Thursday 19th April

It’s a funny thing about moving to another country because all the things that you were desperate to get your hands on and your gob round become ordinary. Bread is an example. There was a time when we would say ’Ooooh, nearly there. Can’t wait for a baguette and a chocolate chaud’ Now, we say ’Ooooooh, nearly there. Really looking forward to a slice of Mother’s Pride’ Cadbury’s chocolate is another thing I obsess over, along with Heinz Salad Cream and marmite in squirty bottles (the kind you cant bring back on the plane), Sainsbury’s or M&S curries, British sausages and liquorice wine gums! Sad, me? Never. There’s always something to look forward to. Bagels on a Sunday morning used to be a favourite too, so when I go back to England, I can actually get quite chirpy at the thought.

And then there are things to take into consideration that you never even thought of before like the inpractibility of leaving lipsil in your car. I forget every year. Into the car it goes in the winter, solid and comforting on those poor old wind blown lips… and out it comes again in summer, sticky liquid meltdown in progress all over my dashboard or whatever thoughtless place it has nestled comfortably through the hibernation period.

It’s been a bit wild and wooly this week with winds of up to 176km per hour. In fact, the road from Banyuls to Cerbère was actually closed to traffic, and the gusts were destabilising (is that a real word or have I just made it up?) traffic. Of course, it’s tiny, compared to some of the weather extremes around the world that have caused mass death and destruction, but big over here in our little world! At the moment, it’s bucketing down, or as the French say, il pleut comme vache qui pisse – so very unladylike – and along with rolling thunder, zapping lightening and low cloud, it feels a bit like being in a horror movie!! But everything passes….. and I know that it won’t be long before I’m complaining about the heat, so for now, I’ll just enjoy the opportunity of being able to get a bit of work done for the next P-O Life without feeling guilty about sitting inside in beautiful weather. Phew, long, complicated, grammatically clumsy sentence. Hope you remembered to breathe in the middle!!

This month, for one of the Days Out in summer P-O Life, I’m wandering along the foothills of the Albères mountain range, so not far from home at all, but little explored by this intrepid adventurer as I never really thought there was much to talk about, apart from the fabulous walks in the mountains, and the watchtowers that I’ve already covered. In fact, tucked away in some of these tiny little villages, there are unsung museums and churches just dripping with history, and olive oil and almond producers right here on my very doorstep.

The trip around the Maison de l’Amande in Laroque-des-Albères was fascinating and the hand-made nougatine that I was forced, under torture, to sample, calorific and the best I have ever had – delicious. And I have been called a bit of an expert on sweet stuff!

More on that in the next P-O Life when I finally get round to writing it up, but if you’re looking for something to do with the family, I’d recommend it. And later in the year, you can pick your own.

Could I actually invent a better job or a nicer way to spend my days? I really don’t think I could.

Wednesday 25th April

After all these years, my brother, Steve, has finally admitted that it was HE who put his fingers in the cake and got me into trouble all those years ago. Love you bruv…. but revenge will be mine! (evil cackle)

The weather continues to be windy and cloudy, with the occasional sunny outburst. I’m preparing the next P-O Life, so I don’t mind at all, but the beaches are empty and the streets are peopled with miserable faces. It’s the kind of weather where you’re too warm if you put the heating on, but too cold if you don’t.

Heading off now for a visit to a whip factory and an olive oil mill in the Albères. Also trying very hard to visit the priory Santa Maria del Vilar in Laroque, built by Augustinian monks in 1083 at the centre of the original village but there’s never anyone in when I go up there, and they’re not answering the phone! Thought it was rather fascinating, as when the monks left the priory in 1538, they left a key with a family in nearby Laroque des Albères which was passed from generation to generation, and handed back four hundred and fifty years later, in 1994, when the building was restored and opened to the public – but not to me so far.

Saturday 28th April

I love the weekend. It’s one of the few times when I go off my strict diet, and allow myself to eat anything I want. Oh, and every evenings after 5’o clock too. Oh, and when it’s warm weather, I allow myself the occasional cold beer or several – or if anybody buys me chocolate, it would of course be rude not to!

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