The weekend means the beach for the Portuguese, it means spending time with the family, eating uncomplicated fresh food out of doors, relaxing – all of which is much easier when the sun is shining hot and hard out of a cloudless sky as compared to the UK where you sit in the house and watch it piss it down on a Saturday morning and think “Christ is it June already?”
We drove up the coast a short distance to Quarteira, partly because Richard needed new light bulbs for the kitchen (its a long story, basically you don’t leave your holiday home locked up over the winter without first checking that you’ve switched all the lights off) and he was sure that he had seen a shop that specialised in light bulbs in Quarteira, The Light Bulb Shop or similar, and partly because he mentioned that Quarteira had an art shop and I wanted, and still want, a roll of primed art canvas.
We never found the light bulb shop but we did find two art shops and neither of them sold canvas on a roll which didn’t surprise me as I can’t find canvas on a roll in the UK either, if anyone knows of a place that sells primed art canvas on the roll then please let me know, I need some, quite quickly as it happens.
Anyway, we lost the car as well.
He’s like me is Richard, won’t pay to park the car, so we parked in a free place a bit further from the seafront than if we’d been prepared to pay, and neither of us bothered to note where we’d parked it, so off we wandered around art shops and browsing in tourist tat shops, although it has to be said, the tourist tat was of a high standard and price, tin chickens mainly and there’s nothing wrong with buying a tin chicken to take home for your wife.
By now the question of what to take home as recompense presents for the wife and two daughters had come to the fore of the mind, remember I was in Portugal on my own, enjoying the sun, telling them how hot it was via texts, while all the while back in England they were sat in the house watching it piss it down outside and thinking “Christ is it June already ?”
Quarteira is a sort of seaside tourist town and sort of not a seaside tourist town, it has a seafront and all the stuff that tourists want and yet it also has that overwhelming feeling of being a service town, full of businesses that service other, more popular seafront tourist towns – for instance we were attracted to a shop that sold cups and saucers and stuff, not presented in a tourist tat style shop layout but presented in a warehouse style as if it were intended for trade only, which in fact it was – I wanted a coffee cup that was on display in the window, I’m serious about me coffee, it has to be black, just the right strength (strong), fresh, and most importantly served in the right sort of cup – the sort of cup that was in the window of the shop that wasn’t really for tourists, so we went in.
I bought three cups of different sizes, just in case, it was probably their most over-whelming sale of the day, and then at the till I saw a teapot, “That’ll do for the wife” I said gleefully and bought the teapot too, I’m good to her, me, I mean what other husband would go to Portugal without his wife and think so much of her that he buys her a teapot, hmmm?
Not many, I know, I’m gold me, solid gold.
So with the wifes present sorted we had a mooch around the fish wholesale market – who the hell thought that fish would probably be good if you ate it, there were fish in that market so ugly that I wouldn’t let my dog eat them, in fact if some of those fish had got caught in my nets I’d have thrown the nets back in the sea and gone for a pint instead.
A coffee was called for and so a beachside bar was sought out and good coffee (never had a bad cup of coffee in Portugal which is more than can be said for Greece last year) and a revelation – Pasteis de nata – custard tart in flaky puff pastry with cinnamon, lemon and vanilla, heaven in a blob on your plate and soon down your shirt front, absolutely gorgeous with decent coffee, who’s been keeping this secret for all of my life ?
Did I mention that we lost the car ?
Took us a good half hour to find it again and lots of shoe leather, “We parked it next to a bin” was all we could remember, I couldn’t even remember what sort of car it was so I was no help at all, “We were playing The Band on the stereo when we parked it” I suggested but that didn’t help much either.
Vilamoura was next on the agenda, lunch around the marina in Vilamoura, home of millionaires boats where tourists stroll and pretend that each yacht they pass is theirs, or will be theirs when their boat comes in, when my boat comes in I want a two masted schooner in blue with a huge tarty gin palace style cabin in white leather and brass fittings where I can sail out to sea and play my music as loud as I like without a wife shouting at me to turn that f’kin rubbish off, she swears like a sailor you know, like a f’kin sailor.
Anyway, we had booked for an evening meal on the marina in Vilamoura but instead went and told the Chinese proprietors that we wanted lunch there instead, it was a struggle finding a table for us for there were no other customers in the restaurant at that time and so we had five staff to serve us – spring rolls, chicken, ginger and spring onion, boiled rice and a crispy duck that must have been some size when it was alive for it took two of us to finish it off and took Richard two days to finish digesting – lovely food, just scrummy in an open fronted restaurant on a hot day, facing the marina and cooled by waterfalls of, erm, water.
And then, and then, around the marina we passed a jewellery and handbag shop, “Ho-ho” said I, “this is where the females who attach themselves legally to my earnings like a government generated earnings attachment order would shop, right here”
And Richard asked if I really was going to give my wife the teapot as a token of my missing her company so much on this little jaunt, by means of recompense and all that and I looked at him in horror, “Are you suggesting that she perchance would not like a teapot bringing home as a keepsake of Portugal, the trip that she never got to make my friend ?” I asked and because we have only been solid friends for a mere 44 years he looked me in the eye and told me that no, the teapot would not do the job and maybe I should think of jewelery.
I was shocked for the teapot had cost five euros and I don’t even drink tea, I wish he’d told me earlier.
So I had to buy jewelry and I admit right here and now that the jewelry that he chose for my wife and two daughters was well received which is more than I can say for the teapot for since Monday evening when I arrived back home and presented the teapot to her, I haven’t seen it since.