Is big beautiful? Is small stunning? Is being alone lonely?

The tugs brood.

21st July 2020

Gijón, Asturias, Spain – Puerto de Celerio, Viviero, Galicia, Spain via Avélis, Spain, Ribadeo, Spain & Pria de Aera, Viviero, Spain

People flock to big cities for the culture, the same people then go to sleepy backwater towns to find time to relax and then seek out deserted beaches for solitude. This is not how Ruffian rolls. In big towns we’ve sought out dangerous spares, in sleepy backwater villages we sample world class culture and art and in deserted bays with perfect beaches we don’t find solitude, we find new friends.

As soon as Gijón welcomed us the difference between France and Spain was apparent. The laissez-faire attitude to Covid-19 had been replaced by a hard and fast rule. The rule was simple, take a mask, put it on, wear it. None of these namby pamby grey areas or get out clauses. A simple easy to follow rule and on Ruffian, as we’re simple, we like simple rules.

With every activity the differences made themselves known. In bars, waiters with their amazing surly service bought not only drinks but also platters full of free pinchos and up in the hills women started their days by donning 1970’s style house coats and the sole attire for men seemed to be oily blue overalls. It felt like we’d not only changed countries but also centuries.

Gijón being a big town was full of culture but we were after something more special. We were hoping to resolve our ‘gas situation’ in a spectacularly dangerous way. The problem with gas around the world is every country has its own standards, its own fittings and its own method of of supply. It is possible to resolve this in 2 ways, you can either buy new bottles, new regulators and adhere to the local standards (and end up with a multitude of different bottles on board), or you can take their gas, rig up a Heath Robinson contraption and decant the 200psi gas from their bottles to yours. Obviously, we were opting for the Heath Robinson solution.

Explaining our needs to the local, unbelievably helpful, hardware store they dispatched us to an anonymous out of town industrial park and a huge commercial gas supplier. Thinking we might be way out of our depth we hesitantly entered the gleaming granite covered reception. Instantly we were taken under their wing and engineers poured out oozing solutions. Fittings were fitted, seals were sealed and stern warnings about the ‘danger’ of our escapade were issued. This was turning into a perfect Ruffian adventure.

Back on board Ruffian the Heath Robinson affair was set up. The full gas bottle, in full sunshine was hung from the boom, the empty gas bottle sat below it in the shade and linking them was our contraption. Heeding all the appropriate warnings, Iain opened all the valves, retreated to a safe distance and hoped he wasn’t about to create a mushroom cloud in the centre of the city.

Instead of hearing a huge explosion all Iain could hear the gentle drip drip drip of high pressure liquid gas making its way from one bottle to another and he congratulated himself on not only taking the easy option, but taking the difficult option whilst dicing with danger. Job done.

With all our jobs complete it was time to head off to the tiny, rock strewn harbour of Cudillero, but in usual Ruffian style we changed plan and ended up in the sleepy backwater of Avilés. The entrance to Avilés is a Meccano enthusiasts dream. Cranes tower over the quayside and diggers that are big enough to pick up entire houses shift hundreds of tonnes of Aggregate. This however wasn’t the Avilés we experienced.

This sleeping backwater gave us culture in reams. Even Iain, a self-pronounced philistine, marvelled at the huge sculpture that hung impossibly over the marina and as we ventured around town we happened upon Picasso exhibitions and a modern art plaza that made us feel like we were about to be beamed up into the starship enterprise. This modernism was tempered by the classically Spanish streets that were lined with mosaics of granite and stone fountains that simply popped out of walls.

Having had our fill of towns we needed to find some solitude and blasted 50 miles downwind to a bay that offers nothing apart from protection, sand and exploration opportunities. Our solitude however was not to last as the sun started to sink into the sea behind us and the swells started to abate. Another boat entered and anchored a respectful distance away, clearly not French and as their anchor ball went up we knew it was one of a rare breed. A British boat in foreign waters in Covid times.

As dawn arrived the day was full of possibilities, there was exploring of sea caves to be had, golden soft sand to be walked upon and new friends to make. In true Ruffian style we paddled over and strangers were instantly turned into Friends. Amazingly we’d met “Annie” a year ago in Alderney, we’d nearly berthed next to them in Swanwick and they, like us, are living this adventure.

So, with towns offering dangerous spares, villages offering culture and secluded bays offering friendships, the adventures of Ruffian continue and continue to bring surprises at every turn.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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