May 2011

Spring has sprung in a spluttering kind of fashion this year.  Bright, sunny and warm one day.  Wet, overcast and blustery the next.  Yesterday exemplified that.  We started our day under grey damp skies with a brief visit to the ‘Temps De Flors’ festival in Girona – the annual splatter of colour that adorns patios, churches, gardens and more with an array of creative floral and related designs and props.  The festival is complemented by numerous other activities which in total provide the visitor with yet another excuse if one were ever needed to visit a city which grander than its size belies.

On to La Rectoria our industry for the day entailed Goretti applying a mild acid to the steel curtain that marks the windows and doors, the aim being to accelerate the oxidation thereby giving that ‘irn bru’ (very sweet Scottish drink)orange rusty effect which will be ‘fixed’ by finally applying a coating of oil.  Mission accomplished.  For my part, I did some weeding, spraying of weeds and path construction in the garden.   We finished off with our weekly walk around the house, making or trying to make decisions about this and that.

Our third port of call was ‘Lactium’, a cheese fair in the fine city of Vic, Osona.  Wow! We discovered some whopping examples – a one and a half year old hard and equally strong goat’s cheese from Can Pujol, Vilassar de Alt.  A soft but beautifully balanced goat’s cheese from Borrada.  But the pick of the bunch came from a farm near Banyols, Mas Alba.  The genial owner had on display four or five cheeses each inviting me to pull up a chair, uncork a bottle of wine and settle down for indulgent session of cheese munching had time not been more pressing.  One resembling a French ‘crotin’ was elegantly soft and creamy with a gentle nudge of goat. The winner was the aptly called ‘Uff’, named so after numerous friends had simply exclaimed ‘uff’ having had a nose full of the cheese.  It is exciting and a pleasure to have such excellent examples of artisan deftness on our doorstep and we hope on your plate in future.   The whole experience drove me to serve up a potent little goat’s cheese soufflé for lunch today.

As a footnote to our visit to Vic, one stall holder having learnt of my nationality quickly asked my opinion regarding the prospects for Scottish Independence following the Scottish National Party’s victory in recent Elections.  I dually gave him the proud Scot speech, adding the need to consider deeply all of the facts before ‘going it alone’, as it were.  Without blinking the same man then asked me of my opinion on the subject of nothing less than crop circles, those geometric forms that appear in the corn fields of Southern England and which are alleged by some to be the result of Extra Terrestrial visits.  I swiftly dismissed this idea as mere fantasy and we walked on.

On reflection however maybe the ideas of Scottish Independence and crop circles are related.  Both satisfy our desire for escapism and fulfil that part of our nature occupied by dreams.  Or perhaps more sinisterly, our nationalist politicians actually are little green men from space – ‘Uff’, the smell of nationalist politics.

During our visit to northern Castello over Easter we contacted an Antique dealer we had met at the local Antique fair here in Cardedeu last year, our principle aim being to secure a bench for the main hall.  He met us in a somewhat forlorn village that will remain forever forgettable and followed him in his somewhat knackered transit van to his somewhat ingratiously named ‘warehouse’….shed.

At first glance on that cool and very wet Good Friday afternoon my heart fell as the doors were opened.  Like a number of other such places we had visited the scene was one of disorganized abandon.  Furniture stacked with no seeming care or order – old doors, sad looking chairs, a wardrobe with its detached door to one side.  We were shown three benches.   One restored and in quite fine condition and two longer old church benches in need of a considerable amount of TLC.  We have reserved judgment on whether we will purchase one of the two.

I continued to circumnavigate the scene and gradually the odd item of interest somehow shone through the gloom.  A sturdy looking ‘carver’ type dining chair with a seat woven from cord.  A half dozen or so wooden ‘buckets’ with stunted horn like handles which once served to carry olive oil.  I was on the point of leaving, resolved that our wee detour had hit yet another metaphorical brick wall when I noticed a number of plastic boxes stacked by the door.  On closer inspection each held tidily arranged rows of ceramic tiles, a box or two of each design.  On enquiring we learnt that the tiles had been lifted from the floors of old masias or other such properties and would otherwise have just been thrown out. Over the next twenty minutes or so and with the help of a few rain drops to wash away the dirt and clay dust we selected four different designs.  The idea being to use some to provide ‘bed heads’ in some of the guest rooms.  So a bench we may or may not have, but some tiles may be adorning your room in future.

From the anecdotal evidence I have had over the last few years, so many such items and those of considerably greater value have just been discarded without any thought of reuse or whether they had any value…..I suggest much has probably been lost in the tragedy of mid 20th Century Spain and the subsequent land grab, property speculation boom and bust and the pursuit of the goal that what is ‘new and modern’ is best.

Back at La Rectoria cool spring weather and somewhat overcast conditions have been bathing the house in soft spring light, something more akin to a typical British spring day.  Our new lawn has taken well and the sward has thickened nicely.