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Holidays in the sun (and a thunderstorm or two)


We never made Seville, but we did make it along the winding road to Lloret, Tossa’s near-neighbour a few kms south. Large, tacky and angry (think Blackpool with sunshine) we didn’t stay long, just long enough to purchase two child’s guitars and some books from a wonderful old bookshop, “Busco Books”, run by an English couple, where I bought Updike’s “Terrorist” and “The Outsider” by Camus.

Walking along Lloret’s front I was struck by the wide variety of frightening, dangerous water-based activities (parascending, inflatable everything) and gangs of young men strutting around with no tops on – at least in Tossa it’s the girls who are topless. There is the world’s most glamorous McDonalds by the beach and some very sleazy arcades, but overall, yuk. Returned to Tossa with thanks in our hearts.

In retrospect we probably booked a holiday a week too long. The apartment is small, the weather uncertain. The other night witnessed an amazing thunderstorm and once again worried about those damned cats. The mother keeps us up all night yowling; one of her kittens seems to be missing. The mum spends most of her time perched on the path behind, twenty feet above the bushes; to get down she sort of runs, head first, vertically down the rock. Amazing to see.

“Terrorist” is a real disappointment; so sad when your hero’s powers wane. All these ludicrous connections, implausible conversations. As for “The Outsider”- a revelation. I read The Plague yonks ago but never got round to this one. So glad I discovered it for the first time aged 43. The last sentence on p.78 first para (“”Anyway, I decided that the traveller had deserved it really and that you should never play around") is a perfect example of what sets him apart, his genius, his utterly beguiling voice. Now I can see where Houellebecq is coming from. (On a lesser note, was that Cure song about The Outsider?) Stylistically, could make a real impact on “emptiness”, as witnessed by the first paragraph which came to me the other day and for which you will have to wait.

It’ll be good to go home; so many things you start to miss – Private Eye, English news, 5 Live (sad but true), and most of all my own bed. Weirdly, it’s much noisier here than where we live in London: all night as you scratch your mosquito bites raw you hear champagne corks pop, families clatter, Spanish love-songs and thunder in the mountains. Not to mention the anguished crying of the cat, echoing in a ghastly fashion round the basement carp park. Last night, worried for the cat and her brood, I walked up the path to see if I could help her down and found her sat on a terrace with a boyfriend, soaking up some rays. She pretended she didn’t know me. What a floozie.

Do all Spanish programmes use the same bloke for dubbing? He has this deep yet utterly inappropriate voice, okay for deodorant ads, less so for Homer Simpson or Scooby Doo. Can’t they find a voice-over artist with another fucking nuance? Luckily for us all, the English bloke in the pub down the road (“The Ale House") gave us a handy hint: the Disney channel also has an English language option. So now we’re stuck with Hannah Montana etc. After two episodes I’m starting to think Al Qaeda have a point.

Tossa is so upmarket, even the English cafe/bar is tasteful; people from other countries even go there for the cuisine. On Sunday I had some time off for good behaviour and went there to watch the football. Watching United whoop Chelsea in the Charity Shield (as I still call it), seeing Sturridge miscue a kick from outside the box, it occurred to me that being called Sturridge is like being called Piggott: it makes it harder for people to take you seriously, no matter how good you may be.

This morning I took the kids to investigate the basement to solve the mystery of where the cat and her kittens go. Found the mum, watching us wild-eyed; she scarpered into an old boat for sale, and from within I heard a kitten mewling. So the one in the bushes has somehow become separated; that’s why she has to keep going round the houses. Mystery solved.

We’ve loved it here; loved the beaches, the people, the food, even the fact it rains at night and stays fine most days. In particular the ramshackle beach cafe where we end most swimming days, where the kids watch lizards bask on rocks and the old man who cooks gives them lollipops (against our wishes), and the internet restaurant, with its friendly family, who still don’t understand me when I ask for orange juice (but then, Catalan and Spanish are very different, as we’ve discovered to our cost). Verdict: recommended.

Goodbye, Tossa.

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