Day 2/16: September in Vilanova


I felt it was about time I updated you all on what’s been happening out here for the past few days. First of all, it’s hot! Very, very hot! The heavy rains and thunderstorms which welcomed us back have long gone and we are on our seventh consecutive day of unbroken sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. It can get really too hot in the caravan between two and five in the afternoon and even the awning becomes uncomfortable from time to time as the photo will show.



With such brilliant weather (weather neither of us expected) it is no surprise to read that we swan around in as little as possible for most of the day and have had to go swimming in the Med down at Vilanova beach, something we may repeat tomorrow. If my crude Spanish serves me well I believe the weather girl (Ah! Judith I miss you so!) has just said for the foreseeable future it is going to be sunnier and warmer!

We have already made loads of friends on the campsite, people of many nationalities including Dutch, French and Norwegian, but the only guy we have difficulty understanding is the very broad Geordie truck driver over the back who keeps telling us about ganging hea and ganging theya! Many of the regular returners appear to be back and Section F (Millionaires’ Row) where we are is almost full now. There are still a few holidaymakers here, mostly from England, but we are now officially in the Low Season and the costs have tumbled.

In the Magic Caravan, the new TV is now set up, alongside the new microwave and washing machine – which we used for the second time today- while we are also using a new kettle and have 24/7 Internet again thanks to Orange Espana. We now Skype and FaceTime regularly from the awning or caravan, allowing us to keep up with our 4 sons and the 2 grandchildren, Ben and Artemis, both of whom we’ve seen already. They are progressing well and we’ll no doubt see big changes when we come back for Ari’s christening just before Xmas.

Also at home, Greg has found a job locally in Montrose and has a 3-month contract of full time hours Monday to Friday to earn some much-needed cash for him and Karen. Fingers crossed there then! Gavin has now just gone back to work after Ari’s birth (she’s 3 weeks old tonight!) so Eve will be a little anxious, but no doubt her brilliant Mum Elaine will be able to lend her a helping hand or two having retired from her job at Angus College.

My cousin Renee and her husband are in the throes of moving house from Woodside to Blairgowrie, not very far but that doesn’t make a flitting any easier. But Renee will be winging her way here in 10 days time in the company of her daughter Teresa and granddaughter Becky. I just hope she brings me some cheap antihistamines (they’re very expensive here) and some Tetley’s tea-bags!

Despite the heat I had 3 sets of tennis with Fred today around five o’clock and totally enjoyed being back out on the court again even if I suffered a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 defeat. Fred also led us (on his motorbike) to a lovely village a few miles down the coast where we spent an excellent afternoon enjoying their quaint little buildings and houses, as well as a quick paddle at their beach.

The village rules

The village rules

Scott left this morning with his pals on a few days’ holiday to Hamburg where they’ll be taking in a Bundesliga match on Saturday. Let’s hope they have a great time and don’t do anything daft! Unlike Gavin who once phoned us in the wee small hours from Munich where he was attending a Stag Party to ask for directions back to his hotel as he was drunk and had lost his friends! Little Artemis will put a stop to that kind of behaviour I’m sure!

We raided the bins a couple of days ago and came away with a nice fold-leaf table which now has pride of place in the awning. All the long-term residents do a bit of scavenging from Eurocamp, Keycamp and so on, acquiring perfectly good furniture they dispose of at the end of the high season. People even appear to get settees and washing-machines off the scrap heap.

Well, everyone, that’s you up to date from your Catalan correspondents. It’ just gone 11 here in the Magic Caravan and the thermometer is showing 30 degrees, so I reckon a cold drink is called for. Stay tuned and don’t forgot to comment if you can.


Day 207: Spaniards!

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What’s going on here? The campsite is suddenly full of Spaniards! Where did they come from? Of course I know they came from Spain, but what are they doing here? Vilanova Park has for the past 8 weeks been populated by Johnny Foreigner, Brits, Dutch, French, Germans and Danes, plus the odd Swede or Finn, but there certainly haven’t been more than a handful of Spaniards onsite.

