Friday, 29 April 2016

The Laconic Parrot


During my vacation on the Canarian island of Fuerteventura I often walked past a block of offices, en route to the beach.

I regularly passed a slatted door in a tiny room which housed an ancient parrot with a minuscule dog.

Occasionally the door was open in order, presumably, to provide them with some daylight.

This parrot looked down on the tiny dog, which looked up mournfully at me every time I peered in.

The parrot had to be encouraged to sing, though I observed that it made two clicking noises prior to any further utterances.

Accordingly, I began by whistling my patriotic rendition of Rule Britannia! to it.

No joy there.

My next effort was a stirring few lines of Eternal Father, Strong To Save.

The old bird was clearly unimpressed with this old, traditional hymn.

Finally, I succumbed to the cheerful ditty, Consider Yourself, from that marvellous musical Oliver!

Christopher Bellew had fun with the learned double yellow-headed amazon, Pele, at the pub where he stayed.

Had I a copy of HMG's EU referendum leaflet at hand I'd have shoved it in the firing line directly below my old parrot.

Alas (!) a copy has not been received even at Belmont GHQ, as yet; though in hindsight, given the wicked sense of humour, I might have taught it to exclaim a rude or vulgar phrase to unsuspecting passers-by.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Days That Are Gone

I have been reading Days That Are Gone, a book published in 1983 about the childhood of the distinguished Ulster lawyer, businessman and writer, Sir Patrick Macrory.

Sir Patrick Arthur Macrory received a knighthood in 1972 for services to Northern Ireland.

In Days That Are Gone, he reminisces about his childhood spent at the family homestead, Ardmore, near Limavady in County Londonderry.

Ardmore is within a mile of Drenagh estate; and, indeed the McCauslands are mentioned quite a few times in the book.

If you're seeking a nostalgic journey to rural Ulster in the early 20th century, when the railways ran to most of our towns and villages, including Limavady; where there was a halt, indeed, at Ardmore; this, then, will interest you.

Sir Patrick's grandfather was Samuel Martin Macrory JP, of Ardmore Lodge, born in 1836; and his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Samuel (Frank) Macrory DSO DL, born in 1876, was married to Rosa Pottinger (see Pottinger of Mount Pottinger).

In his book, he mentions an amateur production he staged during his youth, at the Town Hall, Limavady, by the so-called Ardmore Players, where the following roll-call of the county's landed families acted:
Pat Macrory ~ Holmes;
William Lenox-Conyngham ~ Dr Watson;
Peggy Garnett ~ Landlady;
Conolly McCausland ~ Villain;
Rosemarie Davidson ~ Housekeeper.
For those who are particularly interested in the old Limavady railway, and the parish of Balteagh, this book has to be essential.

The late Rt Hon Roy Bradford composed an excellent obituary of Sir Patrick (1911-93).

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Which Bird?

I brought the iPad with me to the beach for the very first time today.

Although I'm not madly obsessed with wildlife, it does interest me.

La Concha beach lies to the north of El Cotillo.

At this beautiful little beach there is a well-known beach bar called Torino's.

Many years ago, Torino's father-in-law, Bill, often took the food and drink orders and acted generally as Mine Host.

I liked Bill. He had a sort of Cockney charm and affability with customers, especially British ones.

Alas, Bill has now retired and Torino cooks the grub in a tiny galley kitchen behind the beach bar.

I digress.

The principal purpose of bringing the iPad today was to photograph a certain kind of bird on the beach  (no, not the 36-24-36 type).

Readers, your task is to identify definitively this breed of bird.

Is it a sand plover? Or a sanderling?

Prey enlighten me.

Tostón Castle

Several days ago I revisited El Castillo del Tostón, a small fort perched on top of the cliff at E Cotillo, Fuerteventura.

It stands in a commanding position and is approached by a dusty track.


Toston Castle stands on the periphery of the village, dating from the late 16th century.

