The migration of birds helps me understand my life

Starlings over Marazion Marshes

I promised myself I would write here today and although it is late at night I want to keep to that promise.

Now that I have this brand new beautiful blog I feel shy about writing unless it is worthwhile, interesting, wonderful and perfect.

Impossible expectations of myself only freeze my creativity.

So here I am writing just an ordinary post, hoping at least to capture something of the moment that I am living through right now.

I am back in Cornwall yet again.

I arrived about three weeks ago and tomorrow night I leave Penzance on the sleeper train to London. On Saturday I will fly to Barcelona and then travel on by train to Granollers.

It is the first time in years that I have been back in Cornwall in November and  I have loved it.  The weather has been pretty good and I’ve been able to walk along the deserted coast path and on the empty beaches. The winter birds have arrived and the summer tourists have gone.

The roads are quiet and the streets of Penzance have been returned to the locals.

Starlings going home to roost

But I found myself aware that I am no longer a local.   I am not a tourist but am definitely a visitor. Some people in my village of Lamorna didn’t recognise me.  Others are surprised to see me at this time of year and every day someone is asking,  ” How long are you here this time?”  and  “When do you go off again?”         It is perfectly natural for people to want to know these things.  There is something disturbing about someone who comes and goes, someone who used to live here and be part of the fabric of life but who suddenly upped and went off to live in Spain.  I hear an element of accusation in the questions, a hint of annoyance as if I decided to go because Cornwall wasn’t good enough for me.

Being a migrant means I am expected at certain times of the year and am seen as a strange occurance at others.  As if I have flown off course.

This makes me sad and makes me long to settle down and stay again, to be a year round resident.

And yet…..

I feel the call of the south.   I want to go  where the sun shines with more warmth.  There is something – and  someone who is calling me.  And in the spring I will start to dream of Cornish cliffs and of my country cabin.

I don’t like feeling like a transient visitor when I come to Cornwall but somehow this is now my reality.

I have always felt drawn to birds and known a link between their lives and mine.

It helps me understand my life now when I think about migration


The Coast at Roses

Back at Sant Nicolau!  Tomorrow we leave again which is hard as I love it here but I must admit I am looking forward to fast internet, coffee and cakes with Lydia and Tiffany and the possibility of a hot bath. And Burns Night!  We are having our Burns supper on Saturday in Granollers

Today however we were able to enjoy the pleasures of the Costa Brava

We went to Roses to look for a hidden cove and had a wonderful walk along a path that so reminded me of the Cornish coast path. Bonnie was happy and seemed to glow in the sunshine

It was rocky and wild, the sea was aquamarine and crystal clear

There were some differences though.
One of was the sight of the snow covered Pyranees over on the far side of Roses bay

Another was the occasional scented blast of fresh herbs flowering in the sunshine

I have never seen such a profusion of wild rosemary in flower

Another strong scent was from the Alyssum, a flower I remember from our Troon garden.
It smells of honey and is very hard to photograph as it is so tiny

Later we drove back through Roses town just in time to catch the starlings preparing to roost. As always we were the only people who seemed remotely interested in watching birds. It was the most wonderful sight.  There must have been a thousand birds and they filled the air with their cries while creating magical heart-stopping ever changing patterns in the darkening sky

Back in Sant Nicolau

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!

Virtual Vermut

I’ve needed a few actual vermuts this week.

It was the sort of week you dread in advance and then when it’s taken step by step – poc a poc – it isn’t so bad.  But I was feeling a bit on the edge – easily irritable – could it be the Spring?  That seems to be the explanation for most things at the moment.

We got our potatoes in at last.

For the first time I have planted some in sacks on the terrace and the rest of them are in four rows in a large allotment in Llica D’Amunt.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee
And live alone in the bee loud glade

Marc, the owner, has lots of vegetables growing there down by the river Tenis, with a chicken run and cherry blossom trees. Bonnie had to be stopped from digging holes – she seems to have forgotten how to behave on a vegetable patch or perhaps she was just over-excited

In 90 days we should be eating our own Charlottes and Pentland Javelins.

Early one morning Bonnie was unusually restless and something in her little plaintive whines made me decide to get up and actually take her out rather than just open the door to the terrace.  It was 6am. She led me rapidly through the empty streets, down to the New Park

A dog with a mission. Once there she found some grass and began to munch. It was fascinating how she chose which bits to eat and which to reject. Pure instinct

If we were sitting down now to share a drink I might tell you stories about the family party we had at the weekend. We had planned a barbecue on the terrace and even though it was cloudy and threatening rain, we went ahead. It wasn’t cold – just a little breezy. But so lovely to be outside. Somewhere along the line we had forgotten that not everyone likes to sit outside on a cloudy day in early Spring. There were lots of complaints. And I drank lots more vermuts to keep myself smiling!
These are calçots!

The celebration?  Funnily enough this year both father and son have significant birthdays.
The resident adolescent is now officially an adult.
We are watching closely for signs of the change.
I made three cakes – two of them were disasters as the sponges rose very high in the oven and promptly collapsed on coming out. For the third I gave up the idea of cake and instead made chocolate brownies at the last minute.  In the fridge were chocolate candles given to the boy by a friend – one 1 and one 8. Unfortunately by the day of the party he had nibbled off half of the 8 and so we had a cake for a 13year old!

The birds are beginning to pair up.  I’m looking out for swallows.
People are starting to talk about Spring!  And when they say “La Primavera” they say it with a twinkle in the eye. It means much more here than sprouting potatoes and budding trees

Bonnie met her friend Azlan in the park -it’s good to see her so happy.

There is certainly something in the air. something explosive and strong. For me it meant having to hold my tongue on several occasions when I felt frustrated.  I need to be out of the city – somewhere  I can ‘live in the bee loud glade’. Perhaps not alone but certainly away from the constant presence of computers games and crisp packets, disinterested shop assistants, piles of rubbish on the ground and shops full of bored unfriendly people buying more clothes.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings
There midnight’s all a glimmer and noon a purple glow
And evening’s full of the linnets wings

And home again

Back in Granollers.  And it is good here too!
I went to my first Catalan class of the year, actually the first in two years.
I am now doing Elemental 1 which sounds high level to me but someone  asked me  ‘is that all?’
This time my class is over the bridge in Canovelles. It’s like a different village, like going from Penzance to Newlyn. They are joined up but not the same.
The class was nice, The others were very friendly and even when the teacher wasn’t there they spoke CATALAN!  In my other class everyone couldn’t wait to revert to Castellano which meant I was at a disadvantage. Perhaps it is because we are paying for this course. It’s only 30 euros or so but still we pay so we are keen to succeed.  Class makeup – all women: one African, four Moroccans, one Valencian, two from other parts of Spain and one Scottish. A good group.

On the way home I looked again at the fields of yellow plants and still can’t identify them but now I am sure they are not Jerusalem artichokes. And I saw lots of fish in the river – so it must be fairly clean.

Then Bonnie and I walked to the Casino to meet a friend, we talked Catalan and nothing else for two hours, Bonnie didn’t bark at anyone and on the way home there were still bands of screeching swifts high above us.  Today is October 3rd and they are still here or at least some of them are. They must be the last broods, preparing to fly off to Africa.  And I am the only person in Granollers who stops mid conversation to point up at the sky and scream ‘Mira!  Falciots!  Encara!’   (Look!  Swifts!  Still!)