From Seville we’re back on the road again, thankfully for less than ninety minutes. It’s not a very exciting journey visually, but we could see immense olive groves stretching off to the horizon on both sides, and what might be an olive-oil refinery.
Medina-Sidonia appeared on the horizon, a cluster of white buildings around an isolated peak. The older part of town – which I must say is immensely old, since the Phoenicians had a settlement here long before nearby Cadiz (founded in 1100 BC) claimed bragging rights as the oldest city in Europe - is all white buildings around narrow one-way lanes. After a few wrong suggestions from the GPS to crash down orange-tree-lined staircases we found ourselves directly outside our destination with somewhere to park!
The door was open and we called out to our host Peter inside, who led us via into the rather spectacular patio house he'd rented for the month. The double entryway leads straight into a small white courtyard, the Moorish influences readily apparent, and with the blue of a swimming pool tantalisingly close ahead.
The English owners have done a splendid job in restoring this place, and furnishing it sympathetically with colourful bric-a-brac. Upstairs were a number of bedrooms accommodating at least 10 people (Peter has his daughter's family arriving later in the week ), capped off with a cushioned rooftop terrace. Our room has a small juliet balcony overlooking the pool, where bougainvillea climbs up one of the whitewashed walls.
Peter has been very industrious in the kitchen already, preparing a fish stew for dinner. If you’re going to pick a host for a week, then you can’t go past one who has written his own cookbook. Ahead of that we’re invited to partake of the local sherry, and of course this is the place for it, as it originates in nearby Jerez de la Frontera just up the road towards Seville. I’m not sure what it says about our collective tastes that all four of us live in the Armagnac region of France and are now holidaying by the Sherry Triangle.