El Corro, San Vincente de la Barquera, Cantabria.
my birthday. Not that I really noticed until abour 5pm. But anyway.
Odd day. I was in a funk, the darkness had descended. I left
Santander, my knee was being difficult, it was drizzling and the walk
out of the city was a bleak landsacpe. All the shit is pushed to the
sides to make certain places appear pleasant. When you walk through
everything you get to see where they moved the shit to.
is taking its toll a little, I suppose it had to, I was waiting for
it. I’m a very social person, but I like my alone time. I had this
idea of enforced solitude, which this sort of is, and I didn’t know
what it would bring me other than time to think and time to figure
out what my next steps would be. I think the problem here is that I
didn’t need this much time and now I’m ready to get on with the
gameplan. Also, all of this walking is actually leaving me no time or
eneergy to read and write which are two of the things I was most
looking forward to doing. I, wrongly, thought that I’d walk for 4 or
5 hours, have a nap, write for a few hours, read and then have some
ham. The walking is upwards of six hours, sometimes closer to ten and
then I have nothing in the tank.
I walked through the bleak surroundings of Santander. Anyone who
thinks Spain is all castles and beaches just needs to spend some
time- I walked through a prefab housing complex that looked like it
was built by a Russian from the 1950’s who was distinctly lacking in
imagination and had a penchant for shades of grey. And it was a gated
community. That came after three hours of shit and just generally
wondering why I’m walking around like a donkey without a purpose.
Then there was a fucking sign that belied all other signs and told me
I was 11kms from Arce which I knew was only 7kms from where I was
15kms ago. Seriously, this shit is fucked up. They need cartographers
over here and people with things that can measure things with a
degree of accuracy.
I reached a point and I got on a train that took me to a beautiful
beach town. Stunning in fact. And it’s my birthday, so fuck all the
rules. Whose rules are they anyway? I had tremendous local cider, the
best razor clams, sardines, mussels, ‘brave’ potatoes and wine and
watched football and now I’m in a pink bedroom- that is really
creepy- drying my handwashed underwear on the radiator. I’ll fill in
the blanks tomorrow- it’s not everyday you turn 39 and I have a a
book to read people!
El Corro, San Vincente de la Barquera, Cantabria.
like a baby. This creepy room certainly lends itself to having a good
old snooze. It’s bright pink with dark wood panelling, there’s a
picture of red and pint plowers, another one of two cherubs- the one
where they’re sort’ve leaning on their arms thinking or being bored
and an emroidered ‘Welcome’ picture. Which reminds me- in the place I
stayed yesterday, the guys office/man cave was covered wall to wall
in emroideries of famous paintings- the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s
Sunflowers, a Monet, the one of the old man with the pipe- which I
think is also Van Gogh. And the bed sheets are frilly and pink and
peach, there’re white lacey curtains both at the window and at an
archway that brings you to the en suite bathroom. All nice and
at the train station, I just decided to head south-west, given that
the only other choice was back to where I came from. The train went
through Torrelavega, which I’d stayed in 19 or 20 years ago when I
had a Spanish girlfriend. Going through it on the train I realised it
is one of the grimmest looking place one can imagine. Maybe I was so
used to the bleakness of life in my late teens that I didn’t even
tried to google Sara Gonzalez Pinto the night before- there was
nothing. I’d considered going into town and asking around, to see if
anyone knew anything of her. That would be ridiculous, but is perhaps
something that I should’ve done just out of curiosity. I tried to
remember what she was like an what we talked about but I could
remember close to nothing. Perhaps, she just viewed me as an escape
from the life she had built up around her- which is precisely how I
saw her when I think bout it.
thinking about all of that and it being my birthday definitely gave
me a sense of time passing, which left me feeling dark and broody but
also knowing that I’m ridiculous and that new chapters await.
chattd to the train conductor for a bit becasue I had to change
trains and he was telling me when the next one was and that I had
some time between them and should grab a coffee in between. He was
properly hammered, he’d tucked into something that afternoon or had
kept a buzz going since the morning. And why not? It’s Spain.
change trains and have a coffee as suggested by my friend. The bar
has a TV on playing some awful concert. A forty year old man with a
goatee, a pony-tail and chest hair exposed is singing a duet with a
blonde woman with tiny eyes and big cheeks. He sings in the most
typically bad Latin way that one could envisage and then when she
chips in it’s squeaky and irritating. I finish my coffee and go and
wait in the station.
arrive in San Vincente. The station isn’t even a station, it’s just a
platform with a sign. I’m the only person who gets off the train. I
walk in the same direction as the train, seeing no real sign of life.
I pas a barn and I can hear a cow giving birth- it is the deepest,
loudest most intense of mooings. It’s actually a little scary, but
I’m a tad jumpy after my second coffee of the day. I walk a bit
further and inexplicably there’s a car mechanics. He tells me the
town centre is a few kms down the road. It is. A beautiful town
bisected by a river which itself splits into two and stretching
inland to create a kind of marsh or wetland. I go to the tourist
office. She directs me to the albergue. It’s closed for the season. I
go back to the tourist office. She gives me a list of Pension’s, I go
to the closest one.
the first bar, I drink a small beer and listen to them play “Pretty
Fly For a White Guy,” which eerily I remember hearing in Spain 20
years ago. I walk acros the street to a place offering local cider. I
get a litre bottle. The guy pours it with the bottle above his head
and the glass down by his hips. He does this for everyone and does it
in small amounts every time you drink from the glass. The clams are
wiggling on the bar, dancing a little and so I order some. They are
grilled, with nothing on them. They are fucking delicious. Sardines
are the same. As are the mussels.
squashy woman orders a glass of rose, she adds a splash of water. She
stands near to me, she smells stale. She calls the bartender ‘primo’
and banters for a moment before finishing her wine and heading out
through the back door.
totilla sandwich, banana, apple, 2 coffees, 3 squares of chocolate
that tastes like hay, raisins, litre of cider, 2 glasses of good red
wine, 1 beer, 3 litres of water.
Just my knee and the depths of my psyche.
BBC Football, Richard Herring with Stewart Lee
Quite a few alsatians, one crazy looking fucker, lots of little
fuckers, the usual, really.