With Freedom Day in England came the rule change that made flying home a possibility once more.
Finally, thanks to the understanding of my lovely boss, I landed in Alicante for a month of working and living in Arenales del Sol, a residential area on the coast.
Loved by many tourists, Alicante and its coastal towns and villages are one of the most popular summer destinations for the British and many others. For me, nearby Elche is my hometown, where the love for the sea started and where I spent all my summers during childhood.
Early morning walks by the beach are an invigorating and inspirational way to start the day. It helps me focus on what is important and on how to achieve it, translating this into my daily routine. I start work full of energy.
In the past year we have all been reminded and encouraged to focus on our ‘mental health’. Now more than ever we have understood how mental health has an impact on our physical health. Recently seen in the Tokyo Olympics where it has taken centre stage.
Simon Biles said,
"My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win”
If you would like to find out more about the impact of blue spaces in mental health. And the sea and health benefits, please read this very interesting article
A successful conservation project ‘Protected Dunes’
The early morning walks along the beach had also brought some exciting findings too, with a new signpost advising visitors of some very welcome animals, it suggests that you might find the tracks of sea turtles! Wow, I did not expect that!
Great news, as it’s seen as a sign of recovery and proof that marine conservation projects do work.
The council and the community are working towards one goal, to keep the beaches free of rubbish.
The beaches of Arenales del Sol are enjoyed by hundreds of people every day.
Every morning the council and the community make a great effort to remove rubbish left behind by tourists and rubbish washed out by the sea, such as broken lobsters baskets, as seen in this picture, pieces of damaged fishing nets, and many other items.
In the UK, you can take part too, we all can.
Every September thousands of people take part in an event the Marine Conservation Society organises; the Great British Beach Clean, between 17th September - Sunday 26th September.
A visit to the local food market by the sea, a must
Another walk, a late afternoon one.
A local food market run by local growers, which opens at 7pm, yes, in the evening. As the sun is starting to set and the heat starts to fade, by only a few degrees though but oh my it makes a big difference, the most tasty salted fish is sold.
Known by us locals as ‘bonito de Barca’, caught in La Almadraba from Cadiz’, in this semi-captive fishing system, bonitos are only fed with the best fish around, hence their amazing flavour. Cleaned and opened, according to the fish seller, at the very moment these are caught, right on the boat.
The interesting bags of ‘crisps’ in the photo are actually made from cod skins. The meaty salted cod loins are amazing if cooked in tomato and pepper sauce, the tomatoes and peppers bought here too, of course.
Most of these stalls are run by local growers, passionate about their product which they still grow and sell traditionally to make a living.
I love to talk to them, they will happily tell you the stories behind some of their produce, such as the oldest seed stocks they have to grow a certain type of tomato or cucumber. They are proud of the products and happy for you to taste it and decide by yourself if it’s right for you.
Nut stalls, olive stalls, cheese stalls, they’ll invite you and your family to come and see how they produce their fresh milk and the 3 cheeses they produce from the milk of a herd of 100 cows. ‘Bring the kids’, they say, they’ll love to see the cows.
If you visit, bring a big bag, you always end up carrying too much!
A visit to a very local island, Tabarca, a Marine Reserve
Only a 25 minutes boat trip away you can find yourself immersed in a small island called Tabarca.
Tabarca (also called Flat Island) is the only inhabited island of the Valencian Community and at present, 59 people live there. Known by the locals for its marine reserve. No cars, not even roads!
Small catamaran ferries arrive here every minute during a rather different sort of morning rush hour. Tourists arriving here in hundreds, it has perhaps become a bit too much for such a small island, 0.3km in size. It is indeed tiny but full of restaurants all within a very short walk from one of the many sand and pebble beaches. The most amazing parts are those slightly less visited by tourists where you can just jump in and snorkel your way around.
But if you come, you must try their fish stew, known as ‘el caldero de Tabarca’ . Presented in two courses: first the rockfish, simmered with potatoes in a rich fish stock; then the Arroz (rice cooked like a paella) in the same stock, with a powerful allioli (garlic mayonnaise) on the side.
As far back as I can remember my parents would bring us all to the island at least once during the summer holiday, our summer family trip. One of my most powerful memories from this place were the sea urchins, you will certainly remember stepping on one. Ouch!
As always, I had a great time and I will come back very soon to my dearest piece of the Mediterranean Sea. Next time with a regulator and scuba tank, I can’t wait to see those turtles! And I can’t wait to taste this menu again soon!