Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas In Barcelona

out with the brood
As regular as a prune filled diet I was to jet off the sunshine zone that is something of a second home for me, that being Barcelona, to spend Christmas with my good friend Michelle. An early start was not so welcome, but allowed me a very early flight and almost all the day in Spain. Greetings done, shopping completed it was then time to face the wrath of the beasts. A familiar yipping filled the air as we exited Michelles' new car, a new car I was going to drive later that evening, and descended the steps to her humble abode. Kettle on, have a nice cup of tea before taking the yipping brood for a walk in the vineyards. Michelle being a fan of animals it was only natural for her when seeing a stray kitten that she would take it in. Even though it is surrounded by dogs and cats much bigger that itself, it does manage to hold its own, often against a passing human and a few scratches are testament to that.

trying to be arty
she of the sharp claws
A new nightclub had opened in the next village, with it being a local venture, Michelle and a few of her friends thought it was only right that we should check it out. The downside being, due to me recent illness alcohol is pretty much off my menu, I'm allowed the odd one, but pointless if we are to need a driver later that evening. Firstly we are to meet in the bar, have a few drinks, eat, maybe a few more drinks then head off to this new club, The Underground. As this is Spain, people don't usually go out 'til late, and late means midnight and beyond, but seeing we are going to eat as well, it would be a little earlier.

out again
After meeting up with Michelle's friends and many drinks, many of those being Tequilla, we ventured forth to the club following a baptism by fire. Obviously I can drive and have been doing so for a couple of years, but never have I driven someone else's car, or even worse than that, a right hand drive car on the right hand side of the road, this could have been interesting. Here I was sat in the driving seat, familiarising myself with the layout of the car, Michelle was to direct me to the venue and Cel was taking refuge in the back. Getting it started was no problem, neither was running through the gears, but as this was a relatively new car the brakes are very sharp. Sharp is not really suitable in this situation, you only had to breathe on them and the car would stop instantly, yes they worked, but I'm used to having slightly worn brakes with a bit of travel in them, not these bloody anchors. Eventually we got to the venue without any incident, passengers disembarked fully intact relatively unscathed by the experience.

great views
The club on the other hand was something else, good job it was free to get in, not sure if I would have paid for an hour and half of the same beat with the same melodies dropped over the top in regular succession. I do like my dance music, but I like it to have some variation, and the only variation this had was it was either on or off. Initially it was ok, the beat made you want to move or sway in time, but the similarity and repetition soon emptied the dance floor and we sought drink, non alcoholic for me. Michelle and Cel had a bit of a boogie while I struggled with my very limited Spanish to converse with Josep with his equally limited English, but we kinda got there. Either the music or the drink took it's toll and Michelle indicated she wanted to head off home, keys were handed over and the driving seat was to be occupied by my good self again. Being more cautious with the brakes I got us home safe and sound, Michelle did mention that I could have driven faster and put my foot down, It sure beat walking.

The following day we had visitors in the shape of Vanessa and Josep (not the same Josep from the previous night), Michelle had arranged for this visit so that me and Josep could smash the roof off one of the out buildings on her property. We were soon put to work with a sledge hammer, chisel and other assorted hitting implements, with it being constructed of terracotta tiles it soon became piles of broken shards, more work would need to be done, but not today. Unfortunately during our deconstruction the sledge hammer became equally deconstructed as the shaft snapped whilst deconstructing a section of roof, these things happen, it was just unfortunate that it was while I was doing the deconstructing.

the vineyards
Me and Josep compared our Frikkiness (appreciation of science fiction) while we toiled, got the structure to a state where it was roof less, but in need of some disposal of the debris we had created. A good couple of hours and the job was done, or rather done to a leaveable state. Back down to the house to rejoin Michelle and Vanessa, eat some food and chill out.  The rest of the evening was spent doing magic and solving puzzles on the Wii, Harry Potter Lego was the game and playing it was the aim, after the guests had left that is.

out in the park
Christmas Eve was spent much the same as most days at Michelle's, that is drinking tea, waking the dogs, chatting apart for when Michelle has an English class via Skype, so I make myself be elsewhere and leave her to it, it is how she earns a crust after all. Camera in hand it is time to take some arty pics of her garden and things that inhabit it. We are to venture out this evening to the next village for the Christmas Eve party, as this is Christmas Eve, the tradition is to have dinner with your family they head out and meet up with friends, so it is even later when they do. Around 1 in the morning was when we got to the venue and it was only just getting started, for some reason, probably due to licencing issues, you have to buy tokens for your drinks then exchange them, again as I would be providing a taxi service for Michelle I would not be consuming alcohol, but that didn't stop Michelle.

