Madame and I got back last night from the Algarve. We found when we arrived our hotel was full and we’d been upgraded (free) to a five-star establishment not far away. It was certainly luxurious, although a bit isolated. Getting anywhere required a taxi ride, and the nearest places were very expensive anyway. It was nice to chill by the pool, though, and we devoured novels. Curiously, and just by coincidence, most of them were set in Edinburgh – some of them were Hallam Foe, One Good Turn, The Naming of the Dead . I was also absorbed in John Simpson’s Strange Places, Questionable People. One of the oddest experiences on the holiday was pulling myself out of his vivid eye-witness account of the Tiananmen Square massacre to find myself in the unfamiliar harbour area of Faro, where I’d been sitting quite rapt for half an hour. Another strange experience was driving a left-hand-drive car for the first time. We realised we’d go crazy sitting by the pool for seven days, so it had to be done. It was a shock to the system – like learning to drive all over again, with Madam going ‘You’re too close to the edge, you’re too close to the edge’ all the time, and confirming the stereotypes about women reading maps. But it did enable us to find beautiful towns like Silves, Tavira and Alte, out-of-season and almost eerily quiet in the hot afternoon. Some photos of these places. In Silves, we happened upon a guitarist sitting in a cafe opposite a music shop trying out a Portuguese guitar, with its fan-shaped head, singing Fado songs around the table with his friends. Our first few experiences of Portuguese restaurants weren’t great for Madame, who doesn’t like fish or any seafood, until we discovered a beach restaurant near the hotel, That Shack, run by a chef from Girvan in Ayrshire, a total artist and performer, dancing round his little kitchen to a reggae compilation, and creating some of the the most fascinating and enjoyable meals I’ve ever had.
I returned to in inbox of 80-odd, most of which I could delete straight away. One was an invitation to endorse products, Beckham-style, ‘In recognition of your outstanding contributions and great ccomplishments in the entertainment industry, the project planning team at Persian Consulting wishes to offer you an endorsement contract, …’. Nice to finally get some recognition 🙂 Maybe it’ll be the Nobel committee next.