The roof-top is ascended by steep stone steps; whereas the ground floor, down more steps, has a modest gallery with exhibits and souvenirs for sale.

The entrance fee remains €1.50.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

El Tostón Lighthouse

El Tostón lighthouse about a mile along the coast from El Cotillo.

There is a modest museum or exhibition centre with a café and outdoor eating area.

The complex actually has three lighthouses: the largest, striped one being the most recent, constructed in 1985.

The others date from the mid-fifties and ca 1899.

Monday, 25 April 2016

High Cross

The High Cross has stood at Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, County Down, for over a millenium.

An exact replica of the iconic Downpatrick High Cross, weighing about a ton, was installed on the 16th April, 2014, in front of the Cathedral.

The original Mourne granite cross, carved ca AD 900 as a "prayer in stone", is of historical, cultural and religious significance.

Its first location is believed to have been the early medieval monastery on the Hill of Down.

Following the Reformation, the High Cross was taken down and was used as Downpatrick's market cross.

It was damaged in a busy town centre location before being dismantled and its parts dispersed around the town.

In the 1890s, the parts were gathered together by Francis Joseph Bigger and reconstructed outside Down Cathedral, with the help of subscriptions from donors.

The old cross was removed in December, 2013, to be preserved as the centrepiece of a display in Down County Museum. 

The 2014 replica was made by County Down stonemasons, using computer technology to make an exact copy of the original. The granite used was blasted from Thomas Mountain in the Mourne mountains.

The head of the cross shows the Crucifixion of Christ, flanked by the spear-bearer, sponge-bearer and the two thieves, who were given their own names in Irish in the 8th century.

The interlace on the side is made up of intertwined snakes, symbols of resurrection as they slough their skin and are reborn.

First published in April, 2014.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Leslie Eulogy

The Irish Aesthete has written a fond and insightful eulogy - if that is the mot juste - of Sir John (Jack) Leslie's life:-

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Beach Vendor

On one occasion during this holiday I spotted a beach vendor near Torino's Bar at El Cotillo, Fuerteventura.

She was carrying a notice with "Beer", "Cola", €1.50, and so on, written by hand on the card.

On her back she had a cool-bag with the said beverages.

The young woman remained quiet, however.

Now I have observed coves peddling these items on other Canarian beaches, and the trick is to have a act of some kind, with comical rhyming verse.

For instance, "Beer, Coca-Cola, Pineapple, Looky-Looky, Tutti-Fruiti"; whereby the sun-worshippers flock to you, brandishing the old dosh.

Cockney costermongers and barrow-boys were exceedingly artful in this regard and could have taught us a thing or two about marketing and salesmanship.

The desired result should prove to be most efficacious indeed, what?

By the way, the fellow atop with his bike and a load of bangles or necklaces is not self, in case you wondered.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Belfast Rapid Transit

Translink is the brand name of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCo), a public corporation in Northern Ireland which provides the public transport in the region.

NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro are all part of Translink, which is answerable to the Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland, Michelle McIlveen MLA.

I gather that the brand new, multi-million-pound Belfast Rapid Transit service is beginning in the next few years.

They have declared that passengers will be able to pay for their journeys in cash.

Frankly I think Translink needs to catch up with technological progress and enter the 21st century.

I'm very well aware that the transport system in Belfast is hardly comparable to that of the Metropolis, viz. Transport for London.

However, you cannot use cash to pay for your bus fare in London.

The ways to pay in London are as follows:
I have been present when a Belfast Metro bus has stopped at the Connswater Bridge Stop at Newtownards Road.

If there are several passengers, some pay in cash.

If they don't have the correct fare, it can take up to two or three minutes for the driver to deal with the transaction.

At the same time the bus is effectively blocking a vehicle lane and traffic flow is interrupted.

I am certainly not against Cash in principle; indeed it's essential for petty transactions every day.

However, my issue is one of efficiency.

If Translink, for whatever reason, refuses to embrace the cash-free method, at least an effective deterrent could be introduced.

