We have been in Girona for a month now and looking back there is a common theme and that is the kindness of the people here. It would seem that nothing is too much trouble and that people go above and beyond to lend a helping hand. It is quite humbling really as we are foreigners here and yet we have been made to feel at home and very welcome.
We had our first trip to the coast which is just beautiful. Breathtaking views, rocky coves with turquoise water and a rugged coastal path. On our walk we came across a couple who had been catching sea urchins. They had a bucketful of them and were quick to offer us some to taste! The man used a guillotine like contraption to cut them in half and inside a starlike formation of eggs to eat. I dubiously tried some and to my surprise it was very tasty. The first one tasted like smoked salmon, the second one that was a purple sea urchin tasted nutty and then sweet. It is a local delicacy here in Spain and apparently you would pay 20 euros in a restaurant for a spiky handful. Before we knew it the man had brought 6 beers out to share with us and we had a lovely time chatting and taking in the beauty of the little cove and our surroundings.
We carried on our way walking along the coastal path with a stop for paella before the return walk to the car. At the start of the walk Josh was very excited and in high spirits singing the theme tune to ‘Andy’s dinosaur adventures’ but by the end after getting rather lost too we had walked almost 10 miles which is a lot for a little lad. His spirits were not quite so high and were was a lot of groaning and complaints that this was really not fun. Thankfully our friends had brought their dogs so the novelty of walking a dog on a lead helped and the homemade banana bread that I had brought with us came in handy for a ration stop. We found the car just before darkness fell.
Training has been in full swing for me. I have joined the local Catalan athletics group led by Josep the coach. Everyone has been very welcoming despite my lack of Catalan. There is one other British girl that trains with them too so that is fantastic. Training sessions take place by the coast. Some sessions are on the athletics track, some on a killer hill circuit amongst the pine trees and others on a loop around farm land. My first session was on the track. The majority of the group are 10k runners and the session was looking fast on paper. It consisted of 5x500m, 6x400m, 7x300m, 8x200m. Thankfully I managed to keep up with the pace and really enjoyed training with a group again. For my longer training sessions Josep has paced me on the bike while I have had to run and keep close to the back wheel. He has been enthusiastically shouting ‘come on, come on’ while I have been working hard to keep up the pace. The drive home is beautiful as the pyrenees are the back drop now with their winter coats of snow on glistening in the sunshine.
As I mentioned before about kindness…one of our friends has lent us a car which is something we had not expected. Rich and Josh are excited that now skiing is made a lot easier and there is more opportunity to explore further a field. I have been enjoying riding my bike about town which is ancient…my bike that is. It weighs a tonne, has 3 gears, dodgy rod breaks and has a wicker basket on the front. I think it has seen through 2 wars in it’s time. It doesn’t look quite as slick as the bikes of many of the pro cyclists that live here! It is a good gage of how tired my legs are from training, sometimes I can speed about and other times I struggle to get the pedals to move around! Rich has been made welcome in the cycling community here and is enjoying the hills and churros at the cafe stops.
It is starting to feel more Christmassy here. The mornings start being cold and frosty but by mid morning it tends to be sunny and would be warm enough to wear a t-shirt. However if you want to blend in here wearing a thick coat and a scarf is a necessity. Even out running the locals are in balaclavas! The Christmas lights are up and there is a big Christmas tree in the old town. We have put up a little tree which is rather packed with decorations. Josh has been Joseph in the church nativity with his new friend Sofia as Mary. We have yet to introduce a new Spanish tradition into the family which is that of the log which they call the Tio de nadal. In most shops here you will see a log with legs on and eyes and a face drawn on and it has a blanket on its back. Apparently you have to feed the log up each day. Even in the local market the log there had a lovely array of cakes in it’s dish. As tradition has it after feeding the log from the 8th December up until Christmas Eve you then have to hit the log with sticks and sing a song. The log then proceeds to excrete chocolates and presents from its bottom! A bit different from the Father Christmas tradition!
Wishing you all a Bon Nadal.