After the excitements of Northern Ireland we were back in Bristol for a couple of days before we set off for Spain with P. and T. We had decided to have a slightly longer trip this year and so spent a couple of days in L'Escala in M's place (they were due to arrive at the weekend) before heading up to Barcelona (we had hired a car for the holiday although had forgotten to print out the voucher so when we got to Girona we had to try all the car hire places to locate which one we had booked through - in fact the one we had used (which was obviously the furthest away from the terminal) disclaimed all knowledge of us and it was only when I finally located the email voucher courtesy of my PA back in Dubai that I ran into the guy at the car hire - he had re-checked his system and realised we did have a booking and was on his way to find me - at least he tried I guess. So that was a rather stressful 1 1/2 hours at the start of our holiday..... of. At least we did not end up by having to book another car - although ironically it wold have been cheaper if we had done when compared to the booked cost as demand was apparently down due to the unseasonably poor weather.
In any event, we had our car and we had a couple of days in L'Escala where we managed to have a look at the Roman ruins for the first time and then headed up to Barcelona where we parked the car at the airport and caught a bus into the Placa Catalunya where we were staying. The hotel was ideally located and we managed to explore most of the City including the Nou Camp where I took A. around on the stadium tour (they were introducing a new signing so there were quite a few people around the place). We also did the bus tour and wandered around the old fishing port warehouse (now a very good interactive Museum). The Sagrada Familias was heaving so we gave that a miss but did visit the roof top chimney display designed by Gaudi which was excellent.The food was great and we even had some torrential rain (the rental company guy said that it was one of the rainiest summers they have had). A. and I also had a walk down the Ramblas to the fish market which I think he enjoyed.
Back in L'Escala we met up with M. B and the kids - the villa was literally a two minute walk from our place so we managed to see them pretty much every day. We picked up dad from the airport on the following day (he stayed at Ms) and so there was 11 of us in total - ideal for some great set piece BBQs and also a lovely meal for Vs birthday. The kid had a great time with each other (including filming various videos etc.) and B and I experimented with various different types of wine including a very nice sparkling wine which was on special offer at the local Bodega. The mornings mainly consisted of fresh croissants and bread at alternately one of the villas. The afternoon's was reserved for the beach and the evenings was generally BBQ or Roasted chicken from the town. It was excellent. We also managed some fishing which unfortunately was not so successful - not even an octopus this year so next time w are going to have to get a boat!
The Villa was not as modern as last years but it was well put together although quite a lot of ants which the children were not wildly enthusiastic about. After a fairly hectic Summer it was very pleasant to relax, have a swim, read some books and cook and eat) some great food. Really enjoyable.
The return to Bristol was marked by the most enormous thunderstorm directly over the airport. E. is not a very good flyer at the best of times and as we approached the airport the glowering skies had a very negative impact on her demeanour. I suspect if she had been left to her own devices she would have gone back another day. Our wait for the flight to be called was accompanied by lightning flashes and rolling thunder. The heaven's opened dead on the departure time and the airport was soon almost literally under water. Ryanair are not great believers in delayed flights and as soon as the rain eased we were out on the tarmac (which was still under water so we all had sopping wet sandals and feet for the journey home). The flight itself was uneventful and we were soon back in Bristol after a great 10 days. The following day I was in the air again on the way back to Dubai with E. and the kids to follow at the end of August