Roses beach

Our second day on the Costa Brava was spent in Roses up at the other end of the bay where L’Estartit sits at the bottom. It took a good hour on a minibus to get there but it was well worth the drive.

Roses sandcastle

We arrived at around 10 am and the lovely lady from Burricleta was waiting for us. The plan was to sightsee on a bicycle. An electric bike which I had never tried before.

Burricleta Roses Costa Brava

We were told that children had to be over 8 to ride alone and this caused a few tears from our mini cyclists to begin with BUT I am so pleased we managed to convince them to sit with us as they would have never made the long hour and a half round trip on their own.

Burricleta Roses national park

 

I must say once you get used to how to use the electric bike it is the most amazing experience and one we will most definitely repeat if we see it elsewhere. It is very simple to use and because it is electric you don’t exhaust yourself but are able to take in the surroundings and Roses is truly beautiful to see.

Our lovely guide took us along Roses seafront which you can see in the top photo, she cut through the town and then took us for a wonderful journey through the natural park that lays outside the town.

Bessie Costa brava Roses

 

It was beautiful. Quiet, calm with wonderful fresh air to fill your lungs with.

Roses - me and Bessie

Once we had completed the park tour we then rode through the elite part of Roses. An absolutely amazing area with huge colourful villas lining the canals that stretch in from the sea, each villa with it’s own swimming pool (obvs) plus landing stage for their boat at the bottom of the garden. We saw a yacht go by as we stood on a bridge to take the view in. Take a look at our view from the bridge

Upstream – I am in love with those villas.

Roses Costa Brava

and downstream with a yacht coming our way. I’m so sad the weather had turned on us and the photos look a bit dull as I promise you it is a stunning view.

Roses waterways

We rode our way back to the beach and followed a path all the way back to where we had started.

Thank you Roses Burricleta for your time and such an amazing trip. I wish I had a Go Pro to show the readers just how beautiful our trip was, in fact I must invest in one soon.

Roses beach

Back at the beachfront, the weather was turning and everyone was hungry, Visit Roses had booked us a meal at one of the town’s many restaurants L’Entrecot and as we turned up we saw the paella finishing off on the terrace – what a welcome!

L'Entrecot Roses, Costa Brava

 

The starter was a buffet of amazing tapas to choose from, there was something for everyone and I couldn’t resist but take a spoonful of my favourites to try and the main of course had to be the fresh paella it was worth it.

Roses Costa Brava

After lunch we had to make our way back to Barcelona for our flight home but I left my heart on the Costa Brava and husband, ever since he’s been back, has been dreaming of moving there once he retires … he’s even been on the property websites. I daren’t remind him how many years he has yet to go. But a villa with a staircase like this? Yes please!

Roses staircase

 

 

Alice and Bessie in roses Costa Brava

Disclosure: We were guests of the Catalan Tourist Board for this trip and we would like to thank Burricleta Roses for taking the time to show us around and Visit Roses for such a delicious lunch.

sunset Costa brava

As promised here’s the second part of our weekend on the Costa Brava at the end of September.  Our tale of L’Estartit was only the start!

This time I’m taking you to a place of great beauty, a place that as I stepped off the coach I was captivated by the countryside around me, the vineyards line upon line stretching out into the distance, the sun setting  over the Pyrenees in the distance and the sense that I had arrived somewhere special. I grabbed my camera and wanted to snatch a few photos before our evening’s cooking demonstration.

La Vinyetta Costa Brava

We were led down to a small house in the midst of the vines and inside Jordi and Anna from I Cook It were waiting for us, Jordi was going to get us to cook our dinner in true Catalan style. A table of bites was prepared including the ‘Pa amb Tomàquet’ or Bread and tomato which is so easy to prepare.

Pa amb tomàquet

  1. Cut a tomato in half and rub the flesh over the bread hard, pressing the pulp into the bread
  2. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and eat.

DELICIOUS!

I cook it La Vinyetta

I offered my services for the making of the utterly delicious Gazpacho which always reminds me of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 comedy Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown. Do you think I could remember the name of the film that evening? No but how could I forget when it was the film that started Antonio Banderas’ career? Anyway back to Gazpacho but do look out that film it’s really good.

Gazpacho for 4

1 kilo plum tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1 small green pepper
1 small cucumber
1 small cup olive oil
2 dessert spoons vinegar
200g bread (yesterdays if possible)
  1. Put the tomatoes, onion, pepper, cucumber, vinegar, oil and bread in a liquidiser. If you want to dilute it add a glass of water, you can also add fresh garlic to the mix for a tangy taste.
  2. Serve in glasses as shown below or in bowls with portions of extra diced tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and croutons so people can add as they prefer.

Gazpacho I cook It

 

I cook it Marianne

Dad offered his help towards making the Surf and turf Catalan paella, the girls stepped in to help with the stirring. Dad was so impressed with his handywork he made another when we got back to England.