For instance, if a passenger doesn't have the exact fare, no change will be given.

Does Translink employ a department to handle all the cash and coinage handled daily?

There's another saving for the taxpayer.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Avenida Restaurant

I made another trip to Corralejo yesterday afternoon.

Having strolled along the promenade walkway, I settled down on a comfortable chair at Cantante, a sort of wine-bar overlooking the sea.

There was a young lady singing and playing her guitar here.

At about six pm I arrived at one of my favourite places to eat in Corralejo, Avenida Restaurant.

This establishment never seems to change, nor do the staff, standards of service, and decor.

It's a fairly traditional Canarian or Spanish restaurant with sturdy, old, upright, wooden chairs and tables.

The staff are always attentive and courteous.

It's totally unpretentious, as is the menu, which is renowned for its half portions.

Always order a half portion here unless you happen to be ravenously hungry or capable of consuming gigantic helpings of their fresh seafood, beef, chicken and so on.

Their alioli is excellent and I always look forward to it with the fresh bread.

It's complimentary.

I ordered my usual escalope of breaded chicken, including thick chips and salad.

I've had this very simple dish on many occasions and it's a firm favourite.

I initiated a conversation with a lady seated behind me, and we subsequently chatted for a good half hour.

The bill for my half portion of chicken and a Beefeater and tonic came to €8.80.

I got the eight o'clock bus back to El Cotillo.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Castle Leslie


THE RIGHT REV JOHN LESLIEor LESLEY, Lord Bishop of Clogher, founder of the Glaslough branch of the Leslie family in Ireland, was the son of George Leslie, of Crichie, second son of Walter Leslie, of Wardis, Falconer to JAMES VI.

His lordship was born in northern Scotland, and educated first at Aberdeen and then at Oxford, of which he was Doctor of Divinity.
Of this distinguished divine, there is an interesting account in Sir James Ware's History of Ireland, edited by Harris. He was consecrated, in 1628, Bishop of the Isles in Scotland, whence he was translated to Raphoe in 1633, and thence translated to the see of Clogher, in 1661.

He died at Glaslough in 1671, aged 100 years, all but five weeks, leaving two sons, of whom John the elder, then 26 years of age, succeeded to the estate at his seat at Castle Leslie, otherwise Glaslough, in 1671.
The Bishop's second son and successor, 

THE REV CHARLES LESLIE (1650-1722), of Glaslough, County Monaghan, Chancellor of Connor Cathedral, 1686, who married Jane, daughter of the Very Rev Richard Griffith, Dean of Ross, and had an only child,

ROBERT LESLIE, of Glaslough, who wedded, in 1730, Frances, daughter of Stephen Ludlow, and had issue,
Mr Leslie died in 1743, and was succeeded by his son,

CHARLES POWELL LESLIE (c1738-1800), of Glaslough, MP for Hillsborough, 1771-6, County Monaghan, 1783-1800, who married firstly, in 1765, Prudence Penelope, daughter of Arthur, 1st Viscount Dungannon, and had issue,
John (Rt Rev), Lord Bishop of Elphin.
Mr Leslie wedded secondly, in 1785, Mary Anne, daughter of the Rev Joshua Tench, and had issue,
Edward (Rev);
Emily Jane; Harriet; Mary Anne; Isabella Frances.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES POWELL LESLIE JP (c1767-1831), Colonel, County Monaghan Militia, High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1788, MP for County Monaghan, 1801-26, New Ross, 1830-1, who espoused firstly, Anne, daughter of the Rev Dudley Charles Ryder, and had issue, three daughters.

He married secondly, in 1819, Christiana, daughter of George Fosbery, and had issue,
Charles Powell (1821-71);
JOHN, his heir;
Thomas Slingsby;
Prudentia Penelope; Christiana; Julia; Emily.
Colonel Leslie was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

JOHN LESLIE JP DL (1822-1916), of Glaslough, Captain, the Life Guards, MP for County Monaghan, 1871-80, and a noted painter.

