We are sat, on Sunday morning, looking out over the hills and vales that are Malaga. The drive was only about an hour, backwards if looking at the map, or to be precise, inland from Torre del Mar.  We are in small Andalusian town by the name of Periana and are parked on a camper stop in the parking area of ‘Finca Oasis las Palmeras’.

Periana, a room with a view

It’s the world of difference from Malaga and Marbella, the towns we drove through after leaving Barbate. The countryside is spectacular and there is a lake - Embalse de la Viñuela - in view. The olive trees are back in abundance, and some are interspersed with almond trees just sprouting blossom. The drive was through fruit and plant orchards. After parking up yesterday afternoon, we did our usual and made the short walk into the town, and it was like a step back in time. The bars and restaurants were simple, no glass or chrome on show, just the usual dodgy yellowed-white plastic chairs, TV blaring in the corner and the dialect of the locals was once again different. But what made us laugh more, was the haircuts of the middle-aged group of men who mainly frequented the bars. It was like a step back to Saturday Night Fever, mullets, bouffants, the lot! Another difference was that the two beers and one wine was only €3.50. The weather could have been better. The Costa del Sol was not living up to its name, but with a change in location and scenery we couldn’t have cared less!

The locals in the bar were friendly and the ‘landlady’ offered us some Pollo. They were grilling the chicken on a rotisserie, along with a scrumptious looking leg of pork. Of course, under normal circumstances we would have had a grilled chicken, in this hole in the wall bar. But, we have eaten out all of last week and the tuna that we took out to have one evening was now begging to be eaten.  Plus, when the lady asked us if we wanted some chicken, we weren’t actually sure if she meant a whole one or a tapa. We certainly couldn’t risk having a whole one and so we aired on the side of caution and said No, albeit with David drooling like a boxer dog at the smell and sight of the roasted chicken and pork.  As we looked around the bar, we also saw many of the men just sitting shucking and eating habas (Broad Beans) with their beers. We had noticed fresh crops of these wonder delights in the fields around, but it’s rather odd just having a pile of them with your beer. I love broad beans and quite happily eat them raw. This time the barman saw us and laughingly said would you like some, and given that a few beans wouldn’t interfere with dinner we nearly took his hand off in a reply. Well, what to say about the lovely, just-picked new season habas, I have never tasted them so good, sweet and tender.

Tapa haba style in Periana, Malaga

Each pod was packed and the handful lasted with my last glass of white wine and both went very well with each other. I tried to entice David to try, but no, he wasn’t having any, which was a shame, because they’re just so different from the shop brought ones. A lovely touch and end to the afternoon, before we headed back to Buster. We did have the Barbate tuna, with my usual caper, coriander vinaigrette jus, before settling down for the night, reading and watching a bit of TV.

But back to the start of this week… Monday was Andalusian bank holiday. We took advantage and braved the weather, walking from Zahora to Vejer to once again eat in Califa restaurant. We felt no guilt, as we would be leaving the area the next day, never to return, certainly for this year. Plus, our dear friend Mark had offered to pay for lunch for our 60th birthdays, so what could be finer? Yet again the food, wine and atmosphere was exceptional.

Even the dog likes a view- the view from Vejer

Califa meze on Andalusia bank holiday

Califa, such a unique hotel and restaurant

Saying our goodbyes to Emily and Stephanie at Camping Pinar

We then spent four nights at Cabopino with our recently relocated friends from Greenwich, Darren and Jonny. Despite the weather, we had four lovely days with them eating and drinking along the wonderful Costa del Sol (without the sol). The truth is, it can’t always be sunny can it?! The pièce de resistance was on the Friday, when they took us to La Scala restaurant in Elvira. The restaurant was understated Llewelyn Bowen in its design and, given the rain, there was a lovely open fire in the main restaurant. It was a ‘Menú del Día’ of sorts, Marbella style, but nevertheless exceptional. Another part of my birthday celebrations and a thank you to them as well. My starter stood out for me: prawns and pear in tempura batter with soy and wasabi dips. The prawns and the pears worked so well with the batter and each other. The rest of the food was equally stunning and the staff were attentive, but not overbearing. The restaurant on the Friday was more or less full, but for both the Saturday and Sunday fully booked which is great to hear, given the times we are going through.

Birthday and thank you celebrations with Darren and Jonny in Cabopino

David and I did a lovely boardwalk walk along the seafront in Mijas on the Thursday, some 18km, before having a lunch break of Rabo de Toro (Oxtail) for David. At the moment, the curfew in Malaga remains 6pm, but some areas, including Malaga itself, are entering ‘level two’ and might now be able to stay open until 9.30pm.

Rabo de Toro - well earned after our beach prom walk

Now, on Sunday evening, here in Periana, the sun such as it is, is just setting. The rain has held off and we have again had a lovely lunch in the restaurant where we are parked. Again, the highlight for me was the soup of the day, which was habas with local green asparagus, in a stunning broth. David had local goat, of which we had seen many in the fields when we made our walk this morning.

Ummm, dinner perhaps!

Yes indeed, David’s goat lunch at our Finca stopover

Tomorrow, we move on again and so for us, the wheels on the bus are definitely once again going around and around.