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Journey To A Dream

In May 2002 my wife and I journeyed from Huddersfield in England's industrial north to rural Galicia. Join us on our journey and immerse your senses in the sights, sounds, and tastes of this remote and little known region of Spain.

The Some-day Supplement - issue 9
26 October 2017 @ 10:00

Note from the editor – In this week’s issue of the Some-day Supplement we take a trip abroad and hop across the border to Melgaço in Portugal and sitting in the author hot seat this week is Scottish author Les Cowan whose crime thrillers are set in Scotland and Spain. But first …


Canabal Cuisine presents – Canabal Courgette Loaf


  • 250gms courgette
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 125mls sunflower oil
  • 250gms caster sugar
  • ¼tsp vanilla extract
  • 375gms self-raising flour
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 60gms walnuts (or you can use an extra 60gms of courgette)



  • Pre-heat oven 180°C


  • Coarsely grate the courgettes, put them in a sieve and leave for about 30 minutes to drain.


  • Beat the eggs until light and foamy. Add the sunflower oil, vanilla extract and sugar. Add the courgettes and mix lightly until combined.


  • Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle, pour in the courgette mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. Stir in the chopped walnuts if using.


  • Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 1kg loaf tin.


  • Bake in pre-heated oven 180°C for about 50 minutes until firm.


  • Turn out onto a cooling rack.



Melgaço – A historic border town

Melgaço is one of a number of small towns that run along the border between Northern Portugal and Galicia in Spain. It’s dominated by a 12th century medieval castle and torre or castle keep.



Once a year, on the last weekend in April, the town hosts the Alvarinho wine fiesta. Tens of thousands of people flock there from both sides of the border to taste the deliciously crisp and fruity white wines. One our favourites was Toucas from the Touquinheiras winery.



For the rest of the year, Melgaço is a sleepy town made up of narrow streets and picturesque cottages.



The torre which dominates the town is now a museum. From its roof, visitors are treated to an amazing panoramic view of the town and the surrounding countryside. For an admission fee of one euro, it is well worth a visit.



There are two other museums of note, the Solar do Alvarinho (wine museum), where visitors get the opportunity to sample the locally produced wines and the Museu de Cinema de Melgaço (museum of cinema). This museum was established by the French film critic Jean Loup Passek who gifted his extensive collection of cinematic objects to the municipality.



My recommendation for lunch would be Restaurante Chafarix in Praça Amadeu Abilio Lopes (+351 251 403 400). They serve an extensive range of traditional Portuguese dishes. One of my favourites is contrafilé (tenderloin of beef) washed down with a glass of Pomares, a delicious red wine from the Douro valley.



Although small, we found it easy to while away the day in Melgaço but if you find yourself at a loose end, why not visit the towns of Monção and Valença just a short drive away.


Author Interview
Les Cowan

Like many novelists, Les initially wrote just to see if he had that legendary novel inside and if it could be coaxed out into the open. What eventually became Benefit of the Doubt took about a year in first draft and was then improved on and off for the next six years before the fateful decision to send a few chapters and a synopsis to Lion Fiction. The response was positive and the rest is history...

The sequel to Benefit, All that Glitters was written in the second half of 2015, the third volume in the series over a few months in the autumn of 2016, volume four in the spring of 2017 and volume five is currently about half way through…

As well as the David Hidalgo novels, Les was a regular columnist for Orkney Today newspaper over five years (columns subsequently pulled together and published as Loose Talk Collected - available direct from the author) and has also written a cyclist's travel guide Orkney by Bike (available from the author in PDF format).

Les has been married to Fiona for 36 years and they have two children. Time is currently divided between Galicia in northern Spain, Edinburgh and Orkney. 



Les tells us more about his first novel.
Benefit of the Doubt is a love story, a quest, a puzzle, a challenge, a dilemma and a journey of self-discovery and restoration. What happens when life doesn't follow the script? In the midst of confusion does life still deserve the benefit of the doubt?
It was a warning. Back off. Stop helping the addicts. Stop undercutting demand. He had believed they would be protected. But they took her – the girl in the raspberry beret – and by the time they were done he was broken. So David Hidalgo flees Spain for his native Edinburgh. Now he must work out how to live again and lead others when his faith has been ripped away and all that’s left is doubt. In Edinburgh David finds friendship, disturbing and unlooked for romance, and respite from the pain. That is, until a young girl is abducted and it becomes clear that it’s not so easy to leave the past, or danger, behind. David knows he must set aside his doubts and act. But what will the cost be this time?

To order your copy of Benefit of the Doubt or find out more about Les Cowan, follow these links: -


And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for - Question time when our roving reporter asked Les ten challenging questions.
1.    If a movie was made of your life, who would play you and why?
I’m tempted by Groucho Marx since some misguided family members think the Groucho bit might fit. However, I’ll probably settle on Fred Astaire and make it a musical.
2.    If you won a million pounds/dollar/euros etc, what would you buy?
Since more time isn’t for sale I think intensive saxophone lessons. It would probably take all the cash to get me past intermediate.
3.    What is your least favourite thing about humanity?
The temptation to power and abuse. Also, fondness for country music.
4.    If you were 80 years old and had children, what’s the most important experience you could pass on to them?
I think from life’s experiences I’ve learned that don’t give up is pretty important. Also, you’re never too old for adventures. Finally, look after your parents.
5.    You’re a new addition to my spice rack, what are you and why?
Since I have a strong tendency to try to bring order to chaos I’d probably try to be the rack itself - but if that’s not allowed then oregano for more pizza, bolognese and lasagne in life.
6.    In fewer than 50 words, how does the internet work?
The internet is a repository of incredibly powerful information and ideas but also a soap box which seems to encourage abusive and opinionated rants regardless of knowledge or credentials. It’s a lift that often heads to the basement instead of the top floor where the view is very much better. 
7.    How can you tell if someone is a nerd?
They despise both Mac and PC users and insist that Linux will eventually rule the galaxy.
8.    If you could add one word to the dictionary, what would it be and what would it mean?
Rather than actually adding a word I’d like to redefine “civilian”, “civilisation” and all its variants to mean being at least civil to each other. This would become a basic qualification for employment, running for political office and communication with other human beings.
9.    What undiscovered technology will transform the future?
Probably the diet pill which will removes all consequences from gluttony. Hurray.
10. What is the one thing you own you wish you didn’t?
I’ve tried to dump my childhood teddy bear multiple times but my wife keeps rescuing it (sorry Roger). I think it’s all in an effort to grow up but since it’s not working maybe I should just try to enjoy it. Scalextric anyone?


And finally - #normalwisdom



This edition of the Canabal Chronicle, Some-day Supplement was brought to you by Craig Briggs, (with a little help from his wife Melanie) author of The Journey series of books.



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