Spain: Evening Light, Vines & Calpe Market

Being in Spain at this time of year, not far past the Summer Solstice, the days are wonderfully long and the evenings full of glorious light as the sun slowly goes down. Linda and George’s cats – Panda and Misty – come out of the shadows where they sleep during the day as the air cools, though it’s never cold. Deep darkness comes only in the middle of the night – if it comes at all – when we’re fast asleep. It’s said that’s when wild boar roam, their grunts sometimes heard. Their digging and search for food can be quite destructive, bringing down walls. I suggested we should try to catch one to roast as they’re very tasty! Linda has also spotted an owl but said there are fewer swallows sweeping across the top of the pool this year.

Below the terrace and house, surrounding the front of the pool, vines grow. These are Tempranillo grapes which make some of the finest Spanish wine.

When Linda and George bought the house 9-10 years ago they harvested the grapes and made some good wine. I remember having some! It’s a lot of work though – not just the actual making of the wine but tending the vines – and now a local farmer looks after the ‘vineyard’. It’s nice to see them though. They ripen in September so are at an earlier stage than my last few visits.

At this time of year it’s busier everywhere and so Linda said last night she would set off to the local Calpe market – where she does a large shop of fruit and vegetables – early this morning. I didn’t have to go but wanted to so got up early too.

It wasn’t too busy when we arrived but the market is huge. You walk a very long way from one end to the other. One long road is the food market and another ‘everything-else’ market runs along a parallel road. We bought food first, stopping at the stall which sells the best local – and organic – Valencian oranges that George squeezes freshly each morning for breakfast.

The husband and wife who run the stall grow everything themselves. George told me that they have different varieties of oranges growing so they’re available most of the year but the best by far are in January and February. Well, that may be so but the July ones I’ve been having each morning are glorious: so sweet and rich in flavour. Better than any I might find at home. The stallholders proudly proclaim on their van that everything is organic and no pesticides are used.

We bought some of their tomatoes too. They would no doubt be rejected by UK supermarkets for not looking perfect or of uniform size but they taste fantastic. Tomatoes ripened on the vine and picked only when ready to eat – as all fruit and vegetables here – will always taste better than most of the products available to us in supermarkets.

There were wonderful stalls all along the road.

We also bought some of the flat peaches which have become more popular in recent years and I like.

We took the large trolley of food back to the car then made our way down the non-food market. You could buy almost anything here: clothes, shoes, jewellery, handbags, local pottery.

When we emerged from the market at the other end it was, we decided, coffee time. We settled down in a cafe – on their terrace – for a good coffee and tomato tostadas. And a nice chat!

Back home it was chill out time for me. Linda has been cooking as local friends of theirs are coming to supper tonight. It’s a bit cloudier today but still warm, so we’ll be able to sit out until late again in the warm night air – and if we’re late enough maybe we’ll hear the grunt of a wild boar or hoot of an owl!

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

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