One of our greatest wishes was fulfilled two Sundays ago when son Gavin and his wife Eve stepped off the plane at Barcelona airport in the company of our only granddaughter Artemis (from now on known simply as “Arry”).They were likely very excited at the prospect of 6 days of Spanish sun on our campsite at Vilanova Park, but I doubt if their own expectations came anywhere near the sense of anticipation Mary and I had as their arrival approached. Living out here 10 months of the year, people are always asking if we miss the family. Of course we do, and our two grandchildren at least as much as our four sons. So we absolutely couldn’t wait for the Arbroath Burtons to find time off work to get over here and check the place out.

Our first surprise was when they walked through the arrivals lounge where I was waiting for them. Because they didn’t just have a big case, a big kit bag and a cute little case for Arry. No. Gavin was also steering an airport trolley laden with a child’s buggy and a full-sized child’s car seat. Safety First indeed! Hugs and kisses exchanged, we squeezed their belongings into the Audi, strapped the bairn into the well-travelled seat, found room in the back for Gavin and Eve too and drove off back down the road to Vilanova. The sun was out and it was cosy despite a stiff breeze, helping to immediately lift everyone’s spirits to holiday level. As usual I employed the tactic of talking to the adults first while acknowledging Arry’s presence from time to time to give her the chance to settle to her new situation. It worked fine and the wee pet was soon fast asleep!

She's just resting her eyes

She’s just resting her eyes

Once checked in and inside their chalet, they were delighted to discover that the grandparents had stocked the cupboards and the fridge in advance, meaning that a welcome beer was called for. The rest of the day was a chance for them to get to know our caravan, the facilities at the park and meet some of our friends from all over. Gav and I watched some football up at the bar while Mary took Eve and Arry around the campsite, showing off the swimming pools and play-parks. We had planned to have tea together but the need for a catch-up sleep rather dictated events and our guests were early to bed having grabbed chicken and chips at the takeaway.

Monday is a long working day for Lady Burton but I had the day off from my lesson with Guillem so it was left to Granddad to show them around and take them where they wanted to go. Lidl was high up that list and I think they were really quite impressed both with the food and drink and the prices. Much cheapness! Before tea we drove down to the beach and paid a visit to the Cow out on the breakwater, which also gave Arry the opportunity to check out her new “Frozen” bucket, spade and rake. With only a little help from Mum, she was able to produce two or three excellent sandcastles but we didn’t spend too long down there as the breeze was colder than you might think.

After tea, Gavin and I came round to the caravan to watch a live stream of the hugely important Dundee v Dundee United derby game with the latter’s continuation in Scotland’s Premier Division dependant on the outcome. Although happy that my team, Dundee, came out on top by two goals to one, I was also quite sad that the other half were officially relegated to the Championship for next season and maybe longer. That I suppose is what you get when you sell all your best players to a rival team in your own league, one reason I have little sympathy for United’s eventual freefall and none at all for their supporters who tortured our fans for years when we fell on hard times. Things have now turned full circle and, to coin a description used over the past 20 years by United fans to mock their neighbours from across the road “Dundee are having a party, the United fans are in their beds!”

Tuesday stayed fine and we all had a swim. However we opted for the heated indoor pool, none of us willing to brave the fierce chill of its outdoors counterparts. It was hot but not that hot! Wee Arry had a ball in the pool and displayed great energy splashing around in her uber-cute Peppa Pig wings. Typically, I managed to attract the unwanted attention of a young French boy who somehow thought I wanted him to depth-charge me from the poolside every time I looked away. I have no idea why he did this but my fierce stare and surprisingly fluent use of a couple of French swear words seemed to do the trick. Arry and we continued to get closer as she became more confident that we weren’t a couple of child-snatchers! I managed to get her to come away with me in search of pine cones and butterflies (standard kiddies interest objects) but she suddenly decided she hadn’t seen her Mummy for over a minute and trotted back to the chalet.

After dropping Mary at the Prysmian factory on Wednesday morning at nine o’clock, the four of us took the train to Barcelona Franca station from where we were only a couple of hundred metres from the entrance to ……. the Zoo! The sun was still shining that day and we had a lovely time looking at the animals. Unfortunately, after a wee tantrum, Arry decided to have a nap, a fairly long nap, meaning she missed some of what was on offer, but she was awake not long after our lunch and able to see the big cats, the giraffes, rhinos and elephants. On the train home, she and I had a great game of “Is that a bus?” in which she extended her replies from “No, granddad, that’s a car!” to “No, granddad, that’s a lorry!” and even “No, granddad, that’s a train!” She must have thought I was awfully stupid!

Stripey horses?

Stripy horses?

Vultures, my favourites. Not!

Vultures, my favourites. Not!

We treated ourselves to a set meal up at the restaurant in the evening and it was then that Eve became aware of the children’s disco outside. A quick investigation with child sold the whole concept to Arry who spent the next hour dragging each of us in turn out onto the dancing area where she strutted her tiny stuff like a professional. Granddad was called into service to gyrate – slowly – to the song “Lollipop” and that was it for the rest of the holiday, a constant “Granddad, you do lollipop and I dance”. As a direct consequence, her exertions provided her parents with an unexpected lie-in when she slept a solid 10 hours or so. I think Eve and Gavin are now hoping a neighbour will start up a child disco EVERY night once they are back in Arbroath.

Classic family pose!

Classic family pose!

We left the visitors to themselves on Thursday until I had tea with them and we headed back to the disco for Arry’s sake but, tragically, we were too late and had to amuse her ourselves. Mary and Eve got her to bed later and then Mary babysat, giving the grateful parents an hour to themselves at the bar. I meanwhile swanned off to a wee get-together of some of my friends, had a couple of wines and passed myself off as a Frenchman to an English mother and her daughter who is now seeking me out for French lessons! Isn’t life sometimes surreal?

The road is so comfortable!

The road is so comfortable!

Friday was the last day’s holiday for our family so we spent it together doing family things. Arry by now was my best friend, illustrating this by waving bye-bye to her parents and leading me round to our caravan where she spent an hour investigating the awning, the caravan itself, our beds, both bench-seats and the cats outside. Even the arrival of a spot of rain did nothing to curb her new enthusiasm and that evening she was rewarded by another session at the wee disco. We even got there on time! She danced and she danced, affording us all the opportunity to take photos, shoot video and generally grin at her doing her moves. A great night was had by us all and we finished with a drink back at the chalet.

See you, granddad!

See you, granddad!

Honest, it was her idea!

Honest, it was her idea!

Dancing Queen

Dancing Queen

Waiting in line for a lollipop

Waiting in line for a lollipop

Saturday was a rainy, early start as we had to be back at the airport for nine o’clock. Gavin’s determination to leave the chalet in pristine condition ensured we were at the airport by nine-forty however and we had to keep the farewells to a minimum to let them get checked in and away. Gavin later admitted they just made it and were the last on the plane. On the way back to Vilanova, I took Mary to Gava shopping centre and let her spend some of her hard-earned cash. She did, and she was very happy doing it. I sat and listened to a school band in the Centre and just relaxed. That was nice!

We loved that visit from Gavin, Eve and the gorgeous Artemis. We are missing them already, but looking forward to getting together when we get back to Scotland in early July. Until then we’ll have to make do with the photos we took and the memories we have. Thank you kids! Thank you Artemis! I’ll stop now as I think there’s something in my eye.

Bonding

Bonding

 

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