Since last Tuesday, I have been in Sitges – yep, another holiday and why not? Sitges is a place I have a great fondness for having visited basically every year for the last twenty. I just find it so relaxing and civilised (and gay). I was going to be there on my own as Dave my partner decided he did not like it the last (and first) time he visited. However he changed his mind to grace me with his presence again to check out if he really didn’t like the place and he’s decided that his original decision was correct – no accounting for taste.
We set off last Tuesday morning (I wonder if he doesn’t not trust me?). Pissing with rain when we left London, boiling hot when we got off the plane at Barcelona airport. Packing left until the morning of our departure as I was too knacked from work to do it the night before. Value in having him come along as we packed all our stuff into his one check-in bag; I only had hand baggage on my ticket. All good though Dave left his belt behind, there had to be something. Nice BA flight including a sandwich and a glass of wine.
The hot air of Spain hit us as we made our way to Sitges by train. A bit convoluted with a connection to be made but only 4 Euros (about £3); at home ‘cheap’ WebDuo Gatwick Express return was still around £22 each. Our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the train station, Dave wanted a cab but I said no as walking is our only exercise. Early dinner at 8.30; 9 is normally the earliest one goes. Nice Spanish meal which even accommodated Dave who is the fussiest eater ever. Then my favourite cocktail and coffee before bed.
The big surprise was that our arrival coincided with the end of Festa Mayor – a big 4 day event in the town linked to Santa Tecla (St Tecla). Spain is full of saints’ days and festivals but I had forgotten how much fun this local one was. A huge firework display on the seafront Tuesday night was followed the next morning by children dressed as dragons and in sack cloth letting off fireworks everywhere (including attached to themselves) – a wonderful smack in the face for the OTT health and safety obsession in Britain.
The rest of the week was a settled routine and rather than repeat myself here are 14 good points about our time away:
- Good sunny weather so I could get down the beach for a bit each day
- Nice boutique hotel in a quiet residential area 10 minutes walk from main town centre – gay bars, etc.
- Hotel had great wi-fi connection (pronounced wiffy in Spanish) as well as in local coffee shops
- Free coffee and biscuits at the hotel each day at 5pm
- Sexy other guests in the hotel to provide eye candy at breakfast
- Good Spanish food like entrecote, fish and, er, pizza/pasta
- Trying out different cocktails but each night having my favourite (Whisky Sour) at Parrots bar
- Good coffee plus hot chocolate that is basically a melted bar in a cup
- Ice cream
- The guest at the hotel with his breakfast walking into a plate glass window thinking it was the automatic door
- Lay-ins as I turned my alarm off and breakfast was served 8.30-11
- Nice long walks along the promenade and the coastline
- Dave going off to Barcelona one day and enjoying himself visiting the Picasso museum
- Dave getting his bum pinched in a crowd on Saturday night for the charity drag show; nobody pinched mine 🙁
Only negative was the perennial problem I have when I come to Spain that I get bitten to death by the local insects. We brought insect repellent along which was about as effective as spraying with water. And nothing done on languages, not even checking into DuoLingo each day. However, being around Spanish (Catalan) speakers will have hopefully triggered things in my sub-conscious. Although as soon as I started speaking Spanish to people, they responded immediately in English.
Previous Monday was my only day in the office and it was taken up with a digital exploration day around how digital might be better used to support vulnerable people with their money problems. I was nervous about it and didn’t sleep too well on Sunday night – my head was buzzing. But went brilliantly. Around 30 people spent the day looking at the issues and possible solutions. Probably more tech than third sector service people which was not what we expected. Be interesting to see what proposals come in for the money on offer to develop ideas that were considered on the day.
Work itself is still extremely busy even though I went on holiday. Indeed in many ways this blog starats where the last finished with grant assessements to be signed off, stage one applications to be reviewed, tons of emails to be read, and an HR self evaluation of my performance to be written (why don’t I just write ‘I am bloody brilliant, look at all these hours I work beyond what I am paid for’?) To meet the deadlines on some of this stuff, I did use remote technology to log on and take action during my holiday time though I tried my best to keep this to a minimum. Perhaps I need to think differently and pretend that work and play are more merged together. Though does that mean checking stuff on holiday rather than weaving more play into my worktime when I am back in London?
Dave, family & friends
The previous Sunday was a very social day with me and Dave meeting up with my family and some of my oldest friends. We visited mum who was hosting a visit by my brother and his wonderful two children – both so polite and fun to be with; his daughter is so wonderfully ‘girly’. I joked with her about being dad’s apprentice and perhaps becoming female plumber of the year – the horrified look on her face, priceless. Then me and Dave walked to North Kensington to visit my mates Dom and Kev who have moved to a new flat. I thought we were just going for a drink but it turned out to be a meal with my old friend James invited as well – a nice catch up.
One of the best things about holidays is taking a big pile of books and working my way through them. Did three last week (bit behind my target):
Karen Joy Fowler, ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ I knew this book had good reviews but until I started, I didn’t realise it was by the same author who wrote ‘Sarah Canary’ which is a fantastic sci-fi book though many would query if it actually is sci-fi. Huge twist in this novel and it would ruin the surprise for potential readers if I said what it was. A tender book that ponders relationships within families and how memories can’t always be relied upon
Patrick O’Brian, ‘The Ionian Mission’ Another author with a series that I love dipping back into every so often. How can such talented people write so many brilliant books? All about the early nineteenth century naval adventures and bromance between Capt Jack Aubrey and Dr Stephen Maturin. Totally evocative of the period though I don’t always get all the nautical details such as the different sails on a warship.
Dan Kavanagh, ‘Duffy’ Another book I picked up for next-to-nothing secondhand. An atmospheric thriller about a bisexual private eye set in seedy London in the late seventies / early eighties (when there were still warehouses in Soho); bent coppers and gangland bosses. Reminds me very much of a TV drama but good fun. The first in a series and I will definitely be reading the next one.