Summer starts here

So, almost two weeks of the summer holidays have gone by already (where does the time go?) and what have I done?

Actually, I’ve done quite a lot. I’ve edited five stories for my collection, although ‘edited’ might be a little generous. I’ve looked at them, made a few minor changes and basically decided that I did a good enough job the last time I edited them. If I gave them to my writing group to look at, they might have some ideas for further improvements, but then they all tend to have different ideas, and that doesn’t always make my job any easier! So I’ve declared them ready, labelled them final and moved them into my ‘completed’ folder. And that’s that. It feels good.

I’ve picked the easier ones to begin with, of course. There are a couple I’m still working on that need more work, but I’m so tied up in them that I need a bit of space to be able to figure out a way forward. And then there’s another that I’ve been working on and have nearly, nearly finished. So I’m making pretty good progress. I’m happy.

And I am happy, by the way. Sorry to keep going on about it but life is good right now. 

What else have I done? Well, Duolingo, of course. I was trying to demonstrate that you could skip sections by doing a checkpoint review and accidentally ended up getting my golden owl in Catalan, which is hilarious as there are whole tenses I haven’t studied yet, but it has also made me feel optimistic that if I keep it up, I could actually complete the whole Catalan course on Duolingo by the end of the year. (I could potentially do it sooner, but I don’t want to put additional pressure on myself.) Although of course, that wouldn’t be the end of my learning it by any stretch of the imagination! But still, it would be an achievement.

The daft thing is that now I’ve got the golden owl (which, in my opinion, Duolingo should not have awarded me), it assumes I know it all. If I try to do one of the XP multiplier challenges, it asks me all sorts of things in imperfect subjunctive, which I can just about understand but there’s no way I can type it without looking it up, so I’ve made a bit of a rod for my own back. There’s a lesson in there – don’t claim credit for things you can’t really do. 

The good thing is that, although there’s no way I’d feel confident having a ‘proper’ conversation in Catalan yet, I do understand a reasonable amount when I listen in on conversations in Valencian, which – without getting too many backs up, I hope – is very similar. (I’ve managed to upset a couple of people so far by saying it’s ‘basically the same’ so I won’t say that. But it’s close enough that I can pretty much understand the same amount of both.) It feels like something of a secret weapon – everyone (half-) expects foreign residents to understand conversations in (Castilian) Spanish, but not so for Catalan / Valencian!

What else? Well, I’ve also been to the beach several times – although only once here in the city. The beach here is nice and sandy and good for swimming (if a little dull as there’s absolutely nothing to see in the water) but the beaches outside the city are much quieter and it’s nice to get out and about, see the mountains and breathe some fresh air. And it feels great to put music on in the car, turn up the volume and let rip with the singing. We haven’t made it to karaoke yet, but for now, singing in the car will do.

Other than that, I’ve settled into a pretty relaxed way of life. My diary is still pretty much full (there are just so many things to do!) but there are plenty of leisure activities in there too, including picnics with friends and an upcoming trip to the Botanical Gardens. Lockdown feels like a lifetime ago. 

I’m trying not to read the news, and to take things on the Valencia Facebook groups with a pinch of salt. I may have quite enjoyed my time in lockdown but that was then. I really don’t want to think about having to do it all over again. 

All in all, so far, the summer is treating me well. It’s hot – oh, is it ever hot! – but that’s not such a bad thing, as long as we can get out and about and enjoy the breeze. 

So far, we can. Fingers crossed it remains that way.

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