I am an avid ambler. That is an urban rambler. I wear flip flops or little canvas shoes with stripes rather than walking boots, and pause in cafes and little shops rather than on a clifftop or a high crag.
One amble can take in as little as one street if there are sales of earrings on, for example, or a tea shop that sells cake with parma violet topping.
My very favourite amble is in Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve, and my favourite hour to undertake it is after eating an evening meal at one of favourite beachfront cafes on Meia Praia. Although the journey there is nice, it’s the journey back that makes it special.
And you have to get the timing right.
As the sky fades from blue to pink to starlit black over the ocean, and the beach empties, Linda’s Bar turns the lights down to mellow as you gaze at the sun setting slowly over the cliffs and rooftops of the town, its lights glittering in the distance.
Stepping out into the warm night air to walk past the harbour back towards civilisation, it is silent and calm, punctured only by the comforting screech of the cicadas as you pass. It’s like opening a door into another world, then gradually opening another one as the noisy, vibrant marina draws you in, with its restaurants and bars spilling out people, live music everywhere, the tunes mingling into one on the promenade.
Then you turn a corner and suddenly there is only the soft clatter of sails, the boats bobbing quietly in the breeze, the welcoming glow of the two cafes beyond, the low buzz of conversation growing louder as you walk towards them.
Leaving the hiss of coffee machines and the clink of glasses, up you go towards the apartments at the back, people sitting on their balconies chatting and laughing, to the apartment at the top in the middle. Onto the terrace you go, to gaze silently at the olive trees illuminated in the garden and the cars driving along the Avenida in the distance.
Oh I forgot the wine. You’ve got to have the wine for the last bit. The view goes nicely with a drop of Joao Pires.