San Valentin versus the Grimbles

G, Grimble and romance were uneasy bedfellows. They had convinced themselves that it was the sheer commercialism of St Valentine’s Day that perturbed them when really it was the sheer slushy, gushy, gooey nature of this event that offput them. They’d hoped to escape this revelry in Calpe, but the streets lit with bright red love hearts, indicated that this was not to be.

In the Costas, where Brits abroad were predominant, there were always street hawkers attempting to offload some tat on an unsuspecting, or inebriated, tourist. One night, as they sat quietly dining, one man had produced a mini plastic disco light contraption from his supermarket carrier bag. He seemed much more impressed than they were by the bright blue lights swirling round their tapas. A firm, “Non” from Grimble indicated that there was no chance of any purchase: not even if he danced wildly for them. The other frequent visitor to the supper tables was the Rose Man: a bloke with a fake smile permanently etched onto his face, trying to sell less than fresh red roses to loved up couples. He did not seem to have much luck, usually, but G suggested to Grimble that this chap’s big night was fast drawing close and San Valentin was his major money day.

In fact, Grimble had obtained a card for G. She got it excessively reduced from the outlet place in Gloucester. It was a half decent one too. She had mentioned this spontaneous act of love to G to ensure he was aware, but knew that his systematic nodding in response meant he hadn’t listened to a word she’d spoken. On February 13th, when the shops in Spain were closed, she mentioned to G, again, the card. Suddenly, with no chance to rectify the single Valentine’s card situation, the penny dropped, the realisation sunk in and G grew a tad grumpy blaming Grimble for changing the rules. She patiently explained that her act of love had been well documented and discussed. Finally, they settled on a compromise. They’d share the bloody card. He could write some romantic tosh in after he’d read hers. Clearly, romance was not something they did well.

February 14th arrived. Grimble had forgotten to write the card herself. Hastily, she scrawled something. She made a quick acrostic complete with a made up word for E, but knew that all her efforts amounted to more than G’s. He read it and returned unimpressed to the hotel’s king size bed. Grimble decided to take a wander and happened upon a small shop where they cleverly mimicked posh perfumes with significantly cheaper oils. She got herself one and something that smelt like the ridiculously overpriced Creed for G. She was communicating in noddy Spanish to the nice lady who asked if was for her marido. She confirmed that it was, as trying to explain he was her partner seemed to always go same sex and confusing when Grimble ventured this information in Spanish and calling him a novio made them seem about eighteen years old. The lady immediately outburst: San Valentin! She grabbed G boxed perfume and proceeded to wrap it in shiny red paper, with bows and heart stickers. It looked unfittingly romantic.

Back at the hotel, Grimble presented this package to G who was even more churlish at the thought that Grimble was trying to trick him into some romantic gesture of his own. Grimble denied this but discretely looked at the now joint card where only her jottings remained written.

They took a brisk walk to the other side of Calpe where big apartment blocks and hotels dominated. This promenade was much more out of season than theirs so restaurants were limited. They selected one that had the most clientele, a cheap menu del dia and whose name was bordering on romantic: Tango. That was a pretty hot and spicy Latino dance if Strictly was anything to go by. After ordering, it soon became evident why it was so busy. No one had actually moved, been served or got a bill for several hours. There was a surfeit of wait staff, all particularly inept. One brought drinks to a nearby table, spilt the hot drink across the table and, as he attempted to wipe it up, dropped another drink from a tray which smashed across the terrace.

To some extent, G and Grimble got away lightly. They ordered shandy, a very clear clara…they got beer. They managed to prevent the waiter serving their salads to another hungry table by shouting a lot. When they wanted to leave, along with several others, Grimble almost yelled la cuenta across five tables. This was definitely the last Tango in Calpe for them.

In something resembling romance, they decided to indulge in a lovely drink in the Suitopia’s twenty ninth floor rooftop bar and watch the sunset. G indulgently and, possibly insanely, offered Grimble a bottle of Dom Perignon at 170€. He had banked, accurately, on Grimble’s lack of joy where champers was concerned, preferring a cava or prosecco. So, he saved his bank balance and gave a grand gesture of romance to his Grimble. They settled on a cava, served with sweeties and a lovely sunset despite the welcoming of children to the bar, who sobbed, shouted and screeched with no consideration of love.