Meeting up with Michelle's friends we moved from the bar area onto the dance floor, the venue has the appearance of a high school disco and in some ways it is one. The music for me is questionable, but not too offensive, most people don't really dance but occupy a space and sway. After a couple of hours the music actually changes up a gear and we are rewarded with something even I am swaying to. Nirvana, Madness, Clash, Red Hot Chilli Peppers get some of the older people here to move a bit while the younger ones stop and gaze open mouthed at what is happening. Unfortunately this run of songs comes to an end and the alcohol takes its toll on some, a brief fight breaks out and is over almost as quickly as it began, so quickly the security arrive after those involved have disappeared. As Michelle said, this is a small village and most people have been out with each other so some petty disputes are bound to arise, this is a local event for local people.........

the park
Eventually it is time for my to occupy that driving seat again and taxi Michelle home, by this time I am more comfortable driving her car and she doesn't say too much about how I am driving, just the directions. A neat bit of parking and we are back home, as it is Christmas Eve I am going to have a can of Guinness before going to bed. Michelle gets herself comfy on the sofa while I sort myself a glass, when I return to the sofa to enjoy my beer she is fast asleep and nothing is going to wake her, so I enjoy my beer, put everything away, make sure she is comfy, get a blanket for her and leave her to it.

christmas hats
This year we both wake before noon, last year is was a little drunk and didn't get up until half three in the afternoon, time to open our pressies. Most of mine are still in England and will be opened on my return, but I have a few with me and Michelle has some for me. These are made devoid of wrappings and examined, a devilish Rubik's puzzle and a wind up solar lantern from Michelle, and for her I gave Led Zeppelins Celebration Day DVD/CD, a chicken wall hanging thing and a bird feeder. A converse style sneaker air freshener I gave her the night before, thought it was fitting and all that. A quick bite to eat and we are off out to walk the dogs, on return fire up Skype on the computer and have a chat with my mum. Christmas dinner consisted of steak, my home grown carrots, sprouts, spuds, broccoli and gravy, followed by lemon meringue. Michelle had a chat with her mum via Skype the we set to work on Lego Lord of the Rings.

Boxing day traditionally means going to Michelle's 'in laws' for a family meal at which I am always made welcome, it's good to catch up with them, usually it's with the English speaking ones, really have to sort out my piss poor Spanish in 2013. Got involved in game of cards, but lost, won the first round though, it was a version of Rummy but with 10 cards and more than one deck of cards. We stayed until most people were leaving, helped with the tidy up and ventured home to continue with the Lord of the Rings Lego.

Thursday started as most days do, many cups of tea, some breakfast and a dog walking. On return we indulged in a nice sausage buttie as we were to venture into the city for a bite to eat later that day and then to watch The Hobbit in 3D.  We arrived just as the sun was setting so was able to get some nice sunset pics over Barcelona harbour, had a wander about, grabbed a sandwich the off to the cinema. Obviously the film would be in English with Spanish subtitles, anything else would have been just daft. Three hours and a numb bum later we emerged into the light, a thoroughly enjoyable picture, neither of are sure if the 3D really worked in Middle Earth, but both of us were in agreement that Gollum looked magnificent. I wont spoil it for you but if you loved the Rings trilogy you are going to love this. More of an adventure movie in parts than its predecessor, but still three hours well spent.

out again
Obviously we continued the adventure when we got home by strapping on the handsets and picked up where we left our fellowship in Middle Earth, but in Lego not 3D. Another can of Guinness was consumed, well the doctor did say I could have the odd one, plus the last one didn't do me any harm.
in the bar

Friday was to be my last full day on this visit, so another walk out with the dogs was on the cards, plus Michelle had a couple a classes to fit in during the day, one of which was to be with some of her friends and so I was to be invited along to participate and then off for drinks and a bite to eat at the bar. The lesson consisted of us listening to a couple of Christmas tunes, filling in the missing lyrics and translating the songs then an exercise in plurals. Phew after all that I needed a beer, had a couple at the bar, and consumed some wild boar, very tasty, very strong and very moreish. We spent a couple more hours at the bar with Michelle's friends before it was time to head off home. No Wii tonight for us, but just sat around chatting and finding stuff for Michelle to purchase for her laptop and car, more gadgets.

Well Saturday finally came around and it was time to go home and so I did, but will be back in May for the F1.

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