This weekend was the main focus of Nik’s holiday celebrations (but her birthday is actually on Tuesday). Her friends Helen and Kevin and Anne and John arrived at Saturday lunchtime. It began raining. A lot. In fact it rained so much that we now have a water hazard on the 8th hole of our golf course which is more challenging than anything which is down the road at the PGA course. So we ate, had a few drinks, dodged the showers on the way into the kitchen and then ate and drank a bit more. 

The previous night I had tried to get the BBQ working. It’s a ye olde fashioned BBQ which is basically a fire place with a grill over, which uses wood, not charcoal. The wood is well chunky, effectively a quarter of a tree trunk. I had successfully managed to purchase fire lighters in Carrefour by acting out an elaborate mime of me striking a match and starting a fire, all done in the baby food aisle of the supermarket. I chucked a couple of logs on the the fire with a few fire lighters and “whoosh!!” It went up like a…well…bonfire. Job done, I thought. However 10 minutes later the firelighter was burned up and the half a forest on the grate was lightly singed and showed no sign of catching fire any time soon. At home I BBQ on gas, but gain heat from a chiminea. However, I normally have a good supply of creosote soaked fence panel, as I seem to be replacing one every February when the latest storm helpfully forces me to improve the state of our garden. This is ideal kindling as it lights up a treat and burns long enough to ignite the other wood, usually sourced from old garden furniture or off-cuts of decking. However, we were quite close to our weight limit with our bags and I wasn’t sure if fencing panels were restricted items these days. In the end we just cooked the ribs in the oven.  

Once Kevin saw the fireplace he was on it. (By that I mean he took to building a fire, he didn’t literally get on it. We weren’t planning on recreating the finale to the Wicker Man or anything like that.).Kevin simply smashed the logs on to the floor until they splintered and then used them as kindling. The man is a builder, which made me question whether he ever needs tools. I wasn’t going to lend him my penknife in case he used it to fell the trees around the villa and we lost our security deposit. He was like a man possessed. Saying that, he created a fire which kept burning until the next day and was perfect for cooking, so between the showers we moved the tables in front of the fire and ate watching the fire as if we were having our tea in front of the telly. 

The next day it had stopped raining so we ate breakfast around the pool, sunbathed, swam, read, ate lunch, sunbathed, swam, read, showered and then got ready for the evening. Nik had arranged for a chef to come to the villa to cook us a three course evening meal. We all dressed for dinner meaning I went the extra mile and wore long trousers and socks. Many weeks prior we had chosen from a long list of menu options, which went to a shortlist which was put into a spreadsheet, an algorithm applied and final choices made. Satisfied that we all had the menu our hearts desired I immediately forgot what my choices were which added a frisson of excitement and anticipation to each course. 

The chef came from Barcelona and had the very Spanish name of Lee. When he arrived it transpired that Lee came from near Macclesfield but had lived out here for about 12 years. It’s a bit weird having someone cook in your kitchen. We were not quite sure If we should warn him about the dodgy cupboard door or the fact that there weren’t really any sharp knives, but we decided to just leave him to it and sat outside drinking Cava. Nik opened her presents and at 8:30 we retired to long table number 1 for dinner. 

It’s really great having a chef in your home as you can ask him questions you couldn’t ask in a restaurant like “can we have some more jus for the lamb please?” or in dad’s case “any more gravy please?”. He also bought out ALL the food he had cooked, so we had extra plates of duck and more importantly, a whole extra plate of garlic mash (which I think I single-handedly finished myself).  

We guessed we had come to the end of the evening when Lee walked past us carrying his hotplates, meat slicer, pans etc. As we were chatting to him after we had paid him we told him that our four friends were heading off home in the morning (Kevin had promised me that there was enough heat in the fire to still get a BBQ going on Thursday) and that we were going to Girona. 

“Oh, it’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow. Nothing will be open, not even the supermarkets.” 

Great, here we go again. 

Tomorrow: “We only want some bread and water!”