We have settled into our new lifestyle well and enjoyed a good start to the New Year. On the 5th January the Spanish celebrate the Procession of the Kings. This has some similarities to our Christmas Eve except a bit more involved. The three kings arrived in the village on a boat and were then transported on floats. Each float was towed by a tractor along the sea front. Sweets were thrown to the children along the way with some boisterous and successful forays by adults from the crowd to get their hands on the booty as well. There was also a float with presents on so if the children have been good through the year, guess what? Yep- they get to keep their presents. This lovely little procession was followed by a very impressive firework display on the prom over the sea. The next day was a bank holiday so with all the shops shut we just had a walk and cycle ride.
One afternoon we had a tremendous street party for the whole campsite with each couple providing a dish. I made the old faithful chilli and was very pleased that it was all eaten up. There was a tremendous range of dishes including curry, beef bourguignon, fish kedgeree, pork stroganoff, and Catalan chicken. We ended up around a campfire well into the night swapping stories-very reminiscent of the Robin Williams film called RV.
Mike’s parents came on holiday and stayed about 1 ½ hours drive down the coast at Calella. We met up with them and had a wonderful day out with a visit to Tossa de Mar. After a delicious lunch we took the scenic drive along the coast road to Palamos. This had been the scene of happy Kingston family holidays in the late 60s. We were all delighted when Mike’s Dad tracked down the original house overlooking the sea that they used to stay in.
Mike and I took a trip with another couple, Gordon and Linda, into Barcelona by train for the day. It was a glorious sunny day and we just spent the day pleasantly strolling and soaking up the atmosphere. The train service was faultless in every respect apart from the ridiculous timetable on the return. We had collected the correct timetable from the information desk at the station but there were not only unmarked stations but also several stops not even on the timetable. It was a struggle for us in the dark but it must have been bad as even the Spanish were confused, one lady stood up three times for her stop. We have heard many stories of other people getting caught out like this.
Mike has recently declared that he will not be cutting his hair for a year. This has caused great amusement from our fellow campers and a great deal of consternation for me. It has not only inspired a poem about his flowing locks but also a caricature by a British artist, Peter Cowling, who now lives here.
We seem to have hit the ground running with socialising. The camp site at L’Estartit has a village-like atmosphere with quite a community returning year after year. This is probably due to the fact that the winters are generally mild, the site is of a very high standard and they offer a tremendously good deal if you stay for the month. We have had several group outings and social events. We have been out for ‘Menu Del Dia’ a few times. This is a set meal with about three choices on each of three courses. The price includes wine, beer or a soft drink and water and bread to start. The best restaurants are the ones with the white workmen’s vans outside. This is a sure sign that good quality fresh food is on the menu. Mike has been very brave because as well as not knowing what you are ordering the Catalans also seem to cook every single piece of an animal’s anatomy. For our first ‘Menu Del Dia’ he mopped up all the gravy from his chick pea soup carefully avoiding a very large ‘tube’. It may have been a pig’s aorta-who knows. At a different restaurant (without white vans) Mike and a fellow camper called Alan ordered lamb. It was a part of a stew and had a strangely sweet taste. They found it completely inedible and left most of it-traditional Catalan cooking a step too far for us Brits. I noticed a round shape on Alan’s plate and as I thought it was from a certain part of a male’s anatomy I asked if he would mind me giving it a poke. My initial diagnosis turned out to be wrong it was in fact an eyeball.