We were introduced to the concept of Catalan communal barbecuing last Sunday. We drove from Cardedeu and met John and Mar near Arbúcies. The rendevous was a wooded site set next to the Riu d’Arbúcies carrying the last of the cold winter waters from Montseny. The cars apart, the site took on the appearance of some medieval encampment. Billowing clouds of smoke emitting from brick built barbecue pits as families and friends prepared lunch.

Some families cooked chicken, some sausages. Some lamb cutlets and others pork chops. The three old dears next to us lobbed on a half dozen‘grenade` like globe artichokes, spraying them with olive oil making the flames lick skyward. Ultimately what everyone cooked around the site was calçots. Half leek, half spring onion. These are thrown on smoking barbecue fires until the green and white outer leaves are charred to a charcoal black. Thereafter, the eating of these serpentine vegetables takes on a ritual of its own. Bib or large napkin tucked below ones chin and holding the cooked calçot from the top, the outer blackened sheath is deftly peeled off in one swift movement. The root end is then dipped in the accompanying romesco sauce and holding your head back dropped into your fully opened gob! Sweet and succulent.

Not to be outdone we provided the dessert….I still prefer to call them puddings. To me a more wholesome and satisfying word. One that spells comfort food. A subject to be expanded upon at some future date. Well, the pudding on this occasion was a blood orange (sanguine) jelly set in cava and orange wine, infused with star anise and cloves and served on this occasion with carquinyoles (hazelnut biscotti). One for La Rectoria menu.

And so to today. We returned this afternoon from thanking Pere, a farmer and neighbour at Sant Feliu, for dragging a delivery truck from the winter quagmire that was the road to the house a few weeks ago. His home was set like three neighbouring ones next to a bubbling stream which fed each home with what was once a working lade, used to power a mill. We asked about re-seeding the lawn, once the rubble and earth have gone and other matters of local interest.

Back home, we popped next door to the vacant plot that should be but is not a garden. A few trees….a fig, a conifer and some stunted palms. Amongst the new flush of weeds and armed with a pair of scissors we gathered the first harvest of the year, wild asparagus. Juicy pencil like spears punching skywards. Ten minutes later I would say we had a good bunch of fifty or so pieces. Tea for tomorrow served with scrambled eggs, typically catalan.

And this week’s news from the house. More concrete trenches to reinforce the foundations. A backcloth to all this is the ongoing dialogue regarding the reconstruction budget and structural work. Design, pragmatism and budget. A delicate balancing act.

As for Spring. It is official. I saw my first swallows of the year at Coll de la Manya on Thursday morning, swooping and soaring as elegantly as always.