Castle and culture

Grimble and G:

You couldn’t visit a resort in the shadow of a bloody great castle and not visit it especially when the entrance fee was a desultory 5€. Culture and a bargain. Grimble loved both. So it was that Grimble risked the wrath of grumpy G by waking him earlier than usual so that they could do culture before it went too hot and before the crowds invaded the castle far more successfully than the Moors ever did.

Grimble decided that this would be a day of two halves. Castle culture in the morning. Lunch, siesta and a late afternoon sail for two hours that included a dip in the sea. Thus for the first half, Grimble would not need to look like a proverbial Spanish donkey carrying all things for every eventuality. She would travel light. With her shoulder bag that contained her basics and, of course G’s basics too. Once, she had made a muted suggestion that now they were in continental places, perhaps G would like a man bag? His reaction ranged from incredulous to scathing to shock that such an outrage could even be considered by his usually thoughtful Grimble. She had to pass it off quickly as an attempt at humour to which he grunted and the moment moved on. So, even on the lightest trip days, Grimble still wandered several paces behind G, with a heavy load making her stumble like Quasimodo. This was possibly an apt role for a medieval castle.

They walked through the town built precariously round the castle, taking lots of photos. This required G requesting, at numerous intervals, his phone. Instead of holding this phone, after each photo, G would return it to the bag and, despite it being placed on top, it managed to worm itself down into the depths and hide awkwardly. Thus, every demand for said phone, required Grimble unpacking and repacking the bag and her expletive ridden mutters were becoming quite audible.

Eventually, they made it, 1000 shots later to the castle and it was impressive. The views were spectacular and the health and safety non existent with slippy steps and narrow walk ways. There was no system and the free for all added to the charm as they waited several long minutes as the seemingly entire population of Italy descended on narrow step way as only Italians could: noisily and with no sense of speed, stopping to chat and chunner on each and every step as G and Grimble waited, and waited. After several more step ways like this, G decided that these one foot stairways would easily take the girth of two, or as he put it, he wasn’t fucking waiting at every one, and they both happily squashed the somewhat alarmed tourists.

On the top of one turret, Grimble mused that they really did need some organisation and a one way system was not a bad thing. She also recalled that she suffered from vertigo and, thus, it was time to go. They left at the point were it was neither lunch or not lunch. That odd time in Spain of 12.30. However the castle was in the tourist heartland where normal times did not apply and fully aware that they were about to be ripped off, they settled on one courtyard cafe, which seemingly offered a 9.50€ menu del dia, minus drinks. Even here, which they would both later claim was the worst meal of the holiday (apart from the time when Grimble inadvertently ordered liver, only having understood the pork bit. Oh how G laughed as she chewed reluctantly with an expression like a smacked arse. That was not bad cooking, it was just bad judgement on the part of Grimble) the tourist food was edible if dull and did little to illuminate any tourist as to the usual splendours of Spanish cooking. The service was efficient but indifferent. There was an attempt to sneak in an extra dish left side that Grimble deftly handled with a loud NO!

So why didn’t they leave the tourist trap area to eat? Because the entrance fee also included a visit to the garden at the bottom of the castle and, with Grimble’s rigorous scheduling, she knew if they did castle and garden in one go, they’d be well out of line for achieving lunch. There was one flaw in the plan, Grimble hadn’t accounted for the garden being somewhat dull and to do it all, meant descending quite a long way, only to have to climb back up, in the now sweltering heat, to exit and then have to follow the road down again to leave the old town. It all seemed like a lot of faffing which a simple exit at the bottom of the garden could have rectified. As it was, they spent just ten minutes looking around the top level. Grimble commented to G that she though the array of stuffed birds of prey rather odd, whereupon G explained to Grimble that they were actually stuffed just inactive and comatose in the intense heat and if he didn’t leave soon he was likely to fucking join them.

Thus, the morning’s culture had been completed to Grimble’s satisfaction. They could now siesta like natives until the time to leave for the 5pm sail. Grimble had even asked the boat man en route to the castle as to the likelihood of a sail that required 20 passengers minimum. He had answered with a confident si.

Grimble once again risked a grumbling G breaking into his siesta at 4.15 with a happy expectancy of a lovely cooling sail. This was a two bag trip. They’d need a towel for the drying off. Suncreams would need to be transported too. And so, happy at the thought of a sail, Grimble almost contentedly carried the bags. In what was now stifling mid afternoon heat, they trampled the 15 minutes to the port. The short half hour trip pleasure cruiser was already busy with people hanging listless from it but their boat for the two hour sailing, ominously empty. However, Grimble remembered the positive si of several hours earlier and approached the man. He directed her to another bloke. This man was wizened and salty sea dog like with that grizzled Ancient Mariner expression. Undaunted, Grimble asked about the 5pm sailing. He answered with a firm no and directed G and Grimble’s gaze outward to the Mediterranean Sea. He claimed in Spanish with hand gestures for dramatic emphasis that the sea was rough and choppy. To be honest, from where G and Grimble were stood, the only high sea drama was this man’s performance. Yes, they would accept that it was a bit windy but it was hardly the maelstrom he was describing. As boat owners themselves, they were not convinced. G muttered to Grimble to give him the bloody keys and he’d sail the bugger and added something about the Armada and how a bit of wind had fucked that up too.

They were even less convinced when the salty sea dog tried, as an alternative to their thwarted plans, to offer them the short trip. They declined for two reasons: the first, how come that sail could go on the very same sea and secondly the sail he offered was 10€ for 30 minutes. The sail that they’d wanted was 15€ for 2 hours. This wasn’t the maths of Einstein. As they left, he shouted after them, the words that Grimble had never actually heard spoken in all her time living in Spain: mañana. At this point, they both decided boat trips were not to be. Instead, after purchasing another beach sheet, as the one tiny drying towel would not suffice for both their bums, they sat on the beach until sunset. They went in the sea without being swept away in a forceful wind and considered their day of culture.

They’d enjoyed being tourists but G and Grimble agreed they enjoyed being lazy bastards more. They resolved that they would take a car trip to neighbouring resorts to have a look and sit on neighbouring beaches. Grimble also suggested, and G agreed, that trips to Mercadona and Carrefour to buy lots of wine, Spanish sausages and stuff also constituted culture as they couldn’t do that back home. With their definition of culture now firmly established, Grimble and G relaxed and contemplated their seafood dinner to come.

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Annette Juniper Grimble

Follow us as we blunder through our lives. When should we put up the Christmas tree? Should we move to Spain or just go on holiday? Will we ever clear out the cupboard of doom? Is it a prosecco night or a red? Have I really got anxiety or do I just need to toughen up a bit? Here I am, getting closer to a very significant birthday. Not one with a zero in it but one which will allow me to feasibly remove the shackles of sensible employment with some cash in my back pocket and a song in my heart. As that point draws nearer, G and I face our mid life with apprehension and joy.

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