Lumley lobsters

The tide was coming in as we walked along Lumley Beach this morning. In fact it was well up the beach so we had no smooth sand to walk on. While dodging (walking in trainers because of the rubbish on the beach) the odd, extra-strong, incoming wave we wondered if the fish came in with the tide. One line of fishermen were  just beginning the long, slow hauling in of nets: one man sitting at the back of the line coiling the rope, the others leaning into the beach as they pulled.  As we approached more men joined the line, but the pile of rope was small so we knew they had a long job ahead of them.

One of the local team football coaches jogged past us just before we reached the fish market, giving Martina a wave of recognition. The German Embassy have donated equipment to the amputees’ football teams. We admired a pile of sandy fish just being scooped from the nets into baskets, so decided that maybe the incoming tide had helped the catch. Martina was hoping for lobster.  Yes, we were told, come see what we caught.  So we followed. The fisherman told us they came from far out to sea, but we are not sure how they catch them.

So here is Martina with the two monstrous, very much alive and kicking, lobsters for which she negotiated a good price.

And these are the two which were left for another customer. Certainly no doubts about their freshness!

Selling fish is normally women’s work and the women were keen for us to see their wares:

Barracuda, snapper and grouper

Blue-legged crabs

assorted fish (OK, I forgot their names!)

Procedure for buying fish: select fish you like the look of and ask the price, receive the price with a laugh and say how expensive it is, wait for next offer, or make a counter offer as the vendor will say, ‘how much you give me?’  Half initial price, wait for her counter offer, then agree somewhere in between. More fun than simply accepting the price in your local supermarket or fishmonger! No weights and measures in sight, nor any price per kilo, strictly look and judge by size. Then ask for fish to be gutted and descaled, which is swiftly done with a large knife and the fish washed in fresh seawater. The entrails are discarded into the waves.

behind you can see a clean-up crew in action

The fish this morning were so fresh that they hadn’t made it into the baskets of ice under the umbrellas where we usually select our fish.

The baskets are lined with blankets, then filled with crushed ice and the blankets layered over the top. Old tyres make handy insulating tables!

The women while away the time between customers in the shade and a toddler sleeps soundly beside the fish.  The basket in the foreground was ready for market and soon after this, one woman hoisted it on to her head (with a twisted scarf between her head and the basket) and set off to sell her fish. She declined to be ‘snapped’ (photographed).

We completed our return walk and sat together to drink a large bottle of water.  We were joined by these duiker (small deer), that live in the resort, which proceeded to give Ann a ‘pre-shower spa treatment’ – licking her legs thoroughly with slightly rough tongues.  We decided they probably were after the salt! Post walk we were all rather hot and I would say ‘lobster red’, except this seems insensitive to the poor creatures which were, at that point, still oblivious to their coming fate.

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