Mr Leslie was created a baronet in 1876, denominated of Glaslough, County Monaghan.
The heir is the present holder's nephew, Shaun Rudolf Christopher Leslie (b 1947).
The heir's heir is his brother, (Christopher) Mark Leslie (b 1952).
The 2nd Baronet was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Monaghan, from 1921 until 1922.

CASTLE LESLIE, or Glaslough House, is adjacent to Glaslough, County Monaghan.

The castle is fashioned in the Scottish-Baronial style and was designed by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon in 1870 for Sir John Leslie, 1st Baronet, MP.

It is situated where an earlier castle stood and never had a defensive purpose.

The house presents a rather dour and austere façade and is sited in such a way so as to mask the gardens to an approaching visitor.

To the rear of the house the gardens are relieved by a Renaissance-style cloister which links the main house to a single storey wing containing the library and billiards-room.

In contrast to the exterior designed by W H Lynn, the interior shows the hands of Lanyon and John Leslie himself through its strong Italian Renaissance feel.

The estate has three lakes: the largest, Glaslough, shares its name with the local village; Kilvey Lake is to the north; and, finally, Dream Lake, which features a crannóg.

The 1,000-acre estate comprises park land, meandering streams and several forests.

The house remains the seat of the Leslies and is run by Samantha (Sammy) Leslie.

Other family members still assert their influence on the running of the estate through a family trust.

The estate is open to paying guests, who can stay in the former Hunting Lodge, the main house itself, the recently constructed traditional-style holiday cottages located in the village or the fully restored and refitted "Old Stable Mews".

While restoration of the house and grounds is ongoing, many new features have been added to the estate, including a spa, a bar and restaurant, and a cookery school.

A new pavilion, adjacent to the long gallery of the main house, facilitates conferences, weddings and other large events.

Work on restoring the walled garden is also continuing, though for now they remain overgrown and locked.

2004 saw the return to the estate of the Equestrian Centre and Hunting Lodge which had been sold out of the family twenty years previously.

The estate now features miles of new horse trails and jumps, a state-of-the-art indoor horse arena and new stabling.

Walkers are also catered for with many trails upgraded and clearly signposted, a new estate map being available from the Hunting lodge.

2005 saw five new sub-ground floor bedrooms being added to the castle, the Desmond Leslie room, the Agnes Bernelle Room, the Helen Strong Room, Sir Jack's Room and the only room in the castle not named after a family member, The Calm Room.

Castle Leslie hit the headlines in 2002 when Sir Paul McCartney married Heather Mills in the family church located on the estate.

In 2008, the castle was the venue of the launch of RAPID IRELAND (Rescue and Preparedness in Disasters, Ireland), a sister rescue charity to RAPID UK.

The event was hosted by Sir Jack and the Lord Oranmore and Browne, and attended by a number of ambassadors and dignitaries, including HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

Throughout the years many famous faces have frequented the house, including the poet WB Yeats, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Patrick Moore and the several members of the Churchill family (to whom the Leslies are related). 

The Leslie Papers are deposited at PRONI.

First published in April, 2012.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Harristown House


The family of La Touche was established in Ireland by

DAVID DIGUES DE LA TOUCHE (1671-1745), a Huguenot, who settled in that kingdom after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, having served first as volunteer, and afterwards as lieutenant and captain in Princess Anne's infantry regiment.

Mr La Touche was the fourth son of a noble Protestant family of the Blésois, which possessed considerable estates between Blois and Orléans, and in other parts of France.

He first fled to Holland, where a branch of his family had for some time been established, and shortly afterwards embarking with the Prince of Orange, served the Irish campaign under him.

At the conclusion of the war, Mr La Touche, like many of his countrymen, settled in Dublin.

