25 July 2015
A taste of Italy and of the sea
on a grey afternoon in Bray
After a week inland in England, I missed being by the sea.
Despite walks by the River Cam in Cambridge, and by the River Stort, the River Lea and the canals, locks, weirs and small lakes in the Lea Valley in Essex and Hertfordshire, during the past week, I think I missed being by the coast and opportunities for walks on the beach.
Late this afternoon, two of us went to Bray for a late lunch in Carpe Diem, close to the seafront.
The staff in Carpe Diem offer interesting selections of Italian wines that change day by day. Lunch this afternoon was accompanied by a glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Tuscany.
The Tuscan variety of Vernaccia appears to be an ancient one, but wine mappers and experts do not agree whether the grape’s origins are Eastern European, Greek or Roman. In the Middle Ages, a Vernaccia wine known as Vernage was popular in England.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which I tasted this afternoon, is the best-known variety and is a crisp wine with good acidity and tastes of citrus fruit.
After two double espressos, we crossed over to the Promenade and the seafront. But, while this should be high summer, and the funfairs are still spread along the promenade in Bray, there were grey skies above and a slight chill in the air.
We opted for a short walk along the sand on the foreshore, and as we began a clutch of sailing boats began to move out of the Bray Harbour and into the natural cove between the harbour and Bray Head.
The chill and the grey skies apart, it now looked like an ideal summer afternoon, and we continued on past Martello Terrace to the small compact harbour where Bray Sailing Club is based. The River Dargle flows into the sea here, along the North Wall of the harbour. The tide influences most of the activities because the harbour dries at low water.
Bray Sailing Club is more than 100 years old, and welcomes new members, who are welcome to take part in racing events for dinghies, keelboats and cruisers. Many former members have earned national and international reputations.
The clubhouse, which was refurbished and reopened recently, overlooks the harbour and was refurbished recently. There are three public pontoons on the North Wall of the harbour but the sailing club’s moorings are on the South side.
The club caters for all ages and for cruisers, keelboats and dinghies, with a full programme of racing, cruising and an active sea school that provides training courses for adults and juniors.
The club races between Killiney and Bray Head against the backdrop of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, and the club also offers the possibility of long-distance trips to other destinations in Ireland and to Wales and the Isle of Man.
This afternoon’s delightful sight in the natural cove between Bray Harbour and Bray Head was part of the Club’s Sea School, which includes an exciting programme of sailing and training for junior members running until September and a programme of courses for adults and improvers.
Back at the bus depot beside Carpe Diem, unlike other afternoons, there were no buses displaying ‘Palermo’ as their destination. But it was good to get a taste of Italy and a taste of the sea this evening before heading off tomorrow afternoon for a week in Sicily.