)
I kid, I kid. I don’t even have a garage! So really, any four wheel drive. And would it be inappropriate of me to mention here how much I enjoy the odd snifter of Luis Felipe brandy?
Never mind then. No, the real star of this week’s show arrived the same week and came on legs, not wheels. It all started when K got back from work one day. She was pouting. That usually means that something’s about to happen.
“There’s a kitten in the car park at Lidl,” she said.
Every hair on my body stood up.
“Yes. I love it.”
And that was that. I went back to whatever-it-was-I-was-doing and the kitten came to live with us. Around here, decision is a country and I am a foreigner there. At least I got to name her.
That’s the kind of quality name a cat can get when there’s a writer in the house. It took me many hours of adding the diminutive “ita” to a variety of supermarket-related terms to come up with it. It’s a craft, you know. We call her Lily for short. She’s out there now on the patio, separated for the time being from Valentín, who it turns out is a territorial little shit.
We had hoped he would be. A little companion to amuse him when we were out of the house, because out of the house is exactly where we will be mid-August; we’ll be squeezing ourselves into Polly (by then, of course, it could be the Rangerover) and heading north on a two week Alotofwind road trip! They’ll just have to get along with each other and with the house-sitters, because I probably won’t give them a second thought as we cross this beautiful country, passing through Andalucia, Extremadura, Castilla & León and Asturias.
K and I will get to walk the hallowed streets of Salamanca, Spain’s oldest university town and a Unesco World heritage site since 1988. Further north we’ll stroll through the drama of old León, situated on the Camino de Santiago, the age-old pilgrimage route that is also a Unesco site. Apart from their cultural significance, both towns are big hitters on the tapa trail. After that we’ll get away from the cities for a few days, hole up in the mountains, and go bear hunting (cameras, not guns).
Then we’ll head north again, for the coast, perhaps stopping off in and around Oviedo to see the area’s unique pre-Romanesque architectural heritage. At one stage this was the only Christian stronghold in Spain. The monuments that remain from that time are also, you’ll not be surprised to hear, Unesco listed.
We’ll wind westwards along the coast towards Galicia and A Coruña with its Unesco listed lighthouse and spend a couple of days exploring the wonderfully named Costa da Morte (Coast of Death) before ending up in Santiago de Compostela which, and I almost feel like apologizing for this, has been a Unesco World Heritage site since 1985.
That’s as much as we’ve planned; we’re leaving the return leg of the trip open. We do know that, for sentimental reasons, we’ll pay a quick visit to a Galician village called Alongos before heading south along the Portuguese coast. We’ll just find somewhere to sleep that first night in Portugal. It might be in the Unesco listed historic centre of Oporto, or perhaps nearby in the medieval town of Guimaraes, which since 2001 has been…I’m not even going to say it.
Further south, if we can face the city after such a tranquil few days of driving and rural hidey-holes, we can stop off in Lisbon to admire its (Unesco World Heritage listed) Tower of Belém. If we’re not in a big city mood we can still spend some time in nearby Sintra (don’t ask).
Then we’ll be on the home straight. We could head east, back towards Spain and the old Roman town of Merida for one last Unesco binge, or we could continue south along the coast as it curves eastward towards Huelva and Cádiz province.
It’s a pleasure to anticipate finding ourselves in familiar territory in the, perhaps, Rangerover, back amongst the wind turbines as we look out through potentially tinted windows from the comfort of our possibly soft leather upholstered seats with real wood trimmings. I’ll be tingling with excitement as we pull up at the house to discover the goodies our internet admirers will have been sending in our absence.
No kittens please.
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