Last week I got to spend a few days in Alicante on the Costa Blanca in Spain, visiting my friends who are spending a year sailing around the Mediterranean. They are wintering in southern Spain while they wait for the Mistral winds to calm down so they can cross to Italy and beyond. And when I got to the marina, the Bakewell Tart that Frin had actually baked in the tiny onboard oven using her mother’s recipe was still warm. Although I managed to choose some of the coldest and windiest conditions they had seen in Alicante, the boat is really cosy even without warm bakewell tart.
Our friend Vana dropped in for 24 hours as a complete surprise for Frin. We had arranged it with Jon and the kids and managed to keep it secret right up until she turned up on the boat demanding a cup of tea. Last year the three of us took a daytrip to Paris for Frin’s birthday: I’m looking forward to next year’s European location! South of France, anyone?
It’s impossible not to envy Frin and Jon’s way of life for the year. I think most people would welcome a break from the monotony of work and the school run and the prospect of not doing the same thing day in, day out. Living life at a slower pace and sampling different places and cultures for a while. Swapping possessions for experiences. I have been trying to get rid of “stuff” (very unsuccessfully) for a while now and there is a lot to be said for having a limited amount of space to keep it all in. I have plenty of things that I wouldn’t miss if I didn’t have them yet they still live at the back of cupboards, “just in case”. (Although I might struggle with the one pair of jeans…) Life on a boat is a little like glorified camping – all of the benefits but none of the hassle of putting up and taking down a tent and squashing everything back into the car every time you want to go move on. You get to “stow” things instead: much more glamorous. They shop in the central market for fresh fish, meat and vegetables with the locals:
and the kids are not afraid to order things in Spanish or try the local food. For now they are based in one place so for a few months they will know their surroundings well and have a routine. And then it will be back to warmer weather and discovering new places. It sounds like the best of both worlds to me!
We even managed a quick sailing trip when the wind dropped (relatively speaking!) for a couple of hours) though I’m not sure I would make a good sailor: the minute the boat is no longer perfectly flat in the water I get a bit nervous… But in the meantime, when the weather is chilly and the marina shower block is less appealing, there are always home comforts like Bakewell Tart to be had. I’m eating mine and dreaming about taking a year out…
225g plain flour
50g white vegetable fat or lard
About 200g strawberry jam
3 large or 4 medium eggs
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon almond essence
160g ground almonds
30g flaked almonds
Make the pastry: rub the fat into the flour until it ressembles breadcrumbs.
Add about two to three tablespoons of cold water, one tablespoon or less at a time, and mix well to bind. Bring together with your hands and knead very briefly.
Either roll out immediately or cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to use.
Set the oven to 180ºC.
Roll out the pastry and use it to line a tart tin with around a 9″ base.
Spread the jam over the base of the pastry and set to one side.
Add the eggs, one at a time.
Add the lemon juice and zest and the almond essence and mix well.
Fold in the ground almonds and beat briefly until smooth.
Pour over the pastry base and smooth carefully.
Sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
The tart can be served warm or left to cool in the tin.
Thank you very much to Frin’s mum for sharing her recipe with me, it tastes just as good at home! And if you’d like to read more about Frin’s adventures, just follow her blog Windfall Adventures. I’m planning my next trip already.