The Good, The Bad & The Birthday

This weekend I had the pleasure of golfing at two amazing courses in Catalonia (one on the Costa Brava), eating amazing food, meeting wonderful people and celebrating Alicia’s 30th Birthday.

On a very wet Friday morning, I picked up my hire car from Granollers and drove to Club de Golf Llavaneras. The closer I got, the darker the sky became and the rain fell heavier. On arrival I had a chat with Marc and Silvia in the Pro Shop.

The rain turned into a storm and a wave of wet golfers flooded in. The power went on and off a couple of times and still I was excited to get out golfing. I hadn’t played in a couple of weeks and I was looking forward to swinging a club again.

One gentleman who had just come in thought I was crazy wanting to go out but my tee time wasn’t for another forty minutes and I figured the storm would be long gone.

I had to wait an additional thirty minutes as the greens were flooded but I put on my wet weather pants and headed out. I joined a trio of locals, Carlos, Joan and Enrique (who told me to call him Humphrey Bogart) and had a wonderful round full of laughter.

Mostly at my golf.

As we were heading down the 16th Humphrey asked me if I liked music and food. Of course I do. He asked me what plans I had that night. I was only driving back to where I was staying and told him so. He asked if I would like to go to his niece’s 30th birthday dinner where he was cooking. Of course I would love to.

We planned to meet back at the clubhouse at 5.30pm and at 6.00pm he was tapping on the glass and then his watch as I was sitting in Lucas’ office having a bit of a golf chat.

I quickly said my goodbyes and dashed off with Enrique. We dropped my car at his place and then went to a farm to pick up some amazing fresh vegetables. He apologizing to the farmer for being late but blaming me. I accepted the blame, apologized and marvelled at the big bags of vegetables we were collecting. The massive bag of fava  beans were going to be the food highlight of the evening.

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Enrique prepping dinner

We stopped to pick up some additional ingredients and then arrived at Fina and Fernando’s house. Enrique apologized for our tardiness and introduced me. I was still in my golf gear from the golf shoes to the hat hair I felt a little underdressed as everyone else was nicely dressed for a family birthday dinner, and yet no one cared.

I tried to help prep and was constantly told no. Enrique is serious about his cooking and is seriously a great cook. He only uses the best ingredients and is very particular about how things are done and one of his niece’s, Gema, told me at dinner he was quite the gourmet cook.

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Fernando and Enrique

He did allow me to cut up onions (after he showed me exactly how he wanted them cut) and when the tears were pouring down my face I perhaps regretted my request to help. I helped with some final adjustments to the table setting – sneaking another setting in for the random stranger in their midst.

Cristina (another niece) and her children Berta and Stevie were the next to arrive and I chatted with her and her daughter in English. Berta and I went to get a book and we read stories together in English while the cooks prepared a feast.

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Table set ready for our feast.

Pepita (Enrique’s mother and the matriarch of the family) arrived to Stevie’s delight as he went running on his chubby little legs to hug his great grandmother around the knees. When Alicia (the birthday girl arrived) I was so comfortable, welcome and settled in at the house as I had been there for a couple of hours, I said hello and introduced myself and nothing further. She looked at me quizzically and headed in the kitchen.

She was back shortly with her mother as Fina and I explained I was a random that had met and golfed with Enrique that day and he had invited me along. We had a laugh and I apologized for not telling her any of this earlier.

More family arrived. There were four generations and me. Enrique, Fina and Fernando were busy in the kitchen and I was in and out taking a series of photos as the dish was prepared and cooked.

Cooking is very thirsty work and the boys had to ensure they stayed hydrated.

We enjoyed an amazing feast, chatting and laughing and I was delighted to be a part of this wonderful family for the evening. This was before the music, dancing and much more laughter.

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Feliz Cumpleaños Alicia

It was so much fun and I am very lucky to have enjoyed a special evening with the family.

Festivities finished around 12.30pm although I am sure Pepita would have liked to keep partying. She may be 92 but the enjoyment of her family as she watched them dance, laugh and sing was contagious and reminded me of my mother (although she isn’t quite 92 and at our house we would be sitting around the piano not a guitar).