Now as Easter approaches, they’re here by the barrow load, and a right proper noisy lot they are too! Another phenomenon to add to the ones we’ve already noticed on our adventure. The Spaniards aren’t the only ones who shout all the time though (although the women are particularly loud in comparison to other countries). In Germany the Turkish men tended to converse at high decibel while all Italian men sounded like they are about to have a fight! The Orientals in Oz were quite loud too come to think of it and I happened to notice in more than one country that West Indian and African men seem to really enjoy talking at the top of their voices into mobile phones.

That reminds me of my dearly departed father, Frank, who never quite got the hang of using the telephone. For a start he didn’t have one in the house until he was about sixty years old! But, God bless him, he clearly assumed that the further away the recipient of the call was, then the louder you had to speak into the mouthpiece (which, for some inexplicable reason, he tended to hold up near his forehead by the way). It used to reduce us to tears just watching him make a call to the family in Leeds, screaming his head off down the phone. Dear aunt Cissie is another who has compensated for long distance by raising her voice over the years, but it would be really nice to hear that voice again soon, loud or not! Renée, tell her I’ll call soon.

Everyone by the way gets very loud when they’ve had a few drinks, especially young folk from any country. The Danes over the wall from us are raising the roof as I write but that’s because they’ve been on the sauce since midday and that combination of alcohol, sun (and bacon!) seems to be absolutely lethal. I’m expecting a Viking raid at any moment!

We have a new friend in the old Welsh guy (whose name I’ve forgotten) whom we’ve met a couple of times up at the bar. He is a wonderfully interesting person with a thousand tales to tell and I have revelled in his company this week. By coincidence, on the day Uncle Gerard sent us information about the Picos region of North Spain, this guy recounted a string of adventures he’d had in that very area, walking from mountain refuge to mountain refuge. He highly recommended that we spend some time in the mountains which he described as some of the most beautiful in the world.

Well, I went for a walk this afternoon and bumped into him again. He was on his way to the bar for his teatime pint and invited me to join him for a quick one. I reluctantly agreed (stop grinning!) and sat in rapture for half an hour listening to his tales from the Pacific Islands where he was stationed with the R.A.F. in the 50’s. Mary must have thought I’d fallen down the pan, considering I’d told her I was just popping to the loo!

As you can guess, we didn’t do anything we’d planned to do today. However, while the normal excuse is the weather was poor, this time the weather was so good we just couldn’t prise ourselves out of the chairs outside the awning where we ate and read for most of the day. My head got a little burned too because I inadvertently left off my hat, never thinking it would be so hot at eleven in the morning. They tell me it peaked at 22 degrees today before the clouds came over and showers peppered the late afternoon.

We’re happy to report that the dongle is working quite well and we can have Internet access wherever and whenever we want. The signal can be a bit temperamental but in general it’s efficient and fast enough to cater for the things we download or browse most. As I said earlier, we have plenty news channels on the TV now in any one of seven different languages so we have no problem keeping up with what’s happening around the world. We were sad to hear that the wonderful Nelson Mandela may be nearing the end of his epic life, although he already appears to have lived several lifetimes. What an amazing person he is and a great example to us all.

Mary passed me a short story to read on the Kindle yesterday. It was actually a rant by someone encouraging the readers to get on and live life to the full as this is not a rehearsal and every single minute we waste is gone forever never to return. Although not all that well written, the essay made its point quite strongly and left Mary and me feeling very glad we have chosen to come away on this adventure. We have no regrets at all about what we’ve done because we realized we could if we wanted. So, dear friends, if the opportunity presents itself to you, remember the saying “Carpe Diem” seize the day and enjoy your life while you can, doing above all what you want to do and not what others want you to do.

Remember all you carnivores; it’s Fast and Abstinence tomorrow for Good Friday. Thank God for tuna!