The final stage of the San Valentin proceedings was dinner. Grimble had been eying up offers all week. It seemed that most places were offering a special of around 60€ for several courses, all of which involved some type of sorbet and a steak and a bottle of wine printed on a heart encrusted menu. What distinguished them was the extra alcohol treats ranging from a welcome glass of cava to pink gin. Uniquely, these dinners were being served until Sunday suggesting that either: romance never died in Spain or the owners were determined to sell the additional produce bought in for this event. G and Grimble hadn’t reserved anywhere as they weren’t sure what to anticipate. They wandered the streets of restaurants and it varied from places rammed very unromantically to places so quiet it would have been the equivalent of a private dining experience but with more tables. They pondered on what to do; there was an option of a tapas fusion place, which from past experience could signify a deeply troubled and culinary confused chef. Finally, they had a joining of minds as they both exclaimed, “Chinese?”. Well, Grimble said, “Chinese” being all PC whilst G stated, “Ping Pong” but the effect was the same. It was as if their minds worked in romantic harmony.

They knew that the food would be plentiful and scrumptious and the excuse for decorative love hearts ignored. It did have people in there but tables to spare. They were seated speedily and the even settled on the most expensive set dinner on the menu. After all it was a special night and deserved the six courses which included dim sum and shredded duck as well as a bottle of decent wine for a desultory 35€ for two. As they chowed down, they observed another bonus, the Rose Man had already visited if the table nearby was anything to go by. Two limp roses were in a glass. It was a table of six: four oldies, the Calpe indigenous population to be honest, a younger woman and a decidedly sulky teenager who had an expression like a slapped arse. She clearly was disgruntled at spending the holidays at her grandparents when Benidorm with all its vices lay so close. It was hard to decipher for whom the roses were meant or which woman had been exempted. Perhaps the cost, which possibly exceeded the price of one dinner there, was too much. As they left, it was clear as to their uncertainty of ownership, as the sweet lady waitress had to pursue them down the street, roses in hand. She presented them to the elder of the ladies, attired in a Bet Lynch imitation leopard fur coat, complete with peroxide blonde hair dye the colour of straw and a terrifyingly sun ravaged skin. The rose presentation was the nearest thing to romance G and Grimble had seen.

They returned to their suite. Grimble noted the card, still on its side as neither could work out how to make it stand, possibly explaining the discount, and still bereft of G’s musings on love. As she turned, she was greeted by G, small box in hand, which he presented with a cheery, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Grimble”. She lovingly accepted the box of two free truffles supplied by the hotel. A perfect end…

 

Five Posts to Write Right Now

Keep it campy…I can see big G in a Benny Hill role.

The Daily Post

Whether I’m channel surfing or binging on Netflix, one of my favorite distractions is TV. Because of the short-form nature of TV shows, writers are able to pack a whole lot of drama into a condensed timeframe — making us all the more susceptible to the “just one more episode” dilemma.

If you find yourself distracted or stuck on what to write this week, try finding some inspiration in everyone’s favorite diversion.

1. To be continued

I would venture to guess that football games and two-part episodes garner the most vocal reactions in TV watchers. When it comes to entertainment, there’s little as tormenting as those three little words, “To be continued…”

While we may live in the age of instant gratification and Netflix binging, there’s still a lot to be said for building up to a truly fantastic cliffhanger. Why not write one of your most suspenseful stories — fiction…

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Food for thought

G and Grimble:

The holiday was drawing to a far too early close. The car contained an inordinate amount of red wine and cava that Grimble had tried to convince herself would keep until Christmas. Their clothes contained so much sand that they could have easily developed a small beach resort once back in Highworth.

They loved the Costa Alhazar and were beginning to consider plans that might not just make this a holiday destination. They’d don’t it before, so why not, again? But for now this was a holiday drawing to a close. They considered the highlights. The food was definitely part of the Peniscola appeal. This was Valencia province, home of paella and all things fish. They’d demolished whole pans of fideua, the noodle version of paella, packed with fish that a few hours before had been in the sea. Langoustines that had the aspiration to be lobsters with their immense girth. G and Grimble had almost mastered the art of shelling fish, though Grimble had been maimed a couple of times by their razor like fierceness.

They had shared T bone steaks which would have happily fed Desperate Dan. They had shared memories that were mostly great ones. They’d shared bottles of red wine with artistic labels whose price tags were so cheap that they belied the quality inside. And then they had shared dreams. It seemed G and Grimble didn’t want a permanent grey sky in their lives. Holidays were designed to reinvigorate but this one had really made them contemplate where they wanted to be. They knew that when they returned to the UK, the winter would be fast approaching and there would be the long damp, cold weekend nights watching X Factor. Yes, they always had their next tours planned as Grimble was an organising menace, but they needed more than just a tour plan. They needed an exit plan. So they decided to supplement their X factor, Chinese takeaways and bottles of red with plotting a different type of possible future.