I was home by 1am and up early the next day to head to Salt and Girona.

The drive up was fantastic and my only regret was I was behind the wheel and couldn’t look around further. I bypassed the main highway, driving the tourist route and literally drove through mountains.

I was planning a lovely stroll into the city from Salt but the weather was terrible and instead I worked all afternoon writing and drove in later to meet my friend Mike.

We had dinner at Creperie Bretonne and ordered a cheese plate for a starter. So much cheese but it was the best cheese I have had in Spain and I refused to let it go back without eating everything. I think we took so long eating the cheese plate (which would have been perfect for six people not our two) that our crepes must have been sitting ready for a little bit.

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So much cheese

My choice (salmon, avocado, tomato, pepitas and goats cheese – I couldn’t believe I was eating cheese again after that entree) was fantastic, and it was lucky we had already agreed to eat half and half as Mike’s was not good. He ordered spinach, sultanas, walnuts and goats cheese (more cheese) but it was soggy from sitting too long. We both had a mouthful and didn’t eat any more but we did eat half of the one I ordered and it was delicious.

I could not fit another thing in so we decided dessert would be a walk around the old part of Girona.

What an amazing evening. We headed through the jewish quarter and up to the church then climbed the wall and overlooked the city. It was raining and just gorgeous.

I remarked that these amazing buildings would make a great set for a film and us being out there in the rain with not many people around felt like we were in a movie. Mike told me that Game of Thrones recently shot some footage there and I agreed it would be a perfect setting.

I don’t mind getting wet although when I realized my feet were sopping wet inside my shoes that didn’t make me happy. I wished I had my boots that are sitting in my cupboard in Canada.

My converse are fit for nothing more than the bin. I looked at them the next morning and the soles are coming apart, I am not sure if it is because I have walked more than 100kms in them since I got to Spain but the poor things are tired and have to be moved on.

How much life do Converse have?

We headed back to the car, I was very cold and very wet and was happy to get back to where I was staying in Salt (through AirBnB) and crawl into a nice warm bed.

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Stopping to take a photo of a rainbow.

I was up early the next day to head to the Costa Brava and golf at Pals. It was still raining but by the time I got to Pals it had cleared a little bit. I met with Maite (Directora Comercial y Relaciones Públicas) and she told me about the 50 year history of the course and arranged for me to have lunch at the club house following my round.

I played on my own and the first nine holes of golf were great. As I was following a competition it was slow going so I played two balls and practiced many things. The second nine holes were not so good after being verbally abused on the 10th by a group behind me.

I explained to them that I had been playing all morning and the group between us went in after nine which is why they are only seeing me now. They yelled and raged and threatened and I refused to leave instead lining up my putt to finish the hole and they charged off going to get the marshall.

The marshall set them straight and yet while they were very quick to abuse me they were not so quick with an apology even though I saw them many times and they had ample opportunity to do so.

It did clouded my enjoyment however it did nothing to effect my golf as I played quite well on the back nine although only playing one ball as I didn’t want to incur the wrath of the angry french foursome.

It got bitterly cold and started raining and I was quite pleased to settle in to the warmth of the clubhouse and enjoy an amazing lunch following my round.

The abusive French foursome were seated beside me and I pointedly looked at them, perhaps rudely but I wanted an apology. I had done nothing wrong, they were completely off their heads and the woman who had been abusing me apologized saying that in France that happens all the time – players jumping in at the 10th hole. I told her again that I had in fact been playing in front of them all morning. The enraged man however looked the other way ignoring me completely.

I went back to enjoying my lunch, the local whole rice being the highlight, while I watched golf in Perth, Australia on television in the clubhouse.

What a weekend!!!! I could have done without the verbal abuse but I managed to pack a lot of fun things in such a short time – food and friends and laughter.

I still chuckle thinking of me dancing in my golf gear to Staying Alive.

This weekend I have nothing planned – I might just have a quiet one but you never know what might come up.

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