18 Aug 2007

Slowest cocktail in the world

Yesterday we took the kids to the furtherest beach as it’s more sheltered for them to do their snorkling and rubber tubing. Nic had noted the day before that the bar did a Mojito cocktail and had watched it slowly being concocted by the barman, figured it sounded good and that we should try one. And so we did.

After a couple of hours at the beach, we sent the four kids on ahead back to the apartment (Morgan is 16 now – can’t believe where the years have gone) and propped ourselves at the bar. I haven’t done this for some time! What fun - memories of us trying exotic drinks 30 years ago in
Bali (well they seemed exotic at the time!). 

But back to the slowest cocktail in the world – we ordered one each and sat and watched the barman assemble it. He chopped a lot of mint very slowly. He found and cut a few limes. He had a snack of crisps. 

He served the kids icecream at another counter … then out the back for more limes. Located a tub of crushed ice, grabbed handfuls of it, with fingers licked clean of crisps! – and finally after what we reckoned was close to 15 minutes, it all seemed to be coming together! All in two shakers which were vigorously shaken as a good cocktail should be. 

And then disaster. One flew off the counter all over the floor. Not surprisingly he looked crestfallen – but we quickly assured him that one between the two of us would be absolutely fine. And fine it was – delicious! And given the amount of alcohol in it, and the long climb up the cliffs to get home, one was sufficient.

And the swimming - the kids spend hours in the water with their snorkles, goggles and rubber tubes – they’re loving it.


The rain in Spain falls mainly ….

….. on Cala Llevado. Or so it seemed on the second night of our trip to Spain. An eventful night - everyone asleep, all the balcony and bedroom windows wide open, and these amazing howling winds wake everyone up – except the two littlies who slept through the whole thing. Well, this was a storm and a half – both Nic and I agree that it’s probably the worst storm we’ve experienced for a long time (Susie – winds like in Bulgaria last year, but with thunder, lightning and much much rain!).
We’d watched the lightning in the distance earlier in the evening, but it was so far away that we didn’t hear any thunder at all. But obviously between then and midnight, it made its way here. And it hit suddenly and violently – the thunder and lightning must have gone on for over an hour, and the rain was incessant. I had visions of the steep cliffs these apartments are built on becoming saturated and sliding down to the sea! So not easy to get back to sleep when it was all over.
Once we were all up, we flew around the apartment getting in beach towels off the veranda rail (those that hadn’t blown over), closing windows and doors. We hadn’t been able to close the kitchen window so had shut the door on a floor covered in stuff that had blown off the shelves. The wind also blew a large framed tapestry off the wall in the living room.
In the morning we realised we were missing a few beach towels and located them below, one hanging in a tree. There is no direct access from here, so it was a long walk around down to the beach, then up a steep path to retrieve them. So we set off with a broom (!) and managed to get them both back. A night and morning of much excitement for all.
However – back to our trip: We’d headed off to Spain with the car packed to the gunnels. We had to leave the blow-up dinghy and paddles behind – just not enough room. We called into Collioure on the way down for lunch, and arrived at Cala Llevado late afternoon. A pleasant surprise – Nic checked in and found out that the apartment she’d booked had been upgraded – to one with four bedrooms and with the most amazing view ever. Couldn’t believe our luck. There was a [not insurmountable] downside – a small and not particularly clean kitchen. But after a thorough clean of everything – not a problem. All worth it for the location and views.
Early morning, as I sit and type this on my laptop while we’re waiting for the kids to wake (to be posted when we return to France), this is what I’m looking out at:


Cala Llevado is a huge camping [and apartments] area situated on the coast about half an hour’s drive south of the Spanish border, and between the holiday resort towns of Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar. But as the photos show, not built up and absolutely gorgeous.
This is a first for me – a European holiday in a resort! It’s not the type of holiday either Nic or I would normally have chosen, but this was for the kids and they’re loving it. And so far so are we. Having been lucky enough to have grown up in Australia on the coast, been brought up and lived at Cheyne Beach (Dad was a professional fisherman), I suppose I compare beaches and coastlines to that. But this place is rather special.
Cheyne Beach: 4 miles of beautiful fine white sand often virtually to yourself, compared to Cala Llevado: small sandy and pebbly coves surrounded by cliffs, the turquoise Mediterranean and crowds of holiday makers. Very different, both beautiful.
Although I have to say, yesterday’s swim in the little cove behind the apartments (not shown in the photos) was cut short by the unpleasant discovery of ‘floaters’ – let’s just say personal things that shouldn’t be in the ocean, as well as lumps of what looked like solidified fat. Yuk. Nic even picked one up to try to identify it and couldn’t get the grease off her hands. We moved to another beach but obviously that wasn’t going to be any different. We just didn’t look so hard. We figure it must be the yachts/luxury liners in the Mediterranean throwing this stuff overboard?


Sage and Indigo’s fascination with the village cats continued. They’d go off on their own with the camera, looking for their favourites, and taking photos. They took some bread, made friends with a grey one with a head like a butter-box,

and enticed him home!
They came inside excitedly telling me I had a new cat outside. I thought it was a joke – they know I definitely DON’T want a cat – but went outside to find there was in fact one outside the garage door. He didn’t stay!

And keeping with the animal theme, the kids were amused when we had pizzas down at the village bar café one evening and had the company of the owner’s dog at the table throughout.

And I swear I didn’t do anything to this picture - it looks like he has a bad set of dentures. I have no idea what happened – camera gremlins?

10 Aug 2007

The family arrive

Nic and the kids (Morgan, Sage, Indigo, and Laurence – Morgan’s friend) arrived on Monday. So it’s been a full house and busy busy busy. Though today is a day of staying in Bize, packing up the car ready to head off to Spain tomorrow. Not in my little wagon of course – in Nic's hire car that seats seven. And as there are six of us, we don’t get much space for luggage. So we’re all restricted to a plastic shopping bag each! Nic’s booked an apartment not too far over the border, close to where they holidayed two years ago. Weather forecast is for mid to high 20s – perfect.
So far we’ve done a trip to Olonzac markets on Tuesday (raining and forgot the umbrellas so didn’t stay long!), trip to Minerve and the obligatory day trip through to Carcassonne to visit La Cité. Best avoided in August if possible, but of course it’s something we had to take the kids to even though Nic and I made a quick visit in September last year when we were house-hunting.
The younger kids are loving the independence they can have in the village – being able to go out and wander around all by themselves! Down to the river, around the little streets, to the tabac, bakery and general store to buy bits and pieces. They also seem to have a fascination with the cats here – not sure why – nothing out of the ordinary, just moggies! But we get excited reports back on which ones they’ve seen again.
And I seem to have been able to rope them into a chore they’re tackling with great enthusiasm. A little rough around the edges but I reckon by the end of their stay, they’ll be spot on.


Morgan and Laurence 'hanging out'.
Indigo and Sage, at the School Museum at La Cité.

Moving sideways

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