He married twice: By his second wife he had no sons; by by the first, who he wedded in 1690, Judith, daughter of Noé Biard, and Judith Chevalier his wife, he had issue,
DAVID, his heir;
James Digges;
Jane; Judith.
Mr La Touche was succeeded in the bank which he had established in Dublin by his eldest son,

DAVID LA TOUCHE (1703-85), who had been educated in Holland with his relation, Digues de la Motte, at Rotterdam.

He espoused, in 1724-5, Mary Anne, daughter of Gabriel Canasille, and had issue,
Gabriel David, dsp;
DAVID (Rt Hon), of Marlay;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Peter, of Bellevue;
Mary Anne; Martha; Elizabeth; Judith.
Mr La Touche's second surviving son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE (1732-1810), of Harristown, MP for Newcastle, 1783-90, Newtownards, 1790-6, Harristown, 1797-1800, married, in 1765, Gertrude FitzGerald, daughter of Robert Uniacke, of County Cork, who took the name and arms of FITZGERALD, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
John, MP for County Leitrim;
Gertrude; Marianne.
The elder son,

ROBERT LA TOUCHE (1773-1844), of Harristown, MP for Harristown, 1794-1800, wedded, in 1810, the Lady Emily Le Poer Trench, youngest daughter of William, 1st Earl of Clancarty, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Anne; Gertrude; Emily.
Mr La Touche was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE JP DL (1814-1904), of Harristown, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1846, Leitrim, 1859, who married, in 1843, Maria, only child of Ross Lambart Price, of Cornwall, by his wife, Catherine, Dowager Countess of Desart, and had issue,
Emily Maria; Rose Lucy.
His eldest son,

ROBERT PERCY O'CONNOR LA TOUCHE JP (1846-1921), wedded, in 1870, The Lady Annette
Louise, second daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Clonmell, though the marriage was without issue, and he was succeeded by his sister,

EMILY MARIA LA TOUCHE (1846-68), who espoused, in 1865, Lieutenant-General the Hon Bernard Matthew Ward, son of 3rd Viscount Bangor.

HARRISTOWN HOUSE, near Brannockstown, County Kildare, was purchased by the La Touche family in 1768 and a spacious Georgian mansion was erected by Whitmore Davis in a dominant position overlooking the River Liffey.

The old house of three stories was destroyed in 1891 and a smaller two storey house sits well in its place.

The diocesan architect, James Franklin Fuller, oversaw the restoration of the house at the same time that he rebuilt the small parish church at the entrance to the estate.

The omission of the third storey allows for an unusual amount of light into the house through a cleverly constructed lantern light; thus the move from the airy and bright downstairs rooms is complemented by a rush of light from the upstairs hallway.

Another interesting feature is the tunnel that runs underground for some eighty yards from the stable yard into the basement.

Carnalway church is adjacent to the front entrance of the estate and Fuller rebuilt it in the Hiberno- Romanesque style similar to that of his masterpiece at Millicent.

The church also has stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sir Ninian Comper.

The La Touches were bankers, weavers and politicians.

The partners of La Touche Bank were the original stockholders of the Bank of Ireland, which opened for business in 1783.

The second generation of the La Touches in Ireland included John, who built Harristown House.

His descendants occupied the house until 1921.

The last John La Touche, of Harristown, died in 1904.

The estate was bought in 1946 by Major Michael Beaumont (father of the Lord Beaumont of Whitley), who set about restoring Harristown to its former glory.

They completely renovated the house and installed furniture and pictures from their former home, Wootton, in Buckinghamshire, the interior of which had been designed by Sir John Soane.

On the ground floor the ceilings stand eighteen feet high and the front hall is a magnificent double room off which open the three main reception rooms the library, drawing room and dining room.

However, the best kept secret of this house is the 16th Century Chinese Wallpaper in a sitting room leading off the drawing room which depicts birds in strong vibrant colours.

Among the other curiosities are an upstairs room finished in oak panelling taken from a Tudor house in England; and a set of French Empire pelmets.

Harristown Estate was for sale in 2016.

First published in February, 2012.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

El Roque

Five years ago I visited El Roque.

Perhaps I ought to revisit it.