They left Spain slowly not because of depression, though it didn’t help, but because the buggers on the French border hadn’t fixed the toll booths meaning that, on one of the busiest travelling days of the summer, a mass of traffic was trying to squeeze through the few booths left working. Combine this with 30 degree heat and this journey was far from great. They spent two hours of being stationary near the Spanish border town of La Jonquera which seemed to have been transported out of the Wild West with its neon strip of outlets, signs offering cheap booze, fags, gas and women. The Pyrenees are stunning. La Jonquera less so. However, in the long queue, at least it offered something visual and they contemplated what it would be like to live in this seedy, unruly border town.

G and Grimble motored slowly through France, to the North and, as expected the sky turned grey and with the grey they felt the holiday glow fading. In a desperate attempt to maintain the holiday just a little more, Grimble had refused to book a chain hotel that bordered the motorway however convenient that might have been. She insisted on a short journey into rural France to the aptly named Carpe Diem hotel. She felt the name encapsulated their hopes. However, this was rural France in August and they had until 11pm to arrive, which was actually beyond the normal as usually France shut down for the whole of August. This was a feature of Southern Europe that had always mystified G and Grimble. How could such beautiful tourist draw areas effectively shut their doors at the most tourist time of the year? The time of 11pm had been well within their reach until the French border debacle. Now, it was touch and go especially as SatNav lady really had not liked G and Grimble’s rural escapades and they were concerned that she might again go rogue. They moved down darkened roads and it was hard to see where they might end up. However, there it was: Savigneux and Carpe Diem. At 10.45pm, the lights indicated it was still awake unlike G and Grimble who’d traveled for over twelve hours and were feeling dazed, cramped and exhausted.

Terrified that they might get locked out and desperate to get into bed, Grimble darted into the hotel before G had even parked up, almost leaping from the moving vehicle. Despite the fact that they were probably the last to arrive, Grimble insisted on attempting to communicate with the lady on reception as to her reservation. This she did in a very unique mixture of Spanish, French, a touch of English and she was pretty sure some German invaded her sentence too. Luckily, they really were the last to arrive so really her attempt to convince Europe that the English were able to master languages, clearly not just one, were wasted. However, there was still a local group’s dinner happening on the terrace and Grimble requested as to whether it was too late to have a bottle of red there. She did not want the holiday to end. She wanted their last day to have some greater joy than traffic queues, horrible motorway services toilets and overinflated prices for everything. This was an attempt to seize the moment as the hotel’s name claimed and create something more joyful to recall.

Thus, they sat on a terrace drinking from a very palatable, and complimentary, Beaujolais. As an even greater bonus, the group dining invited them to share their desserts. And they drank wine, ate divine chocolate mouse and scrumptious ice cream cake and contemplated how the small acts of kindness just added to the happiness they felt. They tumbled into bed knowing tomorrow they would return to the UK, to Wiltshire, to Highworth and to work.

G and Grimble realised that their dreams would take a couple of years to materialise because, whilst running away was always tempting, it was not a suitable way for people of their maturity to behave. In that time in between, they vowed to have more adventures, more misunderstandings and more mischief which they might just recollect on this page.

G and Grimble go day tripping

In a spirit of adventure, G and Grimble drove not very far South to Alcossebre. Why? They’d heard that there was a small English enclave and wanted to see what that entailed.

There was a short road journey. They saw olive tress, a ruined castle, more olive trees and roadside ladies dressed in their bikinis sat under parasols on dirt tracks off the highway. What a sad and dangerous, horrible lifestyle thought Grimble and G as they tried to avert their eyes but couldn’t help but be drawn to the mish mash of a smoking peroxide blonde, heavily made-up, in limited attire and and clearly sweaty in heat and by that she meant the heat of the sun. Often these ladies were languishing and reading a book. Grimble mused on the incompatibility of waiting for some seedy client with the passivity of a book: escapism perhaps?

They arrived at Alcossebre which had free parking: a bonus! However, their immediate reaction was not one of love. It was all rather dusty and looked a little forlorn. The promenade was attractive but the beach was small and completely rammed. As they looked down at the mass of sun sweaty humanity and a myriad of parasols, they couldn’t see a small two bum space for them and knew that this would not be a beach day. However, Alcossebre didn’t seem to have a great deal to see, other than the nearby Sierra de Irta national park.

