Monday, September 1, 2014

Bye bye Eel Pie

After two months travelling around Europe, we are almost at the end of 2014's epic summer road trip. Biarritz was a blast but surfing in July feels like a long time ago now. Next stop was Spain and a journey that took us through Breaking Bad style arid wilderness skirting the Pyrenees and heading through the centre of Spain to the coast near Alicante.

The weather was scorching, the beach beckoned as did the beautiful medieval town of Guadalest, above, and we had some great nights at El Paripe, a cool little tapas bar on a whitewashed rooftop which served amazing calamari and padrons every bit as good as the ones at Bar Jean. Another favourite was La Paletta, a modest little restaurant where the delicious food and friendly service ensured it was packed every night and impossible to get a table without booking. And La Mary in Alicante would give the coolest bistro in Soho a run for its money (and charge you less than half the price.)

Next stop was the UK and a two day drive back up through Spain and France was borne with such patience by Oscar and Tallullah, who were cosily and tightly ensconced amongst cases, toiletries, a new set of kitchen knives, teaspoons, books, wine, sunglasses, you name it. They were amazingly well behaved despite queues caused by the tail end of Hurricane Bertha putting paid to ferry crossings that evening.

We have spent the last three weeks in not so sunny Herts...naturally we missed the UK heatwave by about 24 typical...but there has been something quite cool about being wrapped up in jeans and boots safe in the knowledge that it won't be for very much longer. Having not lived in the English countryside for several years, the novelty of seeing cows at the end of the garden did not wear off, nor did Fizz Friday at the Five Horseshoes, where they found a friend for life in me given that the Prosecco was half price.

The last couple of days have been spent in one of my favourite places of all time, Eel Pie Island, where we have pottered around on the river, run the dogs and their new pal Stan off their feet and waved to every passing boat from the terrace. Pretty cool to have the Thames at the end of your garden and this view with your morning coffee.

To Gary and Phil, Mel and Bill, Karin and Paul, Jean, Fiona and Steve and Clare, thanks for being such excellent hosts. And to Sarah, whose house we are descending on in East Sussex today for the final few days before la rentree, remember, we don't travel light so it may take a while to unpack!