And so it was last Saturday night we sat down to celebrate ‘Burns Night’.  A first in a number of ways.  The first I had ever prepared in total and hosted.  The first in Carretera de Canoves, Cardedeu, and certainly the first that our Catalan friends and neighbours had attended.

A grand party was highly appropriate and timely as two days later work commenced on the ‘rebuilding’, ‘restoration’ and more importantly the raison d’être of our being here in Catalunya.  The commencement of what will hopefully be the fulfilment of over 5 years dreaming, scheming, mulling over and sweating about.  The transformation of ‘La Rectoria de Sant Miquel de Pineda’ to a Casa Rural, or guest house.  Pere our builder started knocking the s*** out of walls and getting rid of several decades of dirt, dust and debris and some stones going back possibly many centuries.  Now the clock has started ticking.  For in 18 months or so we will be uprooting ourselves to our new home and business.  A guest house in the foothills of the Pyrenees, 100 km or so north of Barcelona.

Meanwhile back to the Haggis antics.  The main course had been procured by dear friends of ours ‘The Macs’ in the Beatrix Potteresque named village of Lilliesleaf near Melrose stuffed in a suitcase and then lain dormant in our freezer until last week.   The menu comprised ‘Cock a leekie’, a wholesome soup of chicken, leeks and prunes too which we had added barley to give it more body.  The Haggis followed, served with Tatties (pomme puree amply bestowed with cream and butter) and Neeps….given the very different nature of the Catalan turnip (nap), pumpkin was roasted and pureed to give a worthy substitute.  We finished with ‘Clootie Dumplin’  (a steamed pudding of raisins, suet – dehydrated rendered beef fat…lip smacking – spices, syrup and a few other bits and pieces), served with butterscotch sauce and almond praline.  The above was washed down with liberal quantities of Glenmorangie in the main, and we finished with homemade shortbread, fudge and coffee.

The poetry wasn’t too bad either.  For Burns purists et al we did not stick rigorously to the formal protocol of the evening….we blew out on Tam O’Shanter and the speeches.  On the other hand our hosts Quico and Pepa did manage to rustle up a Catalan Piper playing the ‘Sac de gemecs’ (or sack of groans or whines – if only we Scots were so honest!) to pipe in the haggis.  And I hope I didn’t murder ‘Auld Lang Syne’ too much, deciding to sing it solo to the mildly whisky embued throng.  John (fae Clydebank) did a sterling job with a couple of poems and in short I think we’re booked for next year and beyond.  A big thanks to Pepa and Quico for giving us the space and their time.

In signing off, I just hope that the Spanish economy does not go right down the tubes, if for the sole reason that for now quality supplies of ‘aqua vitae’ can be found at refreshingly low prices.

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