Caraminal 42:37' N 008:55.5W

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Mon 11 Aug 2014 11:00
Dear Family and Friends,

Caraminal has been misty and wet for much of our stay, when the sun finally came out in ernest today, as we were leaving, we can see that it has a lovely setting against the mountains!

Arriving on Friday evening with an invite to American co ralliers, Ed and Sue’s boat we had a lovely evening with them, followed on Saturday by an excellent pontoon party where the evening sun just managed to put in a brief appearance. With nearly 40 people on the pontoon it was sagging a little, but we had a lovely evening. I am truly amazed, our co ralliers have led awesome lives and their talents enviable. We have a strong presence from Ireland with wonderful lyrical Irish ballads and popular music hall songs to entertain and bind us into the group.

Sunday, dismal, and something of a hangover! We had an early coach to the Monastery De Santa Maria De Armenteira, started in 1168, it was closed in the 19th century in a late form of reformation. With local dedication it was restored and is now a convent for just 8 nuns. Peaceful and austere, its mountain setting beautiful but for the mist again. The countryside we passed through was forested mountain slopes, (pine, eucalyptus, bracken and heather,) or villages and a patchwork of irregular fields. Their main crops are corn and grapes, with the appearance of strip farming and odd shaped fallow areas. Frequently in villages there would be a strip of land between 2 houses about one and a half car widths growing corn, and many parcels of land around the houses growing vegetables. It is interesting that this is reasonably common in the countryside, for villagers to have some self sufficiency, of course with town apartments not so. A contrast in lifestyles akin perhaps to England during and just after WW2, but warmer with grapes!

Our next stop took us to the old part of Fefinanes, to the palace built by its founders Gonzalo de Valladares and his wife, who didn’t talk to each other! Their mausoleums in the church adjoining the palace square, are on opposite sides of the church, unresolved in death as in life. Alberto our rally organiser is a personal friend of the present owners and we were treated to a private tour of the apartments, followed by a tour of the courtyard, private bridge to their garden, the vineyard, fermentation vats and distillery and we just had time for a wine tasting before leaving seriously late for our light lunch. Spanish time is very relaxed but we were all starving!

The restaurant closed to others especially for us was set in an ancient estate with extensive vines, old timber presses and courtyard buildings in which we had our food. The light lunch turned out to be a feast washed down with white Albarino wine of the region, delicious. Now the mussels are extensively farmed in the nearby Rias, and are fat and almost sweet, well worth a try if you come this way. We were also served large flattish pies filled with a scallops and saffron or a white fish with something like cumin and raisins, again delicious. The pastry is a curious cross between something made with self raising flour and a bread base, its certainly not like shortcrust or puff paste. They also do a sweet rich Danish style plait with a ground almond and walnut filling with almost maple and cinnamon flavours, now this is to die for!

Feeling replete and relaxed, the Irish crooners broke into song again, we all joined in badly, (well personally anyway,) and stirred the Spanish into singing Spanish songs, it was magical and our 89 year old host had to nudged by his son into sending us home. Alan went off to buy some local wine, 2 bottles and came back with 6, not sure his Spanish isn’t a little rusty.

The other curious thing about the ports we have visited is that we let off firework bangers, several consecutively, during the day, usually from the sea wall. At first we thought perhaps this was time related but no just as you think you have an idea it all happens at a different time, last night we had a barage for 15 minutes or so. We now think its to do with celebrating local fetes for the saints, but who needs an excuse!

Just as we learned from our fellow geologist that the granite in Galicia is the same as that in Brittany and Cornwall, formed some 290 million years ago and split apart by the Alpine folding movements around 120 million years ago, these areas also share Celtic culture and histories. The Galician bagpipes are a notable feature of the many celebrations at this time of year, best heard in parades and at a distance!

As I write we are enroute to Muros, the wind has died and we are motoring again. I am trying out new skills with the chart plotter, marking up our route, ensuring we stay clear of the many rocks on our way. I think its time for lunch…… Local cured ham, fresh baguette, baby elvers and local cheese…… catch you at the next update….

All our best to you, Lynne, Alan and Derek