We had a brilliant time. The villa was a perfect location for a family gathering - it took some time to find a place that would accommodate all of us. It was very impressive with chandeliers and a grand piano as you can see from the pictures below, but affordable since the cost was split between five families. There were eight bedrooms and three bathrooms and plenty of space including a shady balcony where I spent quite a lot of time reading and catching up with sisters including NZ sister who we haven't seen since our last reunion. I'm not keen on lying in the sun. In fact, to venture out at all in Spain I have to cover myself in a layer of factor 50, as I burn so easily, and then top than with a layer of Jungle Formula insect repellent. And I still got bitten - we all did. I had the best bedroom with a balcony and a huge painting covering one wall, not because of my status as the eldest sister, but because I wasn't bothered about air-conditioning and this room had a fan instead.
|The view from my bedroom window|
|The painting covering one wall of my bedroom|
Meanwhile the kids, big and little, spent most of the week in the pool. The small boys enjoyed using the woggles as weapons on their 22 year old cousin. The older ones played games involving pushing each other off the lilo and an inflatable crocodile until the early hours of the morning, making so much noise one evening that the neighbours complained. There was also a table tennis table and cousin Callum organised a family table tennis tournament. I went out in the first round, losing by one point to sister Sylvia, a good job too as she is very competitive would not have been pleased. The tournament was won Dean, one of the older nephews, in a tense and closely matched 5 set final against his brother Callum, which we all watched one evening after dinner.
|The view of the pool from the shady balcony.|
|Kate, warming up for her match against NZ cousin Will.|
Shopping and cooking for up to 20 was a bit of a challenge but luckily we had champion BBQ expert, Simon with us, occasionally assisted by the other brothers-in-law. Living in NZ where I suppose imported food is pricey, Simon actually enjoyed going to the supermarket and was amazed by the range of food and drink available and how cheap it was. Thanks to him and sister Diane, who at one in her life was a restaurant manager, huge quantities of lovely food appeared every evening with very little effort from the rest of us beyond a bit of table laying and washing up. One evening we had this spectacular paella which tasted as good as it looks.
We spent most days at the villa but did go into Barcelona one day. It was too hot to walk around much so after a fairly unpleasant visit to a very busy McDonald's in Place Catalonia to get lunch for the children, we took a bus tour round the city. Here's my one wonky phone photo of the Sagrada Familia which is like no other church I have ever seen. We also drove past Nou Camp, Barcelona's football ground. The younger nephews went back there the next day for a longer visit and a tour of the dressing rooms etc. We also had a day at the beach in Vilassar de Mar, with the kids enjoying the huge waves as it was quite breezy and a bit overcast that day. I was pleased as it meant I didn't frazzle.
Both Sylvia and I celebrated our birthdays during the week and so, on the day of my birthday, us five sisters and Kate went for a meal in a shady restaurant in Cabrils, the nearest village to the villa. The meal was nothing special but we did have very good strawberry mojitos to start and enjoyed our more peaceful afternoon out. Here I am with my mojito wearing the necklace Kate bought me for my birthday.
So certainly a different kind of reunion than the last one I wrote about two years where we were on the beach in Portrush. I was a bit sad we weren't in Northern Ireland and so were some of my sisters but the NZ cousins were keen to see a bit more of Europe and have a holiday where it didn't rain quite so much. And everyone certainly enjoyed themselves.