G and Grimble discussed a trip to the wilderness. However, it became evident from the signs everywhere, loads of police and lots of bikes, that they were not the only ones with this idea. In fact, and inadvertently, they had arrived on the same day as the Tour d’Espana. It was due to hurtle into town and up some giant hill in the Sierra de Irta within a few hours: taking seconds but causing a town blockage for hours. This gave G and Grimble an even bigger excuse to quit Alcossobre as soon as another coffee would allow. Grimble was not a fan of men in tight lycra, even sporty ones. In fact, she was still trying to unsee the two men on Calella beach a week earlier who had sported lycra neon thongs. She had yet to totally purge her mind of the nasty neon and another Lycra sighting might cause a relapse which she was loathe to allow.

This supposed English enclave was definitely well secreted. Then, on their way out, G and Grimble spotted evidence as to their possible existence. Tucked on a narrow street was a charity shop. Only the English love transforming any high street into a charity shop haven. The name of the charity was as elusive as the English who used it but it was there, along with an English notice board offering the usual: odd jobs, computer repair, man with a van and translation. G and Grimble would not be joining them.

They left Alcossebre with a feeling of great indifference. They’d never fully understand why it didn’t attract them. They passed by empty roadside parasols and decided not to look too closely, convincing themselves that the roadside ladies had opted for an early siesta and were not occupied in some olive bush or perhaps in the library to select another novel.

As they were earlier than anticipated, G uttered the fatal words: Mercadona and Grimble was reinvigorated at the prospect of a supermarket sweep. She claimed her list of items needed was in her head. She scoured the aisles for wine, fuet and olive oil shower gel. Clearly, a real list would have saved time and ensured a more methodical approach to these purchases, but Grimble was happy. G liked to see Grimble content. However, he was warding off starvation and a menu del dia seemed to be not in the immediate schedule, so he placed crab sticks from the chiller into Grimble’s haphazard cart. Like a bird of prey, she spotted the luminous pink things and inquired as to why they were there. The starving G explained his enforced fast. Grimble retorted that she hated being rushed but the arrival of an alien in the basket did seem to motivate a swift conclusion.

However, time had mysteriously vanished and, by the time they returned to the hotel, the owner simply laughed when they requested food. G had to survive on crab sticks and coffee until supper.

Their next adventure was to the neighbouring resort of Beniclaro because they liked the name. As they set off, Grimble suddenly threw a curve ball detour by stating weekly market, Vinaros was on and overrode Sat Nav lady in her desperation to view, and possibly, purchase tat. From the outskirts, Vinaros did not appear that encouraging, although Grimble did observe and note the direction of Carrefour, just in case.

However, once free parked and munching on scrummy churros dipped in divine chocolate at the perfectly named Bar Moustache as Grimble had just given herself a chocolate one in this sunny square, the place began to attract them. Whist it was supposed to be a short stop before Benny Carlos, as they had renamed it, G booked in for a tattoo six hours later, forcing them to explore Vinaros. Vinaros was just their sort of place: lively, awesome beach front and very local. They never found the street market but it did not matter. They did find the town, Mercado and Grimble was delighted just looking at produce including the live razor clams poking their slimy worm like shapes out of long shells and live lobsters clicking their claws like castanets. She bought several garlic bulbs and G tentatively suggested that these could be bought in U.K. Grimble furrowed her brow and patiently explained that Asda garlic was not the same and whilst Waitrose might be close, they could fly to Spain cheaper than buying it there. She understood and emphasised with Spanish people living in U.K. who wanted to carry a three foot serrano leg on a Ryan Air flight but was mystified as to why the English abroad yearned for roasts and a full English.

Happily, they explored, the streets, the port and the cafes. Vinaros felt right. Even after the tattoo, they stayed a little longer drinking more coffee at yet another cafe and people watching. It was funny how somewhere they’d never considered visiting suddenly became the most interesting and engaging

Their trip to Benny Carlos wasn’t to be and they even postponed Carrefour. Vinaros had so enticed them, that G and Grimble had missed their siesta in favour of wandering. That’s when the love is real. No siesta, no Carrefour. They’d discuss the significance of this later.

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.

G and Grimble do Beach heaven and hell

Days: image

Peniscola. It was almost too pretty to be real. The castle and the sea sat on a peninsula, the fortress built on a hill. It dominated the world below. It invited exploration and G and Grimble intended to: eventually.

Satnav lady had directed them nearly faultlessly to their destination only messing up once with her finishing, which seemed habitual. She directed them into a modern housing estate and, as occurred with the crisis, it ended abruptly in an arid piece of scrubland whereupon Satnav lady declared they had reached their destination. Grimble had done research when planning this holiday. She knew this to be untrue. So Google nav once again took charge.

