I almost cannot believe it’s nearly 3 months since I last posted here. That’s certainly the longest I’ve been away since I started this blog in August 2012. But it hasn’t been because nothing has happened nor because of lack of willpower or interest, believe me! The main reason for the long gap has been simply that I have yet again been visited by the Muse and have been writing my third memoir (George: the University Years). I started it sometime in November 2018 and apart from a fortnight over Christmas back in Dundee, I’ve been beavering away on the keyboard, putting down what I did at St. Andrews University 1971-76 with the middle year spent in Versailles as an English Language Assistant.

In order to get as many stories as possible for this memoir, I have taken the time to search for and contact some old pals from that era in the hope that they can help me with the memories of our time there. To that end, I tracked down my two closest girl-friends Janine and Sarah and from there got in contact with my first best man Gordon Langlands and ex-flatmate Julian Deahl who have already contributed loads of snippets I’ll be able to turn into adventures. I’m also getting help from pals I’d stayed in touch with like Robin, Bud and Jimmy Mac and I just hope they don’t expect a share of the royalties! I’ve put down more than 50,000 words so far, putting me about half-way through what would be my target, and as I’m writing about Christmas of 1973 at the moment, that would be chronologically half-way as well. It’s particularly exciting to have stories from my old friends about which I had completely forgotten and they have more than brought a smile to my face. Julian told me loads he remembers about spending The New Year at Auntie Mary’s in Coupar Angus (wearing a kilt he borrowed to blend in better!) and I can’t even remember inviting him!

Life goes on as normal here in Vilanova, with me doing my thing and Mary teaching English Monday-Thursday in the evenings. We had to move pitch however in December when the Park decided to update facilities on our Section F, starting just last week. So we and our neighbours had to up sticks on various dates and resettle on Section G, which is where we were when we first arrived here on 1 February 2013. Our temporary pitch was chosen from a list of available spots and we appear to have made a good decision as we have plenty sun, good facilities, a spot handy for the shop and the bar and not encircled by short-term residents. The one downside is that it is a bit further from the toilet block but that just means we use our own facilities slightly more often than previously.

The weather over here has made us aware of global warming more sharply as what we have experienced is nothing like what you might expect. While September was its usual warm and sunny self, October and November were incredibly rainy with several very violent thunderstorms which battered our caravan and awning and let us hear the loudest clap of thunder we have ever had the misfortune to be near to. Honest, we almost both had an accident! Then it decided not to rain for the entire month of December and since our return on 4 January it has been sunny but cold (maybe even as cold as back home) and as I write this post, it still hasn’t rained and there is none forecast in the next 2 weeks, giving a run of 10 weeks without so much as a single drop. Now that can’t be normal, can it?

We had 3 visitors over the October holidays. having returned just for a weekend to attend Ally and Dave’s Silver Wedding hootenanny in the Queen’s hotel in Dundee, second son Gavin decided to fly back with us for 3 or 4 days of a break and he met up with his big brother George plus partner Fiona and my grandson Ben who had checked in here the week before. The day Gavin left, Ally and Dave arrived for 5 days of further celebration of their happy event and they brought their son Stephen with them (so they could keep an eye on him! He’s 18 now!) All in all Mary and I had a brilliant couple of weeks with the family coming over to spend time with us and it truly was the best of times, especially with the wee man Ben. Among other things we did together, we had a day at Barcelona zoo which was filled with happy memories.

Adding another string to my bow, I’ve joined Sitges English Theatre Company and have already played a comedy sketch as a drunken Scot (that was very difficult for me!) and read “The Journey of the Magi” by T.S. Eliot at a Christmas celebration. I’ve been offered a part in an Alan Ayckbourn play due to take place around Easter 2019 and rehearsals will be starting soon. It’s not the first time I’ve been on the stage, but the other things were all musical so straight acting is a bit of a novelty for me. My first two performances were well-received so I’m motivated to keep going – until I bomb out and forget all my lines!

Christmas Day was excellent, having been invited over to Mary’s Mum’s along with Bruce and Jillian and the kids. On Boxing day we had the entire Burton family over at ours, all 4 boys plus partners/wives and children (except for poor Karen who had to work) and I dished up some of my favourite meals for them to sample. The Slimming World paella went down a treat! Cousins Renee and Stef came round for lunch too before we flew back to Spain and we even fitted in a party in Newcastle on 3 January to celebrate a joint 18/21 Birthday for nephew Andrew and niece Kate. That was great fun too!

Right, that’s a thousand words to get you all up-to-date with the continuing adventure. I’ve cut out a lot I was going to add, include Gavin’s back operation which went well but is proving a long recuperation and our evenings with Ramon, Beti and Guillem, whom I’m teaching again on Monday evenings. Mary and I also have a weekly spoken Spanish lesson in a café on the Rambla in Vilanova every Tuesday at 9.30 and I think we’re both improving our fluency although being old doesn’t help with remembering vocabulary!

No photos this time as I want to send this out immediately and the photos take another hour to add. Be good, enjoy life and don’t do anything I’d do! Love from George and Mary XX