I promised this update in the last write-up and for those of you that didn’t know it will answer the riddle as to why the Baguettes were at Nanny Fran’s for the first week of the school holidays.
At 14:00 on the 20th July 2007 at St. David’s school in Ashford, after a morning of torrential rain Lucinda and I were married. Those of you with a basic grasp of maths will immediately notice that this means that Lucinda and I have been married for ten years (and for those of you without a basic grasp of maths but a keen eye will have noticed that I have already told you this in the title of update).
It is, therefore, also, a decade since www.baggieandlucy.com first appeared on the Internet. The embryonic stage of this website was a repository of our official wedding photos (which you can now see here) arranged by our official photographers and good friends Jay and Julia.
The last ten years have been somewhat eventful for Lucinda and I: we have moved house and we now share that house with three children, two guinea pigs and a cat; Lucinda has had appendicitis and had her appendix out (while pregnant with Ezra!) and we have lost people who were very dear to us. We have had some fantastic holidays; changed jobs; been promoted and made new friends. In other words: we have lived, loved and laughed.
So, how to celebrate this first decade of married bliss? Wanting to spend some time together as just us and not as mommy and daddy we decided that we would take a short European city break. Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz stepped up to look after the Baguettes and so we had the opportunity to plan where to go. Lucinda is a big fan of Antoni Gaudi and had always wanted to go Barcelona, the home of his greatest creations. I had been once before, about a month before Lucinda and I met so it was definitely due a visit.
The last question was when? We had to juggle the two opposing poles of waiting for the schools to break up, but going away before the schools break up and the annual migration of families begins, in addition, to wanting to be away for our actual anniversary. This oxymoronic notion was solved thanks to the girls’ school tagging three inset days to the end of the summer term resulting in an extended summer holiday, and allowing the both of us to leave as our own Baguettes broke up for summer but before the majority of the schools did the same. In fact, Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz took them to school on their last day before picking them up and heading to West Bromwich for the adventures you read about in the last update.
The flight to Barcelona was a little early and our alarms woke us far too early in a morning so we had to creep about the house getting ourselves ready before the taxi came to pick us up. The journey to Barcelona and then onwards to the hotel was smooth. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the hotel we were a little early to be allowed in our room so we changed into shorts and t-shirts, left the rest of our luggage at the hotel and went out to explore the city.
Our hotel was in Plaça d’Urquinaona, a place that we never really learned to pronounce, and, if you know the geography of Barcelona is only a short walk from Plaça de Catalunya and thus the top of La Rambla, so we decided that was where we were going to begin our sightseeing. We walked the length of La Rambla and down to the port, along the sea and then through the gothic quarter, back to the hotel, with the occasional stop for refreshments, photos and marvelling at the lack of children moaning about walking.
After returning to the hotel we freshened up and headed to the rooftop bar. Not a huge terrace and the pool was not much bigger than a large bath, but it served alcohol and was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle below. Thoughts turned to an early dinner and with the gift that is the Internet we could look for restaurants in the area. Casa Lolea came recommended and it was a short walk away so we headed out. It is only a small venue and arriving early, 19:30, there was a free table. We were told that it was only free until 21:00 but that should be plenty of time so we took it.
Casa Lolea served probably the best tapas that either Lucinda or I have ever had. Every dish was a delight and the house Sangria was fantastic. We were so impressed that we decided to book it for our Anniversary meal, especially since it would mean that we would have our name on their little chalkboard reservation card. If you are ever in Barcelona I would highly recommend searching out Casa Lolea, you will not be disappointed.
We had already planned to visit a number of Gaudi’s masterpieces and pre-booked tickets to ensure that we would get to see them. The first on the list was booked for Wednesday afternoon and was the awe-inspiring, still unfinished Sagrada Familia. Superlatives do not do this magnificent edifice justice. There is nothing throughout the whole structure that is not there without meaning. It has been designed in the most minute of details for a building that has been worked upon for over a century. Generations of masons, sculptors and builders have ploughed their blood, sweat and tears into its very structure. It is truly majestic. We paid for the audio tour and the insights one gets into the mind of Gaudi and what he was trying to achieve with his design adds to the breathtaking beauty of the cathedral. A cathedral, though consecrated is still not complete. They are hoping to finally finish it in time for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 2026. We will have to go back and visit, perhaps for our 20th anniversary.
We left the cathedral and wandered down to the beach. Possibly more of a hike that a wander but again we were tourists without children we could afford these luxuries. We took a short cut through Parc de la Ciutadella and after posing with the statue of the mammoth (to send a photo to Ezra) we spent 30 minutes rowing on the lake before continuing down to the beach. The beach was packed, there was hardly an inch of space between the sunbathers so we sat in the shade of a bar and watched the world go by.
The following day was our anniversary, but there was no lie in for Lucinda and I. We had booked an early entrance and guide to another of Gaudi’s masterpieces: Park Güell. A venture that was never to be, it was originally envisioned to be an estate of 60 or so Gaudi designed houses with landscaped parkland for the wealthy of Barcelona. However a lack of transport links to the area meant that it never took off and only three houses were ever built. Again, the level of detail that Gaudi incorporated into his work was astounding, down to the height of the steps that allowed ladies of the day in their long dresses to comfortably ascend and descend without having to hitch their skirts.
As this was an early morning visit, the crowds were less and equally by the time we had had our fill of the park there was still enough time to catch a cab and hotfoot it back to the hotel for breakfast.
The afternoon saw us visit another Gaudi favourite: Casa Batlló. Again, truly amazing. The audio guide was fantastic too. Instead of an old-fashioned dictaphone style audio guide it was a smart phone that incorporated augmented reality to bring the place to life. Didn’t always work but it was a novel idea and as the technology improves it will only get better.
The evening saw us back at Casa Lolea for tapas and sangria. A truly fantastic way to spend our anniversary.
It was only on the Friday that we truly began to miss the Baguettes, but we dismissed those thoughts for another trip to a Gaudi designed house and a visit to Casa Milà; again truly fantastic but I think by that time we had had our fill of Gaudi and as the audio guide was back to the old-fashioned dictaphone style felt that it was not as enjoyable as Casa Batlló. Come on Casa Milà, up your game.
After lunch at Milk (a recommendation by a friend) we explored the gothic quarter and looked for presents for the Baguettes and Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz to end our final full day in Barcelona.
We have to thank Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz for looking after the Baguettes so that we could spend some time together as a couple. Something we very rarely do, and even when we get the occasional night out it is only for a brief time and the conversation falls back to the Baguettes. Being away for so long meant that we talked to each other about things that interest us and without having to worry about the Baguettes we could just wander round at our own pace. For some couples without the focus of the children that could be a disaster, thankfully that is not us and the holiday brought us closer together.
Thank you Lucinda for a wonderful 10 years and here’s hoping for many more – after all we have to return to Barcelona to see the finished Sagrada Familia.
Peace and Love