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Of kittens, calientes and other Catalunyan cataclysms

Updated: Jan 1

Last Friday (30th Aug) I went to a friendly local cafe with internet facilities to post my last blog, but somehow managed to cause a complete technological meltdown for the Costa Brava region. Won’t go back there in a hurry...

Later that night, up Vila Vella, Sean fell backwards in his chair and banged the back of his head. He seemed fine, but a few minutes later said something to Emma: that his own great nana fell as a baby and banged her head, and he was her grandfather and picked her up and held her. Intriguing, the stuff they come out with. It struck me as we walked and saw other families trying to amuse their kids in the rain that the only condition that remotely compares to parenthood is being a child.

In the night the rain really hammered and the crying intensified: I saw that one kitten couldn’t get up in the pipe and was soaked to its tiny skin. Unthinkingly I hopped over the balcony with an umbrella which I placed so it had some shelter out of the rain, in the process interfering with nature. Forgive me, for I know what I do.

At least the kids seem to be enjoying the holiday; sadly, the weather has taken an ominous turn. On the map on Spanish TV the whole country is bathed in yellow disks, except the Gerona area, which is beneath a little flashing zigzag representing lightning.

Two of the litter have fallen from a small cave a few feet up in the cliff face, and as they are too big for their mum to carry them back up she must care for them on the ground, where they are exposed to the elements. At least she picked her spot right: it’s so safe and enclosed down there between cliff and block that no predators (if there are any) can get in. Unfortunately, if we just picked them up and put them back in the cave, they’d smell of us and their mother might abandon them altogether. What we need is a piece of wood so they can get in and out; but maybe we should stop interfering...


Strange how things coalesce... in my dreams last night, along with the life and death struggle of the kittens, was an article by David Mitchell (the author, not the comedian) in the Guardian slagging off the post-Joy Division output of Peter Hook (in this dream, New Order never existed). Then, this morning, I finally started Mitchell’s “Black Swan Green” and near the start, there’s the incident where he unwittingly catches a dead kitten. Then I remembered that Joy Division started out as a band called the Stiff Kittenz. Synchronicity? Poo.


Sean fell asleep at 7 last night without eating his tea, and woke at 8 this morning, hot, almost a fever. Trotted round town looking for medicine in vain – every tobacconist is open early and every bar but no pharmacy till 9.30.

At midnight last night more rain; I ran round the terrace collecting dry clothes and stood on a worm with my bare foot. I looked down and it was writhing, bits of it stuck to my heel. Washed in the paddle-pool. Mother cat and her kittens have gone somewhere quieter, away from interfering humans. Today, more thunder and downpours, got Sean’s medicine somehow (“tienes medicina por nino? Trez anos, caliente...") but he won’t drink it.

Later, went for a swim with Emma over the other beach (we always go there, it’s quieter, the sea-drop less steep and the bars more open and welcoming) and watched thunder in the hills, swimming in the rain feels liberating.

The evening was lovely – went back to the place we usually have breakfast (and where I thought I’d demolished the internet) and had paella, went to the little play-park and then to the beach (a different proposition at night, more young people, flaring matches from between the beached boats) then took a tourist train round town in a horror-film thunderstorm.


Sean’s temperature faded, so yesterday we took a boat over to the next beach and spent a few hours paddling and sitting by the cafe. The beach basically belongs to a huge resort complex and to use the toilet you had to act casual and walk nonchalantly through the tables groaning with families eating all-inclusive food. I don’t like the look of those places. I mean, you’d never explore, never see what the food’s like in the next town. How can something be “all-inclusive” when you only see one part of town?

We seem to be the only people on the beach who are remotely concerned with their children’s welfare. While everyone else is letting their kidlets bathe in nappies or tiny bikinis we’re slapping factor 50 on any exposed area of skin; not that there are many, what with the lurid, horse-jockey sun-suits, hats, shades and Crocs.

(This is why I hate the beach: I’m a poor swimmer and burn easily, and my kids being my kids and sharing mine [and Lynda’s] Anglo-Irish skin burn to a frazzle in billiseconds, so they’re either burning or drowning all the time, making relaxation difficult.)

The boat was a glass-bottom affair, and we were seduced by the glossy, rainbow-coloured leaflets featuring trillions of fish, octopi, sharks, sea-horses and other exotic sea-creatures. But when we actually got out to a cave and looked down the hole, all we could see were a few tiny black tiddlers scavenging for the food the captain chucked in. Scary: who ate all the fish?

Today we went to our usual beach and once again all these divers were stomping up and down the playa as out of place as spacemen. What do they all see out there that we didn’t in our glass-bottomed boat?

Oh well, to break up the holiday, tomorrow we’re taking a day trip - by local bus. I can’t wait. Seville, here we come!

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