Guiltily I confess: we have run away from La Chaise. But, she added hastily, only for a few days, only because of the rain, because actually we were useless, probably even de trop. The tiler's tiles and manitou were making manoeuvring in the front garden difficult. The roof covered in patches of yellow plastic, occasional areas of new tile and still large expanses of old tile looking shabbier than ever, all served to depress us. Arnold, Alexandre, Audrey and (H)aska can do without us. So off we set Spainwards, just a few hours and kilometres ahead of the rain.
Arriving at Sant Feliu we found the fine weather we expected, the town looking neat, clean and prosperous – which is unusual given Spain's dire economic situation. The beach was newly sanded, a new café called grandly 'The Beach Club' has opened, there are new children's games along the sea-front. New shops have opened to replace those that closed.
The only sign of the economic downturn – apart from the inevitable EN VENDA
notices and home help offered notices with telephone number – is the creeping expansion of heavily fortified shops, signed 'comprar oro' (which will even buy tooth fillings...) When we first came to St Feliu, probably some five years ago, I do not remember seeing one of these. Now I know of two and think I have seen a third – they are coming out of the back streets onto the main ramblas.
A striking contrast with La Chaise is that there is no dawn chorus as such. At La Chaise it was just coming into full strength. Here at Sant Feliu we have sea-gulls – a mixed blessing – and the festival of St John's Eve, June 23rd. The latter, hopefully one night only, is being celebrated with fireworks and bonfires and noise generally. St John, like St George, has been adopted by the Catalans as their own.
The sea-gulls have graceful flight and a wide repetoire of semi-conversational sounds – one cannot call it 'song' – most of them unpleasant. Two birds have taken up residence just outside the flat. One comes to roost on the street lamp which is getting covered in bird-shit and the other perches on top of the sisal plant. They are relatively quiet during the day, just call to each other. But during the night they have the most appalling squabbles, worse than my memories of the geese. I have been brooding on ways of discouraging them but if fireworks, drums and hooting cars will not do it, what can I do? One is not allowed to shoot seagulls.
It was after today's Sunday lunch that a reason for their persistence in living in front this block of flats was made clear. The neighbour has three cats which she feeds generously. Various visiting cats join in. There is much cater-wauling. There are times when one cannot tell whether it is a cat or a gull making the noise. The sea-gulls are, perhaps, pretending to be cats, and are definitely stalking, cat-like, cat-food left overs.