Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Week in Sitges

All good things must come to an end and, as I write, the last hours of our week in Sitges are ticking away. We’ve just checked out and now we’re sitting in the lounge for a few hours before we have to head to the airport. We did consider doing something in Barcelona this afternoon, but in the end chose a lazy day after a long night last night.

There is something to be said for not having the Internet available on holiday; pretty much from the start I’ve managed to completely forget about the rest of the world and it’s been delicious.

The outward trip was a trial though; BA have switched over completely to self-service check-in at Gatwick which means that the queue for the Bag Drop (discretely renamed from ‘Fast Bag Drop’!) was just as long as the check-in queues used to be, so there was no avoiding it. Then the woman at the counter told us that we had to pay another £60 excess baggage because Brett had two small suitcases rather than one large one. To add insult to injury they then managed to lose one of the cases en route!

Fortunately once we left the Barcelona baggage hall things got better; Avis gave us a rather nice Alfa Romeo for our hire car, the new maps I’d bought for the SatNav all worked fine and we had a smooth ride down the coast to the hotel. A quick unpack, shower and change later and we were off for the first of the week’s gourmet dinners with John & Rich.

They were planning a fairly lazy holiday by the pool sunbathing but I was in the mood for something a little more active. On Sunday Brett and I took a drive along the coast immediately south of Sitges but weren’t much impressed. I think Tarragona might be worth seeing but we didn’t go that far and nothing intermediate looked worth a second glance.

On Monday we headed out for a trek up towards the French border and foothills of the Pyrenees. We saw some lovely views and picturesque towns along the way, some of them feeling quite Alpine, but we had rather overstretched ourselves by not properly planning the day; we needed a lot more time in the area to do it justice and, as it was, we didn’t get home until 11pm.

Tuesday was a much needed lazy day in the hotel.

On Wednesday we assayed Gerona, north of Barcelona, and had a lovely day; we spent it entirely in the old town which has something of a Moorish feel to it; lots of tiny shaded gardens built into corners of the tightly-packed buildings and lots of narrow, winding cobbled streets between them all. I got quite a few nice photographs of the town and we both agreed it was somewhere we’d like to come back to for a longer stay.

Thursday was another day in the hotel. I got itchy feet though and took the camera out for a stroll along the beach and around the town. I ended up getting some good shots of surfers in action, even though the surf apparently wasn’t up to much. One of them told me the surf was supposed to be better tomorrow but gave me his email address anyway to send on the pictures.

I was feeling pretty rough that evening – possibly from not realising how dehydrating the wind and sun were whilst sitting out on the seawall snapping surfers! – so I passed on the usual after dinner drinks and had an early night.

Friday we had thought to do another day trip but in the end decided not to as I was still a bit groggy and Brett was not much better; he hadn’t got in until nearly 4am having run into a couple of other Chorus boys in one of the bars and hung out with them for a while.

A long morning nap after breakfast sorted me out though and I awoke feeling clear-headed again, just in time for lunch which we took at a Mexican tapas bar in town. The afternoon I spent on the beach again; the surf was indeed a lot better than it had been the previous day – to the extent that the lifeguards put up the red flag for bathers. Unfortunately not many of the Sitges surfing community seemed to be skilled enough to take advantage of the big waves so about half of the shots are of guys falling off their boards. Still I had an enjoyable afternoon and it got me thinking about another strand of photography I could develop; sports photography. (I really need to get that website sorted so I can start attracting paying clients!)

In the evening we were joining Jamie C & Andrew and two of their friends, Damon & James, for dinner at the Mezzanine restaurant and then went on to a few bars for drinks afterwards. One of them was quite a discovery; the Mediterraneo, just along from our regular Piano Bar, was a bit noisy but was spacious, modern and well ventilated (unlike most gay bars around town!) I wish we had discovered it earlier.

After that though we headed to bed.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Facing the Music Again

Well today wasn’t great; I missed my train, got in to find a crisis to resolve, things left undone after an office move at the weekend and pushy salesmen to deal with. I’d also been left in charge of the Chorus’ new intake evening tonight, as Richard G had been offered a free holiday at the last moment(!) A looming Tube strike planned for tonight meant that that demanded more of my attention than it should have.

For all the anticipation though, things went smoothly once I got there. The first half of the evening was all about form-filling, warm-ups and ice-breaking. The second half we spent learning ‘Seasons Of Love’ (from Rent) with the newbies. Unfortunately because I’d been busy through the first half my voice wasn’t warmed up and, between that and the fact I haven’t sung seriously for nine months, my sound wasn’t really up to much. It got better though and the new guys picked the piece up quickly enough, so by the end of the rehearsal our performance was quite rousing.

I think I’m going to be glad I’m back. Other highlights of the repertoire will be ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ and ‘The Internet Is For Porn’ (from Avenue Q), both of which I’m looking forward to – albeit for different reasons!

Brett’s back in Stratford-upon-Avon, so I’m on my own again tonight. He’s found himself a choir to join up there already – although it sounds like spare-of-the-moment serendipity – they’re classical, which it sounded like he could take or leave, but all being well I’ll be able to hear him do Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at some point in the future.

The weekend was a good one; we hosted another poker game on Saturday (which meant the flat got cleaned some. Yeay!) I think in future that, rather than playing to the bitter end, we’ll put a guillotine in place and split the pot at 10pm. With the limited transport connections it’s just not practical to have late nights in Grove Park the way it was in Wimbledon. It was a fun, if long, day; we’d started earlier than previously, but that didn’t seem to help the finish time as we took a break for dinner. (Chris M had brought a selection of homemade goodies in unnecessary atonement for not bringing anything to the games day we had the other week. Didn’t complain though, as they were all scrummy!) Poor Mark was on call though, so had to keep ducking out to answer the phone and reply to mail and was anticipating spending Sunday in the office.

In the end it came down to Richard T catching a lucky hand against John M. I'd done okay, coming back from a very poor chip count, but then got caught out by a full house against my three of a kind. Ah well, have to find some other way to make the rent!

Generally, I think the poker nights here still need a bit more work for them to go really well. It’s looking increasingly like I might be able to get a small table together from work as well though. I wonder if I (and Rosie and Brett!) could handle two poker nights a month?!

Anyway, after all the excitement we had a really quiet day on Sunday. I spent most of it online and watching the Kyle XY marathon to see if it would be worth watching the second season which is showing now. (Probably, but it won’t be at the top of the ‘must watch’ list.) Friday night’s Dexter was good though!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fleeting Moments

Sunday morning. Lazing on the sofa. Empty glasses, beer and wine bottles. Nearly empty bowls of crisps and nuts. Poker chips piled on the table. The squirrel scampering along the garden fence. The sun beginning to break through the morning overcast. A spider web glinting in the light.

The leather of the sofa warming beneath me. Comfortable, becoming cosy. Maybe I got out of bed too early. Time to doze a little more.