Extra Time

It is almost 10 weeks since we had the bad news about Bonnie’s health. The cancer she has is fast growing and aggressive and the statistics say that without chemotherapy treatment a dog would not normally live for more than 4-6 weeks.

But here we still are, in a strange state of limbo, celebrating the extra time we have been given and trying not to just spend the days waiting for something bad to happen.

For the last two months we have been to-ing and fro-ing between town and country. It is much easier making a sick dog happy when you live in a beautiful cottage surrounded by woods and green fields. Granollers is a not a bad place – I love it in many ways and write my other blog to celebrate its many interesting features. But in the end it is an industrial town, with traffic, pollution, people milling around on the streets and even the river side is dirty and litter strewn.

Here at Sant Nicolau we can open the door and hear birdsong. Our morning walk is along a dusty lane which winds through the woods and then opens out onto a wide plane with the mountains rising in the distance. I never get tired of this view of Canigo

We are happy here – Bonnie plays with the other dogs, enjoys the smells of the forest – wild boar I expect – and has no reason to be startled by sirens or horns or people shouting or dogs rushing at her snapping and barking. I am writing and painting, reading and meditating, trying to find a rhythm to my days so that they don’t just feel like an extended holiday

But of course it does also feel strange.
Watching Bonnie so closely makes me tense.   I am alone a lot of the time which I enjoy but there is so much time to think and worry.  I distract myself with Trollope and Downton Abbey.
She has a shelf of bottles containing various anti-cancer supplements and I need to balance giving her as much of these as possible, while not over-loading her weak digestion

Sometimes I forget about the cancer . Of course Bonnie never gives it a thought!
We play or walk and breath each other in each second.
Then I remember with a jolt, asking myself if I am doing it all right?
There is a dog cancer forum which I belong to and the people are immensely generous with their support and knowledge. Which supplements, when to give them, how much, what to expect, and then caring messages when it seems the fight is over and finally, support when the dog has died.

Last weekend I got very anxious about Bonnie’s diarrhoea.  I have tried so many things and yet it continues. It is a possible sign of the disease gripping faster onto her system. Or it could be a reaction to all the supplements. I wrote to the group in the morning and within an hour there were five responses with suggestions and recipes and more information about intestinal lymphoma.

Thank you, internet, for making all this possible!

Support, information, connection and being able to buy stuff from abroad online – I am so thankful for it.  None of the supplements were to be found here in Catalunya or Spain – I have had packets arriving every week from the UK and the USA. If people here needed similar information I wonder where they would find it if they didn’t speak English.  Perhaps it is something to think of in the future – a Spanish/Catalan web site with all the basic information. It all started for me with Dr Dresslers book which I found by chance online and after that the research has never stopped and I am sure what I learned brought us these extra weeks together.


People have told me not to look for a house in Borrassà as it smells of pig farming and yes perhaps it does have a country whiffy smell sometimes but so does Lamorna.
I like Borrassà very much.  Every time I arrive in the Emporda I go there for shopping and start relaxing as soon as I park in the small town square.
I don’t eat much meat myself and for most of my life I was totally vegetarian. The idea of pigs being reared in barns upsets me as do the conditions that all animals have to suffer as they live out lives in service to human beings.
But today I am sharing a photo of the butchers in Borrassa

It is strange to find in myself the possibility of liking a butchers shop but I do like this one. 
They are very friendly and non-intimidating. I don’t have any anxiety when I go in even thought I am not in my natural element – I have to speak Catalan and I need to talk meat about which I am almost completely ignorant.

So why do I go there?

To get food for Bonnie of course. After her tick disease I changed her diet onto one of raw meaty bones and it has taken me into many butchers shops and turned me at last into something more like a typical Catalan housewife.

I ask about liver and kidney, I buy whole skinned rabbits, I peer with interest at the pigs trotters, I try to buy green tripe (impossible to find so far), I stop the butcher from removing the chicken’s head and feet.
“No, I want all of it!”  I say confidently.

What a difference from the old days!  When I tried to buy chicken breast and came home with all the parts, not knowing what to do with it. Now I would know

January Walk at Sant Nicolau

It is no secret that I love the Alt Empordà

My spirits rise when I see the mountains in the distance and the green fields spreading out on both sides on the road. This time I asked myself, at what point do I start to feel that shift in energy which tells me I am arriving?   I was travelling in the van with Bonnie up the AP7 and I think the change happened when I crossed the River Ter which flows from the mountains to the Aiguamolls.
Seeing the snow-peaked Pyranees gives me a similar shiver to the one I always get on seeing St Michaels Mount in Penzance.
Home again!

In the distance the Canigó is covered in snow

The almond blossom is out

There is flowering rosemary on the country lanes

and here are my favourite letters carved in stone on the lane to Sant Nicolau
One day I hope to live here – it’s a place that inspires you
Cap a la part del Pirineu,
vora els serrats i arran del mar
s’obre una plana riallera,
n’és l’Empordà !
Joan Maragall

Ordis Cats

It was a sunny afternoon so I prised myself off the sofa where I was quite happy with wine and the newspaper, and walked to Ordis. It is the nearest village and could be described as peaceful, or quiet, or even dead!  I saw noone all the time we wandered around  the streets. the church clock struck one quarter, then two, then three and not a curtain twitched or a door creaked open.
But the best bit of Ordis is the abandonned house where the cats live

There were kittens too

They do seem well and healthy and there were the usual plastic containers lying around showing that someone feeds them all regularly

I am in love with this kitten

If only we could!  I tried to imagine it living in Granollers, with a cat tray on the terrace and a flap in the door leading outside. But what about when we go to the UK?  Who would look after her?  I don’t think I could manage driving up through France with a dog and a cat on leads in the camper van.
I must wait till we live somewhere proper, in the countryside with neighbours who can come in and stroke and feed cats.
On the way home I met another mushroom hunter

That’s the word for it here in the Girona region. People go to caçar bolets.  We had a very long chat in Catalan. If I am honest she did most of the talking and clearly thought I was fluent. I smiled and frowned at all the right places and did understand about 50% but the other half was totally lost on me. She was a lovely woman and lives in Ordis. I was able to ask her about the cats house. Unfortunately I didn’t really understand the answer.
A lovely sky as we got close to home.

Back on the sofa now with wine and the newspaper!

What’s Not To Like?

I am back at Sant Nicolau and although I was supposed to go home today I am still here!
It’s the light.
It’s waking up to birdsong.
It’s the pleasure of letting Bonnie out into the garden for her morning pee without having to get dressed to face the people of Granollers.

I called this post What’s Not To Like?  because I’ve always loved that strange phrase, learnt from my old friend Hannah in London.  Being here in Sant Nicolau makes me feel that way.
I love being here.
Helen and Francis are such warm generous people, the little cottages for rent feel like home from home, the resident dogs and cats are friendly and chilled, the gardens are beautiful, the swimming pool is inviting, there is healing energy in the air. We are near the lovely beaches of the Costa Brava and from the Mas you can walk along quiet lanes with the Pyranees and Mare de Deu del Mont in the distance.
Here there be light and love and magic!
The only thing that would make it perfect would be if Pep was here too!
This is the walk that Bonnie and I take most days from the house.