Awoke to the Spanish sunrise, a cock crowing in the distance, the faint peal of a church bell drifting on the dewy morning air.
Like sh*te. I was ripped from my slumber by the unmistakeable click... click... ... click of a Lego gun followed by Joseph braying "Gerry shut up man". J is sleeping on a mattress on the living room floor rather than - ugh - share a room with Michael or Gerry (who - ugh - refuse to share with each other). It was just as well because we planned to get up early to visit the weekly market in Pollença.
Emma alerted me to a problem with the TV: Gerry had managed to switch the input to the satellite box and it seems that the previous occupants of the villa had a penchant for low-grade German porn. As I wrestled with the controls, standing in front of the screen to protect Gerry's delicate sensibilities, he was giving it the "Whoa what's that, I'm confused, what's going on" gambit whilst desperately trying to catch a glimpse. The kids forget I was a boy once and can predict every wile and racket. Well let's be honest with boys that doesn't take much, just ask yourself "What would my appendages do if they didn't have to be controlled by a socially conditioned brain?"
Emma didn't want to walk into town so we drove down, spent 20 minutes getting into the car park that we could already see was full so that we could get back out again, drove back to the villa and walked back into town. The place was heaving, tourists drawn from every villa miles for miles and squeezed into the Placa Major so they could shuffle guiltily past the ranks of stalls flogging decorative crockery, jewellery and other useless stuff sourced from the nearest market stall trinket wholesaler. We did have a target purchase - Joseph had somehow lost his sunglasses. We had searched the villa and J had checked the car.* Well I can only assume that Spanish men are born with sunglasses growing from their heads because despite being apparently legally mandated apparel for scooter-riding Mediterranean soccer ultras, every single shop sold only women's sunglasses, and clothes and footwear for that matter.
J offered to cook a fish dish for tea, and so we braved the local supermarket with the faintly comical name "Eroski". The place was rammed with Germans and Brits tensely jostling trolleys and smaller wheeled baskets, clearly designed by someone who has never broken their neck falling over a suitcase dragged behind a Japanese tourist on the London Underground. It was easy to discern nationality: the Germans strode purposefully around whereas the Brits looked deeply uncomfortable, clumsily muttering hybrid continental niceties such as "Scuzi por favor", evidently bowed low by the stigma of Brexit shame.
We wanted some, y'know, white fish for the recipe, but confronted with a glaring array of enormous and unidentifiable sea life on the fish counter, incongruously manned by a slim, pretty blond young lass, J wimped out. I am 46 and therefore have no cred left to lose, so I brazened it out. It was an alarming experience, watching this slightly-built girl enacting a splatter-movie scene, casually snipping large fish open with massive scissors then ripping out the innards, splashing blood and guts all over herself, the table where she worked and the floor. Useful skills.
Back at base, J prepared the tea: fish with crispy topping made from breadcrumbs, pesto, lemon and herbs, with boiled spuds and salad. When he called "Daaa-ad" for about the fourteenth time I wearily trudged into the kitchen prepared to say "When it goes ding", but this time there really was a problem... No gas. We had already become vexatious tenants by repeatedly calling the villa rep to ask dumb questions like how to switch on the water jet in the pool (it's not a water jet, it's for cleaning the pool you noob) and how to find the safe (oh here it is right in front of me). Emma's summary: "it's like being at home, but harder." Quite.
Throughout this trip I have prophesied doom, so it's reassuring when it comes off in a minor way. The boys were getting a bit overly boisterous in the pool, and I said to Emma, "Within half an hour Michael will have had an accident and there will be blood in the pool." Guess what? (OK it was just a bitten tongue). Watched J do somersaults into the water with an inflatable clamped to his backside this evening, counting the hours until we get back on the plane.
Quote of the day from Michael: "Mam, if you had to eat one of us which one would you choose?"