Shawn is regarded as one of my oldest and dearest friends. With a friendship that has endured since school, I really look forward to any opportunity to meet up. Shawn and his wife Jessica recently moving to Spain from Sweden, and the benefit of low cost flights to mainland Europe allowed the opportunity to bear fruit with a return flight to Santander. Shawn and Jessica live about 40 min from Santander in the coastal town of Suances. Originally a Spanish fishing village, Suances has been developed with newly built duplexes, flats and town-houses which remained largely empty as the end of the holiday season heralded the return home of the foreign occupants.
I arrived under the cover of grey clouds and the threat of rain as Shawn and Jessica gave me the tour. Suances is located in Cantabria at the mouth of the Rio Saya Besaya which flows out into a natural harbour. The village offers panoramic views of the ocean, with the main surfing beach, Los Locos to the west. The area is also surrounded by picturesque mountains, which are half an hour by car.
We decided to put our first surf off till the following day with the local surf forecast only predicting swell the following week. As predicted it was a cold wet affair, but worth the paddle to clear the dust and rust, although at my age the rust is a little more set in. The pick of my week out there was blessed with smallish, exceptionally clean waves. Los Locos is a truly magnificent beach walled between two outcrops of headland situated about a kilometre apart, which form a natural bay. The approaching swell therefore fans out into waves as it enters the bay allowing you to paddle out next to the cliff face and into the swell should it get particularly big. On this particular day however my attention was grabbed more by the clarity of the water which was like emerald glass. On more than one occasion I was distinctly aware that I was almost unable to observe the contour of the wave as the ocean floor was magnified by liquid glass.
Surfing turned out not to be the only activity that occupied my time in Spain. Jessica bought Shawn a Nikon D40X which was being used in constant P mode. I noticed Jessica had an old Nikon F3 with a manual focus 50mm f1.4 lens. Thankfully Nikon allow users to use lenses from older film cameras on the newer DSLR cameras, so I attached the 50mm to the D40X and managed to explain the fundamentals of manipulating and controlling available light by correct use of shutter speed and aperture control.
His newly learnt skill was soon transferred to his other lenses and there was a certain shot taken of the waves from a rather excellent vantage point on the face of the cliff that flanks Los Locos that deserves a particular mention. Shot in manual, the composition and exposure was spot on resulting in a wonderfully lit sea-scape.
Fortunately they live in a rather picturesque setting with beautiful early morning and late afternoon light, which should offer them ample opportunity to practise newly, acquired skills.
By sheer coincidence, it was Shawn’s birthday while I was out there and the perfect opportunity to experience Spanish cuisine. Being a chef, Jessica cooked up a storm while I was out there, and Shawn is certainly no slouch in the kitchen either, however as it was Shawn’s birthday we decided to enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants in the area. The lure of Spanish beef ensured we all opted for steak, albeit different cuts. Jessica had the largest T-Bone I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing a lady devour, accompanied by an extra helping of fries. Shawn had a man’s size Entrecote which was given the appropriate treatment, while I enjoyed a Sirloin which turned out to be the single finest steak I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
Thus my Spanish trip can be summed up with good food, good wine, good surf and great company.