I walked the shortish distance from El Cotillo to this tiny pueblo in 2011.

Having wandered round a bit, El Roque was eerily quiet, almost deserted in fact.

There was a very small shop.

Most properties were whitewashed walls; a few locals chatted to each other.

I photographed a picturesque little villa with a fruit and vegetable garden, including banana and lemon trees.

The bus stops here en route to El Cotillo and Corralejo.

First published in  March, 2011.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Punta Dell'Est Revisited

Yesterday was a scorcher in El Cotillo.

I spent a fair part of the day at the picturesque beach.

I don't bring the iPad with me; otherwise I'd take more photographs of the scenery and features.

Last night I revisited the little café on the outskirts of El Cotillo, Punta dell'est.

If you have been following my narrative, this modest little place is located at the very edge of the village, adjacent to the new bus station.

Scrubland and semi-desert lie to one side.

Virtually all the tables at Punta dell'est are outside.

Sand-coloured tiles cover the floor; bamboo fencing is here and there; flower-pots, little and large, placed strategically.

The tables are covered with red-and-white chequered plastic; the chairs are navy-blue plastic.

I was greeted cordially by the Italian chef-owner, who brought me a large Beefeater and tonic.

The amicable waitress brought me the very simple menu, hand-written on an A5 size sheet of paper.

The menu, comprising about ten items, varies daily.

The "black sepia ravioli, cherry tomatoes, and salmon" sounded interesting, so I ordered that.

It arrived shortly thereafter.

Sliced bread and a dish of ready-grated Parmesan cheese had been laid on my table.

The portions here are not massive, though perfectly adequate.

Without wishing to be critical at all, I think I'd have served the ravioli with more sauce; though it was simple and satisfying.

A side salad would not have gone amiss, either; though restaurants don't seem to bother serving salad garnishes in El Cotillo, in my experience.

Canela Cafè, Lajares, served abundant salad with their grub, though.

I had room for pudding, so was apprised that a ricotta and pear tart had been prepared.

I made the correct choice: it was good, light, and easily digestible.

As usual, I was offered a shot of caramel-flavoured vodka before ambling back to Ferret's for a glass of port.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Ode to Belmont

My good pal and fellow member of the OC Sports Club, viz. NCS, alias the Bard of Schomberg, has composed an ode specially dedicated to self:-


I was disheartened this evening to see, 
That to your ‘blog’ was missing,
The latest culinary exploit.  
Oh did one with habitual fever wait.

Even as the sun set its head,
Even at the strikes of the midnight hour, 
Nothing had materialised.

Thence I stumbled upon your ‘twitter.’  
I saw before my eyes the most wonderful vista:
Of decadent banana tart and fillet steak, 
And sadness turned to joy.

Jolly fine stuff here from Schomberg and not one penny exchanged hands, either.

El Callao

At the New Harbour in El Cotillo there's an expansive terrace below La Vaca Azul restaurant.

When the tides aren't too high, another restaurant called El Callao places tables and chairs in a corner of this substantial terrace.

They serve tapas and drinks here during the day.

Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a large Tanqueray and tonic at one of these tables (a bargain at €5) and admired my surroundings, including the spectacular view of the sea.

I hadn't eaten at El Callao, so last night I ambled down the narrow little street, Calle Requena, and darkened their threshold for the very first time.

I was early; too early, in fact, though I selected a prime table at the window.

El Callao, like other similar restaurants, is overshadowed by La Vaca Azul and La Marisma, which always seem to be busy.

Their reputation precedes them, I suppose.

I really must pay a little more attention to the decor in these places.

Here it was black and white, modern, clean. If and when I return I'll spend more time studying it.

I ordered an abstemious tonic-water with ice and a slice of lemon.

The menu is lengthy.

I hadn't consumed beef for more than a week, so treated myself to the solomillo Roquefort, a fillet steak served with little chips and carrot in a rich Roquefort sauce.

