Monday, 25 January 2016

Catalonia wanderings and no internet

Needing a bit of think time and excuse to do no house/garden work - strained groin thing, I went down to Cerbère, our favourite thinking/wandering spot, for a couple of days.
At first when I arrived in the flat I felt bereft - no internet, no checking emails, no glancing at the weather/Facebook/Ebay, no 'ooh, I wonder if', nothing. No procrastination.
After about an hour, I'd forgotten its (internet's) existence. I wrote, read, walked, looked, and thought - without the usual distractions.

The next day I went up into the hills behind the town and followed the tracks of shale through the vine fields. These are unlike most other vine fields in France - set into steep hillsides of rock and little soil. Everything: clipping, picking and maintaining has to be done by hand as tractors could not scale the hillsides.


  First rock rose 



On the hill terraces, plumes of smoke drifted from small vine clipping fires; the almost complete silence interrupted only by the clink of hand tools working the ground.
I watched a man digging around the base of an antiquated-looking vine, and risked a question. He came over and we chatted for some time about the wine industry of the region and the care of his own seven hectares.

                 New vines      Old vines - maybe fifty years

I decided against trying to find out, once again, what 'Las Ocas' is (black bull-shaped sign saying two kilometres) - next time, and headed on to Portbou, the first two in Spain.
First stop was at Castelló d'Empúries, a medieval town in the province of Girona. All was quiet, being Sunday but the attractive little central square's eateries were open.
I chose 'Les Altos' as it looked warm inside and was greeted by an incredibly friendly waitress/owner? who seemed un-perplexed by my odd choice of tapas and tea.
I waited, sketched the terrace and tried to ignore the babbling flat screen, which would have been babbling except the sound was turned down and salsa was playing - why not just have the music and no TV on? I am an old git about this - almost as much as about 'patio heaters.' Grr.
Anyway, the tapas arrived: fantastic local ham, bread and a mound of potatoes the size of a small cat. I tried but only managed about a third of them. Then I went to pay, and discovered I'd left my wallet in the car.
I approached the till expecting grumpiness and raised eyebrows, possibly hostage taking in the form of my driving licence. Nope. The owner waved his arms about in a general display of 'don't worry, life is too short' sort of thing. I said I would be five minutes. 'Really, it's not a problem.'
I returned. He looked at me, then the potatoes, then back to me: 'I can really not charge you for this - you have hardly eaten any.' I said that surely that was my problem for being a glutton, or something to that effect. But he insisted I pay for just the ham.
Glowing from this benevolence I left and drove on to Figueres, via a terrifyingly depressing sort of car boot sale on the outskirts - I bought NOTHING! must be a first.

  

  Rather amazing painting on the side of Figueres church and fleet of planters heading down the high street 

Figeras was also very quiet but I enjoyed loping through the empty streets admiring the buildings until stumbling on the Dali gift shops. I wonder what he might of thought of his paintings transformed into makeup bags, watches, mugs, tools, ties, earrings . . . I think he would of perhaps enjoyed the irony.



Statue near the Dali museum

And so back the flat, and no internet. Tea, book, writing, late walk and bed. A little self de-connection from the internet every now and then . . . not a bad thing.

Cerbère cats on an evening walk (me, not the cats)

 





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