Well after that little moan about the weather, the next day dawned sunny with blue skies. Alright there was also a bit of a chilly wind from the mountains but if you stood in the right place, it was HOT.
We went to the beach in the afternoon. To beautiful Sant Pol beach
Found the sandy part has been further eaten away by the sea and the beach itself is now a narrow strip with a sheer drop into the sea. But it was beautiful and peaceful as always
The cormorant was sunning herself on the rock and there was only one man up on the cliff top gazing down on the naked bodies.
I am back in Sant Nicolau.
It’s a wonderful feeling to drive up the AP7 and see the mountains in the distance, getting closer, until at last you see Mare de Deu del Mont and seemingly beside it, but actually much farther away, the peaks of Canigo, covered in snow even though it is April.
Then the drive down the bumpy sandy lane, through the woods until the sanctuary of Sant Nicolau comes into view. Getting out of the van there is a smell of pine and herbs and a cuckoo is calling.
Dogs come out to greet you first. Bob is a deeply satisfying mountain of a dog with gentle eyes and large strong paws which he folds one over the other when he is lying down. Lucy is steady and solid and calm. And at the moment there is another guardian of the house – Nero is waiting to be rehomed in Germany and is having the best time of his life so far, chasing balls in the garden here.
Bonnie made an instant friend. They have a shared love of chasing balls
We arrived and settled in and just as I felt myself start to relax completely, Bonnie got sick. She’d been off her food and slightly peaky for days but that first night she began vomiting and was getting very thirsty and troubled.
So off to the vet the next day who diagnosed gastroenteritis – an inflammation of the whole digestive system. We went to the Canis vets in Figueres who were wonderful and calming for my anxious nerves. I hate it when an animal is sick and with Bonnie I am especially good at worrying and catastrophising. It is almost a year since Blue died here and I want to believe that Bonnie is still young and strong but she will be 11 in June!
Several injections and a few pills later she began to perk up and we drove to the sea to cook up some white rice and chicken for her invalid lunch in the van. She was very hungry – it had been three days since she had a proper meal.
We stopped at Roses, parked beside a little sandy beach and went for a walk along the rocks
It was lovely but oh dear, look at that hill covered in houses and flats. They are so tightly packed in together that you feel dizzy looking at them. However often I see the coast-line developments here, I can’t stop myself asking “How could they do that to such a beautiful place?” I actually feel it was criminal. Money and greed must have been the motivation and the extreme beauty of the beach and the sea only makes the ugliness of the buildings more painful.
However, it was a great day. The sun was shining and Bonnie got stronger and happier by the minute.
The sea was a little too cold even for me to swim in but the sun is shining and the birds are singing lustily at the Mas. Cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuck!
Before those days gently slide away into the past I want to write a little about the rest of our trip to Els Ports and the Delta.
The campsite began to fill up on Easter Friday and as it wasn’t very special staying there we decided to move on. There was nothing wrong with it but I’ve become fussy about campsites after visiting so many in the past three years and this was one of the ones, for example, with no toilet seats!
We thought we’d set off early and have breakfast before going to hear some drumming.
The van had other ideas
Luckily a campsite is a great place to find experts in almost anything and we had two car mechanics arguing over what exactly was causing it to refuse to start.
Then there were at least 12 people who helped push-start us and we were off to visit Vallderoures a beautiful walled town over the border in Aragon, with a castle and church and a bridge leading into the old central square
There was a special Easter celebration of drumming at 11am and even with the van problem we got there in time to find a shady parking place very close to the town but far enough away so that Bonnie wouldn’t be frightened by the sound of 100 drums.
Everything was easy and we went first to look for a cafe with wifi and found one overlooking the river and the town
Thank goodness we had ordered our breakfast before finding out their password was ‘vivaespaña’! While this sounds innocent enough to any British person who remembers the song, to a Catalan it is a code for something not so light-hearted!
With Bonnie safely sleeping in the van, outside the city walls, we squeezed into the square to listen to and feel the drums. I got interested in all the faces – this guy for example.
By the castle there is a garden with a Via Dolorosa – a walk taking you past each station of the Cross. Here is the fourth one – Jesus meets Mary on the road.
Later we drove to the coast meaning to find a campsite by the Delta. But Ampolla was full and too much of a culture shock after our quiet walks so we continued east to Ametlla del Mar. There we found one of the best campsites in the world. It was dark when we got there but the following morning we woke to find the sea only minutes away down a quiet cliff path and the sound of the waves all around us
I liked Ametlla del Mar very much – even though the Tramontana was blowing and the internet wasn’t working in the campsite and the harbour cafes were a bit expensive. It was one of those places where you arrive and immediately start planning when you can come again!
Oh and the campsite is called Camping Nautic!
On Sunday we set off for home but it was so hard to leave that we took a little diversion to a Naturist beach. And had our first swims of the year! No pictures – sorry!
There is a beach near Sant Pere Pescador which I have been trying to find for a while.
This time armed with a detailed map and accompanied by man and dog to help me stay focussed, I finally found it. Actually I have been very close once before but in the summer you can’t go hereas it is part of the protection area for breeding birds.
Bleached driftwood is lying everywhere.
It is a beachcombers paradise. Something I only dreamed of in Cornwall
The wood is almost all branches from trees so there are not the kind of planks you sometimes find brought in on Atlantic waves, but still it is very impressive for a bay on the Mediterranean, surrounded as it is by towns and villages and within a gentle stroll from a man-made monstrosity called Empuriabrava.
I brought back some pieces to carve
and had to leave some that were too heavy to move
And there was a dog wondering ‘with all this wood around why don’t you throw a stick for me?’
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. We set off to look at flats by the sea on the Maresme.
It is a recent plan – that instead of looking for a new home to move into, we stay based here in Granollers and also rent a small flat, mainly for me to use as a peaceful retreat and as somewhere to put my ‘stuff’. Stuff which is still in packing boxes one year after moving it to Spain.
There is a train line that goes along the coast from Barcelona and ends up at Blanes where it turns inland. If we could find somewhere along that line it would mean an easy trip to and from town – big town I mean. There is a problem with getting across to Granollers – there are no easy connections by public transport so it would mean driving, and more importantly, parking!
And then there is the problem of the coastal towns. They were heavily developed in Franco’s Spain and so appear to my Cornish/Scottish gaze, pretty ugly and sprawly.
But their horrible industrial, modern, high-rise exteriors often hide a central area that is beautiful and more village-like
Canet de Mar is one example of this. Of course there is the busy road and the railway line which cut off the town from the sea but there is also a long sandy beach and on the other side, a town with some interesting Modernist buildings and a peaceful seaside atmosphere
There is a resident radical theatre company called The Comediants.
And posters around town advertised drawing classes and dancing.
My favourite place would be Sant Pol. It is near the beach that we go to regularly and is like a jewel on the coast, the road has turned inward and so the town is much more peaceful. The water is blue and the streets are narrow. We looked at a few flats – one too expensive, one too big, one too dark. There was a lovely one for the right price close to the beach, but far away from shops and cafes.
We picked up a free smile to keep in the car
And then went to the beach for a glorious afternoon of sun and sea air. There was hardly anyone else there – a Friday in October – a gift from the gods