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Enjoying a respite from a couple of weeks of grey skies and showers, Angelica and I took an early evening stroll down to the beach the other day to catch the sun setting over the sea.
A few Conileños allow tethered horses and goats to graze among the dunes. Always ready for some company they ambled up to greet us.
Gazing out to sea, half a dozen surfers, or so, rode silver breakers clean and sharp as knives. With hardly so much as a breeze, conditions were ideal. The Costa de la Luz is a magnet for surfers from all over Europe and beyond. Though Conil isn’t the best-known destination along this stretch of coast, the surf is often just as good as other beaches round here. Most aficionados travel to El Palmar, only a couple of miles further down the coast, and no more than half an hour’s saunter along a deserted beach. There they can mix with crowds of surf-lovers in seafront bars to exchange travellers’ exaggerated tales over tapas washed down with beer and wine. An all-weather bunch, the first arrivals start turning up around the onset of autumn, and keep on coming through winter and spring, leaving summer for throngs of softies to loll about on the sand, dipping their toes in lapping wavelets from time to time to cool off. Heaven forbid they get their hair wet!
For landlubbers, temperatures in December and January are closer to those of spring in more Northern regions; a time when field and forest break out into carpets of fresh green studded with myriad varieties of small wild flowers. The trees dotted in and around the town have only just lost their cloaks of leaves, as the heavy rains and strong winds, which normally denude them by December, were particularly late this year.
The alleys and lanes of the old pueblo are virtually empty now with most hotels and restaurants closed for the winter season. The butt end of the old year and the start of the new provide excellent opportunities for walkers, cyclists and hackers of the equine variety, who like to get away from the crowds. We popped into the pensionistas in calle Cádiz before heading home. In the summer the bar situated in the ancient barrio is a café where all are welcome to dine and drink. The same invitation applies off-season, but the winter months see it playing host to a few pensioners and retired fishermen most evenings. They sit around tables playing cards, watching TV or chatting about the old days over a few drinks. Loupi the barman is usually found sitting among them, and it can be hard to get him out of his chair. We managed to persuade him to draw two rounds of Chiclana -the local white sherry- from the oak barrel behind the bar before taking our leave and climbing the hill back.
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