Surf and Turf Catalan Paella for 4

360g bomba rice (I found paella rice)
750ml of of fish stock and 750ml chicken stock
4 king prawns, 4 mussels, 4 clams 2 small cuttlefish
50g pork ribs + 50g chicken + 50g little sausages
2 onions
400 gr tomatoes
1 green pepper
some vegetables – can include asparagus, peas, saffron and so on.
  1. Stir fry the cuttlefish and add the meat in bite size pieces in a pan with olive oil.
  2. Add 1/2 inch of oil to a pan or casserole and heat well. Add the onions, reduce the heat and cook until softened stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions are golden brown adding a little water if necessary. Don’t let the onions burn.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mix well cooking until all the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes start to ‘melt’ into the onions.
  4. Add the meat, cuttlefish and rice and stir well.
  5. Add both stocks and cook on a medium heat taking care to stir as little as possible. Add stock as necessary to make sure the rice is covered. Add any vegetables you wish to include.
  6. After 10 minutes add all the seafood and cook the rice for another 6 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat, wait 2 minutes and then serve.

I cook it, all cooking

 Crema Catalana for 4

1 litre of milk
200g sugar
8 egg yolks
45g corn flour
1 stick of cinnamon
1 lemon peel
  1. Bring to the boil the milk, cinnamon and lemon peel.
  2. In a bowl beat the eggs, cornstarch and 3/4 cup of sugar until thoroughly blended.
  3. Add the milk and mix until frothy.
  4. Gently heat the liquid stirring continuously until thickened. Remove pot from the heat immediately.
  5. Ladle the milk mixture into 4 – 6 ramekins. Allow to cool then refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top of each dessert and burn with a torch or broiler.

Disclosure: We were invited, as a family, to spend a weekend on the Costa Brava by the Catalan Tourist Board, all expenses were paid and we’d like to thank them for a wonderful experience. All recipes above were kindly handed out by I Cook It.

Costa Brava L'Estartit

Dad has been very busy on the computer of an evening recently, he’s been scouring the northern Spanish coast for 5 star campsites dreaming up our next summer holiday on the Costa Brava. You see we recently spent a weekend on the Costa Brava thanks to Catalan Tourist Board who invited us over for a taster weekend and we all loved it so much we want to return as soon as possible.

L’Estartit – Costa Brava

When we awoke on Saturday morning the sun was shining brightly in a spotless blue sky and held many promises of fun, warmth and beauty, we weren’t let down. Our home for the weekend was Hotel Medes, a lovely family run hotel very close to the sea which takes its name from the Islands of Medes which sit opposite L’Estartit. It was central enough to allow us to walk along the coast to the port passing a lovely market as we made our way.

Costa Brava L'Estartit market

Our morning activity was to sail across the calm seas on board El Corsari Negre to celebrate the Pirates and Corsairs in Medes Festival.

Costa Brava Iles des Medes

You see many many years ago L’Estartit was attacked from the sea by pirates from Africa, the locals had to hide in the towers of their homes and the stories are re told over and over in the town.

Costa Brava Iles des Medes

 

In fact the weekend of 27th September is the only time of the year anyone is allowed to land on the Iles des Medes and walk to the top or explore. It is a natural Park and source of much pride for the locals.

Costa Brava Iles des Medes

It is stunningly beautiful. Here you can see L”Estartit in the background.

Costa Brava Pirates

It is a hugely popular area for scuba diving too and has recently been featured in a UK Scuba Diving magazine. These shots make me want to have a go at scuba diving again

Costa Brava Scuba Diving

It was fun to see the town decked out for the festivities, there were signs of pirates everywhere, perfect for firing up the imagination of the little people. The L’Estartit tourist board had many activities planned, pirate shows in the town square, music, fireworks and craft and it was lovely to see everyone dressing up in the finest pirate gear to take part in this family festival.

Costa Brava L'Estartit pirates

We had a delicious lunch in La Gaviota restaurant, also on the promenade. I went for Octopus Galician style followed by Colin à la donostiarra (Hake) but it did make me laugh as I tucked into Colin. Pudding was the delicious Crema Catalana.

Costa Brava L'Estartit La Gaviota

Our afternoon was spent partly in the hotel swimming pool and a short walk back into town to see the pirate festivities.

Costa Brava Hotel Medes L'Estartit

That evening we were taken to a very special place about an hour and a half away close to the Pyrenees, Lavinyetta. We got off the coach surrounded by vines as the sun started to set. It was magical and what was even more interesting was to find out we were going to be cooking our own meal with Jordi and Anna from I Cook It.

Costa Brava La Vinyetta

But rather than cram a whole weekend into one post I’m going to tell you all about our La Vinyetta experience and our Sunday in Roses plus the most amazing bike rides (on electrical bikes that dad was very impressed with) in a different post.

If you like seeing holiday photos, here’s a few more I took and shared recently in The Gallery: Creative

L'Estartit promenade Costa Brava

L'Estartit Costa Brava

Fish Crates Costa Brava

La Vinyeta Costa Brava

La Vinyeta Costa Brava sunset

 

Do you need to find out more? Helen has written a post that makes me want to pack my bags and run back on Actually Mummy, take a look.