By the way, I complimented them on their very strong alioli, which I had with a crusty, granary roll.

I requested my steak to be cooked medium, though it came rare. Happily I'm not terribly fussy about this and, since the beef was very lean, I attached the trusty nose-bag and got down to work.

The puddings were written in chalk on a blackboard.

The pretty little waitress explained them all to me and I ordered the Tarta de Platana.

This turned out to be what I'd call banoffee pie.

It was served on an oblong stone platter, with squeezy cream and some sort of dark syrup drizzled at the side.

It was really rather good and tasty: not too heavy or stodgy.

The bill came to €21.80.

Thereafter I removed to Ferret's for a glass of port and the company of the resident cats.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

La Marisma

La Marisma restaurant is merely a few minutes' walk from my hotel; almost literally round the corner, in fact.

It is directly above the rocky shore at El Cotillo; and when I arrived the waves were pounding the rocks.

The sun shone, so I sat outside on the little terrace and watched the spectacular view.

I ordered a freshly-squeezed orange juice, Gussie Fink-Nottle's favourite beverage, for those of you familiar with Bertie Wooster's pals.

The cheerful waiter laid my table with a clean cloth and I had a look at the menu.

An appetiser arrived, served in a mussel shell.

I'm unfamiliar with mussels, though I assume it was some sort of mussel cocktail mixture, with a fine salad.

This was accompanied by a fresh bread roll and alioli.

Ten minutes later my garlic prawns appeared, sizzling; so hot, in fact, that I had to blow the first few forkfuls.

The couple beside me were getting stuck in to a traditional paella.

My main course comprised chicken rolled around large King prawns.

There were three of these, with small chips, rice, and vegetables, in a blue cheese sauce.

I'd say that the helpings at La Marisma are on the generous side.

Suffice it to say that I could not finish the meal (a matter of some irritation to me since I do not like to waste food).

Nevertheless I brought the remaining chicken roll with me in a serviette for a black cat near the hotel.

I found the service fairly good, after a slow start.

The bill amounted to about €26, including the tip.

Tostadas con Tomate

I breakfast at El Goloso at eight o'clock most days.

Everything is fresh, including the rustic baguettes, rolls, bocadillos, croissants, pastries, tartlets and cakes.

I sit and observe, so this morning I'd had the tostadas con tomate, with olive oil.

The tomatoes are obviously pulped in a processor, to the consistency of a sauce.

One is given a small bowl of this pulped tomato, a teaspoon, a sachet of olive oil, salt, and two slices of fresh crusty bread.

I had a large glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice.

All this for the princely sum of €4.25.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sleepy Cotillo

By Jove, El Cotillo is quiet at night!

It remains a fairly unspoilt little fishing village on the north-west coast of the Canarian island of Fuerteventura.

Believe me, readers, I amble about, hither and thither, to a reasonable extent; and have yet to find a racy or loud establishment of any kind.

I must try harder.

Tonight I might wander over to the Cotillo Beach Hotel and see what's happening there.

I'll ask the beautiful Austrian girl who works part-time at my hotel where the night-life is.

Notwithstanding this little observation and thought, I revisited the beach café bar, Bagus, last night for their Sweet Rice.

If you study the map, Bagus is located at Calle La Gomera.

This dish comprises rice, squid, prawns, mascarpone and Parmesan cheese.

It was tasty, I must say, though there were a few tentacles lurking amongst the other ingredients.

This, and a glass of mango juice, set me back about €14.

Thereafter I retired to Ferret's bar for a glass of port.

I had the tentacles in a serviette, so my feline pal eventually got stuck into that. Eventually and not with great enthusiasm, I noted.

It's good to have the iPad and wifi.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bar Café Central

At this time of year it's still cool at sunrise and sunset, aggravated by the wind chill.

Although I haven't worn long trousers since I arrived, I'm glad I brought a thermal best and V-neck sweater.

The centre of El Cotillo has a little bay, almost a cove, where the Atlantic Ocean meets land.

