You know the way I’m always teasing you about the weather? How we’re all going around in t-shirts and sandals in February? Well, one morning earlier this month, we woke up to find our skylight covered in something which we took to be sand as has happened on a couple of occasions when the winds have deposited Sahara dust on the coast of Spain. But when I peeked out the caravan window …. Well, how gobsmacked could I be! There was the Audi with an inch of snow on it! No joking, real, genuine cold, white stuff. Illusions shattered!

Where's the anti-freeze?

Where’s the anti-freeze?

It’s been Carnaval time here in Vilanova and, while it’s quite impossible to take in everything that happens for the week up to Mardi Gras, we’ve managed to fit in three visits to the town to join in the festivities. The first was two Thursdays ago when the town celebrated their “Merengada”, an annual meringue batter fight throughout the centre but especially on the market place. Being a Thursday, we had to pick up Guillem at five o’clock but, instead of going to his house, we parked in town and took him to watch the carry-on. He was suitably unimpressed! I suppose he’s just too well-bred to find fun in teenagers (and some adults!) covering themselves in white sticky paste.

What a mess!

What a mess!

The following evening we went to the second “Fish n’ Chips” event up at the restaurant with most of our friends. Unfortunately Mike and Het weren’t there as they had flown back to Blighty for some quality time with the grandchildren. After the meal I entertained the troops with half a dozen songs on the guitar while Dundee Sandra got stuck in to the people in the crowd we didn’t know and sold a dozen or so copies of “Socrates” which I still had in the caravan. I’d call that a success, wouldn’t you?

Rock on!

Rock on!

The next day was Valentine’s Day which we celebrated with a dinner at Fred and Jeanette’s, along with Tom and Greeta our Dutch pals and a newly-arrived Terry and Elsie, the couple from Leigh near Wigan with whom we had lunch on our way up to the Lake District last June. Jeanette as ever provided us with a dazzling array of delicious courses while Fred did the donkey work and kept our glasses full. We had an excellent evening together and for once packed it in at a reasonable hour to save the neighbours!

Sunday saw many of us up and away into town before midday to take part in the “Comparses” which is basically a huge series of sweetie fights through the streets and then in the Plaça de la Vila. It was a wonderful and colourful spectacle up and down the narrow streets on either side of the Rambla Principal, at times finding ourselves like sardines, stuck helpless in a dense throng of revellers in every possible type of fancy dress. The sweets were flying about like bullets and I took a couple to the bonce on one particular corner as I couldn’t duck, so close together were we all. Those boiled sweets don’t half hurt when they bounce off a bald pate!

Just some Carnaval guys!

Just some Carnaval guys!

The scene in the town square was unbelievable with thousands of children and then adults all in fancy-dress singing and dancing and throwing sweets at each other. By the end of the children’s episode, the square was completely covered in sweetie wrappers of all colours and we watched in amazement as a gang of road cleaners then swept them all to the sides in preparation for the adults to do exactly the same, only more noisily and ferociously. These Catalans sure know how to party! That evening Mary and I watched it all again on local TV but the cameras managed to miss two conservatively-dressed Dundonians.

C'mon the sweepers!

C’mon the sweepers!

On Monday we had a game of Bingo up at the bar and Mary shared a Full House with a Dane, scooping half of the 25 Euro pot! By God how the money rolls in! And then the big day arrived. Except, given a once in a lifetime coincidence, we could not decide if it was the big day because it was Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras or if it was indeed the big day because it was my Birthday! I expect it may have been the former, but we merged the two by inviting our friends round at midday for pancakes and Cava. A couple of light showers tried to put a damper on things but we simply moved in to the awning and ate our way through a whole load of food with about 15 guests.

Our French friends, Gérard and Katy, hung around in the afternoon once the party was over and then, at about half past four I drove us down in to the town to witness another appearance by the Vilanova giants. You’ll remember these are 15 foot high polystyrene giants representative of the town, a bit like the hilarious ones who used to do battle on “It’s A Knock-out”. Anyway, we had a great time in town with crowds of spectators and avoided getting smacked by either of the crazy spinning giants.

One of the giants of nearby L'Arboc.

One of the giants of nearby L’Arboc.

Now that I’m 62, I’ve decided to take some days off my rather adrenalin-filled adventure out here, so the last few days have been genuinely quiet in comparison with the head-spinning rush of Spanish Carnaval. I picked up Ernest and Jennifer’s daughter and two grandchildren from El Prat airport last Friday and took them back there yesterday. I had a great laugh teasing the daughter by calling her “Our Beverley” which is how her Mum always refers to her, seeing as she comes from Bradford. I’ve also helped our friend Jem to get two great big wheels off his converted furniture lorry fixed down at the local “Kwik-Fit” type garage. And yesterday I helped Dundee Sandra to disassemble her flooring in the awning in preparation for her departure back home at the end of the month.

To balance that up, neighbour Peter has lent us a good bright light to run off the mains now that the charger has gone in the caravan and the battery gradually runs itself down every few days. We can’t afford to buy a new one just now so we’ll have to make do. Fred has also come to the rescue just recently by diagnosing why our spinner had stopped working and we’ll be able to fix it for little or no cost thankfully. Well done, Fred! The campsite continues to operate like a wee village, with neighbours helping each other out on a daily basis, giving advice, some physical assistance or a loan of some tool or other.

OK I’ll try not to bore you too much but the book stuff has become very, very exciting. Scott told us a couple of days ago that sales continued to be solid for “Wee Georgie” and that they’d asked for another box of 30 books. Good! Then Waterstones revamped their website and I was able to check how the book was doing on the best-sellers lists, using different filters. Once I’d got it down to best-selling Scottish memoirs, I was delighted to see that I was ranked fourth out of 82 books on sale at Waterstones. Then on my birthday I slipped in to third place, on Wednesday second, but on Thursday fourth again. Pity! So you can imagine my utter surprise when I checked this morning to discover I’d made it to Number 1! Yes, “Wee Georgie” is today the best-selling Scottish memoir at Waterstones. Yippee!

This was not in the plan

This was not in the plan

“Socrates 2” has now been edited by brother Joe in his usual brilliant but brutal style, leaving me with a leaner but meaner second children’s story. It is now in the hands of Fred’s partner Jeanette who has kindly agreed to have a go at redesigning my snail and drawing the pictures I’ll need for the book. She’s a lovely artist and I have high hopes that she will be up to the job, if her initial sketches are anything to go by.

Tomorrow we’re off to Barcelona with Ramon, Beti and Guillem for a meal at the restaurant of Marc and Rosa, the parents of last year’s visitor Gao. They have a restaurant in the Gotic district of Barça, near the old cathedral and just east of the famous Ramblas, so we’re really looking forward to our treat. The next day we’ll be picking up Het and Mike at the airport to bring them back here to Vilanova Park, then it will be a busy couple of days preparing for our return to Scotland on Thursday. We’re looking forward to having such quality time with grandson Ben for a full 4 weeks but Mary will also enjoy having Scott close at hand for a while and I’ll keep busy doing promotional work for my books. That starts with selling signed copies at Forgan Book Fair in Newport on Saturday. See you back in Scotland!

Guillem on non-uniform day ... A Scotsman.

Guillem on non-uniform day … A Scotsman.

 

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