They arrived at Camping Ferrer and anyone who thinks that Grimble was going under canvass for the majority of her holiday, does not really know Grimble. In fact, Grimble did own a tent that had an array of empty alcohol bottles as the backdrop to the canvass. Grimble had never slept in it. G had had to erect it, the tent that is and other friends had reposed in it. However, Camping Ferrer was an all encompassing business: campsite, self catering lodges, small hotel and quite possibly the busiest bar in Spain. The reasons Grimble selected it: pool, proximity to the sea and parking.

Parking…hmmm the official hotel bar parking was insane. Cars were parked 3 deep. There were vans that had called to deliver and stopped for a menu del dia and beers. There were scooters closing up any narrow gaps between cars. It was sheer madness. The owner gave them a camping bay for their car and explained that the car park would become quieter “mas tarde”. Several days into their stop here, they still awaited “mas tarde” and their car remained a happy camper.

The beach beckoned G and Grimble and so they loaded up: folding mats, parasol, towels, sun cream, cooling drinks and wandered to the shore. Peniscola had two beaches: North and South. They were nearest to the Sud which seemed to have permanently damp sand, handy as the brisk wind made no impact on creating a sandstorm. The first problem they encountered was trying to secure the parasol. The sand was damp, the sand was compacted. This meant that G needed to bore into it like he was drilling for oil. He did this cheerfully enough and Grimble thought she only heard cunt four times, suggesting he was happy in his work. They looked around the beach and wondered at how the Spanish had managed to perfectly position their parasols. Were they born with these natural beach skills being coastal and canny? Then G spotted the tiny attachments to the parasol base, pointed caps with a hand turning mechanism. Being a bloke, he had to have one of these ingenious devices or his trip would be incomplete.

They reclined and observed that the sea water was so shallow that people were wading barely waist deep for 200 meters. Either that or they had discovered a location where giants resided. The waves were not existent and the sand soft. Finally, had they discovered beach nirvana? They tentatively dipped their toes, anticipating a sudden frost to dispel up their body, counteracting their notion of heaven. However, the water was warm, ridiculously warm, like a salty bath. All these features made for a lovely beach afternoon where they contentedly sat, swam, slept and repeated. Even though this was Friday afternoon, the beach was not so rammed as to be standing room only. It was indeed beach heaven.

Not ones to stick with a good thing, they opted on a different day to try Norte Playa, a massive stretch of soft sand. This was a further ten minute walk which doesn’t sound far but is when carrying equipment in the oven like furnace sun of midday, it was like an eternity. However, as it was Monday, they at least expected beach space. Not so. This beach was rammed causing G to ask Grimble if anyone bloody worked here and then contemplate wistfully a life where Monday work did not exist. The multitude of collective parasols were so close that they almost joined into one continuous sun shade. Under this canopy was a melee of a mass of people and huge inflatables. The beach area was being wrestled with screaming children, six foot crocodiles, unicorns and flamingos. Add to the scene: jet skis, pedalos, high speed banana boats and it looked like beach hell. This was not the beach day G and Grimble envisaged. With hindsight, they should have returned to the relative normality of South beach, but they were intrepid, they walked ever further Northward until they eyed a brief gap in the crowd plus it was now nearly one pm and beach exit time for the Spanish.

Finally, they sat in a space and then realised what the kiddie commotion meant. It was not the shrieks of pleasure and frolicking. It was the shrill cries of pain. The wind here was fierce, the sand very soft and within seconds of sitting, G and Grimble were coated in a sand shell as it deftly stuck to their sun screen. They only option was to run to the water, which had the same ambient temperature as before with just a slight current. However, the sand was not for leaving them. In addition, it had got into Grimble’s eyes so she floundered around in the water with no discernible way to remove the now painful gritty mess from her vision. If she rubbed them then the sand from her body would create more. G’s comments that it was lovely were lost on Grimble as she could see bugger all.

Desperate and squinting, Grimble left the water for desperate measures and poured the water she had brought to save her from dehydration over her face. Though this might have seemed like a fail safe cure, Grimble’s water was sparkling which gave a very strange sensation to her already beleaguered eyes. It was fizzy in her eyes but momentarily stopped or diverted the gritty pain into a different type of hurt. She could now open her eyes a fraction but this would allow more sand to blow into them. This is when she realised why everyone was hogging the damp shore line, as there, the sand storm was marginally less fierce.

There was no option but to leave this tortuous beach for lunch and G guided the blinded but still baggage carrying Grimble away from the bastard beach of doom. As they mounted the promenade, the totally unaffected G looked across the vista and reliably stated, “Bloody hell, look at the way that sand is blowing, it’s like a sand storm.” Grimble would have loved to witness this vision but at that precise point, her eyes closed fast, she was not entirely sure which direction she was standing let alone looking. Blindly, she resolved that Sud playa would be their only beach destination from that point on.