I expect it's a mere eight or ten feet above sea level here, where the Bar Café Central stands, on a slight gradient.

There is a maritime sculpture here, made in 2002, of two fishermen pushing a rowing-boat.

La Vaca Azul, a well-known local restaurant, perches on a rock at the bay, where there a broad, expansive terrace adjoins the quay.

I sat down at the Bar Central and ordered garlic prawns and little Cararian potatoes from the blackboard menu.

I'm wary of the fresh fish, exceedingly good as it likely is, because I have a preference for fish served skinless and, especially, boneless.

It is customary to serve fresh fish here on the bone.

This is predominantly a tapas menu, so I suggest it's a good place to eat at, if you want to try local cuisine.

They have octopus, squid, mussels, and more.

A basket arrived with a fresh crusty roll, alioli and a red, hot, fiery chilli sauce of some sort.

I'm glad I ordered what I did, because I'm reliably informed that two portions of tapas at Bar Central are adequate for most appetites.

The prawns cost €10 and the baby potatoes, €5.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Punta Dell'Est

I fancied some fresh pasta last night and had read about a bistro-café, on the ouskirts of El Cotillo, which serves Italian food.

It took me less than eight minutes to walk from my side of the village to the other, where Punta Dell'Est is located.

It overlooks the wasteland or semi-desert to one side; and the main bus station straight ahead.

When I arrived, after 6pm, there were no customers there other than a few locals chatting at a table outside.

I wandered in and the chef-owner and waitress (wife?) were behind the counter.

They greeted me and I inquired if they were open (they seem to close at 7pm during the week and 9pm weekends).

Affirmative; so I installed myself at an outside table, read the small, handwritten menu, asked for the wifi password, and generally made myself at home.

I ordered a restorative and, after some deliberation, decided upon the Caramelle pasta with cheese and pear mascarpone in a gorganzola sauce.

The waitress brought me some crusty bread and grated Parmesan cheese.

I'm confident that my dish was freshly prepared, though I don't know whether the pasta was made in advance or not. It tasted very fresh to me.

Chef introduced himself to me afterwards, given that I had complimented them on the meal, and apprised me that cooking pasta was his hobby.

He was a cheerful, jolly, bearded, large kind of fellow, a fortunate circumstance for his patrons.

Needless to say, the pasta was sumptuous, especially given the price, €10; and the G&T, €4.

I look forward to revisiting Punta Dell'Est.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Café Condensado

I'm not a coffee snob.

At Belmont GHQ tea is normally consumed.

However, I find it logistically easier and simpler to drink coffee abroad, if I'm making it myself.

My hotel bedroom has a kettle, so I popped over to the supermarket, bought a small jar of coffee (Nescafé Classic is infinitely superior to the version at home in the UK).

I also purchased a bottle of leche condensada, which substitutes for milk and sugar.

It gives the coffee a sweet, creamy flavour, which suits me.

Bagus Revisited

My plan last night was foiled.

The intention had been to dine at El Mentidero, a very small café in the centre of El Cotillo; though I was eventually to discover that it's a daytime café; as is Puerto Dulce.

These are both well rated establishments; however, El Mentidero opens from 8am till 4pm.

Puerto Dulce is open from 10am until 6pm.

I usually prefer to dine later than his, so I ended up revisiting Bagus.

I wasn't disappointed.

This evening I had The Winderness hamburger, a meaty pattie with plenty of mushrooms, tomato, cheese and lettuce.

There was a garnish of skinny chips, home-made though a bit greasy.

By Jove, I could show them how to make great, British, chunky, triple-cooked chips: crunchy and dry on the exterior; meltingly soft inside.

The bill was cheaper than last night: €8.20 for the burger; a few euros for the mango juice.

Thereafter I removed to Ferret's bar for a tangy Mojito.

They have two resident cats, both of which seem to dislike each other.

This is hardly surprising, for, unless cats are closely related - offspring, siblings - they tend merely to tolerate their peers.