Our day out in the campo

I don’t know how common it is in other parts of Spain, but we have noticed that many Jumillanos who live in town during the week will retreat to their home in the campo most weekends and especially during the summer months.  Many of our younger friends have parents or grandparents who own a property in the countryside, others will buy (or maybe inherit) an older property and do it up gradually.  Most of these second residences are located only a few kilometres outside Jumilla, some of them in pueblos such as Fuente del Pino or Torre del Rico.

Our good friends Juana María and Salvador share a small country property with Salvador’s sister Belen and her husband Pablo, and have kindly invited us to spend the afternoon there on several occasions.  On Sunday they invited our English friends John and Lesley to come along as well, so Lesley unselfishly offered to be the chauffeuse, allowing her grateful husband John to enjoy a few glasses of vino tinto.   

The bungalow is well off the beaten track - take a right turn off the main road, then left onto a bumpy road, right again onto a dirt track and you will see it just past the peach trees on the right.  Last time we visited we saw the owner of the peach trees, who told us to help ourselves.  Needless to say we didn’t hesitate!

Although the house is tiny, with just one main room and a bathroom, it has all the necessities to enjoy a summer day in the countryside: barbeque, swimming pool and tennis courts.  Lesley and I have vowed to take tennis racquets the next time we get invited there, although on Sunday it would have been too hot for even a gentle game of tennis.

We had time to have a leisurely swim (paddle, in my case) and lounge around before lunch.  Our dog Lisa had been invited, but she gave the swimming pool a wide berth, preferring to roll about in the grass and chase a few flies.

A lazy sunny Sunday afternoon

As I am a difficult guest (I don’t eat any meat plus I won’t touch tomatoes), I always take something suitable for me  to eat, just in case.  However Juana María is a very good friend and she always remembers my dietary fads: the tomatoes were on a separate plate, plus there was plenty of non-meaty food to suit me. 

The table was set out with lots of different dishes as aperitivos: local empanadas (with tuna but without tomato!); nuts and dried fish; cheese on tostados; tomatoes; stuffed peppers; smoked salmon on bread.  The two Spanish men had been busy outside dealing with the barbeque (yes, it’s very much a male thing, even in Spain!), so a huge platter of meat appeared, however they had thoughtfully grilled swordfish separately for me.  We than had the most delicious fresh sardines that I have ever tasted: Lesley and I both had one then grabbed another one before they all went! 

This was followed by fresh melon and watermelon, plus local pastries.  John and I had brought some chocolate truffles from Mercadona, which went down well with the coffee and brandy.  This type of feast isn’t unusual in Spain, as we have experienced it before when invited over to our neighbour’s apartment for lunch.  No wonder the traditional siesta is still observed here!

Another necessity in Spain, even if it’s only a weekend pad, is a TV to watch sport.  John and I had been wondering if it would be bad-mannered to mention the Tour de France and Formula One, however we didn’t have to worry, as Salvador turned the TV on.  We tried not to look too pleased when Mark Cavendish won the green jersey and the Australian Cadel Evans won the Tour, with Spain’s Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez down in 5th and 6th places.  However then Lewis Hamilton beat Spain’s Fernando Alonso – all I can say is that it’s lucky that we are all good friends!

That was Sunday lunch Spanish-style – so although we had plenty of food at home, we didn’t need anything else to eat that day.  It makes you wonder why more Spanish señoras aren’t overweight, though that may be down to another Spanish tradition: in the mornings they are all busy sweeping and mopping their floors, then throwing the water into the street, whenever we go out to the shops or for coffee.

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