Disclosure: We were invited, as a family, to spend a weekend on the Costa Brava by the Catalan Tourist Board, all expenses were paid and we’d like to thank them for a wonderful experience.

La Vinyeta Costa Brava sunset

For some people picking up a camera and taking an excellent shot is the same as reading a book or driving a car, it comes naturally. They just know what to do and where to position themselves to take the perfect snap and record a memory. Sadly I am not amongst this elite, I am like so many out there who have to learn how to use a camera, that have to learn about light and positioning and rule of thirds because it doesn’t come naturally for me.

In my favour I do have a couple of plusses though. I know beauty. I know pretty and I know what makes me go wow so my mission over the years has been learning to put the two together. A long journey. An enjoyable one and sometimes a frustrating one when the resulting image was nothing like I wanted it to be and of course the journey isn’t over, in fact it’s never going to be over.

Recently I have signed up for a photography bootcamp and I am receiving daily videos to watch , daily prompts and homework because unless you pick up the camera and use it you won’t get any better. I am enjoying how it is encouraging me to take my photography one step further and I’m pleased with the results too.

This past weekend, my family and I were extremely lucky to be invited on a press trip to discover Catalanya and the Costa Brava. I used this weekend to put my first week’s course into practise. I took over 200 photos on my camera (and more on my phone) but I’m showcasing just a few of those, don’t panic! This is a photo heavy post but I really hope you enjoy it and get to feel the Costa Brava I experienced.

I’ll be writing in full soon about what we saw and did but in the meantime take a sneak preview.

L'Estartit promenade Costa Brava

The promenade at L’Estartit at 10 am

L'Estartit Costa Brava

Kayaks stacked up and ready for use

Iles des Medes L'Estartit

We took a boat trip around the Iles des Medes, the sun was shining and the sea was calm. This is the only time in the whole year that people are allowed to land on the island and explore.

Catalunya bracelets

One thing that was very clear is the passion the Catalan people have for their region and their desire for independence from Spain. They would like a referendum like Scotland was recently granted but they don’t think Madrid will allow them. This makes them sad.

Fish Crates Costa Brava

I spotted these behind the fish stall and loved the writing on them.

dried fruit costa brava

One sure sign you’re in a foreign country is the name tags on market stalls.

La Vinyeta Costa Brava

In the evening we were taken to a beautiful place called La Vinyeta for a cooking demonstration and meal. We were surrounded by beautiful sculptures, gorgeous landscapes and a bright setting sun which lit up the land magically.

There are plenty more snaps on my Instagram feed but I think this one is my favourite

 

You know you’re going way back in time if it’s a black and white photo right? That is little me in a very ‘model’ pose back in the early 70’s, my brother Dee is to the left of the photo and the other child in the buggy is the son of friends who came on holiday with us that year.

The man popping his head through to the patio area is my dad and these were happy times for our family as dad was still living with us. We are in my grandparents villa in Majorca in a tiny village to the north east called Canyamel. Back then the area was barren but it didn’t take long for complexes and hotels to shoot up all over the place.

I must have been six in this photo and Dee 2 and a half which means Dom (my other brother) wasn’t yet with us and this could possibly be our first holiday there but it was to be the first of many. In fact we went every year until I was well into my teens.

Standing on that balcony you had the swimming pool below that was shared with the other apartments around us and a view over the bay to the mountains on the other side. Alfredo was our caretaker and he could always be spotted watering the plants, cleaning the swimming pool or pottering about with various maintenance jobs. He had two children Francisco who was a superb swimmer thanks to having a pool available to him 24/7 and Dolores his younger sister. As I grew up I became aware that all the older girls fancied Francisco so I  followed suit and fancied him too only I don’t think he even knew I was there!

Our days were spent – mornings on the beach and to reach the beach we would run down hundreds of steps, a hard climb back up for lunch and afternoons were spent by the pool where I learnt to swim; a very proud photographic moment for my mother but alas I don’t have the photo to share of that momentous occasion. I remember very well my parents visiting the local liquor factory each year and taking empty litre bottles with them to be filled with rum and gin. They learnt a tough lesson though one year discovering my 7 year old brother Dee drunk in the bath after drinking  a glass of ‘coke’ Oops!

6 months pregnant with Megan - what I'd do to have that body back

Every holiday we’d be treated to a meal out in the local restaurant and one with a mini golf was a favourite of ours. Another on the mountain side was obviously ‘only for grown ups’ which possibly meant expensive as one evening we would be looked after by the family above or to the side whilst our adults dined on crab, lobster and other delights too good for us and another evening, their kids would spend time with us whilst their parents ate and dined

I have many wonderful memories of Canyamel, looking at the black and white photo above still brings a smile to my heart. I returned after many years in 1990 with my husband Enrico and our son Thomas. In this photo to the side you can clearly see I’m expecting Megan. Sadly that was to be our last visit as a few years later my grandparents decided to sell the villa and writing about it has made me more aware of how much I miss it and those happy days and beautiful, sunny Canyamel.

This is my entry for Flashback Friday over at Karin’s Cafe Bebe, there are many more fascinating FF’s for you, nip over nad have a read