Saturday, February 07, 2015

Making up for a missed day

Closed for business because of TripAdvisor

The sun is shining directly on the computer screen making it difficult to see the words.  That isn’t strictly true of course, I merely have to increase the light with the touch of a button and my screen is quite easy to read, but I simply like to spread the feeling of envy around a little especially to stir up my friends in Britain!  Though to be fair our television screens here in Spain have been filled with pictures of vast (for us) snow drifts and dire prognostications about the fearful diminution of liveable temperatures during this weekend.  Living by the sea we are generally insulated from the worst excesses of poor weather.  So, while it is cold, it is also bright and the temperature finds it difficult to get below about five degrees.  Which is cold, but it is minus 14 in other parts of the peninsular, or so we are told.  We here in Castelldefels tend to regard these as horror stories told to make us feel smug in our relative warmth.
            Which does not stop it feeling cold and I type this wrapped in my black, furry blanket.  While still wearing sandals of course.  Some things cannot be changed merely because it is not the season!

For the first time ever I have returned from my swim without having swum.  In spite of circling the leisure centre like some sort of predatory shark, there were no parking spaces to be hand, not even for ready money!  There are of course always parking opportunities for those with no consideration and total belief that no policeman or warden will ever venture out over the weekend.  And indeed I did see one Pedralbes tractor (our equivalent of the Chelsea variety) bark over a whole grid of motorcycle spaces; another park at an almost perfect tangent to a rounded corner; another park on a zebra crossing, and numerous others double park.  But I am made of more law abiding stuff and spurn to descend to the parking contempt of Johnny Foreigner.  One has one’s standards.  Low they might be, but there are limits.
            I have told myself that there will be time for my swim after lunch.  We are expecting Irene to descend from the hills wherein she lives and join us for the repast.  She has had snow!  We sea-shore dwellers are hardly surprised by this as we tend to regard people who live above the third floor as having alpine tendencies and therefore prey to the white stuff.
            It all fairness it has to be admitted that the approaches to Irene’s home are vertiginous, and when we visit (in the days of warmth and sunshine) we often speculate on the chaos which a touch of frost must bring.  The idea of the white stuff on the roads is too awful to contemplate with any equanimity.  And Irene was duly trapped in her habitation by the fall that we had a few days ago.
            I was able to appreciate the aesthetic appeal of snow by gazing at the surrounding hills when I left the leisure centre.  Distant views of the stuff are more than sufficient for me.  I still have nightmares about my horror drive from the school on the hill during one storm.  By homeward journey took me nine times longer than normal, to say nothing of the psychological damage done to my nervous system by having to invent ever more colourful forms of abuse to lighten my progress and the structural damage done to the metallic integrity of the car by the sheer bombarding volume of that abuse.  Those who live and work in the hills must suffer the consequences!

Toni is still bleating on about the non-arrival of his books.  I am delighting in such moaning, relishing our moment of fellow feeling about shared deprivation.  Half jokingly Toni asserted that he would need one of the bookcases in the living room to accommodate his growing library.  Unfortunately I do not have space to spare and Toni’s suggestions about how to make space have been treated with the contempt that they richly deserve.  As Monty Python said, “Every book is sacred” or something like it, and I see no reason to change one of the guiding tenets of my life, discarding tomes merely because I may not have looked at a particular volume for a decade or so!  Heresy indeed!  What I say is, if you start to throw away books then you are on the vicious downward spiral ending up in voting Conservative.  And we all know where that will lead us.  Again.

Booking a room for Irene for the festivities in October was just a trifle bizarre.  Given that the Meal is in the restaurant near where we used to live, the little hostal behind the Most Expensive Supermarket in the World (the same supermarket away from which Toni’s horrified mum dragged me when I expressed the intention of buying tomatoes there) would obviously be the best bet for a cheap and convenient one night stop for Irene.  Some hope!
            When I parked, suspiciously easily, on the main road I should have realized that things were not going to be that simple.  The door to the hostal was closed but pushed open when I tried it and there was the Old Man hunched against the counter with his signature half-smoked cigar in his mouth.  He watched and listened as I outlined my needs and then, with a broad and totally uncharacteristic smile told me the hostal was closed; would be closed and would not have had been opened.  At all.  Ever.  Even for a room booked so far ahead as October.  Never. 
OK, I get the idea of the open hotel which is closed.  But why was he waiting behind the counter in the tiny reception area?  Waiting for what, for whom?  Perhaps it was to give the totally unhelpful suggestions of pricy alternatives to his non available accommodation.  Perhaps he is working on becoming a well-known eccentric – the only person in a hotel, walking through the empty rooms and looking for a hatchet to get into the bathroom.  Who knows?  Who cares?
            It did give me the opportunity to wander about and ask about spending other people’s money.  Ceri and Dianne’s flats were a little pricey.  The Playafels was equally expensive.  Paul Squared’s putative dwelling was reasonable however at around €40 around thirty quid.  That is not for an apartment, just a room and without sea view, but affordable – and with parking.  Though, thinking about it, there is not likely to be that much of a problem in the autumn.  Still, nice to make assurance double sure.

We will probably have lunch in Isla de Cuba in the centre – though I am not sure that that is the correct spelling.  This is one of the few restaurants that keeps the price of the weekend menu del dia at the same price.
            That restaurant was exactly where we went.  The place was crowded and we were eventually given a place not noted for its salubriousness – directly in front of the entrance to the toilets!  In spite of that the meal was good, though Toni had to have his meal taken away and the correct form of lomo given to him.  A small price to pay for a more than decent meal and at a weekend cost which is virtually unbeatable.
            I am still conscious that I haven’t gone for my swim and that time is slipping away and there could, oh the horror of it all, be a day when I had not immersed myself in the lightly salted waters of my local pool.

Thanks to Irene we have been struggling with the addition of a new program to our computer systems: Picasa – which is a photo program to add to the others which we have. 
I am prepared to go with this one as it offers the possibility of my making something of the photographs that I have taken for my ‘Trees’ poem sequence.  My way of thinking is that if I can make it look arty enough then I might be able to get away with using my own work rather than that of other people.  I will see.  There can be no harm in trying something new in the hope that I can get something productive out of it.

I am missing my swim.  If that is the most appropriate tense to use.  Who knows.

Don’t forget the new poems at

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