Hola from Sunny Spain!

The child in me still delights in the fact that I could have been making a last-minute cup of tea at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon at home as I gathered my bags in the hallway, ready to set off for Gatwick airport, and that soon after midnight UK time (1 a.m. here) I was settling into bed in southern Spain. It was a wonderfully straightforward journey, first via train from Twickenham to Gatwick in 55 minutes; then an easyJet flight to Alicante that lived up to its name: easy and smooth and even arriving 20 minutes early, that was made even more pleasant by the friendliness and cheerfulness of the inflight crew.

As the car came to a halt at the bottom of the steep slope which leads into Linda and George’s lovely home in the northern Costa Blanca, the temperature was 23 degrees and warm enough to be comfortable in a T-shirt. The house is set in the hills behind the region known as the Marina Alta. Towns such as Denia and Moraira, familiar from previous trips, and which will no doubt be a feature of the week ahead, are fast becoming part of the new wave of interest in Spanish food. With three Spanish restaurants named in S. Pellegrino’s 2011 awards for the top 10 restaurants of the world, we can no longer think of Spanish food as simply paella, tapas and – if you’re thinking Costa Brava – fish ‘n’ chips English style. Spanish food with its Mediterranean and Moorish influences offers the gourmet a fabulous food experience.

Linda and George stay in my house when they return to UK to catch up with friends and family; I get to stay in their beautiful Spanish home in peaceful surroundings with pool and glorious sunny weather. I think I get the better deal though they kindly assure me it’s not like that. However, we returned together so today has been quiet recovering from a late night and them catching up from a week away. But there was still time for a very good coffee in Bon Sol Cafe in Benissa, situated by the beautiful old church in the old quarter of the town and a quick shopping trip had us bringing fresh local sardines back for lunch – delicious simply grilled with lemon – picked from their lemon tree – roasted red peppers and crisp green salad with a fabulous mustardy dressing. And then … well there was only one thing to do … a doze by the pool in the sun … digest lunch … then a few lazy lengths in the cool water …

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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